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Summary: Difficulties, Hope, Eternity, Jesus

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FAITH OVER FEAR - Under Pressure

2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (p. 804) November 19, 2017

Introduction:

When I was growing up we only had 3 channels on our TV except for on really clear days when you could pick up channel 3 from Cincinnati…and Saturday mornings were reserved for cartoons.

One of my favorites was Superman…faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leaf tall building in a single bound, It’s a bird, It’s a plane, It’s Superman!

I remember when I was about 6 or 7 watching Superman do something absolutely astounding with a piece of coal…I couldn’t find my original version…but it went something like this more modern take:

SHOW VIDEO OF SUPERMAN CRUSHING A PIECE OF COAL

INTO A DIAMOND - 19 SECONDS

I remember going to get a charcoal briquet off our porch and putting it into my dad’s vice in the workshop…only to discover vices don’t make coal into diamonds…they turn coal into dust which has to be cleaned up before your stupidity is discovered.

It takes tremendous pressure to form a diamond from rough coal…more than I can produce.

Here’s the question for this morning’s Faith Over Fear message: Anyone here this morning feel pressure on a regular basis? LOL…Silly question, huh? We all do…at work, with our families, from friends and enemies alike…lots of pressure!

But the Apostle Paul starts out “But we have this treasure in jars of clay.”

If you ask Kari she’ll tell you I’ve dropped enough dishes in my life to know that fragile jars don’t survive very well when gravity and floor collide. Jars of clay don’t do very well when they’re put under a lot of pressure…unless these jars are filled with some kind of supernatural protection, they’re going to get broken.

Maybe that’s exactly what Paul meant when he writes…we hold God’s treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Only God can truly make a diamond out of coal and only God’s Spirit can protect and use fragile human beings to shine for Him…Let’s look at something really important in our text:

I. THE POWER OF US, WE, AND OUR FOR YOU

The pronouns we, us, and our are used 9 times in 5 verses…the pronoun “I” isn’t ever used through this discussion of persecution and mistreatment.

“We” are hard pressed…perplexed…persecuted…struck down… “We” carry around in “our” body the death of Jesus. “We” are always being given over to death…

And the answer is “We” are not crushed…or in despair…or destroyed…the life of Jesus is revealed in “our” body. “We” are ALIVE!!!

Paul doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties that God, he and his companions are going through…He even lists some of them at one time…In 2 Corinthians chapter 6 he tells the Corinthians…We’ve shown our faithfulness through great endurance in troubles, hardships and distresses, in beating, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. (v. 4-5)

If your view of the Christian life is one that is trouble free, devoid of suffering, and without physical distress, pressure and discomfort…you’ve been sold a bill of goods by the Evil One…And if you are pursuing comfort over the cross you are not pursuing Christ.

Remember we are saved by God’s grace through faith…but how much faith does it really take to serve Jesus when there is no pressure when we have all the answers, when no one is coming after us?

Not much!!! Jars of clay just sitting on a shelf don’t need the all surpassing power of God to protect them or fill them there.

Paul says, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”

As the Apostle travelled with Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, Silas, and John Mark to bring the gospel of Jesus to a lost world, they surrender everything…including their physical wellbeing so Jesus could be revealed.

I love the story in Acts Chapter 16 where Paul and Silas cast out an evil spirit in a woman who was in slavery…she earned her owners a lot of money by predicting the future…after she’s set free the owners realize the money train is over…they seize Paul and Silas…drag them to the marketplace to face the authorities…They are severely beaten, and then thrown into jail…The jailer puts their feet in stocks…and locks them in an inner cell.

Listen to what happens next:

ACTS 16:25-34 (p. 771)

That’s teamwork…that’s an amazing example of what we can do together…with our brother or sister…even in the worst circumstances for others to come to know Christ.

No wonder Paul declares:

REREAD 2 CORINTHIANS 4:13-15 (p. 804)

We believe…We speak…We know…We live for you…So God’s grace can reach more and more people.

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