Perplexed, Not Despairing (5)







Some preachers will be pre-recording their sermons today or tomorrow – or live streaming them on Sunday. Here is what we can pray for ourselves, or for those who preach.

Source: Matthew Henry, Method For Prayer (ed. Dan Arnold, Ligon Duncan): “Pray for the Ministers of God’s Holy Word and Sacraments.”


Teach your ministers how they ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, 1 Timothy 3:15 that they may not preach themselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, 2 Corinthians 4:5 and may do their best to present themselves approved to God, workmen who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Make them competent in the Scriptures, Acts 18:24 that from them they may be equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:17 in teaching showing integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned. Titus 2:7-8

Enable them to give attendance to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching; to practice these things; 1 Timothy 4:13-15 to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word; Acts 6:4 to immerse themselves in them and to persist in them, that they may save both themselves and their hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Let words be given to them in opening their mouths boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, that they may speak as they ought to speak, Ephesians 6:19-20 as competent ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; 2 Corinthians 3:6 and let them by the Lord’s mercy be trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 7:25

Let the arms of their hands be made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob; Genesis 49:24 and let them be full of power by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, Micah 3:8 to show your people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. Isaiah 58:1

Make them sound in the faith, Titus 1:13 and enable them always to teach what accords with sound doctrine, Titus 2:1 correcting their opponents with gentleness; and let not the Lord’s servants be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach. 2 Timothy 2:24-25

Make them good examples to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity; 1 Timothy 4:12 and let them purify themselves who bear the vessels of the Lord, Isaiah 52:11 and let HOLY TO THE LORD be written upon their foreheads. Exodus 28:36

Lord, grant that they may not labor in vain or spend their strength for nothing and vanity, Isaiah 49:4 but let the hand of the Lord be with them, that many may believe and turn to the Lord. Acts 11:21


Perplexed, Not Despairing (3)







Source: Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling (p128)


“There is a fear that causes you to be watchful and to protect the people in your ministry from the dangers of the real evil that exists both inside and outside of them. Eyes-wide-open, gospel-driven, sin-warring fear that at the same time rests in the grace of Jesus is a very good way to live in a world that itself is still groaning, waiting for redemption.

[But] Fear can overwhelm your senses. It can distort your thinking. It can kidnap your desires. It can capture your meditation so that you spend more time worrying about what others think than about what God has called you to be.

Fear can cause you to make bad decisions quickly and fail to make good decisions in the long run. Fear can cause you to forget what you know and to lose sight of who you are. Fear can make you wish for control that you will never have. It can cause you to be demanding rather than serving. It can cause you to run when you should stay and stay when you really should run.

Fear can make God look small and your circumstances loom large. Fear can make you seek from people what you will only get from the Lord. Fear can be the soil of your deepest questions and your biggest doubts.

Your heart was wired by fear, because you were designed to have a life that is shaped by fear of God. But horizontal fear cannot be allowed to rule your heart, because if it does, it will destroy you and your ministry.”

Comment: Fear has been lurking around my heart during this last week of change. In my better moments the fear involves a rightful concern for the church – one that even the Apostle Paul might have resonated with (2 Cor 11:28). More often, however, my fears arise from a less devout source. “The fear of man will prove to be a snare” (Prov 29:25) and I’ve caught in it’s trap more often than a godly man should have. The levels of stress I’ve felt around video messages, and worries around the opinions of others concerning the leadership calls we are making, are evidence of my own weakness. But these fears “that make God look small” mustn’t rule my heart. The fear of man (or of anything else) must be overwhelmed by a greater fear: the fear of God.

Perplexed, Not Despairing (2)


Source: Derek Prime & Alistair Begg, On Being A Pastor (p 86)


“Some lessons we learn slowly, and one that we have found particularly difficult is that God wants quality of life from us rather than quantity of service, and that the latter is no substitute for the former. More important than all our preparation for ministry and our careful administration of church life is that we should live our lives for the will of God and reflect His Son’s grace and character in all our dealings with others.

The most powerful influence we can have upon people is example. The strength of our example – of which we ourselves are seldom, if ever, aware – comes from the reality and sincerity of our inner and secret life with God. Moral failures, which can so tragically ruin a man’s testimony and terminate his ministry, invariably stem from neglected daily fellowship with God. Walking daily in the light increases sensitivity to the first approaches of temptation and sin and strengthens our capacity to resist it by the power of the Spirit.

Comment: In these days, when we face the pressure to produce more and more content for isolated people, and where we rightly feel the need to stay in contact with the vulnerable, this quote highlights a vulnerability closer to home. Quantity of ministry eventually has its limits. At some point we will regretfully neglect our own walk with God and paying attention to our own soul. Cast in the positive light, ‘walking daily in the light’ carries it’s own exemplary power. May I never forget this!

Perplexed, Not Despairing (1)


Source: Charles H Spurgeon – “ Man’s Weakness and God’s Anointing” (Sunday Morning sermon, September 9, 1860)


“David had as strong a God as ever; but he was weak in the flesh; and that, my brethren, blessed be God, is the only weakness a Christian can know. We are never weak in our God, we are always weak in ourselves. Whenever you are in the midst of a difficulty, and you sit down and say, “I cannot do this,” who ever thought you could?

You ought to have known that you could do nothing. But if your difficulty be ever so severe, and your position ever so trying, is the everlasting arm too weak for your defence? Is the eternal eye unable to see through the difficulty? Or has eternal love failed you?

“Oh, but I am so weak!” Of course you are, and the weaker you are the better. But Jehovah is not weak; the Eternal One does not faint neither is he weary; there is no searching of his understanding. David was weak, because he lived by sight; if he had lived as in the days of his youth, by faith in the covenant God who had anointed him, he never would have complained of weakness, but would have done his duty, even should heaven itself totter around his ears. Christian, stop talking today of what you are and of what you are not; remember the Christian’s standing place is not on the shifting sand of creature weakness, but on the immovable rock of divine confidence. The reason why the Church of these days is such a poor trembling thing is because she always looks to man for help, and seldom looks to God.

Comment: This is such a powerful quote. It humbles me to the depths, then raises me to heights of new faith. It reveals my ballooning pride that I hate feeling weak and have my deficiencies exposed. When God unveils my weakness I should see the blindness that caused me to dream I ever was strong. But as Spurgeon points out, if I live with eyes of faith I will see Jehovah in his unwearied power.