Pg 39 “Our times of great weakness may be the precursor of special opportunities . Many times great difficulties precede special works of God.“
God is pleased to use our various kinds of weakness and limitation to remind us of important truths and refine our trust in him.
All throughout the Bible, we see that God loves to draw attention to himself and grow the trust of his people by working despite and through their weaknesses and limitations. Consider barren Sarah and Rachel, bumbling Moses, Gideon’s small band, the young virgin Mary, and blue-collar Peter, among others. Jesus himself, the Lamb who was slain, ultimately demonstrates that it is meek sheep who conquer and win the world.
The great — and ironic — wisdom of the cross is that God chooses the foolish, weak, low, and despised to shame the strong and shut the mouths of the proud. God uses our weaknesses to remind us of important gospel truths and to refine our trust in him.
Pg 41 “ The Lord allows circumstances in our life that wean us away from trusting in our ability in order to truly trust in Him> “
Most of us have faced disappointments, which have taught us that we can only depend upon ourselves. But living the life God has called us to means unlearning that lesson. Instead, we’re meant to rest in God’s understanding.
Surrendering to God begins with our lips and our thoughts. We need more than a commitment to depend on Him; we need to cry out to Him to show that dependence
When we pray, we admit that His ways are higher than ours. We show that we’re leaving our troubles and burdens and dreams in His capable hands. In fact, the Bible promises that when we reach out to Him in prayer, He hears us:
Even in the midst of turmoil, God sticks with us and uses those challenges to shape us. When we understand that, our perspective completely flips. No longer do we see our setbacks as failures; we see them as moments when God, as our loving Father, works on us.
Pg 42 …..” use the temptation to do wrong as a motivation to pray “
Temptation works for good when it sends the soul to prayer. Quite simply, temptation motivates us to pray to God against that temptation. Not only that, but more temptation generates more prayer. “The more furiously Satan tempts, the more fervently the saint prays.” Without temptation we might not express our reliance upon God through prayer.
Temptation works for good when it motivates us to battle sin. As we are tempted, we battle hard against the temptation and the sin behind it. In this way God works the good of sanctification through temptation, not apart from it. “That temptation which the devil uses as a spur to sin, God makes a bridle to keep back a Christian from it.”
Pg 42 “ The key is to ask God what He wants you to pray . It should be a prayer burden that He gives you . “
- It is a peculiar compassion. First of all, most importantly, when God gives you a burden, He will place on your heart a compassion for a person or a need. The compassion He gives you will not be general, vague, or indefinite; rather, the Holy Spirit will draw you to take a peculiar interest in a certain thing or individual.
- It is an unselfish concern. Out of our heart of compassion we will feel an unselfish concern. It is a concern for the Lord’s will and for the interest of another (Phil. 2:4), and it weighs us down until we are compelled to pray with tears.
- It is an inner voice or impression. A prayer burden may be felt as an inner voice or impression that I should pray for a particular need or person. Since the Bible says we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), it makes sense that this voice or impression will come to us in our mind or thoughts.
- It is personal. The burden you get from the Lord will always be very personal. It a special assignment designed especially for you. He gives you the gifts and talents to carry out this task like no one else can. It is like a personal summons or like a sacred trust from God to you, in which you are made responsible to intercede for a person or a need.
- It is intense and urgent. The burden you feel will have a certain level of intensity and urgency, depending on the urgency of the need. This God-given intensity is strengthened by your own discipline in regular prayer and fasting, and will create in you a holy determination to keep praying until God answers your request.
In Nehemiah chapter 1, Nehemiah learns of the devastation of Jerusalem. Those who were left were in bad shape, conditions were appalling, and the wall of Jerusalem was rubble. In verse 4 we read the words of Nehemiah: “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”
It took no time for Nehemiah to be brought to a place of being proactive upon learning the condition of the people of Israel. It was evident his heart was hurting and broken for them. It was very clear the burden that God had put on the heart of Nehemiah. He quickly realized his devotion to God was measured in terms of his devotion to the burden he felt.
Nehemiah was just a cup-bearer to the King. No one special, pretty normal like us. But he had an intense burden. He knew that he could not only feel compassion but that it was something he needed to act upon. It wasn’t long before he was inspecting the walls of Jerusalem and began rebuilding. His burden had become a reality and he was making a difference. He avoided the blame game and began caring for the people. He knew that those who blame things don’t change things! He was determined to take risks and even remind God of His promises to the people of Israel. He knew that if He wanted to get God’s attention , that he needed to pay attention to those around him.
Take a moment today to actually stop, be still, and listen. Try it for even just five minutes. Listen for the still, small voice of God. There is so much noise in our lives – we have to be intentional in finding moments of silence for God to speak. Instead of feeling like you can’t just stand there and go do something, try just standing there and doing nothing. In hearing Him speak, we can learn what breaks the heart of God. In doing so, maybe that will help us discover what breaks our heart?
Chapter 4 Questions
Pg 39: “Our times of great weakness may be the precursor of special opportunities…..great difficulties precede special works of God “. Have you had a time of weakness or difficulty that preceded special works of God ? Share and discuss
Pg 41: Has God allowed circumstances to “wean you away from trusting in your ability in order to truly trust in Him” ?
Pg 42: Discuss the concept of “ using a temptation to do wrong as a motivation to pray“
Do you have a prayer burden that God has given you ? Share what it is and how God revealed it to you!