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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Autumn flower cart
Autumn flower cart

"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" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Yesterday I was coming home from a business meeting and saw a friend sitting out on the porch in front of his apartment as he does on most days. Jimmy* has a genetic disorder known as Tourette Syndrome, a nervous condition that causes twitching and other involuntary muscle movements. He's had it all his life and he's only a few years younger than I am.  He also has several other afflictions, including diabetes, so he has had a rather hard life.

I stopped, rolled down the window and asked, "How ya doing Jimmy?" and shared a word of encouragement with him. Jimmy has accepted the Lord and we periodically attend a prayer meeting together. As I prepared to drive off, I said, "Jimmy, what are you?" and he immediately responded "I'm an overcomer!"  (That's a spiritual concept I shared with him several years ago.)

We all have something wrong with us. Some have major and even prominent afflictions they deal with. (Tourette Syndrome is surely a very socially embarrassing affliction.)  Others have very minor ones. Ester can be embarrassed about her open heart "zipper", the large scar that is a result of open heart surgeries, which was recently reopened for the operation she had several weeks ago in Boston.  I've had some afflictions as well that have left some lasting scars.

Today's verse uses a powerful image in describing our physical bodies. "We have this treasure in jars of clay."  (The KJV says, "earthen vessels.")  What an interesting description of the outer man formed from the dust of the ground.  The image is that of frailness and temporality.  Later in the chapter Paul expresses assurance that "though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).

The latter part of the verse expresses such a powerful purpose in these jars of clay "To show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." This is a wonderful reminder as we deal with our physical challenges, whatever form they may be.  I know mine are relatively minor as I consider so many of my brothers and sisters around the world; dear believers seeking to hold on to their faith in oppressive Islamic countries, terrorism targeted at believers in Christ, persecuted believers who will give their lives today for their faith. Indeed, "This all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Remember that today, fellow believer in regard to whatever you are dealing with.  God is at work in the lives of believers all around the world to advance His glory for "the grace that is reaching more and more people is causing thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:15).  May He work in each of our lives, in these "jars of clay" today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Prayer: Father, my body is outwardly decaying and moving toward death since it is the law of nature to grow older, never younger.  It is an irrefutable fact that this human body, due to its mortality and troubles of life, is decaying day by day.  But for me as a believer it is also an irrefutable fact that the human spirit is renewed and empowered day by day because of Christ's indwelling spirit.  It is because of this wonderful assurance that I do not lose hope or give up my faith when adversity strikes.  I am more than a conqueror through Christ!  Amen.

Update on Ester:   Ester had an X-ray yesterday and the picture showed all the fluid to be gone that had accumulated on her right lung following surgery three weeks ago.  The doctor noted right away the positive changes in Ester from her appointment two weeks earlier.  He could tell that she feels much better and has abundant energy, much more so than before the operation!  One of the changes she is especially pleased with is the pacemaker is now in the abdomen rather than the upper chest.  While located in the chest for nearly four years it affected the range of motion in her shoulder and often her arm was uncomfortable.  Ester's chest incision is healing nicely except for the top inch of her "zipper."  Doctor prescribed some powerful cream used in hospital settings. I'm flushing the site and doctoring with this cream for the next couple weeks twice a day.  We certainly don't want a potential infectious site to cause trouble for her.  Thank you for your continued interest and your loving prayers on her behalf.

Edna, Sunday school teacher for over 50 years!
Giving honor…  One of the blessings of the local church is meeting people who serve Christ in the trenches. Edna faithfully taught children in Sunday School and children's church for over fifty years!  I suppose many of you know people like Edna in your church. I encourage you to bless them with a  thank you!

* Jimmy gave me permission to share this story.
Tourette Syndrome

"Jars of Clay" is a popular Christian musical group whose name is based on this passage. Here's an online song with a great message "If I Stand"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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