May 20, 2015
“For the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
Charles became a Christian several years before his 30th birthday and was satisfied it was a good decision. However, since then, he has struggled with bad choices and a mediocre employment record and spiritual stagnation. He needed help.
Attendance at church had fallen for him as he seemed to wander like the Israelites in the desert. Then a friend he saw at a coffee shop invited Charles to a small Bible study for men. “I love our church,” he said, “but I discovered that a men’s Bible study group gives me an opportunity to identify with other men as we share openly and pray for each other. Give it a try,” he said, “we are free to share whatever is on our minds and God seems to speak to all of us. I’ve discovered that I’m not the only guy with problems.”
His first Bible study covered how men attempt to solve all problems themselves, looking for satisfaction in their perceived strength. It pierced Charles’ heart. It described his struggles perfectly. He’d forgotten, or never learned, that God desires men to be vulnerable and weak according to the World’s standards, to allow their real strength, which comes from God, to be our guide.
Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. NLT
Jeremiah 9:23-24 This is what the Lord says “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken! NLT
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” NLT
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 So tremendous, however, were the revelations that God gave me that, in order to prevent my becoming absurdly conceited, I was given a physical handicap—one of Satan’s angels—to harass me and effectually stop any conceit. Three times I begged the Lord for it to leave me, but his reply has been, “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.” Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him. J.B. Phillips
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.
So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. NLT
After a few studies, Charles realized that most of what he’d learned about how to be a man was incorrect. He had focused on the heroic, self-made man image which always gave him feelings of failure and inadequacy. Focusing on the Lord gave him the assurance of God’s peace that passes all understanding. Now he was truly strong!