When God called us, he gave us gifts. He invested in us a ministry, an opening to serve him, to help bring in his kingdom. Ministry is not just for the select few – God’s ‘special’ workers. No! We are all ministers of his New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6). Because of this, we have confidence that God will realize a fulfilment of that ministry.
Words for the Week
2 Corinthians 3:2-9
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
1 Corinthians 3:4-9
For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “ farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
“Do not strive in your own strength; cast yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus, and wait upon Him in the sure confidence that He is with you, and works in you.” Andrew Murray
Competence: The ability to do something successfully or efficiently.
Confidence: The feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.
God has called us to minister, to be part of his task force bringing his kingdom to earth. Paul saw that God had made him a minister and that God had not just called him but made him competent (2 Corinthians 3:6). Just as God invested in Paul’s life and gave him the gifts, skills and experiences to be competent in the ministry he had received, God has similarly equipped us to be competent in the ministry he has for us. So we can have confidence, not in ourselves but in God who has equipped us to fulfil the ministry he has given us.
Jesus too had a ministry from God to complete. At the end of his life he was able to say “I have finished the work [God] gave me to do.” (John 17:4) When we look at Jesus’ life we see times of obvious outward ‘success’. He heals all who come to him and teaches the multitude (Matthew 12:15). At other times, because of people’s lack of faith, he does few miracles (Matthew 13:58), and is ultimately rejected. Despite this varied outward response, Jesus could still say I have completed the ministry [God] gave me to do. He was confident that his ministry had achieved its goal.
The church Paul was writing to had its ups and downs. It wasn’t always a pretty picture, yet Paul could say you are our letter of recommendation. These people, despite their short comings, had been transformed. God was working in them to bring about righteousness (2 Corinthians 3:9). Paul said, with confidence, that the result of his ministry was glorious. This wasn’t because of his own efforts but because God was working in him and in his hearers through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Confidence in God’s ministry
God has invested in us. We, along with Jesus and Paul, have been made ministers of the new covenant each with a different and important part to play. Jesus and Paul went out and served others, they did the job God had called them to do. What do we see? Sometimes ‘success’ sometimes ‘failure’. Jesus told the parable of the sower. Some of the seed produced much fruit, some no fruit. We are the farmer, we ‘sow’ our ministry – carry out the service God has given us to do. It’s not us who brings about the harvest. We must have confidence, not in our competence nor in the visible results, but in God. Paul explained this in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted the seed,” he says, “Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
Our personal financial investments may have a ‘Risk Warning’ attached to them. But God’s investment in us comes without a ‘Risk Warning’. God has equipped us and is at work in us and in those amongst whom we minister, to bring about an increase. We have confidence that through the ministry we have been given God will bring an increase – his kingdom will come and grow.
“Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging; therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.”
Own it personally…
God has invested in you.
Think about your present situation:
- What ministry can you see invested in your life?
- Are there steps you can take to help it develop?
- Joining a prayer ministry team, or attending a theology course, or getting involved in a charity.
Pray about today:
- Where will you have openings to minister in God’s name to others?
- How will being confident in God make a difference to the way you respond?
Consider the past years:
- Whose life have you had the privilege to minister into?
- In what situations has God equipped you to be his minister?
- Pray that God will bring an increase.
Read some local news:
- Chose an article and pray about ways God could use you to complete his work.
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
Do a Google search for confidence and click on images scroll through the results. Now do a search and enter confidence in God scroll through the results. Think about the different emphases. How can you encourage people to move from the first page to the second?
Thank you that you never send us out alone or under equipped. We have confidence not in ourselves but in your strength and equipping. Thank you that we can be sure that in whatever situation we are in right now you go before us, you stand beside us, you walk behind us.
Almighty God thank you that YOU ARE WITH US.
Change the ‘us’ and the ‘we’ to ‘me’ and ‘I’.
Now pray this prayer again. Pause and think of a situation you are in today or are living through at the moment. Now pray this prayer again.
Remind yourself of a ministry God has given you. Now pray this prayer again.