We often fight our weaknesses and attempt to cover our failures. Yet, Paul boasted in his weakness and reminded us that in our deficiency, God gives us his strength. Gary Wilkerson shares three Scriptural truths that were redefined for him, allowing him to live with greater sincerity and honesty. When you embrace your weaknesses, you'll begin to rely on a source greater than yourself.
Gary Wilkerson: The title of my message tonight is by far, the most unusual title I have ever put upon a message or a sermon. I'm calling it Bicycles, Dancing Monkeys and Wax Statues. If you want to ever find this one online, it will probably be one of the easier ones for you to find, as we talk about bicycles, dancing monkeys, and wax statues.
I think this message is going to encourage you. Last night, there was that sense sometimes the Lord, He tears down before He builds up. He gives and He takes away. Sometimes, there's a taking away of things in our heart that don't belong, and then there's the building up.
Tonight, I pray that we would get build up in our faith. Let me pray for you that you'd be encouraged by the Lord tonight. How many of you just feel like you need to be encouraged? It's like a hard year, a hard week, a hard month, a hard life. I just want to be built up in my faith. If I leave this place, not only tonight, but later this week, just knowing that I'm loved, and knowing that there's a power in me.
Knowing that there's a grace that abounds, that I can do all things through Christ, and that He loves me. We thank you, Father. Now, in the name of Jesus, just bless this word, speak through us in Jesus name, amen. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, sort of the latter part of verse eight, Paul says, "Three times I begged the Lord for Him to get rid of it, but His answer was My grace is all you need. Power comes to full strength in weakness."
"I shall, therefore, prefer to find my joy and pride in the very things that are weakness, and the power of Christ will come and rest upon me. Hence, when I am content for Christ's sake with weakness, contempt, persecution, hardship, and frustration. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I want to talk tonight about some ways that we might feel like we're weak, but in actuality, that is the way that God gives us strength.
Cause us to be strong in our life. Everybody in this room wants to have strength and overcome obstacles and defeat enemies and conquer giants in our life and in our land. The methodology that Jesus speaks to Paul about saying that I'm leaving this thorn in your flesh. This beating of Satan, this problem, this crisis in your life. I'm leaving it in your life for a purpose that when you understand the weakness that you have in your own strength, you'll begin to rely on a source greater than yourself.
Once you begin to rely on that source greater than yourself, then you're going to find a strength from heaven, from God, but also abiding and living in you. That gives you a grace to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. That's a glorious thing. I want to talk about these three things first. The bicycle, then the dancing monkey, and then the wax statue. The bicycle is when-- I have to come down here for this.
I actually was going to try to get a bicycle up here in the front row. Can you see me okay in the back? Are the lights still shining on me? Not that I really need the spotlight, but I just want to make sure you're able to see me and my wonderful expressions as I'm preaching here tonight. Can you follow me here on the screen too? What if I go like this? Back up? Okay, I'm getting distracted. If I had a bicycle here tonight, I would tell you the story of when I first learned to ride the bicycle.
How many of you remember being taught to ride a bicycle? Did anybody learn on your own without anybody teaching you? One, two, three, four. Okay, let's give a corporate sigh, like, "Aw. I'm so sorry you had to learn to ride your bicycle on your own." We'll give you a hug after the service here today. It's not a fun thing. Most of us, and then how many of you had your mom teach you how to ride your bicycle? Raise your hand if your mom taught you? One, two. Okay, that leaves 99% of you in here today-- Who taught you?
Gary: Dad taught you to ride your bicycle. Dad may not have done anything else in your whole life, but he taught you to ride a bicycle. Let's all say, "Thank you, dad." Thank you, dad. Can you be a volunteer for me today? Do you mind coming up here or does that make you shy? You feel shy? Can you come up here? All right. What's your name? Say again? Brooklyn. Cool. What a great name. Brooklyn, like from New York.
Yes, that's cool. I used to live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn's going to come up here. I didn't have a bicycle to illustrate this, but Brooklyn, you're going to pretend you're going to ride a bicycle, okay? He's looking at-- You see yourself? You look good. Look at that handsome young man. What's with this, man? Where's this come from? Ireland? That's cool. I like that. All right, so you're got to pretend I'm your dad. If I'm going to teach you how to ride a bicycle, where do I usually stand? In front of you? No, behind you.
