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2 Corinthians 2:14-17; 4:7-12

SWEET FRAGRANCE IN OLD CLAY POTS

One day while walking along the wharf in Panama City, Republic of Panama, I saw a sign that read: "Old fishermen never die; they just smell that way!" The sign reminds me of carnal Christianity that always has the smell of death about it. It stinks. It has a repulsive odor.

However, there is something refreshing when a beautiful young woman comes into a room wearing an elegant fragrant perfume. The aroma does not over power you, but when she leaves the sweet fragrance lingers on for a while. You can smell that fragrance on another woman a few days later and you are suddenly reminded of the beautiful young lady. So it is with genuine Christianity. Those who love the Lord Jesus emit a lovely aroma.

That distinctive sweet smell is the Spirit of God bearing His fruit in the lives of believers. There are Spirit-filled congregations all around the world that have that distinctive fragrance of the presence of Christ filling them. It is a rich bouquet of the fruit of the Spirit.

 I recently conducted the funeral of a lovely Christian whose walk with Christ was a rich bouquet that produced His fragrance. I thought what one word described this beautiful saint? My mind immediately reflected on love-- joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The apostle Paul illustrates the major theme of his letter, which is that of the triumph of God's grace over our human frailty. In spite of our set backs and difficulties in life Paul bursts forth in praise because of the triumph of the good news of Christ in the city of Corinth. It is a sweet fragrance of God.

AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY IS FOLLOWING THE LEADER (2 Corinthians 2:14)

The Apostle Paul pictures Christ at the head of the victory procession, and we are following Him in triumphant celebration as the universal conqueror. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Christ is the head of the victory procession (v. 14).

Paul wrote, "But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14 NET).

Paul had in mind the Roman Triumph. The picture is the triumphal entry of a military hero into the city of Rome. In a Triumph procession, the victorious generals marched in a certain order through the streets of Rome to the Capitol. First came the city magistrates, state officials, followed by the Roman senate, and then the trumpeters. Soldiers carrying their spoils from the conquered land followed. Next pictures and models of the conquered citadels and ships were carried along in the parade. The white bull for the sacrifice followed, and then the captive rulers, their leaders and captured generals in chains who would be executed before the day was over at the sacrifice. Following them came the musicians and priests swinging their censers with sweet-smelling incense burning in them. All along the parade route you could smell the sweet aroma of the spices people were burning. To the conquered victims the incense has the stench of death lingering all about them. To the victorious army the fragrance has the sweet aroma of victory. Finally, the conquering general rode in a chariot drawn by four white horses. His family and his army followed wearing their decorations and shouting lo triumphe! Lo triumphe!

Christ is the universal conqueror marching in triumph down through the corridors of time throughout the conquered world. He is in the lead, and we, His chosen warriors march behind Him enjoying the benefits of His conquest. Those who march along in the procession of Christ are emitting everywhere about them the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him.

"Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ . . . " (v. 14a). God "leads us in triumph" (triambeuo) means to "lead in a triumphal procession someone" as a captive. Jesus Christ always causes us to triumph in life. God has triumphed over the hostile supernatural powers through Christ Jesus.

We who were God's former enemies (Rom. 5:10) have been conquered by the sovereign saving grace of God (Eph. 2:5), and taken captive by Him and as His bondslaves are led and displayed by Him before a watching world (v. 7).

Because we are "in Christ," we are in vital union with Him, and therefore are releasing everywhere we go the sweet fragrance of Christ.

Moffatt translates (v. 14), "Wherever I go, thank God, He makes my life a constant pageant of triumph in Christ." We are trophies of the victorious grace of God. 

We triumph only as we abide in Christ.

What is it that I smell ? (vv. 14-17)

Authentic Christianity is always emitting a fragrance that is pleasing to God.

