Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 2 Corinthians 13:4

Weakness – dfn. lack of physical strength; lack of power, influence or strength of character; a weak point in a system or somebody’s character. (Source: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Can God be weak? Is it possible for the great God of glory to exhibit any weaknesses? Or can God “choose” to be weak to achieve a much greater purpose and cause? One thing is certain and one thing we all agree upon is that love is weak. Love does not operate from a position of power or strength. Love assumes the position of weakness, giving instead of taking and being the recipient of pain versus the one causing the pain, And the list goes on. That stated, how do we respond when the Bible says that “God is love” (I Jn 4:8,16). If God is love and love is weak then what does this say about God’s person, nature, being and character?

As we probe this a little further we will find out that God does and always has a plan. And His plans are perfect. And His plans have always centered around one goal and purpose – to show all of creation how magnificent, how wonderful and how glorious He really is (Ps 145:10-11, Is 6:3, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11). And we will discover that this whole subject of weakness has an astounding ending. Let’s dive into this a little.

 The Progressive Works of God

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth in a miraculous display of creative power. We know that, but what we sometimes forget or do not think about is that these acts of creative power were not conclusive.  After each day of creation God said that “it was good” six times (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25). The number ‘six’ is the number of man, the number of incompletion. This tells us something. It tells us that God had something else planned that would supersede His “good”. What is that? The answer is: God’s ‘best’. God said that His acts of creation were good. What God did not say was that He was “finished” with His work of creation. It would take 6,000 years before He would say that his work of creation on earth was “finished”.

God’s way of revealing His character and will through HIs sovereign acts and ways is progressive in nature (Is 28:10, 13). His plans unfold the way photographs were originally made. Photographs used to be formed after light-sensitive photographic paper was immersed a chemical bath called a “developing solution” after being exposed to a light source projected through a film negative. Images would slowly emerge over the paper’s surface while the solution swished over its surface until the entire scene photographed appeared. Such is the revelation of God, a step-by-step progression of events unfolding to culminate into the complete understanding and knowledge of all that God is.

Progressive Steps – A Man, A Family, A Nation & A World

God’s first step in revealing His character and nature started with a single man, Adam. Adam, the first created being made in God’s image was his first choice to begin exposing who He was through communication and fellowship. Adam failed in fulfilling all that God planed for him because of disobedience. So, as God always does, He moved on. God then chose a family to work with and continue to unfold his perfect plan and will. The man was Noah and he found grace in the sight of God (Gen 6:8). The Lord worked through Noah and his family to preserve a remnant of mankind from judgment (the flood) looming over earth’s inhabitants. After Noah and his offspring fulfilled their God-given role He moved on to something bigger – a nation.

The Lord chose the people of the nation of Israel (through the faith of Abraham) as the next step to reveal His will. The Lord started what would be a journey of almost 2,000 yeas to prepare a people who would glorify Him and be a witness of his power, mercy, goodness and grace to a darkened world. Again, the plan fell short of its intended expectations. Israel would eventually become divisive, indifferent to the ways of God and fall into relative oblivion amongst the nations of the earth.

After failing to achieve perfection yet again, God in his last and final attempt to fulfill His perfect plan decided to take matters into his own hands. This final plan would supersede all others in scope and power and go beyond the limitations of human futility, family frailty and national hostility. God’s final and perfect plan would encompass the entire world and involve all of Heaven, including Himself!

But God faced a dilemma. Because of the nature of this final plan Heaven could not be its launching pad or its  operations center. Why? Because this plan demanded a part of God that He had up to this point not revealed. This final plan demanded God’s total and complete commitment of His love and forgiveness only attainable through profound weakness. And He was up to the challenge.

Earth – The Manifestation of God’s Greatest Weakness, The Perfection of God’s Magnificent Power

Heaven is a place of eternity and timelessness where demonstrations and exhibitions of God’s glory, might and power are in full display. Heaven is not a place for weakness. When God determined it was time to manifest and reveal the most glorious aspects of His character, nature and being He would have to do it at some other place and in some other form. And He did. It is the place we know as planet Earth. God designed earth for two  purposes; to heal the breach of sin in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion) and on earth (Adam’s fall/man’s sin) and to reveal to all of Creation the glory of of His character and manifestation of His greatness weakness – His love. To gather together IN ONE “all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).