What do dad do? They grab the back of the bicycle, right? Remember that? Then we and then we pushed it ahead. What did we say? I remember this is one of my early childhood memories. What did I say to my dad? Anybody think of what I might have said?
Congregation: Don't let go.
Gary: Don't let go or let go?
Congregation: Don't let go.
Gary: Okay, I thought you said let go. I thought Irish are much bolder more than Americans. You guys are-- "You let go, Dad. I can do this myself." That's really cool, the strong Irish people, but most people will say, "Don't let go, Dad." What does Dad say? "I won't let go." That's what I said. That's what my dad said. That's what I said when I was teaching my three boys and my daughter. They said, "Don't let go." I said, "I won't let go. Just keep pedaling. I won't let go." Then what does Dad do? He lets go. Usually, what happens to the child?
Congregation: He keeps going.
Gary: He keeps going a little bit, but 9 out of 10 of them?
Gary: Wobble. How many of them--
Gary: Fall. When you rode a bicycle, do you ever fall? Yes. Good job. Let's give him a hand. He did a great job. Thank you. You can go back to your seat. Over here. There we go. When my dad taught me how to ride a bicycle, I asked him, I was afraid. I was very fearful as a child. I was afraid of the concrete. The concrete, that's where you scrape the elbows and the knees. I made a compromise with my dad.
He really wanted to teach me. I said, "Okay, I'll learn. You can push me as long as you, number one, you hold on. Number two, I want to learn on the grass, not on the pavement, on the concrete." How many of you know what happens when you're riding a bicycle on the grass when you're first learning? It bogs you down, it slows you down. You can't pedal. He was trying to teach me on the grass.
He's having to push me more, and then I couldn't get any momentum up, so as soon as he let go after promising he wouldn't let go, I would fall over, but it was okay because it was on the grass. It was in a safe area, but you can't learn when you're safe. You can't learn when you're trying to stay in control. You can't learn without taking a risk of falling. You can't learn, you can't move ahead, you can't progress without in a sense, realizing your weakness and having to move into a strength that can come your way.
Nick, can I use you as an example as well? Come on up here, Nick.
Nick: I'm going to ride a bike?
Gary: You're going to ride the bike. Okay. All right. Now, does this look a little bit weird?
Gary: It feels a little bit weird. Okay, you can sit down. Why does that look weird? Because he's too big to be learning how to ride a bicycle, right? It's appropriate at a certain age to get a certain kind of help along the way. At a certain age, you become a grown man. When you're a grown man, you're certainly still dependent on the Lord, and there's certainly still a weakness in you that His strength has to come through you, but there's a certain time as well where I believe the Holy Spirit says to you, and He says this actually to Paul.
He says it's in Timothy, "Act like a man. Grow up. Don't let your fear control you." I know sometimes in the church we in our-- and it's right to say, please don't hear this as a correction or any desire in my heart to want you to change, your language, your heart. Sometimes we use the language like it's all of Jesus and none of me. Will then just die and go to heaven. He needs some of you here.
Some of who you are needs to be here, and you in your body you're not Jesus. It's not all Jesus, it's all Jesus and then He brings you into Himself and says, "I want it to be all of me, all of Jesus, but I want it to be all of You as well. The two of us together, your weakness will become strong." You learn to go and so. He says, "I'll never leave you or forsake you." At sometimes He seems to let us go and it feels nerve-racking and it feels like we're really weak, but it's in that weakness, He makes us strong.
Because He's sending us into new horizons and new adventures and new hope and new dreams and new realities of accomplishing things we could not have accomplished unless we took the risk, and we're willing to fall. So many Christians are more conscious of sin than they are of the grace and power of the Holy Spirit and so they're living in sin fearfulness, rather than in grace accomplishment. They're living in a sense of, "I will not try anything because if I try something, it might be the flesh."
Maybe a young man is asked to preach a sermon at the church. He goes, "Just there's such flesh in me." "Why is there flesh in you?" "Because I want to preach, that's the flesh because I have a desire." No, it's not as God put that in you. Do it with joy and passion and power and life and then ride. Ride like the wind. Go for it. Just pour it out. Let it go. For me, there's been some falls. Anybody else taking some stumbles?
