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Do Not Lose Heart – 2017-10-02

#1 This spring, as I prayed for a retreat topic, 2 Corinthians 4 cried out to me.
As time grew closer, we had a second funeral, and I remember crying myself to sleep one night knowing that the next night I would be standing next to my grandparents graves as we buried my aunt.
My heart faltered even as I prayed about this lesson. I thought, “this is the one that crushes me… this is the one that I fail at…” I had a lot of pieces, but struggled to put them together. I was hung up on the first word, “therefore”… So I went back to see what it was there-for…2 Corinthian 3: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant” Ok, God, so I need you to be my sufficiency, this isn’t about me, it’s about you. I know you have something significant to say, I need you to reveal what it is you want to say through this lesson. I started to go to bed, but had that nudging to outline the chapter (big topics) – I knew then how all the pieces fit together as well as the key note: “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. “ do not lose heart…
I am a visual person, as I started putting the pieces in order, I had the visual of a sandwich – bread on the ends with a variety of flavors in the middle– the bread at the beginning and the end : “Don’t lose heart…”
2 Corinthians 4 begins withTherefore… Therefore what? Obviously this lesson has to start with 2 Corinthians 3:3-18 Therefore – – You are a letter of Christ… written to Corinthians, a letter of Christ? What does that letter written on me say? It is clear? Is it loving? Is it real or showy? Our lives are witness to what we believe, don’t we have many sayings reminding us for that? “Walk the talk” “if your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt” “preach without ceasing, and when necessary, use words…” “children learn more from what you are than from what you teach…” We are a letter of Christ… what does that message tell others?
– Our sufficiency/adequacy is from God. It’s really not about us, it’s not our ministry, our ministry is Christ’s letter to the lost children He loves… – Ours is the ministry of the new covenant – the covenant of the “Spirit which gives life…” Good news! We don’t have to rely on our own resources, wisdom or strength – we rely on God’s! We have a lot of cute sayings for that: where God guides, God provides; God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
So, if God made us ministers of the Spirit – who gives life, how do we do that… in a way which accurately portrays Christ, His love, His gift to all who will receive?
-we have something beautiful to share – we have our testimony of how the Spirit gave us life and redeemed us from death. Throughout these verses, Paul contrasts life and death –the new and the old covenant:
-the law is Holy, but the ministry of the law is condemnation The ministry of the Spirit is glorious – it is a ministry of righteousness We have this ministry… not SOME of us, but WE all… We AREN’T the Holy Spirit – called to convict and transform, which isn’t to say we approve of sin, but we are MINISTERS of the Spirit – ministers of righteousness, not condemnation –
Paul speaks of the “ministry of death” written on stone – as being glorious The 10 commandments, written on stone, ARE glorious – So glorious that Moses had to veil His face after being in the presence of God because the people could not look on his face. The ministry of life – the ministry of redemption, of repentance, of salvation is that much more glorious – it is not a checklist: have done this, haven’t done this – our ministry is of hope, we have hope in spite of our sins, not because of our actions, or anything we have done, but because of what Christ did for us – He stood in our place as payment for our sin.
Paul states that we are not like Moses who had to veil his face, for the veil is removed in Christ…
The visual that came to mind through this is that of a bride – her face is veiled… Who removes the veil? The groom… Is not the church, the bride of Christ? Picture that moment of salvation – that moment we turn to Christ –and He removes the veil. We look into the eyes of our beloved, and He looks into ours and says, “I love you…” Isn’t a bride’s face radiant? The face of a new Christian is truly radiant… When we are unveiled, we look, as if into a mirror – Often our identity, who we believe we are, is based on what we believe is reflected back to us by others… When the veil is removed, Christ is what is before us – He reflects back on us the glory of the Lord and this is the image we are being transformed into. As Christians, we are called to be Christ-like, or followers of Christ -to reflect His image to be transformed into His image. Sometimes that reflection is not good, I need to clean my mirror – that is, clean my heart, because a bride sees with her heart.
