The Grace of JESUS CHRIST takes ordinary people (like you and me) and makes them EXTRAORDINARY for the sole purpose of building HIS Kingdom.
Today I want to answer the question, “If we have extraordinary empowerment from God, then why do we face so much pain and difficulty? Shouldn’t we be untouchable?”
Jesus tells us that there will be a day when we are untouchable. That day hasn’t happened you. Until it does, he will empower us to face the pain and difficulty in extraordinary ways!
Living like Jesus might seem like a paradox. He was quite peculiar. Jesus made an impact on the world around him. He made it better. At the same time, he refused to be tempted or sucked up in what the world could offer him: political success, popularity, wealth, safety, comfort. He was at total peace, yet was murdered. His eye was on the eternal kingdom that was present and tangible on earth in spurts and disconnected pockets. Yet, he had a vision and knew that someday the dividing curtain between the eternal kingdom and the earthly realm would someday be dissolved. When in doubt or question, he picked to put the eternal kingdom as a priority over earthly/temporal things.
We are to LIVE LIKE JESUS. Extraordinary! Not just in practice but in principle.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars,
This is one of those phrases in the Bible that really stick out to me. I want to know WHY would Paul use this metaphor of clay jars? Obviously, clay jars were a big part of their culture back then.
He is saying that we store this incredibly valuable truth…the light of God…the glory of God that we see in Jesus in clay jars.
Clay jars were regarded as fragile and as expendable because they were cheap and often unattractive. clay pots that contained everything from wealth to worthless things, from foods to liquids. Because jars, pots, and vessels were made from clay, they were subject to breakage and, therefore, were inexpensive and discarded in short order. He uses an illustration taken from everyday life:
So the paradox Paul is expressing is that although the container is relatively worthless, the contents are priceless. Although the gospel treasure is indescribably valuable, the gospel’s ministers are of little value in comparison.
Jewish rabbis used to say: “It is impossible for wine to be kept in gold or silver vessels but in the most inferior of containers, namely, in earthen vessels. Similarly, the words of the Law are kept only in the person who is most humble.”
An analogy is the valuable Dead Sea Scrolls, which were stored for more than two millennia in ordinary clay jars that were decaying while the scrolls remained intact.
Paul was an example of this as he was beaten up, abandoned, shipwrecked.
2 Corinthians 4:7 …so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.
We hold the gospel as it were in clay jars to exhibit the phenomenal power of God, so that everyone may see that not we but God is its source. The original text reads: “the extraordinary (quality of the) power.”
2 Corinthians 4:8 We are pressured in every way but not crushed;
Physical or Psychological Difficulties
Clay pots that do not break even when placed under great strain. To be hard pressed or “afflicted” is to be troubled by physical or psychological difficulties. While Paul and other ministers of the gospel endured many afflictions as did frail earthenware, they were not crushed. They were not overcome by these afflictions because they had the treasure of the gospel of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:8… we are perplexed but not in despair;
Confusion and Discouragement
Perplexed, but not in despair. To be perplexed is to be in a state of confusion and discouragement because of afflictions and troubles. Despair in this context means “utter lack of all hope.” Even though Paul and his company were deeply troubled at times, they never gave up because they had a great treasure.
2 Corinthians 4:9 we are persecuted but not abandoned…
hunted down or chased by others
Persecuted is to be hunted down or chased about by others. Persecution was widespread against the early church. The persecution of the ministers of the gospel indicated how much they were earthenware jars. Yet, Paul insisted that even in persecution they were not abandoned. God never left them alone. He was with them in all of their persecutions. Paul portrays himself as a fugitive hunted down by his adversaries.
2 Corinthians 4:9 …we are struck down but not destroyed.
Setback, Demoted, Fired
When Paul spoke of being struck down, he was talking about a wrestling term. BodySlam! There is a big difference between a bodyslam and defeat.
The path to victory for your family will have many setbacks, but you will be victorious over your foes.
2 Corinthians 4:10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
Paul said there were many reasons for him to boast about this spiritual prowess. He was firmly established as a man of God. Had so many amazing visions, dreams, miracles.
2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Get a vision of how BIG God really is! Believe that he is big enough for your thorn. Believe he is big enough that even with the thorn, your life could be awesome. How could that be? Jesus’ answer: My Grace is All You Need!
For some reason, God knows that you don’t need complete deliverance at this point. At the same time, he won’t leave you alone. He provides his grace to lead you through it in an EXTRAORINDARY WAY!
