But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
I’m willing to bet that in almost every house there are some soup bowls or dinner plates that have chips in them. When we buy a set of dishes, they always look so nice! The colors pop out when you look at them, the finish is shiny, and the ceramic looks great! But then life happens. You might hit one dish with a soup bowl, and a little chip comes off. A child might carry a bowl to the kitchen sink, and accidentally chip it on kitchen counter. That’s just the way it is.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (John 20:1 NIV)
I was looking today at some photographs from the end of World War II. You have probably seen some of these photos. One of the most famous is a picture of a sailor kissing a young lady on the street, but I also viewed pictures of celebrations in the street, people climbing onto signs, and strangers embracing each other. People were so excited because the war had brought such suffering and death to so many people all around the world, and it had finally ended. The war was over!
Today I read Psalm 136, which has a great summary of God’s work of creation and also of His rescue of Israel when then entered the Promised Land. Psalm 136:1 was a verse our family used as a way of giving thanks after a meal:
(Psalm 136:1 NIV) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
As I looked at Psalm 136, I noticed something very interesting. All 26 verses of the Psalm end with the same refrain, “His love endures forever.” Verse after verse was ending with the same phrase. Verse after verse repeated, “His love endures forever.”
A few decades ago, before society and sports began to change in so many ways, many professional football players dreaded the event knowns as “Training Camp.” Training camp occurred before the regular season and lasted about 8 weeks. It was often brutal, almost like a military boot camp. Some teams had “two a days,” where the teams would work out and practice in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Some players hadn’t kept in shape so they required two months to get into football shape. Some coaches believed it built character to suffer from exhausting, extremely physical practices. Players from those older eras remember just hoping to make it to the end of each practice day, hoping to endure the eight weeks of training camp and make the team. It was a grind!
According to warhistoryonline.com, the most infamous of booby traps employed by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam war were called punji stakes. Sharpened bamboo stakes of various lengths and widths could be hidden in camouflaged pits. An unsuspecting soldier would think he was on solid ground, walking along for days at a time. But if he crossed over a pit of punji stakes, he would fall into the trap and be killed or seriously wounded.
Jesus talks about another trap in Luke 21:34-35 (NIV):
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.