Sarita: Five months ago, at festival time, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He paid her father eight cows!”
He spoke the last words with great solemnity and I knew enough about island customs to be thorougly impressed. Two or three cows would buy a fair-to-middling wife, four or five a highly satisfactory one.
“Eight cows!” I said. “She must have been a beauty that takes your breath away.”
“That’s why they laugh,” my guest said. “It would be kindness to call her plain. She was little and skinny with no–ah–endowments. She walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked, as if she was trying to hide behind herself. Her cheeks had no color, her eyes never opened beyond a slit and her hair was a tangled mop half over her face. She was scared of her own shadow, frightened by her own voice. She was afraid to laugh in public. She never romped with the girls, so how could she attract the boys?”
“All the way to the council tent the cousins were urging Sam to try for a good settlement. Ask for three cows, they told him, and hold out for two until you’re sure he’ll pay one. But Sam was in such a stew and so afraid there’d be some slip in this marriage chance for Sarita that they knew he wouldn’t hold out for anything. So while they waited they resigned themselves to accepting one cow, and thought, instead, of their luck in getting such a good husband for Sarita. Then Johnny came into the tent and, without waiting for a word from any of them, went straight up to Sam Karoo, grasped his hand and said, “Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.” And he delivered the cows.
The next day I reached the island where Johnny lived. When I met the slim, serious man, he welcomed me to his home with a grace that made me feel like the owner. I was glad that from his own people he had respect unmingled with mockery.
I told him that his people had told me about him.
“They speak much of me on that island? What do they say?”
“They say you are a sharp trader,” I said. “They also say the marriage settlement that you made for your wife was eight cows.”
“They say that?” His eyes lighted with pleasure. He seemed not to have noticed the question. “Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?”
I nodded.
“And in Narabundi everyone knows it, too.” His chest expanded with satisfaction. “Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita.”
As we spoke a woman entered the adjoining room and placed a bowl of blossoms on the dining table. She stood still a moment to smile with sweet gravity at the young man beside me. Then she went swiftly out again. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. This girl had an ethereal loveliness. The dew-fresh flowers with which she’d pinned back her lustrous black hair accented the glow of her cheeks. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, the sparkle of her eyes all spelled a pride to which no one could deny her the right. And as she turned to leave she moved with grace that made her look like a queen.
When she was out of sight I turned back to Jonny Lingo and found him looking at me with eyes that reflected the pride.
“You admire her?” he murmured.
“She–she’s glorious. Who is she “She is my wife.”
I stared at him blankly. Was this some custom I had not heard about? Do they practice polygamy here?
“This is the only one — Sarita.”
“Do you ever think,” he asked reflectively, “what it does to a woman when she knows that the price her husband has paid is the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when all the women talk, as women do, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel–the woman who was sold for one or two? This could not happen to my Sarita.”
“Then you paid that unprecedented number of cows just to make your wife happy?”
“Happy?” I wanted more than that. Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows that she is worth more than any other woman on the islands.”
he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”
Love is a feeling, but love is also a verb – it is an action… What do Christ’s actions say about us? Have we forgotten who our husband is? Have we forgotten how much He loves us? How much potential He sees in us? Have we forgotten the bride price He paid?
#2 God is so good…He knows the beginning from the end and all the threads in the middle… Therefore… since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart… Ministry… what would be ingredients of a great ministry?
MERCY We received mercy… we do not lose heart… why not strength? Why not wisdom? Why not power? Why mercy? Mercy is, “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” God can, and probably often should punish us more than He has, but instead, He showed mercy. Mercy… not because we deserve it, not because of who we are, but because of who HE is. Jesus achieved that victory over our sin that we could not, and He chose to show us mercy in spite of and even through our failures… DO NOT LOSE HEART… we received mercy… we receive mercy… we will receive mercy… Yesterday, today, forever… Christ does not change.
