The Overflow of a Thankful Heart. Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NIV 1

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1 The Overflow of a Thankful Heart Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NIV 1 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. 13 It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With 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 in his presence. 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. Scripture Text: 2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV Introduction Well,... how is your thanksgiving going, so far? Family getting together? Getting lots to eat? Having a great time? It is a great weekend, isn t it? Nice and warm. Sun is shining. I ve got my health. I ve got my home. I ve got my family. I ve got all the cats I could want anyone want a family of 8? We have a lot to be thankful for! We have it so good. We enjoy it so much. And yet, we express it so little. As we get into God s Word this morning, I want us to think of thanksgiving as much more than a holiday celebration. I want us to think of thanksgiving as more than a celebration of food, 1 All Scripture quotations, unless indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing house. All rights reserved.

2 and fun, and family. I want us to think of thanksgiving in a way that I have never thought of before. One of my favourite of the Bible stories is found in Acts 16. It is the story of those early missionaries Paul and Silas doing what God has called them to do in and around Philippi. These two sharers of the good News have been thrown into a Philippian jail. They are locked into stocks in the inner part of the prison, that deepest, darkest, dank part reserved for the worst kind of criminals. These two guys had been stripped and beaten and unceremoniously and uncomfortably put into stocks. And Luke tells us in his telling of the story, that at some time late at night around midnight, Paul and Silas had quite the conversation. Silas, you OK? I guess so. I m really stiff and sore, my shirt is stuck when the blood has dried. These stocks aren t the most comfortable things in the world! I hear you! Hey, you feel like singing? What? I feel like praising the Lord. You want to sing along? Sure. What do you want to sing? How about the Doxology. I ll start and you join right in. They began singing... Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Words by Thomas Ken (1709). Public Domain You ve read the story. Right in the middle of to God be the glory, great things He has done..., there was this tremendous earthquake. The chains fell off. The stocks fell apart. The doors to the prison flew open... The jailor was terrified for his life... and yet, not one single prisoner wanted to leave this awful place. What a wonderful testimony of suffering and grace!

3 And this was just one of many circumstances in Paul s life that made him understand that he was nothing and that God is everything. He talks about it in his fourth letter to the church at Corinth (we have it as 2 Corinthians.) [ read 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 be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. Not much of a thanksgiving theme, is it? Let s continue. 13 It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With 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 in his presence. 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. Isn t that great! All pain, and suffering, and discouragement, and hurt, and suffering, and trials, and difficulties... because in spite of all those things, God has shown us that in his awesomeness, he is much greater than any of these, and that our faith in him causes thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God? Think about it? Here we are human, mortal, frail, jars of clay and therefore easily broken able to show our world that this precious treasure this light and power that now shine within us held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies, so everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT) Living object lessons of God s love in spite of our own limitations!

4 All this from a man who has been so cruelly treated, and yet just can t help but praise God for his goodness and grace and mercy and love. Look at verse 8 and 9. 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 hard pressed on every side distressed, hemmed in, pushed, prodded, squeezed... but not crushed not defeated, not lost, not overpowered, not overwhelmed, not overcome, not conquered. We may be perplexed, doubtful, confused, worried,... but not in despair; there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, purpose, assurance. We may be persecuted, but not abandoned. We may be struck down, -- pushed to our knees, beaten, alone... but not destroyed. As Paul writes to the church at Rome: 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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. (Romans 8:35-39) Isn t that a cause for thanksgiving? Isn t that a reason to praise God in the hard times? Isn t that a motive to be an active participant in MISSIO DEI? Isn t that a basis for being living object lessons of God s love wherever, and with whomever, and whenever? AMEN

5 Bibliography International Bible Society. The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). 1973, 1978, Ken, Thomas. "Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow)." Public Domain, Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible, The New Living Translation (NLT). Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale house Publishers, Inc., 2005.

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