Summary: Encouraging people to give what they have to God
A. Did you know that the Milky Way Galaxy has about 100 billion stars, and that scientists estimate that there are over 100 Billion Galaxies in the Universe. That means that there are over 10 billion trillion stars. A one followed by 22 zeros. And that the Bible says that God knows each star by name.
B. And that so far as we know, we are the only life in the Universe. Is it any wonder that the Psalmist said “Who is man, that you are mindful of him?” Yet, just as God knows each star by name He knows each of us by name as well. And despite all of our problems, our shortcomings, our struggles He desires to place the Greatest Treasure in all of the Universe in each one of His Children. Paul calls us Clay Pots.
C. No two of us are alike, we all have different talents, gifts, abilities. We all struggle with sin, doubt and fear. We each are unique. We have people in this Church who are musicians, teachers, administrators, prayer warriors, encouragers, people of great faith. No two of us are exactly alike, no we are all different clay pots. Look at some of the Clay Pots that God has used in the past. Fearing for his life Abraham twice pretended that his wife Sarah was his sister. Moses had a fiery temper and like me, was afraid to speak publicly. David, a man after God’s own heart was guilty of adultery and murder, Peter repeatedly denied the Lord, and the list goes on and on. No, none of use are perfect, we are all Clay Pots. The Key to being a useful Clay Pot is to be Humble, Invincible, Sacrificial, Faithful and Hopeful
I. The Key is to be a useful Clay Pot
a. Useful Clay Pots are Humble
1. “But we have this treasure in clay pots, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. “
2. The treasure that Paul is referring to that resides in each one of us is the message that the eternal God came into the World in the person of Jesus Christ, and died on the Cross and rose again to provide the forgiveness of sin and eternal life for all that would believe. It is the Gospel.
3. This treasure is of incalculable worth, yet amazingly God places that treasure in clay pots like you and me. If that doesn’t humble us, nothing will.
4. These clay pots that Paul refers to were just everyday common pots; cheap, breakable, easily replaceable pots. In Paul’s day sometimes these pots were used to store gold or silver and buried in the ground. The dead sea scrolls were found in some clay pots just like these. But mostly these pots were used for everyday things like taking out the trash or carrying water. There was nothing extraordinary about these pots.
5. Friends, God wants to use humble, common people, those who are overlooked by society because they appear to lack something. Within these people God places the greatest treasure ever given to mankind, the Gospel of Christ.
6. We should all strive to be a humble clay pot, the World is already full of people enamored with their own cleverness, importance and ability who believe that they are doing God a favor by lending their skills. No when God chose to give His Word to mankind he did not choose the learned scholars of Alexandria, the philosophers of Athens, the orators of Rome, or even the religious leaders of Israel. No He passed all in favor of simple fishermen like Peter, John, James and Andrew, despised traitors like Matthew and obscure men like Phillip, Mark and Nathaniel.
b. Useful Clay Pots are Invincible
1. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.
2. Rather than being downtrodden about his weakness, Paul embraced it as an opportunity for the power of God to flow through him. Paul knew what it was like to be beaten down. He said that he endured afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, tumults, labors, sleeplessness, hunger. He said that he knew what it was to be roughly treated, hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed and homeless.
3. But despite all of this, there was something about him, the power of God flowed through him.
4. He was afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Afflicted is a word that means under constant pressure. He was under a ton of pressure, but not crushed. Crushed is a word that means being confined to a narrow, tight space. The pressure that he faced could not keep his ministry bottled up.
5. He was perplexed but not despairing. This is a phrase that means he was at a loss but not a total loss. He was on the brink of defeat but not defeated.