Thursday, January 7, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about when weakness is strength. How can you be strong when you're weak? It seems like a complete oxymoron.
Thursday, January 7, 2021
2 Corinthians 12:8
2 Corinthians is probably one of the most neglected books of the New Testament. It's not really taught a lot and there are not many "good" verses in it. But it's Paul's most personal and vulnerable letter. He talks about all the different challenges he faced in dealing with the Corinthians. There were many accusations leveled against him: he wasn't an apostle, he was two- faced, etc, etc. In chapter 12, he talks about how he faced a problem in his life that made him so weak that he begged God to take it away. He called it a thorn in the flesh. We don't know what the thorn in the flesh was. It could have been a literal pain or a figurative expression. We don't know what it was, but it was so bad that Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:8, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.'" Three times Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away the weakness, whatever this thorn in the flesh was. But sometimes God is not going to take away the thorn in the flesh. Sometimes he's going to allow it to work in your life, so that in your weakness his power might show up.
How was Paul's weakness strength? Here's a hint. Paul goes on to say, "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Can you imagine going to a meeting at work and bragging about your weaknesses? Well, Paul is not bragging about his particular weaknesses, he's bragging about the fact that weaknesses do certain things. He says, I will more gladly boast about my weaknesses, for when I am weak, then I am strong. What does that mean? It seems like a contradiction. Let me give you a couple of words to fill in that will add more clarity. When you study this passage, Paul is fundamentally saying, when I am weak in myself, then I am strong in the Lord.
What's he saying? Weakness can be strength when your weaknesses are brought to the strong attention of God Almighty. Paul had all of these challenges, especially the thorn in the flesh. He had hardships, insults, everything you can imagine, but he was strong, because in his weakness he turned to the strong God. If you didn't have any weaknesses, you wouldn't turn to the strong guy. You would just kind of muddled in the middle, getting by but not thriving. When you're weak, you turn to God and His strength, and he lifts you up higher than you would have ever been on your own. God doesn't want you to muddle in the middle. He wants you to be strong. So, when you're weak, acknowledge it. Be humble about it, speak to it. Be open about it. You have to tell everybody in the world about every weakness in your life. Just be a humble person, admit to God that you're weak, and then let God's strength replace your weakness. When I am weak in myself, then I am strong in him.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
You have to understand your limitations. Why does God give you limitations?
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 11
So I want to talk to you about limitations. We all have limitations. Some of us have limitations in our education, or our intellect. Some of us have limitations because we've gone through bad experiences in our life, and they just limit our ability to trust or love. I don't know what your limitations are, but you have limits. Maybe you're just never going to be the visionary person, or you're never going to be the smile-all-the-time person, or you're never going to be this or that. You don't have to be any particular thing, but you have to understand your limitations. Why does God give you limitations? To fortify your faith, because faith is like a muscle. It must be strengthened and developed and fortified. Limitations will fortify your faith.
Where do I get that from? I get it from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 11 TLB. This is what Paul says, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed or broken. We are perplexed... but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.... Yes, we live under constant danger to our lives because we serve the Lord, but this gives us constant opportunities to show forth the power of Jesus Christ within our dying body." See that? Paul had limitations, but he wasn't broken or crushed. Limitations didn't let him give up or quit. What was Paul's limitation? People were after him because he was so on fire for Christ. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. He said, "Our bodies are dying." You can take all the supplements in the world. You can exercise until you're blue in the face, but your body is dying. And Paul says even though we have that limitation, the power of Jesus Christ is going to show forth. What's happening in Paul's life? Despite all these limitations, Paul's faith is being fortified. Your body is decaying. I mean, when you're younger it's getting stronger and healthier, but when you get to a certain age (which we usually expect to be about two years older than what we currently are) your body becomes weaker.
God wants to give you faith in those limitations. When you say, "I can't do this," God says, "Beautiful! I can." That's what Paul was essentially saying, "I can't change all these people who are after me. I can't change all these limitations in my life. But guess what? The one thing I can change is my faith in God through them all." And God gives us limitations to fortify our faith. What limitations are you staring in the face right now, nose to nose with? Fortify your faith, trust God with them. Go to God and say, "I know this is a limitation for me. But I know you can break through the limitation." God can help you through those limitations if you put your faith in him like Paul did in 2 Corinthians 4. Are you willing to put your faith in God through those limitations?
Let's pray. Father, I don't know what is limiting those watching this Life Lifter today. Whatever is limiting them, I pray that their faith would help them break through the limitation. We will always have limitations. But I pray, God, that through every limitation we face, our faith in you will be fortified and strengthened like it was for Paul. He knew he could only do so much, but that you would do the rest. We'll put our faith in you. So, whatever people are struggling with, give them faith to trust you help see them through the other side. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about weaknesses. Don't worry, I want to talk about weaknesses in a constructive way.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about weaknesses. Don't worry, I want to talk about weaknesses in a constructive way. God has given you weaknesses to develop your dependence. If God didn't give you any weaknesses, you wouldn't know that He can help you through them. You wouldn't depend on God like you do. By allowing us to have weaknesses, He calls us, or even forces us if need be, to depend on Him. Where do I get that from? I get it from the well-known passage, John 15:4-5. In it, Jesus is speaking and says, "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."
