DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Staying Alive
 

There will be all sorts of emotions building inside us. Sometimes we feel the need to spend more time with our children. Then we feel the need to spend more time with our wife or husband. Finally, we think we need to work on our commendation--the ministry! What's the top priority? What do we need to focus on first? Need to figure out which emotions are the healthy ones, which are unhealthy.

We emphasize a lot about joy and being positive, but get unsettled by trials. We need to have the balance of both in our lives. Pressure is a fact of life.

We're just not smart enough or awesome enough to do it on our own. Any area we want to pick, we're just not at the top. God set it up this way so the glory would go to him, and not to us.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12
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 be revealed in our mortal body.
12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.


We're always being given over to death. That's not very inspiring.

1. Hard-Pressed, but Not Crushed

Pressure on every side is normal. Let us just better get used to it. Family, ministry, special events, satan, neighbors, finances, etc. Hard-pressed, but not crushed. Once an ornament is crushed, we can't ever put it back together again. Hopefully, when the pressure builds we become more focused. If we're doing all that we can do, that's great. Let us keep it up. If we ever feel resentment toward the ministry, it is not good. Being hard-pressed is great, but crushed is not acceptable.

2. Perplexed, but Not in Despair

We're always perplexed. We hardly ever know what we're supposed to do. Losing hope, though, is not acceptable. Being in despair is unhealthy.

3. Persecuted, but Not Abandoned

Persecution kind of fires us up in a funny way. At first, it gets on our nerves a bit, but after a while it weighs on us. Abandoned is something we definitely don't want to feel. Feeling all alone is a wrong feeling. We are not all alone--we have God and friends.

4. Struck Down, but Not Destroyed

Nothing wrong with feeling struck down. When we're struck down, we get back up. That's the key difference. Once in a while, perhaps more often, we will get struck down. Not time for a pity party, but time to get back up. Struck down is ok. Destroyed is not ok.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


Even though we're hard-pressed, struck down, perplexed, persecuted, we can't lose heart. We need to stay faithful in the face of bad news because of the confidence that God is going to win. Whatever happens, He's in control. We would like him to win by a larger margin sometimes, but he's going to win for sure.

Outwardly, we are wasting away. We're going downhill fast. If we're starting to droop, we have to get in there with the Lord. Let us get close with the Lord and get renewed on the inside.

2 Corinthians 6:3-10
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.


We have to go the extra 6th mile to be sure that our life is not discredited. When we think what life as a disciple is supposed to feel like . . . Where is our commendation? What do we boast in?
a. Great endurance
b. Troubles
c. Hard work, sleepless nights and hunger
d. Sleepless nights
e. Truthful speech
f. Glory and dishonor
g. Bad report or good
h. Genuine, yet regarded as impostors
i. Beaten, but not killed
j. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing
k. Having nothing, yet possessing everything

What really matters? What's really going to make a difference? Paul was way worse off than we are. We actually have something. When we look at the changed lives in the church, realize this . . . We need to keep going. It's worth it, whatever the pain, whatever the cost.

There will be challenges, but we need the heart to step up to it. We need to take the pressure, may feel perplexed, will definitely experience sorrow . . . But we should always keep going, keep getting up, keep staying alive.

It's a rich life we have in the kingdom. Let's never let go, never give up.