We can all use some encouragement, and we'll find it today in the Bible-based preaching of Dr. Don Wilton on The Encouraging Word. Today's message is Finding Strength in Your Weakness. We'll head to Hebrews Chapter 12 in just a moment, but please know we're here for you. 866-899-WORD will connect you on the phone or online at TheEncouragingWord.org.
Here's Dr. Don Wilton. I'm going to invite you to take your Bibles this morning and turn with me to Hebrews Chapter 12, the 12th chapter of the book of Hebrews. I would recommend you fasten your seat belts because God is going to speak to our hearts like he does every time we study his Word together. Now in Hebrews Chapter 12, the latter two verses here, verses 12 and 13 of Hebrews Chapter 12, remarkable. Because the Bible talks to us about something that is so close to my own heart and to your heart. I want to speak to you today on finding strength in weakness. So listen carefully to what God has to say. Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 12. Therefore, by the way, all the therefores are there for a reason. If you want to know what the precedent is right here, the therefore there is saying to us because Jesus Christ is everything.
Because without him you can do nothing. Therefore, because of who God is, here it is, strengthen your feeble arms and your feeble knees. I don't want a show of hands here today, but is there anybody today who has feeble arms and knees?
Now I'm going to explain that in just a moment. Verse 13, make level paths for your feet in order that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Now your operative word here, the focus here in Hebrews lies in the latter part of verse 13. Here the word says, in order that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Well, who are the lame?
We're not going to be able to understand that unless we understand who he's referring to. Well, in the context of the scripture in Hebrews, it refers to three groups of people. I'm going to share it with you, but you're going to very quickly discover like I did that all three of these groups of people are right here today. Right here on this campus, they joined together with thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters worshiping with us as an integral part of our worship service by way of television. All of us today are going to identify with these three groups of people.
So who are the lame? Number one is the wannabe Christians. Here in this context, there was a group of Jewish people that they wanted to be Christians.
They heard the message. They looked like Christians. They even acted like Christians.
But guess what? They weren't Christians. Now, do you suppose there are some people worshiping with us today who are wannabe Christians? They want to be. They think he be. They may be, but they ain't be.
Now, I'm not going to repeat that. There are people, folks in America today that have done everything right, looked the part, but they not. The wannabe Christians. Bible says they are lame people who, if they do not do something, will become disabled. And by the way, to be disabled means to be rendered completely useless.
Nothing more you can do about it. Alright, the second group, not just the wannabe Christians, but the weak Christians, the weak Christians. Now, who are the weak Christians? Those are those who definitely know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, but they've lost their first love. I'm privileged to do a lot of marriages, wedding ceremonies.
I've got a bunch more coming up. Wonderful time. I think all of us can identify with what it means to fall in love. Couple fall in love. Boy, those stars come out, hold hands, smoochy, smoochy. I mean, can't keep their hands off each other. I'll do some premarital counseling and I've got to eventually say stop. Now, just look at me.
Would you mind looking at focus on me for a minute now? I mean, they are so in love. They get married.
Children come into the home. You meet up with them 10 years later. They're still married, but they're weak.
The light looks like it's gone out. No longer touch each other. Hardly say good things to each other. They're still married, not married. They haven't divorced.
They live together. That's it. In fact, if they didn't have children, they probably wouldn't waste their time. Weak Christians are the ones who are most susceptible to stumbling blocks. The Bible says all things are lawful to me, but not everything's expedient. There's a third group and that's the weary or worn out Christians. Bible tells us who are the worn out Christians?
They the tired ones. You know why I do not particularly enjoy talking about giving money in the church? Can I just, let's get this out of the way, folks. Can I tell you why it's not a pleasurable thing really? I mean, I'll talk about money.
If you don't believe me, you know that because it takes money to do things, but I'll tell you always in the back of my mind, I know I'm looking at an entire sea of people who have given and given and given and given and given. Can you wear out with your giving? Sure you can. Can you wear out serving the Lord? You better believe you can.
I pray for the chairman of deacons because they are at everything every time the doors open and folks, they get to the end of their year in office. They are worn out. Can you wear out in ministry? You better believe you can. Can you wear out singing in the choir? Those relentless rehearsals. Can you wear out playing the orchestra and turning up and Jimbo gets on your case? You better believe you can. Can you wear out going to church?
Absolutely. You do things for God and someone comes and complains. You can wear out. Boy, worn out Christians. Bible calls you and me lame.
The Bible says unless we do something, we're going to become disabled. See the word here, my friend has a very special word for us. It's like my motor car. Thursday I was driving down the road. I said, hello, what is this noise?
Now I want to just tell you something. I know nothing about engines in motor cars. When my motor car breaks down, I get out and I kick the tire and I have a word of prayer. By the way, that works. It works.
