Building People of Substance for Works of Power
For several years now, I have been a fairly consistent bicycle rider. In Arizona, that means drinking lots of water. You need a good water bottle. Most are some sort of plastic which often makes the water taste just a little off. Exposed to the sun, that chemical taste gets worse. Some plastics can even impart harmful chemicals into the water and cause long term health problems. No matter how pure the water, the container makes a difference. The Apostle Paul refers to this same idea when he says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV).” The light of the Gospel, the work of the Spirit, the gifts God has given, are all resident in us and flow through us to touch others.
When I speak to others about the Lord, whether preaching to a group or sharing with an individual, I shudder to think that the light might be dimmed, the water tainted, by this earthen vessel, or as the NIV says, this jar of clay. Good vessel maintenance requires attention to three areas:
1. Possess your vessel. In our culture sexual sin, even gross perversion, is the norm. Indeed, to speak against it is often referred to as “judgmental” or “hateful.” Apparently, God didn’t get the memo. Sexual sin, either the act or the fantasy, will sully the vessel. Paul said, “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. (1Th 4:3 NLT)” He continued to say that this is part of protecting and controlling your vessel. The potential for manipulation when speaking as the oracles of God is far too great to let lust twist the motives. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-5 / 1 Corinthians 6:13-18 / etc.)
2. Cease from strife. We all like to be right. Our pride demands a fight. Paul said that in order to be a vessel of honor (value, esteem), we need to put away “foolish and ignorant disputes” because they generate strife, and the servant of the Lord must not strive. If it is not a salvation issue, leave it alone. Fight the temptation to bolster your position by putting “Thus saith the Lord” in front of your opinion on non-essentials. (2 Timothy 2:20-26 / James 1:19-20 / 3:13-16)
3. Get over yourself. Self-centeredness is the core issue for all these things. Paul made the point that, “we do not preach ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:5 NKJV).” In fact, the elimination of selfish motivations is a major New Testament theme. We don’t preach or pray or prophesy with our own ends in mind. (1 Corinthians 10:33 / James 4:3-4 / Philippians 2:1-5) Even our precious liberty is always subject to the needs of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). I tremble at the thought of using my position or the authority of the Lord to manipulate precious people into my will.
Somebody Said: ““The difference between the good which proceeds from the flesh and the good which flows from the new life is that the flesh always has self at its center.” Watchman Nee
Scripture Reading:  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:3-5 NIV)
When I am in a position to speak the Word of God into the lives of other people, the responsibility is almost overwhelming. When I open my mouth and presume to say, “Thus saith the Lord,” I want it to be the Lord and not me. I never want to impose my will or my opinion. The meeting of my needs and the stroking of my ego are not worthy ends of ministry. Lord, I do want you to use me, but first I ask you to cleanse me. Let them taste the purity of living water, not the muddy flavor of clay.
Pastor Virgil Stokes
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745