Read Ephesians 3:10 and 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.
“So what ministries are involved in?” You know that you’re a Christian- - -and you probably go to a megachurch- - -if this is one of the first questions someone asks you when getting to know you. Many churches seem to have a ministry for everything; on top of children’s ministry, youth ministry, college ministry, women’s ministry, etc. there might be motorcycle ministry, deaf ministry, sports ministry, community issues ministry, classic cars ministry, divorce care ministry, etc. Though I’m grateful for these church’s desire to reach every kind of person for Jesus, the Bible doesn’t seem to compartmentalize ministries in this way. Ministry isn’t something we do once or twice or five times a week for a certain amount of time; for the Christian, all of life is ministry. However that materializes varies according to the gifts and abilities of each believer, but the core life purpose is the same across the board.
Today we are going to look at some glorious passages that give some insight into what your purpose is as a Christian. Spoiler alert: your calling as a believer is huge, even cosmic, and much more glorious than just teaching Sunday School every week and evangelizing on Tuesdays.
You cause the angels to worship God. Ephesians 3:10 gives us a glimpse into this: “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” “Rulers and authorities” in the Bible usually refers to spiritual powers; often demons, but in this context, angels. Angels are very interested in our salvation (1 Peter 1:12) and in Revelation they join the multitudes in praising God for His redemptive work. The angels have always been able to praise Him for being holy and almighty and great…but now the “manifold wisdom of God”- - -his multi-faceted character- - -has been revealed to the angels as they watch Him look down on depraved sinners with compassion and give His own Son for their sake. The redemption that God works in us results in deeper praise from the heavenly beings!
Your life is a parade of Christ’s triumph. The ESV Study Bible explains that the “triumphal procession” in 2 Corinthians 2:14a likely refers to victory parades common in Rome after a triumphant battle; “God is depicted as the sovereign victor, with Christ as the general, leading the victory procession, and Paul as ‘captured’ by Christ but now joyfully following Him.” We have been graciously rescued from our slavery to sin and now our lives declare to the world, “My heart has been captured by Him!” As we go to Walmart or soccer games or family gatherings, we are joyfully making it known to everyone that Jesus has won us over.
Your life is a fragrant aroma to God and the world. In 2 Corinthians 2:14b-16, we get another beautiful image of what our lives are like. Our “aroma” to God was once pungent (Isaiah 64:6 says our righteousness was filthy rags, after all) but the aroma of Christ has always been sweet (“You are My beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”), and now that we have His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:17), our aroma to God is sweet as well! We smell like Jesus to the Father, and to the world. As it says in vs 16, the smell of Jesus is not sweet to those who are spiritually dead and hateful towards Christ, but to those who will believe the aroma of Christ is attractive and leading to eternal life. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” He allures those are not-yet-His-people to His beauty and grace through us.
What part of your cosmic, eternal, glorious ministry as a believer is particularly exciting to you?
How does this change your daily life?
What is one verse you can be thinking about today?
As I write this, I am nine months pregnant and feeling pretty miserable. (It's also 4 am because, as with almost every night lately, I have insomnia.) My husband has been so kind and constantly expresses that he feels really bad for me and can’t imagine what I’m going through, etc. He knows that in the last trimester of pregnancy, pity is my love language and it’s all I want to hear.
But how silly it is of me to so strongly desire pity when I am among the most privileged people on the planet!
I remember hearing the story of Noah’s Ark and feeling really bad for Noah. The poor guy had to spend a long time building the ark (surely at the scorn of his neighbors), then when the floods came in, he had to be locked up in a boat with stinky animals during 40 days and 40 nights of torrential downpour, then after that it was still quite awhile before he was able to go back on land- - -and even then he had to start all over because everything had been destroyed. But let’s all pat Noah on the back for being obedient even when God made things so hard for him, right? This really does seem to be the kind of message most children’s lessons seem to be conveying when they tell the story.
But I really doubt Noah was thinking “poor ol’ me” in that stinky boat, and if that is what he was thinking, he was delusional. The Lord mercifully saved Noah, by grace, while his neighbors were perishing under the just judgment of God. Spending months in a dark and cramped boat is surely no vacation, but He was saved.
Though the Bible speaks much of the Lord's compassion for us and how we should show compassion for others, the only time I can think of when we are given permission to feel bad for ourselves for being Christians is in the hypothetical situation presented in 1 Corinthians 15:19: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If Christ hasn’t actually been raised from the dead, that would mean there is no resurrection for us, and that means we wasted our lives following a failure. If our existence turns out to be nothing beyond this life, then we should’ve used our resources to have all the fun and short-lived gratification we could fit into these measly 70 years or so.
But we have great reason to believe that Christ has risen from the dead, and that there is a resurrection future for us. Sometimes I get to meet a Christian who really believes this, and my mother-in-law is the first person who comes to mind. Whenever I ask how she’s faring with her chronic neck pain or other hard issues, she faithfully reminds me, “Don’t feel bad for me. I have Jesus!” She has spent enough time walking with the Lord to know that her suffering is temporary and truly not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18.) We get to be co-heirs with Christ. We get to know God.
