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Sabbath Mornings at Ballymacashon – 21st July 2013


Ballymacashon Congregational Church

Lord’s Day 21st July 2013
Service Theme: God’s Treasure in Clay Jars!

Call to Worship

Psalm 100
(Tune: Old Hundredth)

All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell;
come ye before him and rejoice.

Know that the Lord is God indeed;
without our aid he did us make;
we are his folk, he doth us feed,
and for his sheep he doth us take.

O enter then his gates with praise;
approach with joy his courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless his name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

For why! the Lord our God is good;
his mercy is forever sure;
his truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure.
Scottish Psalter


Reading: 2nd Corinthians 4:7-18

Children’s Address

Praise: Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It.

God’s Treasure in Clay Jars
Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

1. The Clay Jar – Described!
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. The false preachers at Corinth were big, strong aggressive men – To them, Paul was little more than an object of ridicule. That just illustrated to Paul all the more, what the Lord has done for believers! We are just Jars of Clay! However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. So look at some facts about us here:-

They are DUSTY Vessels! What is clay? It’s just dirt, or dust, mixed with water and heated in a kiln. Now that is exactly how the Bible describes each one of us. Genesis 2:7. And one day, we will return to dust, and except that the Lord shall return, we can do nothing to prevent that. Genesis 3:19. cf Psalm 103:14

They are DARK VESSELS! There is no light in a clay pot, – the god of this world has blocked off the true light. MATERIALISM. The love of this present world. That is a description of the unregenerate human condition.

They are FRAGILE vessels! earthen vessels These clay jars can be broken and chipped and can be smashed to pieces. They are weak. This is one of the great themes of this book. Paul not only describes the weakness of Christians, but he actually declares that we are better off being weak – for when we are weak, we can depend upon the Lord more, and then we will truly witness His strength!

They are EMPTY vessels! treasure in earthen vessels. Clay jars have a hollow middle. They are designed to be receptacles, and something can go into them. The ungodly vessel, in its natural state is empty. There is an awful emptiness involved in a life without Christ. But the Christian has a great treasure inside the human shell of the Christian believer.

They are HUMBLE vessels! that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. It is so that I can’t boast about it! I can’t claim that I have contributed anything to my salvation. I haven’t changed my life or cleaned up my act – I’m just a sinner whom the Lord has graciously saved! The word EXCELLENCY is interesting. Greek: ‘υπερβολη – hyperbole! Literally the word would be something like ‘surpassingness of the power!’ Whatever power we might think we have, whatever ability or whatever intellect – God’s power and ability for surpasses it!

So, we are just clay. Nothing more and nothing less – yet within us is the new Life, the treasure of God!

2. The Clay Jar – Dependant!
Now, Paul gives us some more important information about these clay jars. He has hinted that they are fragile. Now he describes that fragility in more detail. Now remember, when we look at these verses, Paul is speaking about himself and the band of apostles! He says:- We are often stressed but never crushed! We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. That sounds like stress to me! Paul really knew what it meant to be stressed out! On every side, came trouble! Christians – even the apostles of the NT – can be stressed out but they could never be crushed, because the Lord was within!

We are often depressed but never in despair! we are perplexed, but not in despair. Sometimes we are so perplexed by events that we get under them and we become totally depressed. But the apostles could never be driven to despair – because Christ was within!

We are often harassed but never forsaken! Persecuted, but not forsaken. We are often pursued and persecuted for our faith and our beliefs and our Christian morality, and hard driven by modern society, – so were Paul and the other apostles, but we know that as Christians, like them, we shall never be forsaken or left alone in the midst of all this because we have the Lord within us!

We are often afflicted but never destroyed! cast down, but not destroyed. We are afflicted by illness and poverty and loss and grief. But Paul knew that despite his many afflictions he could never be destroyed!

We are ready to die but always prepared for life! We die Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. The difference between the Christian and any other person in this world is that the Christian is READY for when that event happens.

Now all of these statements describe the fragile clay jars that are our humanity. The apostles weren’t always healthy and wealthy and prosperous. The very opposite was the case. They were just clay, no more than failing dust, into whom God had graciously implanted his surpassing power – the presence of the Holy Spirit! Paul explains that a little more in v12-15. Finally see:

3. The Clay Jar – Destined!
In a final set of paradoxes, Paul looks ahead, to the hope that the Christian believer has in Christ:-

Outwardly perishing – Inwardly Growing! For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. So this is why Paul is no spiritual quitter! Outwardly he is an old man, but he’s full of youthful, spiritual vigour! Psalm 103:5. Paul is a spiritual warrior, full of the power of God.

Outwardly afflicted – inwardly being delivered! For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; What are the troubles of this world compared with the future prospects of glory that lie ahead of us in heaven? Hebrews 11:24-26 In fact, this ‘light, momentary affliction’ has a very serious purpose. It is preparing us for heaven!

Outwardly temporal – inwardly eternal! While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. So where does Paul fix his vision in life? Our eyes are fixed on eternal things, for the things that are visible are brief and fleeting) but the things that are invisible – the things of God – are deathless and everlasting.

So the clay jar with the priceless treasure has a wonderful vista of eternity!

Praise: Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross


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