Scripture Reading: Micah 1:1-4:13 / 2 Corinthians 4:1-18 / Psalm 104:31-35
Paul uses the term “jars of clay” to describe the life of a Christian. A clay jar is not a valuable or prized vessel but a common jar used in many menial and labor intensive tasks. It is used at times to transport water but never used to hold expensive perfume. It is a vessel used by servants, not by kings. It is ordinary and plain, without beautiful and elaborate decorations.
Our lives are like the clay jars…seemingly common and unappealing yet we are not insignificant or useless. We may not look like much on the “outside” but the value is on the “inside”. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) It is not about us but about Him. We have the presence and the power of an all-sufficient God living in us!
When clay was properly mixed with water, it could be molded into a vessel of any form or size. Clay jars were formed with thick walls and wide rims. When the vessel was dried and hardened, it had considerable strength and was quite durable. They were designed to withstand the rugged conditions of everyday life. We have been designed in the same way.
God adds His grace and mercy into our lives, molding us into a vessel to hold His glory. He takes us through the fire of life’s trials to develop purity and strength within us. We are not made by the hands of man but fashioned by His divine care, compassion and wisdom. He equips us for His use and prepares us for His glory.
We become His living testimony of strength and power. As Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (4:8,9) God empowers us to bear up under a pressing, perplexing and persecuting world. We are not crushed, overwhelmed by despair, abandoned by God or destroyed.
Our lives take the abuse and attacks of the world yet God uses that to display His remarkable strength and purpose. God is still in the business of making jars of clay so do not let the world define you. They may see you as an ordinary clay jar but God sees you as a vessel to be used and filled with His glory!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 35:20-36:23 / 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 / Psalm 104:19-30
Veils are rarely seen in our culture but they are common in some parts of the world today. A veil is a woman’s head covering made from a piece of muslin or fine linen. They are used to conceal or cover up a woman’s face. The veil obscures her appearance; in fact so much that Jacob was unable to recognize the woman he married was not Rachel but Leah.
Paul refers to a veil that Moses put on his face when he returned to the camp after his meeting with God. That encounter was so powerful that the glory of God shone on Moses’ face. The people were fearful of the glory and asked Moses to put on a veil. Moses complied not because of the glory’s power but Moses, “put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.” (2 Corinthians 3:13)
The world looks at the message and glory of salvation and says… “Hide it behind a veil!” They don’t want any part of God’s convicting glory because of fear, doubt or unbelief. They are not interested in the things of God and want God to be obscure and minimized. The problem with their theory…the glory can’t be hidden!
God designed the gospel message to be unveiled and His powerful presence to radiate through His followers. God removed the veil through Christ, “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (3:16) God then begins to supernaturally transform our lives, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (3:18)
A thick veil separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. The High Priest would ceremonially cleanse himself and go past the veil once a year to approach the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. When Jesus proclaimed His completed redemptive work on the cross, “It is finished!” the temple veil was rent from top to bottom. Man had access to the presence and grace of God!
We don’t have to climb a mountain or go to a 12 by 12 room in Jerusalem to encounter the powerful presence of a living God. We simply look with great desire to an approachable throne room of grace. God meets us, fills us and changes us by His powerful Spirit. Moses reflected the glory of God that he saw but we radiate the glory of God that is within us. So take the veil off and let His glory be known!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 33:21-35:19 / 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6 / Psalm 104:1-18
God is into new! His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22)…He makes us new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17)…and one day He will make all things new (Rev. 21:5)! God isn’t into refurbished or remodeled lives. Jesus came into this world to provide a new and living way to God.
Paul says that he is a minister of a “New Covenant”. God established the old covenant with Abraham and central to that covenant was the Law. God then sent Christ to fulfill the Law and He established a new covenant with man founded upon the work of the cross. Jesus fulfilled the Law, became sin for us, paid the penalty for man’s sin and provided redemption for all those who would believe in Him.
God provided a new way of forgiveness for mankind. A way that was not conditional upon the keeping of a Law but the acceptance of a Savior. The letter of the Law demanded man to walk and live in holiness but it did not provide the strength or ability for man to be holy. The Law reminded man of what they were not and killed any hope they had of satisfying or keeping the letter of the Law.