You skinned your knees, your elbows and what do you do? The Bible says if you fall seven times you get back up. The righteous gets back up. It doesn't say the righteous don't fall. It says they get back up and there's a sense of Holy Ghost gumption. Do you guys use that word here? A gumption, an inner sense of, "I'm going to stand. Having done all I'm going to stand. I'm going to keep standing." You keep riding that bicycle and you keep standing. When you fall, you don't say, "I'm too weak to go on."
You say, "In my weakness, He's strong." He gives you strength to continue the journey and take you to heights places you'd never go before. I learned to ride a bicycle when I was a baby, a little kid. The last few years I've been riding bicycles, about 70, 80 kilometers some days, I love to ride. I have a street bike and just go and go and go. I'm just like, "I'm full of sweat and I'm exhausted."
I get home and it feels so good to be able to do something that almost seems like I didn't know how to do before. That's what God wants to introduce you to. Whether it's a business or an idea or a vision or a dream that you might have. He's not interested in just you being religious. He's not interested in just like the only good service you might have is to be an usher in the church. That's a really good thing. He likes you being a plumber and a doctor and a lawyer and a farmer and a chef at a kitchen.
He loves you doing all those things. He sees those as spiritual. He's saying, "I'm going to teach you how to do these things and cause you to live and even if you might fall." Some of us are so afraid of falling, we don't actually take any risks. We don't go anywhere because we think we're not going to be able to do anything.
For me, I had to re-- This is going to sound strange when I first say it but hold with me.
Would you prefer I get back up here or you're okay in the back? I'm okay here. Okay. For me, I've had to redefine what I believe about certain scriptures. It doesn't mean that the scriptures aren't infallible or the true but I think I got to the point after falling a couple of times that maybe I'm interpreting scripture the wrong way and maybe I need to redefine that. This is one scripture when I think about falling, and it says that no- have you heard this one, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."
Gary: Bible truth. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. I believe it. I quoted. Sometimes it's probably on your refrigerator, no weapon-- or bumper sticker on your car, no weapon formed against me shall prosper. How many of you believe that? No weapon formed-- How many of you have maybe not experienced that exactly? Can you be honest? Thank you for your honesty. I'm going to be honest with you.
The Bible says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper." It feels to me like hundreds of weapons are prospering against me. Tons of weapons seem to be prospering against me. Four kids and several of them became addicted to drugs. That seemed like an enemy prospering to some degree or another. I had a experience I think I told you about this little bit last year where the doctor found a little lump in my throat.
She said, "It's just probably nothing. Let's do a quick little biopsy and it'll be fine." She called me on a Thursday night after the biopsy test came back in and she said, "You have cancer. You have thyroid cancer." I went, "Oh my gosh," it's like my mom died of cancer. My nephew died of cancer. My niece died of cancer. Two of my sisters had cancer. The word cancer is-- It's like, the doctor says, "Hi, you're dying." She hung up the phone, and I said, "I don't really know what thyroid cancer is.
I know enough about cancer. I know certain kinds are bad and certain kinds are little more treatable." I went to Google. I know you did it. You've done it. You've done Google. I typed in thyroid cancer and it pretty much just screamed at me, "You're dying. You have about a week to live." You can type almost anything into Web MD and it will say, "You're dying." I have a runny nose and my eyes, "You're dying."
It said you're dying. It was two types of thyroid cancer. One, you have about six months to live. It's a really severe kind. The other kind is-- If we're going to get cancer, it's the best kind to get. It's highly treatable and very low impact on the future of your life. This was a Thursday night and she said you have cancer but I didn't ask what kinds. I didn't know there's different kinds. Online I found there's two kinds so I called her back that night she didn't answer.
I called her back Friday she didn't answer. Saturday, the office was closed. Sunday, I don't have an appointment till Tuesday. She doesn't come back till Tuesday. For five days, I'm like, "I'm dying. Kids come around to your dad because he's dying." I was a wreck. I talked about-- If there's any strength and weakness, there was a lot of strength in me at that time because I was just like, I was telling my wife where the will is in and what our insurance policy is and calling long lost friends like, "I'm sorry. I hurt your feelings in 1983."
