Good morning and welcome!
This morning if you would like to follow along in a Bible we will be in 2 Corinthians 4 and will be looking at verses 7-18.
And this message is not tied to any sort of sermon series or anything like that, but it is a message that I feel the Lord wants us to hear.
And that message is, that we are precious and special to God.
Even before our world-wide pandemic we knew that we were living in very troubling times.
Violence and evil on our every side.
Sin seems to be everywhere we look and the sin seems to get worse and worse each day.
People living in a deceived and ungodly state.
Where their only moral compass is what they think about something or what some post on social media tells them.
And an absence of a Godly influence has weighed on the Christian community.
And there have been many in the Christian community that have fallen into the same trap and same line of thinking as the rest of the world.
And the same sin we see in the rest of the world has also infected the Church.
And people are troubled.
And now we add economic troubles, health troubles, and all of the other things going on to the mix and people are beginning to be discouraged.
People are beginning to give up.
People are beginning to go their own way and not God’s way.
And this morning, I want to us to be reminded and to remember that God is still there.
That God still cares.
And that God is still very much involved.
And that we are precious to God.
That we are treasures to God.
And that God does value us, which is the underlying message that Paul gets into here in 2 Corinthians 4.
In this passage, Paul is addressing the Christians of the Corinthian church.
Who were trying their best to live for Jesus Christ in their own troubling times.
They were living in a society controlled by an oppressive government.
They were in a city that was as wordly, sinful, and wicked as any city we have today.
They were being persecuted and mocked for their beliefs.
And they were beginning to lose hope.
They were beginning to see the sin of the city also creep into their community as well.
So, steps in Paul to offer them both encouragement and advice.
Which is what we get into here in 2 Corinthians 4.
And starting in verse 7, Paul writes this . . .
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For 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. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So 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.
Pressed But Not Crushed (vs 7-11)
Pressed But Not Crushed (vs 7-11)
So, here we are with Paul who no doubt sees and understands very, very well what all is going on here.
He also understands what all is at stake here.
He knows that the the people’s only hope is Jesus Christ.
And he also knows that in order for them to make it they have to stay the course and finish their race.
So the very first thing he does is remind them how special to God they actually are.
He says . . .
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
And Paul loves to use these sorts of illustrations and analogies in order to get his point across.
He likes to use the visuals that the people can understand and appreciate.
So he begins here to talk about treasures and says we have this treasure.
Which naturally leads us to ask, what treasure? What is Paul talking about?
Well, he is talking about the treasure that is us, our soul, our true self.
It is a precious treasure to God.
Remember for the last several weeks we have been talking about God loving what God creates and God blessing what God loves.
Well those things that God creates, loves, and blesses, are also treasures to God.
Meaning that we are treasures to God.
And I know that sometimes the world will make us feel like we are not treasured by God or anyone else for that matter.
The world will try to beat us down and push us down.
The world will try to destroy our soul.
But we have Paul here to remind us that it really doesn’t matter so much what the world thinks about anything.
What matters is what God thinks and what is important to God.
And we are important to God.
We are treasures to God.
Which is why God takes such lengths to redeem us and save our souls.
So, Paul reminds us that we have this treasure, but the treasure itself, our soul must live this life in jars of clay.
And the thing about the jars of clay is that they are fragile.
They are easily broken.
They are not very secure.
And if there is no one watching out and caring for that jar, it could easily be broken and the treasure inside stolen away.
So, the picture here is that our souls are like this treasure stored in this fragile jar that God Himself cares for and keeps safe from being stolen, broken and carried away.
And our ability to survive an thrive in this evil and sinful world is just evidence of God’s care and the fact that the power to do this shows that the all-surpassing power [to thrive] is from God and not from us.
Which is where we tend to go wrong at times.
We try so hard to thrive on our own apart from God.
And even though we may even see some measure of worldly success, when we examine our hearts and our souls, we begin to quickly realize that we are broken and beaten down.
That we are lonely and and that there is something in our soul that is missing.
And that something is God.
However, for those who have placed themselves in God’s care, that doesn’t mean that trouble will not come.
That doesn’t mean that hard times will not come.
That doesn’t mean that trials and tribulations will not come.
That means that God is with us and that God will care for us.
Look at what Paul says next here. He says . . .
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For 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.
In other words, we may be bent but we are never broken.
Things will come against us and storms will rage, but we are never abandoned, never struck down, and never destroyed.
We have the life and power of Jesus Christ working in us and through us.
And we have the hand of God on us.
And regardless of whatever happens, we can stand confident that we are God’s and that we are in God’s hands.
Life is at Work in Us (vs 12-15)
Life is at Work in Us (vs 12-15)
And as bad as things may seem to be going for us in this life, we can stand confident that this life is not the final say.
In fact, in the grand scheme of things this life is very short in comparison to eternity.
Which is what Paul will get into in a few minutes, but first he says this . . .
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Death will eventually come to all of our mortal bodies.
The fact is, if Jesus does not return to us, we will all return to Him, via the grave.
Death in this body is part of life.
But the life that Paul is talking about at work in us is eternal life found in Jesus Christ.
Because again, that is what really matters here.
He goes on . . .
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
And what Paul is doing here is trying to offer them some hope.
Paul knows full well the suffering they were enduring.
We have to remember that Paul himself suffered a great deal.
Remember this was the same Paul that we learn in chapter 11 that was
5 times given 39 lashes
3 times beaten with clubs
Once he was stoned
3 times he was shipwrecked
He also faced danger from robbers and strangers, went without sleep, food or drink.
Paul knew about suffering.
So he knows what he is talking about when he tells them that . . .
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
And I will be the first to tell you that I personally don’t understand or even see the benefit at times, but I also don’t understand and see everything from God’s perspective.
Which is where our faith must come in.
This is where we must say I trust you God to take care of me and whatever happens, I am in your hands.
Do Not Lose Heart (vs 16-18)
Do Not Lose Heart (vs 16-18)
Which is honestly the only way we make it.
That is it.
So, Paul goes on. He says . . .
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
We don’t lose heart because we have the Holy Spirit living in us and working through us.
The Holy Spirit is there to renew us day by day.
And it is important that we hear what Paul is saying here.
We have to be renewed day by day.
It can’t be every once in a while.
It can’t be once a month.
It can’t be once a week.
We have to be in constant contact and constant communication with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit must have constant access to our lives.
Otherwise, we miss out on our renewal and we grow weaker and weaker.
And the pressure of the world begins to weigh heavier and heavier on us.
And sooner or later we break under that pressure.
Which is where people fall away, backslide, and where sin finds it way into us and into the Church.
So we have to actively allow the Holy Spirit the access to do the work the Spirit does.
And we also have to actively do as the Holy Spirit instructs us to do.
Christianity is not a passive religion—it is an active relationship with God.
And when we can live our lives that way, Paul says . . .
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
We see the big picture and understand what it is all about, so what do we do?
So 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.
We fix our eyes on Jesus.
We fix our eyes on heaven.
We fix our eyes on the eternal goal and glory found in God.
And we find our way home.
And this morning I wonder how many out there are struggling.
I wonder how many have started to take their eyes of Jesus.
I wonder how many have failed to allow the Holy Spirit to do the renewing work the Holy Spirit does.
And in these troubled times you have grown weaker and weaker in your faith.
The troubles of the world have crept in and you are getting closer to giving up or maybe have given up.
You can change that today.
You can be renewed today.
So, if you need to do that this morning, don’t log off until you have worked everything out with God.
And if you need to talk with me, send me a message or give me a call.
Don’t forget to tune into tonight at 6PM.
And as always until next time, stay safe.