Do You Lose Heart?

Thursday, October 24, 2013, 6:30 a.m. – When I sat down to have my quiet time alone with the Lord Jesus this morning, he put the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee” in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 4 (NIV).

Set Forth Truth Plainly

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, 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 everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For 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 God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

This is an awesome passage of scripture, and so encouraging, too! Thank you Jesus!

Paul, who was once called Saul, was a Pharisee and a persecutor of followers of Jesus Christ when the Lord Jesus called him to his service. Then, the Lord called a man named Ananias to go place his hands on Saul so that Saul could receive his sight. Jesus said: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” And, suffer for the name of Jesus and for the sake of the gospel he did. He suffered because Jesus had given him the divine commission to open spiritually blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See Ac. 26:16-18); and because Satan does not give up without a fight.

Paul, and perhaps the other apostles, too, had evidently been accused falsely of being deceitful and manipulative, so Paul refuted these apparently hateful charges against him. He countered all false accusations with the truth that he and his fellow workers for the gospel of Christ had renounced secretive and shameful ways; they did not use deception, nor did they distort the word of truth. Instead, they set forth the truth plainly. I can identify. Paul continued by stating that if the gospel was being covered-up, hidden or distorted in the minds of people that it was not the doing of the apostles, but it was because Satan, the god of this age, had blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they could not see the light of the gospel. Lies, deception and distortions of truth are some of Satan’s greatest weapons against people, including against those who profess Christ Jesus as Lord and as Savior. This is why we have to seek out the truth, so that we know the truth, so that when Satan throws his fiery darts against us that we can refute his lies with the truth.

Jars of Clay

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

A jar of clay is an earthen vessel. A vessel can be merely a container of some sort, or it can be a ship on water or in the sky or on land that is used to transport something or someone from one place to another, or that distributes or conveys something, such as Christ’s servants and witnesses carrying within them and communicating to others Christ and his gospel of salvation. It can also be “somebody seen as the recipient or embodiment of a quality” (Encarta), such as believers in Jesus Christ as the recipients of God’s divine grace, or of us as the body of Christ, his temple - Christ living within us. A vessel can also be an instrument of some sort used for a specific purpose, such as Paul was called to be Christ’s instrument in proclaiming Jesus Christ and his gospel to the Gentiles, their kings and to the people of Israel. So, what we learn from this is that we are all chosen instruments of God’s divine grace to carry the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world around us.

The vessel is made of clay, i.e. it is of this earth. In other words, we are fragile, weak and easily broken. We get hurt. We bleed. We fall down, but we get back up. We get tired. We have finite minds, which are limited. We cry. We run out of energy. We, in ourselves, lack the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, strength, endurance, patience and perseverance to keep going sometimes. Yet, that is the beauty of it all! It is not us doing it, but Christ living within us. Amen! I can attest to you that Christ in me is the only thing that keeps me going many days! Why? - Because I am an earthen vessel.

When I am hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, it is hard to get back up. I don’t just naturally, in my earthenness, bounce right back. I must rely daily upon the strength and wisdom of the Lord Jesus within me, living out his life through me, in order to keep doing what I do each day. Yet this is to show that the power of the Spirit of God within me, which keeps me going, and which keeps me doing what I do each day, is not from me, but is only from God! Praise Jesus! Because of HIM and his mercy and grace to me, I am not crushed, I am not in despair, I am not completely abandoned, and I am not destroyed, because my hope is not in the flesh of humans but in Christ alone! Hallelujah! So, even though I am daily being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, it is so that his life may also be revealed in me, i.e. in this earthen vessel. In other words, suffering produces good stuff!

We Do Not Lose Heart!

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I love this, don’t you?! It is all so hopeful and encouraging! Thank you Jesus!

So, even though we get sick and tired, we are weak and frail, we hurt and we cry, we bleed, and we go through times of distress, heartache, false accusations, rejection, and abandonment, inwardly Jesus Christ is renewing us day by day, if we will let him. We hold on to the hope that we know is ours in Christ Jesus, and we believe one day we will see the fruit of it all, as we daily see the fruit of Christ’s inward renewals in our own lives.

So, although we may not always see, in this life, what God is doing, and what we do see may be disheartening to our earthen vessels, we purposefully choose to not focus on the things that are of this world and that are temporary, but we fix our eyes on what is unseen, i.e. on the hope we know we have in him and on his many promises to us. The trials of this life are here only for a short period of time. What God produces in us and through us into other people’s lives, as we allow him to change our hearts and to make us more like Jesus, and as we willingly submit ourselves to his plans and purposes for our lives in being his chosen instruments in carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth, is eternal. The eternal rewards thus far outweigh whatever trials we may have to go through in this life. Amen!

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming
Now to receive anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.