Sermons

Summary: Meditations on Christian living as I near the end of days. Looking to what is coming enables me to weather the storms of life and to draw renewed strength from the Risen Son of God.

“We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, death is at work in us, but life in you.

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

“So, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” [2]

I committed myself to the ministry of the Word in October, 1970. Almost immediately, I began preaching—at first on street corners and in nursing homes, then in a prison farm and frequently addressing preachers at fellowship meetings where I had been invited to speak. Prior to a serious truck crash some years ago, I was speaking extemporaneously up to five times each week. I have found it necessary to reduce my speaking engagements in recent years due to some loss of physical stamina. Nevertheless, I have continued to preach, even speaking in churches in the States while visiting our families. I’ve been engaged in preaching ministries for almost five decades now. My children cannot remember a time when I was not preaching. I’ve preached in churches that had three people present. I’ve preached to congregations of over 5,000 people. And I’ve preached to multiple congregations between those two extremes.

I am no longer a young man; I know more people who have crossed over than those who remain. I’m walking more slowly than I did fifty years ago. I can see my sun sinking rather swiftly into the western sea. I think often of the fragility of life and the tenuous nature of our existence. I’ve spent considerable time thinking of the brevity of life and how vital it is to accomplish whatever will be done before this life ends.

Frequently, I weigh the words Paul wrote as he sought to instruct a self-centred assembly. These are the words that form the text for this day. This particular message is not intended to be a censure of any person; rather, I intend this message to be a distillation of personal ruminations, to be put into words my private thoughts on what lies beyond for us as Christians and to leave a legacy for God’s people, should my days in the flesh not be extended. I want to leave a message that will equip you for continued service until we are reunited before the Throne of the Father and in the presence of the Lamb of God.

WE HAVE THIS TREASURE IN JARS OF CLAY — “We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, death is at work in us, but life in you” [2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-12].

Two great questions arise from these verses—What is the treasure we possess? And what gives with these “jars of clay?” The questions are natural, but the answers lay the groundwork for the supernatural. Recall that the first question I posed was, What is the treasure we possess? Even a cursory reading of the text makes it obvious that the Apostle is speaking of the Gospel message. God has entrusted to us who are called the message of life; and this message is to be shared with all people.

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