The fragrance results from knowing Jesus Christ personally. The nature of the triumph as a minister of grace is our vital union with Christ. To be "in Christ," united to Him, is to be "mystically and really in Him." The triumph was Christ's, and because of our union with Him; wherever we are we share in it with Him. All of Paul's success was traced to Christ and his relationship with Him. "In Christ" or "in Christ Jesus" is the sphere in which we live, and move and have our being. Our spiritual life is in direct contact with Him. He lived his daily life in "union" with Christ.

God "makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of Him in every place" (v. 14b NET). He uses you and me to make known the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself. The knowledge of the person and saving work of Jesus Christ is spread abroad like a pervading fragrance through believers wherever they are led in the procession.

The metaphor of fragrance or perfume "suggests the penetrating strength of the revelation and the delight which it brings to those who receive it," writes Alfred Plummer. Everywhere Paul went he shared the Gospel of Christ and the effect was spiritual apprehension and recognition of its saving truth. The fragrance is Christ.

"For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter an odor from death to death, to former a fragrance from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?" (vv. 15, 16 NET).

The New Testament teaches the priesthood of every believer. Every Christian is a representative of Christ interceding on the behalf of lost mankind. We are His priests. As we abide in Christ we spread the sweet fragrance of His Gospel. With sincerity, we preach Christ, and to those who are being saved it is the smell of eternal life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings a sweet fragrance to those who are being saved. It has the aroma of victory.

God uses us to spread the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. Christ filled lives are "like a lovely perfume" (Philips).

"We are a sweet aroma" (v. 15a) or fragrance. The gospel of grace bearing its fruit in our lives is sweet fragrance to God.

In verse 14 the fragrance is the knowledge of Christ, whereas in verse 15 it is the apostle. The thought is essentially the same because it is the gospel that Paul preached. "In spreading the fragrance of it they are themselves the fragrance of God," says Plummer. The human vessel is identified with its sweet fragrance. When we have been around Christ we begin to smell like Him. People cannot help but sense the presence of Christ in us. In Colossians Paul says, “Christ in you the hope of glory.” 

The unseen, insuppressible, pervasive influence, like the odor of a precious perfume, goes forth from the lives of those who have the grace of Christ in them. The fragrance comes from Christ because He alone is the source. We are the means of spreading the knowledge of Christ. Lost sinners see the change in us and they want to know what is that I smell about your life. What makes you different from me? We can only respond, it is Christ in me. We are the perfume Christ has produced. We are filled with Him. Christ Himself is the sweet aroma which exhales in our character and work. The life of the believer proceeds from God and the saving work of Christ. We are the bearers of the fragrance of Christ.

However, for those who reject Jesus Christ it is a stench of death because judgment is at hand, and eternal separation from the Lord God. "The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him" (John 3:36 NET).

For those who listen to the message and witness the changes in our lives, it is a stench in their nostrils. Because of their actions they perish in spite of the saving work of Christ on the cross. Destruction is regarded as their end unless spiritual regeneration takes place. To them Christ is still dead and yields a stench of death. To those who are being saved, Christ is alive and He yields the sweet fragrance of eternal life.

To the unregenerate the death of Christ is like a deadly noxious fume that has a killing effect on them. However, to the believer in Christ it is a fragrance that gives eternal life. The preaching of the gospel brings life to some who hear it and death to others (v. 16a).

Who is adequate for such a ministry? None of us are capable in our strength. Our adequacy comes from our abiding in Christ.

When we have been around Christ we begin to smell like Him.

Are you wearing My Sin or My Savior? Christ has an unmistakable fragrance, and you can smell it on someone who is genuinely Christ-like. Unfortunately, there is also a fragrance that smells like the flesh and the aroma of death.

Who is adequate for such responsibilities? (vv. 16b-17)

Who is sufficient for these responsibilities in preaching the gospel? What kind of minister ought we to be who preach the gospel of salvation by means of atoning sacrifice of Jesus?

No one without the sufficiency of Christ in him is competent to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only as we draw our sufficiency from God that we can proclaim the full riches of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Paul's sufficiency is found in Christ alone.  Yet he balances that understanding with personal responsibility.

