“Powerful Treasures in Fragile Pots” — a theme with myriad reactions, from confusion (how can God want me to be weak? Didn’t he give me my abilities?) to ah-ha moments like “thank you, now I fully understand why I am so fearful.”
The Bible study series from 2 Corinthians that God asked me to share this year was well received. I taught a total of 10 times, including the Sunday message at the First Assembly of God Church in Pestrovka. Yes, that had not been on my itinerary, for sure. But the “reviews” from the day before at another unscheduled opportunity at a newly formed rehab center in the town of Byzemchyk (a hour drive from Pestravka) prompted Pastor Sasha to invite me to share the teaching at his church. I recalled a “saying” I had heard somewhere in my past that as a believer, one should always “be ready to preach, pray, or die.” So, yes, I was ready and said yes, and presented (for the umpteenth time) part 2 of my Bible study called “Strong or Weak, which are you?” based on the story of Mephibosheth, 1 Corinthians 1:27 and 2 Corinth 12:9.
I had purposed to make this year’s Bible study as interactive as possible. I so wanted to hear from the people– to draw them in as participants rather than just listeners. Was God speaking through me? Or was I just babbling on in a foreign language and boring everyone to tears? Was anyone “getting it?” I wanted to know. Here’s what people said…
(a CrossRoads instructor): “I felt God’s rebuke (conviction) during this study, that I only go to Him when I feel unsuccessful and not when I feel life is going well for me.”
(a former addict in rehab): “I enjoyed knowing the background information about the letter to the Corinthians. I didn’t know any of it. And I also liked the comparison of the Beatitudes to one that our culture would compose. That made me realize many things about my perceptions.”
(an addict near the end of his rehab): “I felt that the story of Mephibosheth was like my own life story. God found me like David found Mephibosheth and wanted to restore everthing to him. But, like me, Mephibosheth had to choose to come to the palace. He could have run away. ”
(another addict in rehab): “During the object lesson with the rocks and water, I realized that my vessel is still filled with stones. I know there is “some” God in me as I have repented. I know Him. But this example showed me that I need to empty out my stone of pride and be filled with the Living Water.”
(another addict in rehab): “I understand now that human wisdom is insufficient. God’s Word is the true source of strength.”
(Maxim–the one who stayed in rehab because of my encouragement): “this teaching (on praying for the unsaved) really touched me. I realized why it is hard to reach my close people with the gospel. I will be praying now that God will show his glory through the way I live.”
(a woman in rehab who had a breakthrough during our visit): “THANK YOU! Now I know I am just pretending to be strong and your lessons and the stories revealed my pride and disobedience. My heart is being opened by admitting my weakness.”
(a home-group member): “I felt we have been coworkers with God during this study. The lessons were successful.”
(another home-group member): “Jeanette, you always shake us up–keeping us from getting too comfortable in our day-to-day lives. For a long time I haven’ t been reading the Bible, but since you came and taught us again, I am reading it. Thank you for coming.”
AND thank you all…dear friends, church family, blog readers…for praying for me as I brought the Word again to Russia. It did come with power…the treasure in my earthen vessel.