A Glorious Contrast

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,

NLT

1That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

NASB

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Introduction

This is a passage that awe’s me. Wow, what insight the Apostle offers to those who will meditate upon it, praying for the Spirit’s help. What we have here are three glorious contrast and I can’t wait to talk about them. Paul introduces this passage with a with the Greek conjunction dio which can be translated: therefore, wherefore, for this reason, consequently. Usually, therefore is a sign to look back at the previous verses but here, I think a good translation would be therefore, for this reason and then Paul gives us the reasons. 

In this passage we have three reasons [contrast] not to give up, lose heart, become discouraged.

I. FIRST CONTRAST–OUTER MAN AND INNER MAN

[v.16] Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

As Paul told Timothy, “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” So, there is no doubt that Christians are called to suffer. Paul’s suffering, though not fatal at this time, had taken it toll upon the Apostle’s body. He indeed bore the marks of a suffering servant. There is no question that age and affliction take their toll and inevitably exhaust our strength. There is wear and tear on out bodies.

But we suffer not only the wear and tear of ministry but the curse of sin upon the flesh. These clay pots that we live in are not going to last. They give us temporary shelter but these tents are wearing out. 

This first contrast is so obvious. There is the body, the clay, that is so visible and then there is the treasure, the spirit, that is invisible. These earthy bodies have no future but the inner man, the Spirit is eternal and it is not dying, not subject to death. As a matter of fact, it is being renewed day by day. The word ‘renew’ comes from a Greek compound word that means to ’cause to grow, to make new.’

The amazing thing is that both our wear and tear and our renewal have the same stimulus, affliction. Affliction can hurt the body but it renews the Spirit [inner man]. Suffering can diminish our physical life but it cannot have an adverse affect on our spiritual life. They say that growing old is not for sissies and I do agree that aging presents problems but there are also some benefits.

As we see our bodies decaying, we also realize that the inner man is growing, being renewed daily. Within the inner man is the seed of the resurrection. One day we will jettison this old clay bodies and get a new body designed to tabernacle, clothe the inner man. Then we will see the full impact of Christ resurrection in our life but that process has already began in our daily renewal.

Therefore, Paul does not allow afflictions to get him down. Although he feels the pressure of daily problems, the perplexity of mysteries unsolved, the constant hounding of those who hate the gospel of Jesus Christ and the shock of getting a blow to the head that knocks him down–Paul does not stay down, he does not give into despair, he does not lose heart because the inner man is strengthen by these affliction. They enhance the growth of the inner man like fertilize does to plants.

II. SECOND CONTRAST–AFFLICTION AND GLORY

[v.17] For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

This second contrast has to do with time and size. Our present afflictions, troubles are small and cannot be compared with our future glory. The Greek word which is translated compared in the NASB is ‘hyperbole.’ We have a glory awaiting us that cannot be exaggerated. 

The LORD has graciously and gently taught me the meaning of this scripture in the last month. We have a daughter in rehab and the past few weeks have been like a roller coaster. One day we think we are making progress and the next it seems like we have taken two steps backward. I will not lie, for the past several weeks I have thought a lot about our problem and I have even expressed to the LORD it’s size. I said to Him more than once, “LORD, no problem is big to you but this is huge to us. It is like a mountain too big to climb, a river too wide to cross.” What did the LORD say in response: nothing immediately but in the days to follow, He spoke very clearly.

To put things in perspective: our daughter is in rehab because she abused prescription drugs and sleep medication. Detoxing proved to be the smallest detail in our recovery. The depression that followed was a weight that seem to be crushing us all. The depression was so bad that she never smiled and a laugh was out of the question. I almost shouted the first time I heard her laugh [a few days ago].

Then a family who had been faithful to pray for us came by to give my wife a gift of love. When I went over to thank them for their trouble. One thing lead to another and I found out that their daughter, who was also arrested, was facing one to ten years in prison. In an instant, my troubles diminished, my afflicted became small. Within 6 hours of that experience, there was a terrible tragedy in our community where two teen age girls were killed. This happened while they were visiting some of our friends. Of course, our friends felt responsible in part because it happened on their watch. When I heard about their agony, my problem shrank even more. Now they are looking minuscule.  

True confession: For years I have read this passage and scoffed, “Light Affliction” my foot, there is no such thing as light affliction but I was wrong. My affliction is light compared to my friends. There is a huge difference between rehab and prison, just as there is a huge difference between the grief suffered from an addiction compared with the grief of two teenagers losing their life while they are at your house.

