Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spiritual Weakness and Poverty

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Ephesians 3:16-17

This incredible prayer becomes even more impressive when you realize that the man who is praying to encourage the Ephesian Christians was imprisoned and chained to a guard. The very one who should have been seeking encouragement was sending this prayer to encourage them. As we saw yesterday, he was concerned that they would become discouraged because of his suffering. We conceded that suffering does get discouraging and prayer is supposed to be a resource for encouragement.

How is it that we discover prayer works?

By being prayed for and having that prayer answered.

Likewise, we discover God's glorious riches by declaring our poverty and we discover His strength by confessing our weakness. And we get both of those by receiving Christ.

How can you have His strength without having Him? You can't! He IS your strength! Until you have Him you are weak. No matter how strong you think you are you are weak until you receive Him.

And how do you receive Him?

By faith.

What does it mean to receive Him by faith?

It means you confess your sinfulness, your renounce your independence and rely totally upon His righteousness and grace for your spiritual well-being.

That is what the Apostle Paul did and it radically transformed his life! His radically transformed life changed the world. It has altered my world. But it only happened because I was honest about my own weakness and spiritual poverty.

It is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God."

Here is the kernel of truth that you can wrap your heart and mind around - you get as much of God as you desire!

Pain and poverty are terrible things. I have been to the inner city of Chicago and Los Angeles and been overwhelmed by the unimaginable pain and poverty there. I have been to cities and villages in Africa and seen the devastation of poverty there. When you look into the eyes of helpless, hopeless people you never get over it. But there is something about pain and poverty that clarifies the value of faith. The powerless quickly recognize their need for His power.

Paul's prayer for his beloved brothers and sisters in Ephesus was that they would realize just how spiritually weak and powerless they are so they would receive the rich and powerful measure of God's Spirit. He realized it through his suffering and prayed that they would, too.

How much of God do you desire? It depends on how much spiritual weakness and poverty you are willing to confess. How much of your impotence are you willing to exchange for His power? 

That is the only way you will receive it and receiving it is the only way you will know it.