Christianity 201

March 1, 2016

We Are The Broken

Today’s post is by Iris, one of the writers at a multi-author website we have visited before, Laced With Grace. Click the title below to read at source, and then look around at other articles. (I had a hard time choosing!)

We Are All Broken

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

…It is our human nature that we want to be accepted by others. And if we are honest with ourselves, we strive for that daily. We want to be part of the ‘in-crowd’; yes even followers of The Way are not immune to that.. We want others to hear our voice.

But here is just the thing: we cannot please everyone around us, and especially not on social media. Remember when you were in school (the upper grades)? Although I did not go to school in America, there are always clicks [cliques] (in-crowds) no matter where you attend school. We strive to be part of that.

Over the years I have heard over-and-over…’you don’t amount to much’…’you don’t have what it takes to become popular’…

This morning as I was driving to work, I heard the song “Everything Comes Alive” by We Are Messengers. When you watch the song on YouTube, the singer has a testimony at the beginning and at the end. I encourage you to check it out when you have time.

You see, we are all broken. Some more than others. I know that I am broken, but my hope is not in what others think of me/my work or if others want me to part of their in-crowd. But God, in His mercy and grace, uses our brokenness to point to Him. We just need to be open to that and let Him use us for His Glory.

Lord of mercy and grace. We are all broken. Help us to recognize our brokenness and help us to be open to be used by You for Your glory. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen


*Some of the same material appeared in an expanded chart form in August 2013 – The Proud vs. The Broken

April 8, 2013

We Do Not Lose Heart

Heartlight is a website offering both daily devotionals and longer articles. This one  from the articles page by Tom Norvell appeared in February. You’re encouraged to read this at source, and then visit the rest of the site.

I suspect there are some reading these words might take exception to the title: “We Do Not Lose Heart”! You do not mean to lose heart. You do not want to lose heart. You know that you should not lose heart. But, that’s where you find yourself: losing heart… or at least you feel like you may be losing heart.

You have dreams that seem to be fading. You think about opportunities that have passed by or never ever came to fruition. You see obstacles that are too big and too powerful to overcome. You are faced with problems that seem to have no solution. You feel the pressure, you are perplexed, you feel you are being attacked on every side and from the most surprising people, and are afraid that if you are knocked down one more time you may not be able to get back up. You feel weak, tired, and defeated.

What are you going to do?

What can you do?

Start here. Read what Paul wrote:

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 (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV).

Does that sound like you? At least does this part sound like you?

  • hard pressed
  • perplexed
  • in despair
  • persecuted
  • abandoned
  • struck down

Do those parts of Paul’s words sound familiar? And the other things — the positive things, the things of faith — not so much right now.

Read what he wrote at the end of the chapter:

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 (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Feel any better?

Does it help to know you are not alone in your struggles?

Do you find any comfort in hearing that others have experienced the same difficulties?

Maybe? Maybe not? I know. I have been there.

Before you quit, take a deep breath. Before you slump off into depression and hopelessness because you still cannot figure out how to fix all the stuff that is wrong in your world, read this third paragraph that fits between the other two. This is where Paul reveals the reason he does not lose heart:

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 (2 Corinthians 4:13-15).

Did you see it?

It is right there in the middle of the paragraph. One sentence:

…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.

That is the secret. That is the key. That is what can keep us from losing heart. Look up. Look at Jesus. Rely on the fact that He will raise us up. Our struggles show that the Gospel is at work in us. Our difficulties will be turned into His glory. There is a lot we cannot see if we stay focused only on what we can see. This is temporary stuff. We are about the eternal.

I pray that through our faith in Jesus Christ who will raise us up we will not lose heart.

February 24, 2013

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Blog AnniversaryThis weekend the parent blog for this one, Thinking Out Loud, celebrated its 5th birthday. Because I don’t really share a lot of myself on this blog, I wanted to share a weekend article with you that expressed some of my personal values. I hope you find it interesting and perhaps challenging. Click through to read my version of What Really Matters.

II Cor (NLT) 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

2 Corinthians 4 7Last night we listened to a sermon in which this passage was quoted. The pastor used a term in substitution for “jars of clay” to try to demonstrate the meaning in the Greek, which reflects the everyday-ness, the common-ness of the earthenware vessels referred to. I am not going to repeat that here. I spent some time today trying to find some confirmation in commentaries for the term that he used, but was not successful.

