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The power of resurrection verses our own power
Paul expressed this idea time and time again. I would just like to use two Scripture passages to demonstrate how he felt. When the messenger of Satan afflicted him, it probably had to do with his list in 2 Corinthians chapter 11.
That list included, being flogged with 39 nine lashings five times, shipwrecked and spending the night in the sea, being robbed, facing perils by the heathen, perils in the city, in the wildernesses, in the sea and among false brethren, being hungry, cold and naked, and then having the cares of the new churches that had many problems and attacks. In addition, history records that these false brethren were legalistic Jews who always attacked Pauls message of grace.
His response to all this was, "Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Notice he said, "I take pleasure." He did not say he just endured them, but rather they were profitable for him. Why did he think this way? Let us take a peek into his mind and some of the things he had learned as shown in Phillipians chapter 3.
First Paul listed his strengths, the things that he had accomplished in life and even the things and privileges he was born into.
"4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Then he stated that these assets and strengths were of really no value when compared to something else. Notice he did not state that they were of no value, but that they had no value when compared to a greater thing.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss [dung] for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection [the power out flowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers], and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death"
"11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead [that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body]"
(Philippians 3:4-11 brackets indicate Amplified version).
I will attempt to paraphrase what Paul said.
"Look, I know I have been born into privilege even religious privilege, that I have been educated with and by the best, I have performed perfectly in my vocations, I was a real performer and few people could keep up with me. However, I have noticed something interesting. The fruit that I see in my life and in my ministry is fruit that came from my afflictions. That fruit far surpassed anything all my natural strengths could and did accomplish. I was amazed! His resurrection of my afflictions has produced more fruit that all of my performance! Therefore I long for His resurrection power to work in my life, and I count all other things as "dung. I would rather have Him turn my Junk into Jewels any day!"
God has given us an incomprehensible gift, the power of His resurrection. It is like we have a machine inside of us that converts very bad thing, every affliction, every curse, into blessings and jewels for His Kingdom.
Larry Chkoreff - October, 2001