I've read these words from 2 Corinthians many times. In fact, there are some tear stains in my Bible because I sought wisdom from them in times of deep distress. As I read them last night, God spoke to my heart new things through them as I prayed these words of Scripture for our trip to Thorington Road.
1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
Lord, by Your mercy You created Thorington Road Baptist Church to minister to the people of Montgomery. God, I pray You will continue to remind them of the reason they exist...not because of a pastor, but because of YOU. Help them to keep their eyes and hearts STAYED on you. If they do this, they will not lose heart.
2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
I pray You will send a shepherd to them at the appointed time who will preach the Word boldly and without compromise. Father, begin even now to impress upon his spirit the importance of living a life beyond reproach. Father, I pray You would continue to teach me this lesson also. Father help me to renounce my secret and shameful ways. I pray for You to take captive every thought, so my words and actions will be filled with integrity.
3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
God, bind Satan from this congregation. We declare in the name of Jesus, he has no power or dominion at Thorington Rd. I pray for spiritual eyes to be opened so they may receive the message of our Lord and Savior.
5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Father, it is NEVER about us, but simply about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are your servants. Our hearts are willing to answer Your call. Send us, Lord. We will go! We will let our light shine in the darkness to bring glory and honor to You.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Father, we are nothing but jars of clay that can be easily broken or destroyed, yet You choose to place Yourself into our hearts and lives. You are glorified as You use these fragile and weak "jars" of ours to accomplish great things for the Kingdom. Father, You are the Potter. Even when our jar is cracked, warped, even completely broken, You can restore and make us whole again.
8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
Jesus, I have seen You carry our church through raging battles, where my humanity thought there was no way out...we are down for the count. But when we were hard pressed, we were never crushed. We were confused but never gave over to despair or hopelessness. We were persecuted by those who thought we wouldn't make it, but we were never alone. We were struck down but never destroyed. Because You live in our church, Your power and might overcame the worst of circumstances and look where we are now. Standing on the verge of great and mighty gifts from Your Hand. Hallelujah! Lord, I pray You will do it once more at Thorington Road!
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Father, do not let them lose heart. Though they feel like they are wasting away, help them seek Your word and Your face, so they will be renewed on the inside day by day. This affliction is achieving them an eternal glory which will far outweigh these troubled times. Help them to fix, and not turn, their eyes on You and You alone. Remind them the trials of earth are temporary, but You are ETERNAL.
Sing with me....
I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down
For the joy of the Lord
I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying them down
For the joy of the Lord
Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord
I'm pressed but not crushed
Persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I am blessed beyond the curse
For his promise will endure
That his joy is going To be my strength
Though my sorrows may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning!
Have a great weekend. Hope to see you tomorrow at the Fall Festival.