Paul uses an unusual word to describe those who are insincere in their ministry of God's Word. They are corrupting the Word of God by watering it down. "For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God" (v. 17 NET). The word for "hucksters" comes from kapelos meaning implying to adulterate, and is used figuratively to corrupt by mixing water with wine in order to cheat the customer. They get rid of a product for a quick profit. In the context they peddle or merchandise the Word of God for personal profit. Christianity has been cheapened in our day by commercialization and Madison Avenue marketing. Thank God for the God called men whose desire is “ministry first.”

Paul's concern was they were peddling the Word of God for profit. They are using deception and greed to peddle their product for profit.

Paul did not adulterate the word of God by mixing it with Judaism or false philosophy of the Hellenism or the Greek mystery religions. He did not use it for any selfish purpose or to manipulate people. His methods and motives were pure.

The primary force of the word to "adulterate," "corrupt" or "peddle" here is to seek cheap gain by adulteration by whatever means to turn a profit. The false teachers have taken up "apostleship" purely as a business, or means of livelihood. How tragic when there are "people who deal with God's message as if they were trafficking in trivial things."

"We are speaking in Christ," reminds us of our vital union in Christ. Ministry must always be done in the power that flows from a vital union with Christ as members of His Body. Jesus said, “The one who remains in Me—and I in him—bears much fruit” (John 15:56b NET). The only way to minister is to abide in Him.

I have always tried to clarify my motives and make it very clear that I live to preach; I do not preach in order to make a living.

Could our thoughts of Jesus Christ stand being brought into the full light of day? Could our inner most motives stand being dragged out into the full intense scrutiny of His light? May He help us to clarify our attitudes and motives of service that we may be full of His fragrance. It comes from a pure heart.

We must proclaim His message as sincere men sent from God, living in vital union with Christ. We speak because the Master has commissioned us. We speak with "sincerity," purity of motive, or transparent purity. Our integrity is intact. Paul preaches because God had laid a burden and a message on him.

At this point, Paul jumps quickly to a different subject and doesn't return to the sweet fragrance until 4:7. One of the characteristics of Paul's writings are the extended digressions. Suddenly he breaks off from his idea in order to pursue an extension or amplification of his thoughts. One great idea leads to another in an outpouring of spiritual wealth. In chapter four he gets back to his idea in chapter two and tells how God produces this lovely fragrance in our lives. You may be surprised at the process God uses.

GOD PUTS THE FRAGRANCE IN CLAY POTS  (2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-18)

The "glory of God” is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. All of God's blessed, divine majesty and saving attributes are the object of our perpetual adoration. Our knowledge of the glorious God is manifest in Christ. "The only true effulgence of the Divine glory is from the face of Christ," writes Henry Alford. "In the face or the person of Jesus Christ the glory of God shone clearly, and the Divinity appeared without a veil," says Albert Barnes.

Furthermore, remember the Spirit-filled Christian mirrors the glory of God in Christ Jesus. “We all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NET). Like an unveiled face in a mirror we catch the bright light of His glory and reflect it. In the inward sense of a deep spiritual reality the believer has a clear view of Jesus and his life will never be the same. "We all with unveiled faces which remain unveiled." If we keep looking into the face of Jesus we are being transformed into the likeness of God in Christ. God has chosen to put that precious treasure of the glory of His saving grace in these old fragile, cracked clay pots.

God uses old pots of clay (v. 7).

God has chosen to put the treasure of this precious fragrance in clay pots, not in the fine china of man's making.

The "treasure" is what is extremely valuable and expensive. The jars of clay are made of cheap, fragile, clay pottery. The valuable treasure is contained in weak valueless earthenware containers.

Paul writes, "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us" (II Corinthians 4:7 NET). The treasure is priceless. It comes from God.

God uses old clay pots to contain His fragrance. The point Paul is making is God's valuable treasure is contained in weak, fragile, and valueless containers.

God doesn't use beautiful flasks to house His fragrance. He has chosen to put the treasure of His fragrance in clay pots. He uses earthen vessels, not the fine china. He takes simple clay pots and fills them with His glory. Fragile and flawed, cracked and leaky clay pots are His choice vessels.

