Month: September 2013
2 Corinthians 12:10
The Message (MSG)
7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
Bathyspheres are amazing inventions. Operating like miniature submarines, they have been used to explore the ocean in places so deep the water pressure would crush a conventional submarine as easily as if it were an aluminum can, Bathyspheres compensate for the intense water pressure with plates of steel several inches thick. The steel keeps the water out, but it also makes a bathysphere heavy and difficult to maneuver. The space inside is cramped, allowing for only one or two people to survey the ocean floor by looking through a tiny plate-glass window.
What divers invariably find at every depth of the ocean are fish and other sea creatures. Some of these creatures are quite small and appear to have fairly normal skin. They look flexible and supple as they swim through the inky waters. How can they live at these depths without steel plating? They compensate for the outside pressure through equal and opposite pressure on the inside.
Spiritual fortitude works in the same way. The more negative the circumstances around us, the more we need to allow God’s power to work within us to exert an equal and opposite pressure from the inside. With God on the inside, no pressure on earth can crush us!
It is not enough to begin; continuance is necessary. Success depends upon staying power. Abiding in the word and prayer is the way to have strength to deal with the pressures of life.
The Message (MSG)
7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
The autumn season we are now entering is one of cornfields ripe for harvest, of the cheerful song of those who reap the crops, and of gathered and securely stored grain. So allow me to draw your attention to the sermon of the fields. This is its solemn message; “You must die in order to live.” You must refuse to consider your own comfort and well-being. You must be crucified, not only to your desires and habits that are obviously sinful but also to many others that may appear to be innocent and right. If you desire to save others, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.”
My heart fails me as I listen. But when the words are from Jesus, may I remind myself that it is my great privilege to enter into “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) and I am therefore in great company. May I also remind myself that all the suffering is designed to make me a vessel suitable for His use. And may I remember that His Calvary blossomed into abundant fruitfulness, and so will mine.
Pain leads to plenty, and death to life–it is the law of the Kingdom! Do we call it dying when a bud blossoms into a flower? Finding, following, keeping, struggling, is He sure to bless? Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, Answer, “Yes.”
The Message (MSG)
2-4 God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
First thing in the morning, be there for us!
When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.
You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot,
picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.
Does it seem to you that the only stories you hear about miracles occur in remote African villages or obscure Chinese provinces? Do you wonder if God is visibly active only on the mission field? Steven Mosley, author of It Only God Would Answer, believes the reason we hear more stories from missionary ventures than local churches is, “God is most active when we are reaching out most, He stretches out when we stretch out.
I feel so empty this morning because of my mourning after the state of our nation. I woke up pondering why I am so consumed with my position in life rather than my position in Christ. There is so much work to be done in this world. I want desperately to have a connection with the Lord that will provide for the countless lost souls as felons and derelicts of society right here in my community.
“I considered the life of George Mueller. He wrote an entire book of answers to specific prayer request he made while living in complacent Victorian England. Mueller was stretched–he was seeking to meet the needs od two thousand orphans. In remote China, Hudson Taylor was given needed funds or had personal needs met without ever making an appeal to any human being. Taylor was stretched–sharing the Gospel where it had not been preached before. Brother Andrew, ‘God’s Smuggler,’ had an abundance of answered prayers. He, too, was stretched–devoting his life to taking Bibles behind the iron curtain.”
Mosley has concluded, “God is most active in the thick of it.” Are you asking God to help you meet your heart’s desire today, or are you asking Him how you might help Him meet His heart’s desires?
Don’t pray for task suited to your capacity. Pray for capacity suited to your task. I am praying and soliciting your prayers of agreement that God will provide “Second Chance Alliance” the opportunity to grow into a full pledge ministry. My wife and I are consumed with felon reform and human life being recycled for God’s glory to be seen on this earth. We want a building to house and educate the fallen and thought to be forsaken individuals of drug addiction and criminal lifestyles. We want a church to connect then with and a recycling business of plastic, aluminum and glass and electronics to give them work and help our planet to become “Green” again. Please pray with us that this stretching of our faith will produce this vision.