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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10 to the End Day 6: Comfort & Assistance

Gratitude (2)

We’ve spent the last 5 devotionals reflecting on 2017 and bringing it to a close. As we continue on our 10 to the end posts, we transition into bringing forth what’s to come in the future.

We are just days away from walking into a new year. We get a brand new start, 365 days of a clean slate. By now, we should all have at least 1 plan for the next year. There is something we need to start, continue, or finish in the next year that is going to take some time and some careful consideration. We’re going into a new year with new things on our hearts and a determination to see them through. Some of us may have some plans that really don’t make any sense to us right now. Maybe God has given you a vision that you don’t currently have the resources to bring to fruition. Maybe God is sending you somewhere you’ve never been and you’re nervous about how you’ll be received. Maybe you’re trying something again that you’ve failed at in the past and you’re beginning to wonder if it’s even worth it anymore.

Today’s devotional is a simple reminder that, sprinkled throughout the bible, there are promises God made to us through those who wrote down their stories. God made us promises that have lasted thousands of years and if you believe God is honest, they are helpful when encouraging yourself as you walk into 2018.

My favorite Promise God made is found in Isaiah

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

It seems so simple, but it really gives me a feeling of tenderness from God. Too often we are encouraged to think of God as high in the sky and eager to judge. This verse reminds me, that God is personal enough to hold my hand and to tell me not to be afraid because God is going to actually help me.

Whatever it is that God has placed on your heart for the coming year, even if you’re not quite sure yet what God is doing in your life in 2018, we can all rest assured that we won’t be forced to do it alone. The very same God who has power over everything, understands that what you’re tasked with in the coming year can be overwhelming and has already promised you comfort and assistance.

Bible Study Tools has complied a list of 50 of God’s promises found in the bible. Go through it and pick out the ones that resonate with you most going into 2018 and display them somewhere that will help encourage you in the coming year. Approach your 2018 plans with purpose, bravery, and peace knowing you’re not doing this alone.

 

 

A Shiny New Year

to-god-be-the-glory

It’s a brand new year! You made it!

In this new year, let’s all be mindful of the role we play in God’s master plan.

 

In the same way, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

In our constant struggle for balance between feeling stable and successful and submitting our will to God’s, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we forget why we’re doing it. Let’s be real, appearances are important to us. A lot of the satisfaction we get from feeling “in control” is appearing to others that we have a handle on things and that we’re doing well. It is not wrong to feel like others should see you doing well. The above verse is proof of such. However, be mindful of why the gaze of others is important to you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I seeking the approval of others before God’s?
  2. Am I too excited about the way I appear to others?
  3. Is my reputation pointing others to God’s presence in my life?

In this new year, every goal you set, every milestone you reach, every win you publicize, should be a testament to God’s faithfulness in your life. None of us achieve anything of our own strength, courage, guidance etc. By committing ourselves to God, we draw those things from God’s power.

Be sure that all of your actions are rooted in a love for others that mirrors God’s love for you. it is that love that will direct them toward your love for God and the availability of God’s love for anyone open to it. Put forth the work but the glory is not our own. It is God’s.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!