“Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Mandate”

2 Corinthians 4:7, “But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us.”

Anyone who knows me knows, 2 Corinthians 4:7 is one of my absolute favorite Scriptures in all the Bible! And because of it, the story of “The Cracked Pot” is one of my absolute favorite poems. The Scripture we’ll get to in a moment, but here’s how the poem goes: “A water-bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, “As we return to the mistress’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? “That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. “For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress’s table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house.”

I’m always amazed by this story because it is a constant reminder that we all have flaws, and yet, God still uses us to help make things grow, and make things beautiful. If the cracked pot didn’t have its flaw/crack, there would have been no flowers, and nothing for the bearer to take into her mistress’s house. And men, that’s great encouragement to you!

You see, truth is, in most churches, women make up the majority. Oh, you’ll see a few men scattered here and there, but their numbers never supersede that of the women (or even the children for that matter). Now, here is one of the most repeated reasons I’ve heard over the years, from men, on why they do not attend church (not that their unsaved mind you), or why they attend so infrequently: “The only time they look for men in the church is to fix or move something.” And as long as I’ve been in church, I have found that to be quite true. However, I would like to take something negative and make it a positive. Men, as true, to some degree, as that statement is, I want you to view it today from a different perspective. The reason we do Need you in church is to fix and move some things! Men are still head of their households, coverings for the wives, and strength in their communities. And this needs to be evident in our churches! We need men (with flaws, imperfections and cracks) to show the world that you will never be flawless, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be effective. We need men in church to move things (move the distorted view that all men are dogs; all men are dead-beat dads; all men are standing on a street corner with pants sagging and living off their “women”. Yes men, we need you to move some things indeed! We need you to move the faulty idea that men don’t pray, praise and worship, that men don’t cry, sing on the choir, serve and give. We need you to move the lie that men don’t go to church! Yes men, we need you to move some things!)

I reiterate brothers, you are needed in church to move some things!

And, you are needed to fix some things as well! Fix our sons who don’t have positive role models displaying what a real man is and does; fix our daughters so they can see how real men treat women; fix women who believe, because of their own past experiences, that all men cheat; fix the leadership in the church (for as much as women have come a long way in the church, men still need to be repositioned in their rightful places of authority and leadership at the helm of the church. And that’s not my opinion, simply read the structure of how God established the family and church); we need you to fix families so people will stop thinking that all fathers are missing from the household, and that there are men who come home to their own wives, sit at the dinner table with their families, do homework with their children and actually work full-time, legal jobs, and believe it or not, but they also finished more higher education than most assume!

Yep, men, you are needed in our homes, churches, and society at large to fix and move some things! 

That cracked pot poem has always encouraged me that God can work through anybody greatly no matter who they are or where they’ve been or come from. Flaws don’t stop ordinary men, from accomplishing extraordinary mandates! But I think most brothers avoid such opportunities not just because of their flaws, but also, according to the poem, the flaw/imperfection/crack was visible (others would be able to see it)! Which is why a lot of people would rather work in the background and not the forefront, because then you can no longer hide your flaws/imperfections/cracks.

But brothers, today is the day you shift gears and move from the back to the front!

Listen to this: I’ve always been in the front row of almost every group picture I’ve ever been in! Now, please understand, I didn’t put me there! “Let me be on the front row!No, that was never my heart or mouth’s cry! You see, it was always the photographer that always put me there! And I must also unfortunately admit that it’s not because of my drop-dead gorgeous looks that I was always moved by the photographer to the forefront. Nope, that’s not it at all. Truth is, it was because of my inches…or should I say more accurately, my lack of inches! I’m only 5 feet and 2 inches tall, yep, that’s it! (What confuses people is that I am a lover of stilettoes, so I often appear quite tall when I have them on, but oh how far the mighty have fallen when I take them off! LOL!) So, that’s the reason in a nutshell, they always put us short gals in front! If you’re short, you know it to be true. As for the tall ladies, they always put them in the rear of the picture, and that’s for a good reason too, one that just may encourage you. Here’s why, they put the little folks in the front because the big ones block their view!

