“Personal ministry…involves exposing hurt, lost, and confused people to God’s glory, so that they give up their pursuit of their own glory and live for His”!!! (Paul David Tripp’s significant book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers, 2002, p. 184).
That is a massively profound statement leading to a potential worldview shift. All of our lives we have been taught by our culture that the goal of life is to be independent, fulfilled, successful and comfortable. And we’ve unconsciously absorbed this message.
In contrast, as we spend time in personal worship (giving God glory for who He is), our focus can shift away from our own little plans, problems, hurts and fears to the bigger picture of who God is and what He is doing, We can begin to see the major themes of the Scripture that Mr. Tripp points out: the Glory of God, the Greatness of God and the Grace of God.
Mr. Tripp goes on to say that personal ministry is “embedding people’s personal stories in the larger story of redemption, so they approach every situation and relationship with a ‘God’s story’ mentality.”
Joseph in the Old Testament is an example of this. In his later life he understood some of what God had been doing in allowing/sending all the suffering of his early years. He said to his brothers concerning their having sold him into slavery, “You meant it to me for evil, but God meant it for good, to the saving of many people” (Gen. 50:20).
In God’s plan He calls us to a partnership with Himself, giving us significant roles and responsibilities: He prepares, then waits for us to obey His direction. If we willingly choose to obey, our foot can still slip, we can still fall, we can suffer difficulty, but as we continue walking in obedience we are lifted up again and again by His love and power.
So what is God doing in our lives with the difficulties He brings to us? Are we, through worship, looking at God’s glory daily, and thereby getting glimpses of the great things He’s doing? Are we grasping that our disappointments, hurts and sufferings are all being used by Him in the big picture in significant ways we can’t understand, and therefore praising Him for these problems?
As an application of this, a doctor comments that getting “over an illness should not be the primary goal” for a Christian. “What glorifies [God] is what is best for all believers; therefore what glorifies Him will be the best for the sick believer. Getting well is not necessarily the best thing…The hope for the believer is victory, not relief. Relief is not inherently wrong, but it becomes wrong when it is the primary goal [an idol]. God promises victory in illnesses and trials, not deliverance from them.” (Dr. Robert Smith, The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference [Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2004]). The real goal is God’s glory!
Prayer: “Lord, I confess that your glory has not been my goal. Forgive me for pursuing personal comfort as my goal and idol instead of your glory. Help me today to live with the desire to bring you glory and honor through my motives, thoughts, words and actions. Amen.”