God’s Power on Paper Plates

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

2 Corinthians 4:7-15 | August 15 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
August 15
God’s Power on Paper Plates | 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s turn in our Bibles to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, 2 Corinthians chapter 4. Begin reading at verse 7 through verse 15.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 4 is absolutely one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible. I know it’s like what’s your favorite child. You’re not supposed to have favorite chapters. They’re all good, they’re all wonderful, but there are some that have so many memorable verses, so much potency. This one stands out. Maybe it does for you. I

I love verse 1: Having this ministry by the mercy of God we do not lose heart.

I love as a preacher verse 2: We do not tamper with the Word of God but we proclaim straight up the message of the Gospel, no frills, no tricks, no deception. That’s what I aim to do, Sunday after Sunday.

I love verse 5. I think I’ve told the story before that years ago, now in my 20th year of ministry, so over 19 years ago when I had my ordination service and some of the women of the church said, “Kevin, we want to make you an ordination cake.” I did not know there was such a thing and did not have my face silk-screened on it and they cut through it thankfully, but they said give us what’s your verse? What do you want?” It felt like a lot of pressure, and I think I’ve since mentioned to you that at times people at conferences, I know, it’s kind of embarrassing, but they’ll say, “Kevin, let me, you know, sign this, or what’s your life verse?” and so I’ve said that my life verse is, at least one of them, 2 Corinthians 4:5, “for what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake,” and indeed that’s what I had written on nice, cursive scrawl on my ordination cake, and when I’ve mentioned that to people, they say, “That’s John MacArthur’s life verse. Do you have another one?” Well, I’m sorry, we can have the same verse.

I love verse 5. I love verse 6, that the message of salvation relies on God’s irresistible grace, light shining out of darkness, shining in our hearts, to see the knowledge of the glory of God and the face of Christ. I love verse 7. We have this treasure in jars of clay. There was a whole band named after that verse.

I love the cadence of verse 8 and 9. You just feel roused in your spirit, persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. And we’ll come to it, Lord willing, verses 16 and 18 later, this great assurance we have that though the inner nature, or outer nature is wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed for this great eternal weight of glory. I love this chapter.

However, if I’m honest, I have a harder time loving verse 11: For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake.

Now I know it’s in the Bible. It’s breathed out by God so it’s good, but honestly I don’t initially jump for joy. Yes, handed over to death. I don’t like the idea of being handed over to death. I like verses, you like verses, about abundant life, and you shall have life to the fullest. That’s what we like. “I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you.” We like verses about eternal weights of glory. I don’t like to hear that being a Christian is to be handed over to death.

Now to be fair, there is something in verse 11 that is unique to the Apostle Paul and his companions. After all, verse 12 says death at work in us, but life in you. So there is something unique to the burden that was placed upon Paul and his companions that they would suffer in a unique, profound way for the sake of this pioneering Gospel work. Not many of us are going to be shipwrecked, stoned, beaten with rods, flogged, beaten up, driven out of towns by angry mobs, hungry, thirsty, and manage a bunch of churches at the same time. That was the lot for the Apostle Paul. So his situation, yes, was unique.

But not entirely unique. Let’s not be quick so say, whew, oh, good, I thought there was something hard there. That’s just for Paul.

Paul told Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Acts 14:22: Paul told the Christians in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Jesus said in John 16:33: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart: I have overcome the world.”

Didn’t Jesus tell us very plainly that if He is a Messiah who died on a cross, then we His followers will carry a cross?

And it is increasingly the case, we don’t want to be overly hyperbolic, but it is increasingly the case that if you desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus in our world, and I don’t mean if you just desire to have Jesus on your religious team, that’s not a big deal. You like Jesus? Good. You go to church? Good. I’m talking about the whole thing, about the whole counsel of God. All of the unpopular parts. You get all of that, there’s going to be a cost for many of us. If we are saved by a dying Christ, we should not be surprised that the message of this Christ would be delivered through dying men and women.

