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Posts Tagged ‘Weakness’

Process and Crisis

March 20th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-26

  • It was a bleak time in the history of Israel – the nation had missed its calling, to be God’s pure people. Even the people in charge of religion were corrupt, stealing and sleeping with the temple women. The end of the book of Judges paints a similar picture.
  • God’s desire through the book of Samuel is to set up the right kind of kingdom and the right kind of King.
  • All God seems to be doing at this time is sending one little boy (Samuel) into the centre of Israel’s corruption. God uses the most unexpected people for the His work – He uses the weak people for great things to show His great strength.
  • None of us have fully obeyed God – we all need rescuing. And God sent a little baby boy to accomplish this – His own Son, Jesus – to achieve the greatest victory in history.
  • God’s power and greatness is made perfect in our weakness. Part of knowing God is that we come to know and see how weak we are. A Christian is no more weak or needy than anyone else – they have just come to realise it. We are all weak and needy whether we feel it or not.
  • God GROWS us.
  • When Samuel was older, he would speak and everyone would listen. He had great authority. But v.21-26 simply says he grew and continued to grow – in stature and in favour with God and man. It speaks of God’s pattern for people He wants to use.
  • God has saved us for a purpose – Ephesians 2:8-10.
  • Samuel achieved the purpose that God had for him, but he had to grow. It took time – it wasn’t glamorous or exciting.
  • We have to accept the process.
  • There’s a big difference between process and crisis (dramatic moments). Process takes time; here are things you can only have or achieve if you submit to the process.
  • Luke 2:52 – Jesus went through the same process of growing as Samuel.
  • Hebrews 12:11 – we need to be trained in God’s “gym” – it’s not pleasant at the time but it is essential and produces fruit.
  • Discipline brings freedom. God wants us to be liberated not oppressed.
  • Our generation prefers crisis to process – we want dramatic moments, crisis solutions, shortcuts and quick fixes.
  • We barely look at the Wisdom books of the Bible, e.g. Proverbs. We need to be learning a life of wisdom in the day-to-day – this is where we truly grow, and not so much in the dramatic/emotional moments.
  • We want instant success but it can take years and years.
  • Proverbs 13:4.
  • We need a plan, to get to grips with God’s plans. Proverbs 13:12.
  • It’s wisdom to not only to plan to achieve something for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren – to build a legacy.
  • You have to take the stairs – there is no elevator option. One step at a time.
  • How do we build a life for ourselves and the generations to come? Psalm 1:1-3 – God’s word has to be our foundation, immersing ourselves in it daily, trusting that it will do us good – then we will be truly happy and will be like a tree planted by streams of living water.
  • Samuel also grew in his reputation with men as well as God – same as Jesus. It’s important that we reflect well to others, representing God well.
  • Jesus worked hard in the day-to-day life of carpentry. He grew in wisdom and submitted to His parents. Why? Because He was living the life we should have lived in our place, and also showing us how to live.
  • Submission scares us – we think it’s going to be hard, tough and unpleasant. But we need it – or our hearts will end up sick.
  • Both submitting and not submitting will exhaust us – but Jesus came to give us rest as we submit under His yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). It makes us free, not oppressed, the closer we get to Him.
  • The Christian life is both hard and easy.
  • Jesus is the most gentle and patient with us – so different to what we expect.
  • Jesus took the worst burden for us. He became obedient even to death, on our behalf. Now we can be obedient to Him.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Alternative Confidence

October 14th, 2009

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Dangers Of Improvement
The Corinthians had got seriously unbalanced in their idea of themselves. The culture of the city had crept in. Self-aggrandisement was causing infighting and entrenchment. Antidote: the gospel, which reminds us we are nothing special in ourselves.
Get real about yourself. The worst someone can say about you is not as bad as the truth. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You would not want God telling everybody what he had to save you from, right?

That None Might Boast
The more conscious we are of ourselves and our accomplishments the less conscious we will be of God’s work. So he has a tendency of especially choosing and using the weak so that he receives more glory. Many stories from scripture bear this out. Those who are ‘strong’ are usually brought to a place of weakness by God’s grace, to make them less self-exalted and more dependant on his mercy.

Glory In Your Weakness
If you are wealthy or highly educated, thank God for the letter ‘M’. it says ‘not many’ rather than ‘not any’. But do what it says in James – ‘glory in your low position…’
Growth and maturity begin when we recognise the sufficiency of Jesus for all that we need – wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Alternative Wisdom

October 5th, 2009

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You could take the entire history of human philosophy and religion – subjects which have filled libraries, and centuries of intense thought and discussion on the part of everyone, from the educated to the simple – and the bible’s summary of the whole is found in these verses.
 
Man may ‘search for truth’ all he likes – but God has appointed a means of revealing himself (and he IS truth), which undermines the proud ideas of flesh – in every culture.

In this passage Paul addresses his Corinthians audience which was made up mostly of Jews and Greeks. For the Jews, the paradigm of cultural fulfillment was power (strength) for the Greeks it was wisdom. The gospel insists that both can only be found in Jesus – whose wisdom looks like foolishness and whose power looks like weakness.

Strength and Weakness
How is the cross is the power of God? It seems so weak… Because it is only through the cross that the power of sin (our most deathly and unconquerable enemy) is defeated. The powers that control us can only be subdued through the cross – the moment of ultimate weakness and shame!

Wisdom and Folly
How is the cross the wisdom of God? It seems so foolish… Because the problem of our sin was beyond anyone’s ability to solve. It needed God’s wisdom to devise a way in which he could be both just and the justifier of the ungodly.

Pleasure and Pain
The cross is a stumbling block to such people. A God who calls us to follow a crucified master cannot desire our pleasure. And yet we know that true pleasure is only found in the God embraced all of our pain (much of which masquerades as pleasure in Brighton) so that we could know the ‘pleasures ever more… at his right hand’ (Psalm 16).

Beauty and Ugliness
Our society wants beauty and yet the Cross is ugly.
in the end all human beauty will fade. The Beauty of the Lord will not.