Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
-2 Corinthians 4:1, 5-7, 11-13
I found this sentiment and truth from the heart of the apostle Paul to the churches at Corinth filling my heart last Sunday night as Cay and I drove through the heart of our little city up South Roan Street to the little building where Tri-Cities Baptist Church, Johnson City Campus has gathered for the last time as one of the elders to be prayed over and sent out from this Fellowship we love dearly. Before we walked in I sat in my Jeep out in the parking lot to read this chapter again, asking the Spirit to press it deeply into my soul.
He did. And He continues to shape my heart through the truths tucked away in this chapter as we get our lives settled in here in Louisville.
Here’s some ways you can pray these things over us as we officially begin our time here.
The calling to ministry is hard and weighty. People are broken, expectations often go unmet, and sometimes life hurts. Worse than any of the rest, I am deeply broken, my life is often inconsistent with what I know to be true, and I know my sin hurts others. None of us have experienced even a fraction of the suffering Paul went through for the sake of the gospel, but if following Jesus hasn’t cost us anything yet we may want to evaluate whether or not we’re really being obedient.
- Pray for rest, healing, and repentance for Cay and I. Not that we’re burnt out or upset or caught in unrepentant sin. Actually, that’s the exact reason I need you to pray this for us- that we would begin this journey of our year in Louisville with a posture of desperate dependence and humble repentance so He can continue to prune us, empty us, and shape us so the things that are hindering growth, quenching His Spirit, and that doesn’t look like Jesus would be removed, resulting in great fruit bearing, filling of His Spirit, and Christ-likeness in thought, motive, and deed.
The calling to ministry is a beautiful gift. Paul is rawly honest about his struggles and what it cost him to follow Jesus, but what kept him going was his experience of the surpassing worth of God. By grace and through the Spirit, Paul had witnessed an awakening of his heart- a reviving of soul- as He got glimpses of all God is for us in Jesus.
- Please pray for our faith and for our joy. Pray for the light of who He really is to shine brighter into our darkness of doubt and worry and sometimes cynicism. If in this next year we learn a lot, develop all the right partnerships, and build a stellar team and through it all miss Him, this is all wasted. Pray we’d see Him vividly and love Him supremely.
Ministry is a gift because He is the Treasure. We “do not lose heart”- no matter what we feel, no matter what it costs, no matter how things are going. Why? I think Paul gives two reasons.
First, we don’t lose heart because Jesus is better. No matter what following Jesus costs, the reward of knowing Jesus, experiencing Jesus, and putting Jesus on display makes even the greatest of sacrifices worth it. When you have everything you need in someone who cannot be lost, you are free to live with it all held with an open hand. I want to believe this with everything I am.
Second, we don’t lose heart because there’s more to life than self-fulfillment. I pray to have such an understanding of and commitment to the gospel that oozes out of Paul. He knew that if the gospel of a suffering, yet exalted Savior was going to be on display to the world and in the Church, that message must be boldly declared from the lips of one whose ‘manner of life is worthy of the gospel.’ Paul saw that all the suffering was not just for His worship, but also for their worship- for the world who is veiled to see the beauty of Jesus and for those in the Church who experience life through Paul’s continual death.
- Pray for us to pursue God’s calling on our lives with humility. Pray that we would continue to learn to ‘forget ourselves’ so we can proclaim Jesus. Pray we would gladly take the role of servant so others will see Him.
- Pray for us to continually learn how to die, so that the way we enjoy life’s sweet moments and the way we respond to the bitter and dark moments and the way we continue in everyday obedience in the little things- that all of it would would be illustrations of the gospel and little beacons of light pointing up to our Father in Heaven.
- I have spent the week interviewing for part-time work. I have been offered a few different positions. We thank God for His provision for employment. We ask you pray for us this week for clarity and discernment for us to choose the place where we can not only make a paycheck, but can love and serve people well strategically for the Kingdom.
Longing to see His face,