Throughout November, we’re exploring four ways that God wants to change our perspective about finances. These life-shaping values include contentment, stewardship, generosity and – I’ll be honest – what we’re talking about today may be the hardest lesson to learn. I know it was for me.
What is it? It this: We grow spiritually by learning to rely more on God.
On the surface, it seems obvious. No one could grow spiritually by decreasing their dependance on God. But it’s easier said that done.
I believe God created us with free will. But what exactly does that mean? In practical terms, it means we have the ability to choose our path, priorities, and pursuits. And for many years, that’s exactly what I did.
I chose MY path, MY priorities, and MY pursuits. As a result, I often operated in MY OWN power. Rather than solve MY problems, it often created more. I’m here to tell you … don’t do what I did!
We’re going to learn from the experiences of the Apostle Paul. He’s writing to Christians about what it means to rely on God. Along the way, he addresses a few misconceptions about characters in the Bible. One misconception is that they never had a bad day.
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. – 2 Corinthians 1:8a
OK … Paul might have had a few bad days. It’s even reasonable to think that Paul would encounter trouble. I mean, who doesn’t encounter a little trouble from time to time? But honestly, how bad could it be? After all, the man was an apostle who would write two-thirds of the New Testament.
Let’s jump ahead few chapters in the same book. One of the reasons Paul is writing 2 Corinthians is to combat the feeling that he wasn’t as legitimate as the “regular” apostles. How he defends himself is quite interesting.
23 I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. – 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
That’s definitely sounds pretty bad! But this brings us to the second misconception we often have about biblical characters: When they did encounter trouble, they handled it like superheroes.
We take the Apostle Paul and do a mash-up with Superman. Somewhere we got the idea that Paul’s robe was made with Teflon. Sure, he encountered some serious troubles. But he’s an apostle. All that stuff must have just rolled right off him.
What would Paul say to that?
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. – 2 Corinthians 1:8b-9a
Does this sound like a superhero to you? If so, it’s one who battles discouragement and depression. Paul literally felt like the walls were closing in on him. His external troubles were causing serious internal pressure.
Personally, I can’t relate to a superhero. But I can relate to someone who battles discouragement and depression.
Have you heard someone say, “God will never give you more than you can handle”? Paul has a theological word for that: Baloney! This comes from a misunderstanding of this verse:
3 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Your ability to overcome temptation and your ability to overcome any circumstance are two different things. Why was Paul so open about his struggles? It’s because God’s ability to overcome any circumstance is a different matter.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. – 2 Corinthians 1:9b-11
Where does Paul’s confidence come from? The same place our confidence comes from – We serve a God who raises the dead.
Rather than say, “God will never give you more than you can handle” it would be better to say, “God will never give you more than HE can handle.” Why can we rely on God in every area of life? Because he’s delivered once, he can – and he will – deliver us again.
Storms on the outside often lead to storms on the inside. Even when the storms rage around you, the Holy Spirit can calm the storm within you.
Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
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