He began the process on earth as a child in the “likeness of sinful (weak) flesh”:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33

God himself stepped beyond the curtain of Heaven’s glory and power to become weak, weak like you and me.
However, he did it unlike you and I. He became flesh and lived without committing sin. Jesus was truly the Lamb of God. Perfect. Sinless. Blameless. Guiltless.

First we need to ask a question: Was Jesus really weak?

He became sin who knew no sin (Is 53:12; II Cor 5:21)
He laid down his life so others might take their life up (Luk 22:19-20; Rom 8:32; I Jn 3:16)
He chose death so others might have live (Joh 10:15-18)
He became poor so others might be rich (II Cor 8:9)
He relinquished his God-given power so others might be empowered by it (Mark 5:37-39; Joh 7:37-39; Acts 1:8, 2:38)
He was a lamb before a merciless company of fearless beasts (Is 53:7; Mark 15:32)
He was speechless and defenseless while being falsely accused (Mark 15:3-5)
He loved and forgave the who betrayed him (Mark 14:18-21Luk 22:47-48)
He loved and forgave all who hated him and were ashamed of him (Luk 23:34)

Can we conclude that Jesus indeed chose weakness over power? Is that not how true love is supposed to work?

God’s plans are foolproof. If he fails to accomplish something one way, He will always have something behind the scene that will come through when needed.

Satan thinks he has it all figured out. He believes his dominion over the world is unchallengeable, his death threat forever intact and his plan of deception and destruction over mankind unequaled. Being the father of lies (Joh 8:44) he is the chief deceiver,  deceived and dead wrong.

There is one thing Satan never experienced in Heaven nor will he ever understand about God. And that is: God’s weakness and the profound love of God birthed in that weakness. Satan and his hordes of fallen angels are  completely dumfounded by continually being defeated by the power of God’s love. God’s love has the capacity (unlike any other agent known on earth) to attract the human soul beyond sin’s gravitational pull and cause it to fall in total surrender before its Creator. As one lady radio announcer phrased it: “God’s love is the most compelling force in the entire universe”. It most definitely is.

And here is how. God’s power is perfected in weakness:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The word “strength” in this verse is the Greek word “δύναμις” [dunamis] which is translated into English as “force” or specifically, “miraculous power”. The word “dynamite” is derived from this same Greek word. What does this all mean?

This tells us that God, in the most infinitely weak form possible, came to this earth in the “likeness” of sinful flesh to perfect His power. God became infinitely weak through his death on a cross so that He might become …………. infinitely powerful! So powerful in fact that Jesus is now worthy to receive all of the fullness of God’s glory, might and honor – “even in him” (Eph 1:10). Now that is something to get excited about.

From “It Is Good” to “It Is Finished” – Jesus, Our Seventh Day Of Eternal Rest

As mentioned at the outset, God said after each act of creation the words “it is good” (6x). This tells us that God had one more act of creation to perform – an act to bring everything full circle and complete His final, perfect plan waiting to unfold from the beginning of time.

According to God’s Word one day with the Lord can be 1,000 years or 1,000 years as one day (2 Pet 3:8). Therefore it is not coincidental that Jesus Christ appeared on earth exactly 6 days (6,000 years) after God’s work of Creation. God in the Old Testament rested on the seventh day from His work of creation (Gen 2:1-3) and also reserved this day for mankind’s physical rest (Mar 2:27). In the New Testament, Jesus offers those who believe and trust in him a new life with a new beginning (2 Cor 5:17). Jesus can be seen as the seventh day from creation offering mankind the gift of eternal ‘spiritual’ rest (Mat 11:28-29; Heb 3:11, 4:9-11; Rev 14:13). The Lord completed or finished His final creative week of seven days when Jesus fulfilled the Father’s perfect will.

