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. 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. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
In political campaigns, supporters do their best to extol the strengths of their candidate and exploit the weaknesses of their opponent. In military campaigns the same is true. So it seems logical that churches would try to do something similar: try to look good, boast of our accomplishments, tell others how much better we are. Yet that may be the opposite of how God’s kingdom grows. It’s not our successes, but our failures that display our hope for redemption. It is not our strengths, but our weaknesses that testify to God’s power. The Gospel allows us to be honest about our sins and limitations, because we are confident in God’s forgiveness and power. As Oscar Wilde once put it, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Heavenly Father, open our eyes to Your grace and give us honest hearts, that others may see in our weaknesses Your strength, in Jesus’ name, amen.
THE BEST SELLER…
A pastor concluded that his church was getting into very serious financial trouble. While checking the church storeroom, he discovered several cartons of new Bibles that had never been opened and distributed.
So on Sunday, he asked for three volunteers from the congregation who would be willing to sell the Bibles door-to-door for $10 each to raise the desperately needed money for the church.
Jack, Paul and Louie all raised their hands to volunteer for the task.
The minister knew that Jack and Paul earned their living as salesmen and were likely capable of selling some Bibles. But he had serious doubts about Louie, a local farmer who had always kept to himself because he was embarrassed by his speech impediment. Poor Louie stuttered badly. But, not wanting to discourage Louie, the minister decided to let him try anyway.
He sent the three of them out with the back seats of their cars stacked with Bibles. He asked them to meet with him and report the results of their door-to-door selling efforts the following Saturday.
Anxious to find out how successful they were, on Saturday the minister asked Jack, "Well, Jack, how did you make out selling our Bibles this week?"
Proudly handing the minister an envelope, Jack replied, "Using my sales prowess, I was able to sell 20 Bibles, and here's the $200 I collected on behalf of the church."
"Fine job, Jack!” the minister said, vigorously shaking his hand. "You are indeed a fine salesman and the church is indebted to you."
Turning to Paul, "And Paul, how many Bibles did you sell for the church this week?"
Paul, smiling and sticking out his chest, confidently replied, "I am a professional salesman. I sold 28 Bibles on behalf of the church, and here's $280 I collected."
The minister responded, "That's absolutely splendid, Paul. You are truly a professional salesman and the church is indebted to you."
Apprehensively, the minister turned to Louie and said, "And Louie, did you manage to sell any Bibles this week?" Louie silently offered the minister a large envelope. The minister opened it and counted the contents. "What is this? Louie, there's $3200 in here! Are you suggesting that you sold 320 Bibles for the church, door to door, in just one week?"
Louie just nodded. “That's impossible!" both Jack and Paul said in unison. "We are professional salesmen, yet you claim to have sold 10 times as many Bibles as we could."
"Yes, this does seem unlikely," the minister agreed. "I think you'd better explain how you managed to accomplish this, Louie."
Louie shrugged. "I-I-I re-re-really do-do-don't kn-kn-know f-f-f-for sh-sh-sh-sure," he stammered. "A-a-a-all I-I-I s-s-said wa-wa-was, ‘W-w-w-w-would y-y-y-you l-l-l-l-l-like t-t-to b-b-b-buy th-th-th-this b-b-b-b-bible f-f-for t-t-ten b-b-b-bucks ------o-o-o-or-------- wo-wo-would yo-you j-j-j-just l-like m-m-me t-t-to st-st-stand h-h-here and r-r-r-r-r-read it t-to y-y-you??’"
God show His strength through your weaknesses this week!
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)
Sometimes we talk about “getting away from it all” as if that were possible or desirable. Fortunately, it is neither—God assures us in the Scriptures that we can neither run nor hide from Him—and that is a good thing! No matter how lonely we are, we are never alone. No matter how lost we feel, God knows exactly where we are, and longs to show us the way back to Him. In fact, in Jesus God was dying to bring us back home—to a place where we can rest, be ourselves, and know His love and acceptance for eternity.
Heavenly Father, wherever we go this week, remind us of Your presence: not to condemn us. Enable us to experience and extend Your peace to everyone we meet, through the power of Your ever-present Spirit, in Jesus’ name, amen.
THE RIGHT TO BARE…
Concerned for his safety, a senior citizen applied for a concealed weapons permit.
When it arrived he went to a sporting goods store to pick out a handgun and ammo.
He proudly showed his permit to the clerk and filled out the necessary paperwork.
When he was ready to pay for his purchase, the clerk said, “Strip down, facing me.”
He made a mental note to complain to the NRA about invasive gun control laws!
However, he did as she had instructed, peeling off his shirt and dropping his drawers.
When the alarms finally subsided, he found out why she’d been shrieking hysterically:
She had been referring to how he should place his credit card in the card reader!!!
When he finally got his pants back on he was asked to shop elsewhere in the future.
He wrote a letter complaining to the store and vowed to wear underwear more often.
The Lord cover you in His love this week!
POST-IT FROM THE PASTOR
The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'" That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:10-15)
God’s love for us is due to His character, not ours. Having just been freed by God from four hundred years of slavery through ten terrible plagues and having just been rescued by God from the mighty Egyptian military through the parting of the sea, the Israelites should have been confident that God would provide for them, but instead they grumbled! Just as we do, when having been freed from the slavery of sin and rescued from spiritual death we fail to trust God for what we need and grumble at our stressors and discomforts. Yet God responded to the Israelites with more-than-adequate sandwich fixings, and He responds to us by meeting our earthly needs as well, because He is patient with us and faithful to His promises.
Heavenly Father, thank You for constantly providing for us, even when we grumble. Give us wisdom and perspective, so that we can in all things be grateful and trust in Your goodness, through Jesus, amen.
A guy learns that his girlfriend has left him to run off with a cowboy.
He walks into a bar and is about to order a drink when he notices a man nearby.
The man’s boots, belt buckle, and cowboy hat cause the guy’s blood to boil.
He angrily shouts over to the bartender so loudly that everyone can hear,
"Drinks for everyone in here, bartender, but not for that cowboy over there."
Soon after the drinks have been handed out, the cowboy looks over with a big smile.
Giving him a thumbs up, he calls out "Thank you kindly!" in an equally loud voice.
This infuriates the guy. He once again loudly orders drinks for all except the cowboy.
As before, this does not bother the cowboy. He again smiles and yells, "Thank you!"
The man asks the bartender, "What's the matter with that guy? I ordered two rounds
for everyone in the bar but him, and all he does is smile and thank me. Is he nuts?"
“Nope," replies the bartender. "He owns the place."
May God’s goodness give you perspective and patience this week!
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.