So though there is something unique to the Apostle Paul, there is a sense in which all of us are given over to death for Jesus’ sake. If we truly follow Christ, there will be a cost. That doesn’t mean you go out looking for it, “Here I am, somebody persecute me. Somebody, I’m going to act like a complete moron and be a jerk to people. Yes, thank you, Jesus.” That’s not it.

But if you look at your life, and I don’t mean just this week, this month, this year, but if you look over the scope of your life and there’s never been a cost of following Jesus, it is worth considering are you really following Jesus. It may not be persecution from the government. Maybe you’re blessed and you work at a place with Christian employer and you have a Christian family and you go to a Christian school and you’re blessed with lots of good Christian people around you, but still there will come a time that there will be a cost for doing the right thing, for saying the truth, for forgiving, for not gossiping, for correcting, for standing for what is true. There will be a cost.

And even more than that, all of us, if you live long enough, know what it means to share in the fellowship of His sufferings, whether they are sufferings that come to us from following Christ or simply the sufferings that are ours by belonging to the human race.

I don’t like the thought of being handed over to death. But I like Jesus, and I like the Word of God, and if I can have faith, and you can have faith, we ought to like the results that come from this being handed over to death.

I want to ask two main questions tonight. Number one, how do we press on in the light of the reality of verse 11 that we will be handed over to death? How we press on? And number two, what’s the purpose of our being handed over to death? So how do we press on, what is the purpose.

Number one: How do we press on in light of the reality of verse 11?

We will all suffer. Some will suffer more than others, but affliction will come to all of us. You will have trouble in the world. Do not be alarmed, do not be surprised. So how do we press on?

First, we do so by believing in the resurrection. Look at verse 13: “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed and so I spoke,’ we also believe and speak.”

Here’s what Paul is saying. You may not be impressed with me, you may think it a shame to suffer as I do, because that’s part of the problem, they’re saying, “Paul, you are weak, you are unimpressive. We want super apostles. We like the people that are all glory, and you’re splattered on the highway sometimes.” But he says, “You may think it a shame to suffer as I do, but I have the same spirit of faith as the prophets and they spoke because they believed and I believe and so I am speaking to you.” So he’s linking with the long history of God’s suffering people.

And he says, verse 14, “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us into His presence.” And we’ll see that next week, Lord willing, as we talk about being renewed in this eternal weight of glory. But here we have the hope and the promise of the resurrection. Not your best life now, but your best life later. That is the hope of the Christian. This belief, this rock solid belief, that the very best thing you have coming to you comes on the other side of this life.

We hear that, we have sermons on it, we go to funerals about it, we sing songs… Do you really believe it? The thing that we so often fear, death, is the very passage way to the thing that God wants to give us, supremely above all, and that is eternal glorious life. You will not do anything of lasting value on earth unless you believe that this life on earth is not lasting. Until you believe that there is something more to come, you will not endure hardship now, people often say, “Well, it’s all pie in the sky and you’re so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.” Well, it’s really quite the opposite. You will not be of any earthly good unless you are heavenly minded, and you have faith in this resurrection, which leads you to be a risk-taking Christian, a cross-bearing Christian, pressing on as a Christian.

Wouldn’t you willingly fast for one day if you knew that then on the other side you could eat all the food you want, without any pounds or any of the consequences for the rest of your life? Yes, sign me up for that. I’ll go one day. Would you gladly give away $1000 today if you know you would inherit $5 million tomorrow? We can endure being handed over to death because we know that death is not the end. Resurrection, reward, await us. That’s why we press on.

Here’s the second response to this first question, “How do we press on in light of verse 11?” So one, resurrection. Two, because of God’s sustaining power.

Look up at verse 7, and we’ll come back to verse 7 at the end, but here we see this surpassing power that belongs to God and not to us. It is a power to sustain us. Not just to keep us alive, because eventually we die. There is more to our lives than staying alive. That’s what we believe as Christians. There are more important things in life than staying alive.

Here he says that Christ will provide us this power to keep you joyful, to keep you firm in the faith, to keep you going, even when you’re handed over to death.

Look at verses 8 and 9. We see God’s power at work in Paul’s life with these pairs: Afflicted, not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, not forsaken; struck down, not destroyed. Four pairs here.