What was that final act or work of perfection God needed to perform?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34  

God’s perfect will was to manifest Himself in weakness as the Son (flesh) of God on earth to offer salvation to a fallen world through his sinless blood and give the hope of eternal rest (life) to those under the power of sin and death by the god of this world. It was through this sacrificial act that God revealed to the world the most magnificent and profound nature of His person being – His deep, profound love.

The death of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and Savior of the world was God’s seventh and final ‘work’ that fulfilled the Father’s will and ‘finished’ His creative plan on earth:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30 

In conclusion, God’s perfected power is expressed and manifested in the form of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus is the embodiment of that perfected power and rules “at God’s right hand” in the seat of Heaven having all authority and power over all of Creation (Rev 1:12-18). All because of weakness and all because of love. God’s love. For God is love.

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

Departures & Arrivals

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Philemon 1:15

God can take things or places departed for a season and turn them into reasons for the arrival of greater things or places.

Like the coin, lost sheep and lost son as recorded in Jesus’ parables in Luke chapter 15, reunion and discovery of something lost adds special value to that thing. Its value is now magnified. The coin, sheep and son never looked the same again to their owners. They were now deeply treasured because the heart, reflecting on the past trauma of separation, now joyously celebrates in the emotion of reunion:

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Luke 15:32

Let’s take a further look into this.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

Arriving Gate 238 – Jerusalem Airlines

There is someone mentioned in the Word of God whose departure experience is worth calling to mind. He was the ‘big mouth’ of the bunch. Often rash, impulsive and borderline arrogant, he was fast to act and slow at thinking things through (Mat 16:22, Mk 8:32). He was the first to volunteer (Mat 14:28) and was always looking over his shoulder at the competition (Jn 21:20-21).

His name is Peter and he was in departure mode and had yet to arrive where the Lord destined him to be.

Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. Mat 26:74-75

Peter needed to experience a diversion to arrive and take his place in the will God had for his life:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Act 10:44-45

Peter’s season of departure broke his will and caused him to arrive at his appointed destination as an influential leader of the early Apostolic church in the first century.

Departing Gate 123 – JetPerga

There is another individual mentioned in the Bible we also need to look at. This man’s life was yet another account of someone who experienced a season of departure, of falling short and failing in his calling. You can perceive this man as a spiritual lightweight or a wannabe missionary, but in the end he fumbled, stumbled, and departed while on the job.

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John (surnamed Mark – Acts 12:25) departing from them returned to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13

His name is John Mark or Mark for short. Mark of all people. Why, he had a godly heritage (Acts 12:12), conversant with the inner circle of Jesus’ core group of disciples and had the golden opportunity to travel with God’s best. It was not enough. Could it have been Mark’s lack of perfected love (II Tim 1:7 – timidity) that caused the laser-focused Apostle Paul to not want him involved in any future missionary endeavors?:

And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. Acts 15:37-38

Mark experienced his own dilemma of departure. And what better arrival was Mark destined for? Right here;

The Gospel According to Mark.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mark. Mark penned a gospel account that would bear his name. After all his failures, his faults and his shortcomings, the Lord saw an unearthed gem buried somewhere is his spirit. What was it? It was a resolve to not quit and persevere after falling. Just the kind of people God is looking for today. Mark’s gospel account was written for the Roman world of his day, a world attracted to and highly influenced by one thing – power. Mark wrote extensively about the power of God and the miracles of Jesus.

There was another subject Mark wrote about that would have never occurred had he not experienced his season of departure. The areas he, Paul and Barnabas were evangelizing on Paul’s first missionary journey was a hotbed of demonic activity, spiritual oppression and taxing, rugged terrain. In fact, right after the encounter with Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:8), Mark looks for passage back to Jerusalem. Could that encounter have been the tipping point?

There is much speculation about why Mark does this. But, there could be evidence behind his actions by reading Mark’s gospel account. Mark mentions the dark spiritual underworld more that any other gospel writer. He mentions unclean spirits (4x), unclean spirit (6x), devils (12x), dumb spirit (1x), foul spirit (1x), anti-Christ (Ch. 13)  and includes an extensive account of the demoniac of the Gadarenes (Ch. 5). Whatever the cause,  Mark learned his spiritual warfare lesson well to go on, regroup and write about it for all the world to know.

