Faithlife Sermons

God's Power in Our Weakness

Standing firm on the Promises of God (week 4)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 5 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
Introduction
Good morning, church! I wanted to start today by talking about trust.
Everything we do is a reflection of our trust.
Would you agree that the choices we make are a reflection of our trust? For example, I’m standing on this stage because I trust that it is built correctly and will hold my weight, right? Same with you sitting in these chairs? You wouldn’t sit in them if you thought they would collapse.
And on a deeper level, we trust things because whether outright or indirectly, they make promises to us.
Some of us go on the diet (like the Atkins diet, or more currently, the Keto diet) because they have promised that following their eating regiment will result in weight loss, building of muscles, etc.
Some things even have manufacturer’s guarantees. Well what is that? It’s a promise that the thing will do what it says it will do, or else they will refund/replace/etc.
We like guarantees, because guarantees are promises that give us a sense of security and safety–they amp up our confidence to trust.
As we go throughout life, we are bombarded with promises that are either based in truth, or based in lies.
The aim of this series, standing firm on the promises of God, is that we would discover some of the lies we have been believing, and replace those lies with God’s truth. That we would be anchored in God’s truth. That we would rest soundly in the sovereignty of God.
In order for that to happen, though, we must know God’s promises. We must know what He has promised to those who rest and trust in Him.
You don’t get to choose whether or not your heart trusts in something. Our God has made us to be a people who cling to something/someone. And if you are not anchored in the true promises of God, your heart will, by default, trust in lies. If you do not know the promises of God, you will look to the ‘promises’ of the world and the devil, which are lies that lead to death, that will not be able to sustain the storms of life.
tells us that the one who builds their life on the promises of God will have a strong foundation that will sustain every storm life throws their way. On the other hand, the one who builds their life on anything else is building their life on a foundation of shifting sand that will collapse and ultimately be destroyed. So we’re trying to get to the solid rock of God’s true promises.
With that said, let’s pray.
I wonder, do you have any weaknesses in your life? Any trials? Anything that you sit back and wonder why something is the way it is? Do you ever ask God, “Why did you make me this way?” Any circumstances in your life that you ask God, ‘Why are you allowing this?’ ‘Why did you allow this?’ Anything that, if it were up to you, you would get rid of or change?
Anything that you think your life and your ministry for God would be BETTER without it? Better if the Lord would just change the circumstance. Mend the relationship. Heal the disease or condition. Open up that opportunity. Stop the constant opposition from those around you. Fix that which you perceive to be a setback in your life.
You see, we don’t like weaknesses because they make us feel inferior, like we will fall short of expectations, that we might not be loved, or perhaps, on certain days, we question why God’s goodness in allowing something to happen to us, or having made us with a certain limitation. We can even wonder, God, do you love me?
Today we’re going to look at this amazing promise of God found in . We are going to be in verses 7-10. If you’re using the Bible in the chair in front of you, it’s on page 970.
The title of today’s sermon is

God’s Power in Our Weakness

Would you follow along as I read:
Would you follow along as I read:
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 ESV
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Today’s big idea:

God sustains and strengthens us in our weaknesses through surrender.

This is our promise.
We’re going to just work through verses 7 through 9, looking at Paul’s thorn in verse 7, Paul’s plea in verse 8, and God’s promise in verse 9.

Paul’s thorn (v. 7)

For a bit of context, the apostle Paul, who was one of the main messengers of the gospel message, was granted these amazing revelations of heaven by God (v. 1). God allowed him to see and hear things that were unexplainable. And he says to the Corinthian church that he has every right to boast about it, but he will not, even though it would be telling the truth (v. 6). The only thing Paul will boast of is his weaknesses (v. 5).
He goes on to describe that weakness here in verse 7.