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16
In his essay, The Efficacy of Prayer, C.S. Lewis said,
“It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a group of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning; before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.
Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When god becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent with far less help, to defend fare more desperate posts in the great battle.”
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
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Jesus is Risen! Just as he said! We celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ defeated death and the grave today! That is supernatural.
Unfortunately, for many there is a disconnect from that fact, and the world they currently live in. They know in their head that Christ rose from the grave, but in their heart they suffer from unfulfilled expectations, a difficult past, shame, guilt, anxiousness and the like.
When we see a group like this gather, it can be intimidating because it looks like a room full of people that are perfect, gathering to worship God, and outsiders fail to see where they fit in.
Today, We start a new sermon series that will run for the next 4 weeks called THE SAME. This series will destroy two myths. Myth1: you are different or weird because of your problems. Myth2: That God is inaccessible to you.
Truth1: We are all THE SAME. We all messed up!
Truth2: God eagerly and lovingly awaits your attention. (PERIOD)
However, there are many people in churches that are a bit confused. Confused and forgetful about where God has brought them from. They judge others thinking they have it nailed. Not realizing the pride and arrogance in their heart.
Hozier’s Grammy nominated song: “Take me to Church” has a very poignant line: “Take me church, I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife.”
That is not just a perception of the church. That is a reality in many churches. When people get honest and admit to sin, they are often stabbed in the back. Church people often get upset when new people go through a process of healing instead of being instantly perfect. We can think that the people who have glaring, obvious issues will contaminate the rest of us.
It’s like the feeling I get when I pull up to the CVS drive-thru. One of the things I absolutely hate about life is the drive-thru at CVS pharmacy. That is where we get our prescriptions filled. We have some preventative meds for our daughter that we have to get every month. So we are strong and healthy but we need to get meds at the pharmacy. So, we have to go to the drive-thru. You pull up to the window and when they open that window, there is a blast of disease air that comes through that window. I envision plagues and fevers and diarrhea coming through the air as we get our prescriptions. Then, the worst part is they make you take the disease ridden pen and sign the paper. We have germ gel we take a bath in as soon as they close the window.
Here is a pic I took a while back. One of those community pens!
You know what I’m talking about!
That is the way some people are at church. They think that the problems of others are going to creep up on them.
I’m so thankful that I was raised in a church where my pastor always said, “this church is a hospital, not a grave yard.” It should be a place to find healing and new life…
NOT a place to die and be buried. Come as you are. You don’t have to pretend that you are ok. You can belong before you believe.
Eugene Peterson said, “When Christian believers gather in churches, everything that can go wrong sooner or later does…Just as a hospital collects the sick under one roof and labels them as such, the church collects sinners…So Christian churches are not, as a rule, model communities of good behavior. The are, rather, places where human misbehavior is brought out in the open, faced and dealt with.”
PromiseLand is a place that welcomes those struggling and looking for a home. This is a place that is not going to condemn or judge the outsider. You are welcomed to show us your issues because that is the way to healing.
We wouldn’t go to a hospital and neglect to tell the triage nurse what is going on. That is the perfect time to make your case! Here is how I am messed up! The truth: we are all wounded. We all have wounds from the past. We all have sin in our past. We all sinful, awful attitudes and actions. We have all done things. We have all had things done to us.
What if we knew we weren’t alone?
What if we ceased fire on one another?
What if we started looking like the church that Jesus had in mind?
Where would we begin? We would begin being honest.
We are going to do something today that is incredibly risky.
However, that’s cool. PromiseLand San Marcos is going to be a church that does risky things in order to be a place of healing and authentic life change. There is a little slip of paper in the seat in front of you. Take it out. I would love for every single one (of you member, guests, attenders) to participate in this. I guarantee it will make a big impact if we all participate.
Take out the card and a pen/pencil DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ON THE CARD. THIS IS ANONYMOUS. During this next song take a look at the screens and read the questions. For each question simply circle yes or no. If you need a little space, then spread out a little bit, you can stand up go to the wall, no cheating and looking on neighbors paper. Some of these questions are personal, invasive, difficult, they might be something that you have never revealed to anyone. Let me be clear, since this is anonymous, no one will ever know what you put on this paper.
If you can do it, please do it! I promise you there will be a point in a few minutes where this will all be worth it.
I heard one time that vulnerability is the definition of courage.
Let’s start being courageous:
- Have you ever struggled with Depression?
