Jars of clay

Good morning!  Welcome to a new week of Re:Verse.  “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”  (2 Corinthians 4:7)  It seems like a strange plan.  God takes a priceless painting and wraps it in old newspaper.  He puts a treasure in an ordinary, breakable clay pot!  The “treasure” is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.  (see 3:6)  The “clay pots” are His people and ministers.  His purpose?  To keep the attention on the message rather than the messengers.  To insure that no one ever thinks the source of this enormous power is us!  Question.  Do you believe that God brings trials into your life so that no one is ever confused (including you) that this power rises from your own wisdom or goodness.  Do you believe that we preach better when we are weak?  Paul did.

What’s new with you?

“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?”  (Isaiah 43:19)  “He will put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3)  One mark of the New Testament is that it brings newness.  If you are reading 2 Corinthians 2,3 and 4 this week, you are aware of Paul’s thoughts on this matter.  We do not peddle the word. (It is not a product we market for profit.)  We are sent by God and speak with sincerity and conviction. Vs 2:17. This is new!  Our message is the Spirit not the letter. Vs 3:6  This is new too.  We speak with boldness, not inhibition or fear. Vs 3:12.  There is power for transformation. Vs 3:18  We do not lose heart or get discouraged. Vs 4:1   All are parts of New Testament life.  May the Spirit make us new in these ways as we walk with Him.  I will see you in a few hours.  Don

To keep them from seeing

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing. . .the glory of Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 4:4)  What the enemy does not want us to see is the GLORY of Christ.  In spite of the evidence, many do not.  The disciples didn’t (in the gospels).  They watched the feeding of the 5000 and soon after were afraid as they observed Him walking on water. (Mark 6)  They had no “insight” says Mark.  No adequate concept of His identity and power.  Do you SEE His glory?  Do you regularly lift your eyes from your “stuff and struggles” to see the Lord “high and lifted up”(Isaiah 6)?  Has the radiant Christ become your vision? It is at the level of imagination/conviction that we  grasp the beauty and competence and reality of Christ.  As we “behold” His glory we are “transformed by it” (2 Corinthians 3:18)  There is something very powerful here.  Something that the enemy does not want us to see.  Praying for you, dear friends.  See you tomorrow!  Don

The god of this world

Do you think it is strange how often missionaries talk about the Devil?  Maybe it isn’t.  Those who are passionate about rescuing others from darkness are frequently reminded (by painful personal experience) of the powerful opponents who work to prevent such salvation.  Opponents.  Plural.  The Puritans used to speak of “the world AND the flesh AND the devil”.  Some believe that Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4 IS calling Satan, “the god of this world”.  Maybe, but it seems like too much respect.  Paul may have been referring to”the world, operating as a counterfeit god”.  The world and its values and problems and anxieties consuming our attention and thereby blinding us to “the light of . . .the glory of Christ”.  It is the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke the word and make it unfruitful.  (Matthew 13:22)  My testimony is probably the same as yours.  When my eyes are on “the stuff” I cannot see the Savior.

Walking in the light

“For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 4:6)  It is a miracle of the same order and magnitude as Creation!  God who on the first day spoke light into existence, has now spoken light of a different kind (knowledge of His glory) into a different place (our hearts).  We who see His glory are a new creation!  It gives new meaning to the words of John.  “IF we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with Him”  (1 John 1:7)  How sad if we see God’s glory in Christ and then drift away from it back into the shadows of self-sufficiency and fear.  How tragic if our eyes are open only for a moment.  Friend, today are you walking in the light?

Letter of recommendation

“Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we?  You yourselves are our letter. . .known and read by all.”  (2 Corinthians 3:1-2)  After Paul left Corinth, people came in who made every effort to undermine his authority.  “Did he bring letters of recommendation when he came?” they said in private conversation. (A familiar ancient tradition)  “Did he ever show you his credentials?” they whispered.  Ridiculous.  The church itself was Paul’s letter of recommendation.  The fact that they exisited at all was proof of God’s call in his life and his courage to obey the leadership of the Spirit.   Modern believers should evaluate ministers in similar fashion.  Not ordination.  Not seminary training.  Spiritual life and progress in the lives of people is sufficient proof of God’s calling.  It is a letter that everyone reads, and should.  In difficult days, sheep should remember what they are now a product of the shepherd’s care.

The gospel of the glory of Christ

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 4:4)  What is the gospel?  What good news do we declare to a sad and depressed world?  Is it a set of facts?  Is it what Tim Keller calls “The cradle, cross and crown”?   In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul says that the GLORY  of CHRIST is the GOSPEL.  It is the news, and the ability to see it, that Christ shines with the radiant proof of God’s holiness and power.  Why is it good news?  Because it shatters the grip that the dead and deadening material world has over our souls.  It awakens us to the reality and beauty of  God and our opportunity in Christ to be transformed into His likeness.  “We beheld this glory!” says the Apostle John.  Without this vision of eternal reality, no mere facts have power to save souls or change the world.

Losing heart

“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.”  (2 Corinthians 4:1)  This week the Re Verse Study system has us reading 2 Corinthians 2, 3 and 4.  It is a continuation of previous lessons with an emphasis (at least for me on this first day) on losing heart.  The greek word is a compound of two.  En=in.  Kakeo=bad.  Literally it means “the bad gets inside of me”  Paul knows that bad things happen in ministry.  Bad people do bad things.  “Good people” are sometimes not far behind. Unfair things happen.  Untrue things get said.  Which is all manageable unless and until the bad “gets inside” in the form of discouragement or resentment or fear.  What should we do when this happens?  As you read this week, I hope you will ask the Spirit of God to teach you  His answers.  Bless you, friends.  He is near.  He is able.  We have much to learn.

What Satan knows

In a few hours, it will be our privilege to gather around the Word of God.  My joy for the morning will be to teach 2 Corinthians 2:11, “We do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”  The greek language makes this sentence even clearer.  It reads “agnoeo noema”, two forms of the same word (note “noe” in both).  We “know what Satan knows” and how he uses it against us.  Sometimes people get discouraged re. membership and participation in a church.  It can be a hassle.  There is a sinister explanation.  Satan works hard to make church hard because he knows the spiritual values at stake.  I hope you will be in your place this morning.  I hope your head and your heart will be open to a new word from the Lord.  It is a privilege to be in this fight with you!  I love you guys.  Don

Workers with you for your joy

“We are workers with you for your joy.”  (2 Corinthians 1:24)  I am glad that Paul never lost his kindness or optimism.  The conflict and tension of church-battles have the potential to make us hard.  Tragic.  Somehow, Paul has managed to keep perspective that the power and point of New Testament life is joy!  It doesn’t matter if we are right (doctrinally) if we are not rejoicing.   Please notice that joy is something that can and should be “worked for”.  In Philippians 3 “Rejoice!” is an imperative, a command.  It is both “fruit of the Spirit” and something we choose. . . something we do. . . something that we work toward together (vs 24 “with you”).   Not either/or but both/and, no church cannot afford to avoid the difficult decisions associated with life in Christ.  In the midst of it all, however, the end result needs to be  joy.  May the Lord teach us to be such a people.  May He teach us  to build such a church!  I love you guys.  See you tomorrow.