Paul’s thorn (v. 7)

2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Do you have any weaknesses in your life? Anything about you that feels like it’s a disadvantage? Anything that you’re so confused why something is the way it is. Anything that you ask God, “Why did you make me this way?” Any circumstances that you ask God, “Why are you allowing this?” Anything that, if it were up to you, you would get rid of them?
What is
Why don’t we like weaknesses? I think they make me feel inferior, like I won’t measure up to expectations around me. They make me feel like I will fall short of others’, not be loved, or perhaps, on bad days, even ask God why He allowed something to happen to me or made me a certain way, if He loves me. That perhaps He made a mistake?
How do you regard weakness in your life? How do you regard the qualities, features, or circumstances in your life that are regarded as a disadvantage?
Weaknesses and deficiencies tempt us to believe things about ourselves–perhaps that we’re not enough. That others will see that. Maybe that God will see that.
So we’re plagued by these ‘thorns’ throughout life. These weaknesses. These weaknesses just make everything harder.
So Paul was given a thorn...
There’s much debate over what this thorn in the apostle Paul’s life was. Some commentators say it was an inner psychological struggle (grief over his past life, sorrow over Israel’s unbelief). Other think it was Paul’s opponents who persecuted him. Most commentators think it was some sort of physical condition (a weakness or deficiency–poor eyesight is a common thought), or some kind of demonic harassment.
I will say, it’s not likely that thorn and weakness refers to a sinful temptation, because that wouldn’t be something he boasts about, which he claims to do for this weakness.
The challenging thing here is that Paul says the thorn “was given him”. Who, ultimately, is sovereign and in control of everything that happens to him? God. Though we live in a world totally broken and effected by sin, God is the One ultimately who is in control of our thorns and trials. But thorns are always purposeful.
Why do we have these thorns?
Paul was given a thorn by God, and it was used purposefully – “to keep me from becoming conceited.” That appears twice in verse 7.
Paul was given a thorn by God, and it was used purposefully – “to keep me from becoming conceited.” That appears twice in verse 7. You see, Paul had these amazing spiritual experiences, and he himself would have been able to ‘compete’ with his critics, in terms of his spirituality and visions and the way God worked through Him.
So this thorn is given to keep Him ever dependent upon God.
This is reminiscent of . A group of followers of Christ that He sent out to do ministry return with joy, boasting of the mighty work of God. They exclaim that even the demons are subject to us in Your name. And Jesus says to them in verse 20,
“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
It’s a reminder to me that we are prone towards pride when God is working mightily through us. We tend to slowly take credit for what God alone has done. And it is not in our work that we should boast, but in His grace. We have no work apart from His grace.
So, Paul says that he was given this thorn (ultimately by God), some sort of weakness, that kept Him humble and low.
A thorn seems to be something God has given that keeps
Apparently, the way he talks about it, it had to have been a pretty severe thorn. He likens it to a messenger of Satan to harass him. Over and over again, the ‘superstar’ apostle Paul is brought low by this deficiency that God gave to him. And apparently it was something that others criticized about him. It was humiliating to him.
What was this thorn?
There’s much debate over what this weakness in the apostle Paul was. Some commentators say it was an inner psychological struggle (grief over his past life, sorrow over Israel’s unbelief). Other think it was Paul’s opponents who persecute him. Most commentators think it was some sort of physical condition (poor eyesight is a common thought), or some kind of demonic harassment.
It’s not likely that thorn and weakness refers to a sinful temptation, because that wouldn’t be something he boasts about, which he claims to do for this weakness.
Yet, at the end of the day, we can conclude that the thorn was something in his life that made him feel inferior, less effective, the subject of ridicule, or caused significant distress in his life. Some kind of frailty as a consequence of our humanity–be it physical, relational, psychological, or spiritual–that speaks a message of ‘not enough’. It was so severe that the apostle Paul continually asked God to get rid of it. Let’s look at Paul’s plea.

