New Wine for New Wineskins October 2008

By , September 30, 2008 3:06 pm

Let the Weak Speak

Part 2 – The Cain Conundrum

 

As I look around the church today I believe I see what the LORD sees – tremendous potential.  There are ministries, kingdom businesses, and world-changers everywhere!  But if our potential is going to be realised there must be some changes.  The purpose of this series is to release anyone who is bound by weakness into the fullness of their potential so that they can fulfil their purpose in bringing glory to God!

As I said last time, the sad reality is that for years the church has been plagued by people who run to the places where there are – or appear to be – exciting things going on and who chase after signs and wonders.  Are we going to be one of those people who run to the places where the exciting things are going on or are we willing to become the exciting thing that is going on?  Are we going to chase signs and wonders or are we willing to become a sign and wonder?  Thank God for what is happening in other places but what God is doing is no longer limited to the ministry of one person or church or confined to one geographical location!  When Jesus said that we would do greater works than he did he was talking about quantity rather than quality.  He was saying that there would be multitudes of people with the same anointing and doing the same works all over the earth.

Matthew 10: 7 – 8

7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Jesus didn’t say that we were to chase after signs and wonders – he said that they would follow those who believe!  Listen to what Isaiah says:

Isaiah 8: 18

18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

Here is our foundation scripture for this new series – Let The Weak Speak!

Joel 3: 9 – 10

9 Proclaim this among the nations:
“Prepare for war!
Wake up the mighty men,
Let all the men of war draw near,
Let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”

Remember we are involved in a war with a defeated enemy who is so proud that he cannot acknowledge his defeat.  The war we are engaged in is a war of words!  I believe that there are multitudes of believers some of whom are here today – who are locked into a prison of inactivity and ineffectiveness by their own thoughts of inadequacy, inability, and weakness.  These thoughts become words when the opportunity arises to get involved and do something and they say, “I could never do that!”

It is not a bad thing to acknowledge your own weakness – in fact it is good to do so if, in acknowledging our own weakness, we then go on to embrace and confess God’s strength!

Even Jesus said that he could do nothing by himself.  He was as dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit as we are.  Even though he was the Word in the flesh, the Word without the Spirit is nothing more than dead letters on a page!

Religious showmen and christian celebrities might parade their strengths before the people but Jesus ministered from a position of acknowledging the weakness of his flesh – “Of myself I can do nothing!”  He very clearly warned his disciples and the rest of us not to even think of ministering until the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us!

Paul acknowledged this same dependence upon the Holy Spirit when he said that he could do all things through Christ (the Anointed One with his anointing) that strengthened him!  The first thing that Paul wanted to know from the disciples he encountered in Ephesus was whether or not they had received the Holy Spirit when the believed!   How in the world did the church ever get to a place where it thought it could truck along without the power of God? How did we backslide to a place where the mighty celebrity is held in awe by the weak majority?

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!   IT IS TIME FOR THE WEAK TO SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

We all have weaknesses in our flesh but by taking God at his word we can be supernaturally changed and can overcome our weakness as we learn to depend fully upon his strength.

And so we are going to look at some of the men and women who made it into the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith”.   They did not get there because they were perfect people – in fact some of them were very far from perfect.  They made it because they received God’s word in their lives and allowed God’s strength to be perfected in their weakness!

If we are aware that there is weakness in our flesh then let’s be encouraged to acknowledge our weakness and to embrace and confess God’s strength so that we can become the signs and the wonders that we are designed to be – signs that point people to Jesus!

We don’t ever want to make it hard for people to get saved but we do always want to make it very clear that salvation only ever works like God designed it to when we bring all that we are and all that we have and submit everything to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The truth is that if I can do something in my own strength then I don’t need God – but when I acknowledge my weakness and insufficiency I am also confessing my need for his strength and ability.  And so, by receiving his word I can access his grace and overcome any weakness in his strength.

Romans 1: 16 – 17

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,  “The just shall live by faith.”

