Daily Archives: December 30, 2017

December 30 Satan’s Conqueror

“Since … the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14–15).

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Christ came to break the power of Satan which He did by conquering death.

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam—that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into Hell forever. So the Devil wants to hang on to men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand in the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death and is thus able to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 15:50–58. How are we to live our lives, based on what we know about death?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 377). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

DECEMBER 30 THE PERFUME OF REMEMBERED BLESSING

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him….

COLOSSIANS 2:9, 10

Christ is so many wonderful things to His people and brings to them such a wealth of benefits as the mind cannot comprehend nor the heart find words to express!

Bernard of Clairvaux speaks in his writings of a “perfume compounded of the remembered benefits of God.”

Such fragrance is all too rare!

Every follower of Christ should be redolent of such a perfume; for have we not all received more from God’s kindness than our imagination could have conceived before we knew Him and discovered for ourselves how rich and how generous He is?

That we have received of His fullness grace for grace no one will deny, but the fragrance comes not from the receiving but from the remembering.

Ten lepers received their health—that was the benefit. One came back to thank his benefactor—that was the perfume!

Unremembered benefits, like dead flies, may cause the ointment to give forth a stinking savor.

Remembered blessings, thankfulness for present favors and praise for promised grace blend like myrrh and aloes and cassia to make a rare bouquet for the garments of the saints. With this perfume David also anointed his harp and the hymns of the ages have been sweet with it.

We are reminded that much of the Bible is devoted to prediction. Nothing God has yet done for us can compare with all that is written in the sure word of prophecy. And, nothing He has done or may yet do for us can compare with what He is and will be to us![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Open Occultism and Millennial Magik

Here’s an idea. Instead of Christian missionaries heading off to third world countries to evangelize the lost, why not remain at home and evangelize college students. As it turns out, many institutions of higher learning promote paganism; thus, a large number of college educated millennials have bought into pagan beliefs, hook line and sinker. They’re involved in occult practices like astrology, tarot card reading, aura reading, palmistry, Runes, charms, potions, they play the Ouija board game and so on and so forth. In other words, college students are practicing the magik arts, what is commonly called witchcraft.

Sure, Christians must share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people in developing countries; but according to Joseph Torres, the good news must be shared with millennials in their own home towns as well because universities are churning out witches faster than you can say Hogwarts. “College campuses in particular are fertile breeding grounds for open occultism among millennials,” writes Torres. He warns that witchcraft has become the norm.

You can learn more from Joe Torres about this dire situation over at truthXchange. He writes:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. With each passing generation, this cliché takes on deeper levels of truth. Many have noted just how different the so-called millennial generation (the 18-30 demographic) is from the generations that came before them: their lack of respect for authority, their obsession with entertainment, and their penchant for social media. Yet, for all these differences (and many of them are greatly exaggerated), one thing has remained consistent. The millennial generation is as much under the spiritual attack of paganism as every generation reaching as far back as the Garden of Eden.

Now, I can imagine that some may read those last few sentences with a jaundiced eye. Maybe I’m simply being a Pollyanna, a conservative alarmist warning the masses that the bad people are “coming for your children.” The fact is I’m also skeptical of fanciful claims with a conspiratorial bend. But it appears paganism, and by this I mean “out-and-proud” occultism is making a comeback among young people, and is backed with all the promotional punch of the Internet, social media, and Youtube.

