December 6, 2017

When You Are Weakest Then You Are Strongest in Christ

INTERESTING FACTS : Samuel Adams, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; "FATHER OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION"; RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS

" I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace." [1]
 
Daily Reading : 2 CORINTHIANS 10- 13
 
TEXT : 2 Corinthians  12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.  12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.  12:7 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.  12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  12:9 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.  12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
 
THEME :  Suffering
 
2 Corinthians 10 
 
The apostle vindicates himself against the aspersions cast on his person by the false apostle; and takes occasion to mention his spiritual might and authority, 2Co_10:1-6. He shows them the impropriety of judging after the outward appearance, 2Co_10:7. Again refers to his apostolical authority, and informs them that when he again comes among them he will show himself in his deeds as powerful as his letters intimated, 2Co_10:8-11. He shows that these false teachers sat down in other men's labors, having neither authority nor influence from God to break up new ground, while he and the apostles in general had the regions assigned to them through which they were to sow the seed of life; and that he never entered into any place where the work was made ready to his hand by others, 2Co_10:12-16. He concludes with intimating that the glorying of those false apostles was bad; that they had nothing but self-commendation; and that they who glory should glory in the Lord, 2Co_10:17, 2Co_10:18.  (Adam Clarke)[2]
 
2 Corinthians 11 
 
The apostle apologizes for expressing his jealousy relative to the true state of the Corinthians; still fearing lest their minds should have been drawn aside from the simplicity of the Gospel, 2Co_11:1-3; From this he takes occasion to extol his own ministry, which had been without charge to them, having been supported by the Churches of Macedonia while he preached the Gospel at Corinth, 2Co_11:4-11. Gives the character of the false apostles, 2Co_11:12-16. Shows what reasons he has to boast of secular advantages of birth, education, Divine call to the ministry, labors in that ministry, grievous persecutions, great sufferings, and extraordinary hazards, vv. 16-33.  (Adam Clarke)[3]
 
2 Corinthians 12 
 
St. Paul mentions some wonderful revelations which he had received from the Lord, 2Co_12:1-5. He speaks of his suffering in connection with these extraordinary revelations, that his character might be duly estimated, 2Co_12:6. That he might not be too much exalted, a messenger of Satan is sent to buffet him; his prayer for deliverance, and the Divine answer, 2Co_12:7-9. He exults in sufferings and reproaches, and vindicates his apostleship, 2Co_12:10-13. Promises to come and visit them, 2Co_12:14, 2Co_12:15. Answers some objections, 2Co_12:16-18. And expresses his apprehensions that when he visits them he shall find many evils and disorders among them, 2Co_12:19-21.  (Adam Clarke)[3]
 
2 Corinthians 13 
 
The apostle again says that this is the third time he has purposed to come and see them; and threatens that he will, by the power of Christ, punish every incorrigible sinner, 2Co_13:1-4. Exhorts them to examine themselves, whether they be in the faith, 2Co_13:5, 2Co_13:6. Prays that they may do no evil, 2Co_13:7. And shows how ardently he wished their complete restoration to unity and purity, 2Co_13:8, 2Co_13:9. Tells them for what reason he writes to them, 2Co_13:10. Bids them farewell, 2Co_13:11, Gives them some directions, and concludes with his apostolical benediction, 2Co_13:12-14.  (Adam Clarke)[3]
 
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "When You Are Weakest Then You Are Strongest in Christ."
 
The truth about Christian suffering is foreign to this generation.  Fed on a steady theological diet of "everything goes right for those who believe right," when afflictions or adversity comes (as it does in the life of every true Christian) many Christians are not prepared for it.  Thus, the words of the Apostle Paul are apropos for the time you live in.  The words of Paul, which are the words of God, speak of the truth about the path you are on in following Christ.  It is a path that is narrow and at times and difficult to pass through.
 
The Apostle Paul had more revelations about things to come (prophecy) as well as Heaven itself (having been brought there by the Spirit of God) than any of the other apostles.  This we may safely assume, since he wrote over half of the New Testament.  If he did not have more revelations and visitations of the Spirit, he obviously had more wisdom since once again, he wrote most of the New Testament.  He was chosen by Jesus not only to carry the message of the gospel to the Gentiles, but also to suffer many things for the name of Christ.
 