The good news of the gospel is that God’s power and strength has been made available to the weak!

The awesome thing about the Word of God is that it reveals everything about those whose history is recorded within its pages.  There is no attempt to airbrush out the failures, inconsistencies and imperfections.  There are no skeletons left in the closet for someone to discover later.  There is hope for everyone who has ever blown it or got it wrong and at the end of the day Scripture is clear that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  But if we will acknowledge our sin and repent and turn to the LORD we can move forward by faith – by hearing and doing what he says.

No weakness of the flesh can prevent you from being the person that God has planned and purposed for you to be if you will hear his word and begin to speak it out and to live by it.

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  IT IS TIME FOR THE WEAK TO SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

As I was re-reading and meditating my way through the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith which focuses upon what weak people achieved by faith I realised that there are actually a couple of guys whose names are recorded there who both had a serious weakness in their lives but failed to access God’s help.  Even though their names are mentioned they are not preceded by the all-important words “by faith”.

How does God’s help come?  Though his word!  When we believe his word we access his grace by faith and receive his strength to overcome our weakness!

As well as making the cost of discipleship clear we must also communicate to people the much higher cost of refusing the invitation to come and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  And so, I believe that before we go on and look at those who turned their weakness around by faith it is important that we look at a couple of examples of what can happen when we reject the help that is offered to us.

Remember – it is not God’s will for anyone to perish.  His desire is for everyone to be saved but salvation can only come God’s way – through repentance and faith!

The first person we need to look at is Cain.  It is pretty shocking to think that at this time there are a grand total of only two brothers on the earth and yet they both approach God in different ways. There really is nothing new under the sun!  It is important to recognise that both brothers brought an offering to God but only one was accepted.

Genesis 4: 1 – 5

1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

The reason that Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s was accepted is very simply explained in two words in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11: 4

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

By faith!  How does faith come?  By hearing what God says!  There is only one way to come to God and that is the way that God says we must come.  Both brothers must have heard that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission for sin but Cain obviously thought that he could ignore what God had said and come in his own way and with an offering that he considered to be sufficient.

Jesus said:

John 14: 6

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

He also said:

Matthew 16: 23 – 25

23 …to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

The sacrifice that God requires from us is our obedience – our willingness to lay aside what we think is sufficient and to do things his way!  Everything that we bring to God that is not what he has asked for is worthless and unacceptable!  It has been said, “Give God what’s right – not what’s left!”

Romans 14: 23

“…whatever is not from faith is sin”

Cain’s offering was rejected simply because it was not what God required.  Esau had a weakness that caused him to ignore God’s word and substitute it with a sacrifice of his own choosing.  Maybe he didn’t want to have to humble himself and go to his brother for a lamb and maybe even suggest (horror of horrors) that maybe they could even do it together, or perhaps pride was dictating that it was unnecessary for him to have to bring a lamb when he was producing such good vegetables.  After all, the produce of the ground represented his strength.  Generally speaking we tend not to sense our need for God’s strength in the areas where we consider ourselves to be strong. The only thing we are exhorted to do with our strength is to love God with all of it! We need to bring our weaknesses to him so that we are acknowledge our need for him and access his strength.

Adam tried to hide his weakness from the LORD and it was only when he came out of hiding that his weakness was covered by the shedding of blood!  Covenants were normally entered into in order to cover areas of weakness.  God needs our weakness in order to manifest his glory in us and through us! He wants our hands that are hanging down in weakness to be laid on the sick and our feeble knees to stand up in the power of his anointing and go into all the world to preach the gospel message that he can then supernaturally confirm with the accompanying signs and wonders!

How many of us are still doing the same thing as Adam did and trying to hide our weakness while all the time it paralyses our relationship with the LORD and distances us from his strength?  Too often, we hide our weaknesses while we try and impress God and others with our strengths!  God is not impressed and neither is anyone else who has an ounce of discernment!  The Cross is the great leveler!  It is the awareness and acknowledgment of our weaknesses that takes us to the Cross.  It is the revelation of our sin and need of a Saviour that brings us together around the table of remembrance as we confess and lay down our weaknesses and receive his strength!  We are brought together as one through the blood of Jesus.  We have nothing of which to boast because God is not glorified in our strengths but in our weaknesses.