I'm telling you, I've seen great miracles happen. I mean, I've seen engines just jump back into the socket because I kicked the tire. But I hear this noise. I tell my wife there's a noise. She said, I know there's a noise. So we both, we got two people saying there's a funny noise in the motor car. What is it? I don't know.
So I go to the garage to get the thing fixed up and I drive up into the garage and the man who's the expert walks up and he gets out a piece of paper and he says to me, now, Dr. Wilton, what exactly is the problem with your motor car? I said, I don't know. I haven't a clue. Well, what exactly is it doing? I don't know.
It just, it's lame. Well, he has a look at it. They call me. They say to me, now, pastor, are we glad you brought your motor car in?
I tell you, you might have driven for another 5,000 miles, but under its current condition, it could have suddenly stopped even with your wife and daughter in the middle of an interstate. That's a lame motor car. It goes like an athlete. Oh, I can play. The team needs me. And I tell you, you go up to these men and women who play and they get hurt and they say, man, the team needs me. Coach says, I know the team needs you, but you're lame. You need to get attention because you're lame. If you continue to be lame, you're going to end up becoming what? Disabled. Then you can't play.
You're out. Now, folks, it's an interesting thing here because what God is using here is another athletic metaphor, which we identify with. He talks about the three components of our bodily athleticism, which gives way, rendering us lame and ultimately disabled. He talks first of all about hands and arms. Then he talks about the knees.
Then he talks about the feet. So if I was an athlete and I could do track, which I can't do, and I was running down, I'll tell you what happens to me, folks. If you look at an athlete running a race, the first thing that begins to drop when they're running and they're running out of juice, their arms begin to fall.
The most powerful athletes pump with their arms. The next thing that happens, you got it, your knees. I mean, they just get wobbly, man. The third thing that happens is your feet. You get off track.
They start crossing over. Now, I haven't told a lot of people what I'm about to tell you. But do you know that 30 odd years ago when I was in the army in southwest Africa, I did the stupidest thing one day. I joined the boxing team. Now, folks, you got to understand this. And we had this boxing tournament in the Namib Desert of southwest Africa on the Skeleton Coast where nobody's been.
Unbelievable sight right on the side of the Atosha Pan in southwest Africa, nothing but desert. They set up this makeshift ring. We've got about 5,000 troops that turn out for the boxing tournament, and I'm in it.
I'm in it. Boy, I trained, man. I'm telling you, never boxed a day in my life. Well, I'm telling you, the first bout that I had was wonderful. I got in that ring.
The troops were cheering for the one they wanted. I looked across. Folks, they put a worm in there to come again.
I mean, a little worm. I said, who is this? I mean, coming against a man of my caliber, folks.
I said, this is ridiculous. I could knock his block off. I promise you, folks, without bragging, I walked over there like that and I knocked his block off.
I mean, boom, boof, he just went down. Boy, I held up my arms. I thought I was Muhammad Ali. We came to the next bout that evening.
Well, the next fella that got in that ring, he wasn't quite a worm, folks. He was kind of like me. We were sort of even. I survived three rounds. The judges gave me the fight, two to one. I won two rounds.
He won. I'm telling you, I was a mess. My face, this guy took me out. I took him out.
It was a slugfest. I survived. I got into the semifinals two days later. Boy, I trained. I had everything. Man, I came out there and danced like this around the ring.
I had everything. I finally got in there, got under the ring, looked up. It was George Foreman, folks. I am telling you, I looked at this. I said, wait a minute now, who is this? What are you doing to me?
Have you ever run into a concrete truck at 100 miles an hour? This man walked over to me, kept his arms up. Now the coaches told me what happened to me was this.
After my first... After the first little tap that he took at me, the first thing that happened was my hands dropped apparently. So I said, George, do you see this target here? Do whatever you want to with me.
You have an open invitation. Well, he said thank you. This man didn't care for me too much. He didn't even know me. I didn't know him.
I still don't know him. Well, I tell you folks, I don't know what it was that hit me, but it did. They tell me afterwards that what happened is my arms dropped. The next thing, my knees crossed. Have you ever seen a man whose knees actually crossed?
Now I don't know how you do it, but you can do it. The third thing that happened is that my feet got kind of out of whack. They lost their track. This foot crossed over that one.
This one said there's something wrong and try to reverse it and come around on the inside that way. My knees were gone. My hands were down.
Well, I woke up in the mess tent somewhere down the road. Let me read you this verse. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms, your weak knees. Make level paths for your feet in order that those of you who are lame will not be rendered useless, but rather strengthened, renewed, healed.
Let me just answer a question. Why did they become lame? How do you become lame?
Let me give you a couple of suggestions. Number one, sickness will render a person lame. Now folks, listen carefully today. There are many precious people that have been sick so long that they are being rendered lame. God says there's something that can be done. Sickness will take the stuffing out of you like you can't imagine. Number two, sadness. I don't know that some of us can really understand grief. There are some people I know that have lost loved ones, husbands, wives, sons, daughters. That kind of sadness or just disappointment being let down, time without number, it will render you lame spiritually. Number three, somberness.