In Acts 5, the apostles were arrested, beaten, and charged to not speak of Jesus anymore. Their response to persecution? “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (vs 41.)
Those who are privileged enough to know Jesus must remember what we have in Him. In today’s culture of getting angry about anything and feeling entitled to everything, we tend to complain of “persecution” at every little negative comment or potentially-unfair legislation. But even those apostles who actually were persecuted rejoiced at the privilege. The apostle Paul, who suffered greatly, wasn’t being hypocritical when he charged the Philippian church to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” He was in prison and praising the Lord even for that particular sovereignly ordained circumstance. This kind of mindset only comes from seeing how great of a treasure belongs to anyone who knows Jesus.
So today if you begin to wander into self-pity, don’t forget that God does see your tears and He does feel compassion for you. But those very facts should not drive you deeper into feeling sorry for yourself; on the contrary, the truth that God cares about your hurting heart should help your heart to heal. You are so loved by Him, and by Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection you have been guaranteed an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, and even any chance you get to suffer for Him in big or small ways can be seen as privilege. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
My brother used to claim that almost every afternoon when he looked at the clock, it was exactly 5:55. Of course I gave him the "yeah right" treatment, but then I---over-thinker and conspiracy theorist---noticed that I often tended to look at the clock right at 8:28, AM or PM. My brother and I are weird, I know. Anyway, the number pairing “8:28” reminded me of the wonderful corresponding verse in Romans, so for awhile I tried to think about that verse whenever I happened to look at the clock at exactly 8:28.
The excessively-mundane observations that my brother and I made came to mind recently because lately I’ve found my thought life to be weak---actually, dangerous. I tend to have long imaginary therapy sessions in which I complain about all my woes to a listener who does nothing but pity me, legitimize my grumbling, and condemn anyone who might have made my life difficult. Unsurprisingly, this is really sinful and does no good whatsoever, and on those days I tend to be grumpy, discontent, and impatient. Just ask my poor husband. For my own sake and everybody else's, I desperately need to be much more disciplined in taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5.)
So I thought of a really practical way of meditating on truth from scripture and I figured I’d share:
Select 12 verses that should come to mind easily based off the numbers 1-12, then try to meditate on them throughout the day whenever you look at the clock.
I’ve thought of at least two ways to do this:
By the way, I’m not saying God is trying to give us special messages through our clocks, and I’m aware that the chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles are helpful but not inspired by the Holy Spirit. The numbers themselves are not part of the scriptures.
That said, I don’t think I can exaggerate the value of thinking about scripture all day long, and I think this corny little method can help.
I have compiled four collections of scriptures in the categories of Comfort, Kill Sin, Gospel, and Peace & Joy and for each included a link to a printable PDF that you can cut out and put in your pocket for reference.
Sometimes I thought of more than one verse that would be really applicable, so I listed the alternative verses below. Feel free to make your own list! Also, I allowed myself the liberty of using double-digits in some cases (example: Isaiah 55 for 5:00.)
Even if you can only remember a key phrase (example: “BUT GOD from Ephesians 2:4) that can be extremely helpful for you as you go about your day, so I tried to embolden some key phrases in these verses. Obviously it’d be best if you could think on the whole scripture; keep your list in your pocket until you can remember them from memory!
Comfort Round the Clock (click here for PDF printable)
Alternative Verses: Psalm 3:5
Kill Sin Round the Clock (click here for PDF printable)
Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 2:4, Philippians 3:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:a, Hebrews 4:15, Micah 6:8, Isaiah 66:2, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Corinthians 11:58, Romans 12:11 (the whole chapter is a wealth of conviction!)
Gospel Round the Clock (click here for PDF printable)
Altenative Verses: Jude 24, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 2:13-15, Ephesians 2:4-7, 1 Timothy 3:16, Titus 3:3-7, Romans 5:17
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, Romans 8:32
Peace & Joy Round the Clock (click here for PDF printable)
Alternative Verses: Ephesians 1:3, 1 Timothy 1:17, Psalm 33:21, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 4:7
12-verse passages that I recommend for memorization are:
1 Peter 1:1-12
Psalm 46:1-11 (and at 12:00 review as much as you can!)
I'm sure I've missed excellent scriptures so feel free to leave me a comment with a verse that would fit into one of these categories and I might add it as an edit to the post! Also, it's very possible I've taken verses out of context or misunderstood their meaning, so please let me know about that too. Almost all of these scriptures have been distinctly special to me at one point or another and all are worthy of deeper study and meditation for the rest of our lives. :)
I hope this is encouraging to you and helps you think on truth and consequently have more joy! May these verses be a lifeline to you, and if they're unfamiliar to you as of yet, may you meditate on them in context and know Jesus far more deeply and truly than you ever knew possible. (I'm praying this for myself too of course!)
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You." -Isaiah 26:3
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising four little people ages 1,3, and 5, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and Coke icees, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today