Launch out into the deep...(Lk 5:4)
Shallow waters are the place of being sin or self-conscious and of toiling in your own strength. With many priests the issue no longer is sin but self. Self-consciousness is a result of spending most of your time in the inner court. Time and again priests stop short of the Holy of Holies, the place where you are God-conscious. These are the deep waters. Peter’s sin and self toil kept him in the shallow waters. Sin and self keep us all close to the shoreline and away from the deep. When, like Peter, we see how wide the gap is between the shallow and the deep, between our futile efforts and God’s power and holiness, then there will be a falling down, a humbling of ourselves and a grieving (Lk 5:8). Be of good cheer, for this is the beginning of your transformation. The process of transformation begins with a forsaking of your own strength and a denying of your own self – a yielded-ness and a tender broken-ness. As we will soon see, it took Peter a long time to learn this lesson.
Peter was first introduced to Jesus by Andrew, his brother (John 1:41-42). Peter came to Jesus. This was a casual encounter. After the miracle of the fish (Lk 5), Peter followed Jesus. This was a convicting encounter. Peter was convicted of sin. But Jesus said he would now catch men.
… From now on you will catch men. (Lk 5:10)
Conviction must be present to catch men. Many cities and regions are void of the power to really save. The deep waters are the place of power to save. The power has been restricted, and men have not been convicted because demons have not been evicted. Priests have stopped short of the Holy of Holies. They have not given birth to human spirits on the earth. Demons blind men’s minds and hold their wills. Inner court priests cannot cast out demons of this kind. It takes a higher kind of faith. Unbelief lingers in the inner court. Prayer and fasting helps take you beyond the veil (Mat 17:21). Beyond the veil, demons are bound and human minds are loosed. Beyond the veil, men’s wills are freed, and new human spirits birthed from incorruptible seed. Souls are converted first beyond the veil. Priests, the face of your ministry and the atmosphere in your city can change dramatically beyond the veil.
Part of the reason men come to Jesus but don’t follow Him is a lack of travail keeps them in an infant state. Beyond the veil is travail.
My little children, for whom I travail in birth again until Christ is formed in you. (Gal 4:19)
Oh priest, the people in your city are dying! Oh priest, the Christians in your city are carnal! Death is advancing! Life is restrained! Oh priest, don’t you care? Oh priest, how long - how long will you wallow in the shallow waters? How long will you refrain from your priestly responsibilities? How long will you hear the cries of dying men and not respond? How long will you sit idly by and watch the poor being oppressed? Pray now, not later! You’re not an administrator, but a mediator! Weep! Don’t just sleep! Go on out into the deep!
Watch for things which prevent you from persevering in prayer and defile your priestly role. Watch for sluggishness and shallowness in prayer. The presentation of your ministry office before the people will then be tainted with more of the self nature than the God nature. Lack of depth in prayer usually results in some showmanship in the pulpit. These days there is so much pizzazz on the platform, prosperity in the pocket, and so little power in the pulpit. There’s so little burden in the pew because there’s such spiritual poverty on the priest. Haughtiness has been so common and brokenness so uncommon.
Lack of true Holy Spirit prayer and brokenness produces a wrong basis for ministry and chokes a priest’s pure love for people and pauses the moving of compassion. It results in a platform based, program based, and performance based ministry. The only kind that Jesus knows and approves of is a people based ministry. Peter only discovered how big his life could be after the “fish” miracle. Again, Jesus told him he would now catch men. In other words, Peter would have a people based ministry. But Peter had so much yet to learn in the school of Christ.
The pillars of a people-based ministry are always heart-felt prayer and passionate evangelism birthed by the Holy Spirit. When it’s not, then the unsaved tend to be forgotten and will sometimes end up at the bottom of a minister’s mental list (though most would never admit that). Think about it. How many churches are really aggressively making ongoing plans to reach the lost in their communities? There’s your answer as to how many churches and ministries are people based. Excuses will always come and say it is too hard. No, the problem is we’re too cold. Kingdom work done lawfully is hard work. It’s heavy, rigid, and grinding. What’s done in love is fulfilling and fluid. Love is the Lord’s yoke. The law is man’s yoke. Which yoke are you under?
Submit to the Holy Spirit. Go for the spirit of prayer. Ask God to break your heart. Your human nature must give way to the Divine nature. Only then will you have real power to help, heal, and save. Are you looking to reach a new plateau in your life and ministry? Go deeper in self-denial and travail. Ask God for the spirit of grace and supplication.
According to the weight of the burden that grieves us is the cry to God that comes from us (Hill, 1993. p. 12).
Find a burden that grieves.
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