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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Where I am weak...

Weakness is viewed in a different ways by different people.  Some will criticize the weakness of another, seeing it as a way of "copping-out" in life - not really doing what one needs to do, but succumbing to the pressure to quit.  Others might see weakness as a sign of not caring - as though the weakness kept the individual from extending themselves.  Many will see weakness as a kind of feebleness or the type of trait exhibited when one is just plain not strong enough for the task at hand.  I know there have been many a jar of pickles which challenged my "strength" in my days, but even though I might have been too "weak" to open them on my own, enough force from a solid rap on the edges of the lid and I accomplished the task!  So, weakness doesn't always have to mean we don't have the "strength" to do something - it might mean we get creative about how we accomplish it!  This might be where we get into trouble in our lives, because when we try to get "creative" about things in our lives we sometimes create a different problem than the one we initially started with (such as a cracked pickle jar).  The good news is that we don't have to deal with our areas of weakness alone - we are given the Spirit of God that we might have a way to not only "deal" with them, but overcome in those areas!

In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people. We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. (Romans 8:26-28 CEV)

We are given the example of prayer - that area in our life where we sometimes set out to pray for the needs of another, but actually have no idea what the true need might be in their lives.  We have been given the Spirit of God to guide our thoughts - because our thoughts are known to God.  Before anyone gets all wigged out about God knowing their thoughts, let me just remind each of us he is the one who made our brain in the first place!  To think we can hide things away in there without him knowing is kind of silly.  Let me also assure you of something else - Satan cannot read our thoughts!  If we look carefully at scripture, we find Lucifer, (an archangel of God charged with the task of worship in heaven), actually "trying" to get to be like God.  He wanted to know what God knows, do what God does, and the like.  He didn't "get" there - God shut him down instead!  Now, he exists as a fallen angel - Satan.  In his wake he took a bunch of other angels with him - those we commonly refer to as demonic spirits today.  So, since Satan is a created being like the rest of us (as all angels are), he cannot read our minds - his mind was created by God just like the rest of ours!  He CAN read our words - as they are spoken.  He CAN observe our actions - as they are brought to fruition.  But...he cannot read our minds.

The only "spirit" who can read our minds is the Spirit of God - the member of the triune godhead who was engaged in this creation process all along.  He is the one "spirit" whose actions are actually "on our behalf" and not set against us in any fashion.  He is the one promised by Jesus to come alongside us and to guide us into all manner of action which is honoring to God and to bring conviction into our spirit when we act in ways which are the opposite.  If you think guilt is a thing from the devil, think again!  Guilt is a result of us being given a conscience - we know certain sets of values we are to adhere to and when we don't, our conscience "pricks" us a little.  This is a "God thing" in us, not a mechanism by which Satan gets us down.  But...Satan does use shame as a way of keeping us in a place of overwhelming guilt - thinking there is no way to be free of our sinful deeds.  Shame is his tool - working with our thoughts to keep us in bondage.  God does not use shame - he uses guilt to bring us to repentance.  Satan uses shame to bring us into bondage.

I think this passage deals with more than just having a "guide" for our prayer life.  Although we can count on the Spirit of God to guide us in our prayers for one another, and even ourselves, we can see a much bigger picture of his action in our lives.  He is there to "always be at work for those who love God".  That means we can count on the Spirit of God to come alongside us whenever we are in a place where we might slip up, go a wrong direction, or when we just are unclear about something.  He is there continually to guide us - we just don't always recognize his nearness.  We find ourselves listening to the loudest voice or thought.  I have said this many times - if we'd learn to listen to the still voice of God, we might just avoid the hazards of the loudest.  God rarely shouts - he exists in the realm of peace, so his voice doesn't need to be all that loud!  He wants us to enjoy that realm of peace, settled into his presence and listening intently to hear whatever it is he might speak.  

God's Spirit is in tune with where it is we are weak - even when we are not. I know I often find myself believing myself stronger in certain areas in my life, then coming to the realization of how futile my own strength was in the end. In truth, if I would learn to rely upon the Spirit of God a little more to guide my actions and reveal my weaknesses a little clearer, I might struggle a whole lot less in this walk!  How about you?  Got any areas where you are weak, but too stubborn to admit it?  Rather than hitting that pickle jar lid repeatedly, maybe we'd do well to admit we are a little too weak to wrench it free!  Just sayin!