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Three Lessons of Weakness

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Three Lessons of Weakness
  • Weakness exposes our self-reliance. Before we experience an obvious weakness, a part of us thinks we are doing well because we are good; we’re strong. After we’ve had the wind knocked out of our lungs we begin to realize how weak we are apart from Christ.

 

  • Weakness draws us closer to God. Look at Peter’s before and after the cross experience. Before the cross Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

 

  • Weakness makes us more authentic. Before we know just how weak we are apart from Christ, we live like pretenders. After the experience of weakness we know who we are. We are more authentic, more human.

I too have come to realize weakness is a gift from God!

 

Weakness Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

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Weakness Is Actually Part of God’s Plan

If we never experienced any pain, never missed the mark, never experienced any kind of suffering, could we actually grow?

God actually used weakness to complete the work He wanted to do in Jesus through the things He suffered. This is why Peter and the disciples told Jesus He was not to go to Jerusalem, suffer and die. Weakness could not be the plan of God.

Jesus you are all powerful. Jesus you have all authority in heaven and earth. It didn’t make sense that you, of all people, should suffer.

But God chose the pathway of weakness to finish His work in Jesus. “Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, but we see him crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death. Through God’s kindness he died on behalf of everyone.”[1]

The Apostle Paul was a man of faith and power. Once he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14) but got up like nothing happened and he went on. Another time he was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake and merely shook it off. Paul prayed over dead people and they came back to life. Through his faith he saw amazing miracles happen again and again.

Paul experienced visions and deeply spiritual revelations. He even described them in 2 Corinthians 12, and wrote about them in the third person as if he was writing about someone else’s experience!

“I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago. I don’t know if his body was taken up or not. Only God knows. I don’t know if that man was in his body or out of it. Only God knows. But I do know that – he was taken up to paradise. He heard things that couldn’t be put into words. They were things that people aren’t allowed to talk about.”[2]

As wonderful and amazing as those experiences were, Paul discovered that they were not what caused him to grow the most. In fact, these spiritual experiences had the potential to harm Paul, to become a stumbling block through spiritual pride.

So God chose to weaken Paul in order to keep him grounded.

During that season of weakness Paul made an amazing discovery. The pathway to power was through weakness. The more he embraced his own weakness the more he leaned into God’s power.

Paul writes; “I could have become proud of myself because of the amazing and wonderful things God has shown me. So I was given a problem that caused pain in my body. It is a messenger from Satan to make me suffer. Three times I begged the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.’ So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ’s power can rest on me. Because of how I suffered for Christ, I’m glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me. I am glad when things are difficult. And I am glad when people make me suffer. When I am weak, I am strong.”[3]

Weakness is actually a part of God’s plan.

 

[1] Hebrews 2:9 GW

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 GW

[3] 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 GW

It Is Written – A Life Built on God’s Word

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It Is Written – A Life Built on God’s Word

Imagine a soldier’s battlefield uniform as you read about the spiritual armor we have been given as believers in Ephesians 6.

So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt. Put on God’s approval as your breastplate. Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace. In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Also take salvation as your helmet and God’s word as the sword that the Spirit supplies.[1]

Christians who don’t build their life on the Word of God are like soldiers who go into battle without a gun! They can have the best body armor in the world, but if they don’t have a gun they can only hide from the enemy, they can never defeat him.

Our theme for the next series of blogs comes from the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness found in Luke 4 and Matthew 4.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days, he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”[2]

A Christian will only remain a Christian by staying connected to the Word of God. It’s really that simple.

I read an article published at the end of 2017 about Tony Campolo’s son Bart: “The Evangelical Who Stopped Believing.” Bart is now a rising star of atheism. There came a point in Bart’s life when the Word of God became unimportant to him. Doubt began to grow and his faith in God began to die.

Jesus said, “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.”[3]

The Bible infuses us with strength and empowers us to fight the good fight of faith. Without it, we lose. We must stay connected to the Word of God.

To listen to this entire message via podcast, click here.

[1] Ephesians 6:14-17 GW

[2] Luke 4:1-4 NIV

[3] John 15:7-8 NLT

Protection: Growing in Strength

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Protection:  Growing in Strength

The day of evil may also be a season of high temptation. When we are tempted we always think we’re weak. We are weak, but God uses our weakness along with Satan’s temptations to strengthen us.

Jesus said, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”[1]

What did He mean by that? Be very aware of your weakness. Know the point of your temptation. And then pray: “God keep me from my own weaknesses and deliver me from the temptation of the evil one.”

The Apostle Peter knew all about temptation, failure, and restoration. In his letter in First Peter he said, “Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow. Stand up to him. Stand firm in what you believe. You know that all over the world your brothers and sisters are going through the very same kind of suffering.”[2]

Peter normalized the battle. Our battles are not unusual.

