Abraham’s Ministry – Genesis 18

In church life, we often hear the words: ‘called to the ministry.’ We speak of those who seek to serve the Lord as an occupation and we say that they are ‘called to the ministry.’ I do believe there is a place for ministry as an occupation. Particularly, such an occupation fits within the frame work of the church. There must be leaders to lead the various ministries of the church. There must be those who carry out the day to day function of the church. I Timothy 5:17-18 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, the laborer is worthy of his reward.” The scripture teaches us that those who make it their career to serve in ministry should be compensated accordingly. The church has a responsibility to make sure that their pastor and staff is paid as well as possible. As the laborer proves himself worthy, the church should seek to increase compensation as the Lord provides.

However, being called to the ministry is not necessarily a call to vocational service. Unfortunately, many churches have grown accustom to the thought that we pay people to carry out the work of the church. We think that since we pay certain people that those people do all the work and we are just to sit and enjoy the benefit we receive from their work. We need to understand that all believers are called to the ministry. The Lord may not have you serve in ministry as a career, but, that does not mean that you are not to serve. Here is how it works: the church pays a pastor and staff to lead us. Their responsibility is to organize, plan, prepare, teach, and so forth. However, all of us are called to be involved in the ministry. Every person ever born is gifted by God with talents and a unique personality. All believer’s in Christ are given spiritual gifts. God wants us to use our talents, personalities, and spiritual gifts for the work of the ministry in and through the local church. In other words, God has something specific for you to do. He wants you to use those gifts that He has given you to carry out the work that He calls you to. A calling from God is not reserved for those in vocational ministry. All of us are called by God. We all have a ministry.

Abraham’s ministry is seen here in Genesis 18. As we study the ministry of Abraham, we see a pattern laid out for us as to how we are to serve also.

Minister to the Lord (v. 1-8). All ministry must first be to the Lord; for if we fail to be a blessing to the Lord, we will never be a blessing to others.[1] Colossians 3:23-24 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” As Abraham is resting, he sees three men approaching him. These three men, I believe, is Jesus Christ and two angels. Verse one tells us that the Lord appeared to him. This is what we call a Christophany. This is Christ Himself appearing to Abraham along with two angels. Notice how Abraham ministered to the Lord.

First of all, he ministered to the Lord personally. Abraham could have passed on this task to one of his many servants. He was a very wealthy man. He could have paid someone else to do the ‘hands-on’ work. Yet, he personally involved himself in caring for his visitors. How often do we simply throw money at something rather than being personally involved? Should we give so that others can serve? Absolutely. However, our giving should never replace our serving. We all need to be personally involved in serving the Lord.

Secondly, he served immediately. As soon as Abraham saw the visitor approaching him, he sprung into action. He did not hesitate. We should be so excited about serving the Lord that when an opportunity rises, we jump on it. There should be no hesitation when it comes to serving the Lord. When we know what God wants us to do, then we should do it right away. I have counseled with many young men who felt the call of God to vocational ministry. My advice has always been that if God calls you, then go. Some say, ‘well I need a backup plan in case it doesn’t work out, so I’ll go learn a trade just in case.’ My response is simple, if you are going to be a doctor, you go to medical school, if you are going to be a lawyer, you go to law school. If you are going to be a pastor/preacher, you go to preacher’s school. Also, I would advise them to get involved in ministry now. Do not wait. Do not hesitate. If God calls you, He will equip you and provide for you. Don’t worry about anything. Just step out in faith and do what God has called you to do.

Thirdly, he served quickly. Abraham ran to serve. He hit the ground running. Abraham was on old man, but, he was so excited about this opportunity that he was so full of energy that he ran. What about you? When you are given a ministry opportunity, do you hit the ground running? Are you all in? Do you jump right in and start serving immediately?

Abraham also served generously. Abraham gave his very best. When we serve the Lord, we should give him are best. We should not serve half-heartedly. We should not cut corners. We should put our very best effort into the work.

He also served with humility. He presented himself to his guests as a servant. He humbled himself. He was willing to do anything. There was no job that was below him. When we serve, we should do so with humility. We should serve in any way possible. It does not matter how big or how small the job is. We should be willing to do anything for the Lord.

Finally, Abraham served cooperatively. Warren Wiersbe writes: “He served the Lord cooperatively and involved the ministries of others. Sarah baked the bread; a young man dressed the meat; and no doubt other servants brought Abraham the butter and milk.”[2] D.L. Moody said, “I would rather put ten men to work than do the work of ten men.”[3] A good leader will duplicate himself by investing in others and equipping them to serve. Our fruit is multiplied as we encourage others to serve rather than trying to do everything ourselves.

Abraham understood the importance of serving the Lord first. His service to his king came before any other task.

Minister to your family (v. 9-15). You cannot effectively serve the Lord if you neglect your family. As a pastor, I cannot pastor the church unless I first pastor my family. When Sarah first heard the Lord’s announcement that she would have a child, she laughed. She had a hard time believing that she could have a child at her age. Abraham’s faith was strong and as he ministered to Sarah she eventually repented of her unbelief. Weirsbe says, “The husband who ministers to the Lord will find himself ministering to the members of his own family, especially his wife. He will be a source of blessing in the home. When we study Genesis 19, we will see the contrast in Lot, a worldly man who had no spiritual influence in his own home.”[4]

Minister to the lost (v. 16-33). Abraham was an intercessor. He cared for the lost and actively sought to bring others to faith. Charles Spurgeon said: “If they [lost sinners] will not hear you speak, they cannot prevent your praying. Do they jest at your exhortations? They cannot disturb you at your prayers. Are they far away so that you cannot reach them? Your prayers can reach them. Have they declared that they will never listen to you again, nor see your face? Never mind, God has a voice which they must hear. Speak to Him, and He will make them feel. Though they now treat you despitefully, rendering evil for your good, follow them with your prayers. Never let them perish for lack of your supplications.”[5] Praying for the lost by name is something that we desperately need to do. How can we expect people to be saved if we are not praying for them? Abraham interceded on behalf of an entire city. Will you intercede for one? Will you intercede for your neighbor, you friend, your loved one?

Abraham serves as a great example of what it means to be involved in the ministry. May we pattern our lives and ministry after Abraham.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 74). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 75). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 75). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 77). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 77). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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