Rejoicing in Relationship
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
We love ministry! At the writing of this devotional, Kim and I have served together in prayer ministry for almost twenty-two years and it’s been forty years since I was ordained into Christian ministry. If the Lord tarries, we are praying for many more years of full-strength service for our King. It is so exciting to see how the Lord works as we serve Him. Sometimes it’s so exciting it becomes a problem.
Serving the Lord in any way is a delight and a privilege, but it also has an inherent danger. If we are not careful, we can become more enamored with serving the Lord than with spending time with Him. Jesus saw the potential for that in His disciples. The seventy-two came back from their ministry trip excited by the fact that the demons submitted to them through the name of Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that what grabbed their attention was not the response of people to the good news of the kingdom, but the more spectacular aspects of spiritual warfare?
Please note that Jesus did not rebuke them for their enthusiasm. In fact, He affirmed their victories. But He also urged them to assign greater excitement to the reality that their names were written in heaven rather than the fact that the spirits yielded to them. Jesus instructed these passionate followers to rejoice over their relationship with Him instead of being amazed at what took place during their journey. As His followers today, we can and do face similar temptations. There is nothing we can do to serve Him that is more important than what He did to save us. Let’s focus on getting better at being with Him, letting His presence inform and empower what we do for Him.
Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.
Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?
Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.
Ask: Lord, how I love to serve You. What a wonderful privilege to stand alongside You in ministry. Help me not to get so caught up in ministry that I forget that it’s really all about You. I draw near to You now, that You would draw near to me. I know that You love me so much more than anything I could ever do. Help me to recognize continually that Your presence is more than enough. It is only by Your grace that I have the privilege of being Your child, and the opportunity to serve for the sake of Your glory.
- Do you ever struggle with pride when you do something for God? Do you seek out the praise or approval of others? What can you do to remind yourself to keep a vertical perspective that focuses on the work of Jesus in and through you rather than upon your own horizontal activities?
- Schedule a day to do nothing but worship and sit before God, soaking in His presence. All of the worldly things that are important to you need to be discarded for this one day—TV, Internet, etc. If this would be hard for you, what has to change?
- Study and pray through Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Practice the vertical life so that God will be pleased to add your horizontal needs. You may be amazed to find that what you thought you needed has disappeared within your desire for more of Him.
Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.