04/29/Th – Extraordinary Glory in Jars of Clay

Job 35:1-36:33; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12; Psalms 44:8-22; Proverbs 14:11-12

Psalms: “We boast in God all day long; we will praise your name forever. Selah …All this has happened to us, but we have not forgotten you or betrayed your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back; our steps have not strayed from your path… If we had forgotten the name of our God and spread out our hands to a foreign god, wouldn’t God have found this out, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭44:8, 17-18, 20-22‬ ‭CSB)

The sons of Korah had experienced defeat before their enemies, yet in all the hardship and  shame they experienced in the aftermath of their defeat, they did not forsake the Lord God or break His covenant. They did not switch their allegiance, nor did they bow down to the gods and idols of their enemies. In fact, it was because of their faithfulness to God that their hardships increased. They could have taken the “easy” route and denounced God to receive reprieve from their conquerors, but they were not willing to be unfaithful to their promised Deliverer. Through it all they maintained faith and held out hope that God would be faithful to them.

Think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It was because of their faithfulness to God and their refusal to bow before the golden statue of Babylon that they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Think of Daniel. It was because of His faithfulness to seek his God three times a day that he was thrown to the ravenous lions. Paul actually quoted Psalm 44:22 in Romans 8:36 – but then followed that up by saying, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s trip into the furnace actually convinced the mighty Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge and worship God. Daniel’s trip into the lion den led the Persian King Darius to proclaim that all of his empire was to tremble in fear before the Lord God. When we suffer for the sake of God and remain faithful to Him through it all, God will turn our frailty into His strength… He will turn our defeat into His overwhelming victory, and we get to share in and display His glory.

NT: “For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that Jesus’s life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh.” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:5-11‬ ‭CSB)

If the god if this age is constantly blinding the minds of this world to the knowledge of Christ, how did the Corinthian believers come to see the light? When Paul came to Corinth, he did not tout his credentials, nor did he use his skills of debate to philosophize with the Corinthians on a mental level. He preached only the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Then the God of creation, Who by the power and authority of His word created light out of the darkness, pierced through the veil of the enemy to shine the light of the knowledge of Christ on the hearts of those who heard Paul’s words. As they believed the words of the gospel, God, by His Holy Spirit filled their dark, chaotic and empty lives with His glory.

It boggles the mind to think that God would deposit His immeasurable and uncontainable glory into frail, fractured and faulty humans – but He does. Why would He do something so incomprehensible as to risk His glory with weak and fragile men and women. Our frailty magnifies His unbreakable integrity. Our brokenness magnifies His wholeness. Our faults and failings magnify His perfect excellence. Filled with His glory, our life becomes a holy paradox that confounds and convinces the world. Though we are obviously frail, when afflicted we are not crushed. Though we are obviously weak, we are never in despair. Though we may have our legs knocked out from under us and subjected to immense pressure, we are never destroyed. Why? Because of the glory of God within us overcomes our imperfections to glorify the perfect God. Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when we maintain our allegiance even in the face of death, the Lord walks with us and shines gloriously through us to confound our enemies and convince the world that the Lord is God. Therefore, we don’t promote our name and misrepresent who we are – we boast in our weaknesses that the Glory of God may be magnified above all.

Prayer: Lord, I know that my words do not have the power to save people – only Your gospel does. Promoting myself does not rescue blind people from darkness – only proclaiming Your glory does that. Help me, by Your Spirit, to always place my allegiance to You above anything else, even my own preservation – that in all things You would make me more than a conqueror, and through my weaknesses You would be glorified above all and to all. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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