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.


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