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Matthew 13:58 ” And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

Imagine being in the crowd around Jesus and seeing people being healed and set free…but yet refusing to acknowledge His divinity, showing no confidence in His power, and doubting the promise of eternal life.  No wonder Jesus placed such emphasis on the sin of unbelief.  Unbelief blinds our minds and causes our heart to become calloused.  This lack of faith can hinder even the most righteous Believer at times…but just like the sick child’s father in Mark 9:24, we too can ask Jesus to,” Help me overcome my unbelief.”

Matthew 7: 13-14 ” Enter by the narrow gate…Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life…”

Living for Christ is hard…there’s no way around it.  The moment you say “Yes” to Jesus, the world labels you as “One of those crazy religious people”.  But it’s by those troubles we encounter that we learn perseverance and are forged into a willing vessel for God .  And with each difficulty, we go from wounded to winner.  As Oswald Chambers once said, “Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His Highest – our best for His glory?”  Yes, the way is narrow and filled with difficulties, but just look where it leads.

Isaiah 43:1 ” Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.”

You’re not just an acquaintance to God.  You’re not some face He sees in the crowd, and recognizes you as someone He should know… but can’t remember your name.  No, God knows you intimately…He knows you inside and out…He knows every thought you’ve had, every tear you’ve cried, every prayer you’ve prayed.  But most importantly, He knows your name.  For you are that very special to Him.  And in response, what can we say but, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”

II Corinthians 4: 8-9 ” We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

As we learned from the Devotional yesterday, we have this great and wonderful treasure in jars of clay.  But just like those breakable vessels, our mortal body can be stronger than we can imagine.  You see, those clay jars withstood outside pressure and remained durable and lasting for hundreds of years…and so can we.  This verse promises us that we can be troubled but not overwhelmed by it…confused but not to the point of hopelessness…harassed and bullied but never forsaken by our Heavenly Father. You are a jar of clay, but one tough, resilient, and tenacious jar – holding an unspeakable treasure within.

II Corinthians 4:7 ” But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

In Biblical times,  clay jars were used to store items of importance.  In Jeremiah 32:14-15,  the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy his cousin’s field and take the documents and place them in a clay jar.  “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”  This promise that they would return to their homeland  would take 70 years of exile in Babylon before it would come about…but these important documents would be kept safe until then…safe within a fragile clay jar.  And if you’re a Believer, you  have the great power and Almighty energy of God within your clay jar…your body,  placed there by God for safe-keeping.

Mark 6: 48-50 ” He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified.”

In these scriptures we see the story of Jesus walking on the water and the disciples initial reaction.  The disciples had been rowing for hours…fighting the rising winds and rough water.  They were exhausted.  With heads down, they were battling to just keep moving forward.  So when Jesus approached the boat, fatigue and stress blinded them to be able to even recognize Jesus…irrationally, they imagined that it was a ghost rising from the waves.   The same thing will happen to us when we fight the storms of life alone.  Heads down, we power through, battling to keep moving ahead, but becoming more and more drained.  It’s then that the combination of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion often leads to unfounded fears that overtake us.  It’s also at that time,  we suddenly come to the end of ourselves and finally cry out, “Lord, I can’t do this!”

John 16: 33 ” In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is the Great Overcomer… He who has defeated death, triumphed over the grave, and conquered sin, tells us in this scripture that adversity will only strengthen our spiritual backbone if we won’t give up.  Jesus, the Great Overcomer, has forged the way for us to become overcomers too…to be victors not victims…winners not wounded.