Embracing Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9, grace, weaknessIs it ok to be weak?  And if so, is it ok if we are perceived as weak by those watching us?  It is something that has been on my mind lately and while I don’t have all of the answers I do believe that God’s Word has some things to say about the idea of weakness.

Before we look to God’s Word I think it is important that we define weakness.  For the purposes of this blog post weakness will be defined as “unable to accomplish something or not having the necessary resources to do something in our own strength or under or own power”.  Think of an old-fashioned steam locomotive travelling up a long incline and not having enough fuel (coal, wood or oil, generally)  to reach the top.  The train slows and then is at risk of stopping and going backwards unless more fuel is found to power up the steam engine.

With that definition in mind, let’s ask our original question again:  Is it ok to be weak and is it ok if we are perceived as weak by those who are watching us?  The answer is absolutely yes, on both accounts!

Why is this?  Because despite what the world and society tells us, self-sufficiency is a lie.  In the temporal realm even the strongest of us is vulnerable to disease, to injury, to mental and physical deterioration and eventually, to death.  Spiritually speaking, without divine intervention, we are in even worse shape.  Because of Sin we are all born spiritually dead and without the washing and regeneration provided by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation we are all bound for eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.  In other words, to rely completely on self in this life is to face death alone while headed straight for Hell.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything worse than that!

Perhaps we need to rephrase our original question at this point.  Based on this discussion it would seem that in actuality, everyone is weak but some do not choose to acknowledge it and in fact do everything in their power to hide it.  Maybe what we should be asking is, “Is it ok for me to acknowledge my weakness and to not try to hide it or pretend like it doesn’t exist?”  The answer is still “yes” but by rephrasing the question like this I believe we get a little bit closer to God’s truth about our self-sufficiency or lack thereof.

In the spiritual realm, unless we come to the place where we acknowledge our weakness and inability to save ourselves then we will never turn to God and ask Him for His salvation.  Once we’ve done that we can also begin to take God’s point of view about our physical bodies and mental capacity and see that no matter how physically fit or intelligent we might be, we are a long, long way from being perfect and from being like God intended us to be.

The Apostle Paul, looking as it his own condition stated: “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.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)    Paul, who was responsible for writing most of what we call the New Testament and was a missionary to so many people in the early church was still able to realistically see himself for what he was; a sinner, saved by grace.  When he prayed to God about it the Lord answered Him and he recorded that answer in 2 Corinthians 2:9.  For Paul, his weakness was an opportunity for the power of Christ to show through him and so it is with us today.


I believe that anyone who spends any amount of time with us or who knows us on more than just a passing basis should see that we attribute our hope and strength to the Lord.  The people around us should know that our provision comes from God and that only by His grace are we able to stand.  Our own strength should not be what shows forth when people look on us from the outside and our attitude should be “less about me and more about Jesus”.

This is a difficult concept.  Making our lives about something other than ourselves is not in our nature.  Even when we get to the place where we acknowledge that we need a savior and begin to understand how utterly non self-sufficient we actually are it can be a long time before we begin to show forth Jesus to others.  If this is where you are right now then I would say to you don’t give up and don’t stop striving.  Spiritual maturity takes time and effort but comes with the absolute best reward possible; constant fellowship with the Heavenly Father who loves us so very much.

As for me, I’m still learning to embrace my weakness.  The various problems and trials that I face seem to be mystifying at times but they do keep me on my knees asking the Lord for deliverance and for strength. And if that’s what it takes for the power of Christ to rest upon me then so be it, let them come.

What is God’s Glory and Why Should We Understand it?

glory, Jesus, praiseCan we, as human beings, ever really understand an all powerful, ever-present God?  And as part of that, can we identify and comprehend His majesty and glory?  I say that we can and by doing so we can get to know Him better.

God’s glory is spoken of often in the Bible and in many church settings.  But do we understand what that is and why it is a part of Him?  Or is it just a word we read and then pass over without a second thought?  Has “glory to God” become such a Sunday School term that we no longer consider what we are saying or who we are saying it to?

After much thought and prayer I have decided to define God’s glory as “the sum total of all that God is, all that He has done and all that He ever will do”.  To be sure, this definition is attempting to put an infinite, perfect God into terms that a finite, imperfect human can understand and is therefore not completely accurate.  But I believe it does point us in the right direction.

God is Spirit and God is perfect.  We are flesh and we are imperfect.  We literally cannot comprehend God without major outside help.  And because God’s glory surrounds Him and is part of Him it is inseparable from Him but also too vast and wonderful for us to bear.  In Exodus Moses asked God to show him His glory and this is what God said:

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:19-20)

Moses could not look on God directly but only on the afterimage of His passing.  God had to hide him in the cleft of a rock and then cover the rock with His hand in order for Moses to survive the encounter. (Read Exodus 33:21-23).  This same God who desires to make Himself known to us is also very dangerous to us because of our fallen, fleshly nature.  So in that respect God’s glory presents a big problem to us that was marvelously solved by the coming of Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh.

The writer of Hebrews had this to say:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Jesus is God’s glory and God’s character made flesh!  Here then is God Himself in a form that we can understand and comprehend.  Although Jesus was fully man and born of woman He was also fully God and the exact representation of the nature of God the Father.  God’s glory is shown to us by Jesus Christ and we can begin to understand all that God is and all that He has done through our relationship with Jesus.  When we say “Glory to God” what we are really saying is “Praise Jesus who I understand as God!”

This is the season of Advent when we talk about and celebrate the coming of the Christ child.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of Jesus Christ in bridging the relationship between God and man.  Jesus is God that came to meet us and the only way that we can understand the character and nature of God.  We can get to know our creator and the awesome, perfect God of the universe because of Jesus Christ.  God’s glory is revealed in Him and we must know Jesus to know God.

