2 Corinthians 4:7-18
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For 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. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because 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. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So 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.

In Times of Discouragement


As believers we all face those times of discouragement, testing and trial where in the natural we would want to give up, give in and walk away from our faith.  Perhaps none faced more assault in the spiritual arena than did Paul.
How did he make it through?
It was because he knew his identity in Christ that he was able to endure all the assaults of darkness and the daily trials of life.  He knew the “all surpassing power” that didn’t come from self, but from “Christ in him.”  He had a revelation of that being identified with Christ is not just about the blessing, but drinking from the same cup that He drank from.  The cup of suffering.
I had a glimpse of revelation the other day as I was listening to the passage of James and John’s mother asking if her sons could set upon each side of the throne of Jesus. Jesus replied in Matthew 20:22-23 with this statement, “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
Jesus’ disciples, like most of us, have the perception that serving Christ is all about the glory.
When Jesus said, “now am I a glorified” in between where he stood and the glory was the cross.  Romans 8:17-18 Paul declares, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  The suffering, the death and the cross are all elements that precede the glory.
Jesus finishes this passage in Matthew by saying, “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Our faith in Christ is not first about getting, but about giving.  It is not about us being served, but about us becoming the servants of Christ in serving others.  It is in the death of our carnal and mortal man that the life of Christ is released, which we carry.  Paul realized that the troubles, the trials, the distress, the hardship, the death to self are merely the bridge that leads to the surpassing glory of our inheritance in Christ.
When we read this passage in Corinthians most of us have no idea or comprehension of that kind of suffering and sacrifice.  We are so easily discouraged by someone who has offended us or some trial that we pass through.  Men like Paul virtually lived in the place of trial and hardship and they did so because of who they were in Christ and who Christ was in them.  They did so because in the pouring out of their life, others were able to receive the gospel and live.  They truly were living sacrifices poured out to the glory of Jesus.  They didn’t live for the momentary blessings  and substance of this world like so many of us do. They were willing to be totally spent in life and  substance for the kingdom of God because they saw a greater eternal weight of glory before them that so outweighs these momentary earthly afflictions.
Paul says, “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.”
If Paul heard what our complaints are and where our discouragement comes from he would probably laugh and tell us we need to suck it up.  We need to get over ourselves and realize it is not about us, it is about Christ in us and the kingdom that we serve.  We have been so pampered in our faith and theology that we know very little about what it is to drink from the cup of suffering and yet this is a very real part of our faith.
When we are going through our momentary trials and feeling a little discouraged, let’s just look back at Jesus, Paul, the apostles and saints and what they endured and gave up.  Let us remember who we are in Christ and who He is in us that we  may be willing to face whatever is before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Let us be encouraged by the lives of the saints that went before us and willingly gave so much at such a great price.  They did not lose heart, how much less should we?

Blessings,
kent

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2 Corinthians 4:18
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.

Living Out of the Unseen

Natural eyes, physical sounds, human reasoning, life circumstances, what others tell us, five senses, human conditions, perceptions, surroundings and our understanding all feed into what we perceive as real.  In the moment and with all that processes through our being, that may be what seems real and factual.  As believers, the word teaches us that there is a realm beyond just human natural perception.  This realm is not ruled and governed by the same principles that govern our earthly realm.  This realm is not dictated by earthly facts or circumstances.  This is a realm that God wants us to more and more operate out of, because it is the realm of the kingdom of God and its principles are truth.  Its government and dictates are spelled out in the Word of God.  It supercedes that which is natural, for what we currently perceive and understand as reality is passing away.  It is temporal, but that which now unseen will take its place for it is the eternal.
Currently, we see in part the invisible realm invading the natural realm, but until it has ran its course in fullness of Father’s time, we will not experience the fullness of the currently unseen realm made manifest.  1 Corinthians 15:50 tells us, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”  In this present corruptible world we can not inherit the fullness of that kingdom which is incorruptible until death is swallowed up with life.  This is currently taking place in measure even now as Christ comes forth in us and we live out of His life.  His life is swallowing up the death in us.
Before the apostle Paul says this he gives us understanding of the state that we have been in and that which we are moving into.  “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”  Now while we may see Jesus as the last and only Adam to presently demonstrate the fullness and likeness of the man of heaven, the Word of God and the message of Christ reorients the mind of the believer to not just be operating out of this earthly realm.  Ephesians 2:6 says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”  Colossians 3:1-4 declares, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
In light of these scriptures we can see how our spiritual position has changed as we have died to the old Adam and are raised up in the last Adam.  In that spiritual identification we see that God has positioned us in heavenly places and in that unseen realm that is eternal.  From that position, what does He tell us to do?  ” Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  While our physical perspective and position  hasn’t changed, our spiritual position has.  Now you tell me, which one does God want us to live out of?
Romans 8:5-11 teaches us this, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  You can see where we run into conflict; we find ourselves in two different states,  but in Christ we have made a declaration and a statement of faith to disenfranchise and disown our former natural man even while we still abide in this earthen vessel and have put on Christ and identification with His eternal life.  That is the position we are operate our physical lives out of.  Even though we don’t see the fullness of that yet manifest we are as Romans 8:22-25 states, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
In that patient hope we aren’t focused on the temporal, corruptible and that which is passing away, but we are embracing the eternal as we declare and decree by faith the Word of God and its promises.  It is out of these kingdom principles we now live, move and have our being as we walk by the Spirit and live no longer according to the dictates of the flesh.  We are a new creation being made conformable in the likeness of Him who has translated us from darkness into His marvelous light, from death into His incorruptible life.

Blessings,
kent

2 Corinthians 4:6-7
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

The Difference You Can Make

You walk the surface of the earth.
You breath the air of its atmosphere.
You look upon both its beauty and its ugliness.
You live among the good and bad of it.

You are its hope and salvation, or
You are its continued demise and destruction.
What you carry in your heart,
Is life or death to those around you.

You are a vessel, a container, a being.
What is your vessel and being filled with?
What is it releasing into the earth?
What are the fruit of it contents?

Those in Christ contain a treasure,
These earthen jars contain His presence.
Unreleased it stagnates and molds.
Selfishness perverts its glory.

Vessels of Christ poured out.
Now that will change the earth.
That will fill it with life and glory.
That will bring heaven to earth.

Kent Stuck

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