Monday, July 30, 2012

Our All Sufficient God

July 29, 2012
Pentecost VIII  (click to see readings)
Fr. Philip Eberhart  (click the title below to hear the audio of the sermon)

Got home last night from Heavenfest at about 12:30, so if I appear a little toasty around the edges this morning, its because I am!

Last night, after all the bands, we had a prayer time based on our adoption as children of God and on the call that God gives all of His children to participate in His government… “in His Kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

This morning’s readings all point to one thing – the nature of God as the loving supply for all of His creation!  Actually more than just our supply, but the God of super-abundance, even in the face of lack!

Is there anyone else here that this speaks to?

Just listen again to some of what we just heard:

“They shall eat and have some left!”

“The Lord is faithful in all His Words and merciful in all His Deeds!
The Lord upholds all those who fall; He lifts up those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon You, O Lord, and You give them their food in due season.
You open wide Your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and loving in all His works.
The Lord is near to those who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him faithfully!”

“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is
The breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ
That surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God!”

Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly
Far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

And from our gospel, Jesus asks His disciples, actually to Philip (hmmmmmm?)

“Where are we to by bread for these people to eat? 
Philip answered, “Six months wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
Peter said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.  But what are they among so many people?”
Tucked away in the midst of this conversation that Jesus is having with the disciples is a little line we only see here in this telling of the story of the feeding of the 5000:

“Jesus asked this to test him, for Jesus already knew what He was going to do!”

In another of the stories that is told in the gospels about this moment, we hear Jesus telling Philip, “You give them something to eat!” Just the command; there was no plan, no offer of help or power or supernaturally abundant supply.  None of that was in view in Philip’s mind.  His was the calculation:

Let’s see if each one got a fish sandwich.  That’s about 2 bucks per … and there are around 5000 families, - that’s about 15,000 hungry mouths – let’s see – that’s $30K for lunch!  I only make $60K in a year.

Lord, six months wages would not buy enough for each one to have even a little!”

And I think that Peter’s offering of the school boy’s lunch (not his own) was just pure observation, not faith!

Once again the disciples are found deficient and fail the faith test.  As we so often do as well. 

We are all so prone – let me say I here – I am so prone to look at the head count and do the calculations, until I’m convinced of the IM-possibility of the situation.  Then I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, just like the disciples that Jesus was testing that day.

Why do you suppose that Jesus used this situation to test them?  Because He was about to ask them to do something SO MUCH BIGGER than feeding a few thousand with fish and bread – this time would actually pale by comparison.

Let me go back for a moment, to the editor’s comment in the midst of the text of the Gospel reading.  Why do you suppose it was important for John to include that comment here?

If this is the Word of God that He has breathed – His love letter to us … are even the editorial comments inspired.  I believe they are.  So why?  Why is it so important to know that Jesus was testing Philip in His question?

Because Jesus does the same thing with us!  He did the same thing in different ways with Peter.

In fact Peter picks up this lesson from his time with Jesus and passes it along in his first letter:

The Holy Bible, New International Version.
1Pe 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! m  In his great mercy n  he has given us new birth o  into a living hope p  through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, q   1Pe 1:4 and into an inheritance r  that can never perish, spoil or fade s  —kept in heaven for you, t   1Pe 1:5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power u  until the coming of the salvation v  that is ready to be revealed w  in the last time.  1Pe 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, x  though now for a little while y  you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. z   1Pe 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire a  —may be proved genuine b  and may result in praise, glory and honor c  when Jesus Christ is revealed. d   1Pe 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him e  and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 1Pe 1:9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. f  

Verse 7 is the key here, Peter’s explanation of our trials and suffering, our grief – and I believe that this insight is rooted in Peter’s own experience with Jesus personally on the roads of Judea and Samaria.

“These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

What was the point of Jesus even asking the question of Philip – what was the point of the test?  It was a test of faith.  Friends, it’s all a test of faith.

I’m sorry, because that application made very generally can seem a little harsh – if we apply it broadly, but Jesus applied it specifically.  His question was to Philip, not to Peter or Bartholomew or Andrew.  For whatever reason, Philip’s faith was “in the dock” that day.  It’s never a pleasant experience when Jesus puts your faith on trial. It involves coming to the end of yourself.

And maybe, just maybe that is the exact point.

Faith, of necessity, will eventually bring us to the end of ourselves.  I saw a quote this week.  “At the end of your rope, is where God’s starts!”

