*”I know I promised we’d get away this weekend, honey, but my boss expects this project on his desk Monday morning.”
*”It’s been raining four consecutive days, but the weatherman says tomorrow will be sunny.”
Years ago, a soul-nourishing Bible study for me was tracing the phrase “but God” or “but the Lord” through Scripture. In some cases, the name of the Lord doesn’t directly follow the term “but,” yet the verse clearly reveals a contrast that involves Him. Here are four verses that I found particularly helpful for me as a vocational Christian worker.
1. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).
Paul wrote these words in the context of his defense of his ministry, right after referring to the conversion of the Corinthians. They were the evidence of his authenticity as an apostle, but he knew he didn’t deserve the credit for the fruitfulness he cited.
If we’re honest, no matter how many compliments we’ve received, feelings of inadequacy still dog us, siphoning off motivation for daily duties. All it takes is one critical note, one reminder from Satan about our own vulnerability to sin, or the realization that a grown child is away from the Lord, to send us into a tailspin.
God doesn’t promise us the same degree of popularity or eloquence as a pastor down the road, or the same number of converts as a friend who also shares her faith a lot, or the same exuberant personality of a teacher across the hall. Yet if He has called us to our position, He does pledge His adequacy for the task.
2. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…” (Luke 22:31-32).
Jesus personally interceded for Peter. And since His ascension, He keeps interceding for us. “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised , who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34).
Not only God the Son, but God the Holy Spirit is an intercessor for us: “The Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words….He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).
When the pressures of ministry cause your faith to falter; when it’s difficult for you to pray; when you’re weary to the bone; when you doubt that many folks are praying for you, remember: two members of the Trinity represent you before the throne of God the Father. To use an old metaphor by my friend Bill Solomon, “If that doesn’t light your fire, your logs are wet!”
3. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).
Whether the temptation is in the realm of moral purity, or false motivations for ministry, or bitterness toward a critic, Satan persists in his efforts to derail people in church leadership roles. When he succeeds, Christ, whom he hates, has a tarnished reputation before the world.
When the enemy’s lure is so strong that yielding seems inevitable, quote this verse back to God. Admit your vulnerability, and plead for Him to fulfill His promise to strengthen and protect you from Satan. Keep telling yourself that because of this promise, yielding to the temptation is not inevitable.
4. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
Whether a new program you launched floundered, several members left for a new megachurch in town, or you’re prone to despondency for reasons you can’t identify, remind yourself that you need a daily infusion of the Lord’s strength to keep going. Or if you feel vulnerable to a particular sin--not necessarily one you’ve yielded to—call on the One who gives not only grace that pardons sin, but grace that gives power not to sin.
No verse in the Bible calls us to desperate dependence any more than Psalm 73:26!
What Bible truths or verses sustain you as a leader or church volunteer?
Terry covers these verses and more in the “But God…” chapter of his book Serve Strong: Biblical Encouragement To Sustain God’s Servants. The book’s 24 chapters teem with truths and stories that instill resiliency for ministry. Order your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Serve-Strong-Biblical-Encouragement-Servants/dp/0891124322