In my weakness YOU ARE STRONG!

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV 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.

I was preparing the night before the Ambassadors for Christ Australia dinner when I realised that the two-sided prints of our program sheets were not aligned. I panicked for a while, but after a careful thought, I decided to put a gold ribbon on its side to hide its imperfection.

Some people remarked that I did well in preparing and decorating the program sheets. My husband, who knew what went wrong, told me that the outcome of the program sheets looked great with the gold ribbon

It reminded me that we tend to be critical of ourselves as people. We can even be so encouraging and supportive to other people, but we tend to be hard on ourselves. Those negative thoughts, fear, self-pity, condemnation, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, brokenness, feeling inadequate or not enough, worthlessness, weaknesses and disgrace can be very accessible. We tend to dwell on that space for quite some time, or worse, it becomes a cycle of God’s grace and God’s forgiveness to us.

In Hebrews 4:4-16 it says, “..They shall not enter my rest. Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience..Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.. LET US THEREFORE STRIVE TO ENTER THAT REST, SO THAT NO ONE MAY FALL BY THE SAME SORT OF DISOBEDIENCE. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account..For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who is in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.“

So one conclusion to draw from the warning in the book of Hebrews is that unbelief is such a constant and dangerous temptation that WE MUST FIGHT. Entering into God’s rest depends on our faith. We will not enter into God’s rest — if we do not trust his promises.

If we feel that we are turning to ourselves alone, let’s try to read Corinthians 12:9 again and again until it sinks in our hearts and souls. Let us be reminded that God’s grace can only fill those holes in our hearts because God is the only one who can make our lives sufficient. Let us CHOOSE to enter God’s rest and accept that we are indeed not enough, but God is! After all, he is the creator of all things.

Let us boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on us! When we yield to him, we will experience his power at work in us, transforming our hearts and minds.

All throughout the Bible, we see that God loves to grow the trust of his people by working through their weaknesses and limitations. Consider barren Sarah, Hannah, Rachel and Elizabeth, the stuttering Moses, Gideon’s small band, the young David versus the giant, Goliath, the young virgin Mary, and the blue-collar Peter among other fishermen who we’re called to be Jesus’ disciples, Jesus himself, who came in the utter weakness and vulnerability of a baby, the lamb who was slain, ultimately demonstrates that it is meek sheep who conquer and win the world. “God chooses what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and what is weak to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV). After God helps you go through a problem or learn to live with a weakness, you can help somebody else with the same difficulty.

Just like our program sheets, God can use our flaws and weaknesses to emphasise the power of his love and to participate in the divine plans God has for the world. Are we willing to celebrate our smallness, trust in God’s power and make ourselves available the next time God prompts us to witness for him to a neighbour, a family, work colleague or the cab driver or the woman behind the counter?

Lord, we acknowledge that we are nothing without you. Thank you that your grace is sufficient. We joyfully accept that you have all the strength and power we could ever need, and we don’t—and so we’re going to need your help! Help us share this valuable peace, joy, hope, and your freeing sufficiency in all things to all the people around us, especially in this day and age. In your sufficiency we trust, Amen!

Have you partnered with Jesus?  

There is no doubt that Jesus was effective in spreading the good news of the kingdom of God here on earth. But have you considered the partnerships Jesus had that enabled him to accomplish the work the Father had given him to do? 

Jesus partnered with his Father and the Holy Spirit. In John 5 we read Jesus saying, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing” verse 19. Again, in verse 30 Jesus says, “I can do nothing on my own”. 

Although fully God, Jesus operated only out of his humanity during his time on earth. He recognised his human limitations and his need for the Fathers divine direction and help through the Holy Spirit to accomplish his purpose. We see an example of this so clearly when Jesus began his ministry. In Luke 4 we see Jesus ministering in Capernaum, first in the synagogue and afterwards in Simon’s house. Mass crowds gathered and bought the sick and the demon possessed to be healed. Then, the very next day, we see Jesus finding a quiet place to be alone with the Father. When his disciples come looking for him, Jesus says to them “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well”. He had his instructions from the Father and went in the power of the Spirit. This is a scene we see often in the gospels; in fact, the busier ministry got for Jesus the more we see him taking time out in prayer seeking the Fathers will. Jesus could only achieve his purpose in partnership with his Father and the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus partnered with other people. In Luke 8:1-3 we see Jesus going “through the cities and villagers, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God”. But do you notice who is with Jesus? It may surprise you … he isn’t alone.

“The twelve were with him”. This may seem obvious but they aren’t the only ones. These twelve are the ones Jesus called to follow him. They are the ones he intentionally trained to share in the ministry of the gospel. Jesus knew his human reach was limited, he knew his time here on earth was limited, he knew his ministry as a man was limited, so he identified and equipped others to multiply his ministry across the world. Jesus modelled a team approach. Even when Jesus sent them out he didn’t send them alone but sent them out as a team of pairs. There are no lone rangers in Jesus’ ministry. 

Then we read, “also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities… and many others” were with Jesus. The very people who benefited from Jesus’ ministry were with Jesus. Why? Because they thought he was a nice guy?  I am sure they did think he was a nice guy, but more than that they had come to believe in who Jesus was and shared his kingdom purpose. They followed Jesus and participated in the ministry he had been called to. These people were the ones “who provided for them (Jesus and the 12) out of their means”. These women, and the many others, may not have been given the gift of evangelism, they may not have been trained for ministry, but they did use what God had given them and partnered with Jesus and the twelve to see the good news of the kingdom of God spread and multiply. 

