A Biblical Focus

7 July 2024 AM – Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 – Topic: Focus
Introduction: Years ago, when we lived in PNG, I took a trip deep into the highlands. It was a 1-hour flight by small plane and a 7-hour exhausting hike over the mountains. The local men encouraged me by saying, “The village is just over the mountain.” I had to keep focussed.
            Life’s trials and burdens can be exhausting as well. The Apostle Paul knew this all too well. Like him, we must keep focussed and press on.
Transition: Paul’s example shows us several right actions we can take to help us focus biblically during tough times.
To help you focus biblically during tough times,
1.     Recognise that you are frail and why (v.7)
a.      You live in an earthen vessel.
1)         Paul’s treasure was the ministry of sharing the Gospel (v.1-6). This “treasure” is what caused him so many hardships in life as he goes on to expound.
2)         An earthen vessel is a frail clay pot. Your body is like a frail clay pot. Paul found that his frail clay pot was easily damaged as he shared his treasure with unbelievers.
3)         Like Paul, our bodies are like frail clay pots. Do you get sick? Do you ever worry? Are you carrying any burdens? Has someone hurt you? If so, you know that you are frail. Your clay pot is easily chipped.
b.      God allows your frailty for your good.
1)         The word “that” identifies a reason. Paul’s body was frail “in order that” the power of his message might come from God and not from himself.
2)         You are frail because God wants you to depend on Him and not on yourself (c.f., 2Co 12:9).
To help you focus biblically during tough times,
2.     Count your blessings (v.8-9)
a.      You cannot escape the trials of life.
1)         Look at the four examples Paul gave from his own experience as he preached the Gospel (v.8-9).
a)         Troubled (pressed together)
b)         Perplexed (without resources)
c)         Persecuted (pursued)
d)         Cast down (put down)
2)         Yes, you will face trials in life. It may be the result of witnessing for Christ. However, it may be for other issues that come up. Either way, you cannot escape burdens.
b.      However, you can count your blessings during trials.
1)         Paul chose to count his blessings.
a)         Not distressed (cramped)
b)         Not in despair (utterly in despair, empty)
c)         Not forsaken (deserted)
d)         Not destroyed (to perish)
2)         Every trial has a blessing if we will look for it. That blessing may be that the trial forces you to draw nearer to God. As difficult as it may seem, we must count our blessings when burdened.
To help you focus biblically during tough times,
3.     Remember that you are influencing others (v.10-12)
a.      Like it or not, others are watching your life.
1)         In many ways, Paul was bearing in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus. He was suffering hardships because of his ministry for Christ.
2)         At the same time, Paul wanted the life of Christ to be manifest in his body. He desired that others would see Christ in his life.
3)         Even when we do not realise it, people are watching our lives. When we are going through burdens, what do others see in us?
b.      Let them see your new life in Christ.
1)         With God’s help, you must seek to let your light shine for Christ. Jesus said, (Matthew 5:16) “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
2)         Albert Arsborn’s chorus expresses this truth well. “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity: Oh, Thou Spirit divine, All my nature refine Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. Let the fruit of the Spirit be seen in me, Grant me grace all sufficient that I may be True and faithful each day, Every step of the way, Pointing souls to the Saviour on Calvary.” Making Melody, p.119
3)         If others see our long face or observe our frustrated attitude when we are enduring a trial or burden, what kind of testimony are we sharing with them?
To help you focus biblically during tough times,
4.     Ponder resurrection day (v.13-14)
a.      Life does not end when your body dies.
1)         Many unbelievers today believe that they will die like a dog and rot like a log and that is the end. God tells us that that is not true.
2)         Did you know that all humans will one day resurrect from the dead.
b.      Christ will resurrect your body.
1)         Jesus said, (John 5:28-29) “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
2)         What “good” did Jesus have in mind? Is it baptism, communion, kindness, Bible reading, prayer, etc.? No! It is repenting of their sin and trusting Christ alone to save them. As sinners, that is the only good we can do.
3)        True Christians will be resurrected to eternal life; false Christians and all unbelievers will be resurrected to damnation in hell. Which resurrection will you receive?
4)         If you are a Christian, pondering your resurrection will help you focus biblically during tough times.
To help you focus biblically during tough times,
5.     Let God renew your spirit day by day (v.16-17)
a.      Spend quality time with God each day.
1)         Paul said that focussing on the resurrection and on glorifying God kept him from fainting or quitting.
2)         He sought to have God renew his inward man day by day. How? He does not say, but likely through spending quality time with the Lord daily.
3)         You too can have a flourishing relationship with Christ if you will spend quality time with him daily.
b.      Let God daily renew your attitude (v.17).
1)         Paul called his affliction light (i.e., a light load).
2)         He saw it as momentary. How could he say that? Well, it was momentary compared to all eternity. Your trials and mine occupy just a flash of time compared to the countless years of eternity.
3)         Paul also knew that suffering rightly in this life will work for us a far more exceeding eternal reward.
To help you focus biblically during tough times,
6.     Keep your mind on the unseen eternity (v.18)
a.      Stop centring your attention on this life.
1)         We can see clearly the things of this life. Paul primarily had in mind the hardships and burdens of the Christian life. However, other things in life occupy our time and energy like hobbies, earning money, our possessions, and the things we cherish.
2)         We can’t see any of the things that are promised in eternity like our home in heaven, rewards, souls we have led to Christ, etc. Keeping your mind on these things will keep you going during the difficult times in life.
b.      Centre your attention on eternity.
1)         The things you can see are temporal – here today and gone tomorrow.
2)         The things you can’t see are eternal – they will never end.
3)         If you are living for things that you will leave behind when you die, you will regret it for all eternity!
Conclusion: Review the 6 actions we can take to help us focus biblically during tough times. The Christian life has its share of trials and burdens. If you set your affection on things above and not on things of the earth (Col 3:1-3), you will be a much happier and productive Christian now and for all eternity.
            Will you be resurrected unto life or unto damnation? If you are not positive, come and talk with me about it today!
Song: Burdens Are Lifted – 218