The sacrificial system only withheld the judgment of God and repeated sacrifices were required for reoccurring sin. Jesus ushered in a new and living way for a right relationship with God. Instead of repeated sacrifices, His one sacrifice powerfully forgave all sin. Instead of the letter of the Law, Jesus gave us His Spirit of life, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
We live today with a new hope and a new life in Christ! Our lives are no longer defined by what the Law says we are “not” but we are defined by a relationship with a loving Savior who says what we are “forgiven and His”. The Spirit of Christ lives within us making us joint heirs with Jesus. New Life In Christ…it is abundant and eternal!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 31:2-33:20 / 2 Cor. 1:23-2:11 / Proverbs 21:5-16
One issue that causes friction between atheists and theists is the proper way to spell the word “God”; should it be capitalized or not? Many theists spell it with a capital “G” while atheists spell it with a lowercase “g”. The reasoning for one’s spelling preference often depends upon their concept or acceptance of God.
Proper grammatical spelling uses capitalization when referring to a proper name. The Israelites worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But when reference is made of an individual or group that is alleged or labeled as a ‘god” it is grammatically appropriate to use a lowercase “g” but inappropriate to use an uppercase “G”.
You may be thinking that all of this “grammatical” explanation is foolish but in actuality it’s not about spelling but about faith. Those who believe in God, refer to Him as the one and only true God. Those who believe in other gods, worship gods who are alleged deities.
When King Sennacherib surrounded Jerusalem with his mighty army, he was confident of certain victory. He shouted in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem in order to intimidate and terrify them. He spoke about the God of Jerusalem like “the gods of the other people of the world – the work of men’s hands.” (2 Chronicles 32:19). Sennacherib placed God along side other gods and believed God was an insignificant hope and foolish creation of man, not a powerful deity.
He considered God as “god” but God showed Sennacherib that He wasn’t just another “god” but The God. God sent an angel who “annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons cut him down with the sword. (32:21)
God proved Himself to all of Assyria and Judah… all knew there was only One True God! The alleged gods of other nations were empty and hallow idols without strength and power. God Himself recognizes the presence of other “gods” when He told Israel, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) God knew that men would rebel against Him and follow man’s creation of false gods.
So is it God or god? It depends upon what you believe in…if you trust in man’s created deity, then it is “god” but if you trust in the deity that created all things, then it is “God”. But no matter how man spells God…they don’t determine His significance or power. The God who created man is the author and finisher of man’s faith…may you find Him as the “Spellcheck” of your life!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 29:1-31:1 / 2 Corinthians 1:12-22 / Psalm 103:13-22
Benjamin Franklin wrote, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." There are a lot of similarities between taxes and death. Man attempts to cheat both of them and everyone thinks both demand too much. Death and taxes are unpredictable, unavoidable and unforgiving. Neither are welcomed or desired…we will avoid them at all cost.
As long as we live, there will be taxes to pay and death will be lurking. David was familiar with taxes but writes about the surety of death…”For He (The Lord) knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field, the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (Psalm 103:14-16)
God created man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. God is the giver of life yet man rebelled against the life giver and sided with the life taker. Man exchanged God’s eternal life for the promised “better” life of sin and Satan. Adam and Eve quickly discovered their loss of innocence and purity. Their infinite became finite, joy was turned into sorrow and life was turned upside down.
The very first death came via murder and we have dealt with the loss of life and the grief of death ever since. David describes man’s life as a flower…something that brings beauty and fragrance to the world. People powerfully impact our world like the wonderful scent of a rose or the brightness of a sunflower or the innocence of a daisy. Some people remind us of a “wild” flower while others seem to be isolated in the seclusion of a simple garden.
A flower only impacts their surroundings when they are vibrant and alive. They eventually wither and die; their presence fades with time and the blowing of the wind. Those who enjoyed their beauty are drawn to the faded patch where they once bloomed. Over time, it fades even greater and it becomes overrun by the continuance of nature.
Death is difficult to deal with yet God understands the complexities of life and death. God persuaded man ever since their fall in the garden and provided a way for man to have a right relationship with Him again. The creator of the universe planted His most significant Son in this world. This “Lilly of the Valley” was pierced, plucked and nailed to a death stake. Jesus gave up His life to experience the same death that all mankind faces, yet rose again with a life giving and eternal power!
For those who Accept His sacrificial love, Believe in his redemptive work, Confess their sin, Devote their lives to His Kingdom and Embrace His Lordship will find the Forgiveness of a Gracious God! We rejoice in the beauty of life yet it will surely fade but the beauty and fragrance of eternal life will never die…it will be everlasting!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27 / 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 / Psalm 103:1-12
If you can’t beat them…join them! That phrase is used when your adversaries are stronger than you, then it is better to join the adversaries. If you can’t defeat them, band together with them…join the winning side! This is a form of surrender but it is not a reluctant submission but a calculated decision to partner and join their ranks.
