His Inscriptions readers are an amazing group of leaders in your local churches, families, and communities! It is you I want to encourage today with this special focus on ministry.
As I sat with the Lord in prayer this week, He gave me a picture of three doors. With the exception of our quiet times, these three doors are meant to remain open, the Presence of God accompanying us as we pass through each door into different spheres of influence.
The first door was the door to our heart, or our "innermost room." Jesus called believers to go into this innermost place and close the door so that we could commune with the Father in secret. The Passion Translation describes this place as the "resting place of His love" (Ephesians 3:17), the source and root of all that we do. Our first and primary ministry as priests will always be to the Lord.
This sacred space in our hearts is like the "Holy of Holies" - a place where there is a divine exchange of our sin for His righteousness, our unworthiness for His love, and our humanness for His supernatural Spirit. It is the only place in Scripture I know of where we are told to close the door, seal ourselves off, and be alone. We "cap our wells," so to speak, for the sake of replenishment and stillness before the Lord.
The second door opened to those closest to us: family and friends with whom we live our daily lives. The places we walk on a daily basis present us with the opportunity to love those around us as an outward expression of our inward love for Christ. This represented our secondary ministry, second only to God.
The third door opened to the world of our communities, churches, and nations; our "metron" or expanded sphere of ministry. While many believers place this sphere first, that is not the biblical pattern. (See 1 Timothy 5:8.) What exactly is our ministry? It is the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
The beautiful truth of the New Testament is that God's "door" is always open. The veil that separated us from intimacy with Him was torn at Christ's death, and we are now able to boldly approach His throne through Jesus's righteousness! Hallelujah!
Paul said he "resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2) The message of Christ is our ministry! For our message to be authentic and powerful, we must ourselves be ministered to by the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3, 4, and 5 describe a new perspective on ministry. Ministry at its best is not an "office" or a title, but a position of servanthood. Here is what one of the most qualified Jewish leaders of Bible times thought about Christian ministry once he was converted:
The lives of the people you minister to are your "letters of recommendation."
As you minister to people, Christ writes "living letters" on the tablets of their hearts by the Holy Spirit, His "pen."
Any competence or skill you have (think of Paul's amazing qualifications, all of which he counted loss!) is the direct result of Christ's empowering Presence. HE makes you an adequate minister, not your works.
You are sent forth by God with pure motives, speaking out of your union with Christ. You are an Ambassador for Christ, yet everything you say and do is heard and seen by your governing King!
You are a mirror which brightly reflects the glory of God. If your gaze is not directed towards His brilliance you will reflect only darkness.
It is because of God's mercy alone that you are entrusted with New Covenant ministry!
You preach Jesus crucified, not yourself glorified. You give yourself as a servant to those you desire to lead.
At times you won't know what to do, but quitting is not an option. Failure is not an option, either, when you are listening to the Lord and following His strategies.
You may be persecuted by people, but God does not forsake you.
Your body may be wasting away but your inner man is renewed day by day.
You don't live a self-absorbed life but a generous and poured-out life, because you follow Christ's example.
You no longer evaluate or judge people by their external appearances. Your new perspective in the Spirit enables you to discern the heart.
In short, God has entrusted you with the ministry of OPENING DOORS to Him, however you do it. The flavors of ministry are as varied as the people God calls! You might paint a picture, write a word, grow a garden, cook a meal, counsel the hurting, teach the ignorant, fight for justice, build for the homeless or give to the poor.
Yet no matter how you reach out, you are opening the door to what you have seen and understood about Jesus in your relationship with the Word. You are lifting the veil for someone else. Through you, God is pleading with the world to be reconciled to Him. This is ministry!
I pray that you will take time this week to reflect on why you do what you do as a believer and a leader. I pray that your ministry will always be authentic, borne out of a love for Jesus that is cultivated in the secret place of the closed door. I pray that you will emerge from your "Holy of Holies" full of the Presence of the Lord, flinging wide every other door that might be a barrier to someone else who needs Him. May you have a ministry of opening doors for those around you, so that all may be reconciled to God!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.