Weakness Before God – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God Uses the Weak To Shame The Strong

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Poor Position

Most of those called by God have been called from lowly positions.  God did not call Pharaoh, but rather Daniel.  It is noteworthy that even His Son, Jesus Christ, was born into this world in such lowly circumstances as among animals.  God generally calls those of simple circumstances because when He uses us, it is recognized that it is His power working through us rather than anything special about us.

Superior State

God chooses the simple over the wise.  He chooses the insignificant over the influential.  He chooses the common over the noble.  God reveals that He cares about all people, and uses the simple, common, poor, ignored, and otherwise passed over in the eyes of the world to do the most amazing things.  Moses, chosen of God, wasn’t useful to Him in Egypt, but only after he had become a shepherd for forty years.  Shepherds were considered the lowliest of professions.  It was only after finding himself in these circumstances that God used him mightily.  While many of us desire wealth, fame, or rank in society, the superior state for being called and used by God is to be ordinary:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Becoming Better

God is able to use the ordinary to do the extraordinary.  When we are in Christ, He becomes our wisdom – our righteousness, holiness, and our redemption.  We no longer operate through our own power, but rather through the power of Him who called us.  God uses the lowly and the despised to shame the powerful and important, for all glory belongs to God and God alone.  When we begin to believe that we alone are responsible, we begin to become prideful.  Nebuchadnezzar discovered this at his own great peril.  Even after being warned by Daniel the prophet, Nebuchadnezzar still believed in his heart that everything that had been provided to him was of his own strength and doing.  After being humbled by God by living as a wild creature for seven years, God restored Nebuchadnezzar who then gave glory to God:

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I content being seen as weak in the eyes of men?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are able to use the despised and lowly things of this world to shame the powerful and desired.  Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be used by You for Your purposes.  Help me to be strong in You, for Your strength is provided to me when I am weak.  Help me to boast only in You, for it is You who enables me to be strong in the face of adversity.  Help me to be the person that You desire me to be, so that I would be able to be used by You.  Anything done in my power is tainted by sin, but anything done by You through me will last the testing of time and fire.  Help me to yield myself completely to you so that all that You desire to do through me will be accomplished.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Seek After God, Not Signs And Wonders Nor Worldly Wisdom

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Seeking Signs

The Jews would often look for signs in the person who claimed to be a messenger from God.  In the past, God would use signs and wonders to confirm the validity of the prophets’ ministry.  However, many people desired the signs and wonders more than the message.  Jesus rebuked the people who were following Him after he had fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and small fish because they were seeking the gifts of the giver, and not the giver Himself.

Even today, there are Christians who seek after the manifestation of the gifts of God in the form of miracles, signs, and wonders.   They will go to any length to be present when the gifts of the Giver are given to bear witness to the power and glory of God to the unbelieving generation He is trying to reach.  It has been said that signs and wonders should follow Christians, rather than Christians following signs and wonders.  If a disciple of Christ is yielded to God, and is doing His will, God will provide whatever is necessary to bring about the results that He desires.  The disciple won’t need to follow signs and wonders:  God’s power and presence will be present in the disciple’s faithful execution of ministry.

Worldly Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  When we seek wisdom, we need to first consult with the One who created the universe, and in whom all things in the universe are held together.  Only God knows the beginning from the end, how the laws of the universe were placed, and why all things that are taking place are doing so.

When we seek worldly wisdom, we eventually put aside the wisdom of God and, believing ourselves to be wise, become fools in His sight:

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

When we seek wisdom only in the creation, and not the creator, we exchange the glory of God for what has been created.  Look at the detrimental effects of Secular Humanism.  Those who engage in this begin to worship human leaders rather than God because they believe that humans are capable of achieving moral and ethical righteousness apart from religion and God.  Paul, seeing this almost two thousand years ago, penned a letter to the Corinthian church.  And even now we are seeing the fulfillment of it.

Sweet Salvation

The message of the cross is a stumbling block to those who seek signs because the miracle has already happened:  God has raised His Son from the dead to everlasting life, and gives the amazing gift of salvation to anyone who believes.  Rather than believe the miracle, the Jews still seek Messiah of God to rescue them from the oppression of their enemies.  Two thousand years ago, it was the oppression by the Romans.  Now, it is the oppression by the fundamental adherents to Islam.  The players keep changing, but the situation is still the same:  Satan, the greatest of deceivers, is always after the chosen ones of God.

For those who are not direct biological descendants of the line of Israel, the message of the cross is foolishness.  After all, in life, everything must be earned or stolen to be gained.  It makes no sense that an all-powerful God could be the embodiment love, and give the gift of salvation freely to any who believe, given the effects that sin has brought upon us.  It appears either too fantastic to them (because they are too busy studying the creation for clues to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything that they are unable to look up to God for answers) or that it is far to simple to be plausible.  God has provided the answers to the big questions in life through His word so that we could focus on living in the present in relationship with Him.

God is Greater

Because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, He sees and knows everything that ever happened as well as everything that ever will happen.  When we humans look to ourselves or His creation for answers without first going to Him, we come up with the stupidest of conclusions:

  • The Earth is flat.  If you sail far enough across the ocean, you will fall off the world to your death.
  • The Earth sits on a great turtle, who in turn sits on another great turtle, and it is turtles all the way down…
  • There is nothing beyond this life – once we die, we just push up daisies with our dead, decaying flesh.
  • There is no such thing a God who exists outside of the physical universe.  Because man feels the need to worship, we must worship that which we see, because obviously it is the things on the Earth, beneath the Earth, or above the Earth that have power over us.

The wisdom of men is foolishness to God.  And the greatest strength and power of men is mere weakness to the God who, by speaking, caused the universe – including all matter and the laws that the created manner are to follow – to be formed in the first place.  What man cannot explain he mocks.  But be assured of this – God cannot be mocked: a man reaps what he sows.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom in all that I do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have caused all things to be created and know all things.  Thank You for Your counsel in Your holy word, and for the counsel You have given those who fear Your name.  Help me to always seek Your counsel first before I undertake anything so that Your will would be done, and You would be glorified.  Keep me from the false teaching of the world and the devil so that I would solely and completely trust in You.  Guard my heart and preserve it for the day when Your Son comes in glory.  This I ask in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?