Text: 2 Cor. 4:7-18
- The Tupperware Sales-lady
- Valuable Containers Commercial
I. God's Containers Carry the Demonstration of Power (vv. 7-9)
2 Corinthians 4:7 through 2 Corinthians 4:9 (NIV) 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
A. His Power
*** What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 2.
*** A small boy tried to lift a heavy stone. Despite his huffing and puffing, he couldn't budge it. His father, watching nearby, finally asked him, "Are you using all your strength?" "Yes, I am," the boy cried, exasperated. "No, you're not," the father replied. "You haven't asked me to help you." --Mark Mohnkern
B. through our weakness
***The power of God was suddenly released when I gave up being invulnerable.
-- Bruce Larson, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 4.
*** Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.
-- George Muller. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 4.
*** I asked God for strength that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for -- but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.
Philippians 4:13 through Philippians 4:14 (NASB) 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
*** Here are some examples of Christians who triumphed thru
1. John Bunyan - in Bedford prison wrote "Pilgrim's Progress"
2. Fanny Crosby - was blind because of a Doctor's mistake, yet was
used of God to write 3000 hymns.
3. Samuel Brengel - was educated, but when approaching William
Booth, was told that if he wanted a job to go to the basement and
shine the men's boots. He was humble and said that if Jesus
washed feet, I can shine boots. He became a leader in the
Salvation Army. One day he was hit on the head by a brick thrown
by a rough guy. During recovery he wrote rich holiness books.
4. The Apostle Paul stands out as a wonderful example -- see
Philippians 1:12-14, II Corinthians 1:4-6.
5. Other examples include: Jesus and His work (looked like defeat)
on the cross, Peter in Prison (Acts 12:3-11,24), Stephen's
marderdom (Acts 7) which may have brought Paul to Christ, Paul and
Silas' imprisonment and the Jailer's conversion (Acts 16:25-30).
II. God's Containers Carry the Death of Jesus (vv. 10-12)
2 Corinthians 4:10 through 2 Corinthians 4:12 (NIV) 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. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
A. the surrender of life
***When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ And He shows me His plan for me; The plan of my life as it might have been Had He had His way, and I see How I blocked Him here and I checked Him there And I would not yield my will, Shall I see grief in my Savior's eyes; Grief though He loves me still? Oh, He'd have me rich, and I stand there poor, Stripped of all but His grace, While my memory runs like a hunted thing Down the paths I can't retrace. Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break With tears that I cannot shed. I'll cover my face with my empty hands And bow my uncrowned head. No. Lord of the years that are left to me I yield them to Thy hand. Take me, make me, mold me To the pattern Thou hast planned.
The Holy Bible, New International Version
Luke 9:24 (NIV) 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
B. the revealing of life
*** A brilliant preacher aimed his lectures at a learned infidel who attended. When the lectures were over, the infidel became a Christian. "Which one of my lectures brought conviction to you?" asked the gratified preacher.
With a chilling smile the convert answered, "My dear sir, it was not through your lectures that I was converted. I slept through most of them. Why, it was an old woman, who used to hobboe up the steps of your church, limping and leaning on her crutches, and between every thump of the crutch on the stone steps exclaimed, "My blessed Jesus. My blessed Jesus." As I looked at the poor disabled woman and saw the genuine content and peace on her face, and found out she lived a consistent life in the face of poverty and loneliness, I saw a living book to which I could not reply. So I wanted the Christ whom she professed."
C. the transmitting of life
*** A young artist had toiled and struggled in his work upon a piece of statuary, until at last the block of marble which held his thoughts imprisoned had given way to the statue of an angel which appeared quite perfect to the beholder. The young artist wished the criticism of those of greater renown than himself, so he sent an invitation to Michael Angelo among others. The young artist had hidden himself behind a screen, and wanted to hear the criticism of his friends without being seen. When Angelo came to look the work over most carefully he was heard to say to one of his friends standing near: "It lacks one thing." The poor artist was well nigh brokenhearted as he heard this criticism. He hurried away from his studio and refused either to eat or to sleep, and at last one of his friends made his way into Angelo's presence to ask what it was that the statue lacked. "Man," said Angelo, "it lacks only life. If it had only life, it would have been perfect as God Himself could have made it." This is the picture of the man who is without Christ. He has many things to commend himself to the world; his disposition may be good, and his character may be beautiful, but if he lacks eternal life, he lacks everything. --J. Wilbur Chapman
- We can not transmit life to another unless we have it ourselves.
III. God's Containers Carry the Declaration of Faith (vv. 13-15)
2 Corinthians 4:13 through 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV) 13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because 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. 15All 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.
A. a spontaneous faith
*** "You cannot hide a city set on a hill, nor can you hide a
noble, worthy, steadfast Christian life."
- W. A. Criswell
New American Standard Bible
Matthew 5:14 through Matthew 5:16 (NASB) 14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15“nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
B. a specific faith
*** Faith is a cheap commodity. Everyone has some kind of faith.
Atheists have faith - faith that there is no God, no place of
everlasting punishment in the hereafter.
Animals possess faith. They display the utmost faith in their
masters, as do children in their parents.
Sick people also display tremendous faith. They go to a doctor
who took courses in school with names they may not even be able
to pronounce correctly much less understand. He gives them a
prescription they can not read. They take the prescription to a
pharmacist they may not have even seen before. He gives them
some medicine they do not understand and that cost and arm and a
leg. All this is done in trusting, sincere faith.
But faith by itself does not save anyone. It is the object of
our faith that saves us. That's why the object of saving faith
must be Jesus Christ.
- Bill Gordon
C. a spreading faith
IV. God's Containers Carry the Determination of Hope.
2 Corinthians 4:16 through 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) 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.
A. full of heart
*** From strength to strength, go on, Wrestle, and fight, and pray; Tread all the powers of darkness down, And win the well fought day.
*** The story is told that Andrew Jackson's boyhood friends just couldn't understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of other men who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson's friends said, "Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now."
Another friend responded, "How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn't they usually say three times and out?" "Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat -- he would never stay 'throwed.' Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner."
Picking up on that idea, someone has said, "The thing that counts is not how many times you are 'throwed,' but whether you are willing to stay 'throwed'." We may face setbacks, but we must take courage and go forward in faith. Then, through the Holy Spirit's power we can be the eventual victor over sin and the world. The battle is the Lord's, so there is no excuse for us to stay "throwed"!
Our Daily Bread, December 11
B. frequent renewal
*** Most evangelists and church leaders will say that though training in evangelism is important, the most critical factor is motivation. Many Christians know what to say; few are enthusiastic about saying it because of the low level of Christian experience in the church itself. But when the church becomes renewed in the Spirit, the life of Jesus will spill out to others. If we are genuinely excited because Christ is alive within us, and if we are able to say to others "Come and see" because our church manifests the life of Christ, evangelism will happen naturally.
David Watson, Called & Committed, (Wheaton, Illinois, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1982) pp. 22 23
C. farsighted vision
*** "Faith is daring the soul to go father than it can see."
Be the vessel you were designed to be. As we carry Christ in our hearts, let us be strengthened from within by His power, and shine from within to proclaim the glorious salvation that gives us hope in the midst of adversity, for we see beyond time into an eternity that warmly invites us as immortals into the presence of God.