What was He teaching? Just like a branch can do nothing unless it has a vine it attaches to, we can do nothing without God. God gives you weaknesses to develop your dependence on Him. And the greatest thing you can do in life is develop your dependence on God, because He is a dependable God. And He wants to be the one that you acknowledge when you're weak. What weaknesses do you have? Do you struggle with bad habits? Have a temper? Are you independent, you like to do things by yourself? Has it been a while since you've been in church or read the Bible? Do you have trouble sitting still, or do you have trouble getting going? Whatever your weaknesses are, depend on God. That's what He wants to get out of you. He wants to develop dependence in you so that you depend on Him in your weaknesses.
We all have weaknesses. Nobody reading this can say, "I don't have any weaknesses." If you say you don't have any weaknesses, you just told me you have one, and it's lying, because you just lied. But God wants to use that to develop your dependence. You know what, when you're a little child, you hang on to your mom and dad's hand. My grandson, Brandon, who's nine and a half now is kind of getting out of holding my hand. Every now and then he'll hold my hand if nobody's looking. but he doesn't want me to hold his hand in front of his friends. And that's natural and understandable. But when he was really young, and he really needed a parent, he wanted to hold my hand. When Brandon was younger, sometimes even now when he's around strange people, he'll kind of come up and snuggle next to me and, and kind of have that confidence being near me. He thinks, "I want to depend on my grandfather, my Nono, because these are all strange people and I feel weak." God wants the same thing from us. That's why He's called our Heavenly Father. So wherever you're weak, develop your dependence on God. It's his plan.
Let's pray. Father, we all have weaknesses. Some of them have probably come to the forefront of our attention during this Life Lifters. I pray, God, that when we encounter weaknesses in our life that we would develop dependence on You. Like Jesus said, that we would be the branches that know that we cannot live unless we are attached to the vine. I pray that we would depend on You, God, as if our life depends on it, because it does. Help us to grow through our weaknesses, and to limit them and minimize them. We'll always have them, but help us to have victory over them. We asked this in the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Monday, January 4, 2021
I want to talk to you about why you have strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Why do you have strengths?
Monday, January 4, 2021
This week, I want to talk to you about why you have strengths, weaknesses and limitations. I want to focus on those three themes and help you understand them. If you understand why you have strengths, weaknesses and limitations, you're going to understand what God is doing in your life with each one of them. So today, I want to talk to you about strengths. God gives you strengths to cultivate your confidence. Your strengths are the things you do really, really well. You do them with ease, you do them with excellence, you do them with enthusiasm, with energy. People enjoy being around you when you use those strengths.
God gives you strengths to cultivate your confidence. Not your confidence in yourself, but your confidence in Him, because He gave you those strengths from birth. And then He supernaturally charged them when you became a Christian, if you are a Christian. I get that idea from Philippians 4:13, where it says, "I can do everything through Him who gives me the strength." So, God gives you that strength. And He does that to build confidence. See what is says, "I can do all things." Not, I can do all things period. But, I can do all things because I have confidence through Him who gives me the strength. He gives you the strength to do what you do. And you have certain strengths.
Some of you have certain strengths with people, or hospitality, administration, tasks, planning, vision casting, problem solving, etc. Whatever it is, God gives you strengths to build your confidence in Him, to assure you that you're walking hand in hand with Him. When we are not affirmed for our strengths, we can forget that we're walking with the all powerful God of heaven and earth. So, God gives you strengths to cultivate your confidence. You say, "Vince, I don't feel very confident today." Well, one of two things is at work: either you don't know your strengths, or you're not appreciating the strengths that you already know you have. Don't worry about what strengths you have. Just accept the strengths that God has given you, and work with them. The strengths God has given you are the exact strengths that He wants you to have and that you need. And when you are good at something and somebody thanks you, say, "I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength."
Then, you'll have more confidence. Not confidence in yourself, but confidence that God is in you and working through you, because He gave you those gifts. I hope you recognize your strengths. And then when you do, I hope they build confidence in the strength provider, Jesus Christ. Let's pray. Father, thank You so much, that You've given us all strengths. Some of us are strong in one area, or another area, but we're all strong in at least one or two or three areas. We thank You for that. You've given us the strengths, to build our confidence in You, our confidence that You are working in us. Help us to find our confidence because of Your work in us, through those strengths. Let us not find confidence in what the world does or doesn't say about us, but let us find confidence in our strengths, which are from You. And I asked this through Your strong name, Jesus Christ, amen.
I hope that helps you to realize that you are strong at something. You're a 10 out of 10 at something. Thank God for it, and build confidence often. Tomorrow I'll talk to you about weaknesses. Don't worry, it'll be good. Hope you'll join me!