Summary: Service, ministry, outreach
WHEN GOD FLEXES HIS MUSCLES
I Cor. 2: 1-5 (P807) Oct. 31, 2010
Bruce Larson tells about how he used to help people who were struggling with crushing burdens in their lives…Here's what he says….about surrendering their lives to Christ.
For many years I worked in New York City and counseled at my office any number of people who were wrestling with this yes-or-no decision. Often I would suggest they walk with me from my office down to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. In the entrance of that building is a gigantic statue of Atlas, a beautifully proportioned man who, with all his muscles straining, is holding the world upon his shoulders. There he is, the most powerfully built man in the world, and he can barley stand up under this burden. 'now that's one way to live,' I would point out to my companion, 'trying to carry the world on your shoulders. But now come across the street with me.'
"On the other side of Fifth Avenue is Saint Patrick's Cathedral, and there behind the high altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus, perhaps eight or nine years old, and with no effort he is holding the world in one hand. My point was illustrated graphically.
"We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, 'I give up, Lord; here's my life. I give you my world, the whole world."
Bruce Larson, Believe and Belong.
When the Apostle Paul showed up in Corinth to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ he did not think polished speeches or intellectual debates would convince people that God was powerful enough to hold their world.
He can with his testimony. He was no longer the arrogant Pharisee who had all the answers…He did not come into their community with his chest stuck out and his finger pointing. The strut was gone, the chip had been knocked off his shoulder…and the humble, transparent, forgiven sinner came into their presence broken and contrite, which are the sacrifices God desires. He came in weakness, he was afraid, his knees were shaking.
And because of that the Corinthians experienced the power of the message--instead of the polish of a motivational speaker. After Paul finishes telling his story they do not say, "Man that guy is a great preacher." They say, "Oh God how gracious and loving you are to forgive him…will you forgive me?"
We know what Paul's testimony about God is…He records it for us in his 1st letter to
Timothy. Here's what he says
1 Timothy 1:12-17 (p839)
[Jesus has given me the opportunity to serve him and the strength to do it, even though I was once the worst man you could have ever met---I lived like this because I didn't believe, I was ignorant of the truth.
He saved me. He extended his grace to me…the worst sinner ever so I might serve as an example that God can save anyone…Because of that I praise my forever, divine King who is God even though I can't see him!]
[Bill Gaither wrote these words: Shackled by a heavy burden, beneath a load of guilt and shame and then the hand if Jesus touched me. Now I am no longer the same.] It’s the exact testimony of John Newton a former slave trader who wrote "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found was blind, but now I see".
What kind of power can transform "the worst of sinners," "watches", 17 year old High School drop outs lost in a haze of rebellion."
The Power of the cross…"Jesus Christ and him crucified."
What is the greatest demonstration of that power? The power of the cross…the spirit's power...God's power?
It is the saving and transforming of a person's life--it’s the very reason for the cross!
And God the almighty one almost always has to convince us of our weakness before salvation and transformation can happen. when your flat on your back, or in Paul's case face down in the dirt blind---you realize your not that powerful. It will change your attitude…It will give you a brand new resolution.
I Resolved to know nothing, but Jesus
So many times we try to figure stuff out with our own energies, or we seek advice from friends and others….and then we go to Jesus and ask Him if this idea is ok.
Paul used a different method---everything went through Jesus first. Every move was weighed in view of his salvation by the cross. The cross wasn't the last place he went...it was the starting place. What was unimportant enough to be considered outside of this filter…"Nothing".
I know we're modern day people…with modern day stresses and modern day calendars, but why is our faith sometimes the last thing we consider in the decisions of life? Could it be that we think Jesus is more like Santa Clause than Savior and Lord. "Give me what I want…provide the presents, but don't bug me the other 364 days of the year."