A number of recent articles have acknowledged that a kind of spiritual awakening is taking place among millennials. Back in 2005 Catherine Edwards Sanders wrote Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality[1]. There she defines Wicca as,

monistic and pantheistic beliefs that all living things are of equal value. … Humans have no special place, nor are they made in God’s image. … Wiccans believe that they possess divine power within themselves and that they are gods and goddesses. …Consciousness can and should be altered through rite and ritual.[2]

These beliefs are not unique to Wicca, though it does appear that witchcraft is the predominant form of the Oneist resurgence among millennials. Parties on all sides of the worldview spectrum increasingly recognize the trend. Jason Mankey has authored a piece titled, “Why Millennials Love Paganism,”[3] and Alden Wicker, in his article, “Witchcraft is the perfect religion for liberal millennials”[4] remarks that“ modern witchcraft [is] a movement that is being propelled out of the forest and into the mainstream.” He continues,

Search Meetup and you’ll find dozens of spell-casting covens in your area. The hashtag #witchesofinstagram brings up more than 360,000 posts from practitioners like @TheHoodWitch, who posts pictures of her long, lacquered nails hovering over tarot cards; @witcheryway, a Canadian witch who sells spell kits and incense burners out of her shop, and @light_witch, a self-described feminist in New England who spends her time swanning through outdoor landscapes in capes. View article →

Source: Open Occultism and Millennial Magik

December 30, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Humble

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; (4:7)

But introduces a contrast with verse 6, which describes the immense and incalculable glory of the eternal God revealed in the incarnate Christ. That priceless divine treasure is contained in a lowly human container—a humbling perspective every preacher and believer must have. Paul’s humble view of himself was at the heart of what made him so usable. Later in this epistle he wrote, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves” (2 Cor. 10:12). He refused to evaluate himself based on the false apostles’ shallow, external criteria; he was not interested in comparing himself with those who “measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves” (10:12). He would not “boast beyond … measure” (10:13), because “he who boasts is to boast in the Lord” (10:17) and, “It is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends” (10:18).

The treasure in view here is the same as the “ministry” in 4:1. Both terms describe the glorious gospel message that the eternal God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, and died on the cross and rose again to provide forgiveness of sin and eternal life for all who repent and believe. The treasure is of incalculable worth, because “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.… For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:3, 9). The gospel message reveals the most profound truths the world has ever known, which produce the most powerful eternal effects. Through the gospel people are freed from the power of sin and death (Rom. 8:2; Heb. 2:14), released from condemnation (Rom. 8:1), transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18), and given eternal joy, peace, and satisfaction.

Yet, amazingly, that priceless gospel treasure is contained in simple earthen vessels. Ostrakinos (earthen) refers to baked clay. The vessels Paul describes here were just common pots: cheap, breakable, easily replaceable, and virtually valueless. Occasionally they were used to hide valuables, such as gold, silver, and jewelry. The pots containing such valuable items would often be buried in the ground. In fact, the man in Jesus’ parable who found the treasure hidden in a field (Matt. 13:44) might have discovered it when his plow broke a buried pot. Clay pots were also used to store valuable documents; the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered stored in clay pots in a cave near Qumran.

But earthen vessels were most frequently used for ignoble, everyday purposes. In ancient times, human waste and garbage were stored and transported in clay pots. They were “vessels … of earthenware … to dishonor” (2 Tim. 2:20); that is, they were used for dishonorable, distasteful, unmentionable tasks. Such clay pots had no intrinsic value; their only worth came from the valuables they contained or the service they performed.

Far from disputing the false apostles’ disparaging assessment of him, Paul embraced it and turned it into an affirmation of his authenticity. The apostle acknowledged his human limitations and weaknesses, even describing himself as the “foremost” of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). But like a cheap, fragile, ordinary clay pot used to hide valuable treasure, Paul carried the priceless treasure of the glorious new covenant gospel. Therefore he could boldly affirm, “I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5). In the next verse he declared, “Even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge.” Though he lacked the polished oratorical skills so highly prized by the Greeks, Paul was not at all lacking in spiritual knowledge.

God delights in using humble, common people, those who are overlooked by society. He places in such clay pots the incalculable treasure of the gospel. In his first inspired letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminded them of that truth:

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Cor. 1:26–29)

Earlier he asked rhetorically, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor. 1:20). By using common clay pots, God gets the glory, “so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’ ” (1 Cor. 1:31). The prerequisite for spiritual usefulness is to be humble, to see one’s self for what one really is, and acknowledge that all the glory for one’s accomplishments belongs to God, who placed the treasure in us. His own trials had taught Paul the lesson that God’s glory and strength were best manifest in his weakness. Because God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9), Paul could joyously affirm, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).

