We read in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Basically, what this means is that God, by His grace, via our faith in Jesus Christ, has placed his Spirit and His Word within humans who are frail, weak, subject to failure and with decaying bodies. He has done that so that we can take no credit for what he does through us, but so all the glory goes to Him.
Of Little Faith
Matthew 16:5-12 NIV
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Because we are jars of clay, or earthen vessels, and we live in flesh bodies, there may be times when our faith is not as strong as other times, or when we get caught up in the moment of a situation and we forget all that God has done for us previously. And, God may have to remind us sometimes of all that he has done and continues to do for us. And, he may have to nudge us sometimes and say, “Don’t be afraid! I’ve got this one!”
There are times, too, when God is speaking to us and we don’t get it, because we have our minds on earthy things or we are thinking like humans instead of having the mind of Christ. We see things merely from a human or earthly perspective and we don’t realize the bigger picture, and that our Lord is trying to teach us something. So, we need to pray for ears to hear and eyes to see from a spiritual perspective, so that we don’t miss all that God has for us and that he wants us to learn from the situations in our lives.
BUT… This is not to be confused with those the Word of God describes as those who hear the Word or who read the Word, but they don’t do what the Word says. They willfully walk away and forget what they look like in the mirror, because they don’t want to obey what God says. They may have the appearance of being righteous because they know the Bible and what it teaches, and they may even be able to preach great sermons, too, but they don’t apply the Word to their own hearts and lives, because they want to remain in their sinful addictions (See: James 1).
Blessed Are You
Matthew 16:13-20 NIV
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
When we are listening to the Lord, and we are following Him with our lives, and we are in His Word daily, and we are practicing what it says, we will have greater insight into the truths of God’s Word, and greater discernment and perception into the things of the Lord. And, this is because we are in tune to the Holy Spirit and He is the one revealing these things to us.
And, God will be able to use us to build up the body of Christ in faith and in perseverance because we are listening to the Lord, and thus our words should agree with His. We will be empowered of the Spirit of God to impact lives for Jesus Christ and to encourage the body of Christ to walk in holiness. And, we, in the power of the Spirit, will be able to strengthen and give courage to those who are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, too.
A Stumbling Block
Matthew 16:21-23 NIV
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
But, when we have these times when we are particularly in tune to the Lord and we are sensitive to hear the Spirit’s voice, and God is using us mightily in the lives of others, we must be on guard for the enemy who will try to trip us up. Satan does not like it when we are following Jesus and we are being used of Him, so He will try to confuse our thoughts and will attempt to get us off track and to think more like humans rather than with the mind of Christ.
He will try to get us focusing on our circumstances rather than keeping our minds on what is not of this world. He will also try to instill fear in our hearts to where we doubt God and his sovereignty over our lives, and we feel we need to use our own human resources in order to make things work the way we think they ought. And, when we listen to Satan, even unconsciously, instead of listening to the Lord, then we get off base, and we miss what the Lord is trying to show us.
So, again, we need to pray for open eyes and ears to hear the Lord and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and also discernment concerning what voices we are listening to so that we are not deceived by the enemy.
Take Up Your Cross
Matthew 16:24-27 NIV
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
So, daily we must die to sin and self, and daily we must lay our own lives down for the Lord, and by the Spirit we must be putting to death the deeds and the mind of the flesh. It is critical that we are daily in the Word of the Lord, that we listen to what the Lord shows us, and that we do what he says, in his power and strength within us.
And, it is critical, as well, that we guard what we daily take into our minds and into our eyes and ears and hearts. We can’t have the mind of Christ, in other words, if we are regularly filling our minds with the philosophies, attitudes, behaviors, morals, values and culture of this sinful world. For, they are counterproductive to what the Lord is trying to do in our lives.
So, yes, we live in flesh bodies, and we are clay vessels, and this is to show that the things God does through us are from him and not from us. But, we should never use this as an excuse for continued willful sin against God. For, if we truly want to be followers of Christ, we must die to sin and self daily and follow (obey) our Lord. For, if we choose to hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose our lives for eternity. But, if we die with Christ to sin, then we will save our lives for eternity with God.
So, if you are still living in sin, and you are excusing your sin by saying “I’m not perfect,” then I pray you will repent of your sin today and submit your life to Jesus Christ, and let him truly be Lord and master of your life.
Broken and Contrite
An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. I pray that you will make this real in our hearts today. Amen!