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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - A Faith That Can Transform Weaknesses

Rick Warren - A Faith That Can Transform Weaknesses

Rick Warren - A Faith That Can Transform Weaknesses
TOPICS: A Faith That Works When Life Doesn’t, Faith, Weaknesses, Strength

Hi everybody, and welcome back to our series that I'm calling A Faith That Works When Life Doesn't. We're going through the book of James and we're actually in part 29. This week we wanna look at a faith that can transform weaknesses, a faith that can transform your weaknesses and my weaknesses. You know, this came to me when I was reading through the book of Hebrews this week and in Hebrews 11, down at the bottom, after he's talked about Abraham and Moses and all these other great heroes, he says, "I don't have time to tell you about Gideon or Barak or Samson or Jephthah or David or Samuel or the prophets whose weaknesses were turned into strengths".

And that phrase caught my attention, whose weaknesses were turned into strengths. I want my weaknesses turned into strengths. I want your weaknesses turned into strengths. How does God do that? Well, the day we're gonna look at a passage in James 5 that gives us some insights on the process that God uses to turn our weaknesses into strengths. James 5 says this: Are you hurting? Then you should pray. Are you happy? Then you should sing songs of praise. Are you sick? Then you should call the church elders to pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer offered in faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up and if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven. Therefore, confess your faults to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Now that's James 5:13-16. It's such an important passage that we're gonna look at it for two weeks. And the reason we're gonna look at it for two weeks is because it has to do with two different kinds of problems in your life, illnesses and weaknesses, illnesses and weaknesses. This passage uses several different words in the Greek for different kinds of illnesses. When it says, are you hurting? That's... which means are you having trouble, are you suffering? And then it says, if you're sick? It uses the word... Now... is actually the Greek word, is the Greek word for a strength. When you put an a in front of it, it means the opposite, means weak.

And so he's saying there, when you're sick, you call the elders. Well actually, it could be either weakness or illness. That word is used many times in the Bible in the New Testament and about half times, it's talking about a physical illness, like when Lazarus got sick and died, that was a deadly illness. It's called... But it also is used in places where it says, if you have a weak conscience or you have a weak memory, or you have a week faith, that's... So this week we're gonna look at a faith that helps you transform your weaknesses. And next week, we're gonna look at a faith that could heal your illnesses, heal your illnesses.

Now, I wanna read that last verse again from the Amplified Translation. It gives a little fuller meaning to all of the words there. It says this: Confess your faults one to another, your sins, your slip ups, your false steps, your offenses, your weaknesses, all of those are included in that. False steps, weaknesses, offenses, and pray for one another so that you may be healed and restored to a spiritual tone of my mind and heart. Now, how does God do that? What is the process that God uses to transform my weaknesses into strengths? Well, He actually uses three different steps and I want us to look at these today and see what James has to say about them.

Now, the first thing, how God transforms my weaknesses into strengths starts with this. I must identify. I must identify my natural weaknesses. The Bible says in Romans 12:3, be honest in your estimate of yourself. Don't think of yourself better than you are. You know, I can't work on a weakness unless I call it out, I name it, I get specific. Not to just say now we all have weaknesses that's not good enough. You're not gonna work on anything in general, you can only work on specifics. The Bible says, be honest in your estimate of yourself. Don't think of yourself better than you are and be specific. Say, you know what? I'm lazy or I tend to be exaggerate or I'm late or I'm a perfectionist or whatever your weaknesses are, give specific about them. Identify them.

You know, Acts 14:15 is what I call the second great confession in the Bible. The first great confession is when Peter says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" and that's the first confession you need to say, Jesus, you're the Christ, the Son of living God. But the second great confession is Paul's confession Acts 14:15, where he says, "We too are only men, we're just humans like you". They had had some people be healed in this city and they wanted to turn Paul and his friends into gods. And he said, "Wait a minute guys, we're just normal people. We're like you". You have to hold both of these in balance in your life. God is God and you're not. But it starts with identifying what are the weaknesses in your area? You can't work on them, until you identify them.