-We are to manifest the word of truth… correctly handle the word of God
Have you ever looked up a verse you thought was in the Bible, only to find it isn’t there? ie: The Lord helps those who help themselves… it’s not there. How many things do we attribute to the Bible that are not in the Bible. The truth will set you free… the truth sets others free as well from false expectations and hopes.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:14
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Matthew 15
What does the world believe about Christ? All religions, all faiths, most people respect Christ. It’s not Christ people have a problem with – it’s Christians. Why? If Christian means, “Christ-like”? Why are people not draw to Christians as well? Consider again, the letter of Christ in you that you portray…
When you think of 5 things you can do that are kindhearted and glorify God, how many of them that are or could be associated with a ministry? What are things that God has put on your heart that your church needs to do? The fact that He is put them on YOUR heart, indicates this is an area He wants to bless you in, for you to participate in. We try to get people to church so the pastor can “talk to them…” but honestly, we are ALL called to be ministers. Remember, an effective ministry begins, lives and ends with prayer.
Paul reminds use to renounce the hidden things of shame: The difference between shame and guilt? guilt – did something wrong shame –I AM wrong… Guilt is Godly – recognizing our sin and repenting (turn away) Shame is a tool satan often uses to prevent us from being effective, to keep us from joy and hope. Renounce the hidden things of shame… no excuses…
Cannot heal what you don’t reveal… bring the hidden things into the light and they lose their power over you – this is why repentance is so freeing. When you acknowledge before God what you have done, you lay it down at the cross, you no longer carry that burden Freedom instead of excuses … a lighter load… Living life, on purpose, with purpose… Paul talks the gospel being veiled, how the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they cannot see the light.
Have you ever known someone SO SMART, but so blind to the obvious, to the truth?
Minds are dulled by the god of this age… Visual: hikers coming across the rim… many want to understand, but cannot…
The most effective part of any ministry is wrapping it in prayer… Do you have a prayer ministry – do you have prayer support?
Some want to play hide n seek with God, especially when misbehaving… Hide and seek is best played in the dark, because the light reveals our hidden places… the dark areas of our lives, our thoughts, our words, our actions, our hearts are revealed by the light.
We are human, we stumble occasionally, we often land on our heart… pick it up, dust it off, try again… don’t lose heart.
– We are all ministers of something, what does your ministry look like? hope? Paul reminds us to speak boldly about that hope what would a ministry of GLORIOUS hope look like?
What areas are your most effective ministries? What are areas you can improve? Are there ministries that you feel called to, that you have been afraid to venture into? What hinders your ministry?
I want to to go back to the bride picture: remember your first love, do NOT lose hope… that ministry of hope in Christ is what makes us different, the light in our eyes, the shine in our faces…
6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. what a treasure – the light of the knowledge of the glory of God…
We had another great visual of that this week with the eclipse… In fact, during the eclipse, Bonnie Taylor sang, “Total eclipse of the heart…” Is that not appropriate for our topic? It is not their eyes that are blinded, it is hearts… totally eclipsed. But when that light breaks out from behind the darkness, oh, what a beautiful sight!
We cannot move the moon to reveal the light, but we serve a God WHO CAN AND DOES – do not lose heart, do not lose heart… but when you do, pray, pray, pray…
Do not lose heart… Paul says this twice in this passage and again in Galations 6 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Do NOT lose hope… do not lose heart…
#3 One of the key ingredients this weekend is that WE DO NOT LOSE HEART…
We have this treasure in earthen vessels It was common practice to bury treasure in clay pots… Clay pots, really? Sometimes clay pots aren’t all they are cracked up to be… in fact, mine all cracked in the cold winter. But what if the focus is on the treasure rather than the pot – what if it’s what is on the inside that counts… what if the treasure is the power of God, the mercy of God, the forgiveness, the peace… not our own strength, beauty or power?
There are times in life where God turns your heart inside out… it reminds me of the times I clean my purse by dumping it all out, turning it inside out and cleaning all the corners. Heart-wise it is quite painful but quite purifying to expose that gunk to the light and to let it be cleansed.
