As Paul closes his first letter to the believers in Corinth, he shares with them a timeless truth. In every place where God opens a door for the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, many adversaries will strive to impede its progress (16:9).
It should be no surprise then that Paul opens his second letter with a plea for prayer as he describes the difficult journey he endured in his carrying the gospel to Asia. Paul speaks of the times as being so trying, that they were near death and sometimes would have even preferred to die (2 Cor. 1).
It’s 3:25 pm in Jacksonville, Florida. Matt, Gayle, Ezra, Thea, and Hosanna are now leaving for Senegal, and they are very excited… without the impediment of misconceptions. They realize that God has opened a great door for the gospel, but are also aware of their need for much prayer, because the adversary will be very busy.
Matt departs from us with these words of grace… “Dear Partners in the Gospel, Please pray for us. …Thank you again for being a part of our journey as we begin this new chapter in Senegal. All Senegal for Christ!“
Matt reminded us Sunday that all Christians are called to make sacrifices; many will be called upon to suffer, but no believer is called to sit on the sideline. Staying off the sideline means being alert, available, and engaged where God is pouring His gospel into the lives of people. But remember, when you choose to be an obedient vessel for His service, many adversaries will be at work also. We need not be caught off guard, for the adversaries loathe the life-giving gospel of God’s Son.
And should we wonder “Why does God allow adversity to come with His open doors of opportunity?” Paul tells us that it is so that our confidence will not be in ourselves, but in Him alone (2 Cor. 1:9).”
How do we recognize the adversaries? Aren’t they made evident through their attacks on the gospel both externally and internally? Externally through persecution and suffering. Internally through our flesh. Externally, there will be adversaries attempting to close the open door. Internally, we will war with our fleshly and selfish desires. But if we’re willing to be that selfless vessel of mercy and grace, then the good work that He begins will be seen through to completion.
This includes praying for our missionaries. As senders, it is our gospel responsibility to keep them faithfully in our prayers. Even though the adversaries will seek to hinder our petitions to the Father through busy schedules or just laziness, we must remember our front line warriors are counting on our perseverance. Remember Paul’s and Matt’s words, “Please pray for us.”
Father, I pray for my friends. Would You always be their Strong Tower, even now as they now make their way toward a great door that only You could have opened. Would You limit the ability of adversity, but when it comes, make Yourself so real to this family that they find the needed comfort and peace to stand firm in Christ. May they also always know they have an army of prayers keeping them lifted into Your presence. Let them, and each of us also, be broken vessels pouring forth the aroma of the gospel of Jesus Christ.