“I am glad to boast about my weaknesses!” Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul: “Three times I begged the Lord to take (his thorn in the flesh) away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT 

Rediscovering this section of scripture this morning pierced my heart! Re-reading these words of Paul also reminds me of the incredible patience and mercy of the Lord. He knows how much patience and mercy are necessary in my life daily. Thank you, Lord.

How can I show strength in weakness, Lord? I ask. A man needs to be strong to face the world and its hardships and obstacles. Men have to show strength as an example to those they lead; their families and children. Men stand with shoulders squared, heads up and eyes fixed on the prize, the future, their success. It seems to me that weakness has no place in a man’s life.  

Then slowly, as a distant light becomes evident after a long, dark tunnel, I  realized that God’s weakness is not the same as man’s; that His weakness is stronger than man’s strength. And, finally—God’s weakness, the weakness described and displayed by the Apostle Paul, is far removed from the image we conjure up. 

2 Corinthians 13:4  “Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power.”

2 Corinthians 6:4. “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.”

Philippians 4:11-13 “ I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

The Apostle Paul learned an important secret; and that is trusting that God will provide as He sees fit. Paul learned how to be content with any circumstance. As we read Paul’s description of depending on God for everything, we may bristle a little at the idea of not taking care of everything ourselves. But how can we demonstrate our faith in the Lord, appearing weak to onlookers, without trusting in Christ? 

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” ~George Muller

Let Go!

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13 

Daniel was frustrated with his Christianity. He attended a huge church with about 12,000 members. Each Sunday service (three of them) had room for 3,000 people. In addition, there was a Saturday evening service.  

He had always loved to be around other believers as they shared their faith, sang songs of worship and shared meals. He loved songs of worship, praising God and this place had an orchestra and professional quality singers that rocked the house (if you found the music too loud, ear plugs were provided)! 

Over the past several months Daniel realized his experience in this church was not feeding his spirit, it was massaging his flesh, attempting to make him feel good and entertain him. It was empty of substance. It had become Jesus Light…using the Bible as their source yet glossing over any challenging texts. God loves you was the theme but how did that play out in real life?  

Sharing his feelings with a Christian friend, his friend replied, “God holds you accountable for your actions, not your church. If you aren’t getting fed at church, feed yourself and and meet with just a few like-minded Christians. The Bible is a self-study book, Dan. The Spirit of God has given us all we need for a walk with the Lord. He wants to use us but we have to do something. There’s nothing new about ineffective churches or people. For that matter, there’s nothing new about complaining instead of doing something about your situation. You and I can be church if that’s what you need for now. There are no limits with God.” 

Phil. 4:10-13  In my life in union with the Lord it is a great joy to me that after so long a time you once more had the chance of showing that you care for me. I don’t mean that you had stopped caring for me—you just had no chance to show it. 11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. 13 I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. GNT 

Eph. 3:16-21  I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, 17 and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, 18 so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. 19 Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. 20 To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of:21 to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen.  GNT 

2 Cor. 12:7-10  So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. NLT 

And then Daniel saw it, the light shining through the darkness, penetrating into his heart; God is all about love but His love is powerful, even confrontational at times, so we can walk with Him, proclaiming that love. God’s love contains elements necessary to purify us, to heat up the cauldron so the dross may be scraped off the top, rather than a gentle warming of the pot of our lives which does not separate us from the world. 

We despise weakness and loss of control but those are qualities in us that God values most. Like the man who got too close to the edge of the cliff and fell off. Plummeting down he managed to grasp a bush protruding out. He called out to God and God answered him. The man was relieved and said, “Help me!” God said, “Let go.” After a pause the man replied, “Is there anyone else up there?” 

1 John 4:7-10  Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 

And that is it…through Him, all things are possible in our lives, but these are not necessarily things of pleasure and comfort, they are things of sacrifice and servanthood, things of humility and sacrificial love—as He loved us. 

Reject Fear!

Again and again Jesus stated that fear is the enemy of life. “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Luke 8:50). “Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Fear breeds a deadening caution, a holding back, a stagnant waiting until people  no longer can recall what they are waiting for or saving themselves for. When we fear failure more than we love life, when we are dominated by thoughts of what we might have been rather than by thoughts of what we might become, when we are haunted by the disparity between our ideal self and our real self, when we are tormented by guilt, shame, remorse, and self-condemnation, we deny our faith in the God of love. When God calls us to break camp, abandon the comfort and security of the status quo, and embark in perilous freedom on the journey to a new Canaan, and we procrastinate out of fear, this represents not only a decision to remain in Haran, but also a lack of trust. 

 From the book, The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning, page 20