"This treasure" (thesauros) (v. 7) is the "sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him" in 2:14. The treasure is the good news of God's transforming grace. It consists of the rich truths we are called to preach. Our most treasured spiritual possession is the Word of God. God has placed this saving Gospel and its glory in those who have put their trust in Him.

God has chosen for His glory to put "this treasure in clay jars," not in beautiful self-made containers of human dignity and aesthetic beauty. The treasure of the gospel has been entrusted to men subject to the infirmities, limitations, anxiety, unsteadiness and insecurity.  It is as though a most costly emerald or diamonds were encased in a clay jar. God did not entrust it to the cherubim and angels. He put it in clay pots! The gospel is not the clever idea of human genius. It did not evolve from some evolutionary process of world religions. It is the revelation of the power of the sovereign LORD God.

"Clay jars" (ostrakinos) (v. 7) or clay pots are in themselves cheap, utterly common, bound to break sooner later, personally unimportant vessels. It is what is in them that counts. They contain the message of the grace and power of God; that is what gives them infinite value.

Why did God choose to use clay pots? He uses clay pots so He alone can get the glory. "In order that the excellency of the power may be of God" (KJV). It becomes apparent that it comes entirely from God alone, and not of any man.

It was God’s design to use weak decaying and crumbling instruments, in order that it might be seen that it was by the power of God and not man. The apostles were altogether insufficient of their own strength to accomplish the grand purposes of God. How true this is of us, too.

The apostle Paul has in mind the "exceeding greatness" (huperbole), excess, abundance, “extra ordinary quality of character" of God’s power. It is "transcendent" power meaning "excess," "extraordinary (quality of the) power." It is more than enough to accomplish His purposes. Literally the word means, "throwing beyond." It exceeds the ordinary human limits. The power of the gospel of God overcomes and transcends all our weaknesses. It goes beyond and far exceeds anything we experience in our human limitations. It is "the exceeding greatness" of this power that is important to the apostle because there is nothing with which to compare it. It is simply beyond comparison. This supernatural power is manifestly far beyond human strength. Keep in mind he is talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is evident that the power belongs to God and does not originate with man. God is the source of this power.

In verses eight and nine Paul demonstrates from a constant personal experience that this superabundance of power working in the Christian is all of God. The transcending power of God transforms every situation. It is the activity of life that is constantly going on, like a great conquest in which we are “more than conquerors.”

Note the progression of thought in vv. 8-9: “We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed” (NET).  This was hardly an occasional experience for the apostle Paul; his life was full of indignities and suffering for Christ.

Most of the time these old pots have to be broken before they emit the sweet fragrance of His grace. God does it through the pressures that come in our lives.

God cracks the pots (vv. 8-11).

In the midst of cracking the pot the believer is sustained by God's power and the prospect of future blessings in glory. These present sufferings lead on to eternal glory. We have confidence in view of the sure promise of eternal glory.

Because God has placed His treasure in earthen vessels, our personal insufficiency and sufferings only serve to demonstrate more clearly that this treasure is not from us, but is the power of God. The life of Christ is revealed in affliction. We are nothing. The whole power is of God.

We stewards of the treasure of God are to have none of the glory of the work. Our one supreme passion should be that God alone gets all the glory. It is His work, not ours. It is not our task to dream up great things to do for God and then ask Him to bless it. It is our job to find out where He is at work and join Him in what He is doing. The results are eternally different. God fulfills the ministry by using weak, afflicted, persecuted, and decaying vessels. These vessels that contain His fragrance are worn out in His work.

Charles Hodge paraphrases beautifully the idea Paul is communicating. "The whole power is of God. . . I am so perplexed, persecuted, downtrodden and exposed to death, as to render it evident that a divine power is exercised in my preservation and continued efficiency. My continuing to live and labor with success is a proof that Jesus lives."

Paul writes: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (4:8-9), KJV).