The Most Encouraging Easter Message

Easter, Resurrection, JesusThe redemption offered to us by almighty God is powerful.  There isn’t a problem to big or a circumstance to dire or a life too far gone that God cannot redeem.

Our redemption is made possible by Jesus.  His life, death, burial and resurrection on the third day opened the door of heaven for all creation and defeated the power of death, once and for all.

As a way to celebrate and remember the importance of Easter, I have added a video clip to this post that I think is incredibly powerful.  If you’ve not ever heard this clip then please, take three minutes and listen to it now.  It will absolutely bless you!

Thank you Lord, for resurrection Sunday!

Friday Favorites 12/13/13

Christmas, Christ, LoveFriday favorites is a place where I can talk about and recommend some of my favorite things.  From food to music to technology to great ideas, Friday favorites will feature them all.  If you have feedback on something that’s deserving of a Friday favorite, please don’t hesitate to use the comment section or send me an email at matthew515blog@gmail.com.  I want to hear about your favorites too!

My topic for today’s Friday Favorites is taking time to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas.  Let me explain.  Today’s post will most likely be my last for 2013.  As we approach the end of the year I find that I am ready for a rest, both mentally and physically.  I am already enjoying Christmas time this year much more than usual simply because of my job change and exit from retail.  But I want to make sure that my focus remains on God’s love and how it was expressed with the sending of the Christ child so many years ago.  This year, I have an opportunity to really experience Christmas as never before and I don’t want to miss it.

With some additional time to rest and reflect I plan to catch up on my reading, enjoy the company of my family and friends and focus on renewing my mind and body for the start of 2014.  It’s been an amazing year and I remain excited and expectant about what God is going to do.  He has been so good to my family and I and I must continue to proclaim His love and His mercy both with my mouth and the way that I live my life.

To all of you that are travelling this Holiday season I pray for your safe return.  To all of you who are visiting places where there is tension and strife I pray that God’s love may heal and wipe away any record of past wrongs.  And to every single one of you I pray that you would grow in the grace and knowledge of God and that the full weight of God’s great love would be made known to you this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas everyone, I will see you in 2014!


Consider God’s Most Special Creation

encouragement,faith,christianitySomehow I felt that this topic would be better addressed personally, in video format.  Please take a few moments and watch the video and then honestly ask yourself how you feel about you.  Do you consider yourself God’s most special creation?

For those of you who can’t watch the video or would like to read the scripture that I am using, here it is:

1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

(Psalm 139: 1-16 NASB)


Godly perspective.  We all need it, especially as it concerns ourselves.  I believe that if we could comprehend just a little bit of how much God really loves us then it would radically alter how we live our lives, how we treat other people and how we see ourselves.  Do you realize how special you are to Him?  I hope that you do and I hope you can share that with someone else this week.


Who is Sitting at Your Table Tonight?

Jesus,Holy Spirit, Influence, quiet timeYesterday we discussed how everything that we put into our bodies influences us.  Today we will look at the things that we spend time with and how they influence us in return.  Let us paint a mental picture to hopefully make a point.

Having guests for dinner can be challenging.  You have to decide what to serve and when to serve and where to seat each guest.  Being a good host and practicing good hospitality is a skill and a blessing to everyone, when it’s done properly.

Get it wrong, however, and you end up with embarrassed and sometimes unhappy guests.  If you serve your vegan aunt a steak and your lactose intolerant friend a cheeseburger, they aren’t going to eat and will go hungry.  Likewise, serving food that is overcooked or getting cold because it’s been sitting out too long won’t make anyone happy.

How about that seating arrangement?  If you are fortunate enough to have friends and family where everyone gets along then you should be very thankful!  Many people don’t have that luxury and must be very careful about who sits next to whom or there will be grumbling and complaining if not outright hostility.  Some people just don’t mix well and it will be your job as host to make sure that anyone who causes a problem is asked to leave so that they don’t upset your other guests.

Do you remember all of those influences that we talked about yesterday?  The ones you let in your house?  They are now sitting at the table of your mind and your heart.  If you are saved (and I pray that you are!) then Jesus is also sitting at the table of your mind and your heart.  

How much time will you give each guest and how are you going to arrange them?  Will there be any guests that you simply must ask to leave?

I hope we agree that Jesus must be first at our table.  Jesus must get the best seat and the best that we have to offer.  Jesus is patient and kind, however, and will not force us to listen to Him or to spend any time with Him at all.  Jesus is the type of guest who brings more to the party than the host but will never force the host to take anything from Him.  Jesus wants to bless our table, every single day.

Jesus wants to sit quietly with us, talk, and let us discover who He is through intimate conversation.  Jesus will even feed us out of the good things that He has brought to our table if we will be humble enough to ask.  Jesus delights in nourishing His children, and his gifts are always perfect.

As for those others who we have invited in and now sit at our table?  As we make Jesus the head of our table and the focus of our gathering, it becomes more and more important that the other guests agree with our arrangement and support our effort.  One bad guest can ruin the entire party out of rudeness or hostility.  A good guest will recognize the guest of honor and defer to Him and not try to steal the glory or the spotlight.  The best guests will even join in the celebration and help to honor and glorify He who sits at the head of our table.  These types of guests are keepers, and should have a regular place at our table!

The moral is this:  It matters what we see and hear.  It matters who (Who) we spend our time with and what we spend our time doing.  It also matters how we spend time with our Lord and how we order our lives around Him.

How much time did you spend with the Lord today?  Did you do anything special during that time with Him?