One of the biggest things that I have admired all my life, even before I became a Christian is obvious weakness in people, and the Bible tells us that God admires this attribute also. I grew up with a friend Jamie who contacted polio at 3 months of age resulting in total paralysis below the middle of his chest and on down to his toes. Since his disability occurred at such an early age, his legs looked underdeveloped, shriveled and useless in contrast to his strong upper body. And yet with braces to straighten his legs at the knees, he walked effortlessly with crutches by swinging his lower extremities in front of him. Though his legs were paralyzed and weak without a single working muscle. My friend was a strong person. He passed away a few years ago and was eulogized as a man of inner strength. I also admired his strength. Likewise, as we will see God delights in our weaknesses, for when his power is in us we are made perfect.
If you have a Bible, would you please turn to Second Corinthians 12, Verse 7, and see how Paul boasts, in his weakness? Again, Second Corinthians 12, Verses 7 through 10. First, to go back a little before we read these Verses, the apostle was given a red vision of heaven. The things that he witnessed were glorious. He heard inexpressible things -
Starting with Verse 7, it says, "To keep me from becoming conceited, because of these passing things, great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. 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."
Instead of complaining about his disability Paul understood. He says, "when I am weak, than I am strong." The Lord says my grace is sufficient for you. Is he saying that his grace is enough, as though he does not care about us? Is he some God and way up there in the sky who cannot relate to us?
Or, is the Lord saying that his grace, once we grasp it, is sufficient and far more than we can ever hope or imagine? The answer is having a right perspective. The bible says, that we were all God's enemies. I know for myself that before I asked him into my heart 34 years ago, I used to think that God was only for sissies. I thought that, Jesus Christ was simply another historical figure like Abraham Lincoln who I could not relate to. I was really his enemy and yet, he somehow loved me even when I could have cared less about him. Many of you know what I am talking about. Especially, before we came to know him we offended God the all mighty countless of times. If he wanted to, he could have blown us up in bits, and then sent us to hell. But, he had grace and mercy on us.
Romans 5, Verse 8 says that God demonstrates his own love for us in this. It says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We take it for granted. He did not have to die for us, but he chose to. The Second chapter of Ephesians says it the best, so would you please turn there?
Again, Epheians 2, beginning with the first Verse. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world, and of the ruler of the kingdom and of the air." Who is the spirit now at work in those? Who are disobedient? All of us also lived among them at one time. We are gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature, objects of his wrath. How many can relate? When we were out there in the world, we did some terrible disgusting things. We were headed straight towards Hell. Mainly, because we did not take God seriously. Verse 4 is my favorite part and the good news. It says, "Because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ and dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved."
We deserved the torments of hell. But, because of God's great love, we have been saved by grace. We were once dead but now, we are alive! Hallelujah! It gets even better! Verse 6, and 7, says, "…and God raised us with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms." In Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the in comparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
We were less than nothing; but now because of God's grace, we are more than something! Else where in the bible, it speaks about us being coheirs with Christ and being in the loyal priesthood. All this is because of God's great grace. Verse 8, says, "…for it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves." It is the gift of God not by works, so no one can boast.
So, we can say like Paul that God's grace is indeed sufficient. It is more than enough! Having the right perspective, we really mean it when we say the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. It is because of this grace that we grow to be intimate close friends with the Lord. We are so grateful to him. We have a relationship with him instead of a religion. Jesus says "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness." The power that the Lord is talking about is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is what, the apostles were waiting for after Jesus ascended into heaven.
Act one, Verse 8, says, "…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." And in John, 14, Verse 12, Jesus tells his disciples, "I tell you the truth. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the father."
Sometimes, Christians today get all carried away in the wrong way with this Verse. They think, ooh! Ah! I am ready to move mountains! I can heal people! While it is true that we have this much power available to us through the Holy Spirit, it requires our relationship with the Lord to be close and intimate as a prerequisite. It is impossible to put gasoline in a car without stopping at a gas station, isn't it?
So likewise we need to spend time with the Lord everyday until our thoughts become his thoughts and our ways become his ways. It is not automatic, if we never spend time with him personally. It requires self-
If you spend a quiet time in the morning the Lord will speak to you. For an example: about a situation that will happen later in the day, and you will know exactly how to handle it. You will be able to move mountains! We need to be filled with his spirit. And, just as John the Baptist prayed; we need to decrease so that the Lord might increase, for the Lord's power to be made perfect. It is like what we have been talking about, in Second Corinthians 12. He has to use vessels that are weak. Paul boasts in his weaknesses so the Lord can be strong. I love a passage in First Corinthians 1, so would you please turn there to Verse 26? Again, First Corinthians, chapter one, beginning with Verse 26.
