7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us icon

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us


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God’s Life – God’s Way

Part 4 of 5


Rejoice in Tough Times”

2 Cor. 4:7-10; 1 Peter 1:1-8

Sermon 1228

June 19-20, 2010


Verse to Remember: "7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NIV)



Introductory Thoughts


Whichever way I turn, change seems to be ever present. The values and standards within our society and culture seem to be changing at warp speed.

The amount of information that is being accumulated is growing astronomically.

The cutting age technological device we just had to have a few months ago is now considered to be completely outdated.

Our economy is jeopardized – jobs have diminished – housing values have shrunk – personal portfolios have declined – while opportunities to respond to the growing needs of others have increased dramatically!

Challenges to our health appear upon the horizon – how we eat – how much we exercise – the variety of diseases that attack our bodies – the loss of loved ones who have preceded us in death.


"44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV) With these words, Jesus informed His disciples our lives would contain the same degree of joy, happiness, suffering and sorrow experience by those who do not have a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit!



“Preach to the suffering and you will never lack a congregation. There is a broken heart in every pew” -- Joseph Parker


Many of you are experiencing a season of personal joy … others are finding life to be filled with the happiness that comes when our personal relationships and the circumstances in our lives are going well … others of us are struggling – some of us are struggling in a dramatic way … and, others of us are experiencing the sorrow that comes with serious illnesses or the loss of a loved one.


Here we are – all of us gathered to worship and praise the same God – each of us experiencing differing circumstances in our lives – each of us seeking to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives – one being joy!


For some we are seeking the joy that flows from the wonderful circumstances we are experiencing and our growing relationship with God – for others we are seeking the joy that flows from our connection with God when the circumstances of our lives are more difficult.


In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we find thes words in Chapter 4: " 1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 (NIV)


As the “god of this age” blinded the minds of unbelievers so they could not hear and understand the saving tenets of the Christian Gospel -- I believe there are times when the “god of this age” blinds the minds of believers and prevents them for hearing and understanding God is actively involved in our lives – especially when our lives are experiencing difficult times.



Tonight (today), we are going to discover how God’s presence allows us to endure the most difficult seasons of our lives with an inner sense of joy and peace! (A discovery occurring as we are “tag teamed” by the Apostles Paul and Peter)



To Rejoice in Tough Times, We Must Learn how to:


  • Encounter Life’s Circumstances without being Crushed (2 Cor 4:8a; 1

Peter 1:5; & Romans 8:26-28):


"8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; … “ 2 Cor 4:8a


{Explain}


"5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:5 (NIV)



As Christians we must adopt an eternal perspective … there is no way we will be separated from God’s protective power …


James Moffatt wrote, “God stands between you & me and all that menaces our hopes (and dreams) or threatens our eternal welfare. This protection is entirely and directly the work of God (in our lives)”


No disorder, no disease, not even death itself can weaken or threaten God’s ultimate protection over our lives.


Chuck Swindoll notes, “Two words will help us cope when we experience life’s difficult circumstances – Accept & Trust!

As we accept the mystery of hardship, suffering, misfortune, or mistreatment – not trying to understand it or explain it – Accept It!

Then, choose to deliberately Trust – Trust God will protect you and me by His power from this very moment in your life to the dawning of all eternity!” (Page 158)


As we study the life of the Apostle Paul – we find these two words lived out – In his letter to the Roman church, we discover promises that help us choose to Accept & Trust:

"26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:26-28 (NIV)



We learn to “Rejoice in Tough Times” as We remember we possess the all-surpassing power from God – power that allows us to be hard pressed … but, never crushed!”


  • Push through the Perplexities of Life while allowing God to Protect us

from Despair (2 Cor 4:8b; 1 Peter 1:6-7):


“perplexed, but not in despair;" 2 Corinthians 4:8a (NIV)


{Explain}


"6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)


In these few verses, Peter tells us:


  1. Trials are Necessary … Peter tells us they prove the genuineness of our faith … teaches us humility … reveal our hopelessness … put us on our face before God




  1. Trials are Distressing … having experienced our own trials, they develop within us a compassion that moves us to help others in the midst of their difficulties and prevents us from expecting them to “just grin and bear it” in the midst of their pain!




  1. Trials come in Various Forms … “variegated” … “multi-colored” … sometimes translated “polka-dotted” … Peter tells us sometimes the trials we face are breezes – gale force winds – tornadoes – or, hurricanes! But, whatever the shade, God’s Grace and Power is sufficient for anything we will face in life!



We learn to “Rejoice in Tough Times” as we remember we possess the all-surpassing power from God – the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells us -- power that allows us to be perplexed … but, never to the point of despair!”



  • Experience Persecution by Our Culture while discovering We are not

Abandoned by Our God or His People (2 Cor 4:9a):


"9persecuted, but not abandoned; …" 2 Corinthians 4:9a (NIV)



{to pursue, fr. per- through + sue - sequi to followto harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict specifically to cause to suffer because of belief1}


Persecution was a daily experience for many members of the Christian community living in Corinth and throughout the Roman Empire. As Americans, we have often taken our religious freedom for granted. It appears this season may be coming to an end:


Wickenburg Christian Academy Students Removed From US Supreme Court Steps for Praying.

By Maureen Rigo (WCA teacher)


During the week of May 3-7, 2010, WCA students and parents traveled to Washington, D.C. on a Christian Discoveries study tour. Wednesday, May 5, 2010, was Capitol Hill Day for the group from Wickenburg. First stop was the front steps of the Supreme Court. After taking a few pictures the group gathered off to the left at the top of the bottom level of steps to pray. Immediately the guard posted there ran down the steps and asked the group to go somewhere else to pray. He tapped Mrs. Rigo, lead teacher for WCA, on the shoulder and said, “Ma’am, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t pray, but you can’t do it here. Please go somewhere else.”