Number two, second, I have to learn how God wants to use my weaknesses. I need learn how God wants to use my weaknesses. You say, God wants to use my weakness? Yes, He does. He wants to use your weakness. God can use even bad things in our lives for good. How is God gonna use my weaknesses for any good? Well, let me give you three or four suggestions. You might write these down. Number one, my weaknesses should prevent arrogance. My weaknesses should prevent arrogance. They should make me a much more humble person, when I realize I'm not perfect, I don't have it all together, I don't have everything working out perfect in my life. Paul says it like this, "To keep me from becoming conceited". Because of the surpassing great revelations, Paul had some great things done in his life by God. He said, "to keep me from becoming prideful, conceited because of these revelations there was given to me, a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me". You're saying God allowed a messenger of Satan to torment Paul? Yes, He did. He did, why? Well, he said, "To keep him from becoming arrogant". Said three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, but He, God said to me, my grace is sufficient for you. That's 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

And so the first value of having a weaknesses, it makes me more human. It makes me more humble. It ought to make me less prideful and less arrogant. Number two, my weaknesses should cause me to value others. My weaknesses should cause me to value other people more. You know, 1 Corinthians 12:22 says this: Some parts of the body seem weakest and that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. One of the things I like to tell my kids and have told my staff for many years is never confuse prominence and significance. You can be prominent and not be significant. You can be famous and not significant and you can be important and not be famous. My nose is prominent, it's a big nose. It just sticks out there. It's prominent, but it's not significant.

I could lose my nose, it could get cut off and I could live a happily ever after life without my nose. Prominent, but not significant. Inside of me are some things like a spleen and pancreas and liver, kidneys. I've never seen them. I will probably never see them in my lifetime. They're not prominent, but they're significant. And when I recognize that I don't have all the answers, I don't have all the gifts, I don't have all the talents. It makes me realize that other important people there are in my life that I need for their gifts, for their values. I'm not completed myself. It should cause me to value others. It makes others more important in my life.

And the third reason, my weaknesses should make me more dependent on God. My weaknesses should make me more dependent on God because when I realized I can't do something on my own, then I'm more dependent on God. That's why God says to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "I am with you, that's all you need. My power shows up best in weak people". Did you know that? God says my power shows up best in weak people. If you had no weaknesses, you wouldn't think you needed God, you wouldn't think you needed other people, you'd be self-sufficient in yourself. Paul says, "As a result for when I am weak, then I'm really strong". He says, "The less I have, the more I depend on Him". 2 Corinthians 12:10, note The Living Bible. Do you do that? The more you realize your weakness do the more you depend on God?

That's one of the benefits of recognizing your weaknesses. Inn fact, Paul finally says this. "I have cheerfully made up my mind," this is 2 Corinthians 12:9, The Phillips Translation. "I've cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, proud of them because they mean a much deeper experience of the power of Christ". You know, I'd have to say that in my life, I've had many different relationships to my weaknesses. When I was a young man, I didn't even know I had any weaknesses. Honestly, I didn't even know I had any, but then I got married. And when you get married, that kind of helps you discover some of your weaknesses you didn't know you had and all of a sudden I realized I had a boatload of weaknesses in my life that I was unaware of.

But you know what? I still tried to hide them, and then I tried to deny them, when I couldn't hide them I tried to deny them. But then finally I came around and I stopped making excuses for them and I actually started accepting my weaknesses. And then finally I got to where Paul was and he says, "I glory in my weaknesses". 'Cause it says, look, I'm a trophy of grace. God uses me, in spite of my weaknesses. God uses you in spite of your weaknesses. If God only used perfect people, nothing would get done. And so really you can glory. Paul says, "I celebrate my weaknesses," look at who God is using. People will look and say, "Well, God uses Rick, well maybe He could use me because He's pretty messed up and You're using Him". That's what God says. He says, "I want you to learn to see that your weaknesses can actually cause you to be in a more dependent on Christ and bring more glory to Him".

Finally, number four, my weaknesses should give me a ministry. Did you realize that God wants to not just use your strengths in ministry, He wants you to use your weaknesses in your ministry. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says this: God comforts us in our trouble, so that we can comfort others in any trouble they have with the same comfort that we ourselves have received from God. So God allows you to go through a problem and He helps you, so then you can turn around and help somebody else going through the same problem. If you didn't go through that problem, you couldn't help anybody else. If you didn't have that weakness you couldn't help anybody else. Who could better help somebody who struggles with an addiction than somebody who's had an addiction? Who can help somebody struggle with the loss of a child or a death or a divorce than somebody who's lost a child or a death or a divorce? Who can better help somebody, who's had a miscarriage than someone who's had a miscarriage? And who could better help someone who's been abused than someone who was abused?

