dependence

God Commends the Weak

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Did you know that in the book of Revelation, the church in Philadelphia was commended because it had “little strength"?

In our modern world that is a very strange basis for being commended. Modern society values strength. Our media driven culture beckons us to be men of steel and women of iron. The city in which I live heralds, for example, that we are “Baton Rouge Strong” and “Baton Rouge Proud.” God, however, says that it is the weak, those that have recognized their minimal strength who are to be commended. Why is that?

Let’s ponder Moses for example; he was a man of great strength. Raised in the court of Pharaoh to be a leader in the nation, he was trained to be a warrior. When he thought the time had come for him to deliver his people, he mustered all the strength he could and killed an Egyptian, but failed to rally the people around him and ran like a scared rabbit into the desert.

There, he spent the next 40 years tending sheep and growing weak. How do we know that? Because when God appeared to Him, to call Him to lead Israel into freedom, he bemoaned that he was not the kind of man God was looking for. Early in his life, Moses thought he was that man because he was strong, but now that he was weak he could not dream of being a leader. He thought himself a nothing and informed God that he could not speak very well. Ironically, the book of Acts tells us that Moses was the most eloquent man in all the earth!

So how are we to explain that? Some say that after spending 40 years with a bunch of sheep, any of us would speak b-a-a-a-a-d too! I don’t buy that. I believe that after his failure, Moses no longer trusted in his natural resources, he recognized that he was not up to the demand, which forced him to depend on God in a way he would never have without his failure. His failure opened his eyes to his true state of weakness so that he could then see the greatness of God that would be exercised by God on his behalf; transforming him into a man who received the strength of God!

Though this is a hard lesson for most of us to learn, it is one that we desperately need to understand. The Holy Spirit told Paul that when he was weak, then he would truly be strong because he would no longer be trusting in himself, but in God. This is why God would offer that “not so strange” commendation for those who have little strength. I want to hear that commendation, and I hope you do too, for it is the true path to the strength we desperately need to secure to live victoriously in this fallen world.

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How did Jesus do what He did?

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How was Jesus able to do what he did? He walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead? How was He able to do that?

Do not gloss over that question. It is a very important one because we are called to live the way He lived. Oh, not that we are to walk on water and raise the dead, but certainly in the other things He did like having compassion on the neglected outcast, loving His enemies, and being kind to others. How did He do that?

Most people answer because "He was God!" That, my friends, is a horrible answer. Think about it. If He was able to love the unlovely, and love His enemies because He was God, that means we are NEVER going to be able to live the way He lived - because He is God and we are not!

The real answer? He was able to what He did
because He lived constantly dependent on His Father.

John 6:57 says "I live out of, or from (Greek = ek) the Father. That is why Jesus said in John 5 "I can do nothing without the Father. That is why in John 14 Jesus said the works He did were really the works of the Father. 

  • When Jesus walked on the water, it was the Father walking on the water through Him.
  • When Jesus fed the 5,000 it was the Father feeding them through Him.
  • When Jesus loved the unlovely and His enemies, it was the Father loving them through Him.

Now, this is GOOD NEWS! Because Jesus also said in John 6, that just as He lives out of, or from the Father, now we, in turn, are to live "out of, or from (greek = ek) Him. 

We can live as He lived, loving the unlovely, loving our enemies, being kind and compassionate as we trust HIm to live His life through us. Fascinating, but just as Jesus said He can do nothing without the Father (John 5), He also said without Him we can do nothing (John 15). 

Listen, we do NOT imitate Jesus behavior. All that will offer others is cheap, human counterfeit. We imitate His method. Just as He lived dependently on HIs Father, so we are to live dependently on Him. This is how we will live as He lived. GLORY!

How Much Will God Give You?

There are many phrases that are often quoted in church, but not in the Bible: 

"Cleanliness, is next to godliness." That is a good one, cleanliness is important, but it has nothing to do with godliness. NOT IN THE BIBLE!

"God helps those who help themselves." A good call for a work ethic, but again NOT IN THE BIBLE!

"God will never give you more than YOU can handle." Sounds good, but again NOT IN THE BIBLE!

There is a verse in the Corinthian letters, that God will not allow you to be "tempted" beyond what "you" are able because "HE" will provide a way out... but that is talking about temptation, not the traumas of living in a fallen world (though the enemy can use those physical traumas to tempt us)...

The truth is that God will allow more than you can handle in this world in terms of physical trouble. In II Cor 1, Paul says that so much trouble had come into his life, that he was despairing of life. Can you imagine what would happen in our modern church with its health and wealth doctrines if Paul shared that in a testimony meeting? He would probably be rushed off the stage.

Paul had so much trauma in his life that he despaired of life, until he recognized, affirmed, and experienced in the present moment that God was allowing the experience of death in this fallen world to lead Paul to God, so that in faith Paul would experience at that very same moment the resurrection power of God!

Just to make sure we understand this, Paul repeated it again in II Cor. 4. Every day he said, he experiences death in this fallen world, that he might also experience the power of the resurrection life of Jesus that overwhelms his experience of death.

And again in II Cor. 12, Paul said it a third time, that God is on an agenda of making us weak (bringing to us more than we in our own strength can handle). Why would God do such a thing? So that when we look to Him in faith, we will find ----- NOT that our strength is sufficient, but that His is.

The truth is that God will allow into our lives MORE THAN WE CAN HANDLE, to expose to us our true state of utter and desperate weakness apart from Him. In this manifestation and revelation of our weakness, we are offered the provision of His strength.... and by faith we find Him to be God to us in ways that we never would have known before.

Knowing this profound promise of strength, and incredible experience of God, Paul then said, "bring on the afflictions"!!!

Can I paraphrase this dear man?

Though these "trauma times" in life may be more than I can handle, they are not more than God can handle, and through them, I come to know and experience God and the power of His very own glorious, resurrection LIFE in ways I never knew before...."