The first pair of each, first part, shows what it means to be handed over to death. That’s what he’s doing. Each of those, this is what it’s like to be handed over to death. You’re afflicted, you’re perplexed, you’re persecuted, you’re struck down, but the second half of each pair shows what it means to be sustained by God’s power. Yes, all of those things are true, but at the same time, we’re not crushed, we’re not driven to despair, we’re not forsaken, and we’re not destroyed.

Paul may be hurt, but he’s not giving up. He’s disturbed, but he’s not despairing. There’s a great play on words in the Greek. You can hear it, even if you don’t know any Greek. Aporoumenoi, but not exaporoumenoi, is what he says in one of these pairs. Aporoumenoi, not exaporoumenoi. We might say in a kind of English idiom, “I’m stressed, but I’m not stressed out. I’ve got people out to get me, but God’s not left me. I’ve been knocked down, but I’ve not been knocked out.” Because God has given him power.

Do you ever, you look at somebody like Paul, and you think, “Well, that’s the Apostle Paul, for crying out loud. He’s in the Bible and he’s shipwrecked and he’s beaten and rods and everything. Of course I could never be like that.”

Or you look at some people, and you’re like, famous missionary biographies, the way they suffered, or maybe just someone you know in your life today and what they’re going through, as a widow or a widower or what’s happening with their children or some unbelievable sadness in their life, and yet they continue to press on and follow Christ, and you think to yourself, and you’ve even said perhaps, “I could never do that. I could never be steadfast. I could never do what they do.”

Well, listen, don’t say that, because almost certainly those who are going through the trial and sustaining and enduring through the trial, would have said before the trial they could never endure the trial. But when they get to the trial, you know who meets them there? God. And you know what God supplies there? Power. We live in this fear, what if this terrible thing happens? What if this unspeakable tragedy befalls me? I will never make it. Well, God has mercy for you on that day.

Don’t think, “Well, I could never be a martyr. I could never do what they do.” Well, it’s true. You and I could not do it now, but if that’s what God has for any of us in His providence, He will give us the strength to endure what He has for us. The God who plans the suffering also provides the strength to endure through it.

You see, in Paul’s day there were cynics and stoics. Now we use those terms and it has become sort of adjectives, but they were real groups of people, they were real philosophies of life, cynics and stoics. And chief among the things they philosophized about was suffering. You can read some of the lists, and they had similar lists, recounting their hardships. Remember, Christians aren’t the only ones who suffer. In fact, the cynics and stoics talked a lot about endurance and pressing on in the midst of suffering. If you didn’t read carefully, you might think that Paul was a cynic or a stoic, just endure, stiff upper lip.

But he wasn’t. Notice he doesn’t advocate an indifference to suffering; that’s what the stoics were sometimes about. The real measure of a stoic was his serenity, his inward immunity to suffering, his indifference to hardship. Don’t mistake that for Christian endurance. Nope, I don’t feel anything, nothing ever hurts me. Stoics said no, no, no, we don’t let any of that stuff, we don’t feel that stuff.

Well, Apostle Paul wasn’t like that. Apostle Paul had all sorts of emotions, and he says here, “I’m perplexed, I’m struck down, I’m afflicted, I feel pain, I cry, I feel like giving up.” Read the Psalms. God’s people are often feel like giving up.

God doesn’t ask us to be indifferent to suffering. The Psalms tell us rather to hope in the midst of suffering. Joy in the Lord doesn’t mean that pain isn’t painful, it means you trust God in the midst of pain, to give you something on the other side of it. Paul wasn’t a stoic and he wasn’t a cynic.

Cynics believed that pressing on in the midst of adversity proved the worth of the human spirit, and don’t we see this? This is a wash and almost everybody’s back story, any time there’s some sort of story, you want to see how much the person suffered and how they pressed through it and what a triumph of the human spirit.

Well, I like underdog stories, and yes, give honor to whom honor is due, and we can say, wow, that’s amazing what you went through. How many movies are based on this sort of press through with firm resolve and embrace suffering and you will come out a champion in the end?

