The Strength in Weakness

Acknowledging weakness is the toughestButThat's when God is the strongest.

Often, as a control freak, we do a great job of highlighting our strengths. There are some things we do very well and we feel great about that. We can discuss our strengths in detail, we know just how to place ourselves in position to maximize our gifts and talents and we feel best when we are working in capacities that best align with our skill sets. Something we often shy away from addressing, is our weakness. Even in job interviews we have learned and mastered the answer to the question “what are some of your strengths and weaknesses?” turning both into answers highlighting things we do well. That’s all good. There’s nothing wrong with finding comfort in your gifts and talents. When you do something well and you know you do it well, there’s no question you should be using those to to your advantage and to the advantage of those around you.

But what happens when we get a little too high and mighty? As much as we like to avoid the conversation, there isn’t a person living who doesn’t have a weakness. There is no person living who is the best at everything and that’s exactly how God intended for us to be. We should all be living and serving in complimentary fashion alongside others, using our strengths were someone else may have a weakness and vice a versa.

Too many times we are taught that being a Christian is to strive for perfection. That is not the case at all. We are to strive to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We are incapable of perfection. God knows that and has extended us grace in the areas where we are lacking.

There is a place in the bible where Paul is speaking and he’s telling of a wonder vision God gave him. He says that the vision was so clear and he was so sure that it was from God, if he bragged about it, it would be warranted because it would be truth. However, he says that even having been exposed to such greatness, he was given what he calls a thorn. He had a supposed ailment that kept him humble. Whenever he started to feel himself, he was reminded that he’s not perfect, he has a weakness. The best part about his realization that his weakness would keep him from thinking of himself more highly than he should is what he said about how God regarded his weakness each time he asked God to take it away.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 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, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12: 8-9

Paul had a weakness that he felt like was hindering him so he asked God to take it away. Instead, God told him grace was all he needed. God basically said to him, I see your weakness and I haven’t counted you out. You’re still valuable to me, I see you trying so wherever you fall short, I will stand in that gap and be sure that the vision I gave you is still fulfilled. Here’s the best part, “My power works best in weakness.” God is able to get really creative when there’s literally nothing else in our own physical power left for us to do. That’s so amazing! So Paul encourages us not to be ashamed of our weaknesses. He even says to take pleasure in them. Because as soon as we recognize we are incapable of doing anymore than we have tried, we can show God we trust God to do the rest and God will also take pleasure in that and leave you and everyone around you wondering how you could have possibly pulled that off. And that’s where you tell them, it wasn’t me, that was all God.

Challenge:

Here’s something I started doing about 4 years ago. I would have ideas or goals that I knew for sure God was inspiring me toward but I kept running into roadblocks. There were skills, resources, connections etc that I just didn’t have. I would get so frustrated feeling so powerless to certain situations. But I’d say this prayer, “God, I know you see me trying and I just don’t think there’s anything else I can do. If I’m missing something, please reveal it to me. If not, please work this out in a way that I won’t possibly be able to take credit for. So when people ask me how I did it, I’ll remember to tell them it was you. In Jesus’ name, amen.” At a time when I had no idea how I was going to pay for graduate school, I applied to school and then prayed that prayer every night. A month before school was supposed to begin, I was offered a job AND a scholarship, neither of which I had applied for. I have no doubt in my mind it was that desperate prayer and my willingness to acknowledge my weakness and have faith that God would work things out that excited God to stand somewhere I had never been on my behalf. If you’re reading this and you feel powerless to any situation at all, I challenge you to pray that prayer or your own prayer with that same sentiment and watch what God can and will do!

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Your Authority. Your Joy.

Joy

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that it’s target audience is those of us who have a little trouble relinquishing control to God as we’ve decided to accept Christ into our lives. But in the opening manifesto on the first page of this blog it also says “This is a safe place to affirm your right to a certain level of control while emphasizing a responsibility to operate in prayerful obedience.” It is important that, as we remind ourselves we simply can’t control every single aspect of our lives, we also remind ourselves which things we actually can control.

There is often this misconception that after one yields personal power to God everything in their life should just begin to get more and more perfect as time progresses. That’s wildly false. One might even say that once you start to live your life with God at the forefront, life seems to make it a little bit harder to believe you’ve done the right thing. Just like anyone else, we’re all faced with daily challenges that can really make it difficult to enjoy life sometimes.