There is another note of encouragement about our affliction, it is momentary, it will not last forever. It’s like the old Christian saint who favorite verse [found 457 times in KJV] was “And it came to pass…” Everything we see is temporary, sorrow may endure for a night but for the believer, it will not endure forever, it will come to pass.

III. THIRD CONTRAST–MOMENTARY AND ETERNAL

[v.18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The third contrast is about perspective, about how we see things. Perspective will determine your attitude. When you look at me, what do you see? Let me guess: you see a 66 year old man who has a hard time getting around. June and I were leaving our grandson’s baseball game last night and I was carrying two folding chairs. One of our members came up from the rear and grab the chairs. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I am helping an old man who is having a hard time just walking.”

With a few rare exceptions, when people look at me, that is what they see–a pot bellied old man who is losing his hair, eyesight, hearing and ability to get around. But not everyone sees me in this light. You see most folks look at the outer man. This is a huge problem. When young people look for a mate, they look at the outer man. They make the huge mistake of assuming that if the outward looks good, the inward must be the same. This is not true.

A handsome man is a vain man [with rare exception] who will love himself and his body more than he will love his wife. A gorgeous gal is the same; she will be high-maintenance, hung up on herself and totally unable to serve and submit to her husband. If you can find someone of the opposite sex who loves you more than they do themselves, marry them.

As I said above, there are rare exceptions: interview one of my 17 year old granddaughters or my sweet daughter-in-law and they will see me in a totally different light. They have a glimpse of the inner man. Most of us focus on the outward instead of the inward. They do no see the real YOU which is your real life is hidden with Christ in God. It might be helpful if we look at this entire passage found in Colossians three.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

There are two reason why you may not be seeing the real life, real me. [1] I could be masking the real me. Insecurity prompts us to cover the truth for protection. No one can hurt us if they don’t know the truth about us. This deep insecurity produces a lack of integrity. We use this dishonesty to deceive others. We think it gives us the upper hand. Therefore, we are not known because we choose not to be known. [2] The second reason is stated in the proverb, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We may not see the real person because we may not be focused on the right thing. A lot of people want to be known, they just can’t find anyone who cares enough to know them. You will not get to know a person by jokes and casual chit-chat. Philosophical rhetoric doesn’t help either. We all know know-it-alls who actually know nothing at all.

 

Storms

STORMS

Scripture: Luke 8:22-25

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”

The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

INTRODUCTION

You have heard me say a thousand times that life is a series of storms. You are either in one, coming out of one, in between one or headed into one. Some storms of our own making but some come on us without warning and we have no explanation.

I. STORMS HAPPEN: THEY HAPPEN TO EVERYONE.

In concluding the sermon on the mount, Jesus said that both foolish and wise face storms… [Matthew 7:24-27] “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Storms come to everyone, to the good as well as the evil. Job was a good man who feared God and hated evil. He was literally and figuratively hit by a horrific storm.

We should not worry about storms–We cannot prevent storms: they happen.

Jonah made his storm but the Disciples were not in disobedience, they had done exactly what Jesus told them to do. Jonah created his own storm by his rebellion but these guys have not rebelled. They are simply doing what Jesus told them to do and bam, the storm hits.

II. STORMS CAN ARISE SUDDENLY WITHOUT WARNING

This particular storm came out of nowhere and hit suddenly. If you have been to Israel, you probably know that the sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level and it reminds me of a stadium or arena. It is feed from the north by the Jordon river. On the east bank of the river there are clefts hundreds of feet high. The Jordan begins at the foot of Mount Hermon with the water from the snow melt on Hermon’s peaks. It is a very small river. Matter of fact, it no larger than Flint Creek. The river bed cut through the hills of Galilee on the west side has the high clefts on the east side making the river bed is a type of conduit. When the cold air from the north meets the warmer water and air from the South, you have turbulence. The lake is not that big but these storms can blow in so quickly that boats do not have time to get to land.

The thing about a storm is they can come when you least expect them. This is why we need to walk humbly, low to the ground. When I look back at the major storms in my life, they came out of nowhere. I didn’t have a clue.  Paul said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [I Cor. 10:12] Sometimes when you think things are going great, bam! The storm hits.

III. STORMS TEST OUR FAITH AND CHARACTER

Jesus used this storm as a teaching point. His disciples were lacking in faith and understanding. They knew that Jesus could do incredible things that they couldn’t understand but they had no idea that He controlled the weather.

When the storms come and we are being tested: the test is not for the teacher’s benefit. Jesus knew before the storm that the disciples had little faith.

Storms are a part, a big part of our sanctification. We learn more about ourselves and God during the storms.

