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Summary: Did you know that the word stress comes from a Latin word that means to be drawn tight? Is anybody here uptight about anything? How many times do you hear someone ask, “how are you doing” and they answer, “I’m all stressed out.” You hear that all of th

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TEXT: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

I have a question to ask this morning: is there anybody here under stress?

Did you know that the word stress comes from a Latin word that means to be drawn tight? Is anybody here uptight about anything? How many times do you hear someone ask, “how are you doing” and they answer, “I’m all stressed out.” You hear that all of the time, “I’m all stressed out.” Why is it that we all at one time or another get all stressed out?

Twenty three years ago on June 6th, Time magazine on the cover story had “stress, the epidemic of the 80’s.” They referred to it as our leading health problem. Twenty three years later we’ve got the computer; we’ve got the fax machine; we’ve got the iPods and all the technology you could ever have at your finger tips; has our stress gone down, no it has gotten worse.

Seven out of ten people feel stressed at some point during a typical work day. 80% of workers feel stress on the job. 40% of all job turnovers are due to stress. Somewhere between 75 and 90 % of all visits to the doctor’s office stem from stress. 34% of workers report difficulty in sleeping because they are too stressed out. Stress if now costing American business over one hundred and fifty billion dollars a year in health care cost, lost work time and poor quality of work.

Doctors now know that stress is one of the leading causes of the two #1 killers in America, heart disease and cancer. If you don’t get rid of it, it can lead to migraine headaches, high blood pressure, chest pains, ulcers, heart burn and many other things.

Today we want to look at how we can handle the stress. It can be counter balanced by what is on the inside.

The “earthen vessel” represents us.

The “treasure” represents the Lord – the one inside of us who is great and powerful.

Human weakness presents no barrier to the purposes of God. God’s power is made perfect in weakness as the brilliance of a treasure is enhanced and magnified by comparison with a common container in which it is placed.

The earthen vessels from which the apostle draws his analogy here are the small pottery lamps, cheap and fragile, that could be bought in the shops at Corinth. They were just common everyday vessels.

The followers of Christ may be likened to such fragile vessels since we bear about in our frail mortal bodies a treasure which is the Lord Jesus Himself.

It was not unusual for the most precious treasures to be concealed in mean and valueless containers. But how much more valuable they were because of the treasure inside.

This show us our weakness, and apart from the treasure inside our lives would be worth nothing much.

Because of this treasure and light that is in us we are more than conquerors. We see an example of this in Judges 7 where Gideon defeated the Midianites. The lamps were in the empty vessels and when the vessels were broken the light could shine forth, and victory was won. First we must become empty so the light can dwell in us – but the more we are afflicted and broken the more that inward light will shine out and give us the victory. When this light is revealed it will drive back the powers of darkness.

Also, the more we are broken the more people can see the treasure inside of you.

Verse 8 - “Troubled” or “hard pressed”: it means to afflict. To press, press hard upon, a compressed way.

Let me mention here, if you want to know what a Christian is made out of don’t observe him on Sunday or when everything is going ok. Observe him in the heat of the battle, when he is under pressure. The light or lack of light; the treasure or lack of treasure will be revealed when broken or under pressure.

Not Distressed or Crushed – “distressed” means: narrowness of place, or narrow space pressed in from the side.

We are pressed closely, yet not cramped.

We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed. The situation was that of hostile forces pressing in on him. He himself is in desperate straits. There seemed to be no way out. He was locked in and hard pressed from every side.

Contrary to all human probability, God brings him safely through. There is always the inner secret, the treasure of divine grace within the earthen vessel of his physical frame which ensures that, no matter how strained his outward circumstances that inner treasure will always shine out.

The idea is, that though he was close pressed by persecutions and trials, yet he was not so hemmed in that he had no way to turn himself; his trials did not wholly prevent motion and action. He was not so closely pressed as a man would be who was so straitened that he could not move his body, or stir hand or foot.

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