My journey to 'freely receiving and freely giving' in ministry

Testimony by Brian Jones

I've known the Lord a long time, but much of that time, it was kind of a boss-employee relationship. I would go to the Lord to get my marching orders, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" And this is probably the case for many Christians on Sunday mornings. It's like they're coming to church, "Lord, what can I hear from you so I can apply it and go out and do something?" So you're always listening to apply, listening to apply.

And that's where I was at. I was doing lots of good things, lots of things that were a blessing to people and they were a blessing to me and a blessing to my family. But what I realize now is I was really only extending what I had received - which was nothing. It was me. And so, I was only extending myself. And what happens when you extend yourself over and over and over again is you get tired. You get very tired. You get exhausted.

And when you are seeing results, that is kind of a motivator. But when you're not seeing results, I mean, you get tired quickly. And that's where I was. I was exhausted. And what I realized was for me anyway, if something was good, if it worked out well, then I was like, "God, you came through. Great job." But inside, I was like, "Man, I must have been faithful. I must have been faithful to hear what you wanted me to do. I must have executed on that well."

And so even though I was saying, "God, You get the glory," inside it was kind of about me.
I didn't intend for that to be the case … in my heart I wanted God to get the glory, but inside, I was like, "Man, I must have done something right." And then if something failed, I was thinking, "Well, this isn't God's fault, because God doesn't fail." And so, then whose fault is it? It's mine.
I didn't hear from Him.
I didn't execute on it well enough.
I didn't plan enough.
I must not have heard correctly.

So what happened, whether it's a success or a failure, it was me. I did a lot of good things and I saw very little fruit. People would say, "Hey, I'm blessed. I feel blessed." And I realized I was helping people maybe manage their sin better, giving them good tips in wisdom for avoiding problems and making good choices, but I wasn't extending Christ because I had not received that in private.  

I was reading a Bible, but I was reading it to see what I should do, that it would give me some wisdom. And instead, I was just extending myself and I will be 100% honest. I'm not enough. I'm enough for some problems but those weren't the problems I was setting out to solve.

And so, again, people liked me. People responded. People wanted to come together and do whatever I was asking them to do, but we were not seeing the fruit because there wasn't a power because I hadn't received power.

And I think that's really when I came in to Agathos Church, I saw people that had been in the presence of God. You had received the power, and then I was able to believe because of your testimony and say there's something different here. I remember it was the night before the Agathos Tubing trip at Snow Trails, which was a ton of fun, and I woke up early. I couldn't get back to sleep. We decided as a family we were going to read the book of John. And I just sat down and started reading John 1.
Bible reading was something that I didn't enjoy doing. I did it because I was supposed to. I knew it was a good thing. But when I really sat down I felt like God had given me something. And when I looked at John 1, I just started writing down, “what does it say about Jesus?” And believe it or not, it says a couple of things in that chapter! I started with one post-it note. I went to two and I ended up with three.
But in John 1, it says that Jesus:
He was in the beginning.  
He's the word.  
He's God.  
He's the Creator.  
He's life.  
He's the light of men.  
He's beyond the comprehension of darkness.  
He's the light.  
He gives light to men.  
He shines in the darkness.  
He is in the world.  
He gives the right to those who believe in his name to be called children of God.
The world became flesh. He dwelt with man.  
He's the glory.  
He's the full of grace and truth.  
He gives us his fullness and his grace.  
He brought grace and truth.  
He's the only Begotten Son.  
He declares the Father.  
He's preferred before John the Baptist and before all others.  
He's the Lamb of God.
He takes away the sin of the world.  
The spirit of God was upon him.
He baptizes with the Holy Spirit.  
He's the Son of God.  
He's a rabbi, teacher.  
He's the Messiah, the Christ.  
He gives us new names and new identities.  
He calls us by name.  
He's worthy of a testimony.  
He's prophesied about.  
He offers words of knowledge.  
He's Jesus of Nazareth.  
He's knowable.  
He's written about by Moses and the law and the prophets.  
Angels serve him.  
He's the King of Israel.  
He's the Son of man.  
He's the Son of Joseph
and He knows us!
That's just in John 1. And I was just blown away. And what I realized in that moment after being in the presence of God … I felt I had been with God, I realized He is worthy of everything. He's worthy of all praise. He is worthy of all glory. I suddenly had good news, the good news of the Gospel. I had received the good news of the Gospel!

Before I had an idea of Jesus and I had a strategy, and I had read a lot of books about what other people had heard God say, but I didn't necessarily have the good news. I knew what the Word said in tract, I believe that. It's not that I didn't know the Lord. I just had not received the good news to share with people.
After I read this, I was thinking, "God, I need to tell someone about this. You are worthy of all praise." There's nothing in here that isn't an answer for the people that we meet. Whether it's somebody that's already in the family of God or somebody that's not yet in the family of God, there's an answer in John 1. I mean, there may be a ton of other answers out there. In John 1, there is an answer, and I will tell you that and I received my good news!

What is your good news?
I want to challenge you with today ... I don't want you to come up with a plan. I don't want you to come up with a strategy. I want you to focus on drawing near to Him, spending time in His presence and asking Him, "What is my good news? What is the testimony that you've given me?" Because that's what He’s given you to share with other people.

My brother Greg and I were talking this week about how Greg has been on death's doorstep twice. And he's been given his life back. He has a testimony of healing like no one else in this room. And God's placed him in a place with people that need healing. He's surrounded by people with need of healing. God has prepared him for this time and for this moment. Greg doesn't have to do a bunch of things to work up what to say, he has a testimony that he has gotten from this time from the Lord. That’s that he needs to share like this Samaritan woman.

So, I'm asking you to spend time with the Lord, see what He gives you and have eyes to see within the body of Christ and to also see those that are not yet in the body of Christ. And He will answer the desires of your heart and give you a chance to share that testimony!

Freely we receive and freely we give!

Listen to more in the message below: Reframing our perspective about ministry.