Galatians 6: 13 – 15

13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Unity of the faith is created when we all acknowledge our complete dependence upon the all-sufficient sacrifice of the Lamb of God upon the Cross for our spirit, soul and body – bringing us the fullness of salvation, healing and deliverance!

There is a misconception that we will find unity in strength but the truth is that we find unity in weakness that allows the strength of God to manifest.  Paul didn’t want the Corinthian church to be  bowled over and dazzled by his ability to bring persuasive words of great learning.  He wanted them to discover and place their faith in the power of God that was demonstrated through his weakness!  It wasn’t that he didn’t have wisdom to share with them but he wanted to establish them first of all in their dependence upon the supernatural power of God that could bring the wisdom of God alive in them and through them!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!

It is time for the weak to acknowledge their own weakness and to embrace and confess God’s strength!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Our unity in the Body of Christ has been hindered by our pride concerning our supposed strengths when we should all be coming into the light with our weakness so that God’s glory can manifest in us and through us!

1 John 1: 1 – 10

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Our strengths can attract flattery but when God manifests in our weakness we are not so susceptible to flattery because it is he who gets the glory and the praise!

Even though God rejected Cain’s sacrifice he was still speaking to him and reaching out to him with counsel to deliver him from his weakness.

Genesis 4: 6 – 7

6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Cain had an opportunity to repent and do things God’s way and bring an offering that would be accepted.  But sin was waiting at the door to take advantage of his weakness if he rejected God’s counsel.  This is the way sin always works. It looks for an opportunity to exploit the weakness of our flesh – causing us to fall and miss God’s glory.  God speaks very clearly to Cain and his word comes down to us right now – “You should rule over sin!”

Romans 6: 11 – 13

11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

What were the thoughts that Cain was thinking and what were the words Cain was hearing and listening to that caused him to reject God’s counsel and go on to kill his brother?  What area of weakness in his flesh did he refuse to yield to God that opened the door to sin.  Was he too proud to admit that he needed his brother’s help?  We need to understand that pride is weakness because it blocks God’s glory in our lives.

1 Peter 5: 5

5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “ God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Pride in our own ability or our own worthiness can open the door to offence when we see our brother accepted before us.  We must learn to shut the door to offence because it is the ground in
which bitterness and resentment take root.  The fruit of bitterness and resentment is always hatred and murder!  If we don’t become unoffendable we will open the door to disaster in our lives and cut ourselves off from the fullness of God’s blessing and provision.

offenceannoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself

God didn’t bring flattering words to Cain.  He didn’t say, “Wow! Nice veggies!”  He didn’t try and sweet talk Cain by saying something like, “Basically you’re a good guy, Cain, so maybe you should just try and build up your self-esteem and go over there and look your brother in the eye and let him know that he’s no better than you but you want to bless him by buying one of his lambs!”  No!  God talks straight!

You can be sure the enemy would have been bringing flattering words to Cain.  “You deserved to be accepted much more than your brother.  After all, you worked much harder to prepare your offering!”

Tragically, Cain allowed the weakness of his flesh to be exploited and listened to the wrong counsel resulting in him murdering his brother and being cut off from God’s best!

Genesis 4: 8 – 15

8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
13 And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”
15 And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

Cain was still not willing to take responsibility for his attitudes and his actions and so he opened up his life to the curse.  Because he yielded to his weakness he could no longer access the strength of the ground.  He rejected the help he needed to overcome his weakness and so he lost his one strength – his ability to successfully till the ground.  He would live out his days on the run from his shadow – continually looking over his shoulder in fear of someone taking away his life.

Jesus said:

Luke 9: 24

24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

It has been said that it is a fool who is not willing to give up what he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose.