I want you to know, I'm sorry for the pain in your life. I hurt for the pain in your life and I hurt with you and I wish you didn't have to go through it. But the past is past and all of what you've gone through, I'm just saying don't waste it. Don't waste it. You've already gone through the pain of it, never wastes a hurt, use it to help other people. And this is what God says, He says, I wanna even use your weaknesses, not just your strengths, but your weaknesses in serving other people because people can relate to that. If I got up here and told you all the things that I'm good at and all of my strengths, you said, well, goody for you, so what? It would just build a barrier between us. It wouldn't build fellowship or harmony or comradery. What it builds is envy and jealousy and well, who do you think you are?

If I get up here and I start telling you about marriage problems I had, you'll say well, then maybe God could work in my marriage. If I tell you about health problems, well, maybe God could work in my health. When I tell you about mental issues I've had with my mind, you say well, maybe God could help me with my confusion. Even in your sins, God can use those. You know, one time Jesus told Peter, He said, "Peter, you're gonna deny me three times before the rooster crows tomorrow morning". Peter goes, "No way Jose, that isn't gonna happen. I'm not gonna deny you". Jesus said, "No, you will, but when you do" look at this verse on your outline, Luke 22:32, Jesus said to Peter, "when you have returned to me, strengthen your brothers".

Notice, Jesus not only knew Peter was gonna stumble and fall and betray Him, but Jesus knew that he was gonna come back and He's giving him instructions on how to use his pain, and his mistakes, and his weaknesses, and even his sins to help other people. He says, "when you have returned to me". Hadn't even happened yet. Peter hadn't even sinned yet. But He said, "When you've returned to me, strengthen your brothers". That's the kind of God we serve, who weaves even the bad stuff in our lives for good in our lives. So when I look at my weaknesses, let's just review. God says, I wanna turn your weaknesses into strengths, how?

First you gotta identify them. Okay, you gotta recognize them, you got to call it what it is, don't fumble around, don't make excuses, don't poo poo it or say, it's not a big deal. Call it what it is. This is a weakness in my life. And then once you do that, recognize that God wants to use them in these four ways we just talked about. And then number three, I must openly admit my weaknesses in order to change them. I must openly admit my weaknesses in order to change them. You have some things in your life that you'd like to change. They're never gonna change as long as you keep them a secret. They're only gonna change when you tell somebody else about them. You say, oh no, I don't like that. That is embarrassing, it's humiliating, it will humble me. That's the point. That's the point.

You see, if you could change, you would change, but you can't see you won't. The only way you're gonna change those weaknesses that you've had your entire life is in you start inviting other people to help you with them. When you admit your weaknesses then you can start changing them. You can't change them until you share it with somebody. Now you don't tell everybody. You don't have to tell everybody, but you do have to tell somebody. You don't go tell the New York Times, tell somebody who loves you. Tell somebody who is gonna love you unconditionally, who's safe. Who's gonna stick with you no matter what you tell them. But I admit my weaknesses in order, in order to change them. This is the power of a small group. This is the power of having a spiritual partner, a mentor, or a spiritual friend or buddy. What we're talking about here is vulnerability. That the more vulnerable you become about your own weaknesses, the easier and the faster and the quicker God's gonna be able to transform them into strengths. Let me give you some reasons from scripture why God says it's important to be vulnerable.

What is vulnerability? Being open and honest with somebody else about my own weaknesses. Vulnerability, write this down, first, is spiritually empowering. Vulnerability is spiritually empowering. The Bible says, all of these verses are out of the book of James. James 4:6, God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. What is grace? Grace is the power I need to change. Grace is the energy, the strength, the power to break through my bad habits, to break through my weaknesses. How do I get God's grace? Be humble. "God opposes the proud," James says, "but gives grace to the humble". And so when I'm vulnerable and I admit to you where I'm weak. I'm really having a hard time, I'm struggling in this area. It opens up the door to all kinds of things, but mainly it opens the door to God's grace.

Vulnerability is spiritually empowering. Number two, vulnerability, being vulnerable is emotionally healing. It's emotionally healing. Now that's the verse we started with today. James 5:16, confess your faults to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. Circle that word healed. Now, if all you want is to be forgiven, you don't need to confess your fault to anybody else. If all you wanna do is be forgiven, you confess your faults just to God. But if you wanna be healed, you gotta share it with somebody else. God has wired us in such a way that revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. You've heard me say that many times. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. Confess your faults to each other.