Paul’s plea (v. 8)

2 Corinthians 12:8 ESV
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.
Paul says that he prayed for the Lord to remove the thorn. To remove the weakness that was tormenting him. Literally, that was harassing his every move and being.
Apparently, Paul thought that if the Lord would remove the thorn, it would be better for his life, and better for the ministry. So he pleaded. It wasn’t even a selfish plea. It was a plea of, God, this thing tormenting me, by my point of view, is actually hindering me from effectiveness for your kingdom. Please take it away…This is so interesting.
He pleaded with the Lord three time. He was earnest in prayer. Repetitive in His requests. He may be drawing a parallel to Jesus’ threefold prayer in Gethsemane, right before He was crucified (Matthew 26:44).
One commentator notes,
As an aside, this verse should free you to feel that you are encouraged and allowed to pray from God to remove thorns in your life. To remove frailty in your flesh.
The key in this, though, is our posture. Are we praying to God assuming we know what is best for us. That we know that God would best be able to use us if blank was gone. Or even in prayer, are we submitted to Him and His goodness?
Do you ever agonize over something that you’ve pleaded with God to take care of, yet seemingly, He is allowing it to continue?
What do your weaknesses, trials, or insecurities say to you? Do you ever hear their voice? Or, more accurately, what does the father of lies (Satan) and the world around you say about your weaknesses? Do you hear words of ridicule? Shame? Insignificance?
The better question, is not, what do they say to you, but what do you say to them?
There’s two ways to respond to trials, thorns, weaknesses. To see those ways, let’s think about the story of Job.
Do you remember the story of Job in the Old Testament?
Here is a story of a man who God highly favored and blessed with a family, land, influence, etc. Then, God allowed Satan to take everything Job loved away from Him – his land, His animals, his children – they all died. And then God allowed Satan to afflict Job with boils all over his body. Here is someone who truly received thorns.
And you see the two ways to respond to this in Job and his wife.
Job’s wife, in the midst of that suffering, says to Job “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” ()
Job, on the other hand, responds, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” () Elsewhere, Job says, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ()
Job saw God as the one who had the rights to the thorns, trials, and weaknesses, and He knew that God was good.
The story of these two show us that
You can either submit TO your weaknesses, or you can SUBMIT your weaknesses.
Job’s wife submitted to her weaknesses, and that led to sin.
Job, on the other hand, submitted his pain, his frailty, his weaknesses, to God. “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD.”
He knew the goodness and grace of God for Him in the midst of His circumstances, and He submitted His weaknesses to Him.
Weaknesses can either be an excuse for sin or an occasion for surrender!
Trials can either be a temptation to sin or a time to trust!
So, when the devil begins to chirp lies in your ear about your thorns and weaknesses, what do you do? Better yet, what do you say back?
Here’s the kicker, though. And this is hugely important:
You cannot submit your weaknesses if you don’t know God’s promises.
One commentator notes that “His prayer was indeed answered, not by his deliverance from the affliction but by his receiving the necessary grace to bear it…he received the power of Christ” (NAC).
And to that, we turn to verse 9, our key verse and key promise.
What do your weaknesses, trials, or insecurities say to you? Do you ever hear their voice? Or, more accurately, what does the father of lies (Satan) and the world around you say about your weaknesses? Do you hear words of ridicule? Shame? Insignificance?
Do you ever agonize over something that you’ve pleaded with God to take care of, yet seemingly, He is allowing it to continue?
The better question, is not, what do they say to you, but what do you say to them?
There’s two ways to respond to trials, thorns, weaknesses. To see those ways, let’s think about the story of Job.
Do you remember the story of Job in the Old Testament?
Here is a story of a man who God highly favored and blessed with a family, land, influence, etc. Then, God allowed Satan to take everything Job loved away from Him – his land, His animals, his children – they all died. And then God allowed Satan to afflict Job with boils all over his body. Here is someone who truly received thorns.
And you see the two ways to respond to this in Job and his wife.
Job’s wife, in the midst of that suffering, says to Job “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” ()
Job, on the other hand, responds, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” () Elsewhere, Job says, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ()
Job saw God as the one who had the rights to the thorns, trials, and weaknesses, and He knew that God was good.
The story of these two show us that
You can either submit TO your weaknesses, or you can SUBMIT your weaknesses.
Job’s wife submitted to her weaknesses, and that led to sin.
Job, on the other hand, submitted his pain, his frailty, his weaknesses, to God. “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD.”
He knew the goodness and grace of God for Him in the midst of His circumstances, and He submitted His weaknesses to Him.
Weaknesses can either be an excuse for sin or an occasion for surrender!
Trials can either be a temptation to sin or a time to trust!
So, when the devil begins to chirp lies in your ear about your thorns and weaknesses, what do you do? Better yet, what do you say back?
Here’s the kicker, though. And this is hugely important:
You cannot submit your weaknesses if you don’t know God’s promises.

