“It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ ” (2 Corinthians 4:13)
Is your God the same one that Paul served and worshipped? Most Christians will immediately say, “yes, of course.” But somehow, we don’t expect God to do in our lives what He did in Paul’s life. We’re not convinced Paul’s words about God will fit in our mouths.
Paul believed he worshipped the same promise-keeping God that Psalm 116 talks about. He took those words for his own life. It describes facing death and choosing to trust the God who gives life, who delivers, who raises the dead.
Paul believed in that God, so he talked openly about his own suffering and God’s power to do incredible things through him in spite of his own weakness.
You and I are weak. We suffer and struggle. Is the God of Psalms 116 and of Paul your God, too? Is He powerful enough to do amazing work through your clay pot of a life?
Think: Why do you think we don’t always give our God the credit for being the same God described in the Bible? If you are convinced He is that God, will you speak of your weakness and His strength in you?
Pray: Ask God to give you the faith and courage to trust Him as God and to trust Him to be strong in your weakness?
Do: Read Psalm 116.
“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.” (2 Corinthians 4:11-12)
Do you know anyone who seems to enjoy describing everything going wrong with his or her body? You’re more likely to find it in older people. To be fair, they have more illnesses, injuries, and medical disorders to catalog and describe to whomever will listen.
Paul was very connected to his physical suffering, too. But he didn’t describe it with an attitude of, “I cannot believe all of this is happening to me!” Instead, he chose to say, “See that scar? I got that for Jesus’ sake. That one, too. Yeah, that one almost killed me. But it didn’t!”
He also found big purpose in all his wounds, scars, and aches; they contributed to bringing life — bold, healthy, eternal life — to all the people Paul reached with the message of Jesus’ life, death, and new life for us. Paul walked with death so others could come to life.
Think: Have you experienced any physical suffering? Do you see any greater purposes for it? Would it help if you did?
Pray: Read Romans 5:3-4 and thank God that your suffering always has a point.
Do: Listen this week to hear how people talk about their physical pain and suffering.
[ April 30, 2010; ] April Focus on Environment
The oil giant BP, the fourth largest company in the world is responsible for perhaps one of the worst oil spills in history if the oil flow from an oil well known as “Deepwater Horizon” sprung a leak in the Gulf of Mexico is not stopped soon. But stopping the leak could [...]
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:10)
If God is really on our side, why do so many terrible things still happen to Christians? If God is good and powerful and loving, wouldn’t He stop all of our suffering before it started?
It’s a fair question. According to some scholars, it’s a question Paul’s opposition was asking about him. If this guy is really an apostle of the living God, why is he always getting beaten, attacked, jailed, and persecuted? Shouldn’t God’s man be protected from harm?
In answer, Paul seems to say that God’s ability to use him in spite of all his suffering is evidence that he is God’s man: “Look at Jesus. He was persecuted, beaten, killed. In his humanity, He was weak enough to die, just like all of us clay pots. But He was also God and raised to new life.”
Our suffering — especially for Jesus — makes us like Him in His humanity. We are weak enough to be hurt. But God is strong enough in us to keep us going, to use us in powerful ways, to prove that He is powerful enough to change the world through fragile human beings.
Think: How has God’s power been revealed in your life and in spite of your weakness?
Pray: Thank God that He is powerful enough to keep you going even when life if hard.
Do: Notice this week how God uses hurting people to accomplish meaningful things.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Today’s verses sound a little like a coach’s half-time speech to a team that’s getting beaten badly but still has a chance to win if they can turn things around. Paul’s point is exactly the opposite.
He just finished saying we have God’s treasure in our human clay jars to show how powerful He is. The point isn’t that we’re tough enough to take a beating and bounce back. The point is that a clay jar that has been pressed on every side should be broken. Instead — because of the powerful treasure in us — we’re still in play.
The power of God in a Christian’s life will not keep us from experiencing terrible things; it will keep those terrible things from destroying us. It takes His kind of power to do that.
Think: Do you know any Christians who have experienced some terrible things that should have destroyed them? Who do they give the credit to for keeping them going?
Pray: Thank God that His power in you is strong enough to get you through the worst circumstances in life
Do: Notice this week how your Christian friends or family talk about hard times and God’s power.
[ August 28, 2010 to September 4, 2010. ]
CANADA’S GOT TALENT
If you can sing, play, act or create then come to this year’s National Music & Gospel Arts Camp. The faculty is awesome and will make sure if you ever get a chance to go on national t.v you’ll do a better job than ‘Double Take’ did.
Hey…. we know you’ve got talent. Come [...]
Job Location: Winnipeg
Do you have a heart for inner city youth? Are you willing to get involved in the lives of at risk youth and walk with them through life’s trials? Is being an after school tutor something that you can see yourself doing (or getting others to volunteer) to help students? If so, [...]
“For God . . . 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. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
I like the band Jars of Clay quite a bit. I think their last album was one of their best in years. But it bothers me a little that whenever I read this verse I think of them.
Of course, they picked the name from this verse to make the point (I assume) that their ultimate message — that we can know God through Jesus — is far more powerful and valuable than the rock band that sometimes sings about it.
If you went to The Container Store in Paul’s day looking for something to keep your most valued possession in, you’d walk right past the “12 for $1″ sign on the clay pots and look for a cool-looking display jar (or maybe something with a lock on it).
Human beings are weak, fragile, flawed. Why — how — would God allow us to carry the most valuable truth in all of human history? Today’s verse answers the question, and it’s what we’ll be thinking about this week.
Think: What evidence have you seen in your life that you are a “jar of clay,” that you are not powerful on your own to carry the message of God’s grace? What evidence have you seen of God’s power in and through you?
Pray: As a Christian, thank God for placing His treasure in you and showing His power through you.
Do: Notice this week evidence of your weakness and God’s power in your life.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. ” (Proverbs 12:25)
Here are two undeniable facts. One, many (most?) of the people around you on any given day are worried about something. Even if they don’t show it, a good chunk of your friends and/or family members are stewing about something they don’t know how to fix. That “weighs them down” a little or a lot.
Second fact: You can help lighten the burden. Careful now: You can’t probably fix the problem that’s got them worried. You can’t take away the reason for their worry. But you have it in your power to do something about the weight of it.
Everyone can speak a kind word. It might take a little practice; we’re usually so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t think of it. But if you make yourself into a person who says kind words (i.e., something nice you wouldn’t have to say), you will become known as someone who makes hard days a little easier.
That’s a good person to be.
Think: Can you think of anyone who said some kind words to you this week and really meant them? Did their words cheer you up a little? Why or why not?
Pray: Ask God to help you to remember to say kind words to your friends and family as a way of encouraging them.
Do: Listen this week for good examples of kind words that really work to cheer people up.