You see friends, God the Trinity, wants to be our supply, but as long as we are able to supply what we need – we have no need of God.  We do this habitually – especially as independent minded, western pioneer born and bred, Americans!  It is part of our DNA!

No wonder we are in the place we are in, both as a church and many of us personally, are finding ourselves between a rock and a hard place, over and over and over.  What is the answer?

Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for all these people?”  The question comes to us in many forms, not the least of which is, where am I going to get the bread to feed my family?  Where am I going to come up with the rent money, or the money for heating or cooling, or the money for clothes.

We run from pillar to post, work our rear ends off, without a second glance at these parts of the Word of God.  Listen again to these promises:  They are astounding:

He opens His Hand and satisfies the needs of every living creature!

How many?   EVERY Living Creature.
Does that include you?  It does.
Does that include us?  It does.
Look at someone and say, “He’s talking about you!”

And I’m talking to me as well.

Our God is a Great Big God.
Our God is the Creator of the Universe.  As I said a week or so ago, we of all people should have a concrete grasp of all that that means today!  And for me having a grasp of the scientific realities of our universe, doesn’t negate God’s presence, it magnifies it!
I see Him in every flower petal and in every face along the way.  I see Him in the Milky Way and in the halting steps of a 1 year old… in a mother’s love and a father’s joy.

Our God is a Great Big God.
Our God is the Sustainer of the Universe.  He gives His breath to all living creatures. He is the source of our life, in its biological miracles.  Did you all read the story about one of the shooting victims this past week?  Petra Anderson, the young lady that Tom and Cara are friends with; her story is all over the internet and has been picked up by some of the bloggers and wire services, but they are not quite sure what to make of it.

In short, she was hit in the face by buckshot from one of the early shotgun blasts.  The BB hit her in the nose and went into her brain and lodged at the back of her head. The prognosis by the surgeons and neurological people was grim indeed, prior to surgery. After surgery they had a different view …  of God.

You see when they went in they discovered a “birth defect” in Petra’s brain.  A kind of tunnel or channel from front to back that simply had fluid in it, no brain matter at all.  The BB from the shotgun entered through Petra’s nose, into that channel, all the way through her brain and ended next to her back skull.  In dislodging the BB they discovered the “fearful and wonderful way” that God had made Petra.

When Petra was born, God saw to it that the needed channel was supplied – by our reckoning a “birth defect” – serves no purpose, has no ill effects, in fact, was laying there silently waiting for this day.  When it would save all that Petra is and loves about her life, a life that she now knows, was given her, from beginning to end, by a loving and powerful, all seeing and all knowing God.

Just like yours.

Let’s pray.


God, I thank you that you are such a wonderful God.  I thank you that you created each one of us here and that you have each one of us written on the palm of your hand.  I thank you that you have promised that if we will seek you first – your kingdom and your righteousness – that you will “add all these things” to us.

I confess that you are my supply.  I confess that I am NOT my supply!  I confess I want to feel in control, but as long as I am, you are not.  And so you draw my attention once again to my inadequacy for the task ahead, for the call you have on my life, for the task of even living day to day!  Apart from You Lord, I can do nothing!  I confess my insufficiency and Your great sufficiency.

I lean on You, Lord.  I trust in You, Lord and lean away from my own understanding.  I acknowledge You, Lord, in all my ways, and trust You to direct my paths.  I trust you to provide for my needs and I raise empty hands to you.  I surrender!

I surrender to your goodness, to your righteousness, to your tender mercies.
I surrender to your abundance, your super-abundance promised to us who come by faith.
It’s not our right, it’s your gift.
Let us not hold our gaze on the gifts, but fix our eyes on the Giver. 
For you are gracious of Lover of Souls.
All we have is from you, and all we can give is what we have received first.

Thank you Jesus!

Amen and Amen.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

He Is Our Peace!!!

July 22, 2012
Pentecost VIII
Fr. Philip Eberhart

He Is Our Peace!

It’s amazing to have preached for the past two weeks on the fact that our God is a Turn-around God and on the Juxtaposition of Good and Evil, as almost a precursor of the events of this week.  Both amazing good happened for us at REZ this week and a devastating evil for our city in the shootings in Aurora.

 First I want to report on the good and give praise to God.  On Wednesday, after our discussion last Sunday morning on our financial situation, a gift was given anonymously, that has caught us up for the year.  We still have challenges going forward, but God has sent us a message very clearly in two parts, “You have not because you ask not!”  and

“Who’s Your Daddy?!!!!”