- Have you ever found yourself struggling with fear or anxiety?
- Do you have anything in your life that you haven’t been able to quit doing?
- Do you have anything in your life that you regret?
- Do you have anything in your life of which you are constantly ashamed?
- Do you have any secrets that you’ve never shared with anyone?
- Have you ever been abused or abusive?
- Have you ever cut yourself or intentionally harmed yourself?
- Have you ever thought about or attempted suicide?
- Have you ever had a physically intimate relationship with someone you aren’t married to?
- Have you ever abused alcohol or drugs?
- Do you struggle with attractions, temptations, or thoughts that you know are outside of God’s will for your life
- Have you ever lied to someone in your effort to hide your actions?
Now take your card and fold it in half, 5x, make origami, Then pass it to your right. There will be people coming down the aisle collecting these. Again, it’s totally anonymous. No one knows who you are or what you put on the card. (don’t open your neighbors and peak) I’m asking all the ushers to now go to the opposite side of the sanctuary and redistribute the slips of paper. Mix them up a little bit. As a bucket goes by, pick one paper out.
Let’s go ahead and find out our survey results right now.
Today, we are going to lay down our shame and Today, we are going to lay down our stones.
The paper you are receiving now is not your own. We randomly mixed these together and now you are holding someone else’s paper. You don’t know who that is. You don’t know who holds yours. We are going to represent each other right now. I’m going to go through these questions and I want you to represent the person that you are holding. If the person you represent circled yes on a question, as I call it out, please stand up.
We think we’re alone. We are not. We think we are the only ones. We are not. We are THE SAME.
I don’t really like to tell people that I am a pastor because as soon as I tell them I’m a pastor the conversation and relationship changes. People often censor their stories around me. They think I will be shocked by their story. Ooohhh can’t tell pastor about that. He probably never heard of that stuff….Pretty much, that is all I do. People ask me what I do during the week. Listen to people talk about their sin. Just the other day on the ski lift I was another guy here in the church and we were just sitting there listening to the other two guys on the lift. They were talking about partying and smoking weed and all this stuff, then one of them happened to look at my skis…
One of them said, ‘Oh, are you a Rev?” and the guy with me said “yeah, he is my pastor!” and immediately the conversation changed. Why? because of the social concept of a pastor. The guy who was just talking about partying said, “oh yeah, well I’m non-denominational. God’s beauty is so amazing out here.” As we got off the lift the other guys said, “Well, you guys have a glorious day”
They were so polite, but they thought they had to display a different side of themselves for me because I was a pastor.
You are not going to shock me with your sin, and that is just me. A pastor.
We don’t shock God with our sin. We don’t surprise God or make him think “oh no. What am I going to do with this one. This one finally tripped me up.” NO!
God knows exactly who you are, where you are headed AND you are safe around him.
If you are tired of the SAME ol’ SAME ol’
If you want to end the SAME cycle of addiction
If you are ready to finish the SAME habits as your dad and granddad and great granddad
I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday, today, and forever.
Romans 8:11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this SAME Spirit living within you. 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Philippians 2:5 Let this (SAME) mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Philippians 3:8 (we are all the SAME) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
“the SAME” has been getting a bad rap because it mostly is associated with negative, boring, or monotonous patterns. But God gives SAMEness a new look. Look at the possibilities of when our SAMEness is transformed into His SAMEness!
Today, instead of focusing on our SAME brokenness, let’s focus on Jesus. We as believer, can boldly say because of our faith in Jesus, “oh, yeah, I am the SAME.” “I’m the SAME as he has always been.” This begins to redefine your past, present and future. When you put your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, then you have access to a new YOU.
You have a access to a new definition of your past. I am the son or daughter of Jesus.
Therefore, my past is being converting from something that I have always been ashamed of into my story. I’m now a witness of how God can change a heart.
Today, I hope that you leave here with some new thoughts.
If you thought you were alone, You aren’t.
If you thought you weren’t welcome, You are.
If you thought there was no hope, There is.
If you thought you could never be honest, You can.
If you thought this was a church of perfect people, you are on crack.
If you thought it is a church of forgiven people, It is.
If you want more, if you want freedom, you can have it.
If you thought Jesus was interested in condemning you, He is not.
If you thought the church could not be a safe place for someone like you, this one is.
This is not a perfect place. We are going to mess up as leadership team. We will bump into each other, we will miss it sometimes, but we are committed to be a community that loves one another and walks together towards Jesus!