Perfect

There was once a man who really hated Christians. He would do anything to shut them up. He would do anything to keep them from meeting. He would do anything to stop the spread of the Gospel.

This man went on to be one of the most influential evangelists of all time. He started many churches. He wrote almost half of the New Testament. Hard to imagine the same man who was responsible for the death of many believers became the biggest believer.

This man at one point was known as Saul of Tarsus. Jesus chose him to spread His Word. Jesus chose a man who wanted to stop people from believing in Him to bring the Gospel to the world.

Was Paul the perfect choice? Probably not in our minds. Why would Jesus pick a person who had sinned against Him so much?

Some of us feel we are not worthy of God’s grace. Why would he choose us when we sinned against Him? Even if we are already believers we can ask why would He continue to love us when we can’t completely get rid of our sins?

I asked a friend of mine her thoughts on this. She reminded me of the following.

“The Bible says Paul suffered a “thorn in his side” for all of his ministry. I guess this means we may each have one? It doesn’t make our ministry any less important, just means we all have something we may struggle with even throughout our lives that The Lord doesn’t completely take away for whatever reason. We should not think our ministry is not acceptable unless we are perfect, for only He is perfect. Right? So maybe what you feel is beating you down is something you need to continually pray about the same as for me? Paul’s ministry was amazing, God worked so much into the lives of others through him even though he had a battle within himself that the Bible never reveals to us. I think God leaves us wondering, maybe we can put our own battle in there, kind of like fill in the blanks, but still live a life that proclaims the Gospel in a great way. Whether it’s thoughts, perfectionism, or someone else’s something, we need to be like Paul, pray through it, give it to The Lord each morning, and move on to serve in a mighty way.” Rose Jones

Rose really put it perfectly. Saul was not perfect. He had to be blinded to finally see. Even after being born again as Paul he still struggled with sin but persevered in his faith in the Lord Christ Jesus and proclaimed the Gospel to so many.

So I ask you who feel you are not worthy of salvation. I ask you who feel you cannot be forgiven by Christ Jesus. I ask you are you any worse than Paul? This man killed Christians and Jesus knocked him off his horse, blinded him to let him see, forgave him, and he became a great Christian.

To the believer I ask are you struggling with a sin? Are you feeling you don’t deserve the salvation you already have through the grace of Christ Jesus?

Paul struggled. He prayed. Here is how he explained his thorn and how God answered.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

If we don’t struggle. If we have all of the answers. If we are perfect then why would we need God? We need God. We need Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  In our struggles appears the greatest glory of God.

Believers and non-believers remember this: God’s grace is sufficient for us all.

 

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What Good is Wisdom?

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways. Proverbs 2:12-15

God was pleased with Solomon and told him he would give him anything he wanted. Solomon decided he wanted wisdom.

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:5, 3:7-9

He could have asked for anything. God was even surprised that he did not ask for long life or riches. Solomon, with the wisdom he already had, asked for more wisdom. No one ruled as he did. He was one of the smartest men in history and wrote Scriptures such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. If you read Ecclesiastes you will find wisdom of a different kind. You will see Solomon at the end of his life looking back on his mistakes. Yes, even with all of his knowledge, Solomon made mistakes. Even with all of his wisdom, Solomon was a sinner.

Over his reign he did rule wisely, but in his own life his sinful nature was his downfall. It is one thing to be wise, but it is another thing to act wisely. It is another thing to act Holy. Solomon loved women. We see in Song Of Solomon how he loved his wife. He went on to love many wives. This went against God. He went on to follow the gods of his wives. This certainly went against God.

Why then, with all this wisdom, probably the most wisdom of anyone ever, did Solomon commit these sins? Why did he go against his own Proverbs and his God? I think it was because no matter how smart you are you still need God. Solomon, like most of us, probably thought he was so smart that he didn’t need help. He might have thought he didn’t need council. I remember hearing in a sermon, I believe by Chuck Swindoll, that there are no records in Scripture of him consulting a prophet. His father David had a couple of prophets advise him including Nathan who came to him after his transgression with Bathsheba that lead him not only into an adulteress act but also to murder. Nathan came to him to warn him of God’s anger and also to tell him that God still loved him but he needed to obey the Lord.

Solomon did not seem to get council or have a prophet come to him after his sin. Is this because he felt he was above being told how to act? Was this because in all of his wisdom he was still human and a sinner?

What good is wisdom if we do not act wisely?

How many of us try to be wiser than we act? (Convicted)

How many of us know what to say but not what to do? (Convicted)

How many of us rely on our own wisdom and deny the wisdom of God? (Convicted)

I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:16-17

Solomon, in his end, realized all his wisdom was meaningless without the Giver of wisdom. He realized it means nothing without God.

He concluded:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

My friends, seek wisdom but seek it from God, for God and His glory. Be wise and obey.  His grace will be there when wisdom fails.