But it did make me think about how totally inadequate we are to carry God’s treasure. But we are God’s “jars;” God’s vessels in this world. He has no other plan. That God chooses to dwell inside people whose best attempts at righteousness are described as “filthy rags.” Maybe it takes a little hyperbole from a pastor to get me thinking about that…

Mary Fairchild writes:

That seems like an odd place for a treasure. Usually we would keep our valuable treasures in a vault, in a safety deposit box, or in a strong, protected place. A jar of clay is fragile, and easily broken. Upon further inspection, this jar of clay reveals flaws, chips, and cracks. It’s not a vessel of great worth or monetary value, but rather a common, ordinary vessel.

We are that earthen vessel, that fragile clay pot! Our bodies, our outward appearance, our essential humanity, our physical disabilities, our shattered dreams, these are all elements of our jar of clay. None of these things can bring meaning or a sense of value to our lives. If we focus on our human side, despair is bound to set in.

But the wonderful secret to overcoming despair is also revealed in these verses in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4. Kept inside that broken, fragile, ordinary jar of clay is a treasure, a priceless treasure of immeasurable worth!

At the blob, Under The Big Topp:

I am not compelled by my great faith.
If the strength of my witness depends on the greatness of my faith – then there is no point in my opening my mouth. No one will be impressed or impacted by the words I speak. However, I cannot wait on the sidelines of this global, gospel war until I feel like a soldier.
I am not a woman of great faith.
But, God does not depend on my greatness…
I depend on His.

At the blog Hub City Underground:

God wants to use you to reveal himself to the world. There is a significant, unbelievable comparison here between the perfect, all-powerful, glorious God and imperfect, unholy, common, profane and ordinary people. God doesn’t want to share his glory with anyone. But God wants to display his glory and his power. The best way to display his glory and power is to use imperfect, common and ordinary people like you and me. That way he always gets all the credit.

God has always used ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The question is: Will you let him use you?

Joel Dietrich looks at death — the overarching theme in this chapter — and introduces the verses that follow:

We don’t like death because we lose those that we love. We don’t like suffering or watching suffering. Very often we pray that God would take all suffering away and postpone death for our own selfish reasons. Death also reminds us of our own sin and that we too will die because of them.

All around us people are suffering and dying. Many of them do not know who Jesus is or what Jesus has done for them. For these people death has not lost its sting and they have no hope for the future. Our world knows suffering and death. It’s knows the hurt involved with both. But the world does not know Christ or have hope in Him.

As Christians we have hope in life everlasting and we know that death isn’t the end but the beginning of life eternal. Yet we still doubt in our Savior. We look around us and see the violence in the world. We see dictators that try to wage war and commit genocide. We read about gang warfare and innocent children dying on the streets. We have friends whose marriages struggle and fail. We see families torn apart from fighting. We see suffering, pain, and death in all forms around us and wonder how we can go on.

The answer is found in the clay pots of our text…the treasures of God.

“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.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)

Look at those words…and at your very lives. Each of us in our own way has been hard pressed on every side, we are perplexed by the problems of this life, persecuted for our faith in Jesus, struck down by our sinfulness, from disease, heartache, and pain. But through Christ; through the treasures of heaven we are not crushed, we are not in despair, we are not abandoned, and we are not destroyed. While the world, sin, and the devil attack on all sides Christ is ever present. Even though it may seem we are at the end of all of our resources…God is not at the end of His resources. God is always with you, always protecting you, always carrying you. He will never let you be destroyed.

Finally, the blog One Passion, One Devotion had this quotation from Sandy Warner that I couldn’t trace back to its original page, but this is truly an amazing final takeaway from this passage to think about:

WEAK INSTRUMENT – A BROKEN CLAY JAR — The instruments that the Lord used to defeat these Midianites are amazing. They carried hidden fire inside clay jars which they brought into the enemy’s camp. It was not until these jars were broken that their torches blazed. Of course the jars of clay are us and the light is Jesus Christ and His fiery passion within us. When we are broken and vulnerable before the Lord and before our enemies, we are in the place where God wants us to SHINE.

Image: RPM Ministries article Dust and Divinity

Here’s a blog that uses the same terminology the pastor used in his sermon.  The language is not as forceful as what we heard on the weekend, I like this rendering a little better.