I don’t know what’s in your purse, but This is the part where we clean our purse Often, our biggest testimony is how we live… Truth – honesty – be real. When we hide our trials, our adversity, our affliction, our hardship, our sorrow, others do not get to see God’s victory in our life or participate in that victory through prayer.
We are hard-pressed (afflicted) on every side – this is the picture of inside and outside affliction – but NOT crushed We are perplexed (at a loss), but not in despair
Persecuted, but not forsaken struck down, but not destroyed
I used the visual of the bride as Christ removes the veil… I would love for this story to end with, “and then they lived happily ever after…” But the ever after is not here on earth… between here and there, there is a lot of life that happens, and it isn’t all fun or easy.
Let’s face it, ministry is HARD, and since we are all ministers, we know there will be seasons of hard times
Go back to the picture of a bride… What does her face look like as the groom removes the veil?
Then life happens… how does her face change when?
She finds out he leaves his dirty socks on the floor, He scratches where it itches, he leaves the lid off the toothpaste and the toilet seat up… there comes a point where she looks at him and says, “is this the man I married?”
Our Christian journey can be like that… there are many seasons of life that we experience AFTER the honeymoon. We think, “I thought that when I became a Christian it would be all joy, it will be all good!” Ministry is hard – Christian living is hard… We suffer, we are heart-broken… we experience adversity: affliction, trials, grief, sorrow… AND, if you are doing an effective work for the kingdom of God, you often have a bulls-eye on your back… We have the choice, “lose heart, or fight back…
12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Hebrews 12
We have those seasons of affliction – when life presses in HARD, when it’s hard to keep moving forward.
17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1
There are seasons when our greatest witness is how we handle adversity – or blessings Joy or sorrow God uses us where we are… If we are not real, if we are not transparent, how do new believers or unbelievers learn what Christ does in the life of His children?
Often, we need to pause and look back – remember With our spouse, we remember the good times, our first love for each other, our strength, our blessings and it re-kindles our joy, and an attitude of gratitude. It is similar with Christ… remember the answered prayers, remember the joy, remember the victories… and know that He is the same yesterday, today and forever…
God speaks our language. Music is a HUGE part of my language and in how I deal with adversity. different songs speak in this season… but these songs, are not my life song, they are songs for the season.
Blessings by Laura Story We pray for blessings We pray for peace Comfort for our family, protection while we sleep We pray for healing, for prosperity We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering All the while, You hear each spoken need Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops What if Your healing comes through tears What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We pray for wisdom Your voice to hear We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love As if every promise from Your Word is not enough All the while, You hear each desperate plea And long that we’d have faith to believe
When friends betray us When darkness seems to win We know that pain reminds this heart That this is not our home
What if my greatest disappointments Or the aching of this life Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy What if trials of this life The rain, the storms, the hardest nights Are your mercies in disguise
Will we allow our sufferings, our hard times to steal our joy for the duration of our time on earth? It is not of our strength, but the power of God which works in us to provide healing, restoration and eternal hope.
When I see someone experiencing trials, I see someone that God is preparing for amazing blessings and opportunities.
I remember again the music lesson from so long ago… When the Master corrected and critiqued your performance, it is because they see you have talent and potential and it is worth their effort to develop it. If you do not have talent or potential, whatever you do is good enough, no sense in spending a lot of time developing potential that isn’t there.
God loves us, He strengthens us – which often looks like letting us face adversity. He corrects us and teaches us. God sees the potential in us when others do not.
When I see someone facing adversity, I see someone God is refining and about to bless abundantly.
Adversity is when – you know you are loved – you know that God sees your potential and is developing gifts within you to enhance your life and your ministry. You will probably be called upon at some point to come along someone who is experiencing that which you have already faced.
Adversity is when the work of the Holy Spirit works within you most strongly. Your pain is valid, and God will use it to His glory.
We don’t gets to say “NO!” to pain and adversity.
A tree raised in a greenhouse, is far more susceptible to wind, storms and disease. Whereas a tree which weathers the storms through life, grows to be a strong tree which others can find shade take rest under.
