Wednesday, April 28, 2010

True Strength Through Weakness

I have written several blog posts about Dr. David Jeremiah's sermons, books, and devotionals. If you have not started to receive the free monthly devotional, I urge you to go to Dr. David and sign up for the monthly magazine. The writings each month are awesome! The articles are biblically based, Jesus centered, and wisdom filled! During this time of trials and tribulation on earth, we need to stay focused on the promises of Jesus and what he informs us about via the Bible. It is most important for us to do what is required of us, as faithful Christian believers, who belong to our Savior, Lord, and King, Jesus Christ.

In the May issue entitled, "The Unlikely," we read about people in the Bible who were humbled and called to do God's work; despite the fact that people who lived during that time might have seen those called as obscure and unlikely heroes. What is amazing is to realize that some who were called were previously mean, crude, selfish, and violent people! For example. The Apostle Paul was previously a persecutor of Christians. When he was humbled and temporarily blinded after his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, we read about his 180 degree transformation!

Dr. Jeremiah emphasizes that God doesn't measure people as we do. He states, "We forget that God isn't looking for the famous but for the faithful."

Another way to look at this is to realize that men look to the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart.

As human beings made in God's image and likeness, we WANT to leave a mark on this earth. We want to achieve significance in life. When we are born again in Christ, we desire to be used by God in a great way.

Dr. Jeremiah writes:

He's (God) not impressed with degrees or with stars on a so-called "walk of fame." Nor does He need perfect people, just those willing to be servants.

I think that is the key! A genuine born-again Christian who loves Jesus Christ desires to be a servant for Him - not famous in front of others. This requires us to go against the grain of people who are only living "in the world," but do not follow Christ. Their focus is on other things (especially themselves) and not on what Jesus commanded of all believers - to share the Gospel to an unbelieving, sinful, skeptic, harsh, hateful, and selfish world. Jesus warned us that we would be hated because the world hated Him first.

The apostle Paul told the Corinthians: "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

According to 1 Timothy 1:15, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. We are all members of that group! "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Therefore, no one can boast for what they have done on this earth. NOTHING compares - in fact - all else pales in comparison to what Jesus Christ achieved for our salvation at the cross of Calvary. This is exactly the reason why none can boast!

One of the most powerful essays in the May Turning Points devotional booklet is the one entitled, "Last in Line...and Other Unlikely Strengths."

Dr. Jeremiah starts the essay describing why some people love to watch the show "Survivor" while others don't. I must admit, I'm in the "I don't watch it" category! The few times that I have happened to see small portions of it, I didn't like it. I wasn't quite sure why I felt that way, but this essay helped explain it for me.

Dr. Jeremiah shared that the shows motto - "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" - is not only about friendly competition.

He goes on to describe what goes on in the show - the physical challenges and hardships, the weird food consumed, etc. He writes:

But I don't think those are the main reasons people who love the show watch, and those who don't like it don't watch. It's the way the show's motto is fulfilled by the contestants. It's the strategies and alliance, the wheeling and dealing, the deceiving and double-crossing the contestants employ in their efforts to eliminate their competitors and claim the cash at the end of the show's season.

In other words, shows like Survivor and Big Brother provide the perfect settings for displaying how modern culture views strength: Use any method at your disposal to get to the top of the heap and grab the gold ring. Strength is not about moral or spiritual superiority, it is about superiority at any cost. It is about using anything at one's disposal, including other people, to achieve a stated goal.

I don't even know how long "Survivor" has been on T.V. However, since we now have a Marxist leader and gangster government in power, the reality show fantasy has now become a scary reality to millions of people who have been protesting and rejecting the out-of-control spending and government takeover of the private sector. They worry about the deficit and the huge power grab of money and wealth that big government is confiscating - all against the will of We The People. If I was a fan of "Survivor" in the past, I certainly wouldn't be one now! The fantasy land of T.V. shows has become a very unfortunate reality. It is scary to see our liberty, freedoms, homeland security, friendships with allies (especially Israel) wealth, and prosperity disappear right before our very eyes! It is getting worse day by day.

I know that many Christians don't agree with Glenn Beck - either for political, social, or religious reasons. However, I think that he is correct to promote non-violence, yet encourage those who are awake to the horrid schemes of this administration to hammer away at the anvil of truth. To do otherwise would be to shirk our Christian duty as Citizens of this great country!

Some Christian friends of mine don't think that Obama and his cohorts are a grave danger to our nation. So be it! They can believe what they want. But I would challenge them to notice the harm being done by this man ever since he took office.

Personally, the first reason that I objected to Obama as a candidate was his pro-abortion position. We all know that the "choice" crowd has no tolerance for the pro-life position. The day I saw Ms. Jehmu Greene being interviewed about the abortion issue on the Fox News Channel, I was shocked at how she deliberately and nastily disparaged pro-lifers while heralding her "pro-choice" position as "good." It made me sick to my stomach! I thought, how could this woman be so blinded by her own progressive ideology?

Contrast Ms. Jehmu Greene's attitude with the late Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta, India. Dr. Jeremiah writes:

[She] stood before the most powerful men and women in Washington, D.C. at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. She pointed out how strength can be misused and illustrated biblical strength, both in the same speech. There could not be a more apt manifestation of weakness - in the world's eyes - than Mother Teresa, given her tiny stature. So tiny that she could barely be seen behind the podium, Mother Teresa shocked the gathered crowd by telling them, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." (italics added).

One of the "weakest" women in the world humbled a room filled with some of the "strongest" people in the world with nothing more than truth backed up by a life of spiritual strength and integrity. The contrast between spiritual strength and worldly strength could not have been more pronounced than it was that day.

Recall when Obama was asked by Pastor Rick Warren on national T.V., "when does life begin?" Obama sarcastically replied, "that's above my pay grade."

