Audio from Senior Pastor Vaughn Drawdy on Sunday morning March 31st, 2019.
Psalm 46:1-11 NIV
1 God is our refuge and strength,an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give wayand the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foamand the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall;God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord Almighty is with us;the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see what the Lord has done,the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars ceaseto the ends of the earth.He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord Almighty is with us;the God of Jacob is our fortress.
What a great passage that tells us God is near. It is a great passage to embrace when we are pressing through tough times.
We all have times when life is tough. Each of us has a tidbit of wisdom about perseverance - some taught, some learned from the school of hard knocks. The greatest encouragement we can embrace comes from God’s Word.
Jesus told His disciples that they would face challenges, trouble: (Jn. 16:33)
John 16:33 NIV
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We have been called to be disciples of Jesus and these words ring true for us as well.
A disciple is one who wants to be full of the right knowledge - God’s Word - in order to know how to respond the right way in every circumstance. We are vessels that God wants to fill. He wants to fill you with His Spirit, His knowledge, His Word, His purpose, His ways. It’s not going to be easy. JAMES said it like this: (James 1:2-5)
James 1:2-5 NIV
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
We will face trials in this life…this means that we are called to a life of perseverance, a steadfast determination to follow Jesus no matter the cost. Through perseverance we grow mature, we become Spiritually Fit.
Paul understood this and even gave us encouragement about persevering. 2 Cor. 4:7-18
2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NIV
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 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. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 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. 15 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. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.
Paul helps us understand a little about who we are and how to see our lives. He uses a metaphor here… comparing our lives to a clay pot.
I think Paul is drawing off the Words of Jeremiah and Isaiah. (Jer. 18:1-7) (Isaiah 84:8)
Jeremiah 18:1-7 NIV
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
Isaiah 64:8 NIV
8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, you are the potter;we are all the work of your hand.
>weak, fragile, easily broken, damaged.
What gives the jar value?
>the thing inside. The jar is of little value compared to what is inside.
(vs 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay.)
A treasure is something that is valuable, expensive.
In verse 7 Paul speaks of a "treasure."
>What is the treasure?
Christ and the gospel. Again, it’s the treasure within the vessel that gives it value.
The important thing is that the vessel be clean and available for service.
As the Holy Spirit fills the vessel the power of God is seen.
God desires to shape us into what He would have us be, to do what He would have us do. We are like jars, jars filled with a great and valuable treasure.
Paul goes on to describe the challenges we face.
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
>We may be troubled but Christ helps us in our distress.
Paul said in verse 8., "We are hard pressed" - which is to be squeezed, oppressed, hedged in and pressured. "BUT NOT CRUSHED" - We might find ourselves in troubled times but we are never beyond the assistance that God can give. God never leaves us without hope.
We may be perplexed, at a loss, doubting, not knowing what to do, which way to go, what to say - but Christ’s power keeps us from despair, from hopelessness. In His presence we find security and confidence.
Perseverance comes as we embrace the TRUTH of who Jesus is and who He is in our lives. He has paid our sin debt and has given us access - to the Father to stand before His presence.
We need to remember what Christ did, where He came from, why He came. We need to remember what He did for us on the cross and embrace the gift of LIFE He gave. We need to remember that since He is our Lord, no weapon formed against us will separate us from His love (Is. 54:17/Rom. 8:38-39). Paul went own to say (vs 16-18)
Isaiah 54:17 NIV
17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,and this is their vindication from me,”declares the Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.
Because of who Jesus is and what He has done, we can have confidence in the (Jn. 10:10) abundance of grace given to persevere through adversity. In these times, we can rely on His strength, His presence and have hope of a better day. Through it all, know that God is at work in you so that He may be known through you.