IV. STORMS TEACH US TO DEPEND ON CHRIST ALONE

I don’t know what the disciples did initially but I am willing to bet that it was not to wake up Jesus. Jesus is probably exhausted from the day and needs rest desperately. The boat was filling with water so I imagine they tried bailing the water out but their effort was hopeless. I can see them calling on Peter, “Go wake Jesus up, tell Him we are about to drown.” Peter probably said, “I’m not waking Him up. I have already heard His “O ye of little faith sermon,” if you want Him awakened, you do it yourself. Finally, they went together.

Over time, we all learn, as did the disciples, that Jesus is in the STORM with us, don’t be shy about calling on Him. We learn as the Joseph Scriven wrote years ago…

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

IV. STORMS BRING US TOGETHER

Storms have a way of making us see our need for others. The Disciples were not arguing about who was greatest here, they came to gather and petitions Christ.

V. STORMS REVEAL THE POWER OF CHRIST

The disciples were terrified [phobeō] and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The disciples were awestruck, they were overwhelmed by wonder. What this means is: they had a worship service right there in the boat.

I think about this all the time: what is missing in today’s worship? It’s not music. They didn’t have any music on this night unless you count the thunder. It isn’t the preaching. Jesus didn’t preach. We have good music and preaching; what we are missing today is the awestruck wonder.

A lot of people try to create the wonder and awe by artificial means [lights, sound effects, talent] but this kind of wonder and awe is not man made. Only the glorious presence and power of Christ can produce this kind of wonder and awe.

What Do You Do With A Sad Story?

 

Scripture Text: Matthew 14:1-12

When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee,heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet. But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.
 

INTRODUCTION

I don’t like this story. I don’t like Herod and I don’t like his wife Herodias. I especially don’t like them entertaining themselves at John’s expense because I do like John. John is like an idol to me: well, not quite but he is a role model. I like John because he had the courage to celebrate his uniqueness. John didn’t try to be like anyone. He was different. I guess some would say he was weird or austere. John didn’t wear a suit and tie. He didn’t eat friend chicken and drink coffee. He dressed more like a biker, he wore leather and he ate dried locust and wild honey. He was an outdoorsman. He did no like be cooped up inside walls; he didn’t even want a ceiling. He loved the wilderness. He was a wilderness man who knew how to live off the land. John was a straight shooter. He was not politically correct. I heard a preacher say some years ago, that if John had stayed out of politics were he belonged, he would not have lost his head. John may have lost his head but he didn’t love his backbone and if some of these namby-pamby compromising preachers would start preaching the truth, it might make a world of difference. He told the truth. That became his legacy, he was the voice of truth. Herod’s wife did not like what John was saying so she coached Herod into arresting John and putting  him in a dungeon underneath the palace.

So, in coming to this story, I asked myself: what are you going to do? [1] You can skip it because you don’t like the way it ends [2] You can look for some new insights and try to make it a story with a happy ending, or [3] You can do like John and tell it like it is which is what I intend to do but first let me make a confession:

 WE CANNOT CHANGE THE TRUTH. TRUTH IS ABSOLUTE AND OBJECTIVE.

 

Truth has nothing to do with the way I feel and it has nothing to do with what I think or what anyone else thinks. Truth is not relative nor subjective: it is absolute and objective. It stands a part from human experience. We live in a mathematical world. We did not create math; we discovered math. Two plus two is four. That was true when Abraham lived and it is true today and it will be true tomorrow. You do not have to worry about truth changing, it is immutable. I know that because Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Amen, it is not rocket science, just simple faith.

I have already confessed that I do not like the story. If I were to rewrite the story, it would go something like this–Word reaches Jesus that John has been arrested and is being held in the fortress of Machaerus. Jesus dispatches Simon the Zealot and 50 Israeli commandos [a delta force], they storm the fortress and before Herod knows what’s going on, they rescue John and set him free 30 miles to the North in the wilderness he loved. You know the Israeli’s are good at rescue: it would be like the raid on Entebbe. This is wishful thinking but it is not the way things happened.

We cannot change the truth, even the ugly truth. Before 1934, we taught true history in our public schools. The story of George Washington riding fearless across the battle field was in our history books. It was taken out by John Dewey and the liberals/progressives because both Washington and the Indians attributed the General’s survival to Almighty God. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin…virtually all our founding fathers believed in God. John Dewey spent a great portion of his life re-writing American history without reference to the Almighty. We don’t want to be guilty of what the liberals do. When they don’t like a story, they change the story and then try to convince the masses that their version is true. You need to do some research on John Dewey the first NEA president. You are going to be shocked.