 I want to reaffirm my own faith at this point in a God who is always mindful of our needs, even before we ask Him, and who has prepared for us who do ask, seek and knock, more than we can “ask or even imagine.”  God also challenged me this week to continue to look to HIM for the provision that we need along the way – for both finances and numbers in our midst.  It is HE who gives growth and success to those who will move with HIM by faith.  

 And so it seems appropriate to both the circumstance of our church and to the tragedy of our city this week, to say… HE IS OUR PEACE!

 Jesus said “My PEACE I give you, not as the world gives. In the world you will still have tribulation, but I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”


 The peace that we gain in Christ is not based on feelings or circumstances – not based on our financial status du jour, or our proximity to or distance from tragedy.  The Peace that Jesus gives is not based on any of those things, but is based on something much larger and deeper.

 Look with me at this passage from Paul’s letter to Ephesus this morning:

 As we begin this reading this morning I need to point out that our reading begins at verse 11, after a very, very significant prologue in the first ten verses of the chapter… let me just excerpt a few verses:

 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.

6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Some of the versions begin our reading with “THEREFORE!”

 Based on the Work of Jesus Christ – the Workmanship of God – REMEMBER!   

 Don’t forget!  The peace that we have with God and with one another is based on the gracious work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  Our reading is even more explicit here:

 “you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one”

 Now to be true to the context here we have to say that the two groups Paul speaks of here are the Jews and the Gentiles.  Those Inside and those Outside. 

 But I believe that the application bears broadening this morning.  The themes of peace and reconciliation are needed today, in the midst of the pain and tragedy we are facing as a result of the actions of a madman early Friday morning in Aurora.

 Many of our lives have been touched, some more personally, by the senselessness and brutality of the events of the past 72 hours.  12 have lost their lives and we are just learning their stories last night and today.  Another 50 struggle with wounds sustained in the attack. 

 I have been hearing from friends around the world, standing with us in prayer, as well as from friends and members of REZ who have been effected or who have friends who have been effected by this tragedy.  

 How do we find PEACE in this mess?

 Our Epistle this morning points the way.  Very simply:  HE is our PEACE.

 Our peace is not going to be found in anything else or anyone else.  Just in Jesus.

It is Jesus alone who can bring His peace in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances.  Who can bring triumph out of tragedy... victory out of defeat.

 It is as we stand together in His Name, with those who are in the midst of this time of suffering that PEACE and healing and reconciliation and restoration can begin for those who have lost so much and for the city as a whole in this time.


 Friends, the Peace of God that we seek comes from God!  We are a nation of seekers.

A generation that is hungry for heroes. We are searching in all kinds of places for anything that will distract us, that will ease our dis – ease.  I’ve been trying to make sense out of Friday morning’s events – listening almost non-stop to radio and TV news and commentary.  Peace isn’t there!!

Peace isn’t even in candles and hugs, as we hold one another, and remember the lives of the fallen and the injured.  We believe that prayer is the beginning of the answer, as we come to God Himself for our answers – for our Peace.  

 We find our peace in the access to God’s presence that is granted us in Jesus Christ alone.

 "Access” is one my favorite words in the English bible!

 Paul tells us in Romans 5 about this access and its place in the midst of suffering:

 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 Here once again we see that we have both position and promise.  We have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [and have] gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

 And that same Peace and Grace of God, give us strength to go through the suffering that comes in this life, knowing that the suffering we come through produces the fruit of God’s Righteousness in our lives:  Perseverance, Character, Hope.  Why?

Because “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

 You have access, friend.  By God’s grace you can have peace with Him through His son, Jesus Christ.  And you can know that the tragedies of this life are not the end of the story!

 As I’ve said in previous sermons – We serve a Turn-around God! And we always find ourselves in the midst of the Juxtaposition of Darkness and Light.  God calls us to reflect His glory and to be Light in the darkness.  

 Today I ask your prayers for those who have lost their lives and for those who have lost their loved ones in our city this week.  I ask your prayers for the injured who cling to life and whose lives will be changed forever.

 Indeed may all our lives be changed forever, not by the darkness, but by the light of Christ and by His grace and by His love, because

 He is our Peace.


