1. I need to remember the resurrection of our Lord.
God the Father raised His Son from the dead just as He planned. And that changes everything. Life triumphs over death, eternity trumps time, glory follows suffering. It was "the God of peace" who purchased peace for us through the sacrifice of Jesus (Eph. 2:14). "By the blood of an eternal covenant" my Father in Heaven purposed that I, too, should share in resurrected life with Jesus. Whatever affliction awaits in the ministry, whatever suffering and hardships come, even if I should despair of life and feel crushed to death, I'm being taught to "rely not on myself but on God who raises the dead" (2 Cor. 1:8-9). The hope of the resurrection teaches me to abandon myself and trust more fully in my Father, and it teaches me that this life does not have the last say-so. The Life to come does.
2. I need to remember that Jesus is the great shepherd of the sheep at FBC.
What good news that is! I'm going to experience countless limitations and failures today. I'm going to see people who need real and deep help. I'm going to encounter people undergoing tremendous suffering, receiving wounds and scars sometimes the length of their souls. I'm going to have to put aside a hundred good tasks, in order to do the more essential. That will be the correct decision, but I'll still agonize over the 100 other good things. There will be sheep I can't find today. There will be sheep who feed on brown, worthless fields rather than the lush green fields of our Lord's fold. There will be sheep who look and act like goats. There will be sheep entangled in the thicket of sin and worldliness. And I won't be the shepherd they need. I won't get it all done. I'll finish the day with a good exhaustion from trying. But it won't be enough. So how wonderful that the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd says, "I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak...." (Ezek. 34:14-16; read all of Ezekiel 34 and John 10). The Great Shepherd uses us under-shepherds, but He is providing for all the Sheep himself without fail. So I can rest after an imperfect day, sleep through the night, and rise tomorrow to again joyfully face pastoral limitations and failures with zeal.
3. I need to remember that God equips me with everything I need to do His will.
"His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Pet. 1:3-4a). In His word I find sufficient equipment for all the tasks of pastoral ministry. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). He equips me with His Spirit, His word, His promises, and everything else needed for competence in every good work. I don't need my own equipment or ideas or strategies; I simply need to reach into the toolbox the Lord supplies and withdraw the equipment He provides.
4. I need to remember that I not only want to please God but He is the one working in me so that I will please Him through Christ.
How amazing is that? The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us who believe. That power is "working in us that which is pleasing in His sight." I'm not only created unto good works (Eph. 2:10) "out there," but God is at work in me to will and to do His good pleasure. The Lord is producing in me the things that He finds lovely and commendable. I'm not producing it by sheer grit and determination, or by genius and cultured habit. If there is anything good in me, it's because the Lord God is working it in me through Jesus Christ. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Oh, how I need to remember this today in pastoral ministry and the Christian life!
5. I need to remember God gets all the glory.
To Jesus Christ be all the glory forever and ever, Amen! "Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness" (Ps. 115:1). He lived in perfect righteousness for me, He died brutally for me, He swallowed the cup of God's wrath for me, He rose from the grave for me, ascended to the right hand of the Father for me, and He's coming again for me. So to HIM be all the glory forever and ever, Amen! He was resurrected, He shepherds, He it is who equips, He works in men. To HIM be all the glory and honor and praise forever!
I so desperately need to hold onto this divine benediction today: "Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
What about you?