So, we cannot change the truth. Jesus did not come to the rescue and Herod had John beheaded.

WE CAN’T CHANGE THE TRUTH BUT LIKE JOHN, WE CAN TELL THE TRUTH

[John told the truth and it cost him his life but he did right by telling the truth, the ugly truth. I feel obliged to tell the truth, the ugly truth.

  1. The truth about Herod [hero-like]. Oddly enough, remove the d and you have the meaning of his name hero but Herod was anything but a hero. He was a sniveling coward.  He was not only wicked, he was weak.  He had the spine of a jelly fish. He did not have one ounce of courage. He was insecure and easily intimidated. Herodias pounced on his weakness. She broke up his marriage with Phasaelis the daughter of Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans [Arabs] which was arranged by Caesar Augustus. She manipulated Herod like he was a puppet on a string.  Herod feared John, Herodias engineered the old thing. She kept prodding until she got what she wanted. Herod was afraid of John, He was afraid of the people, he was even afraid of his guest and you know he feared the devil woman that he married or shacked up with. Do the research, I dare you: find something good about Herod. He was a loser.
  2. The truth about Herodias [heroic]. Give me a break, she was as big of a hypocrite as her husband. She was mean, vile, malicious, vindictive. She was ruthless and power hungry. The only reason she left Rome was that her husband Philip lacked ambition and she wanted to be a queen of a large kingdom. Herod Antipas has a small kingdom, very small, more like a small state or large county.  He controlled the area around the sea of Galilee. Herodias wanted more land and wealth. She was the driving force behind Herod’s demise.
  3. The truth about sin. It has wages. The way of the transgressor is hard.
    • Herod first wife returned to her father who was the king of Arabia [Nabateans]. He was outraged over Herod sending his daughter away and he began to attack Herod’s holding on the eastern front. He took control of everything Herod had except the castle where he was hiding and would have taken everything but he backed away in fear of the Romans. Besides, he accomplished his mission: he embarrassed Herod and made him look weak to the Romans.
    • Meanwhile, Herodias who does not know when to quit talks Herod in to going to Rome and asking for more land. This turned out to be a huge mistake. In Rome he was tried for treason and banished to Gaul where he died in just a few months. As a part of his punishment, they made Herodias go with him. She probably nagged him to death. He lived 11 years after John but they were miserable years.
    • Just so you know that nothing went right for Herod after the beheading of John the Baptist. The Jews believe to this day that the Arab invasion was the hand of God vindicating the death of John. So the truth, the gospel truth is that the wages of sin is death. Sin has a pay day and it comes sooner than expected. Herod may have had a drink or two at his birthday party, a laugh or two at the expense of a good man but he didn’t die laughing.
  4. The Truth about life. Herod lived twice as long as John but it is not how long we live but how we live that counts.
    • John left a legacy, a good one. What did Herod leave. We know what John accomplished, he set up the Ministry of our LORD. John was the LORD’s laser. He was focused and on target. A lot of folks name their boys John but you don’t see many boys by the name of Herod. Matter of fact, I can’t think of a one, can you? Who is their right mind would name a kid Herod. Who wants their kid to be a spineless wimp, a sniveling coward, a person devoid of character.
    • Jesus said John was the greatest man born of woman. He called Herod a fox, not a lion or bear but a fox. It was 2,000 years ago when Herod killed John but John is more alive today that he was 2,000 years ago. The life and legacy of John continues to grow. Herod will forever be a nobody.
    • John lived from 29-32 years yet he accomplished more in 30 years than Herod in 60.
    • It is not how long you live that counts, it is how you live.
    • Some of the best, most influential lives have been cut short. [William Borden 26, Jim Elliott 28, David Brainard 29, John the Baptist 31-2, Jesus 33, King Josiah 39] These stories of men like John and Jim Elliott will never make sense. Why do the good die and the wicked live on? As the write of Hebrews says in chapter 11, “Maybe they were too good for this world.” In terms of purity, Josiah was the best King in Israel’s history. When Josiah died, hope died for Israel.
    • John was a laser [focused] and Herod was a loser.
    • John spoke the truth, Herod feared the truth.
    • John died for something, Herod lived for nothing.
    • To die for something, you have to live for something.
    • I like what Paul said in Philippians 1:20…. For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
    • Whether you are John or Herod, you are going to die. Herod lived a few more years but he died just like John. It is appointed unto man once to die. It is going to happen. It would be wise to prepare.