God’s promise (v. 9)

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“But He said to me...” God answered the apostle Paul. God speaks. And this one is great. ‘He said’ is in the perfect tense – which emphasizes the present, ongoing results of a completed action. The answer given to Paul still stands. It still rings true from the moment it was spoke, all throughout the future.
What was the answer?
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
God gives Paul a two-fold promise:
My grace is sufficient for you
My power is made perfect in weakness.
This thorn is divinely appointed by God – and God promises to give sufficient grace to sustain Paul, and will use it in Paul’s life to display and perfect God’s power.
We learn here something amazing about the nature of God’s grace when you become a follower of Christ.
See, when we become a follower of Christ – when we turn FROM hoping in ourselves, rejecting God and His ways, walking in sin, and turn TO Jesus, confessing our sins and trusting His sacrifice for us, He forever forgives us for our sins. That is grace, an undeserved gift. But that is not all grace is. Grace is not just the undeserved gift of salvation, but it is the daily fuel of sanctification. It is the daily fuel that empowers us to walk in obedience to God and His ways. If your obedience to God was dependent upon your own strength to walk after Him, you would fail. You do not have the sufficient strength. But here’s the key–God never calls you to have the sufficient strength. He calls you to surrender your thorns, your trials, your weaknesses to Him. That allows us to lean in on His power and persevere.
Grace is not merely forgiveness of sins
In this passage, God promises both His sustaininggrace – which is sufficient, and His empowering grace – grace that it brought to completion ; perfected, in weakness!
God’s power through Paul was not because of His strength but because of His surrender.
These promises are what fuel Paul’s ability to trust God in the midst of His weaknesses and submit his thorn to Him.
You see, as Christians, the point is not to be weak in and of itself. You can be weak, you can have thorns, and they can actually lead you away from God. They can lead you to sin, if it is unsurrendered weakness. Unsurrendered weakness will either turn you inward in self-despair and inability, or outward for affirmation from anything or anyone but God.
No, the idea is not simply to be weak, but to surrender your weakness. To lay it at God’s feet for Him to magnify Himself through.
No, the idea is not simply to be weak, but to surrender your weakness. To lay it at God’s feet for Him to magnify Himself through.
Unsubmitted weakness leads to sin, while weaknesses and thorns submitted to God lead to His power working in and through you for His glory!
So the question is, where are you looking in your weakness?
God promises that His power is not just given in weakness, but it is ‘made perfect’ in weakness. This word, made perfect, carries the meaning that the power of God actually finds it’s completion, it reaches it’s perfection, in the presence of weakness.
Human strength can actually be a hinderance to the power of God flowing through one’s life, if that is where one is resting. And this is going to be something that over and over again, we need to remind ourselves of, because over and over again, we are going to be persuaded to believe that our strength is what we need to get us through. That is a lie of the devil, and over and over again, God warns and beckons us to trust in His strength amidst our weakness.
Isaiah 31:1–2 ESV
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
Isaiah 31:1 ESV
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!
Jeremiah 9:23–24 ESV
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Psalm 20:7–8 ESV
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
Psalm 20:
All the time we try to look strong and powerful like the world. We try and convince ourselves that for us to be okay, we have to be strong. God says, the only way you can stand is to trust in heavenly resources. You cannot trust earthly resources!
Why are we trying to keep up with the world all the time? Why are we trying to compete with the power and strength of the world? The strong and powerful of the world never accepted Jesus,, they never received His power in their self-sufficient state? In fact, receiving Jesus only comes through frailty and surrender. He does not want to combine His strength with ours, He wants our weakness. We need to surrender to His grace.
One commentator says that, We are “most powerful when we are least dependent upon our own resources.” This is God’s way. His power is perfected in our weaknesses.
God’s strength has always been a paradox to the world. He has always delighted to display His strength through frail people.
1 Corinthians 1:25–27 ESV
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
2 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
Abraham, the one whom the promise of the nation of Israel, and ultimately, the promise of Jesus through that nation, was given, says...
