Tag Archives: problems
The Blessings of Troubles! (A Look at Psalm 57)
I’ve been looking at Psalm 57 this week with my friend Frank. Most of us want to live a trouble-free life, right? But there are some distinct benefits of troubles. The first benefit is: I. Troubles Help Us to Seek the Lord! (v. 1). The second benefit or blessing is that: II. Troubles focus our attention in becoming steadfast in our faith (v. 7). The third blessing is that: III. Troubles provoke us to praise (v. 9). And the fourth blessing is that: IV. Troubles get us to think about His faithfulness (v. 10). Want to live a life free from troubles? Then you will learn nothing from the Psalmist!
Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 8
In just a few weeks Linda and I will be with the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado for their Heritage Retreat (Sept. 23-24). These posts allow me to work on my messages from 2 Corinthians 12.
Let’s read over our text one more time:
We have seen that Paul’s tour of heaven — 14 years prior — was life-changing for him. But it brought him a thorn to keep him from becoming conceited about what he had experienced.
We’ve suggested that four challenges or truths can be gleaned from Paul’s description of this event in his life. First, living now in light of the future means that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-16). Second, we have seen that, taking Paul’s words seriously means that we have a clear focus on the future (vv. 2, 4, 7). And, third, Paul’s example here provides us with a practical primer on prayer (vv. 8-9).
Let’s notice a fourth — and final — lesson or challenge from this text and it is this: We now receive —
IV. A God-Honoring Perspective on Problems (vv. 9-10)
Let’s look at these two verses carefully: 9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We all have problems, don’t we? But how to we look at them? As irritants? As dead-end streets on our journey to happiness? As inconveniences, monkey-wrenches thrown into our self-focused itineraries? Christians are nowhere told to become passive, masochistic puddles that siliently “suffer for Jesus.” Problems and difficulties give God the opportunity to show us the sufficiency of His grace and us the opportunity to face the naked truth of our weaknesses. Such “weaknesses” — sovereignly given to us — allow us to recalibrate our priorities.
Such a perspective does not remove from us the power of repetitive prayer, but will sometimes change our praying from escape to submission. For Paul God’s refusal to remove his thorn led him to gladness (v. 9)! And he achieved a biblical delight (!) in his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. [I will certainly need to do a bit of a word study on each of these four terms]. But, would you not agree that Paul has pretty much covered all circumstances in life by the use of these four words: WEAKNESSES, INSULTS, HARDSHIPS, PERSECUTIONS, and DIFFICULTIES?
The Challenge: What specific difficulty are you facing right now? Have you given it over to the Lord and prayed something like this? “Lord, I don’t want this. But more than that, I want Your strength to be shown in my weakness. Help me, Lord, to trust You in this circumstance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Church as a Rusted-Out Bus? A Metaphor . . .
We are not picking on the church, but when I took this picture of this old bus, I thought that some aspects of this picture suggest areas of the church that can improve. I’ll re-post this picture in a couple of days with my thoughts. (You might consider printing out this picture and having your Bible study or small group think about the needs and challenges of the local church).
The Church as a Dilapidated Old House — A Metaphor?
We saw this house on a trip from Augusta, Georgia. IF we think of the church, what aspects of this house remind us of the great amount of work we need to do (with the Lord’s help) in building local churches that glorify Him? Of course, He is building His universal church. But our local churches often suffer from a variety of challenges.
Suggestion: Print copies of this picture and ask your Bible study or small group to draw arrows to places or problem areas that remind them of some of the needs of the local church. I’m make some of my suggestions in a later post.
Last chance, friends: I just did a 40 minute webinar with my son Brian on “Seven Mistakes Writers Make.” You can see it below!
TV commercials crack me up! After watching the video above, please permit me a few comments.
Wouldn’t it be great if all our annoyances, all our difficulties, just disappeared?
I thought about this the other say when I was reminded of what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:
We’ll talk about this great text over the next several blogs, but a couple of questions for right now:
1. Why don’t we have Paul’s perspective on our difficulties, weaknesses, etc.?
2. How did God use Paul’s challenges in his life — theologically?