And see psychologists say, confess your faults to your therapist and certain people say, confess your faults to priest. The Bible says, confess your faults to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. This is the pathway to healing, to wholeness, to transformation of your weaknesses. You say, well, I just can't tell anybody. Then you're gonna stay stuck with those weaknesses, the rest of your life. You're gonna be stuck in a ditch with those faults, those mistakes, those personality quirks and the weaknesses in your life. But if you'll learn to confess them that means to just admit it. Admit your faults to each other, pray for each other, you will be healed. It is spiritually empowering and it is emotionally healing, but you know what else?

Vulnerability is relationally attractive. It is relationally attractive. You wanna be a more attractive man? You wanna be a more attractive woman? Be more vulnerable. It's very, very, very attractive relationally. In James 3:2, James says, we all stumble in many ways. And when we read that verse we're all nodding our heads going yep, James is the guy I can relate to. Because he didn't say, you all stumble in many ways, he says, "We all stumble in many ways". He's including himself, we're all in the same boat. Anytime you meet somebody who says, you know, we all mess up. That guy, you go, well, he doesn't think he's so hot. He's relatable, she's relatable.

Vulnerability is relationally attractive. Nobody wants to date a stuck up person or an egotist or a narcissist. Nobody wants to be married to one and nobody wants to work with those kinds of people. But when you're vulnerable, when you can admit your weaknesses and even laugh at yourself and make jokes about yourself and say, you know, we all stumble in many ways and be honest about it. That is relationally attractive, okay? So why should I learn to be open about it? Well, we just said, spiritually empowering, emotionally healing, relationally attractive.

Number four. Vulnerability is a requirement for leadership. Yeah. The Bible says this all through scripture that vulnerability is a requirement for leadership. If you can't be vulnerable, you're not a leader, you're a dictator, okay? You're not a leader, you're a boss. James 3:13, James says this. "If you're truly wise, if you're truly wise and understanding, you'll show it by your good life and the deeds that you do," watch this, "with the humility that comes from wisdom". Do you know that the more wise you become the more humble you're gonna become? Fools are stuck up. Fools are egotist. Fools are prideful. The wise person, the more wise you become, the more humble you'll become. The humility that comes from wisdom, James 3:13. That's why in James 4:10, James repeats it and he says, "Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up". What does that mean, lift you up? He'll make you a leader. You will rise in prominence. You will rise in influence. He will lift you up. You don't have to know the key men at work, if you know the one who holds the keys, God. And if you humble yourself before the Lord, He will lift you up. Vulnerability is a mark of leadership.

Now, I wanna spend the last couple of minutes giving you an example of this because Paul was one of the greatest leaders who ever lived and he wrote about half of the New Testament and Paul is an example of vulnerability. He's one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, next to Jesus Christ Himself, and yet he says this in 2 Corinthians 6:11. "We speak with complete honesty, hiding nothing". Okay, we speak with complete honesty, hiding nothing, sharing our true feelings and opening our heart wide to you. Opening our heart wide to you. What is that? That's vulnerability, okay? In the way we talk, and the way we act, and the way we share, and the way we feel. And so now what I wanna do is I wanna show you five different ways that you can work on vulnerability, you can work on authenticity in your life and these are the marks of a true leader. Paul is an example in each of these. You may write these down.

Number one. A true leader admits his or her frustrations. A true leader admits his or her frustrations. Paul says this, "I think you ought to know dear brothers about the hard time we went through in Asia. We were really crushed, we were overwhelmed and we feared we would never live through it". He's shared his frustrations here. "We felt doomed, we felt we were doomed to die and we saw how powerless we were to help ourselves". This is not a big picture of Mr. Confidence here. He said, "We were powerless to help ourselves, but that was good for then we put everything into the hands of God". 2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9.

A true leader admits frustration, okay? Admits frustration. Okay, let me give you another example. A true leader, write this down, admits his or her faults, not just frustrations, but faults. That means you admit, I don't have everything I need to get this job done. I'm not competent in every area, nobody is. 2 Corinthians 3:5, Paul says this, "There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we're capable of doing this work". Because nothing in myself says I'm capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God. That's vulnerability. He's honest about his frustrations. He's honest about his faults.