Genesis 18:27 ESV
Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
Moses, the great deliverer who led Israel out of bondage in Egypt, says...
Exodus 3:11 ESV
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Exodus 4:10 ESV
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Gideon, the military leader who led Israel to victory over the Israelites, says...
Judges 6:15 ESV
And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
David, the weak shepherd-boy who defeats the massive enemy Goliath, and is a picture of the greater king to come, Jesus, says...
1 Samuel 18:23
1 Samuel 17:45 ESV
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
1 Samuel 18:23 ESV
And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?”
And all throughout the New Testament, we have the apostle Paul confirming the paradox of God’s power...
1 Corinthians 1:27–29 ESV
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 2:2–5 ESV
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:25–27 ESV
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
1 Cor 1:25-2
John 9:3 ESV
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
So, we see that God, throughout history, has delighted to take people’s weaknesses and magnify His power and grace.
So, we see that God, throughout history, has delighted to take people’s weaknesses and magnify His power and grace.
But you might look at your life and say, Jake, why can I rest in this promise? Why can I trust that this promise is true?
Promises are hard to trust sometimes, because we have experienced broken promises. Over and over again, we have experienced people making promises to us, and then not holding to them. Why can we trust God’s promises?
We must know why we can trust this promise. Because ultimately, you’re going to surrender to God only if you believe He is trustworthy. You’re going to hand over your weaknesses and thorns to God only if you trust Him more than what you see. And to do that, you must know why the terms of surrender are better and more solid than fighting in our own strength.
The promise is confirmed and extended to us on account of the good news of Jesus.
We look at ourselves, and we say, I’m broken, frail, and sinful. I constantly disobey His ways. I deserve His punishment. All this is true…but God has a solution, and it is the gospel. And it’s hinted at here. When God says “MY POWER is made perfect in weakness,” He’s hinting at a very specific power. He’s hinting at the power that is our through faith in the gospel.
Without the gospel, this promise of sustaining and empowering grace is an empty sentiment. We sinners have no real hope for this.
But the greatness and glory of the gospel, that proves that God has indeed set us free, forgiven us fully, that we can surrender our weaknesses to Him and He can show off for His glory, is given in the greatest displays of weakness and strength.
God’s promise was confirmed forever, forever trustworthy for us, through His gospel.
God’s promise was confirmed forever, forever trustworthy for us, through His gospel.
Hebrews 5:2 ESV
He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
Why is God’s grace sufficient for us?
Why is God’s power made perfect in weakness?
Without the gospel, this promise is just an empty sentiment.
2 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
Hebrews 5:2 ESV
He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
You can trust God with your weaknesses because He became weak for you. Jesus, our great Savior, took on every sin, every ounce of disobedience towards God, every wrong we’ve ever done, every single thing about us that makes us unacceptable to God and unworthy of His promises, and He died on the cross. He was crucified in weakness. Paradoxically, He defeated the strongest evil through apparent weakness. He submitted to all the frailty, all the struggles, all the hardships of this life, yet He was without sin. And He died in weakness for us. He took all of our sin. He surrendered to God the Father on our behalf. He suffered under the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.
Why is God’s grace sufficient for us?
1 Peter 3:18 ESV
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
Why is God’s power made perfect in weakness?
He suffered for us! He took all our sin, died in our place so that we could be brought to God, and was raised to life. He was made alive in the Spirit.
Without the gospel, this promise is just an empty sentiment.
Romans 1:4 ESV
and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
He was declared to have victory over sin and death because He rose. The power of sin and death (eternal separation from God) was finished! Jesus reigns victorious.
John 1:12–13 ESV
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
New life to all who trust in His power. Fully forgiven forever as His children.
Therefore, we can trust God with our weakness, because He has proven trustworthy. He surrendered in weakness for us, that we might live in His new life, by His resurrection power.
