Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sometimes I feel like Paul

Jars of clay
     There are days and then, there are "days".  When we serve in the work force, not every day runs smoothly.  Schedules can run amok, people can get cranky, and we often feel overwhelmed.  The same can be said for those whose work revolves around the home.  Children can be a challenge, meals can
become disasters, and the cleaning never ends!  However, I have found comfort as I read about the Apostle Paul's description of his life in the ministry.
     In 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 reads:  "But 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."  While Paul is speaking here of his experience as an Apostle, these verses also pertain to any of us who carry the name of Christ in our heart.  After all, we are all called to the ministry.  Perhaps not as a vocation but certainly in every field we represent.  We are jars of clay carrying the treasure and truth of Christ into the workplace or into our homes.  As a result, we, too, have our times of discouragement.  This is especially true if we have been trying to share our faith with others or uphold biblical values.  We will always face opposition from a world system running hard in the opposite direction away from God.  Nevertheless, as Paul realized, we must die to self so that the message of Christ can be seen in the way we respond to those attacks.  After all, our hope and encouragement is in Him.
     Never are the truths of Scripture so clear though as in the current events going on right now.  We are in the middle of another election cycle, and I always find myself upset over the turmoil it brings.  There are charges and counter charges.  People calling one another liars and making promises that only God could bring to pass.  Meanwhile as the economy sinks into oblivion, fingers point at everyone else while people are without work and gas prices soar.  This atmosphere of tension then creeps into our places of work as well as into our homes.  Added to the daily challenges already there, we want to throw up our hands and say:  "I am afflicted and crushed; I am perplexed and driven to despair; I feel persecuted and forsaken; struck down and destroyed".  However, if we do this, we are forgetting one important thing - God is sovereign over all the affairs of men.  Nothing happens without God knowing and allowing it.  He is working all things together for the good of those of us who know and love Him even if it doesn't look like it! (Romans 8:28).
     This morning I took comfort not only in what Paul had written but also in what Jesus proclaimed to His disciples as He described His return (Mark 13:32-37):  "No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.  It's like a man going away;  He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.  Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone:  'Watch!'"  This is our appointed task.  We are to serve as His witnesses by our words and deeds.  Then, we are called to watch because He WILL return for us.  As Isaiah 9:7 reads: "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on
David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."  This is something to look forward to.  Sin and death will be no more.  He has conquered all those things which trouble our hearts.
     Until that day, we are told to watch, and like Paul, we are called to be conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, Paul was perplexed but not driven to despair.  He was persecuted but he
knew he was not forsaken by the Lord.  Paul knew that as he died to self and selfish ambition, Christ would be seen more clearly in his life.  This is the call we have in both our work outside the home and our work in the home.  We are often the only Bible that people will read each day as they come in contact with us.  How well are we doing caring for the Master's house while He is away?  Are we fulfilling the tasks to which He has called us?  We need to be ready for His return, and in the meantime, we must not allow life's circumstances to get the upper hand in our thinking.  After all, we are God's jars of clay carrying about the treasure of the truth found in Jesus Christ.  He is our comfort and strength!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and comments here.  May you be encouraged this day in Him!

Jars of clay picture courtesy of

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