Matthew 20:1-16 tells a kingdom of heaven parable about the owner of a vineyard who went early in the morning to hire workers. Every few hours he would go back to the marketplace and invite more to go and work in the fields. At the end of the day the people that came in the beginning were paid the same as the workers who came at the end of the day. This made the workers who had been there first upset because they felt those who got there late should not get equal pay. The passage ends with Jesus saying “The last shall be first and the first shall be last; many are called but few are chosen”
I think you would agree that your circumstances have a way of influencing your perception. Psalm 23 mean something profoundly different to you depending on whether a loved one died or you are about to start an exciting new job. This passage in Matthew has taken on new meaning for me these last few weeks in Vietnam. The day after Thanksgiving, I started a 40-day fast and consecration. I will have been here one year in Feb and I was still not clear about my role.
That last week in December brought tremendous revelation. Honestly, the pieces had been there all the time. As the Holy Spirit put things together, this amazing opportunity to serve presented itself. And as I watched the Glory of Zion conference, Starting the Year Off Right, everything was confirmed. Based on the earlier revelation about Vietnam from Matthew 2:2 (read here), I saw a two-pronged approach – online & on the ground.
#1 As a private, offshore (guarantees to be outside government regulation), online community, we will provide :
- Curated coursework via a Moodle Platform. Content will include videos, PowerPoint, assessment and discussion boards.
- Live web conferences to expose VN leadership to Apostolic and Prophetic leaders who can impart directly to them.
- Coordinated online prayer rooms
- Secure community environment to share testimony of what God is doing in their personal life and church.
#2 On the ground, we will be based in Da Nang via leasing/renting a private home. (Yes, I will live and minister in the same location – like a house/cell group) Home base will be used for small weekend sessions with prayer and impartation for:
- Worship teams learning to flow in the prophetic
- Shofar training
- Redeeming the land/ tearing down high places
- Activation of gifts
Back to the parable…
As I began to meditate on what the Holy Spirit had shown me, I thought about the timing of my call to full time ministry. In my eyes, I felt I had come to the maturity in my giftings late. So many other people were farther along than I was. Did I really have anything to offer? I was the worker who came onto the field a little later than the rest. By human standards I didn’t qualify to receive the same blessings or to get paid the same as those who started earlier. But thankfully God, the owner of the vineyard, came out to look for me. He kindly offered me the same opportunity – to work and receive the same reward. And then he showed even more grace by telling me that the last will be first. This took away my shame.
It also occurred to me that the church in Vietnam might feel the same way that I did. It is 2017 but because of the language barrier, a suppression of religious freedom and the idolatrous strongholds that resist the gospel – they are also late getting on the field. When I spoke to Vietnamese people about the strongholds (which I will discuss at a future date) God revealed to me, they were a little disheartened by the challenges that needed to be overcome. But with my new found revelation I was able to encourage them that God is outside of time, God is ‘not a respecter of persons’ and we are able to access everything. We are not late!
One other thing to note is that Matthew 19:30, the last verse in the previous chapter, also says the “last shall be first and the first shall be last”. When you read further back, it is the story of the rich young ruler who wouldn’t forsake all to follow Jesus. The disciples quickly add that they have forsaken all. Jesus comforts them with thrones are waiting for them in heaven and all who forsake earthly possessions will receive 100-fold.
Then he tells the parable and repeats “last will be first” only the second time he adds “many are called and few are chosen”. I have read books and heard messages preached about being chosen. But now, I have a new understanding. It’s not that God rejected the workers and picked favorites; the real story is that He chose anyone who accepted His offer. Many heard the call “Who will come and work for me?” but only a few said “Here am I”. It’s a willing heart that equates to being chosen!