Departing Gate 7 – Air Rome

The last departure we want to discuss is written in The Book of Philemon, an account of the saving grace of God for the runaway slave (Onesimus) of Philemon. Onesimus defrauded Philemon, departed his household and journeyed to Rome where he met the Apostle Paul. Paul works with him, and eventually, Onesimus becomes a born-again believer. The letter is Paul’s appeal for Onesimus’ restoration to his former position in Philemon’s household and the mending of the spiritual bond between the two men.

Because of Onesimus’ season of departure, the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus would never be the same after their reunion. The relationship would now be more valuable and profitable. Not only were they united in earthly terms, they could now be joined together with the heavenly. Because of Onesimus’ departure, he arrived at a much grander place. Their stormy departure for a season birthed a timeless bond for all eternity. As Paul writes:

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Philemon 1:15 KJV

Perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, so that you would have him back forever, (AMP)

For perhaps on this account he was parted for a brief time in order that you might be possessing him fully and forever, (Wuest)

Interestingly, the name Onesimus means ‘useful’ or ‘profitable’ in Greek and it took a detour for him to live true to his name.

In Conclusion

We have looked into the lives of three individuals whose spiritual trajectory was not always on target. In fact, they each completely missed the mark. We know that God is always true to His character. Among His many characteristics; his graciousness, longsuffering, patience, love, kindness, and mercy, He knows we are oftentimes frail, subject to error and resistant to being broken (Ps 103:14, Is 63:9 & Rev 21:4) and looks to use these to work His will through our lives. In each of the above cases, the Lord used a painful departure as their means to arrive at a better end.

And whatever God touches is never the same afterwards. Never. And since Jesus has firsthand experience in turning tables ‘upside down‘ (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:15 & Jn 2:15), he has no problem ‘turning around‘ 180 degrees the table the devil has placed in your life and bring what was ‘meant for evil’ for your good and for His glory.

What has departed in your life today? A lost loved one? Health? Finances? Shelter? Food? Peace? Faith? Hope? Love?

Be assured you are in the right place for God to come on the scene and cause the miracle you desperately need to arrive. It shall be done if you persistently believe and doubtlessly ask the right person:

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7

Life’s hard departures are so designed to bring to light the arrival of God’s best.

Be Blessed In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Fingerprints

Fingerprint: (noun), an impression or mark made on a surface by a person’s fingertip, especially as used for identifying individuals from the unique pattern of whorls and lines. A distinctive identifying characteristic, the impression of a fingertip on any surface. (Merriam-Webster)

Forensics play a critical role in a criminal investigation and is instrumental in solving a crime. A fingerprint or fingerprints is one of the most highly sought after forms of physical evidence. Why? Because it can uniquely identify someone. Having a record of someone’s fingerprint is proof of an individual’s physical presence.

On a more light-hearted note, fingerprint smudges are the bane and drudgery of the home dweller. Especially those of the neat and tidy sort with little children who know inevitably that greasy, smudgy fingerprints will soon grace a freshly cleaned window or glass sliding door. They are unsightly and the first reaction is to get out a cloth and window cleaner to wipe them away.

However, there are some places where fingerprints show up where we might want to reconsider having them immediately erased. Let’s explain.

God’s Fingerprints

God is a Creator of uniqueness and diversity. Our unique set of fingerprints are one way God intended to show that each of us are specially crafted and designed creations. Our fingerprints are evidence of that.

The obverse is also true. God is uniquely God. There is no one else like Him. God has His own set of fingerprints:

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:5-6

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. Isaiah 45:18

And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. Joel 2:27

The phrase “I (am) the Lord” occurs 163 times in the King James Version of the Old Testament. The Lord is not and will never suffer an identity crisis. God knows who He is. And the Lord is adamant that others would even dare to look and replace Him with an imposter.