Hence, in the life of the Apostle Paul you have a delicate balance between blessings and sufferings.  In many ways, this is true of every Christian.  Not that you will experience the type of spiritual ecstasy that the Apostle Paul did, but you will not experience the depth of his sufferings either.  Nevertheless, every Christian has a measure of both blessings and sufferings not because it is part of human nature, but specifically because of the fact that you are filled with the Spirit of God and chosen to be saved.  For this reason, you have a measure of the afflictions of Christ as all Christians do.
 
Therefore, since you are a part of the afflictions of Christ -that in turn make you somewhat weak (as all troubles usually do), you will likewise experience the strength that comes from Christ alone.  Notice in the words of the Apostle Paul, that he was told by the LORD that God's strength is perfected in weakness.  Again, this is strange to many postmodern Christians.  Because of the enormous amount of errant teaching today, many a Christian expects a life of ease and comfort.  This is what is some well-intentioned, as well as false teachers, bring forth from the pulpit.  However, the way of God is to make his children strong by making them weak first.  It is as most things are in the kingdom of Christ - a paradox.
 
In Christ's kingdom, many things are upside down.  The first are last.  The weak are strong.  The base things of the world are chosen to be kings and priests in the kingdom of Christ.  Therefore, as you read the New Testament, you come across many ironic and paradoxical principles that are the opposite of the natural ways of man.  Christ's ways are not your ways.  The ways of Christ are higher than your ways as much as the heavens are higher than the earth.
 
Have you ever noticed you pray more when you are distressed or in trouble than when you are not?  Have you ever clearly seen that you will read the Bible more, and much more diligently, when you are anxious or depressed as opposed to when you are happy and content?  Well, even if you have not, it does not take too much to understand the truth of these statements.  In short, we draw closer to Christ when we are afraid or in pain (of one sort or another) than when all is well.  This is human nature.  We are self-sufficient to a point, and that one point of time is when we are in need, especially desperate need.  Therefore, the plan of God is to make (or allow) his children to be weak so that they will draw closer to him and become strong.  That is - very strong.
 
Just like you, the Apostle Paul sought the LORD diligently that his "thorn in the flesh," would be taken away from him.  Once again, just like you, the Apostle Paul did not like his (particular) suffering whatever it may have been.  Some suppose it was his eyesight being, again as it is supposed, partially blinded from the light of Christ on the road to Damascus.  Others on the other hand, think that the "messenger of Satan," was a demonic power that continually harassed him in one form or another.  However, we do not know specifically what the Apostle Paul's thorn was.  Further, it does not matter.  Whenever it was, it was painful enough for the Apostle Paul to ask Christ three times to remove it.
 
In the end, the Apostle Paul accepted the grace of Christ and continued to live for Jesus with his affliction.  Moreover, he goes on to state that if he is going to boast, he will boast in the things that make him weak!  This is certainly not the way you - the typical or average Christian, reacts.  At least not until you see how much better you do when Christ is truly in control of your life than when you are.  This lesson of "letting go," is not easily learned.  Most times, it comes through many repeated trials.  It is received in the spirit and mind after much affliction.  However, when the lesson is finally learned - that is, that life is filled with peace and joy when Christ is truly in control, you are glad for the grace of God that brought this blessing (in disguise) to you.  Most surely you are.
 
Unless you learn that when you are weak in yourself that you are strong in Christ, you will never know the peace that comes from Christ alone.  There are all types of "peace." Yet, on examination, you learn the peace the world gives is transient and shallow.  However, on the contrary, the peace that Christ gives has depth and lasts for life - forever. What a difference!  That is, knowing the peace of Christ, versus the "peace" offered by this fallen world.  There is a vast difference between the two, and only the Christian who has been tested and tried many times over knows the significance of that difference.  When you are weakest, you are strongest in Christ. Truly, it is a blessing in disguise!

  • [1] From a Fast Day Proclamation issued by Governor Samuel Adams, Massachusetts, March 20, 1797, in our possession; see also Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1908), Vol. IV, p. 407, from his proclamation of March 20, 1797
  • [2] Adam Clarke LL.D., F.S.A. Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible. Public Domain, 1715 - 1832.
  • [3] Ibid,
  • [4] Ibid,
  • [5] Ibid,
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