Do you know why I am sincerely grateful Jesus partnered with his Father and the Spirit? Why I am sincerely grateful Jesus partnered with people? Because I am now one of the beneficiaries of his gospel ministry and, if you believe in Jesus, so are you. 

Is evangelism something you do in your own strength, with your own strategy? Jesus is calling you to stop and seek his direction and serve in response to his Spirit. Are you feeling Jesus calling you to follow him and be trained as a minister of the gospel? Today is the day to trust him, respond in obedience and take that step of faith.  Do you believe in Jesus? Then you are a beneficiary of his gospel ministry. He invites you to provide further for his gospel workers out of your means.  

Stage 2 of Living as a Witness for Jesus

I feel the Lord calling me to move to a new stage of living as his witness. Stage 1 brought radical change into my life as I realised that I have been sent by God into every encounter with every person in every circumstance in every day of my life, to represent Jesus and help people journey closer to him. I began putting on ‘sent glasses’ each day and viewing my time with people through the lens of my sentness. Through the years since I began that journey of sentness, God has opened up many amazing conversations and redemptive relationships.

Lately, however, I have been a frustrated witness. I have lots to share with people about Jesus, but new redemptive relationships are not opening up. God is pushing me to move to Stage 2.

What is Stage 1 and Stage 2 all about? 

Today I read Luke 14:12-24, Jesus’ parable of the great banquet. A man threw a great banquet to invite people to “eat bread in the kingdom of God”. He started by inviting his friends, his brothers and sisters, his relatives and his neighbours—all the people he was naturally close to in life. That’s exactly what I have been doing as a witness. That’s Stage 1. In Stage 1, you recognise that you are being sent by God into the lives of the people around you. You see those encounters with different eyes and use those encounters to help people move toward God.

In Jesus’ story, those people the man already spent time with were not interested in coming to the banquet. So he said to his servant, “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Later he added, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” That’s Stage 2 of living as a witness for Jesus!

Stage 1: Openly move toward spiritual conversations and gospel conversations with the people already in your life.

Stage 2: Intentionally go out of your normal setting and find broken people who are seekers, searching for God, and invite them to come to Christ. As the passage says, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

What is a setting you could choose to get involved in, that would expose you to broken, needy people who are not concerned with hiding their brokenness and looking like they are all together, people who are desperately and openly in need of God?

Best Bible verses to use in conversations with non-believers

Ephesians 2:8-9

 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”.

Sitting nervously in the car park watching people walk into church one Sunday, Susan said to me, “How can I go in there, I’m not like those other women”.  When I asked her what she meant, Susan explained to me that she didn’t feel as though she was as good as the other women who go to church. In her eyes they seemed to do the right thing and had lived their lives a lot differently to her.

In that moment I saw what was holding Susan back from experiencing a real relationship with Jesus. Susan believed she had to be a good person or do the right thing to be good enough for God and good enough to go to church.

Can you see the lie Susan was believing? This is a lie the enemy wants us to believe because deep down, whether we say it or not, we all know that we have messed up. We know we have sinned and fall short of Gods perfect standard.

Today God wants you to help people understand the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 that says:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The truth is that no amount of good works saves us or makes us good enough for God. It’s by his grace and his grace alone we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

The truth is that no amount of good works saves us or makes us good enough for God. It’s by his grace alone we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

I turned to Susan that morning and explained it is most likely that every other woman walking into church has felt like her before. But the good news for us all is that it’s by Gods amazing grace that we have been saved and are made right in his eyes. There is nothing any of us can do to earn Gods love and forgiveness. The good news is God offers us forgiveness as a gift, not because we are good enough or deserve it but because he loves us. All we need to do is receive his gift to us by faith – trusting our lives to him.

I went on to explain to Susan that the women she is judging herself against are no better than she is—they also needed Gods saving grace. They now try to live their lives in response to Gods love for them.

Who in your life feels unworthy to be loved by God?

Who do you know that is striving to live a life that is “good enough”for God?

Maybe the people you know express their belief about being good enough differently to Susan. Maybe they think the roof will cave in if they go to church or think heaven won’t accept them. In any case, they need you to help them understand the truth!

Take time now to memorise Ephesians 2:8-9. Then ask God for an opportunity to share the truth of his grace and our need to respond through faith.

Best Bible verses to use in conversations with non-believers

2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

We don’t often think of time as being relative, do we? I mean, there are only so many hours in a day. But according to Einstein’s theory of relativity, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. Maybe that explains why our good days whiz by, and the bad ones just drag on!

The reality is that if we were to observe time through the lens of velocity or gravity it would dramatically contradict what we assume to be true about the absoluteness of time. That’s why astronauts on the International Space Station age at a slower rate than us here on earth and the GSP systems of our satellites constantly need to be recalibrated. It’s also the reason why your cell phone measures time by the number of vibrations in a stable atom and not the rotation of earth around the sun.

It’s quite mind bending isn’t it? Think of how God sees time. God views time very differently than we do because His frame of reference is far above us. The way God orchestrates our past, present, and future is inexplainable, but it’s important that we remember that God has been, is, and will continue to be, at work in lives of those He is sending us to as witnesses.

As you share the Gospel with your redemptive relationship, you can show them through this Scripture that God will fulfil his promise to judge this world. Share with them that God is patiently holding back his judgment, giving them time to hear his loving invitation and turn to him.

You friend, fellow ambassador for Christ, bear the message that God is working in their life today; and at this very moment in time, God is reaching out to them for relationship if only they would repent of their sin and receive Jesus as their Saviour.