Window Panes of the Heart

Charity never faileth: … I Corinthians 13:8

God’s love never fails. The only way God’s love can fail is if we walk way from it. The only way. Jesus will do all that he can to probe, prod and provoke us to win our hearts over.

And Jesus desires to have all of our heart. Eighty percent, ninety percent and not even ninety-eight percent is acceptable with God:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

Whether we realize it or not, our hearts embody a reflective surface. This surface is a mirror or window of sorts:

As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man. Proverbs 27:19

And if we will look closely enough we might see some fingerprints plastered on the window panes of our heart. These unique, distinctive and truth-bearing marks are evidence of God’s presence attempting to get our attention. He is looking, seeking and searching to find hearts that will accommodate His presence:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4:23

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:27

Will we brush it off and take out our little bottle of spiritual Windex to wipe those marks of love away?

The bumper sticker stated the words best:

Life Is Precious

Life is precious. Each moment, each heartbeat, every day is a gift from God. You are His special treasure. Will you wipe all evidence of His wooing away? The choice is ours to make.

Those fingerprints on the window panes of your heart very well may be from Someone who is peering in to see its contents. What will He find in there? Don’t wipe them away. For they are fingerprints of true love:

And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7

Tattered Garments

And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.
Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.
And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.
And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.

So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house. II Samuel 13:16-20

The account of Tamar, the daughter of King David, ranks as one of the most tragic accounts of a woman recorded in the Old Testament. The Bible records many woman who suffered either by their own mistakes and shortcomings or due to circumstances beyond their control (Eve, Naomi, Rizpah, Esther, and Hanna, to name a few).

But, Tamar’s story is unprecedented in its scope and poignancy. The pure, innocent, virgin daughter of the King is sexually abused and then unmercifully rejected by her brother, Amnon. The Lord pronounced judgment over the household of King David in response to his moral failures over Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. And judgment came swift and severe.

There is a payday for our sins. And that is reasonable. But, oftentimes the innocent are affected because of the sins of others. Such is Tamar’s case.

And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.
And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? II Samuel 13:12-13

Tamar was left destitute, humiliated, shunned and forsaken. Absolutely tragic. The scene as recorded in II Samuel chapter thirteen ends with Tamar living her days “desolate” in her brother Absalom’s house. Her life so impacted her brother that he even named one of his own daughter’s after her (II Samuel 14:27).

Tamar’s life descended on a trajectory starting at the wind currents of shame (vs. 13) and ended at a personal tsunami called desolation (vs. 20). Not a very promising outcome for someone beaten by the ravages of life.

The name Tamar in Hebrew (תָּמָר) is derived from a root word that means ‘upright, as a palm tree’. Palm trees are associated with areas refreshed with springs and fresh water. Palm trees are also known for their resiliency and durability to withstand severe storms and the most violent weather conditions.

But, it’s interesting to note that Tamar’s story does not end in II Samuel chapter 13. Nothing else is recorded in the Bible concerning her life …… except in one more place. And a most unlikely place at that. Tamar is mentioned one more time right here:

These were all the sons of David, beside the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister. I Chronicles 3:9

In the midst of the Book of Chronicles, the official document chronicling the generational tree from Adam to Noah, the ancestry of fathers and sons of the ‘who’s who’ of Israel’s patriarchs, stands a shining light.

Tamar may have been forgotten and forsaken by her natural family, but not by her heavenly Father. I Chronicles 3:9 has God’s fingerprints all over it. This is how God operates. God is good. He never forgets. He never forgets the things people go through. God is a righteous and merciful judge.

God made sure that Tamar’s life did not end in obscurity. Her legacy lived on. She lived up to her name – a palm tree dwelling in the midst of the true living waters of life and forever sealed in the granite of God’s eternal word.

No Tamar, your life did not end up desolate and cloaked in shame. No, the Lord made sure that your name, your legacy would stand tall and strong, just like the meaning of your name said it would. And Tamar, there was no need after all to rend your beautiful coat of distinction. For God was there with you the whole time.

These were all the sons of David, beside the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister.

Do you know any Tamar’s?

God is good!

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15