Read: 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Theme: Ordinary people can be used by God in powerful ways.
Are you okay with being compared to a jar made out of clay?
Are you okay with being “ordinary”?
We live in a world obsessed with becoming known or famous. We follow the latest celebrities and YouTube stars; we buy things recommended by an influencer on social media. Many of us, if we’re honest, would welcome being known, or famous, or extraordinary.
The verses you read for today remind us that we are ordinary. We are just jars of clay, Corinthians tells us. But God has a purpose for our ordinary lives. We are ordinary vessels, holding the treasure of God’s light and glory. We might be ordinary, but our God is anything but ordinary.
The truth is that ordinary people carrying out ordinary acts can be used by God in POWERFUL life-transforming ways. Our ordinary lives display God’s power to the world around us. For Christians, God does his best work in ordinary lives of ordinary people.
Pray: God, thank you for giving me your extraordinary glory in my ordinary life. Forgive me for the times when I want more, or I crave my own glory and fame. Help me to display your life-transforming ways to the world around me. Amen.
Read: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Theme: God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
Paul had a problem. Despite all of his missionary travels, his writing, and all of his work on behalf of the early church, he had a weakness, what he describes as a “thorn in the flesh.” We don’t know exactly what Paul suffered with. It could have been a physical ailment or a mental health struggle. While we don’t know the specifics, we do know that Paul asked God three times to heal him of his problem.
God responds in a curious way. He reminds Paul that his grace is sufficient, and his strength is made perfect in weakness.
God’s grace is always available to us, and it is always enough. Our weaknesses are the canvas on which God’s power is displayed.
Paul could have been sad. He could have wallowed in self-pity. Instead, he boasts in his weakness! He brags about his own limitations! Because where Paul is weak, God is strong.
Give God your weaknesses, your past, your failures, your physical limitations. Give them to God and watch his power work in you.
Pray: God, thank you for your transforming power in my life. Take my weaknesses, God, and perfect your power in me. Help me to see my weaknesses as another opportunity for you to work in my life. I love you, God. Amen.
Read: 1 Timothy 1:15
Theme: God’s grace extends to even the “worst” of sinners and can transform any person.
What do you think of when you think of Paul? If you have read the New Testament, or heard any sermons about him, you might know him as the famous apostle who had a dramatic conversion to Christ, who traveled widely, who was a very successful church planter and wrote much of the New Testament. Paul’s resume is very, very impressive.
But how does Paul refer to himself in the verse we read for today? He calls himself “the worst sinner.”
It might be a little shocking to hear Paul refer to himself in this way, but Paul knew that his background was really bad. He used to persecute Christians. He can’t imagine someone being worse than he was.
Do you ever feel that way? Have you ever felt like the worst sinner? Think about what scripture teaches about God:
- God is slow to anger and abounding in love.
- God is patient.
- God delights in showing mercy.
- God desires to use you to change the world.
Jesus came into the world to save ordinary sinners, just like Paul and just like us. God used Paul, the worst sinner, to spread Christianity around the world, establish new churches, and write many books of the Bible. Just think: What might he be waiting to do with you?
Pray: God, thank you that you came into the world to save sinners. Help me to not be ashamed of my past but delight in your saving work. Thank you for the way you transform and use ordinary people, like me and like Paul. Amen.
Read: Romans 8:26-27
Theme: The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Do you ever have trouble praying? Sometimes prayer can feel awkward or strange. Sometimes you sit in silence and you just don’t know what to say. Sometimes you are so overwhelmed with your own pain or needs that it’s difficult to get the words out.
In the verses we read today, the Bible tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us when we pray. Intercedes just means that the Spirit acts on our behalf. (You can read all of Romans 8 to get a bigger picture of all of the things the Holy Spirit does for us.)
That means that when you don’t know what to pray, when you can’t find the right words, the Holy Spirit knows what you need and prays on your behalf. That’s incredible! When you find yourself in confusing and overwhelming times, the Holy Spirit knows what is best for you, and prays for you.
Be comforted in the knowledge that God searches your heart, even when you can’t form just the right words. God is for you. God is with you.
Pray: God, sometimes I feel clumsy and awkward when I pray. I don’t know what to say, or I worry that my prayer feels silly. Thank you for helping me in these moments. Thank you for interceding for me. Thank you for your love and care for me. Amen.
Challenge: This week, start implementing a daily prayer time in your day. Choose the same time each day. What works for you? Will you pray in the morning when you wake up? In the car on the way to work? During your lunch break? After dinner? We all have different schedules, so work out a time that is good for you, and something that you can stick with. Each day, just pray for a few minutes. As you incorporate prayer into your day, you will develop a powerful habit that will change your life.
Read: Matthew 14:13-21
Theme: Jesus uses the ordinary for the extraordinary.
Fish and bread were very ordinary things to the people in Jesus’ time. Living around the sea of Galilee, they would have been used to eating meals of fresh fish and cakes of bread. There was nothing special about the elements of the meal.
But with Jesus, these ordinary items became extraordinary. With just five loaves and two fishes, Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children. In all, the number could have been close to 10,000!
God has the power to meet a multitude of needs through ordinary people and things that are offered to him for his use. Imagine the extraordinary impact Jesus can make with your life and the gifts he’s given you!
Maybe you feel like you’re not that talented, or you think other people’s abilities are better than yours, but God gave you what he gave you for a reason. He calls you to be responsible with your gifts and offer them to him to bless the world and grow his kingdom.
Give your loaves and fishes to God and watch what he can do.
Pray: God, you take ordinary, everyday things and you use them in powerful ways. I’m ordinary, and sometimes I feel like I don’t have much to offer. God, take the ordinary offering of my life and use it for your kingdom. Guide me to doing the things that you want me to do in my everyday life. Thank you, God. Amen.
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