The world is filled with people too enamored with their own cleverness, importance, and ability to be used by God. But when God chose the men through whom He would give His Word to mankind, He did not choose the learned scholars of Alexandria, the distinguished philosophers of Athens, the eloquent orators of Rome, or the self-righteous religious leaders of Israel. He passed them all by in favor of simple Galilean fishermen like Peter, John, James, and Andrew, despised traitors like Matthew the tax collector, and obscure men like Philip, Mark, and Nathaniel (see John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men [Nashville: Word Publishing, 2002]). Even the educated people He chose, such as Luke the physician and Paul, the rabbinic scholar, were humble, unimposing people. To those common, earthen vessels God entrusted the priceless treasure of the gospel.

God chooses humble people to proclaim the gospel message so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of Him. He alone reveals “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (4:6). By using frail, fallible people, God makes it clear that the power lies not in the human messenger but in the divine message. God’s power transcends the limitations of the clay pot. And it is precisely those limitations that allow Christians to experience the greatest demonstration of God’s power.[1]


7 Here is the first paradox—the difference between the indescribable value of the gospel treasure and the relative worthlessness of the gospel’s ministers. Verse 6 referred to the treasure in jars of clay as the illumination that comes from “the knowledge of the glory of God.” In describing as “earthen vessels” (NASB) those to whom the gospel is entrusted (1 Th 2:4), Paul is not disparaging the human body or implying that the body is simply the receptacle of the soul (see Notes). Rather, he is contrasting the relative insignificance and unattractiveness of the bearers of the light with the inestimable worth and beauty of the light itself. Behind this contrast Paul sees a divine purpose—that people may recognize that “this all-surpassing power” is God’s alone. His power finds its full scope in human weakness (2 Co 12:9).[2]


4:7 / Having shown the transcendent power and glory of his apostleship in 2:14–4:6, Paul is careful not to claim personal credit for these things. Paul wants to avoid the appearance of self-commendation (3:1) and claims instead that his competence is from God (3:5). This treasure probably refers to the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Christ through which Paul received his apostolic commission (4:6). Paul has this revelatory treasure in jars of clay. It is difficult to know exactly why Paul has chosen this metaphor for his physical body (cf. b. Taʿan. 7a; Acts 9:15). In the ancient world, the most common vessels were earthenware. They were used for storing and transporting (of water, oil, grain, and olives), cooking, eating, drinking, and presenting offerings. They are found in every domestic excavation site and in graves, where they accompanied the deceased with provisions. Pottery vessels became the main type of containers in most Near Eastern cultures. Yet the vessels were fragile and their usual life spans were probably a few years at the most. Therefore, when Paul refers to his body as a clay jar, he may be regarding himself, on one level, as quite ordinary and transitory (cf. Lam. 4:2; Song Rab. 1:19: “Just as water does not keep well in a vessel of silver or gold but in the commonest of vessels, so the Torah resides only in one who makes himself like a vessel of earthenware”).

Paul’s metaphor, however, has a deeper significance: His body is a “jar of clay” because “the Lord God formed man (ʾādām) from the dust of the ground (ʾadāmāh)” (Gen. 2:7; cf. Ps. 103:14; Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Sir. 33:10, 13; 1QH 1.15; 3.21; 1QS 11.21–22). The Hebrew verb yāṣar here is most often used of a potter who “forms” a vessel out of clay (cf. Isa. 29:16; 41:25; Jer. 18:4, 6; 1 Chron. 4:23; Lam. 4:2). In the account of the curse, Genesis goes on to underscore the relationship of human beings to the soil: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19; cf. Ps. 104:29; Job 10:9; 17:16; 21:26; 34:15; Eccl. 3:20; cf. Schäfer, §973). Therefore, when Paul refers to his body as a clay jar, he regards himself as having a mortal human body.