This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalms 118:24

Today’s devotional is just a simple reminder that, while we can’t always controls what enters our daily lives and how it challenges us, we do have a responsibility not to forget who we are and who each day belongs to. The above verse is a reminder that each day that we are living belongs to God. No matter how it starts or finishes, God has the power and authority to orchestrate how today’s happenings can turn out for our good. In that we can rejoice, or have joy. We are allowed to and responsible for remembering that and if we can’t find any joy in anything else all day, we can be glad that the day doesn’t belong to whatever it is we are currently facing. This day, yesterday, tomorrow and beyond were given to us by God and belong to God.

Well why should we find joy in that when everything is falling apart? The answer is simply because of who we know God to be. God has told us many times in the bible that we are loved, that God is always with us, that God is constantly working with our best interest at heart, and so many other promises that indicate any day that we are given is a day we can look for God’s love. Any day that belongs to God is a day in which God can be found.

Even if today looks like it’s the worst day you’ve had, even if you’ve had a series of days that seem to suck the joy from your spirit, our joy is ours to control. The scripture doesn’t say for us to find something to make us joyful it just says that we will rejoice, meaning our circumstances are not in charge of our joy. We have authority over our joy and can rejoice whenever we want to. We don’t find joy, we find reasons to create it! So, let’s desire to take joy in today simply because we can!

Task:

Each time you are faced with a negative thought or situation, try to counter that with noting one thing that you can be happy about. It may be as simply as, my work day ends at 4pm and I can finally get some rest but find different ways to inspire joy in your attitude today. Don’t let your surroundings have control of your attitude. That is your authority.

10 to the End Day 10: CELEBRATE!

Celebrate (1)

It’s January 1 and you’ve made it to a New Year! We’ve spent time reflecting on what was and planning for what will be. Now, in this moment, whatever moment you have while reading this, take a moment to celebrate. No, we’re not simply celebrating what God did for us in 2017. We’re not just celebrating the fact that we’ve made it to a new year. We’re celebrating everything that God has for us in the coming year. Things we can’t even see yet, we’re celebrating them because we trust that God will bring them to pass.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

I don’t know how 2017 treated you but my prayer is that you’ve released that from your mind, body and soul so that you can fully embrace what’s to come.In 2018 let’s keep the above verse from Jeremiah as a reminder that no matter what happens in the coming year, regardless of how tough things could get, no matter how many unexpected things could possibly come our way, the goal is not for God to harm us but for God to use every single thing in our lives to give us hope and a prosperous future. We are celebrating God’s love for us that goes ahead of us in every situation to make sure that we are able to find some way for everything that comes our way to benefit us.

We have released what has passed.

We are living in and making the best of what is present.

We are celebrating everything that is to come.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

10 to the End Day 9: Call it What it Will Be

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In our battle with relinquishing control to God, there is good news for us! Although we have chosen to give God the ultimate power over our lives, God has chosen to give us access to the same power God has, simply because we have committed to a life of faith.As you’re preparing your plans for 2018 don’t forget the power you have that is given to us by God to manifest the vision we’ve been given in our lives, by the faith we have already claimed to have in God.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak…

2 Corinthians 4:12-13

In the bible, from the creation story, to the story of Jesus calming the storm, we are shown God’s ability to create, bring forth life, command an outcome by speaking. And because we believe, we must also recognize our access to the power to do the same. With this in mind, in the new year, we have to make it a habit to speak to ourselves and to our plans in a way that affirms this power. Whatever your plans are, as you are confident you have God’s blessing to pursue them, make sure that your speech, your prayers over them are positive affirmations. No more, “I hope,” “I wish,” “ifs,” and “I want.” Modify those to definitive statements based in your confidence in God and the power you have as a result of that.

Don’t speak things as though you hope for them to become, speak to your plans, your attitudes, your intentions, your daily struggles with the authority to call them what they will be, before you’ve ever seen any evidence of change.

Task:

  1. Write down the things you would like to accomplish in the most important areas of your life i.e. your professional life, your family life, your faith, your social life etc.
  2. look at what you’ve written down. Are there words of uncertainty? Have you included “I hope” “I wish”?
  3. Make each accomplishment into a powerful affirmation. (ex: Instead of “I hope to improve my financial stability,” say, “I will improve my financial stability.”)
  4. Post your affirmations in a place that you will have to see them each day. Read them aloud and believe them as you work toward the steps to bring them to fruition.