King Ahaz found himself on the losing end of Judah’s war with the Arameans. Judah was defeated and many of the people were taken to Damascus and imprisoned. Ahaz’s reaction to defeat was to become even more unfaithful to the Lord and “He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” (2 Chronicles 28:23)
Ahaz was a man whose faith fluctuated like the changing of the wind. He tried anything that would give him an advantage or help. Ahaz used whatever means or god necessary to get what he desired. He turned to the gods of Damascus believing the same power they had over him could now be channeled to work on his behalf.
He was not driven by faith or belief but by selfishness and lust. Ahaz was not a man of integrity but hypocritical. His interest was not in following a particular god but to have a god act on his behalf. Ahaz had no convictions or guiding standards; he became a chameleon in the midst of every religious environment.
We live in a world that epitomizes the spirit of Ahaz…looking to use a god, not serve a god. Wanting to “be” god and using any god for that end. Ahaz did not believe in the power of God and sought other means for fulfillment. He tried the ways of The Lord and found God did not measure up to his prideful and sinful standards.
It says Ahaz’s worship of other gods, “were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.” (28:23) Man never wins when they look to, follow and serve the gods of this world. The gods of this world look promising but they leave the seeker broken and bound. Hope is only found in The Lord! He will not be beaten…all men should join Him, surrender to His Lordship and receive His gracious offer of redemption!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28 / 1 Corinthians 16:5-24 / Psalm 102:18-28
What would you do for a person who rescued your life from certain death? I believe you would never forget their heroic act and show eternal gratitude to them. As a one-year-old boy, Joash faced certain death when his grandmother, Athaliah in her effort to rule Judah, systematically killed all of the royal princes. Jehosheba, Joash’s aunt and wife of Jehoiada the priest, hid Joash in the temple and protected him from Athaliah for 6 years.
When Joash was 7 years old, Jehoiada took the young boy and anointed him King of Judah. He protected the young kings life by killing the wicked Athaliah and all of the people rejoiced. Jehoiada served King Joash faithfully and counseled him in the ways of the Lord. When Jehoiada died at 130 years of age, Joash forsook God and His ways.
Joash abandoned the temple, worshiped Asherah poles and led the nation in idol worship. The judgment of God came upon the nation and God sent many prophets to bring Joash back to Him. All of this was to no avail as Joash continued in rebellion and idolatry.
Finally, God sent a strong message to Joash through Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada. Zechariah said “This is what God says: 'Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.'”
(2 Chronicles 24:20) Joash responded in great rage and had Zechariah stoned… “King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son…”
Zechariah’s father saved Joash’s life, raised him, provided for him and faithfully served him. Joash forgot the kindness and mercy he was shown and killed the son of the man who had spared his life. It doesn’t make sense but Joash had reached a point in life where his conscience was seared and his heart was hardened. He had lost all respect and honor for those who deeply cared for him. He thought only of himself, driven by pride, defiant towards God, and given over to great wickedness.
Can we ever forget the kindness of someone? It is easily done…not to the degree of Joash but forgotten nonetheless. We can get so caught up with our own life that the needs and lives of others become meaningless or insignificant. God speaks to our duty to love and care for those who have given so much to us: parents, friends and mentors. Guard your heart against the Joash syndrome… do not repay evil for good because God is true to His word “judgment was executed on Joash.” (24:24)
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 21:4-23:21 / 1 Corinthians 15;50-16:4 / Proverbs 20:25-21:4
Children are very impressionable. They are quick to mimic and pattern behavior. They like to “dress up” like mom or dad and often “play” mommy and daddy. It is amazing to hear them talk and use phrases that their parents use. We do not consciously teach our children to act/speak like us but they learn from our strengths and weaknesses. Yes, children are impressionable but parents and adults are influential.
A parent, teacher, or any authority figure that affects someone's nature, character, development or behavior is a person of influence. They can either be a positive influence or a negative influence. Israel and Judah often followed godliness or idolatry because of the influence of their king.
But who influenced the king? Kings were often influenced by their friends or family and in the case of king Ahaziah; his mother Athaliah was a powerful influence of ungodliness. Ahaziah was 22 years old when he became king and his mother Athaliah, “encouraged him in doing wrong.” (1 Chronicles 22:3)
Athaliah encouraged her son to walk in the ways of Ahab and Ahaziah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He led the nation in the worship of Baal and in rebellion against God. Ahaziah’s mother was behind his rebellious and evil lifestyle. She molded her son to defy and reject the ways of God.