The greatest display of the glory, the worth, the beauty, the justice, the grace, the love, the righteous wrath of God, was seen in an act of perceived weakness.
The greatest displays of God’s glory are seen in surrendered weakness, and our king unlocked that for us…forever! By His death and resurrection.
The gospel is the key that unlocks all of these promises.
2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
1 Samuel 17:45 ESV
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Do you ever agonize over something that you’ve pleaded with God to take care of, yet seemingly, He is allowing it to continue?
What do your weaknesses, trials, or insecurities say to you? Do you ever hear their voice? Or, more accurately, what does the father of lies (Satan) and the world around you say about your weaknesses? Do you hear words of ridicule? Shame? Insignificance?
The better question, is not, what do they say to you, but what do you say to them?
There’s two ways to respond to trials, thorns, weaknesses. To see those ways, let’s think about the story of Job.
Do you remember the story of Job in the Old Testament?
Here is a story of a man who God highly favored and blessed with a family, land, influence, etc. Then, God allowed Satan to take everything Job loved away from Him – his land, His animals, his children – they all died. And then God allowed Satan to afflict Job with boils all over his body. Here is someone who truly received thorns.
And you see the two ways to respond to this in Job and his wife.
Job’s wife, in the midst of that suffering, says to Job “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” ()
Job, on the other hand, responds, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” () Elsewhere, Job says, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ()
Job saw God as the one who had the rights to the thorns, trials, and weaknesses, and He knew that God was good.
The story of these two show us that
You can either submit TO your weaknesses, or you can SUBMIT your weaknesses.
Job’s wife submitted to her weaknesses, and that led to sin.
Job, on the other hand, submitted his pain, his frailty, his weaknesses, to God. “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD.”
He knew the goodness and grace of God for Him in the midst of His circumstances, and He submitted His weaknesses to Him.
Weaknesses can either be an excuse for sin or an occasion for surrender!
Trials can either be a temptation to sin or a time to trust!
So, when the devil begins to chirp lies in your ear about your thorns and weaknesses, what do you do? Better yet, what do you say back?
Here’s the kicker, though. And this is hugely important:
You cannot submit your weaknesses if you don’t know God’s promises.
If you are more acquainted with your sin than God’s promises of freedom, sustain, and hope, then you will remain stuck in your sins. You do not overcome sin, lies, by mastering their voices. You overcome sin by learning and being fully acquainted with the Shepherd’s voice (which I believe Pastor Kyle said last week).
And we must know God’s promises, because the enemy is going to ever-chirp in your ear, and try to whisper lies in your ear, to move your allegiance away from God. You must know God’s promises, because you must know how to talk to yourself. You must know what God says is true about you so you can combat those lies. You must talk to yourself much more than you listen to yourself.
Earthly weaknesses are heavenly strengths when they are submitted to God.
2 Corinthians 4:7–12 ESV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
He boasts in His weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon him.
I have this critical, analyzing brain. But unsubmitted it can lead to paralysis of analysis. I can spend so much time agonizing over certain things that it keeps me from doing/from moving. Even with this sermon I struggled with it. “How do I make sure everything that needs to be said is said?” “How do I make this flow perfectly to make perfect sense?” And I hear lies of “Jake, God’s not gonna use you if you don’t nail this sermon.” Or, “Jake, this logically is flawed…You’ve gotta figure it out perfectly.”
One commentator notes that “‘Rest upon me’ is the vocabulary of the tabernacle from the time when God pitched his tend with his people in . It is also the language used of Jesus when ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt (‘pitched his tent’) among us. Paul employs the same awesome image to teach that the all-powerful Christ ‘pitches his tent’ with his people in their weakness.”
To submit that to God looks like asking Him to maximize the analyzing brain he’s given me, but to free me to entrust Him with the results. To trust that humble submission means he’s going to work.
I wish I experienced God’s presence more acutely than I do at times. I commune with Him through the understanding of His word, but I ask oftentimes that He would help me to ‘feel him’ more. To ‘sense him’ more. And, trusting Him in the midst of perceived lack is often the response. Because I am sure of His promises.
