“Be Empowered!”

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And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Oh, that thorn in the flesh syndrome. That persistent thing that seems like it will never be gone from your life. I would venture to say that most people have dealt with or are currently dealing with that one nagging thing that keeps – well, nagging you! That one thing that causes us to say, “Lord, if You would just move this one thing from my life, I would be alright.” Thorns are hurtful. They are irritating. And yes, they can get in the way of the one who wants to enjoy the blossom. There may be a beautiful rose on the end of the stem, but the thorns can hinder the full enjoyment of holding on to it.

There are times when one may be trying to enjoy the beauty of God’s promises that hurtful things may arise. As one tries to draw nearer and nearer to Him, particular thorns may make it hard to hold on. Thorns can “spring up and choke them,” Matthew 13:7. Nevertheless, despite what our outside circumstances may be telling us, we are taught that we can still live an empowered life. Though we have “infirmities” (and we all do), “grace” is still at work. Grace – that unmerited favor makes room when obstacles get in the way. And God says His grace is “sufficient.” It is enough.

There is only one man who lived in this world perfectly, and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us are surviving off God’s grace. We depend on it every single day though we are undeserving of it. He has empowered us through our Lord Jesus Christ to progress on this journey despite all our shortcomings. Every obstacle that we face in life is not going to go away. Oh, how I wish it would. But, what the apostle Paul is teaching us is that we can still succeed in Christ. We can still have a blessed Christian life through His power that “rest upon” us.

Have you ever played tag as a kid? Somebody tried to tag you and get you out, but you gave them the slip and got away. Have you ever, in a victorious romp, stuck your thumbs in your ears as a kid while waving your fingers and chanting, “Nana nana, boo, boo?” Paul had a victorious romp of his own. After he prayed, he realized despite all he was going through, the grace of God was still at work in his life and that it was God’s strength that was being made perfect in Paul’s weakness.  Therefore, Paul confidently declared, “Most gladly… will I rather glory in my infirmities.” 

Don’t you love that? Despite it all, God is still at work in us and through us. He is perfecting some stuff in us and for us, and we can rejoice with Paul.  We are not rejoicing because of the trouble or hurt we experience or encounter. We are rejoicing because we believe in God’s grace, and that allows the power of Christ to rest upon us because we have yielded to Him.

The empowered life is one that yields to Him and recognizes it is His strength being perfected in us. The empowered person can still push forth knowing that God is still at work: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. The hurt may not be over or gone but it’s as if God is reminding us: “I have all you need to make through.”

Please note: Talking about empowerment can easily cause one to divert and take a humanistic view. But, I have strived to keep this God-centered. Everything we need is in Him, and when we can grab hold of that, we become truly empowered.

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“Me, Myself and God!”

life_work_02

Photo Credit: Gospelgifs

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph.  We have the main points in his life down pat: his coat of many colors, his dreams and his interpretation of others dreams.  We know of him being sold into slavery by his own brothers, his life in Egypt, the accusations of Potiphar’s wife and his imprisonment.  But how closely do we pay attention to his actual relationship with God?  Do we focus more on “From the Pit to the Palace,” side of things than on his integrity before God?

In his story, Joseph appears to start out as young man who is a bit boastful and can’t wait to tell every listening ear his dream.  (I’m not saying he was boastful, just that it appears so).  His dreams became so that they incurred the hatred of his brothers.  This hatred would boil up within them until it filled them with violent intentions.  At one point, they thought murder was one option to rid them of this dreamer.  Instead of killing him they opted to get rid of him while making a little money on the side.  They sold him into slavery.

In what appeared as the hardest time of his young life, Joseph’s relationship with God deepened.  This showed in the way God cause him to be prosperous and favored no matter where life put him (Gen. 39:3, 21).  Joseph also displayed the importance of his devotion to God in not sinning against God (Gen. 39:9) and in his refusal to take credit for all that God was doing through him (Gen. 40:8; 41:16, 28, 32).

God blessed Joseph with this incredible gift yet in his humility and dependence upon God, he denounced any accolades of his own.  He considered himself to being a vessel, realizing that “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” (Gen. 41:16, KJV).

The humility of Joseph took him far in life.  Eventually he became second in command over Egypt.  Had he have gotten big-headed I’m sure the story would’ve turned out quite differently.  If he had reverted to the “Me, Myself and I” attitude that a lot of people seem to display these days, Joseph’s story would not have noted as the legacy we now know.

“It’s not in me,” Joseph readily proclaims.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Cor. 3:5, KJV).  The Apostle Paul out-and-out tells us what Joseph already proclaimed.  We don’t have it in us!  Any gifts, any abilities, any special insights and any favor – we have it because of God!  There’s no room for a self-sufficient attitude when God is trying to work in you.