How do we stand up to the devil and stand firm in what we believe?

The Apostle Paul wrote a user manual for spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6. He makes it so clear it ought to be a small book that comes in a yellow binder and entitled “Spiritual Warfare for Dummies!”

“Finally, receive your power from the Lord and from his mighty strength.”[3] The best safeguard against evil is to lean into God’s power and never attempt to win the battle in our own strength!

“Put on all the armor that God supplies.”[4]

The key word in that sentence is the word ALL. God has given us very powerful weapons to fight our spiritual battles with, but we must be careful to not leave out a single one. The rest of that verse says, In this way you can take a stand against the devil’s strategies.”[5]

Listen to the complete message here. 

 

[1] Matthew 6:13 KJV

[2] 1 Peter 5:8-9 NIRV

[3] Ephesians 6:10 GW

[4] Ephesians 6:11a GW

[5] Ephesians 6:11b GW

The Peace You Need

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The Peace You Need

Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters. Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence. Then he will give you a high position (James 4:8-10 GW).

The peace you need is found in prayer.

Scrooge said, “Speak peace to me, Marley.”

Have you ever looked to others, or even to entertainment to lift you up when you’re feeling down? I’ve watched a little Andy Griffith and laughed to feel better.

When we learn to process in prayer with God, we won’t need someone else to lift us up. We can go to our prayer closet and pour out to God all this stuff that rest within us. If you feel rejected, pour out your misery to God.

War is settled in the prayer room.

If you’re really in the storm right now, remember your fight is not with flesh and blood. You can encounter negative attitudes that are warlike. A spirit of war comes behind that.

I pray that God will give you peace as you release whatever you’re dealing with. Take authority over the spirit of division. May you feel powerful instead of powerless. God is with you. May Jesus protect you and give you peace.

 

Tie Your Heart to God

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Tie Your Heart to God

Prayer is not a religious duty, but a privilege with transformational power; something I’m invited to do. It’s not about form, but simply expressing your thoughts, feelings, fears and concerns to God. You name it—you can bring it to God.

Our world has never had peace. Throughout our history we’ve experienced war, conflict and turmoil. James 4:1-3 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you? You want what you don’t have, so you commit murder. You’re determined to have things, but you can’t get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them. When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure.”[1]

Last year we saw 424 registered known conflicts throughout the world. Some were within countries—countrymen against countrymen. If you’ve been on a few missions trips outside the U.S., there is always someone that country is worried about causing unrest or conflict.

Life is hard; why struggle with each other?

War broke out in heaven. Satan rose up and said, “I could do it better if I were God. One-third of the angels joined his revolt. (That was the first church split.) We’ve had relationship conflicts ever since. Absalom said the same thing about His father, King David. “If I were king….”

There is a constant battle through relationship. And it’s important to realize that behind every conflict is the spirit of war. The enemy wants to divide us. He wants to break up nations through civil war; He desires to split people groups with the thought that one is better than the other.

Sometimes it’s simply—they have stuff and I want it. The conquistadors heard of gold in South America. At the end of last year, they found the San Jose. It is believed to have more than 1 billion dollars in coins on board, not the mention the jewels. Spain said, “We want our stuff back!”

As Kingdom people, we need to remember that this world is passing away. Losing our peace is not worth getting worked up over.

Tie your heart to God, not to things.

Mark 11:23 says, “I can guarantee this truth: This is what will be done for someone who doesn’t doubt but believes what he says will happen.” When you find yourself in conflict, ask yourself, “What is driving this conflict. What is it that I’m not getting?”

Our wants are satisfied when we pray and desire His will above all else.

[1] GW

The Bible—Wisdom Beyond Our Years

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The Bible—Wisdom Beyond Our Years

The Psalmist wrote:

Oh, how I love Your law!

It is my meditation all the day.

You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;

For they are ever with me.

I have more understanding than all my teachers,

For Your testimonies are my meditation.

I understand more than the ancients,

Because I keep Your precepts.[1]

The Bible gives us a wisdom that transcends this world. My dad is a great example of this. Born Amish, they don’t believe in education beyond eight grade or so. They believe the basics is all you need because you’re going to spend your life working the farm. But my father received Christ and God called him into ministry. He loved to read and taught himself. God’s wisdom taught him everything he needed to serve in ministry. Many people have told me he was one of the greatest pastors and Bible teachers. His knowledge of the Word came straight from Heaven.

Paul told Timothy about the effect God’s Word’s would have on his life. “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

 

[1] Psalm 119:9-100 NKJV

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