If we, Crossway, are a community that loves God, loves people, and is passionate about sharing the gospel – I wonder this question – do we so love God, so love people enough, and are so passionate about sharing the gospel to surrender our weaknesses to Him? To walk in pain and frailty? If, in His good pleasure, He deems it greater good and greater glory to His name to allow the thorn to remain, will we receive it? Are we that passionate for our city, for our neighbors. If you being thorny your whole life means others see God’s glory and power and come to know Him, will you receive that. For the sake of Christ, will we boast all the more gladly of our resources, that the power of Christ may rest on us?
One pastor reflected, we always want to be overcomers, but do we trust God enough to be perseverers?!
Are we content to be perseverers instead of overcomers for the sake of the gospel?
Two examples of how God spoke to me during this time...
I have this critical, analyzing brain. But unsubmitted it can lead to paralysis of analysis. I can spend so much time agonizing over certain things that it keeps me from doing/from moving. Even with this sermon I struggled with it. “How do I make sure everything that needs to be said is said?” “How do I make this flow perfectly to make perfect sense?” And I hear lies of “Jake, God’s not gonna use you if you don’t nail this sermon.” Or, “Jake, this logically is flawed…You’ve gotta figure it out perfectly.”
To submit that to God looks like asking Him to maximize the analyzing brain he’s given me, but to free me to entrust Him with the results. To trust that humble submission means he’s going to work.
Hear me, it’s not my hope that we would be inspired by God’s word. That we would look to it and say, “Oh, what an amazing message, I wish I could live my life like that.” If all we do when we come together is to get an emotional high about ‘what could be’, we’re wasting our time. I stand and preach the word in my weaknesses and insecurities and lack because I want us to get beyond inspired and into TRANSFORMATION. And I trust that will happen because the promises of God say that His word is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (). And I know that says “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, SO SHALL MY WORD BE THAT GOES FROM MY MOUTH; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” If I don’t know those promises, what is my hope that this will do anything for us? But God’s promises are ROCK SOLID. And I trust that I can surrender my weaknesses to Him, and trust that God promises that He can and will actually show off in my weaknesses. And He wants to do the same for you. But it’s through the path of surrender. That is the only way.
A second example, which goes a bit deeper…throughout my life, I’ve struggled with shame revolving around masculinity, and wondering–do I measure up to what a man is? Personality wise, toughness-wise, emotionally, physically, you name it. And it’s something at times where I’ve wondered, struggled, and wondered to God–why did you make me this way? With these certain tendencies? With this certain disposition? Am I manly enough to be accepted as a man. And that’s real.
I wish I experienced God’s presence more acutely than I do at times. I commune with Him through the understanding of His word, but I ask oftentimes that He would help me to ‘feel him’ more. To ‘sense him’ more. And, trusting Him in the midst of perceived lack is often the response. Because I am sure of His promises.
And, by His grace, over time, and it still being a process, God is calling me back to His words, and saying “Jake, your perceived lack, those things which you look at and wonder why you’re like this, that you feel as a weakness, is just what I want to display my glory through. I just need you to surrender and trust me–my grace is sufficient. I make no mistakes.”
I’m not saying that is easy, but with Jesus, I sense this consistent call back to surrender and trust. And I remember His promises, like this one.
And I ultimately remember that I can rest in His love, care, and crafting of me because Jesus stepped into history on my behalf. I know God’s words and promises are true for me because Jesus died for me. There is not a single word of condemnation against me that is true of me any longer. Everything that I see as a lack is not a lack, because Jesus died for all my sins. Nothing can make me unacceptable to God, for all eternity, because He has saved me by His grace and made me His own. That is the only reason, and the only reason needed, why I can hope in my weaknesses and stand firm on the promises of God. I can trust His truth – that He promises to sustain and strengthen me in my weaknesses through surrender. And that promise is true for all who rest and believe Jesus died and rose for them. And that promise can be true for any who don’t know Him, who decide that today is the day to turn from self and sin, and turn to Jesus for His mercy, grace, and promises. For all the promises of God find their yes and amen in Him. Let’s pray.
Related Media
Related Sermons