Verse 7b goes on to give the purpose for which the revelatory treasure is contained in the clay jar of Paul’s mortal body. In the previous context, Paul has been careful not to claim any credit for the surpassing glory and power of his apostolic ministry (cf. 3:6, 10). In fact, the apostle strictly denies any sufficiency in and of himself (3:5). If his body fails to emanate this glory and power, that merely underscores the point, for while Paul considers himself to possess all-surpassing power, this power is not inherently Paul’s own; it is from God (v. 7b; cf. 6:7; 12:9; 12:12).[3]


Power in weakness (4:7)

Paul contrasts a priceless jewel with its receptacle, an everyday earthen jar. The jewel, or treasure, is ‘the knowledge … of God in the face of Christ’ which God has ‘made … shine in our hearts’ (verse 6). The earthen jar in which this treasure is contained, the human body, is subject to decay and vulnerable to disease and injury. It is, in ultimate terms, powerless.

This is not accidental, but deliberate, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God (verse 7). The power to lift man out of his powerlessness in the face of suffering, decay and death does not come from within himself; it comes only from God. Man is like a jar of clay in order that the all-surpassing power might be from God, and not from ourselves. Earlier (1:8), he wrote of being ‘under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure’. Now, in exact answer, he writes of God’s power which surpasses the weakness of the human body.

It is, apparently, part of God’s plan that the power is not from us. Had this priceless treasure been contained in a strong and permanent body it would have proved a fatal combination for proud and sinful man. Like Adam, he would have reached for the heavens to be a spiritual superman, a ‘god’, a reference perhaps to Paul’s opponents (cf. 12:6–7, 11). We come to appreciate how powerful God is only when we acknowledge the certainty of our own death. This, apparently, had been Paul’s experience. Human life is short, its form easily defaced and its fabric destructible in a second. It is an earthen jar, a cheap clay pot. Hughes comments that ‘the immense discrepancy between the treasure and the vessel serves simply to attest that human weakness presents no barrier to the purposes of God, indeed, that God’s power is made perfect in weakness’.

This teaching about power in weakness, so far from being applicable only to the apostles, is, along with the teaching on transformation (3:18) and illumination (4:6), true for all believers. In fact, the opinion that the power of God impinges on man not in his supposed strength but in his real weakness is no passing sentiment, but is the theological insight, the chief theme, which binds together the whole letter and gives it its unity. It was stated near the beginning (1:8), is restated here (verse 7) and will reappear near the end in the memorable words of Jesus to Paul: ‘My power is made perfect in weakness’ (12:9).[4]


4:7. Paul began this section with a clear thesis statement that he would develop in the verses to follow. Although Paul and other apostles were determined to serve in ministry because of the light of Christ in their hearts, they had this treasure in jars of clay. The image of this metaphor is twofold. On the one hand, there is treasure. The treasure represents the new covenant ministry empowered by “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (4:6). In Paul’s day earthenware containers were used to hold many different items. Paul had in mind precious items such as silver or gold. Paul viewed the gospel and its ministry as precious cargo.

On the other hand, this priceless gospel ministry was carried about in jars of clay. Artifacts from Paul’s day indicate that not all items were stored in earthenware containers. Boxes of gold and ivory, decorated with precious stones, were available for the wealthy. Yet, it was common for items of great value to be stored in inexpensive pots of clay.

The counterpart to the jars of clay in Paul’s metaphor is the ministers themselves. Paul had in mind not only the physical body, but also the many trials and troubles that came upon him and those who ministered with him. He introduced the idea that God had placed the treasure of the gospel ministry in frail, ordinary humans. A priceless treasure was contained in common earthenware.