Which brings us back to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, and I’ll begin reading at verse 7. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” The treasure he’s talking about is the message of light, salvation and deliverance through Jesus Christ.

So many men I know have a spiritual inferiority complex, and it’s causing them to retreat from really jumping into doing things for God. “I’m not intelligent enough; I’m not as gifted as they are; I don’t have a lot of charisma; I’m not that outgoing; I’m not musically inclined; I’m just not as educated; I don’t have the degrees; I don’t have the ability; my words get tangled up when I stand before people; I’m just your average, common, ordinary Joe.

But, did you know that makes you a primary candidate to be mightily used by God?!

Listen, our Scripture today says God likes to put His treasure in clay vessels, not in beautiful, expensive vases, but ones that will accentuate the treasure not the vessel! Because when you put it in a beautiful vessel, everybody says, “Oh, isn’t that a beautiful vessel.They rarely care what’s even in it, because what’s on the outside, and visible to the eye, is all that mattered in pleasing them. But God wants the treasure to be called attention to, not the vase! Which is why He loves average, common, ordinary men that He can use! Men who simply want to work for God without needing to be seen in the work!

Listen to our text in the Message Bible version, it reads: “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the UNADORNED CLAY POTS of our ORDINARY lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that WE’RE NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 MSG)

I love it! “…UNADORNED CLAY POTS…” Wouldn’t that be awesome to see in such a generation of the church where everyone is dressed, just to be seen! The pulpit is well “adorned”! Everywhere you look, there’s flowing robes in all styles, colors and lengths; diamond-encrusted crosses; rings the size of the moon, but in all of this, is the Word and Work of the Lord being fulfilled? Brothers, you don’t have to have the perfect black suit, shoes and ties. You don’t have to have a title. You don’t have to be a preacher. You just need to be available to be filled so God can pour you out on a world that is thirsty for the Living Water, and hungry for the Bread of Life!

What I also love about that Scripture is this, “…THAT’S TO PREVENT ANYONE FROM CONFUSING GOD’S INCOMPARABLE POWER WITH US…” Men, when your concern is about God, and not you, you’ve already done something extraordinary, even as ordinary men. Be a man that isn’t so consumed with getting glory for himself, that no one can see the Glory of God on him or in him. And why would God want to use a man like that? Because that’s at least one man He can be sure of won’t be competing with Him for His Glory!

And the writer doesn’t stop there! He goes on to say, “…WE’RE NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT…” Which would not be the testament in most churches today. Because everybody wants to be seen! But brothers, humility will never steer you wrong. If you are to accurately reflect Jesus, know that He was Humble, Meek and Mild. Even as the Son of God, He didn’t come to shine as the star, but He was to shine as a part of the supporting cast. He didn’t come that His name would be brightly twinkling in lights. He came to serve, not to be seen. And when you as men keep that in the forefront of your mind, God will bring you to the forefront, because He knows He’ll be able to trust you with His treasure!

And in the closing of the text it says, “…WHILE WE’RE GOING THROUGH THE WORST, YOU’RE GETTING IN ON THE BEST.” Men, it’s not about showing off or shining through, but it’s about submission and servitude. As the writer shared, when serving God, times will get tough! “…We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us…”  It wasn’t about what they would endure or suffer, they just wanted their ordinary lives to be used by an extraordinary God who granted them an opportunity to fulfill an extraordinary mandate. No matter what they faced for the sake of the Gospel, it was worth it because, “…While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!”

So, brothers, your flaws, imperfections and cracks are useful and so are you! In you, a cracked pot and an unadorned, common, average man, is an extraordinary mandate just waiting for you to show up, be available, humble and ready to receive! And to receive it, just as you are! No form or fashion, just faithful even when flawed. Be willing, for the sake of the Gospel and the sake of the Kingdom, to bring your flaws to the forefront!

In the book of 1 Samuel when Samuel is looking for a king, God sends him out to check out all these brothers, and he says, “Oh, it’s surely going to be one of the older, taller, good looking brothers.” It turns out to be the youngest kid out in a sheep pen – David.