I just really thought and then she went in and said, "No, you got the good kind." I was like, "Good." That made me happy. I've been through experiences like that where it seemed like, "The cancer seems like a weapon to me. The enemy. A drug addiction seems like an enemy." I started asking the Lord it’s like, "Okay, you're teaching me to become stronger. You're teaching me to ride and yet I'm falling. I'm getting hit. I'm getting--"
It's not like I'm just falling over for lack of balance. It's like cars are coming off the street and running into me That's what these weapons seem to be doing to my life. It seemed to be crashing into my life, causing pain and anxiety and worry and stress and fear. We're Christians so we say, "No weapon formed against us shall prosper." You just want to say baloney. Just want to yell at them. You just want to choke somebody and say, "It seems like all these weapons are prospering. It seems difficult."
I had to be honest about the Scripture. I totally believe it is, but it gave me a whole and I ask the Holy Spirit about this, "What you can have to describe this to me? What does that mean that no weapon against me shall prosper?" It gave me a whole new picture, almost like-- I'm sure you didn't see in any movies that don't have anything rated other than G, but there's a movie called Gladiator.
If you've ever seen that, they had the shields out and they move forward when they were fighting against the enemy. That was the whole new picture that the Lord gave me about that scripture verse, "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." It's like I'm moving forward, and the enemy is fighting hard, and they're throwing spears. Some of the spears like, "That spirit just hit my shoulder."
Then we're in the middle of battle and all sudden, just like a knife just cut across my leg and I'm limping and rock is got thrown in and hit me in the head but no weapon that's formed against me is going to prosper because even though I'm bloodied, and I'm beaten, and I'm tired, and I'm weary, I have the shield. I have a sword and a forging ahead and the Lord is with me. He's right behind me saying, "Keep moving ahead. I'm not going to let you go."
Maybe sometimes it feels like he lets us go because we're in the middle of battle. We don't see Him but He says, "He'll never leave us or forsake us," even though he may not be steering us because if He was holding on steering everything we did, He would not be training as the Bible says training our hands for war. We have a warfare we're in and in the middle of that battle, sometimes you get beat. Sometimes you get hit.
Sometimes you feel like you're on your last leg near destruction. Sometimes you want to give up. Sometimes you begin to question God, "Does this thing really work? Is this Christian thing really real?" It felt good when I came to the altar, whatever I did, when I first got saved, it felt really good. Sometimes even now, when I'm singing songs, like Hallelujah, I want to raise my hand I feel good. But inside my heart, I'm really hurting because I'm really wondering if this is true, and this is real.
If it is, why is my life sometimes in such turmoil? It feels like these weapons but they're not prospering. The Bible is true. The Bible is the Word of God and God has told us it's not going to prosper. Come what may, trials, tribulations, pain and sorrows, suffering, hardship, heartache, cancer, addictions, divorce, the doctor giving you a bad report, the money not being there, none of those things are going to prosper against you.
Because you're going to say, “Through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God. This battle is what's caused me to learn how to trust.” It would be nice if we didn't have to go through the battle. We were built into the men and women of God by being in that so the bicycle is something that helps us go.
Then there's the dancing monkey. Last week or two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I was in the Ukraine and I was preaching there and we stopped overnight in Kiev and went for a walk with a missionary friend. We were walking through the downtown market area of Kiev.
This guy kept following me with a monkey on his shoulder. Have you ever seen these kinds of monkeys that wear the vest, the red vest and have the little black hat on and then they have shoes on and they have these little things that clap together like with their knees? Sometimes they have an accordion or something like that. They put the monkey down and the monkey goes kind of like this and you're supposed to give them money.
Well, I was watching this monkey and the monkey was like, he was dancing on the street. That's kind of cool, right? He looked really sad. Really. I know this sounds like a really weird thing to talk about. The monkey was dancing. He was doing exactly what he was told to do to earn his keep to get his food to get life sustenance. The owner would give him something and it was kind of a bargain, then, "You'll go out on the streets and you'll dance and you'll make money for me. You'll perform really well."
I could tell just look at-- I didn't want to give him any money because it's like that monkey looks miserable. He's like it's just like, I wanted to cry like, "Oh, poor monkey. I'm sorry, I will take you home except you're really ugly and all." This monkey was like a mess but he was dancing and stuff. I began to think about my own life and maybe our life in this room here today is how we have this bargain relationship with God.
I've had to redefine my whole way of working with the Lord so that I'm not bargaining with him. You'll keep me from cancer. You'll keep my kids from living in sin. You'll give me the new apartment, or house, or flat that I want. You'll help me with the car, you'll help me with the career, you'll help me meet that guy. You’ll help me meet that girl. You'll do these things I want.