Number three, a true leader admits his or her failures. If you ever see a person who can't admit their failures, they're not a leader. They may be something else, they may be well-known, but they're not a leader. A true leader admits his or her failures because everybody fails. Nobody bats 1000. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody strikes up. 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says, "I am the worst of all sinners". You ever heard of politicians say that? Not likely. Not likely. Have you ever said that? And yet Paul was willing to say, I think I'm the worst sinner of all. And then he gets very specific, he's not just general. In Romans 7:18 and 19, he gets real specific. Here's what he says. You know guys, he says, "I have the desire to do what is right, but I just can't carry it out. For what I do is not the good that I wanna do". No no, he says, "I just keep on doing the evil that I don't wanna do". Sound familiar, Romans 7:18,19. That is admitting not just your frustrations and not just your faults. It's admitting your failures. You wanna be vulnerable, you want God's blessing on your life, you wanna be able to change those weaknesses into strengths? It's gonna take that kind of honesty.

Number four, a true leader admits his or her frustrations, faults, failures, and fears. Fears, now we're really getting somewhere. A true leader admits his or her fears. Paul says, when he writes to the Corinthians, "I came to you in weakness and fear and trembling, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power". 1 Corinthians 2. He says, when I came to you, I didn't come in acting like I had it all together, like I was super confident, like I knew exactly what I was doing. He said, I came to you in weakness and fear and trembling, and guess what? God used that. I didn't want your faith resting on men's wisdom, but on God's power. Can you do that, can you admit your fears? Can you admit your fears to another man, to another woman, to small group? Can you admit those kinds of things?

Finally, a true leader admits his or her feelings. Frustration, false, failures, fears, feelings. Can you really share your emotions? 'Cause I wanna just share my emotions. Well, get over it. It's part of growing up, it's part of maturity. And a truly mature man and a truly mature woman can share their feelings. 2 Corinthians 6:11. Paul says, oh, listen to the passion in this. "Oh my dear Corinthian friends. He goes, I've told you, I've told you all my feelings. I love you with all my heart". That's a real man. A real man doesn't stuff his feelings, a real man is able to admit his feelings, whatever they are. By the way, have I told you lately that I love you? Because I do, I do love you.

Now, what I want you to do is work on these this week. If you wanna turn your weaknesses into strengths, you're gonna have to do it God's way. It's not gonna happen your way, it's gonna happen God's way. First, identify those weaknesses. Do you have even a list? If I asked you right now, can you make a list of the top 10 weaknesses in your life? Could you list them? 'Cause if you can't list them, you're certainly not working on them. And then you see how God wants to use those in your life and then you commit to being open, and authentic, and vulnerable and being willing to admit your fears, and your faults, your failures, and your frustrations, and your feelings. If you do, you're on the road to spiritual maturity, spiritual power, emotional healing, relational attractiveness, and you will become a leader.

Now here's my prayer for you. My prayer for you is this last verse right here on the screen, it says this. Give strength to hands that are tired and steady the knees that tremble with weakness. You know, a lot of people with this COVID-19 their hands are tired and their knees are trembling. Why, because it's draining. COVID-19 is draining everybody. Gives strength to hands that are tired and steady the knees that tremble with weakness. Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and don't be afraid because God is coming to your rescue.

God is coming to your rescue, Isaiah 35:3 and 4, and as surely as He made this earth, you can count on Him to be there when you need Him. If you've never opened your life to Jesus Christ, you don't have the power to do what we're talking about today. You can't do this on your own. You need the grace of God in your life. So how do I get the grace of God in my life? Just be humble like we said. Doesn't even matter the words you say as much as you say, God, I need you. I need you. It'd be my privilege to lead you in that prayer right now. Let's bow our heads. Let me pray for you:

First God, you know the people who are listening to this message right now and we're all in different situations, we all have different needs, we have different fears, different frustrations. We've had different failures. Lord, we all have different feelings and we all have different faults, but Lord, we're not satisfied being the way we are. We want to grow, we wanna be different, we wanna be better people, not bitter, but better people. And we know we can't do it without you, so we humble ourselves before you.

Now you pray, say:

Dear God, I realized that you're God and I'm not. And I realized that I've tried to change a lot of things in my life that I can't without your power, without your grace. So Jesus Christ as much as I know how, I'm asking you to fill my life with your love and power. And I'm asking you to change me from the inside out, turn my weaknesses into strengths. I wanna follow you the rest of my life and I wanna learn more about you. I wanna learn to trust you and I wanna do what you made me to do with my life, dear God. I wanna follow your purpose for my life. I humbly ask you to accept me into your family, in your name, I pray, Amen.

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