So what can we learn from Cain’s life?  Just like him we have all have weaknesses in our flesh and just like him we all get it wrong sometimes.

Remember what Jesus said.

Matthew 26: 41

41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

In the midst of our weakness and wrongness God is still speaking if we are listening – but he won’t lower his standard or change his way or his requirement.  He doesn’t speak to the weakness of our flesh – he speaks a word that comes to cut through our soul with all of its feeling of hurt and offence and engages our spirit.  God knows that only our spirit responding to his word and speaking it out can silence the voice of our flesh and the voice of the enemy of our souls!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Unfortunately, rather than acknowledging and confessing his weakness and his wrongness Cain did what so many others do in similar circumstances and looked for someone to blame!  It wasn’t Abel’s fault that he had got it right and had been accepted – but that was not how Cain saw things!  This is not just the stuff of Bible stories – I have seen this happen many times!

What Cain was blinded to was the reality that removing the perceived competition was never going to make his offering acceptable!

Remember what the LORD said to Cain.

 Genesis 4: 7

“…sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it”

The language used here virtually personifies sin as a demon crouching like a crazed animal at Cain’s doorstep.  I believe this is a very accurate portrayal. It is the same exhortation that we are given in the New Covenant.

1 Peter 5: 8 – 9

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith.

Our enemy is continually looking for ways to uncover and exploit the weakness of our flesh.  I believe that the demon that Cain gave entrance to was a spirit of resentment.

resentmentbitter indignation at having been treated unfairly

Cain felt like he had been given a raw deal and had been treated unfairly in being rejected when his brother was accepted.  Pride does not take rejection very well – it always expects to be accepted on its own perceived merits and strengths.  Pride always seeks to change everything to its way of thinking and doing things instead of simply acknowledging that in some cases it might just be wrong!

Jesus said to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation.  Temptation will always be there seeking to pull us in but we can overcome our weakness and susceptibility to its enticement if we acknowledge our weakness and access God’s strength.

1 Corinthians 10: 12 – 13 (NIV)

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.

God’s way out is his word to us.  When we acknowledge our weakness and choose to obey his word and accept his sacrifice for sin we access his supernatural strength to overcome temptation and experience victory over sin and escape its devastating and destructive effects.

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.  Our testimony is that of ourselves we could do nothing righteous, but the blood of Jesus has made us righteous and so now  we live by his strength and overcome temptation and the weakness of our flesh in his strength as we take the way out by faith – by hearing, speaking and doing what God says and by choosing his way over our ways.

What a testimony Cain could have had if he had repented of his wrong and done it right.  His fellowship with and his respect for his brother could have been restored and strengthened.

Every one of us has a testimony – the most powerful weapon in our arsenal – that tells our story of how in our weakness we got it wrong but how God put it right!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Let us not make the same mistake as Cain and expect to be accepted by God on the basis of our own strength.  Let’s not bring our talents and abilities to him and expect him to be impressed!

God doesn’t need our strength.  In fact, according to 1 Corinthians 1: 25 the weakness of God is stronger than our strength.  God is not glorified in our strength but receives the glory as his strength is manifested through our weakness.

The world needs to know that it can come out of hiding!  Jesus has come to seek and to save that which is lost and hiding away its weakness!  People need to hear that they can come in their weakness and receive God’s supernatural strength!

This church is full of weak people who have the potential to become strong in the power and anointing of God!

Will we continue to shrink back in our weakness?  Will we continue to seek acceptance and approval by trying to showcase our strengths in the church?  Or will we come in our weakness and in total dependence upon God’s only way of escape and receive his supernatural strength that brings forth a testimony that calls out to the weak everywhere that there is hope – that there is power available to overcome and to be changed! A world that is falling apart at the seams needs to hear the testimony of the weak who have been made strong by the blood of the Lamb and the truth of God’s Word and the power of His Spirit!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!

LET THE WEAK SAY, "I AM STRONG!"

 

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