If when in turn, what I'll do for you is I'll pray, and I'll tithe, and I'll give, and I'll serve in the church. Even if the girl is good looking enough, I'll even become a missionary if you required of me. Whatever it takes for her. There's this bargain situation, I will dance for you as long as the bargain's kept on your end, you got to keep feeding me. That's not the kind of relationship Jesus wants with us.
I've had to redefine the word, abundant life. Abundant life because when my kids were on drugs, one of my son is homeless for a while, I don't feel like I have abundant life. Do you ever feel like it's like, that's another thing okay? No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Then He says, "I come to give you life and life more abundantly." A lot of us, if we're really honest with one another, we might say, “I could hear it preached, I could read about it in the Bible, we could sing about it at church, but in my heart, I don't feel it.
I don't feel like this is abundant life. I feel like this is a struggling life. I feel like this is pain-filled life. I feel like this is hardship life. I feel like there's nothing abundant really very little abundant about that except one day I'll get to heaven then experience abundance there.” The giving of abundant life is not speaking in that place of-- when He's speaking of Heaven, He speaks of eternal life. But this place, He's speaking of life and abundant life meaning that He's going to give you life here and now and it's abundant.
My bargain with God, "Okay, I'll serve you, I’ll love you, I'll tithe, I’ll pray, I'll give, and in return, you keep me safe. No sickness, no low income, no struggle financially, no relationship problems with my wife and spouse, my kids are just perfect four perfect A students are getting the best grades and getting them into the best schools and having the best careers." That's my bargain with you, God. You know that bargain doesn't-- God doesn't bargain with us. Have you noticed that? He doesn't bargain with us.
I've had to redefine what abundant life means because if we think abundant life is what is preached in a lot of least United States churches, like abundant life is you're rich, and you're famous, and you're healthy, and you're good looking, and your kids are perfect and everything is-- and you live in the best house on the block. That's a testimony for Jesus. They're going to want to come to Christ because they see how prosperous, and healthy, and problem-free your life is.
We make this bargain with God and we call that abundant life. I kind of lived that way for too long thinking abundant life is a pain-free life or a happy peppy, bursting with love kind of life all the time. The Holy Spirit just as He helped me redefine the scripture verse about no weapon formed against me prospering, He's helped me redefine what abundant life is. Because the western idea in the church of abundant life, according to our western idea, then Jesus didn't live an abundant life.
He would not-- Our description of abundant life, we would look at His life and say, “Hey, Ian, I'm not signing up for that. I'm not dancing for that. I'm not going to work for you to get that from you.” What did Jesus have? He had friends who totally abandoned Him, miracles that He did that crowds-- Like He rescued mommy's little girl from death and then she abandoned Him. He had-- "Foxes have holes but I have no place to-- I don't have a home."
Some so misinterpret the Scripture and then talk about Jesus being materialistically rich on earth because He had this coat that was so valuable that they tore into four pieces. Look, I could give you a Hugo Boss coat tonight, a $1,000 jacket and if you're still homeless and not having an income, would you be rich then? No, you'd have one item that's wealthy. These people say like, “Well, Jesus had this wealthy coat, so he must have been wealthy and that’s abundant life." No.
Jesus and then He was taken to the cross and He was beaten, and He was abused, and He was hit, and He was struck with a sword in the side, it seemed like weapons forming against Him would prosper. It seemed like if this is what you call abundant life, I'm not dancing for that. I'm not signing up for that. The definition of abundant life for me changed almost the same way that the no weapon formed against me shall prosper.
Is abundant life for me now is the doctor says you have cancer, I say, "I have life." My sons are having some trouble at one point in the future, but I say, "I have life in Jesus." Maybe there's a marriage problem in your life and you go, what you say, "That’s not what I want it to be but I have life." Abundant life is through it all. No matter what kind of hardship you're going in, no matter what you're suffering, no matter how difficult your life might be, there's an abundance in your heart. It's life.
The “zoe” you talked about this morning. It's the spirit of life in you. It's not just the physical things around you. It's the spiritual life that God has given you. The good news is when you understand that, then the dance becomes natural. To me, the most amazing dance I see are like somebody with cerebral palsy. Their body is wrecked, they can't really move but they can raise their hand and they just go, “Thank you, Jesus.”