Let us remember in prayer the names of those fallen this week:

Alex Sullivan

Micayla Medek

Jessica Ghawi

John Larimer, US Navy

Matt McQuinn

Jesse Childress, US AirForce

Veronica Moser-Sullivan – Age 6

Jon Blunk

Alexander “AJ” Boik

Alex Teves

Rebecca Wingo

Gordon Cowden

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Juxtaposition - Here Now, Not Yet

Pentecost VII
July 15, 2012
Fr. Philip Eberhart

Juxtaposition:  Here Now – Not Yet

As I read through – wrestled through the scriptures we just heard read this week, I was so struck by the juxtaposition of two realities:

 The promise of Adoption and Peace, the inheritance of the Saints promised to us who believe and the violent end of St. John the Baptist, beheaded by Herod.  Why would these particular scriptures be chosen to be read together?

From the Psalm:

I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together; *
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, *
and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness shall go before him, *
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

And from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places …

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…

In him we have redemption through his blood…

he has made known to us the mystery of his will…

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance…

In him you also … were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;

this is the pledge of our inheritance.

 Then we have Amos and John, the Baptist as bookends!

Amos, a herder and tender of Sycamore trees, sent to Israel and thrown out for the message he was given there.

 John, put in prison, and violently killed at the whim of a bitter wife’s command.

What are we to make of the juxtaposition?

 What are we seeing here?   Juxtaposition is placing two opposite things side-by-side for the purpose of contrast.

 Is that what we have here, two opposite things?

 Do we have the promises of God that we get to claim for ourselves and the reality of Amos and John, prophets who were despised, rejected and killed?

 Or do we have two sides of the same reality?

 On one side the promises of God, based on the gift and grace of Jesus Christ
   …we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms …

 And yet …
   … the priest is instrumental in turning the king against Amos…
   … the daughter is instrumental in exacting her mother’s wishes from Herod,                             
          the death of John.


In the midst of life, death.
In the midst of obedience, opposition.
In the midst of the Kingdom of God, the ways of men. 

Friends, we live in the in-between place.  The place of faith.
Until Jesus comes back to set it all right fully, we live in the place of faith.

We live like Abraham, journeying on the way to a better – a promised land.

We live like Moses and the people of Israel, in bitter struggle with our own sin

            Our brokenness and dis-ease are always right there with us.

We live like David, anointed by God, but told to wait – servant to Saul, hated and outcast.

We live like the Prophets, called by God, but living with unclean people and unclean lips.

We live like John, who saw the One who was to come, yet from prison, asked him again,             
           “Are you the one, or shall we look for another?”

We live like Jesus himself, at once Son of God, yet brought to Golgotha… to the place of                         the Cross.


 Not the comparison of opposites, but the two sides of our life in the Kingdom of God
Here now and Not Yet – the struggle to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”

 To “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, didn’t take that as something to be grasped or held on to.”   He let it go in order to embrace us.  Jesus let everything that He was as God go, in order to take on our humanity – the juxtaposition itself.


 Because what the Psalmist, what David said is true… what Paul said is true!

 It’s all true.

 And faith requires us to look past what we see, to something that is – as yet – unseen !!

 Will we see it in our lifetime?

 Will we see the fullness of the Kingdom in our midst?  Will we see the Revival we pray for each week, each month?  Will we see the consummation of our faith?


 Before we die?    Maybe.

 God is not the great candy machine in the sky.  He isn’t a good short-order cook!  He doesn’t grant us three wishes, like Aladdin’s genie. 

 God is the creator, the master of the universe, and we of all people, know the extent and the expanse of that statement.  Many here ARE Rocket scientists, for heaven’s sake!

The “God of the Universe” should have fairly concrete meaning for us today!!  It should be even more awesome to us, than it was to the ancients who wrote the lines.  We can test the boundaries of His greatness and understand the limits of our smallness now, with just a couple of clicks on the computer!

 We live our life here and now, in the in-between;  in the “here now & not yet” – the Kingdom of God is among you and yet it is coming.

 The requirement of this time is faith.

The substance of things hoped for;  the evidence of things not seen.
    Heb 12:1

 And just a few verses later:   For without faith it is impossible to please God.  Those who come to him must believe that He exists (1) and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him diligently (2).

1.  Keep on believing …

God is here .. He is real … and He is not silent!
We are deaf, because we are loud.  God is soft spoken!  Be Still and Know!

 2.  Look for the fruit of His love, today.

Small ways – sunshine, rain, children, family, friends and loved ones.  Time together.
    All gifts from God … the list is long!  And we are all too busy with the gifts to give                  thanks to the Giver.  Stop.  Be aware of His hand extended toward you today.

