★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SUFFICIENT★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…  A SURGEON ★ we discussed that God wants to do heart surgery on His people so that we become more and more like Jesus through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Today we are going to see that…

So once the heart surgery is done, now we must walk out the Christian life which is not devoid of hardship, whether it as we all have been going through with the plague that has shut down the world!   In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Value in Weakness? ★, I shared that my life verse if from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT) which says:

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need [other translations say “sufficient”].  My power works best in weakness.”  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

This passage is powerful but unless you understand the back story, it is difficult to understand how powerful it is.  In the preceding verses, Paul talked about being blessed by being “caught up to the third heaven” where God is and “heard so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell,” (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-3).  Then the Apostle Paul gives the explanation of the significance of my life verse…

“That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it.  I will boast only about my weaknesses.  If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth.  But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God.  So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.”  2 Corinthians 12:5-8 (NLT)

As a result of being granted this vision, Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” to prevent pride from welling up inside.  It is unclear exactly what that may be, but Galatians 4:12-16 gives some insight to what that “thorn” might have been as he mentioned during his initial visit to the Galatia Paul had a “bodily ailment” in which he told them at the end of verse 15 that:

“I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible.”   

Three times Paul asked for the “thorn in the flesh” to be removed and yet it was not. God’s answer was…“My grace is all you need.”  As believers in Christ I am sure I know what you answer will be to this question, but really think about your answer to this question…

The kneejerk reaction is “yes of course,” but it’s not easy to be afflicted with a physical ailment, financial hardship or ______ (fill in the blank) praying over and over waiting for a change but what happens condition Even though David Guzik had this commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:9…

“God would show His strength through Paul’s apparent weakness.  To do this, Paul had to believe that God’s grace is sufficient.  We really don’t believe God’s grace is sufficient until we believe we are insufficient.  For many of us, especially in American culture, this is a huge obstacle.  We are the people who idolize the “self-made man” and want to rely on ourselves.  But we can’t receive God’s strength until we know our weakness.  We can’t receive the sufficiency of God’s grace until we know our own insufficiency.”

I love that last statement that “We can’t receive the sufficiency of God’s grace until we know our own insufficiency.”  Do you receive that?  I know that difficult but that is why Paul gave this instruction in Philippians 4:6 (NASB)…

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

God wants to hear from you.  He loves us and though we may not like any other answer but “yes,” BUT we must trust that HE KNOWS what is best for us.  In the case of Paul, who arguably is one of the greatest voices for the Christian faith (other than Jesus of course), was told no in order to prevent him from becoming proud.

So in closing the loop, I wanted to swing back to my theme verse, and close with this final thought that if we want to experience this attribute of “Sufficiency,” we must accept God’s Grace and understanding that when we are weak, if we go to the power source, we will receive all that we need because He is strong!

Will you trust in His sufficiency? 

 

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

 

★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★

 

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

 

★ Thought for the Day – Fair-Weather Faith ★

 

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Consistency Compounds ★

Well we are 18 days into 2020, any revelations?  Do you have a Word for the New Year?  Or maybe I should say, have you asked God for one?  For those of you who may not have done this in the past, let me just pause a moment and explain.  Since 2015, as the year draws to an end, and a new page of the calendar is about to be flipped, I ask the Holy Spirit to give me a Word for the year.  Sometimes it has been a phrase and other times a single word.  Here are the past “Words/Phrases” so you can get an idea of what I mean:

If you are interested, just click on the link and you can read the associated post.  There have even been times that it comes before I even ask, as was the case this year.  It was December 29, 2019, and we were at my in-laws’ church in South Carolina that I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me the word “CONSISTENCY” as my Word for the new year.  I heard John Maxwell at the Gateway Church Legacy Conference talk about consistency in a way I never heard before.  He said that it is the most underrated word in the dictionary which is not sexy or even something that you would love to be called but, in the end, CONSISTENCY COMPOUNDS.

When I think of “compounding,” my 401k comes to mind, and how the interest on the money over time gains momentum and produces a good return on my investment.  Well the same is true when you consistently apply yourself in an area of your life, whether that is committing to a daily quiet time with God, scheduling time at the gym to stay healthy or being intentional with cultivating genuine community with the people in your life.  It all comes down to discipline!  Something that I struggled with for most of my life, but I have come to realize that it is absolutely necessary in order to be consistent.  As Hebrews 12:11 (HCSB) reminds us:

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time but painful.  Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

As I was looking into my Word for 2020, I came across this Minute With Maxwell called “A Non-Sexy Word That Leads to Greatness,” in which John Maxwell made this powerful point:

“Consistency is the ability to continually do the right thing every day regardless of whether the odds are for you, or the circumstances are favorable.  If you want to go to greatness, don’t go to greatness, go to consistency.  Practice it, that’s the path that will lead you to greatness.”

“Consistency is the ability to continually do the right thing every day!”  I love that!  And just like the verse in Hebrews, we must “practice it!”  No meaningful change happens without work and unfortunately it never happens overnight!  I read somewhere this quote that puts it perfectly…

Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”  John Maxwell

2020 is going to be the year that this will be true of me!  I want to be known as a man who is CONSISTENT in ALL areas of my life:

  • SPIRITUALLY…that my walk with Christ would be stronger than ever as I grow in my daily dependence on the Holy Spirit.
  • PHYSICALLY…that my health would be the best that it ever has been.
  • AND EMOTIONALLY…that my relationships with my wife, two daughters, friends and co-workers would be better than ever and life-affirming.