I'm going, “You're thanking Jesus?” I have a problem because the paycheck didn't work out as good as I thought it. You’re raising one hand because the other one wouldn't move and you're saying, “Thank you, Jesus,” that's abundant life. Now and I'm not saying, please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that it's everybody who's poor and broken and hurt that they're the only ones who can have abundant life. You can have abundant life. Paul said, "I know how to abase and I know how to abound."
For him, abundant life was it's not in the abasing or in the abounding it's in the life in Jesus. It's knowing Him. I wrote a book a while back called Ultimate Favor and to me, I appreciate God's favor. I really do. Bettina who travels with me, she has this miraculous gift of God's favor. Anytime we go to the airport, she gets, like, upgraded the first class and the hotel said, “We're going to put you in the suite.”
I'm like, “I get at the closet, and I get your flight’s canceled.” It’s like she must be living-- she must be dancing, right. She's dancing getting the favor, I realized that there is that kind of favor and I like it. I asked for it, and I pray for it. I pray for a good marriage and healthy kids that they do well in school and they get a great college and they have wonderful children themselves that make me a great grandfather who's thrilled with life. I pray for those things, but I realized ultimate favor and that's what I wrote about in the book.
Ultimate favor is not in those things. Abundant life is not in those things. Ultimate favor and abundant life is what Moses talked about when God said to him, “Hey, you can go into the Promised Land, there's milk, and there's honey, and there’s ease, and there's comfort and there you have your land and your kids can grow up there and you're going to have fun, but I am not going to go with you." Moses says, "No, I want ultimate favor. That's a favor to let me go into that land, but ultimate favor is I won't go anywhere unless you go with me."
That's abundant life. That's favor of God is when He's with you. Whether you're abounding or abasing, whether you're up or whether you're down. Then you may be asking the question of, I understand a little bit about trusting the Lord to put you on a new journey. That journey might cause you to fall at times and there's difficulty as you define His grace and His abundance through His presence, that you make it on a journey and that you don't have to dance for this you want to because of His joy.
Then you might be asking yourself self the question. "Okay, that makes sense, but what does this thing about wax statues?" In the early Roman time period, there were sculptors like Michelangelo type people that sculpted marble for the Roman authorities, those in government or the very wealthy. If you saw their homes they might have a statue of a soldier or a lion out front of it. They sculpted these things out of marble.
When the sculptors were doing this, they became so famous and quite wealthy as they made this marble for the elite of the society. As they dug the marble out of the ground, they began to run out of what they call statuary marble. It's the good kind of marble that has no flaws in it and it's not porous. It's like just smooth and solid. They started finding this other type of marble. I think they call it travertine.
I don't know if you'd call it that here, but there's an American, they still call it, you can buy the travertine marble. The problem with travertine marble is that it's porous. It's not been pressed in the ground quite as long, like a diamond where it presses it together in that statuary marble just puts things together so there's no flaw in it and it's hard and it's easy, but it's also once you sculpt it, it's there.
With the travertine marble, it had holes in it. When they began to carve, let's just say there were, they were carving a statue of one of the gods of Rome or something like that, muscular, like me. Thank you for laughing. That makes me feel really good. They're carving this thing, but they were carving it with the travertine, so it would have pocks in it and holes in it. The face might look good, but there's like, well man, the guy looked like he had bad acne when he was a kid or something.
It was all messed up. What they did is they would take the good, statuary marble and sand it down, and they would take the dust of that good marble and mix it with a wax. Then they would put that wax on top of the statue and just begin to sand that in there so that it began to look like statuary marble. They took the poor marble and made it look like the good marble. Then they would bring that to the owners that they sold it to and it would pass muster.
No one could tell that it was any different even if it got close, once that wax hardened. From all indications externally, it looked like it was going to- everybody could accept it. It looked good, but it didn't really change it did it, it was still travertine. It still had the holes in it. As we're on this journey riding our bikes and we fall and it feels like weapons are forming against us and it feels like we don't have abundant life.
I close with this, our temptation in the church is to say, "I don't have any holes in me." Is to say, "I'm not travertine. I'm not an earthen vessel. I'm a statue. I am flawless." That's how we present our self and yet we've fallen off the bicycle and yet we're dancing for our food and yet we're been beaten by the enemy at times and we've been buffeted, as Paul said. He was shipwrecked and he was beaten but he was forging on.
