Words of the Reckless
Joy and Peace!
Great Is The Lord!
Reverence for God
Weakness Brings Strength
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!
No Separation or Condemnation
“There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1
The pastor was challenging his study group with one of his favorite quotes, “Either you believe the Bible or you don’t!” When asked what he meant, his answer was short and to the point, “The Bible is our life guide and in order for us to fully benefit from this guide we must believe it and believe all of it. In spite of our feelings or occasional doubts.”
From the back of the group, an older man with a well-worn Bible said, “Many years ago my father told me that we can’t read the Bible buffet style, pick and choose. And I’ve always remembered his advice.”
After the study, a middle-aged woman with tears in her eyes came up to the pastor, telling him she just couldn’t get over some of her past sins. She said they haunted her frequently, usually when she decided to give them to the Lord.
“Alice, Romans 8:1 says, ‘There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death!’ You will notice,” he continued, “it does not say most of the time or some of the time or, when you get your act together. The only condition is that you accept Jesus as your Savior. And I know you have done that.”
The Holy Spirit is mentioned just four times in the first seven chapters of Romans. In chapter eight alone, He is mentioned 19 times! Our perfect relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to walk along with our Savior, forging through all the obstacles and trials of life, depending on Him not only for guidance but as an intercessor for our prayers.
Romans 8:26-27 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Have you ever been told something like this, “If you do your work, you can go with your friends;” “If you are serious, I will marry you.” These are conditional statements, based on following through…if you do this, I will do that. God gives us such conditions in Romans Eight.
Romans 8:8-13 Those who obey their human nature cannot please God. But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead, you live as the Spirit tells you to if, in fact, God’s Spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin. If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you. So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to. For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live.
Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Romans 8:23-25 But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts also groan within ourselves as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free. For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Our assignment, should we choose to accept it, is clearly laid out in this chapter; that is to walk according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh. This concept is so serious, God emphasizes it to us in verse six: “For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.”
And if you experience those times when life seems too difficult or challenging remember verse 18 which says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.”
Another life-saving, powerful verse is Romans 28: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Tape this one above the bathroom mirror, kitchen sink, and front door. Notice it says, ALL THINGS. You may have been tempted to disbelieve this verse when life seemed to fall in on itself—but do not quit. God is telling us that all things work together for good. Our job is to believe it, to hope for what we do not see!
If you find yourself feeling alone and forgotten, wondering how you might escape your heavy burdens, remember verse 34 which says: “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.” Jesus is the original 24/7 experience. He never sleeps. He always intercedes for you and me.
Finally, Romans 8:36-39 closes with a tremendous series of verses that assure us of an eternal attachment to our Lord: “Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us?
No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.”
Remember: In Christ there is No Condemnation. No Separation. God’s love endures forever.