She asked, “Since when?” The answer, “This week.” So the group moved to the street level and prayed on the sidewalk instead.

Several of the students were visibly shaken by the fact that they were asked to leave simply for praying. The group discussed the difference between “Constitutional rights” and “inalienable rights” and who the authority is for each. The guard was right in saying that he wasn’t going to say that the group couldn’t pray, that is after all, an inalienable right. No one can take away our right to pray.

The next day, Thursday, May 6th was the National Day of Prayer. The morning tour was Gettysburg. When the Gettysburg classes were complete the group headed back to Washington, D.C. with the intent of participating in the National Day of Prayer on the south lawn of the White House.

Once again they were approached by a guard but did manage to get their group prayer time in before being asked to leave. Students and adults alike were upset that their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and right to peaceable assembly didn’t apply on the National Day of Prayer.

The rest of the day and evening was spent at the Holocaust Museum, and the Lincoln, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials.

During their visit to Washington, these students learned many our liberties are being curtailed or taken away in the name of security, our nation needs good leadership, and they learned they needed to be praying for our country.


During our lives, many of us, gathered here tonight, will experience times of persecution – for no other reason than we are Christians – when we do, let us always remember God and His people will never abandon us: "37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)



We learn to “Rejoice in Tough Times” as we remember we possess the all-surpassing power from God – the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells us -- power that allows us to be persecuted … but, never abandoned.”

  • Face Death as a Temporary Condition (2 Cor 4:9b; 1 Peter 1:3-4; 8):



"struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:9b (NIV)



{This literally happened (Acts 14:19). In Lystra a crowd stoned Paul, leaving him for dead. But he was not destroyed, that is, killed (see 11:23–33). The Lord spared his life so that he could continue to preach the Good News and testify to God’s deliverance.2}


Whether we are struck down and not destroyed by resuscitation … or when we are struck down by death and not destroyed through our resurrection -- the suffering we experience is temporary and is tempered by the joy that emerges through the hope we have in Jesus Christ and the Reunion we anticipate with those who have preceded us in death!


" 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, ^ 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you," 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) … "8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy," 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)



Closing Thoughts:



As We Discover how to Rejoice in the Midst of Tough Times:


    • We move from Moments of Confusion to a Lifetime of Clarity …

As we travel, with God and His People, during seasons of tough and difficult times … as we comprehend His presence, experience His Peace, relish His Comfort, and abide in His Promises – we discover a Joy that supersedes the anguish that has permeated our souls ..

When we do, we discover the power His Spirit, His Word, His People, and we bring to the Tough Times we encounter in our lives and our moments of confusion become lifelong seasons of clarity – clarity in our understanding of our God’s Power, Presence, and Faithfulness to surround us and sustain us during these troubling times in life!



    • We see God transforming us from Life’s Spectators to

Participants in God’s Plan for Human Redemption … having personally experienced the tough times life can bring – we can no longer be satisfied in sitting on the sidelines – we become a powerful army of people who can’t wait to get into the game of life!

Having personally experienced the power of our God – our compassion for others – going through life’s challenges – continues to grow and we can’t wait for the opportunity to come alongside others in order to share the power our God brings to the Tough Times in life –

We cannot wait to share how His Spirit, Word and People move in our lives to bring the deep and abiding sense of Joy that comes only to those who are members of His adopted family and comforted by His eternal Promises (How many Grandchildren do you have? Discomfort to complete understanding – Joy!)



    • We find God’s Spirit replacing Our Seasons of Resentment with Days of Joy and Rejoicing


Resentment and bitterness comes to those who have not chosen to Accept and Trust. Tough Times create powerful wounds – when we Accept and Trust, God moves in our lives to heal and restore. But, when we do not, we find these powerful wounds become infected – an infection spread by anger, resentment, and bitterness.


Yet, as we choose to Accept and Trust, we discover the power of God – a presence that allows our wounds to heal – leaving scars that look forward to the fulfillment of God’s Promises – establishing a hope that brings Joy into our hearts and lives!



  • Opportunity to accept Christ

  • Opportunity to experience God’s Power and Presence in our Lives –

  • Choose to Accept and Trust

  • Anticipate the Joy empowered by the Promises of Our All Powerful God!



Let’s Pray!



Resources for this series: “The Owner’s Manual for Christians” by Chuck Swindoll. ISBN-13: 9780849901911

Unless otherwise noted: “Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Restricted use 2009 by James L. Dorman. All materials presented by James L. Dorman are restricted use materials. No materials may be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way, for the pursuit of commercial gain. You may print or download as many copies of the material for your personal, non-commercial home use, provided that 1) you cite the source, 2) you make no modifications to the materials, and 3) you use it in the pursuit of Christian ministry or education.

For any uses other than this, written permission is required. (Christ’s Church of Flagstaff; C/O Executive Secretary; 3475 E. Soliere Avenue; Flagstaff, AZ 86004 or http://www.ccof.net ). Additional materials are available through Christ’s Church of Flagstaff.

With your purchase and/or use of this transcript, we hereby grant you permission to use this work for the limited purpose of a live delivery of your sermon at your local church, the live delivery at a small group study, or any other pursuit of Christian ministry.



fr from

1Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

2Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (2 Co 4:9). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.





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