What Is Your Handicap

TEXT: 2 Corinthians 12:1-7

This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.

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.

INTRODUCTION

I’ve been in several golf tournaments where they ask for my handicap which is golf is “a measure of his current ability over an entire round of golf, signified by a number. The lower the number, the better the golfer is.” I think the limit for a man is 36 so that would be my handicap. I think this means that if I shoot 108 it is the same as par for a person who has no handicap. I’m not sure but it is my assumption that Profession Golfers do not have handicaps but all the rest of us do. Life is some what different from golf, in life, we all have a handicap. Paul had one, he called it a “Thorn in the flesh” but he never tells us exactly what it was. Tonight, there are three things I want to say about this subject.

FIRST: We all have a handicap. No one is perfect. One way or the other, all of us are lacking in some area; there is something we would like to have that we don’t. I believe Paul’s handicap was something physical. We are all familiar with the Helen Keller story. Helen was born blind and deaf, a double handicap yet she accomplished more than most who have sight and hearing. Moses had a handicap, he says it was a speech impediment. Many people including myself, believe that the Apostle Paul was dwarft, a very tiny man. It explains a lot about his life. Little people are over achievers and many times they have a chip on their shoulder. I don’t think there are any exceptions to the rule, we all have at least one handicap; we all have weaknesses that we had rather not have. Chuck Swindoll wrote a tiny book entitled FRESH WIND where he goes from one bible character to another highlighting their handicap. One chapter is on Jephthah one of Israel’s Judges. Jephthah was a bastard, his father was Gilead and his mother was a prostitute. His father took him in for a time but allowed the siblings to run him off. Jephthah was not inferior physically but he left because of the ridicule and scorn. He was the last person in the world that his village thought would become the leader of Israel, yet he did and was a good one. He is mentioned in the hall of faith, Hebrews 11. He had a lot to overcome as do most of us. No one is perfect, we are all lacking in some area.

SECOND: We are not proud of our weakness. Paul mentions that he has one but he does not tell us what it was. He wrote one third of the N.T. so he could have told us exactly what it was had he wanted to but he choose not to. We don’t normally or at least consciously go around broadcasting our weakness. We all know that the enemy will attack our weakness so there are things that we keep to ourselves. When the Israelites were traveling from the wilderness into Canaan, they went through Moab. Balak the king of Moab tried to get Balaam to curse the Israelites which he refused to do but before he left, he shared with Balak a secret, the weakness of the Israelite men were women and the Moabite women were easy on the eyes plus they were worshipper so Molech so I will let you read between the lines. They seduced the men of Israel and it created great problems. Whether it is boxing or football, the opponent is going to try to exploit our weakness so I don’t know how wise it is to publicize your weakness. Paul was probably exercising wisdom that keep that between himself and God. We all have weaknesses but we are not proud of them.

THIRD: The third thing that is true of Paul is that he learned to live with his weakness, even to use it for the glory of God. Paul said in verses 8-10…Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. 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. I like how the AV states verse 9,  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. I was having lunch with a young man today and he brought up this passage. He is facing a problem that he has no solution for and it has humbled him. Whatever Paul’s infirmity was, it was humiliating. We know that the Corinthians said of him… “His letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. [2 Cor. 10:10] Eugene Peterson paraphrase goes like this, “His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he’s a weakling and mumbles when he talks.” Paul did not get a lot of affirmation from Corinth but he never let it slow him down. Whatever his infirmity, he learned to live with it and even glory in it.

FOURTH: He not only lived with it, he overcame it. Paul was like the violinist who was doing a concert when one of the strings on his violin broke, it made an adjustment and kept on playing. He could have given up and even blamed the violin or its maker but he played with the strings that he had and that is what you and I must do. We don’t give up because we are not perfect and we don’t give in when conditions are not perfect. A young man was selling books in the summer to support himself in school and he happened to be handicapped. He could walk but he had to drag one leg due to a birth defect. He got around, just not as fast as others. He rang a lady’s door bell and she was ugly to him. He thanked her for her time and turned to walk away, after just a couple of steps she saw that one leg was not the same size as the other and she called out to him, “Come back son, I did not realize that you were cripple, I will be glad to buy a book.” He told her that they were no longer for sell and said, “I am selling books not sympathy.” She said, “Doesn’t being cripple color your life?” He said, “Yes mam but thank God, I get to choose the color.” This is how the story ended and I want to know if he sold her a book. Chuck Swindoll says, “You may have only one string to play but play it well. Life is 10% circumstances and 90% how we respond to them which is attitude. You are in charge of your attitude.