It is hard to believe that a mother would desire to deliberately turn her child into a defiant and hater of God yet it happens even today. A person of influence, who does not revere or fear God, will rejoice when they lead others in rebellion. Even if their influence is not intentional, their spirit will affect their disposition and attitude.
God has much to say about influence… “Train up a child in the way he should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it”. (Proverbs 22:6) Our words, spirit, attitude and lifestyle have great impact upon impressionable minds and lives. Heaven takes notice of our influence and eternity hangs in the balance because of our influence. A word of wisdom: there is always someone watching us...let’s intentionally use our influence to lead them to eternal life. Believe it or not, you are a person of influence!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 18:28-21:3 / 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 / Psalm 102:12-17
Mountaintops are used as an analogy for wonderful and exhilarating experiences in life. Those are times when we are on top of the world and life is unobstructed by any challenges. We can see for miles when on a mountaintop; the intensity of the sun and the crisp air add to the serenity of life.
Valleys are often referred to as difficult, trying and dark places in life. Times when life is obstructed, where the sun doesn’t shine and darkness prevails. Valleys are places of pain, hurt, loneliness, hopelessness and confusion. The goal is to get out of the valley, not live in it.
Of great interest is a valley that we read about here in 2 Chronicles 20. It was not a typical valley of defeat but a place where Jehoshaphat and all of Judah celebrated the victory of God calling it “the Valley of Beracah” or “the Valley of Praise.” (20:20) One of the most remarkable battles was fought in this valley…a battle where Judah did not have to lift a battle cry or a sword!
The Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites came with a vast army to war against Judah. Jehoshaphat called all of Judah to fast and seek the face of God for deliverance. Their prayer recognized the greatness, power of God and the inheritance that He gave to Israel. They could cry out to God in their time of distress knowing God would hear and save them.
God responded with this promise, “You will find them at the end of the gorge… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” (20:16,17) Early the next day, Jehoshaphat led the troops to battle but appointed singers to precede the army praising God’s splendor and holiness saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (20:21)
If you would want to defeat your enemy, you would not announce your coming with singing and have those singers lead the charge into battle. But God…had a miraculous strategy because Judah displayed a miraculous faith. Before Judah arrived, fighting broke out in the enemy’s camp as the Moabites and Ammonites rose up and slaughtered the Meunites. They then turned on one another and every man was killed. When Judah came to the gorge, they found this vast enemy army lying dead and scattered all over the ground.
This valley of darkness, hopelessness and certain defeat was turned into a place of praise and thanksgiving! Praise preceded their battle and praise concluded their victory…all without personal conflict or loss. God is still faithful to us today; even in our valleys…let’s turn them into valleys of praise!
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 16:1-18:27 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-34 / Psalm 102:1-11
When people need direction in their lives, they seek a person who is knowledgeable or an expert in that particular field. Financial planners are consulted when someone is considering investments or retirement. For legal matters, an attorney; for medical needs, a doctor; for clogged sewer lines, a plumber!
Knowledge is easily available in this instant information world of Google and Yahoo. Certainly, Internet information is not all accurate but it does give people a sense of confidence and hope. What did people do before modern technology? The walked in patience, lived by trial and error, and sought the best advice they could find.
Some decisions in life are insignificant, but others have great impact on our lives. Israelite King Ahab was about to face a formidable enemy and asked Judah’s King Jehoshaphat to join him in battle. Jehoshaphat agreed but also said, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 18:4)
Jehoshaphat understood the importance of seeking God but Ahab sought counsel from the 400 prophets of Baal. Ahab deliberately did this to avoid the Godly prophet Micaiah who repeatedly confronted Ahab of his ungodliness. Sadly, some today are closed minded to godly counsel because of the conviction it brings.
This process did not sit well with Jehoshaphat and he asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” (vs.6) This question is just as appropriate today as it was back then. How we need to seek the direction and counsel of God. He still speaks through men and women today. God has also given us His divine Word as a directive for our lives.
The counsel and insight of the world can be helpful…especially a good plumber but there is a greater help for our lives. Direction, clarity and counsel at times are just a verse or prayer away. God has given us His Word and Spirit as a sure and solid foundation. Need answers or help…God is available and He always responds to knee mail!
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!