Paul chose this metaphor because it symbolized the reality of his ministry. He had received the incredible light of God in Christ and was commissioned to spread this gospel throughout the world on Christ’s behalf. Yet, this precious treasure did not raise Paul out of ordinary human life. He still faced the weaknesses of physical trials and persecutions in this world.

What was the purpose of this design? The grand message of Christ was carried through the world by ordinary, weak human beings to show that this all-surpassing power was from God and not from the ministers. The expression all-surpassing power alludes to 4:6, which focused on the divine power demonstrated first at the command that light appear (Gen. 1:3), and later in the order that the light of Christ shine in the hearts of believers. God spoke and the light of creation shone; he spoke and the light of re-creation shone as well.

This power of God was also evident in the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 15:18–19). The weakness of Paul and other ministers, coupled with their refusal to use deception, could not have produced the powerful, re-creative effects that the gospel produced. God chose weak creatures to minister the gospel so that it would be all the more clear that he had accomplished the work through these ministers (2 Tim. 1:8).

The effectiveness of their ministry might have caused some people to attribute honor to the ministers themselves. But Paul insisted that the weakness of the jars of clay demonstrated that ministers of the gospel deserved no glory for their work. The power came through weak instruments to demonstrate that it was from God and not from the ministers.[5]


7. And we have this treasure in earthenware pots, so that the extraordinary power may be of God and not out of us.

This verse shows double contrast: first, the treasure of gospel light (v. 6) and worthless clay pots; next, God’s supernatural power and human weakness. The first clause states a fact that in the second results in achieving purpose.

  • “And we have this treasure in earthenware pots.” The phrase and we have refers not to Paul only but to everyone who has received and possesses the good news of salvation. This treasure consists of the gospel message that we have received from the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that this message is a priceless gift that we carry around in earthenware vessels. He uses an illustration taken from everyday life: clay pots that contained everything from wealth to worthless things, from foods to liquids. Because jars, pots, and vessels were made from clay, they were subject to breakage and, therefore, were inexpensive and discarded in short order.

Jewish rabbis used to say: “It is impossible for wine to be kept in gold or silver vessels but in the most inferior of containers, namely, in earthen vessels. Similarly, the words of the Law are kept only in the person who is most humble.” An analogy is the valuable Dead Sea Scrolls, which were stored for more than two millennia in ordinary clay jars that were decaying while the scrolls remained intact. E. F. F. Bishop suggests that Paul may have had in mind “earthenware lamps of different shapes and sizes.”29 Other scholars wish to link earthenware jars to Paul’s remark about the triumphal procession in Christ (2:14). Filled with coins, grain, wine, or water, vessels were carried along in offering processions.

Lamps made out of clay spread light in every home and jars filled with various commodities were part of triumphal processions. But if Paul had intended to draw attention to either a lamp or a jar in a procession, he would have been able to express this in appropriate words. For him, the contrast of the incomparable value of the gospel and the cheap, fragile clay jars is important. He emphasizes not so much the fragile pots but their content, namely, the treasure.

Assaulted and battered numerous times, Paul’s own body was living proof of its frailty and impending mortality (5:1). For this reason, Paul uses the example of earthenware pottery to illustrate the bodies and minds of humans. He himself calls attention to the potter who fashions vessels for noble and common purposes (Rom. 9:21; Isa. 29:16; Jer. 18:6). And Jesus describes Paul as “a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15, KJV).

  • “So that the extraordinary power may be of God and not out of us.” We hold the gospel as it were in clay jars to exhibit the phenomenal power of God, so that everyone may see that not we but God is its source. The original text reads: “the extraordinary (quality of the) power.” The Greek perhaps reflects Hebraic syntax that merely says “extraordinary power.” What is this great power? It is God’s word that created light (Gen. 1:3), that led Israel out of Egypt (Exod. 3:7–10), that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 1:4), and that called Paul to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 26:16–18).