I know this is my generation and not some of yours, but I love the Rocky movies. They all got a little off the plot, actually the exact same plot, not off the plot, but Rocky IV of course Rocky running through 5 feet of snow, hanging from the rafters, as you know, the Russian cyborg Dolph Lundgren is injecting with steroids and using all of the high-tech accoutrements that look today like, “Hmm, that’s sort of out of the 80s, there’s nothing high-tech about that.” And we love that Rocky gets this beard and he displays this great courage and then at the end of the movie, “If you’s can change, I’s can change. We can all change.” It’s great. He endures suffering and he comes through on the other side.

Well, sure, enjoy it, but just remember, Christian, our story is something different. The story is never simply about your heroic courage, my heroic courage. The Christian life is always about God’s power at work within us. Yes, give honor to whom honor is due, but ultimately there is only one hero of the story, and it’s not you, it’s not me. Jesus is the hero of all of our stories. It’s His death that brings us life. His suffering which brings us healing. His resurrection which gives us hope. His power at work within us. That’s how we press on when we’re handed over to death.

You say, “I don’t have the power.” Absolutely right. You don’t. But we know someone who does, and He loves you, and He died for you.

Here’s question number two, and that question is how do we press on when we’re handed over to death. Question number two, what’s the purpose in being handed over to death?

Quickly, notice three things, three purposes. Life in us, life in others, glory to God. What is the purpose in suffering? What is the purpose in being handed over to death? Life is us, life in others, glory to God.

So first you see we’re handed over to death so that life might be manifested in us. You see this in verse 10, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies, for we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

We suffer that people may see life in us. If you and I never suffer, people will never be able to marvel at the power of God to cause us to endure in the midst of suffering. If all we have are goodies and constant blessings, obvious to everyone, well, of course, who doesn’t want to serve a God that just you get your way all the time? What about a God who sometimes hands us bitter providences? What about a God who asks us to carry a cross? Well, we show that this Jesus is more precious to us than life itself.

It sounds paradoxical, but those of you who have been around godly, suffering saints have seen this. There is a kind of spiritual vitality that can only be seen in those who are dying. You see it doesn’t always work this way, but if you’ve lived long enough, you’ve seen it, maybe in a spouse, maybe in a friend, there’s an intimacy of fellowship with Jesus. There’s a sweetness to the relationship. There’s an abiding trust. You see perhaps as you never saw before, the life of Jesus at work in that brother or sister, even as they are being handed over to death. I don’t like suffering. I don’t like it when I’ve had it, I don’t want more of it. But I do want more of Jesus, and there are a whole bunch of blessings that come to us only as we walk with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death. We’re handed over to death that life might be manifested in us.

And then you notice the second reason, so that the life of Jesus might be displayed in others. Look at verse 12, “so death is at work in us but life in you.” We want people to know the lord, right? We want people to be happy in Jesus, don’t we? Well, we say, “Yes, I want that, but at no cost to myself.” But that’s not how it works. Paul says death will be at work in me, so that life can be at work in you. This means we risk embarrassment to share the Gospel. It means we risk our kids and we bless them to go on the mission field. It means we part with our money so that more laborers can be sent into the harvest field. It means that we never conclude that cancer or dementia or false accusations or tragic accidents are purposeless, but they are all opportunities to show the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh, so that Christ would appear to others as strong and precious, spiritual life at work in us for the sake of others.

Here’s one of the things that’s so crucial when we suffer. Remember that your suffering is not without a purpose. You can endure almost anything. What is so catastrophically impossible is when you feel like there’s no reason for it, there’s nothing good, this is nothing for me, nothing for others, and you believe there is no purpose in it. Isn’t it true your experience of suffering is manifestly different when you believe there’s a purpose behind the suffering?

You go into labor – it’s painful, I hear. If only you knew how hard it is to stand by and watch. It’s painful, but there’s good on the other side. Not at all as painful as that, but if you exercise, if you run, if you do something strenuous, if you work out, you know that there’s a pain and you embrace it for those 2 minutes, 2 hours, or however long because you know there’s something good. You’re getting faster or it’s good for your heart or good for your joints or building muscles. You endure suffering as a soldier, to be drilled and to face hardships because you know that on the other side there’s some. If you have cancer, you endure and you take chemo and it’s miserable, but you know there’s a purpose to the suffering. Your experience of suffering is so different when you believe there’s a purpose to it.