"Brothers think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential not many were of noble birth." This sounds like most of us: common everyday people. I especially love the next part, starting in Verse 27. "…But God chose the foolish things of the worlds to shame the wise." God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things and the despised things that are not to nullify the things that are so that; no one can boast before him.
These Verses are very special to me because I have felt all of these things foolish, weak, lowly and despised. I don't blame them, but most people when they first see me don't know what to think of me. This was especially true when I did not have this communication device. People I knew thought that I could not think or hear as they shouted at me!
"Hello! How, are, you, today" they would yell slowly. Sometimes, I would like to say "Please! Don't shout! My brain is not paralyzed!" I could sense their pity and their awkward feelings in their greetings or farewells. As I said though I did not blame them. If I were them, I would wonder about me too especially with the funny looking pointer on my head!
It is natural to wonder. Sometimes, Pastor Jack Little asked me to share at my old church Grace Chapter in Ocean Side, California, and I love that especially. Most of the people there cared about me but never thought of me other than a man in a wheelchair. So when I speak now from the pulpit, their minds are boggled and jarred. I love it! Tripping them out is so much fun! God chose the foolish things of this world to confound and shame the wise. I don't mind being foolish for Christ's sake. I remember very well a conversation that my mother, and I had often times after I accepted the Lord 34 years ago. She said that, if I was normal without my cerebral palsy, I might have led a sinful life taking me straight to hell. I knew that my mom was right because I could not have withstood peer pressure.
Before becoming a Christian, I was pretty mischievous, but I physically could not do all the things that I wanted to do. I could not even hold a cigarette in my mouth without biting it into half! Smoking was the least that I wanted to do, but I could not even do that. I knew that my life would have ended in destruction and being tormented awfully afterwards. So, it is God's grace that I was born with cerebral palsy. Besides being in this chair has not been so bad at all. You walk from point A to point B with your legs, and I do it with my wheels. It is no biggy! No biggy because my strength is in Jesus Christ and I walk in the fullness and the power of the Holy Spirit!
Are you week and heavy laden this morning? Does life circumstances seem, out of control? Are you just about to give up? If so, I have great news for you. The Lord has you there so he can use you too the fullest extent. For Christ's power is resting on you like our passage says in Second Corinthians 12, the last part, of Verse 9. It says again, "therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on you". His power is hovering above you and is abiding in you, if he is give permission to take control. No, you don't have to become disabled. Just surrender your life to him. Instead of complaining and constantly pleading with the Lord to take the thorn away from you, how about asking him to speak to you about how to use your thorn to his glory? Who knows? You might be walking on a gold mine and not know it.
It is good to ask for things in prayer, but remember the Lord is not deaf and his mind is certainly not paralyzed. He is strong and mighty as a lion! He is attentive to our prayers. So, contrary to the thinking of today's society weakness is good, so that the Lord can work in our lives. It is like my friend, Jamie's inability to walk without his leg braces. If they accidentally became unlocked at the knees, he would immediately collapse to the ground!
I have other friends who have a difficult time in raising their hands due to a disability, but I see them do this when they get caught up in worshiping the Lord. Seeing their hands raised is one of the most beautiful things to see on earth. The beauty of physical weakness for me has transferred itself in an appreciation of spiritual weakness. I had a pastor about 15 years ago who told his congregation that if you feel like you can do an act of service, by trusting in your own talents and abilities it is probably not from God. But, if you are hearing to do something, that is way beyond your natural talents and abilities leaving you to feel inadequate, then God probably is wanting you to do it totally relying on his strength. The pastor was wise. Our strength must be in the Lord.
For without him, we will collapse and can do nothing. He is waiting for when we say "I can't do it". Only then at our weakest moment, he is ready to take over and is the strongest! How many here can testify to this? Paul knew this fact from experience too. This is why he said in Verse 10, "I delight in weaknesses. For, when I am weak then I am strong".
Would you please join me in prayer? Lord Jesus, I praise and thank you for letting me give your word today. I pray that these your dear people don't see a man in a wheelchair, but that they would see your mighty hand of strength and power! It is awesome for me to think that you are using me, who cannot even get out of bed to spread your word at the start of this revival in the last days.
Lord, we rejoice in your grace that we are even here. Your grace is sufficient and is more than enough. By your grace, God, show us all the areas where you want us to let go so you can take over with your power. We surrender our lives to you for only with you we are strong. Amen! Now, in being an evangelist I wonder if there is anyone here that would like to give his or her life to Jesus? You are tired of being strong in yourself and would like to ask the Lord to be in your life to make you strong. Who would like to do that? Raise your hand or speak out, shout or do whatever to confess it, so that it will become real to you. Or, you have known the Lord for some time, but you want the power from above that comes from you being weak. Now, you want to give up so he can be strong.
