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Summary: This sermon speaks of the fact that outwardly we decay - yet inwardly we can become stronger.

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Earthen Vessels

Paul writing to the church at Corinth, speaking about death writes these words in 2 Corinthians 4:16:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Wouldn’t it be great if things could last forever? Clothes that would never wear out. Cars that would never break down or rust. Batteries that would never need to be replaced. Yet that is not the world we live in or the image that Paul gives us in this passage of scripture, is it? Paul says: “The outer man is decaying.”

Earlier in the same chapter, Paul paints a picture in our minds that we are like clay pots or earthen vessels - pottery. We all know that pottery can crack, get chipped and broken if dropped. And we all know that life takes its toll on our physical strength and stamina. Like the candle that gives forth light, it grows shorter with each passing hour until all its resources are expended. The body is made of material that will not last forever. “The outer man is decaying” - it is a fact. As we age - there is a process of deterioration.

Yet, let me take a moment to tell you a story. The year was 1947. It was in the middle east were a young boy found some old clay jars. The jars themselves were not of some great value even though they were hundreds of years old. But what these jars contained was priceless. They contained what has become to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They have become one of the most valuable finds in the study of the scriptures. They are priceless they contained the word of God.

In the same way, we are like those earthen vessels. The exterior may be old and fragile. It may be chipped and wearing away. But within us - inside our hearts there can be a treasure. What can be there. Faith, Hope, Love. And belief in Jesus Christ Himself and even the presence of the Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder that Paul writes:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

There is a song that we sing in church and it goes like this:

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living, whatever men may say;

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives with-in my heart.

Because of this fact we can say with Paul;

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.


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