You see, the problem with the superstar people is that they’re so big and tall that they block the view! Like the tall kids in our group photos, God wants to use people who will point others to Him, not to themselves. He’s had enough “tall” people standing in the way with their rings, robes, crosses, chairs, titles, positions, notoriety, fame, name, size, degrees and initials. This is now the time when God is seeking for some “short” men, those who can be trusted to be brought to the forefront, be in the picture, but not block the view of others. He needs men He can trust to proclaim the gospel (even when it’s done standing in the park on a Saturday afternoon); He needs men He can trust to serve in the church (with nobody even knowing their names, or what they’ve done); He needs men He can trust to work in the labor of the Lord without looking for rewards, benefits and packages of promised promotions. He needs men like David, who weren’t even aware that promotion came to the front of the house, because he was already busy working in the back! Today, will you be the “short” man God is looking to use?

Most people would want to be tall and stately. And as wonderful as that is, it’s not all that wonderful when you place them in front to take a picture. When you do, they either block the rest of the people behind them so they don’t even get in the picture; or the tall person in the front has to contort their body to accommodate those around them. So everyone may get in the picture that way, but now the tall person looks deformed, out of place, and awkward. And in the end, messes up the picture for everyone else. After all, who wants a picture sitting on their mantle with some strange bent over, deformed looking individual in the forefront?

I know it sounds comical, but many men are staying away from church because they don’t think they’re good enough to go. Well, if that were the case, the Lord’s house would be an empty shed, because no one would qualify! But brothers, there is need of you with all of your flaws, imperfections and cracks! You are needed to move from the back to the front, to move some things and fix some things! You may think you’re average, common, and ordinary, but you would be amazed by what the Lord can do through you because He can trust you to accomplish the goal, without competing for the glory.

The great ones end up getting the attention rather than the attention going to the Lord. But when the Lord picks up Joe Average and starts doing His work through him, leading, speaking, reaching the lost through someone average like him, people say, It’s got to be God. It can’t be them!And that’s the whole idea! Being men, fulfilling God’s mandate, without concern for man-made glory, honor, or prestige!

The idea is that when God does a work, people are saying, “Isn’t Jesus something?” Instead of, “Oh, what a great leader, what a great singer, what a great speaker is Pastor Shawn, Deacon Derrick, and Minister Keith.

Brothers, you may have been holding back saying, “There’s got to be someone better than I am for God to use.But see, it’s you that God wants to use! It’s your very ‘averageness’, your weakness that makes you a prime candidate for Him to work through in a manner of His strength and His ability to display something extraordinary. He may be pushing you to the front of His picture. And you know why? It’s because you won’t block the view of others; you won’t try to be the big picture yourself. God can trust those who He can use in the back or the front, but who refuse to lose their humility in either position. He can use men who aren’t concerned about their name being called or attached to a title.

He can’t use men who are so busy in self-promotion, that the name of Jesus never comes off his lips.

However, He can use a cracked pot just like you, Mr. Average Joe.

Often the ones the world calls big are on God’s back row, and the ones the world calls small are the ones He wants in front. Don’t be afraid to bring your flaws to the front row, there is need of you in developing the big picture of God!

Acts 4:13, “Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ORDINARY] MEN, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.” (AMP)

James 5:17, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [WITH THE SAME PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND SPIRITUAL LIMITATIONS AND SHORTCOMINGS], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.” (AMP)

“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.” (Billy Graham)

“Embedded in the larger story of redemption is a principle we must not miss: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.” (Paul David Tripp)

“God often uses small matches to light up great torches. No matter how small you feel in this world, he has something big in store for you.” (Pinterest)

“Those that God used in the past were just ordinary people with an extraordinary Master.” (Winkie Pratney)

“God is looking for ordinary people empowered by Him to do extraordinary things!” (Pinterest)

“God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It doesn’t matter who we are. It matters who He is.” (Christine Caine)

“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” (John W. Gardner)

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” (Elbert Hubbard)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWordFeel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “9 Foods You Should Never Eat After Age 30”

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