If this is you, raise your hand, or speak out, or shout, or do whatever to confess it in the mighty name of Jesus! The Lord blesses you, and let ministry time continue, especially for those that want to surrender to him. May you have a great day in the power of our Lord
Praise God! I know that I am accepted just as I am now with my wheelchair and everything! But there was a time in my Christian immaturity that I strove hard to be healed just to be accepted by the church. My motivation was wrong with also the Christians who prayed for god to heal me. When the healing did not come, I believed Satan lied in that the trouble was that, I must not have had enough faith.
I did not take into account, god's sovereignty, and his perfect time, for everything! Our Verse in Micah 4, 6, fit in that plan. In that day, declares the lord, "I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame, a remnant, those driven away and a strong nation."
We need to wait patiently on the lord and accept everyone regardless of what they look like. We need to discover again the beauty and the gifts he gives us. The disabled who have been forgotten are very dear to god and we need to embrace them.
Jesus said in Matthew 14, Verse 13, "But when you give a banquet, Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed." Verse 14 goes on to say.
God delights in weaknesses, for his power, in us, is made perfect. I love the passage, in First Corinthians 1, so would you please turn there to Verse 26? "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential: not many were of noble birth."
This sounds like most of us: common everyday people. I especially love the next part, starting in Verse 27. "But god chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; god chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things and the despised things that are not to nullify; the things that are so that no one can boast before him."
These verses are very special to me because I have felt all of these things, foolish, weak, lowly, and despised. I don't blame them but most people when they first see me don't know what to think of me. This was especially true when I did not have this communication device. People I knew thought that I could not think or hear as they shouted at me!
Hello! How, are, you, today? They would yell slowly. Sometimes, I would like to say, please! Don't shout! My brain, is not paralyzed!
I could sense their pity and their awkward feelings in their greetings or farewells. As I said though, I did not blame them. If I were them, I would wonder about me too, especially with the funny looking pointer on my head! It is natural to wonder.
Sometimes, Pastor Jack Little asked me to share at my church Grace Chapel Of the Coast in Carlsbad, and I love that especially. Most of the people there cared about me but never thought of me, "the other than a man in a wheel chair." So when I speak now from the pulpit, their minds are boggled and jarred. I love it! Tripping them out is so much fun!
God chose the foolish things, the lowly things, the despised things of this world to confound, shame and the wise. I don't mind being foolish for Christ's sake. Our scripture in Micah says, that he will gather me, and make me a remnant,when it is all done with!
Our scripture in Micah says, that he will gather me and make me a remnant when it is all done with! He uses vessels that are weak. Paul boasts in his weaknesses, so the Lord can be strong. We need to discover again the beauty of weakness. It was thrown out with the baby, and the bath water at some of our crazy theologies.
Would you please turn there turn to Second Corinthians 12, Verse 7 and see how Paul boasts in his weakness? Again, Second Corinthians 12, Verses 7, through 10
First, to go back a little before we read these verse. "The apostle was given a rad vision of heaven. The things that he witnessed was glorious. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. It blew his mind. But, as we will see he was given some kind of disability to keep his eyes on the lord."
Starting with Verse 7. "It says to keep me from becoming conceited because of these slur surpassingly, great revelations, there was given me, a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. 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."
Therefore, I will boast all more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in my weakness, in insults, in hardships in persecutions, in difficulties. For, when I am weak then I am strong. Paul says in Verse 8, times I pleaded with the lord to take it from me.
Notice that he pleaded only three times. I know that I pleaded much more than three times. I lost count but it must be in the hundreds with everybody praying, that my cerebral palsy would go. We confessed, we yelled, we fasted and we did everything!
But now I know that gods timing isn't mine. I also know that he heard my pleas with the hundreds of others around me! He was not deaf but he had a much better plan.
Instead of complaining about his disability whatever it was Paul understood and he was content. He says, "When I am weak, then I am strong." I have learned to be content with my circumstances and know that he is using me, in my weakness, just as I am. The church, however, needs to learn this lesson, also and appreciate the beauty of weaknesses.
I don't know how many times that Irene, and I have been to church services when god touched our hearts to respond to an alter call. He shows us things on our hearts, like anger and resentments that we desperately need to get rid of. But instead of praying for the issues in our heart the people who pray for us, they see our wheelchairs and disability and ask god to deliver us from our afflictions. We go home from church more angry and in a worse condition.
But I have good news for you! God is ready to bring a harvest! God will wake up the church, so that the disabled will feel accepted, so that Micah 4 can be fulfilled.
Power Through Weakness