I would have LOVED to see Obama's reaction to Mother Teresa's comments at that 1994 prayer breakfast!

Dr. Jeremiah:

When we use "any violence" - physical, emotional, interpersonal, financial, moral - to get what we want, we have resorted to using strength according to the world rather than according to the Word. Not surprisingly, strength is a paradox in Scripture, one of many that contrast the kingdom of God with the kingdom of this world.

The current administration is so blatantly attached to belief in "the kingdom(s) of this world" that our current president actually bows in front of the leaders of other countries! Have you ever seen anything so bizarre?

The acts of clawing their way to the top can be contrasted with another paradox concerning leadership: Jesus said, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:35).

Dr. Jeremiah writes:

Paradoxically, Paul says desiring to lead is a good thing (1 Timothy 3:1). But true leaders are the ones brought to the fore by the Holy Spirit on the basis of their lives of service (Acts 20:28).

[And] there are more paradoxes. We find rest and freedom by voluntarily submitting ourselves to a yoke (Matthew 11:28-29); we find life by dying (John 12:24); we are exalted when we humble ourselves (Matthew 23:12); we become great by becoming small (Matthew 23:11).

Perhaps the greatest paradox of all - and the one we are considering in this article - involves strength: We only gain true strength through weakness.

I see the current political climate as a plot to make America weak. You may disagree with me, but that's how I see it. Everything that Obama and Congress has done is not strengthening nor uplifting America and her people. Therefore, it appears to be a deliberate weakening going on for a much more nefarious purpose than many Americans are willing to admit. Many already see through their miserable actions to tear down this nation. The TEA Party Patriots are well aware and have been actively sounding the alarm bells for the rest of America to wake up! Over the past 1 1/2 years, the call for restoring truth, honor and liberty to this nation has resonated with millions more people. Thus, we are seeing how God's Hand in all of this is working. He needed to allow us to be weak first, then we can gain true strength through Him!

Dr. Jeremiah discusses the meek and the weak:

Would it not make sense that those destined to take over the world, to "inherit the earth," would be among humanity's strongest? Yet who did Jesus say would inherit the earth? The meek (Matthew 5:5). Of course, the world equates meekness with weakness. But consider this: In the King James Version of the Bible, Numbers 12:3 says that "the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." And I don't think anyone would mistake Moses for a weak man!

More modern translations of Scripture substitute "humble" for meek in that verse, which is entirely consistent with the paradoxes of Scripture. Strength comes through humility; strength comes through weakness. And no one learned that lesson more dramatically than the apostle Paul.

[Saul] the strong persecutor, became Paul, the spiritually strong apostle, via the road of weakness.

Dr. Jeremiah shares the fact that Paul had a "thorn in the flesh" that was not removed from him, despite his original plea to have it removed. God allowed him to live with it. God gave him grace to live with it: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (verse 9).

During this time of great tumult that is going on in our nation, I believe that God has allowed this "thorn in our side" to remain for a reason. It is difficult, admittedly, to cope with our current situation. But I believe that in His perfect timing, we will realize that God's grace is sufficient for us. Remember, the world defines strength differently than the Word describes it.

Dr. Jeremiah writes:

So revolutionary was this experience for Paul that it became part of his life message: "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians verses 9-10, italics added).

The world claims that "only the strong survive." What is quite the paradox is that biblically speaking, that is correct! Except, we view "strong" as "spiritually strong."

Dr. Jeremiah explains:

There is no way to survive the trial and travails of life without being spiritually strong. And we become strong in the most unlikely of ways: by becoming weak in ourselves and strong in Christ.

I believe that Christians throughout our nation are praying more fervently and frequently than ever before. We are seeing what is being done to our nation and it seems like We The People are powerless to stop it. We may be temporarily powerless to keep those who would be intent on destroying all that is good in our country; but another day is coming! We are vulnerable - and in a place of weakness where the Hand of God is all that can really rescue us from this travail.

What is God teaching us through all of this turmoil? As Dr. Jeremiah emphasizes at the end of the essay, I think that He is teaching us the unlikely solution to weakness:

You may be in a place right now in which you feel particularly vulnerable, particularly weak, particularly defenseless. Looking around, do you view yourself as being the last in line in life? Congratulations! You are right where you need to be to become strong. You are in the only place where true strength can be found. Confess your weakness to God and ask for His grace to become sufficient for you.

An unlikely solution to weakness? Perhaps - but totally consistent with the ways of the "God of the Unlikely."


Teresa said...

"I see the current political climate as a plot to make America weak."

I agree with the above statement. Turmoil does make us even stronger in the long run. But, I think the same can be said for our country. God could be showing us what evils can do to this country so that it never happens again.

Mother Teresa was an awesome defender of all life.

Christinewjc said...

Very well stated Teresa! You wrote:

"God could be showing us what evils can do to this country so that it never happens again."

Obama's election by the mass of humanity who craved his "hope and change" (which turned into hype and chains) reminds me of when Israel begged God for a "king" in the Old Testament. They got what they wanted and the king rulers were often harsh, cruel, evil, and against the Jews and the God of the Bible. But God heard the cries of His people and raised up Godly kings - in King David and King Solomon. Although they weren't perfect, at least the Jewish people escaped the evil rule of the terrible kings (like King Saul, whom David replaced) when they cried out to God to be delivered.

The same type of deliverance occurred when the Jews were slaves in Egypt and God sent Moses - an unlikely messenger for the deliverance of God's people - to get Pharoah to let God's people go.

That quote from Mother Teresa should be broadcast far and wide so that people who think that the "pro-choice" position is somehow valid, will repent of their evil notions and sin and choose life - as God intended us to do!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I always appreciate your great insight!