The good thing about Paul, he writes in this passage, we started this message with, was that he said, "I could glory in all the revelation I've had." He says, "I've been to the third heaven." I have no idea what the third heaven is. I studied it. Maybe some of the scholars here might do that. The first heaven, second heaven, obviously if there's a third heaven, there's a first and a second heaven.
Then he goes, all Tom Cruise on us because he says like Tom Cruise says in one of his movies, "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you." In the Greek, it actually said no, but Paul says, "I was into the third heaven and I saw things--" He actually says, "unlawful for me to speak." Jesus said, "Look at this, but it's against the law for you to go back and tell anybody this." That is a hard secret to keep that he could.
Now everybody's writing a book about it. They go to heaven, they write a book about, what's in heaven and weird stuff. I don't want to get off subject. Paul, when he comes back and he says, "I could glory in that. I could build a whole conference on that. "I was in the third heaven. How many heavens you've been in? You haven't even been in the first haven't yet. I'm already after the third heaven. Next year Lord's inviting me to the fourth heaven."
He could have boasted in these things. Instead, he says, "I'm going to boast in my weakness. I'm going to boast that there are some holes in me. I'm going to boast that I fell a couple times. I'm going to boast that I'm not as strong as you might think I am. I'm going to boast it, that I failed a couple of times. I'm going to boast that if without the Holy spirit, man, I'm really messed up. That's what I'm going to boast on them. I'm going to come to church with holes in me."
Sometimes I'm going to ask people, "Would you pray for me? Because this hole, man, it's ugly, it's a mess and that scar and that beating I took and that fall off the bicycle. The in the sense of always kind of trying to dance for my meal to make God happy so I get stuff, I realize I do that junk and it disturbs me and be honest."
I really believe addictions would be cut in half in the churches if we started getting honest with each other. I believe men who look at pornography if we got honest with each other and found a group of men that you really trust and begin to share your heart with, I believe pornography in the church will be cut in half. I believe divorce, I believe suicidal thoughts, I believe depression, I believe anxiety, I believe stress.
I believe all of these things that are holes in us that are beating us, that seem to ruin us at times. I believe all of these things if we don't try to cover them with wax, the Latin word for that process that they did, you know what they called it? Really strange. We use the word today in English, they called it sincere. Is from two Latin words, sin meaning without and cere, meaning wax, without wax. If they sold something without the wax in it, they would be afraid they would make a profit.
Sometimes if we feel like we try to sell ourselves to our fellowship without the wax, unless we're acting sincere.
You know what acting sincere is? It's being sincere, it's without wax, it's without putting a mask on. It's without covering yourself up. It's about hiding yourself. It's not about being afraid of what others might think of you. It's about coming to church and not feeling like you might not being okay with not being spiritual that day.
Maybe not raising your hands, maybe not shouting to the Lord, maybe not clapping. We just go, "This is not a clapping day. This is a painful day." Through it all, you're forging ahead. Through it all, you have the shield out there in the sword out there. Maybe it feels like He let go, but He's right with you and there's a victory. There's a victory for you.
Do you understand that? Do you get that, that it's okay to be honest? It's okay because that's what's Paul's talking about here tonight when he's saying that, "That's what I glory in, my weakness." Not that he's proud of it, like, "Look how much of a failure I am." He's saying this, "You're all real without wax." I am real without wax and together we can become the body of Christ that helps each other grow, that helps ride to ride the bicycle, so to speak, or helps each other know how to dance for our food.
To not be like in the dancing monkey, to be real, to not put on the monkey uniform, to not try to make it on our own, but just trusting God for our life, trusting Him to do great things. As I've redefined these things in my life--and our worship team, if you guys would come back and we're going to sing a song and I'm going to invite you forward for prayer in just a moment. If you just need to get real with God and get answers and get help and get hope and allow Him to say, "Come in your weakness and we'll pray that strength will come into your life."
For those of you that feel like you've not had the abundant life, feel like you've not had that, that the weapons seem to be coming against you and defeating you. If that's you in just a moment, I'm going to ask you to come forward and we're going to pray. We're going to believe God will do something. As I have been through these experiences, I'm like Paul a little bit, just teeny, teeny little bit that I could actually say my weaknesses are actually the areas He's making me strong in.
That He's actually been bringing grace and power in areas. You might feel like you're too weak to merit God's favor, His presence, His abundant life, but you're not. Your weakness is what He calls forth to make you strong.