Tag Archives: strength made perfect in weakness

Paradox: Strength & Weakness

17 Aug

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Worshiping God with anything less than excellence gets my hackles up. I’m really passionate about glorifying God with my best. Since you are reading this, you probably have similar tendencies.

Those of us on worship teams – vocalists, instrumentalists, techs – operate out of our God-given talents and strengths. In Psalm 33:3 the word skillful means with excellence:

Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

You’ve heard me say this before. Many times. Nothing new here.

PARADOX

Except it’s not that simple.

Paul goes on a rant at the end of 2 Corinthians (Ch 11-13) responding to the Corinthians’ apostasy in believing false teachers – teachers who seemed to have more on the ball than he did. But rather than give a list of credentials and successes, he shares his weaknesses (2 Cor 11:30). He even boasts about a man who was caught up to paradise and saw wonderful things (2 Cor 12:1-5), but he doesn’t even mention that the SON of GOD appeared to him and the events of the next few days (Acts 9) that solidified his calling. Not even the tiniest hint.

Why??

Power.

The power that Paul lived in was the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

Think about that for awhile.

Christ was crucified in weakness, but raised to life by the power of God (2 Cor 13:4).

Paul had the choice to talk about himself and how God was using him. Or he could share his weaknesses so God would be glorified and “Christ’s power may rest on [him]” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul chose wisely.

PARADOX RESOLUTION

God has gifted us, and every time we lead worship we have the privilege and responsibility to lead his church with excellence in praising him.

Do we chuck all that in order to boast about our weakness?

Of course, the answer is a resounding and emphatic: NO!

Because God’s power works through weakness does not mean it can’t also work through strength. Remember Samson? God made him strong and used his great strength to liberate Israel from the Philistines (Judges 15:14-17). God uses the gifts he gives his people… until we begin to trust in the gift. Samson lost it all when he became proud (Judges 16).

Paul knew what had happened to Samson–  and he had seen the glorified, resurrected Son of God.

After his vision on the road to Damascus, Paul worked with a single focus– to serve and glorify his Savior:

  • In strength – God used Paul’s intellect to pen more of the New Testament than any other writer’s
  • And in weakness – the suffering for the Gospel, the thorn in his flesh, his less-than-stellar speaking ability – all turned attention off Paul and on Christ

God calls us to turn all the attention on him. He promises to direct us (Prov 3:5-6) as we rely on him whether we are working in our strengths or weaknesses.

Here’s what God has been showing me this week: When I am weak, I have access to resurrection power. However, because God has given me talents and abilities, I am almost always using them… and almost never operating in my weaknesses.

It’s counter-intuitive. Run into my weaknesses? Seriously?

God doesn’t call me to use my intuition. He calls me to follow him. My weaknesses are part of that – so others will see him and the power that raised Jesus from the dead.

This is what the world needs.

His power, not mine.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

Have I been deluded by an either/or instead of a both/and philosophy regarded strengths and weaknesses? Why?

What is holding me back from being vulnerable and letting God work through my weakness?

How can I balance using my gifts with operating in my weaknesses?

Oh that I would walk so closely with God I could hear his call toward a weakness instead of going to a default strength! That I would glory only in the cross of Jesus and let his power flow through me into those I lead and into the world! That he will receive all the glory, forever and ever… may it be so. Yes and amen.

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Glory from the Mud

4 Aug

Psalm 40:1-3

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
.    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
.   out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
.   and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
  a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
.   and put their trust in him.

This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture.  I come back to it again and again for many reasons.  When there are difficult things in my life, especially.

I don’t think the Lord took David’s difficulty away.  Before David was king, he was a nationally hunted fugitive.  King Saul sought to wipe his perceived competition from the King of Israel contest.  Samuel had been to see David, and anointed him king, but from David’s perspective, nothing about his life was royal.

Except his love for and commitment to God.

This psalm was David’s heart cry during some of his darkest days.  That’s why I don’t think God removed his troubles.  So what changed from the slimy pit to firm rock?  I believe it was David’s attitude and renewed strength in the Lord.

Verse 3 takes on a very different meaning in light of this.  What did people see that made them put their trust in God?  A godly man who, because of the bedrock foundation he had in his God, was able to rise above the desperate circumstances he found himself.  This is the new song David sang to God.

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Ready for Sunday

When stuff is tough, my default response is to run away, not worship God.  But when I think about it, people expect my to praise God when everything is going well.  No one really takes notice then.  When life is hard and I praise Him, however, that gets people’s attention – and God gets the glory. 

There’s also that bit in the Word about God’s power being made perfect in our weaknesses.  Again, one of the best ways for people to see God’s glory is when my life is a mess, and I continue to praise Him.

Our church has been through a hard time.  Through it all, we have continued to praise Him, turn to Him, and trust Him.  Where else could we go?  He is the firm rock.  We stand on Him alone.

To Him be ALL the glory.

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