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.
The cycle continues for God’s chosen nation. It’s the same old story.
Rebellion – Retribution – Repentance – Restoration
Rebellion led to retribution, repentance would lead to restoration.
God used the wicked Midianites to judge His people. V. 5 says they were like grasshoppers in number.
Imagine a field full of grasshoppers jumping around. What if you were told to count them. There would be no way.
We should shake in our boots when we see the parallels w/ global terrorism. They are innumerable and jumping around and impossible to defeat.
Terrorism isn’t our greatest threat, as great as it is. And it’s not N. Korea, Iran, or China. V. 1 says that “The Lord delivered them into their hands…”
In the Bible God often uses one wicked nation to judge another.
Our Christian founded nation has come a long way. We have freedom of religion but many are trying to twist that into freedom FROM religion. And we need to remember which religion we were founded upon.
George Washington: While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.
Thomas Jefferson: “The reason that Christianity is the best friend of Government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart.”
Jefferson: “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.”
Can you imagine seeing such quotes in a public school textbook?
John Adams: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
John Quincy Adams: “It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God.”
Benjamin Franklin: God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?”
There are many more quotes, but suffice it to say that when Americans turn their backs on Christianity they turn their backs on America! This doesn’t mean they have to be Christians, but they should at least tolerate us and appreciate us, for Christianity and its principles are what have made America great.
In Judges 6 God’s people are so ravaged by the Midianites that they are hiding in dens and caves. In v. 7 they cry out to God to for mercy and God gives them…
Here’s 4 principles from the life of Gideon that can help us all:
You and I are in a battle spiritually, it’s a fight, not a frolic; a war, not a waltz; it’s a warzone, not some tiptoe thru the tulips.
God just needs a few good men.
1. The Principle of Encounter.
v. 11, 14 Gideon has a word from the Lord.
v. 22-24a He was an ordinary man, not a prophet, preacher, priest, or a king. He was radically changed by this encounter. He used to be afraid. How do we know? Because he threshed wheat at the winepress.
The winepress was at the bottom of the hill so you could carry the grapes downhill. The wheat threshing took place at the top of the hill so the wind would drive away the chaff. Gideon is hiding at the bottom doing the work of the top. He’s hunkered in the bunker! The end of v. 11 says he’s hiding from the Midianites.
But fear turned to faith after his encounter with the Lord. His eyes turned from his enemies to the Lord.
We all must turn our eyes from our foes to our Father! We can live our lives looking at the terrorists or the political imbeciles in Washington or we can turn our eyes to the hills from whence cometh our help! “Looking unto Jesus!”
“The man that fears God can face any foe.”
ill.–the 12 spies of Canaan: 10 saw giants, 2 saw God.
ill.–when most looked at Goliath and said “He’s too big to hit” David said, “He’s too big to miss!”
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus…”
America is truly in a fight for survival, so it’s time we turn to God!
2. The Principle of Courage.
v. 12 “valor”
7:1-3 Gideon raised up an army of 32,000. And God says, it’s too many! The Midianites were innumberable! But God says no, I just need a few good men. I’ll get the glory when I do more with less! God will share anything with us except His glory.
22,000 were afraid and left. Now there’s 10,000 remaining. God doesn’t use the fearful. He hasn’t given us the spirit of fear.
25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Soldiers of the cross have courage and aren’t afraid to take a stand.
366 times the Bible says be not afraid, one for every day, even in leap year!
Some should be serving but are afraid…
[teaching / witnessing / driving a bus / tithing]
Some are afraid to trust God.
In the parable of the talents the bad servant said he didn’t invest his talent because “I was afraid.”
Fear and sin are linked. In Eden Adam said he hid himself from God because he was afraid.
But if God be for us, who can be against us?!
3. The Principle of Wisdom.
Courage needs to be balanced with wisdom.
7:4-7 Still too many? Gideon has got to sweating it now!
The first purging was of the fearful…this one is of the foolish. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity.
ill.–should we not lock our doors because we trust the Lord?
God told the cowards to go home, and now He tells the careless to leave as well. It was just a little test, and they failed it.
4. The Principle of Strength. 7:9-14 God told Gideon to lurk in the shadows of the enemy camp and see what he can learn.
In this dream we see God doing something extraordinary thru someone who is very ordinary. It was not Gideon’s strength, but God’s thru him.
v. 15-21 What a powerful victory story! 300 vs. a multitude with no weapons. A trumpet in one hand, a torch covered w/ a pitcher in the other hand.
• The trumpet stands for boldness – its sound announced that we’re here and not backing down. It’s time for Christians in America to stop rolling over and playing dead…let your voice be heard. Say to Washington, if you vote against morality and common sense, we vote you out!
• The clay pitcher stands for brokenness – God has placed His treasure in earthen vessels but we must be broken before Him.
• The torch stands for brightness – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…”
Now is the time for Christians to get bold, broken, and bright…and we could take America back for God!
It only takes a few good people to do this and with God’s help we can have victory as we hold high the sword of the Lord!