Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

13. The Paradox of Power – Part 1

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2 Corinthians 12:1-10

This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. 3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know 4 that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. 5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. 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.

A work crew had been working at a construction site for about a week when the head of the company hired a new man. He was a broad-shouldered, strong and powerful young man who while a good worker also had an annoying problem. He was prideful was often engaged in bragging about how he was stronger than everyone else. One day one of the older workers called him out saying “Sonny, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is. I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that out building that you won’t be able to wheel back.” This prideful punk smiled and said, “I’ll take that bet you’re on old man, let’s see what you got.” The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles, then, nodding to the young man, he said, “All right, get in.” That young man typifies much of how the world thinks about life. The world believes that power, wealth, and position are all you need to get ahead in this life. This world lives by the code of the survival of the fittest, that the man with the most might and the most money will always win. It has been said, “The battle isn’t always to the strong, nor the race to the swift, but that’s the way to bet.” That is until you get to the Bible. Because when you open up the pages of God’s Word everything changes. Scripture redefines our definition of strength. Because time after time what you find in the Bible is the little guy beating the big guy. The weak not just showing up but cleaning up. There is the story of Moses walking into the court of the most powerful ruler of the day and his only weapon is a walking stick. Then there is that inexperienced leader named Gideon facing off against 1000s upon 1000s of ruthless warriors with an army of only 300 men. An army that God had reduced from over 30,000 to only 300. What about the story of the young shepherd boy named David who slew the Giant Goliath with nothing more than a sling and a stone. Again, and again Scripture redefines strength and we see the little guy beating the big guy. When it comes to God, man’s might, his money, power, and position mean nothing. We all love that moment in movies when the good guy is faced with a gang of evildoers who ask him, “So what are you going to do now, smart guy?” And the hero smiles and calmly replies: “You better go get a couple more guys to make this fight even.” That’s the story line of scripture. While the bad guys swagger out against God’s people and brag that they’re going to destroy them God simply smiles and says: “You better go get yourself a couple more armies and make this a fair fight.” The perfect picture of this is found in 2 Chronicles 32 where we are told about Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, who comes sweeping down out of the north with his powerful army. Here is a king who has defeated nation after nation and now comes knocking on the door of Jerusalem, surrounding the city, intending to bring them to their knees. In 2 Chronicles 32:14-15 he sends this taunting message through his officers: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand! Who of all the gods of these nations that my fathers destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand?” God’s response is simple, He just smiles and sends a single angel to do battle. Before the night is over 185,000 of Sennacherib’s best soldiers lay dead on the ground.  Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace and his own sons assassinated him when he went into his temple to worship. What appeared to be power turned out to be puny. No matter how weak things are we need to remember that our strength does not lay in self it lays in the Savior the one who can make a way where there is no way. As Romans 8:31 reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” It’s here in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that Paul reminds us that because of God there is power in the puny things, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”… and then Paul concludes “when I am weak, then I am strong” We sing about this strength in the great old gospel song, “Just a closer walk with Thee” which says, “I am weak but thou art strong, keep me Jesus from all wrong I’ll be satisfied as long, as I walk, let me walk close to thee.” Paul reminds us that the power comes from being close to Jesus. Weakness causes us to walk with and become dependent on God’s power. There is power to be found in living close to God. The truth that I am weak forces me not only to face the facts but to do something I wouldn’t do if I were strong. It forces me to not just walk close to Jesus but to cling to Christ. My strength in life comes from walking close to Jesus. Just as Philippians 4:13 promises us: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When we are walking with Him we are granted access to God’s strength, His power and His ability to deal with the difficulties of this life. Are you walking in your strength or are you plugging into God’s power? Why are we weak today, because we are walking alone instead of walking with the Almighty. Strength comes not from striving but from resting and rely on God. So who is the source of your strength self or the Savior?

 

 

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