The point of juxtaposition is perspective.

Even a tiny pebble that is placed close enough to our eye obscures all else.  Let us make sure that our “light and momentary afflictions” are not obscuring from us the view of what God wants to and is accomplishing through them, “an eternal glory that far outweighs then all.”

Let us pray…

Lord Jesus Christ.

You have given us yourself and in that Gift we have received all things.  Open our eyes this day to see through your eyes, what we have been called to and gifted for – the seeking of your Kingdom first and foremost, and help us by your Spirit to rest in the knowledge that all else that is needful will be added unto us.

In Your Name, Lord Jesus and for the sake of Your Kingdom here on earth, we pray.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our Turnaround God

July 8, 2012
Pentecost VI
Fr. Philip Eberhart

“My strength is made perfect in weakness!”

 Have you ever noticed that something is always wrong??

 And I’m not a pessimist or a big complainer, but it just seems that something is always wrong!  Something is broken, or someone is sick, or something has gone wrong in life, physically or emotionally, financially or in some other way.  We identify with JOB and all his trials – actually we identify with Job’s trials, not Job, because he finally came to the same spot that PAUL came to – a place of trust in the midst of trials:   “Though HE slay me, YET will I trust HIM!”

 In our NT reading and in our Gospel we see this dynamic, even in the life of Jesus, and especially in the life of Paul.  I call it the TURNAROUND Dynamic – because we serve A TURNAROUND GOD!!

 In fact we serve such a Turnaround God, that it can almost be said that that is the chief way He works!  Paul put it this way:   “When I am weak, THEN I am strong!”


No, when you are weak, you’re weak!!  I’ve been there – done that!!  Bought the tee shirt!!

But for Paul and even for Jesus, this dynamic was in place where the greatness of the power was in direct proportion to the depth of the brokenness.

Think if the desperation of the woman who had been suffering from illness for 17 years and came to just touch the hem of Jesus garment.

When I am weak, then I am strong!

Think of the desperation of the blind man on the roadside, hearing the party of Jesus walk past and crying out, clamoring for the Master’s attention, for just a moment:  Lord, that I may see.”

When I am weak, then I am strong!

There can be no denying it … we serve a “turnaround” God!

The same word that Paul uses in this passage for “weakness” is used in his Magnum Opus on the Holy Spirit in Rom 8, just a few verses… listen:

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Or the same passage from The Message:

26-28Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

29-30God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

You see, God has made and knows that we “are dust.”  He knows exactly how we are made, each one of us – Psalm 139 is one of my personal favorites:

My sitting … my rising … every thought from far off … my pathway … my lying down … all my ways … every word on my tongue …

Behold, O Lord, you know it all!  You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me!  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me … !!!

Have you ever thought you were invisible to God?  That your trouble is unique and separates you from God so He cannot see you?
Yeah, me too!!

And maybe its not just the trouble in your life, but the sin that caused the trouble!  Surely the sin separates us from God, hides us from His eyes… removes us from the scope of His love. ??

David asks these questions:   “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there;  If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. …  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be darkest night,” even the darkness is not dark to You – the night is as bright as day – both are alike to You.

When I am weak, then I am strong!

Jesus and Paul learned the secret of dependence.

“I can do nothing that I do not see my Father doing.”

“Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

“So, Paul says, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

This is the ultimate attitude adjuster!

Jesus said it this way, “In this world you will [always] have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world!”

Paul ends the section we read earlier on the Holy Spirit in Romans 8, with a mighty crescendo:

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one--for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

Who then will condemn us? No one--for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Just a few phrases from The Message to end…

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture

None of this even fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Repeat it after me:

When I am weak, then I am strong! …

When I am weak, then I am strong! …

When I am weak, then I am strong! …

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the God of the second-chance, the fat-chance and the no chance!  We turn to You this morning and open our hands, releasing what we have been holding on to, that keeps us from your presence, and we embrace You, as you have embraced us.

Lord, we confess our weakness, our in-ability and we wait on your ability!  You are the one who equips those you have called – who IS our ability and our competency. You are able to finish what You have started in each one of us.  Come, Holy Spirit, as we wait with open hand and hearts.

We release what is wrong in our lives, our dis-ease, our sin, our shame, our habits and addictions to you – we release our circumstances, our pain…

Holy Spirit, come, and bring your peace.  Be strong in our weakness.

For the sake of your Kingdom and Your Name, Jesus, we pray.