Help for the Journey
Help for the Journey
Words of Faith 8-9-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Corinthians 16
 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you--for I will be going through Macedonia.  Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.  I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost,  because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
Paul began to wrap up this first letter to the Corinthians. In these closing thoughts we gain unique insight into the life and heart of a missionary. It was Paul's plan to leave Ephesus, where he had been writing this letter, and visit the Corinthians after traveling through Macedonia (northern Greece).
Ephesus had been a place of tremendous ministry for Paul. He ended up staying there for over two years, more than any other missionary location. This was an enormous amount of time in the life of Paul! There were extraordinary miracles through Paul and Ephesus became the central missionary outpost of the new frontier for Christianity. John would eventually settle there and the great preacher Apollos would make it his home. This was by far the most spectacular missionary work of Paul's career.
Paul planned to visit the churches in Macedonia-- Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea-- and receive their contribution to the needy in Jerusalem. Paul planned to travel during the summer and finally spend the winter in Corinth. He eventually made it back to Corinth did but not on the schedule set forth here. This change of plans became a source of trouble for him with the Corinthians later and was dealt with in the next letter to Corinth.
Paul looked forward greatly to this visit with the Corinthians "to help him on his journey". He did not want a passing visit but rather to spend some time. Paul was not looking for money (9:7-12). He was seeking "help" that was different even from supplies or material support.
When Paul suggested that the Corinthian believers might "help him on his journey, wherever he may go"-- this is as close as we will ever hear him come to asking for help personally. The Greek word here means to "send forth" or "help on a journey"-- to accompany or escort. Paul knew Corinth to be a place capable of encouragement and he longed to know that the Corinthians were "with him" in ministry. He was seeking the prayer support and encouragement of dear friends in a church that he had planted.
When Paul had first come to Corinth he was licking his wounds from a terrible failure in Athens and the wounds of being run out of several towns along the way. He came to Corinth alone at first, "in weakness and fear and with much trembling" (2:3). Many believe that Paul was in a significant depression when he arrived at Corinth and that Priscilla and Aquila played a huge role in encouraging him to continue on. For all the difficulties in Corinth, Paul remembered it as a place that had encouraged him.
It is interesting that Paul now saw the strong opposition in Ephesus as a sign that this was a "great door opening for effective work". Paul had greatly stirred up the landscape at Ephesus upsetting the craftsmen who made silver idols and causing a riot. But Paul's perception of his ministry was that the presence of opposition was a sign to him of the viability of his labor and a reason for pressing on, not running away.
So what do we gain from this? Here we catch a glimpse here of Paul's humanness. We will see more of it the second letter to Corinth. It is probably true to say that every missionary or minister needs to know that others are "with them" sending them in ministry. More fundamental than financial support sent monthly from the tithes of a local church there is a need for encouragement. But even more there is a need to affirm a shared fellowship in the mission that includes prayer support and knowledge that the missionary is in the thoughts of others. This seems to be the primary longing and purpose of Paul's planned visit-- I want to know that I am sent forth and you are with me.
There is great strength in such a relationship. The missionary or minister does not feel alone when there is such encouragement. There is a joining of faith. With that kind of support, opposition looks like an open door. Difficulty is just another opportunity. Adversity is another word for possibility. There is a God-confidence that He will supply all that is needed for the mission.
Are you encouraging your missionaries? Have you prayed for your pastors? Are you standing with your ministers in prayer and thought? Have you affirmed that you are "with them" in purpose and call-- "sending forth" and accompanying your missionaries and ministers in answering the call of God? This kind of "help" is most powerful.
The truth is-- we all need that kind of encouragement! We need the fellowship of believers to affirm that we are not alone in this journey. We need the help of knowing that we are "with one another" in purpose and mission and we are not out of the thoughts of other believers. We are reminded in prayer of the struggles others are going through as they are reminded of us. There is something powerful here regarding our support of ministers and missionaries, but also something powerful that we all gain only in the fellowship of the Body.
Heavenly Father, I lift to You my missionaries. I join in faith with those who minister through my church and pray for their encouragement. Show me ways that I can let them know that I am with them in purpose and calling wherever they may go. Take me into the places where I can offer help and gain help for the journey. Give me the encouragement that I need from the Body of Christ. Give me affirmation that others are with me. I am so thankful for all that You have provided. In Jesus' Name.