"We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body" (4:8-11 NET).

When this pressuring takes place through affliction we feel the constraints of a confined space, and then the pain that it causes. We are left at a loss and perplexed by these pressures. In ancient writings it was used to describe one who was ruined by his creditors and was at his wits end.

There are times when that pressure takes the form of persecution. You feel like you are being hunted down like a wild animal.

There are times Paul says it is like being deserted or abandoned in a time of difficulty.

There are other times when we feel like we have been thrown down with force as when a wrestler throws his opponent to the floor, or of striking someone down with a sword.

We are hard-pressed at every point but not pinned down . . . persecuted by men but never forsaken by God . . . at our wit's end but never without hope . . . knocked down, but not knocked out. 

Pounds' paraphrase goes like this: We possess this priceless treasure of the fragrance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these old fragile earthly clay pots. We do it so the exceeding abundant greatness of the power of God may be manifest, as coming from God and not from ourselves. We are hard pressed on every side with troubles all around us. We are not crushed, but we still have breathing room. We are perplexed and bewildered, but we are not despairing. We are hunted down by persecutors, but not deserted and left behind by the Lord. We are thrown down, but not fully destroyed.

A. W. Tozer said, "It is doubtful God can bless any man greatly until He has hurt him deeply."

I often hear people say, "Life isn't fair. If that is Christianity, I don’t want it. That's not what I want out of my life. I want a trouble free life full of joy and happiness.”

Welcome to reality. What we wish for is not what life serves up. We do get sick and people die in accidents. Our loved ones do get robbed. I live where there are hurricanes. I have spent much of my life where there are natural calamities such as earthquakes, mudslides, flash floods, and tornadoes. I have a daughter who lives where there are blizzards.

The fact is if we live very long on this earth we will be hurt. We don't understand pain and suffering. But it is a reality of life.

Why do good people get hurt? Why do we die? Why does evil seem to triumph over good? Those are age-old questions, but the fact is this is the process God uses for our good, and His glory. 

Can you learn to love and forgive God when things don't turn out the way you would like? That is the more difficult question in life.

We want to be beautiful glazed and polished pots. We want to be painted, displayed, admired and put on a safe shelf. But that's not God's way of producing His precious fragrance.

Paul continues in verse ten, "always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body” (NET).  

The apostle was never free from peril. He was constantly being exposed to death as seen in his experiences in chapter eleven. Paul and his companions were perpetually being delivered to death for Christ's sake (2 Cor. 11:23-33).

Everywhere Paul went he received the same kind of treatment which Christ Himself had received. There was always the constant threat of being killed. Paul was "always carrying in the body the death of Jesus." Paul's body bore the scars and marks of his being exposed to the same treatment as his Lord and Master was. The enemies of Paul were always seeking his life. He was always exposed to a violent death and was eventually beheaded for the cause of Christ. Moreover, he was always "suffering in a manner that was equivalent to dying." This "body" is the same clay pot. Jesus warned His followers that they too would suffer and die (John 15:18-20).  

The treasure of the gospel was committed to believers, earthen vessels, who are "pressed, persecuted, cast down, and beset with deadly perils" in order that our preservation and success should be a constant witness to the world that Jesus lives. He exercises providential care over His servants, and delivers us out of perils.

God cracks your pot through the pressures of life (vv. 11-12). 

God's way of producing His fragrance is to take the pot off the shelf, break it, and pour out the fragrance. He releases the sweet fragrance of His grace only by cracking the pot.

He does this through the pressures that come in our lives.

How is the pot? Do you feel squeezed in by the pressures of life? Do you feel the pressure of sickness, disease, heartache or disappointment? Perhaps some disaster or some crushing experience has overwhelmed you? Perhaps death or the shadow of death is your new pressure point?

Observe that verse eleven is a commentary on verse ten. These two verses are strictly parallel. "For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body" (2 Cor. 4:11 NET). Plummer translates, "we are ever a living prey." Paul was in the continual danger of being handed over. The original has "our mortal flesh" which is a more emphatic and literal way of describing "our body" in verse ten.