And one of the purposes, even when you can’t see what in the world is this doing for me, I feel so bad, I can’t pray, I can’t read, I can’t do things, what purpose? Well, think not just of yourself, but what purpose it might be for Christ to be formed in others.

There is almost no greater testimony we can have to the world, to the body of Christ, to unbelievers, than to suffer as Christians.

And then there’s a third purpose. So we see the life of Christ in us, and we suffer for the sake of others, and then third we are handed over to death for the glory of God.

We see this bookended in this passage. We see it in verse 7, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us,” and then we see it again in verse 15, “for it is all for your sake that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase in thanksgiving to the glory of God.”

People see God’s grace at work in you. People come to accept God’s grace through you. And whenever there is grace, there ought to be gratitude.

The word “grace,” look there is verse 15, you see it, so that as grace extends to more and more people, the word “grace” in Greek there is “chairs.” The word “thanksgiving” at the end of the verse is “eucharistia.” Chairs leads to eucharist. Grace leads to gratitude. That’s what those two words mean. If there is no weakness in your life, no suffering, no hardship, no honesty about our failures, then there’s no need for grace. And if people cannot see grace in your life, then they will not have occasion to give God thanksgiving for that grace.

So come back up to where we started, in verse 7. You see, the Corinthians were confused. Paul was unimpressive, he didn’t speak that well when he showed up sometimes and if church history is an accurate guide, he wasn’t a real, striking, handsome-looking fellow. I won’t give you all the descriptions, lest any of you say, “Oh, honey, that’s kind of what you look like.” No, he just wasn’t a, they didn’t say that he was a very handsome-looking guy, and yet he claims that his Gospel is so glorious.

And it’s so glorious, this was amazing for the Jews to consider, that it made the glory of the law, remember how glorious the law was with the pyrotechnics on Mount Sinai? It made the glory of the law look like a flashlight compared to the sun, that’s how much more glorious the Gospel is.

So the question uppermost in their minds was this: How does unsurpassed glory harmonize with unrelenting death? How does that work? This juxtaposition in Paul’s message, handed over to death – unending glory.

If you meet with a financial planner, you expect him to look a certain way. You expect him to be dressed nicely, clean cut, have it together, because if your financial planner is disheveled and flat broke, you figure, uh, maybe not the guy to help me.

Likewise, if you’re looking for a personal trainer, you aren’t going to be impressed with the guy who’s vastly overweight and can’t touch his toes and stops to catch his breath walking up the stairs. You know, you want somebody to look, okay, I have aspired to that. That’s somebody who knows what they’re doing.

And this is the Corinthians perspective with Paul. They did not expect a message of transcendent glory to be delivered by one who was so feeble, so afflicted, so unimpressive as he was. How does such a treasure as the new covenant Gospel ministry end up in such a shoddy, crummy, uninspiring bucket like the Apostle Paul? That was their question. And Paul simply owned it, said, “You’re right, that’s exactly the point. We have this treasure in jars of clay. You’ve nailed it.”

But they didn’t see how this made the treasure even better, because no one would mistake the power to belong to Paul. We sometimes think that to be effective Christians we should be professional, successful, have it together, have the money, degrees, relevant or hip or cool or culturally with it. Impressive. Something that people will take notice, but that’s not how Paul wanted to be seen. That’s not how he saw himself. He said, “You know what I fancy myself to be? A common, ordinary pot. Cracked, blistered, beat up.”

If we’re honest, and it’s hard to be honest, but some of us, we hear this but there’s something deep down, or maybe not even that deep down, that feels like, “Yeah, yeah, but I am kinda special.” It’s that famous line from Winston Churchill, where he said, “Yes, we may all be worms, but I do believe that I’m a glowworm.” That’s sort of how some of us feel. Okay, a jar of clay, but like a pretty nice one.

And you’ve always done well in school, people have always liked you, maybe you’ve always been beautiful or you’ve always been among the fastest or the strongest or you’ve always had a bigger house or nicer yard or a better vacation or you were better at music or you always had the impressive gifts, so it’s easy to think that you might be something.