God’s power is revealed in human beings who, in the eyes of the world, are of no account. For example, a company of uneducated fishermen follow Jesus and, filled with the Holy Spirit, spread the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Jason and some fellow Christians are dragged before the city officials in Thessalonica and are accused of causing trouble all over the world (Acts 17:6). Paul is told that he is unimpressive and lacks oratorical skills (10:10), yet he proclaimed the gospel, founded congregations, strengthened the believers, and composed epistles that have brought the message of salvation to countless multitudes around the globe. Commenting on his physical weakness and Christ’s power, Paul affirms that when he is weak, the divine power of Christ is resting on him (12:7–9). The authority of the gospel is not human in origin but has its source in God. “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36).[6]


4:7 Having spoken of the obligation to make the message plain, the Apostle Paul now thinks of the human instrument to which the wonderful gospel treasure had been committed. The treasure is the glorious message of the gospel. The earthen vessel, on the other hand, is the frail human body. The contrast between the two is tremendous. The gospel is like a precious diamond that scintillates brilliantly every way in which it is turned. To think that such a precious diamond has been entrusted to such a frail, fragile earthenware vessel!

Earthen vessels, marred, unsightly,

Bearing Wealth no thought can know;

Heav’nly Treasure, gleaming brightly—

Christ revealed in saints below!

Vessels, broken, frail, yet bearing

Through the hungry ages on,

Riches giv’n with hand unsparing,

God’s great Gift, His precious Son!

O to be but emptier, lowlier,

Mean, unnoticed and unknown,

And to God a vessel holier,

Filled with Christ, and Christ alone!

Naught of earth to cloud the Glory!

Naught of self the light to dim!

Telling forth Christ’s wondrous story,

Broken, empty—filled with Him!

Tr. Frances Bevan

Why has God ordained that this treasure should be in earthen vessels? The answer is so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. God does not want men to be occupied with the human instrument, but rather with His own power and greatness. And so He deliberately commits the gospel message to weak, often uncomely human beings. All the praise and glory must go to the Creator and not the creature.

It is a secret joy to find

The task assigned beyond our powers;

For thus, if ought of good be wrought,

Clearly the praise is His, not ours.

Houghton

Jowett says:

There is something wrong when the vessel robs the treasure of its glory, when the casket attracts more attention than the jewel which it bears. There is a very perverse emphasis when the picture takes second place to the frame, and when the ware which is used at the feast becomes a substitute for the meal. There is something deadly in Christian service when “the excellency of the power” is of us and not of God. Such excellency is of a very fleeting kind, and it will speedily wither as the green herb and pass into oblivion.

As Paul penned verse 7, it is almost certain he was thinking of an incident in Judges 7. There it is recorded that Gideon equipped his army with trumpets, empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. At the appointed signal, his men were to blow their trumpets and break the pitchers. When the pitchers were broken, the lamps shone out in brilliance. This terrified the enemy. They thought there was a vast host after them, instead of just three hundred men. The lesson is that, just as in Gideon’s case the light only shone forth when the pitchers were broken, so it is in connection with the gospel. Only when human instruments are broken and yielded to the Lord can the gospel shine forth through us in all its magnificence.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 139–142). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 469). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Scott, J. M. (2011). 2 Corinthians (pp. 103–104). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Barnett, P. (1988). The message of 2 Corinthians: power in weakness (pp. 86–87). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 337–338). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 146–147). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1834). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 12/30/2017

‘Aspiring Pastor’ Charged With Murder After Wife, Children Found Dead in Home   Dec 26, 2017 02:50 pm

KELOWNA, B.C. — A Canadian man that had aspirations to be a pastor has been charged with second-degree murder after his wife and two young daughters were recently found dead in their home. Jacob Forman, 34, made his first court appearance on Thursday after authorities found his wife of ten years, Clara, and their daughters Karina and Yesenia, 7 and 8…