For Paul the process meant, "experiencing trouble . . . perplexed . . . persecuted . . . knocked down." That was the process God used to release the fragrance in Paul's life.

What is the process He is using in your life today?

God's power is perfected in our weaknesses. When we die, He lives. When we lose, He wins. When we are weak, He is strong. When we are dependent, He is powerful. When we are tempted, He is triumphant.

He does this so that only He will get the glory. We cannot point at our triumphs and say, how great I am. We can't say, "Look what I have done." We can only point to Christ and say, “I saw God do it!”

He produces His fragrance in us.

A good example of this process is also found in Isaiah. The prophet saw what God was doing through the suffering of Israel in his day. The Everlasting God "does not get tired or weary." You can never wear Him out! "There is no limit to His wisdom. He gives His strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy" (Isaiah 40:28-29 NET). That is the only qualification. To the weary, tired, weak and to those who stumble and lack understanding He gives His power and wisdom. Don't miss verse thirty-one.

“But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;

they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings,

they run without growing weary,

they walk without getting tired” (NET).

The word used to translate "wait" upon the LORD is insightful. The Hebrew word qavah, (kaw-vaw') means to bind together perhaps by twisting. The idea is to collect, to gather together. The ancient weavers would pick up a couple of pieces of flax and weave the two together. They would then pick up another and another and keep on weaving until they had made a strong rope that would hold hundreds, even thousands, of pounds of weight. Figuratively the word pictures strength that comes from being gathered together and looking patiently, tarrying, waiting (for, on, upon) God to provide.

Perhaps I write to someone who feels as if his rope is about to break.

Our loving Lord comes along side, wraps Himself around us, and gives us His strength when we feel tired and weary. God wraps His strength around my stand of life to give me strength in His character. He gives us cable-like strength. We exchange our weakness for His strength. We get His strength by waiting upon Him.

Paul's personal experience (12:6-10).

Let's go back to the Apostle Paul's experience of producing the fragrance of God's grace in this old clay pot.

“For even if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I would be telling the truth, but I refrain from this so that no one may regard me beyond what he sees in me or what he hears from me, even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me – so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NET). 

The power of God comes to full strength as we rely upon Him during our weakness, insults, troubles, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake.

Our inadequacy is God's sufficiency (4:12).

We are constantly being delivered to the point of death so that God's message will leak out. When people smell the fragrance of God's grace in our lives, they suddenly realize there is not anything significant about the vessel--it is what's inside that counts. When people see this death in us, it changes them. They suddenly realize God can use them, too. "As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:12 NET).

Death and life are personified in this verse to stress the principle at work in our lives. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

Alan Redpath said: "When God wants to do an impossible task He takes an impossible man and crushes him."

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR POT?

Don't hide the cracks in the clay. That's the only way to let out the fragrance. It is amazing how often God honors a weak, broken piece of pottery. How seldom He ever uses the fine china. The fact is fine china usually does not like being used. It fears the idea of being broken.

God honors the weak, fragile cracked pots. We are honored when He takes an old pot, cracks it and uses it for His glory.

What is that I smell? What are you wearing? I walk through my congregation every Sunday morning and I smell a sweet wholesome fragrance. I think of saints who have gone before us in terrible pain of suffering, and their lives have been a sweet fragrance of God's grace.

How is the pot? Are you huddling over it as you try to protect it? Have you placed it on a shelf trying to guard it?

There is a better way. Take it off the shelf, and let God crack it with the every day pressures of life. Let the LORD God take your life and use it to His glory His way.

One of the martyrs in Ecuador, Jim Elliot, wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

If you need help in becoming a Christian here is A Free Gift for You.


Title:  II Corinthians 2:14–17; 4:7–18  Sweet Fragrance in Old Clay Pots

Series:  Exchanged Life

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey College, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, served 20 years as missionary in Ecuador, and as Field Director for the Honduras Baptist Medical Dental Mission in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, C. A. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a pastor, and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.

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