And it’s true, some people are smarter and prettier and faster and have more money, and God can use all those things. But let us be careful, oh, influential ones, successful ones, popular ones, less you forget, or I forget, our fundamental identity as jars of clay, cracked pots. You can count on it. Your strengths are always your great dangers, and your weaknesses are going to be your great opportunities.

How do we see ourselves? We don’t, this isn’t about being self-flagellating in some sort of unhealthy hatred of ourselves. Of course, there’s plenty of verses to talk about how much God loves us and how we’re treasured sons and daughters. This isn’t the only statement of our identity. But it is a crucial one.

It means not that we adopt a sentiment of self-loathing, that’s not the point. Being a jar of clay means we adopt an attitude of ordinariness. Perhaps all the graduation speeches were not true after all and you were not actually the best graduating class ever. They said that last year, and they said it next year.

Perhaps all of the messages that I hear, now I appreciate it when the Olympians win the gold medal and I love to see it and I watched all of it and I love to see, they’ve worked so hard and their dreams have come true and I cut them a lot of slack, but when they say, “This just goes to show that any of us, if you put your mind to it, can do anything,” I think, “No, no, mmm-mmm. No, I can’t. Do you see me? Can’t, can’t run that, I can’t ride my bike that fast. No, I can’t run that fast, I can’t lift those weights, I can’t do those. I can put my mind to it all day, I can’t do it. There are some things I cannot do.”

Paul says, “Good. That means that there’s room for God to do things that only God can do.”

You and I are not the last great hope of planet earth. We are expendable.

Paul did not compare himself to a Grecian urn or a priceless goblet or a fine piece of crystal. He called himself a jar of clay, Tupperware, if you still know what that is. You don’t get Tupperware to make a social statement before all your friends. “Hey, the fancy people are coming over. Let’s get out the Tupperware.” Look it up, kids, if you don’t know what it is. You get it because it’s useful.

If you go to a fancy restaurant, it’s all about the presentation. Oversized plate, expensive food, a little piece of chicken drizzled over herb-encrusted, a dusting of cilantro, garnishing sprinkled around the edges. It’s the presentation. It looks amazing. You know, don’t eat it, just, but you’ll eat it in a bite, but it looks amazing. The presentation. Paul says, “I’m not doing that.”

Tupperware. Jars of clay. Paper plates.

Are you prepared, Christ Covenant, to be a church of paper plates? Because, here’s the good news, the meal that Christ has to offer is so good, so good, it actually tastes even better on paper plates. No one says, “Well, this was all about the presentation.” Uh-uh. This is all about the meal. It’s all about the feast. And it’s got to be a good, any food can sort of seem impressive when you do all of that pizzazz. You want a food that really tastes good? Serve it on a paper plate and give somebody a plastic cup and a straw and see how good it is then.

Paul says we have this Gospel. It doesn’t need any help from us. We just put it out and serve it on the paper plates. You and I are not porcelain vases. We are well-worn, well-used, well-loved, busted up, duct-taped, rusty, old buckets. But, if you know Jesus, you have treasure. We got the Gospel. We know Jesus. We’ve been forgiven. We’ve seen the glory of God and His Word. We may be fragile, ordinary, expendable, but that’s the way God likes it. So don’t mind being a little ordinary.

Was it Abraham Lincoln who said, “If God didn’t like ordinary people He wouldn’t have made so many of them.”

Yes, it’s true. Don’t fret over your suffering. Don’t worry about death at work in you. Every bit of weakness is a new opportunity for God to look precious, to paint His glory in your life for all the world to see. We have this treasures in jars of clay to show that the all surpassing power, the glory, does not belong to us, but to Him.

Let us as a church show forth to the world the power of God and the glory of the Gospel on paper plates.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, how rich a treasure You have given to us, so help us not to get in the way. You love us, You care of us, You give us gifts. We are in all sorts of ways special, treasured, and yet in this way we must embrace our ordinariness, because we are not the point, You are, and we pray that that would be uppermost in our minds, in our hearts, in our church, and to a watching world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.