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.