The goal of adversity is a stronger hope, a greater wisdom and a glorious faith.
#4 I hope and pray that the exercises of this weekend have led you deeper in your relationship with Christ.
These passages are both bitter and sweet –
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
– Today we put the final piece of bread on our Sandwich. Hopefully we came hungry, and will leave satisfied.
2 Corinthians 4 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
– How do we do that? How do we not lose heart? – consider again “what is YOUR ministry?” thoughts? – Some of us are encouragers, we have the ministry to helping others “not lose heart”
– The Thanksgiving prayer station asks you to consider something special about different family members. This was born of a broken heart, we have had too many funerals this year: At a funeral, we remember the amazing things about each individual, but the recurring theme aside from the funeral is, “I wish I could have said one more time…” They need to hear those things NOW this side of heaven… as do we… What do you have that needs to be said? That encourages, that builds up? That heals? I want to thank my mother-in-law for her valiant prayers against the adversity we experienced leading up to these lessons. Don’t lose heart… and encourage others so they don’t lose heart either…
– Everyone has a ministry – we all are candles that shine light on something… what is your light directed towards? Some of us flicker a flame here and there, others burn brightly and consistently and declare that the darkness shall NOT overcome the light! – Ministry is hard… when you are doing something of significance in the realm of spiritual salvation, you WILL have encounter adversity. It is easy, it is normal to become discouraged
As the verse says, our body is is perishing… shouldn’t the younger generation take care of that? When we get tired, WHY should we continue? The verse states that “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Our son had a tshirt emblazoned with the words, “he who dies with the most toys, still dies…” and then a verse about eternal life in Jesus. We were shopping one day and this woman saw his shirt and said, “that’s my favorite saying!” The next aisle, we passed her again and she said, “wait! It’s different!” The next aisle she said, “but you can buy the best doctors with money, the best health care…”
Then she started following us – she was so disturbed by that message!
We each wear a shirt emblazoned with a message – the message proclaims our life beliefs… What does yours say? How do you wear it?
2 Corinthians 3:18 “18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The word used for transformed is, “matamorphoo” which means to change into another form: Think about it… what if our body is like the chrysalis… it encases our spirit. Our spirit beats against the shell and wings strengthen and build until at last it can break free and soar to the heavens. Do you not wonder if that’s why our most valiant prayer warriors are not the young – who are distracted with chasing children and life preparation, but our elderly? What if as our body decays, it releases our spirit to to commune more with heaven?
God refines us through adversity. “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10
A refiner boils gold, skims off the impurities, and continues boiling and skimming until he can see his reflection in the gold. Likewise, God allows us to experience adversity to skim the impurities from our lives. Like refined gold, we will reflect His face when we are refined.
Rainbows do not appear without first experiencing the storm. God has promised to be with us through these life storms. God often uses these storms to prepare us for amazing blessings and opportunities. God loves us, He strengthens us, He gives us opportunities to strengthen our faith, He gives us opportunities to build relationship with Him, He gives us opportunities to develop greater character, greater integrity, greater passion and compassion, and experiences which allow us to come alongside others in their season of adversity with an understanding and compassion not possible without these experiences
Our affliction is but for a moment, a small blip on the scale of time… imagine the affliction of Jesus on our behalf – the pain He endured for us, and yet His sacrifice has been rejected by so many.
Our very weaknesses often become our strengths. It is not pleasant at the moment, but we grow through these experiences in so many ways. A tree grows strong through facing life’s storms, God is creating a good work within us. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
God corrects us and teaches us. God sees the potential in us when others do not, but if we do not practice what we preach, our words are void. Often, our greatest testimony is not be our successes, but in how others see us handle our adversities and our trials. Our perseverance teaches, it is a living example of “do not lose heart.” Do not lose heart – look beyond the trials of this life, keep your eyes on the unseen, keep your eyes on the promise of Heaven – on the very face of Jesus.