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‘We’ve Prayed About It’: Professing ‘Christian’ Couple Refuses Woman’s Pleas Not to Abort Baby   Dec 27, 2017 03:50 pm

A viral video posted to social media on Friday shows a man and woman who professed to be Christians declining a woman’s pleas not to abort their baby, stating that the child would interfere with their plans and that they had “prayed about” the matter. While the background behind the video, such as the location of the recording, has not been divulged, the footage…

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Oregon Court Upholds Order to Pay $135K in ‘Emotional Damages’ for Declining to Make Cake for Same-Sex ‘Wedding’   Dec 28, 2017 07:09 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling that ordered Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $135,000 in “emotional damages” to two lesbian women for declining to make a cake for their same-sex “wedding” in 2014. “iven BOLI’s detailed factual findings about the effect of the refusal of service on these…

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‘May God Have Mercy on Your Soul’: Oklahoma Muslim Who Beheaded Coworker Sentenced to Death   Dec 24, 2017 05:25 pm

NORMAN, Okla. — A Muslim man who beheaded his coworker three years ago and attempted a decapitate a second woman has been sentenced to death after a jury determined that he was eligible for capital punishment. “I can’t bring Colleen back, and it’s unfortunate that another life will be taken. May God have mercy on your soul,” Cleveland County Judge Lori…

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Trump White House Sends Congratulatory Letter to Prosperity Preacher Kenneth Copeland for ’50 Years of Ministry’   Dec 29, 2017 09:22 am

WASHINGTON — Prosperity and Word of Faith preacher Kenneth Copeland posted a photo to social media on Tuesday of a letter that he received from President Trump congratulating him for “50 years of ministry.” “Melania and I send our warmest wishes as you celebrate 50 years of ministry,” began the letter, which was dated Aug. 16 but just shared this week. “For…

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Judge Declines to Issue Emergency Injunction Against Baker Who Wouldn’t Make Same-Sex ‘Wedding’ Cake   Dec 23, 2017 06:27 pm

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A state judge in California has declined to grant an emergency injunction against a baker who declined a request to make a same-sex “wedding” cake due to her religious beliefs, but also offered to call an accommodating business on behalf of the two lesbians seeking the cake for their event. Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe…

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California Teen Asks School Board to Change Policy Banning ‘Religious Theories’ in Science Class   Dec 26, 2017 12:26 pm

ANGELS CAMP, Calif. — A sophomore student at a public high school in California is requesting that his school district change its policy prohibiting the discussion of Creation beliefs in science class. Grayson Mobley, 16, spoke to the Bret Harte Union High School Board earlier this month to ask that he be allowed to politely cite his beliefs when pertinent….

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Atheist Group Wants Arkansas Governor to Stop Posting Bible Verses on Official Social Media Pages   Dec 23, 2017 12:40 pm

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One of the most conspicuous professing atheist groups in the nation has sent a letter to the governor of Arkansas to request that he stop posting Bible verses on his government-related social media pages. Gov. Asa Hutchinson posts a Scripture to his Twitter and Facebook accounts each Sunday, sharing verses such as, “I will give thanks to the…

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ACLU Sues Healthcare Network for Cancelling Chest Surgery of Woman Who Identifies as Man   Dec 29, 2017 06:15 pm

SEATTLE, Wash. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the largest healthcare network in Washington State after chest reconstruction surgery scheduled for a woman who identifies as a man was cancelled and she had to obtain the operation elsewhere. According to the complaint filed by the ACLU, the 30-year-old woman, who goes by the name…

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UK Mother Declines Abortion After Baby Diagnosed With Rare Lung Condition   Dec 26, 2017 11:38 pm

HULL, East Yorkshire — A mother in the UK is thankful for her son after she declined to abort him upon learning that he had a rare lung condition. “I was given the option to terminate the pregnancy as it was unlikely the baby would survive, but there was no doubt in my mind that I would carry on,” Yvonne Excell recalled to the Hull Daily Mail. Excell was 20…

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