In Weakness and Fear

Photo by Talen de St. Croix on Unsplash

I can’t do that! I don’t have what it takes! My knees are shaking, my hands are sweating, and the butterflies in my stomach feel the size of elephants. I can’t do it! 

That’s how I feel every time I step out and do something new for God, especially when I teach a group of women for the first time. When I stand up in front of those lovely women, suddenly my knees begin to shake, I feel totally inadequate, and I can no longer remember what I wanted to say.

Does that happen to you when you try to share Jesus with others (even with only one other)?

When I [Paul] came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (bold mine)

Paul’s first trip to Corinth was immediately after his trip to Athens (Acts 17:16-34). The Athenians loved to reason (aka debate) so Paul had reasoned with them about Jesus. Paul was good at what he did, and he probably knew it. His education had included a healthy dose of public reasoning. Despite his best efforts, only “a few men became followers of Paul and believed.” It is interesting first of all that only a few believed and second that they followed Paul.

A Few Believed

Despite Paul’s well-reasoned, educated, and probably confident teaching, he had little impact. Such a poor response to his message probably shook his confidence and would have surely depressed him. At the very least, it would have made him evaluate what he was doing and why he was doing it.

Followed Paul

As Paul opened his letter to the Corinthians he chastised them for the way they were following the teachers and causing division. He wanted them to follow Jesus, not men. He must have wondered if the people at Athens were following his reasoning or following Jesus. He wanted to make sure the Corinthians were following Jesus.

Shaken Confidence

Paul took an emotional and spiritual hit in Athens. His confidence was shaken. His walk to Corinth that first time gave him plenty of time to think about whose wisdom and power were needed and who he wanted the people to follow. By the time he arrived in Corinth, Paul had wrestled with the realization that he wasn’t as wise as he thought. He had received a lesson in humility and been reminded of who he wanted people to follow.

The Wisdom and Power of God

When Paul arrive in Corinth, his confidence was shaken, and he was leaning more heavily upon the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit; consequently, the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit is what the people in Corinth saw.

That is my prayer every time I teach (or write). I always feel weak, afraid, and ill-equipped. I tremble inside when I think of what I’m doing. But that forces me to rely on the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit. The result is that (hopefully) people see God, not me!

As you talk to others about Jesus, may you each be weak enough and afraid enough to lean on God’s wisdom and Spirit power! As a result, may others see “a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” and place their faith in God’s power.

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Teaching Like Jesus Taught

Do you ever sit in church, listening carefully to the sermon and realize, “WOW! I do that!”? A couple months back this very thing happened to me.

I have always loved using the common things in life to teach. For example, we have a bird feeder in our backyard. During the winter months I put bird food (the block style) in the bird feeder. Well, the squirrels found it. Their antics brought great entertainment.

As I stood watching this process one day, I was impressed with the fact that this is how God’s family should function. You see, the squirrels would climb the pole to the feeder. They ate and picked at the block. As they did seed fell to the ground. The birds would then pick up and eat the seed. Sure they flew to the bird feeder too, but they enjoyed eating what the squirrels had dropped to the ground as well. As spring came along, the rabbits even joined in the banquet.

This is so much like the family of God. We provided the food for the birds. The squirrels and birds took turns eating from the feeder, and then they helped feed those who were weaker and couldn’t make it to the feeder (the rabbits). In return, we have been entertained, and there has been a certain amount of pleasure knowing we were giving food and pleasure to the creatures by our house.

God has created us and provides for all of our need. In fact, He has promised to supply every need of those who love God and “have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Those who have been blessed with ample supply share it with others and encourage them. It builds relationships. In turn, we bring glory to God and (I’m sure) make Him happy. We all need to work together.

This is just one example of lessons found in everyday life. Anyhow, back to that day in church. I was listening as our pastor was talking about how Jesus taught using object lessons from common things. It struck me: “I love teaching like that!” What a fun realization!

Do you see spiritual lessons in common things? I challenge you to try. It’s fun and encouraging.

Share with us spiritual lessons from common things that you have discovered on your journey.

Finding Conviction, Comfort, and Clarity in Discouragement

Do you ever find yourself discouraged and at a loss for what to do next? I found myself there a few weeks ago. The stress built up on all sides of me; work, family, marriage, and my health. As I tried to find answers to problems, solutions to puzzles, and the way out of troubles, I only came up with dead ends and more frustration. I was discouraged. I was losing hope and the courage to stand on my convictions. I was on the edge of giving into defeat.

I shared my feelings with a dear friend of mine. She brought a great perspective to my situation. She challenged me to ponder the thought that I was discouraged because I had the wrong focus. Was I looking through the wrong lens? As we discussed my hardships, dead ends, and frustrations, it became quite evident that I was out of focus! I was completely caught up in what I wanted, what I needed, and what I thought I didn’t have. What was the common thread there? It was I.

My friend encouraged me to focus on God our Father instead. I was brought to Psalm 73:21-28 (ESV), 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Colossians 3:1-17 and Hebrews 12:1-3. I meditated on these for days; Praying, Reading, Listening. I became refreshed, renewed, and reassured that I just needed to switch my view from internal to eternal. Psalm 73 mentions the eternity that gave me the conviction to stand strong on the promise of God’s faithfulness. I found comfort in knowing He is my refuge. And I found clarity in what I first thought was unanswered problems. The struggles dissipated as I loosened the grip on my impatient and foolish desire to be in control. God knows what we need before we even think a thought. Why should we not trust his lead? He created the world, He created us with his own hands and breath, and He wants to bring us joy through his glory. Our hearts can keep the faith that all will be for the best when God is in control.

In the verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”, God calls us to share such experiences. I encourage you to read the rest of the passages in 2 Corinthians to learn more of God’s comfort and how when we share our comforts we are strengthened to continue through the trials. I hope you find encouragement though my journey. May God bless your path as you follow his lead.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Tell Your Story

The entire Bible is the story of what God has done for us. The story of our need and of His mercy. The story of our salvation and the promise of a future hope. The truly amazing story of God.

If God uses the Bible to show himself to us, maybe we should consider using our stories to show Him to others.

I’ve asked some dear friends to help me explore the idea that our stories are what cause people to see Jesus and to wonder about Him. My friends and I will take turns for the next several weeks sharing stories from the Bible of people who met Jesus and sharing portions of our own stories.

Before we complete our series, Tell Your Story, we will help you discover how to tell your own story and give you an opportunity to share at least a part of it with us.

As you join us on this journey, begin to think about your personal God Story. I’m not talking about the story of your personal salvation moment, although that is certainly part of your story and may be what God wants you to tell. I’m talking about the parts of your life story that will show others what God has done for you. Maybe God helped you walk through a difficult time or illness. Maybe God provided for a particular need in an amazing way. The possibilities are just as many as there are people.

If you have walked with God for any length of time, you probably have many stories of God’s presence and work in your life. Which one does He want you to focus on during the next 6 weeks? Which one is He asking you to share during this process?

Every person has a story to tell. Our stories help people understand truths about God. Let’s share some stories!

 

Storytelling is not something we do. Storytelling is who we are, and there’s a storyteller in each of us. Your story can change the world. Let it out.

The Storyteller’s Secret, Carmine Gallo*

 

Next post in series: How to Tell Your Story

*Gallo, Carmine. The Storyteller’s Secret. St. Martin’s Press, New York. 2016,  229