When Daniel went before king Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream, Daniel, like Joseph, admitted his frailty as a human.  He said, “This secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living,” (Dan. 2:30, KJV).  He did not consider himself anything special just because he could interpret dreams rather, he gave glory to God, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his,” (Dan. 2:20, KJV).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was asked, “Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” (Dan. 2:26, KJV).  Daniel answered much like Joseph did.  He said, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days,” (Dan. 2:28, KJV).

It is amazing the miracles that God can perform through the one who will not compete with Him to gain the credit.  When God instructed Gideon to go against the Midianites with only three hundred men, He did so, “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” (Judges 7:2, KJV).  When there is competition for glory God will retain His!  If one is in competition with Him they are “against” Him and God can’t work mightily through them!

It’s not  just an Old Testament thing.  Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12, KJV).  Let’s face it, we are human and unless God puts it in us – unless God give it to us, we don’t have anything to offer this world.  “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27, KJV).

Let’s do a credit check today.  Not to decipher our financial status but rather our relationship status with God.  It’s not “Me, Myself and I,” it’s God working in us.  Let’s stand with Joseph and declare, “It’s not in me: God shall give . . . an answer . . .,” (Gen. 41:16, KJV).

“Me, Myself and God!”

life_work_02

Photo Credit: Gospelgifs

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph.  We have the main points in his life down pat: his coat of many colors, his dreams and his interpretation of others dreams.  We know of him being sold into slavery by his own brothers, his life in Egypt, the accusations of Potiphar’s wife and his imprisonment.  But how closely do we pay attention to his actual relationship with God?  Do we focus more on “From the Pit to the Palace,” side of things than on his integrity before God?

In his story, Joseph appears to start out as young man who is a bit boastful and can’t wait to tell every listening ear his dream.  (I’m not saying he was boastful, just that it appears so).  His dreams became so that they incurred the hatred of his brothers.  This hatred would boil up within them until it filled them with violent intentions.  At one point, they thought murder was one option to rid them of this dreamer.  Instead of killing him they opted to get rid of him while making a little money on the side.  They sold him into slavery.

In what appeared as the hardest time of his young life, Joseph’s relationship with God deepened.  This showed in the way God cause him to be prosperous and favored no matter where life put him (Gen. 39:3, 21).  Joseph also displayed the importance of his devotion to God in not sinning against God (Gen. 39:9) and in his refusal to take credit for all that God was doing through him (Gen. 40:8; 41:16, 28, 32).

God blessed Joseph with this incredible gift yet in his humility and dependence upon God, he denounced any accolades of his own.  He considered himself to being a vessel, realizing that “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” (Gen. 41:16, KJV).

The humility of Joseph took him far in life.  Eventually he became second in command over Egypt.  Had he have gotten big-headed I’m sure the story would’ve turned out quite differently.  If he had reverted to the “Me, Myself and I” attitude that a lot of people seem to display these days, Joseph’s story would not have noted as the legacy we now know.

“It’s not in me,” Joseph readily proclaims.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Cor. 3:5, KJV).  The Apostle Paul out-and-out tells us what Joseph already proclaimed.  We don’t have it in us!  Any gifts, any abilities, any special insights and any favor – we have it because of God!  There’s no room for a self-sufficient attitude when God is trying to work in you.

When Daniel went before king Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream, Daniel, like Joseph, admitted his frailty as a human.  He said, “This secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living,” (Dan. 2:30, KJV).  He did not consider himself anything special just because he could interpret dreams rather, he gave glory to God, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his,” (Dan. 2:20, KJV).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was asked, “Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” (Dan. 2:26, KJV).  Daniel answered much like Joseph did.  He said, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days,” (Dan. 2:28, KJV).

It is amazing the miracles that God can perform through the one who will not compete with Him to gain the credit.  When God instructed Gideon to go against the Midianites with only three hundred men, He did so, “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” (Judges 7:2, KJV).  When there is competition for glory God will retain His!  If one is in competition with Him they are “against” Him and God can’t work mightily through them!

It’s not  just an Old Testament thing.  Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12, KJV).  Let’s face it, we are human and unless God puts it in us – unless God give it to us, we don’t have anything to offer this world.  “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27, KJV).

Let’s do a credit check today.  Not to decipher our financial status but rather our relationship status with God.  It’s not “Me, Myself and I,” it’s God working in us.  Let’s stand with Joseph and declare, “It’s not in me: God shall give . . . an answer . . .,” (Gen. 41:16, KJV).