2 Corinthians Ch. 4:16    “So we do not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”.

During Lockdown – read more and listen to music One day at a time

Living Day by day.  Often we want to settle things once and for all.  None of us find it easy to live with uncertainty or tension.  It is a relief often to get things over and done with. God call us to live day by day by day by day.

And as in OT God provided a fresh supply of manna every morning for the children of Israel in the desert, so he manna had to be gathered everyday & none was to be kept overnight until the next day (Ex16)

So God offers us a fresh supply of bread everyday which we have to gather and receive.  It is important to be fed by God every day. One day at a time. Looking to Him expectantly for the grace we need.

Our text Lose heart comes 5 times in the NT, twice in ch4 – but the trouble is we do lose heart.

What does it mean to lose heart? We all know really. To weaken, to tire of, lack of courage, to neglect to discharge one’s duty, to fail to fulfil one’s responsibilities.

Discouragement is one of the chief occupational hazards of many Christians  There is opposition in the world to the Christian Gospel, Christians are persecuted, in many parts of the world, imprisoned, torture, even killed for their faith.  There is opposition even in the UK and sometimes we are tempted to throw in the towel and give it all up.

Don’t lose heart

It is the opposite of the great Bible word Perseverance — continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties. (Andy Murray) and in the NT there is a constant warning to Christians that perseverance may stop, endurance may pass away – in fact give up and lose heart – perhaps that’s you this morning.

We are all in danger of losing heart from time to time.  Now because this is so normal, so to be expected that the NT instructs us on how to deal with the spiritual condition.

As sinful people we find it easier to lose heart than to persevere and this passage is really about the secrets of perseverance; so that we don’t give up.

How did Paul manage in verses 8/9 – Hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed?

Paul says I have often been perplexed in my ministry, at my wits end; nevertheless I have never been reduced to total hopelessness.  As JB Phillips translates “They can knock me down but they can’t knock me out”.

How did Paul preserve?

The answer is the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Paul the resurrection wasn’t confined to some future life beyond the grave.  It was part of his experience.

“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” (14).

A church that believes this cannot be conquered, because even death has been vanquished. We know our destiny is to be with Christ in his presence and with his people.

That is why it is so wonderful as we come to Holy Communion this morning.  This service looks ahead to the heavenly banquet as we drink the wine and eat the bread, we say – this is for me.  I am trusting in the resurrection.  I am going to the banquet by God’s grace.

Paul gives us in v16-18,  3 reasons for earthly perseverance, one in each verse and the first is in v16.

  1. We will persevere if we value the spiritual over the physical

“Our outer nature is wasting away; our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”

The first reason that Paul was able to endure anything that happened to him physically, that crushed his jar of clay, his body, was because he was more concerned about what happened in the spiritual realm.

He knew that his body was decaying, wasting away, a normal process of ageing, which we are all experiencing to one degree or another (Great description in Ecclesiastes Ch12

“Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years draw near when you say “I have no pleasure in them” – describes different aspects of ageing – because all must go to their eternal home, & the mourners will go about the streets – that’s our funeral service).

So v14 is a great comfort.  We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.  Why do we come to communion?  We read Ecc12 and come and say I want to be part of the resurrection.  I need forgiveness.  I am trusting in Christ.  I am going to the banquet.

Paul was getting old, wasting away not just the natural process but because also of the life he led – worn himself out for the Gospel 2 Cor 11:  24-28 he speaks of his sufferings, quite a list, relentless hostility and his suffering took its toll.

Yet amidst all this he proclaimed we are being renewed day by day.  Christ’s resurrection power was at work.  Paul knew what was going on in the inside was what really mattered.  Do you know that as we grow older?  There is a direct coloration of the dying of the outer man to the growth of the inner man.

Paul knew inside there was a continuous work going on. Christ comes to dwell, to live in us and change us.  We will endure; we will preserver as we value the inner man over the outer.  When we value spiritual strength over physical strength.

Do we value more what  is happening to our souls or our bodies? The is the Q

2 The secret of perseverance  – To value the future over the present (v17)

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond measure”.

Paul towers over his troubles because they are making him stronger (v16) renewing the inner person but gaining a great weight of eternal glory.

It’s all about perspective. How we see things. The present pain means little to him in the light of the great future reality.  He gets out his scales. On one side there is affliction, beatings, battles against false teachers, sleepless nights, persecution, ship wreak and on the other side:-

Eternal glory.  What does that look like when we see Jesus in all his glory face to face?  1 Cor 2: 9 “No eye has seen, nor ear heard nor the human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”

Think now if you would of the best moment of your life.  What was the best moment? Take that moment and multiply it by infinitely and its duration by eternity – some sense of eternal glory.

Today we look ahead as we come to communion, look ahead and say “That’s for me by God’s grace”. Look back to the past in remembrance, in the present we feed on Him by faith

Paul is saying what I am experiencing at the moment is slight & momentary. But Paul you have had years of it and its going on until you are beheaded in a Roman jail & in 2 Tim (the last letter he wrote) he says everyone has turned against me.  It is as bad as it gets. – But its fluff – nothing

Pain in pain, suffering is suffering – It’s real He doesn’t deny that.  What he denies is that it matters. It is as fluff.  It produces the weight of glory beyond all measure.

He valued the spiritual over the physical, the future over the present and lastly V18

3 He valued the invisible over the visible

We fix our eyes on what  is unseen.  What is seen is temporary.  What is unseen is eternal.

Where are our eyes fixed this morning?  Come to H/C – look ahead to the banquet guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and we are going to determine to persevere as we values the spiritual over the physical, the future over the present and the invisible over the visible.

Conclusion

  1. We do not lose heart  because we are being Daily Inwardly Renewed.

Renewal is resurrection power… How?  through daily prayer and meditation of the scriptures.  Meet him every day, admitting our weakness, we are jars of clay, brittle.

Humble ourselves admitting our weakness, our mortality, our decay.

Then his power will be made perfect in our weakness.  The light of Jesus will shine through our lives.

  1. We do not lose heart because our troubles achieve an eternal weight of glory.
  2. We do not lose heart because our eyes are fixed on what is unseen & eternal.

Perseverance is vital to growing in our faith, in his power which is made perfect in our weakness day by day.

Amen