I am not going to grow in my relationship with Jesus and exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25) unless I connect daily to follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of my life.  I wish after my workouts I would instantly see a difference in the mirror, but I don’t.  My target weight will only be achieved after months of effort.  The same is true for my relationships.  Unless I reach out and put in the effort to show the people in my life that I care and am invested in what matters to them, the connection will be surface level at best.

Over the past 20 days since I received my Word, I have been ruminating over this and looking for an example of someone who has modeled this in their life.  So here goes…

SPIRITUAL MODEL: DAVID.

Now you may be thinking, why would he not choose Jesus?  After all He is the only perfect person who ever lived!  While that is certainly true, I landed on David because he is the only human who is described as “a man after god’s own heart” in the Bible (see 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22).  David is a complex person and you may remember in our “Temptation Series,” that I used him as the example of what not to (see the post ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★,) but even so, the scriptures are clear that David consistently chased after God with his whole heart!  As a main contributor to the Book of Psalms, you see the love, trust and devotion he had for the Father.  David said in Psalms 119:5 (NLT):

“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!”

I want that to be true in my life!  That everything that I think, say or do would reflect God’s Word.  I read a commentary from David Guzik on Psalm 119:5 in which he said:

“This is not only a pious wish; it is also a prayer for the ability to obey God’s Word.  We received God’s commands understanding our lack of ability to keep those commands, apart from His work in us.”

To achieve this I know, I must have a consistent quiet time with God where I daily pray, read the bible and seek the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life.  I have also found that Bible Studies with other believers have strengthen me as Proverbs 27:17 says.

PHYSICAL MODEL: MY WIFE.

Now before you start groaning and judging me that this is some self-serving sucking up, there is no one I know who has consistently made her health a priority in her life.  If you have been on this blog before, you no doubt have seen me post pictures from her Facebook page Fit Family in which she integrates her 3 loves – Faith, Family, and Fitness.  I have been married to her for over 20 years, and she has shown me day after day what it means to live a healthy life, one which is balanced with exercise and proper diet.  Not dieting, BUT good choices with correct portions.  My wife, who is very healthy and loves to workout, made this point to me in the past that the Holy Spirit just brought back to me remembrance, she said:

“You are so disciplined in your quiet time with God, why can’t you be disciplined in your health as well?”

Great question huh?  Now you may think this was rude, but it honestly said in love because she wants to keep me around for as long as possible!  Hahaha!   When she met me, working out and watching what I ate was NOT me at all.  I never exercised and I was a “biggie” size consumer, that the larger the portions, the better.  Through her example I have learned what a balanced life looks like, and over the years I have improved but I am far from consistent.  It is funny that what my wife challenged me with, is actually found in scripture!  I was just reading 3 John 1:2 (NLT) last week in which John offered this greeting to his friend Gaius:

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

So, though I desire first and foremost, to be consistent in my spiritual walk, I realized that I need to be consistent in EVERY part of my life so part of my prayer for 2020 is that I am “as healthy in body as [I am] strong in spirit!”  Last year I hit 45, and with my mom dying from a stroke in 2016, it’s time that I commit to a consistently work at improving my health!

EMOTIONAL MODEL: FRED ROGERS.

Some may be thinking, who is Fred Rogers?!  Others may only know him only as Mr. Rogers, the much-loved host of the TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which was a permanent fixture on TV sets across the country, airing on PBS from 1968 to 2001.  Last Saturday we went to see the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” for the second time, and as I watched again Tom Hanks brilliantly portray the caring man who was so invested in helping kids understand the world, I was mesmerized all over again and thought this would be the perfect example of emotional consistency!  Interestingly enough, it was not until the credits that I discovered that the movie was based on the 1998 Esquire article called “CAN YOU SAY…“HERO”? by Tom Junod.

I looked up the article and was amazed to see the tag line under the title:

“Fred Rogers has been doing the same small good thing for a very long time.”

That is perfect!!  Both in the movie and in real life, Fred Rogers reached out to everyone and worked to connect on an emotional level that made you feel so special.  The author of the article was jaded by the world and in need of someone to care for him.  As I read the Esquire article, I was moved to tears to read story after story of how profoundly affected people were by this meek man of God who made a simple offer every time “Will you be my neighbor?”  One part that hit me really hard was this:   

“The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is!”  Amen?  Jesus made this clear in Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) when answering the question from one of the experts in religious law who asked him which is the most important commandment?

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The third part of my pray for 2020 is that I will consistently pursue a deeper connection with those in my life as modeled by Fred Rogers and to love my neighbor as much as I love myself!

So, I close with my original question…What’s your Word for 2020?  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for one, it is a great way to center your year as you delve into the Bible in 2020.

 

  DIG DEEPER

If you want to read more about the importance of Developing a Daily Quiet Time with God check out this post called:

★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★

If you want to read more about Discipline, check out this post called:

★ Thought for the Day – The Benefit of Discipline ★

If you want to read more about developing impactful relationships, check out this post called:

★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★

 

 

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