Psychologists, counselors will tell you that depression is one of the number one killers in America, somberness. Parents, can I just say something to all the parents here today? Watch your kids. You know your children better than anybody. One of the surest signs, folks, that something's not right. Joy goes out of their faces. Watch your wife, my brother.
Watch your husband. Somberness, depression sets in. When that sets in, it's like a sickness, a cancer. It'll begin to encase you, take over your spirit, render you lame. If you don't do something about it, you'll end up disabled. I've met people over the years who've said, boy, I wish I had done something. If I'd only done something about it, I wouldn't be in this total predicament at the end of the road.
I've met some people who've said, man, I've given up. Number four, saltiness. Salt gives flavor.
What can cause us to become lame? Look, you take the salt out of your life. You're going to live a life that is tasteless. Many marriages are like that. There was plenty of salt when you got married, plenty of salt when you went on your honeymoon, plenty of salt when your first baby was born, plenty of salt when you all celebrated Christmas, but something's happened. Gradually, the salt has been taken out of your life, your marriage, and so it's now tasteless. Life has become meaningless. It's ho-hum.
Second verse, same as the first. You can do something about it. Don't give up. You give up, you decide there's nothing more you can do. I'm telling you what's going to happen. You will become disabled, but I've got good news for you today. God says you can be healed.
That's what God says. Please forgive the interruption. The voice you've been listening to is Dr. Don Wilton, our teacher here on The Encouraging Word, and he's got so much more to come. I pray you'll stick around for us. If you have to get away, know that you can connect on our website, theencouragingword.org, and catch up with all that's going on in the great teaching of Dr. Don Wilton. That's online at theencouragingword.org. If you already know you want to get a copy, a CD, or a DVD of today's message or another of Dr. Don's messages, call us and just ask about it, 866-899-WORD.
That's our number, 866-899-9673. We'd love to connect with those resources, but more than that, Dr. Don wants me to remind you, we are here to pray for you at 866-899-9673. Even though the world is becoming an increasingly challenging place to live in as a Christian, Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross remains a message of hope for everyone. Discover a deep understanding and appreciation for our Savior's death on the cross in Dr. Wilton's powerful sermon, The Cross, along with the bonus book, The Cross of Jesus, by Warren W. Wiersbe, which explores the entire crucifixion in detail. These powerful resources are yours to have with your gift of support to The Encouraging Word.
Thank you for listening today. Now back to today's message, finding strength in your weakness. Number five, sinfulness. Does it all the time. Say, you mean my sin causes me to become lame?
Absolutely, it's the number one cause. Sin, you're living in sin, you're practicing sin, it's unconfessed sin. Stuffing's gone out of you, you've lost your joy. You need to draw the line, say no more. Well, what must be done? Let's ask this, what must be done?
Because there are two imperatives here that God tells us. Number one, strengthen. That's what the word says in verse 12, strengthen.
By the way, that's an imperative. It literally means make strong again. You say, wait a minute now, how do I strengthen? You see the word strengthen there referred to my weak hands, my wobbly knees, my feet that are giving out that gone astray, how do I strengthen them? How do I get back to where I pick my hands up, where I stand tall? How do I rejuvenate my marriage? How do I find the joy that I've lost? How can I once again wake up and say, you know, man, it's not so bad after all. How can I pick myself up off the floor after I've been defeated? How can I do that?
How can I do it? Well, it carries with it three ideas, they help us. Number one, remember, you wanna strengthen, you wanna find healing through strength, you need to remember and you need to remember who God is. That's what you need to do.
Put your attention on him. Remember who God is. Number two, you need to release.
Now that sounds kind of strange, doesn't it? Yeah, you're saying, wait a minute now, pastor, I'm lame, I'm becoming disabled, you're telling me to let go, yes. Can I say this, folks, just hear me, I wish I had time to elaborate. You're trying too hard in yourself. You and I cannot do it within ourselves, you can't do it.
God can do it for you and with you, not as a machine, but God by his Spirit will give to you the energy and the resources that you need in order to find strength for the journey. And then number three, resign. Resign, that means give up, give up on yourself, give up on you, turn it over. It's not a matter of just letting go, it's a matter of stepping back, turning it over to him completely.
You've got to do that. If you're going to find strength, let me tell you what most Christians do. Most Christians, I shouldn't say most because it's certainly not true here, many Christians, some Christians, as soon as you begin to become lame, do you know what some Christians do?
They stop going to church. One of the great lessons the Lord taught me when I became a pastor was that lesson. Believe me, because when I became pastor of a church, God told me, listen, doesn't matter how lame you feel, you're going to be there, buddy.
You're going to put a smile on your face and you're going to be at your best. You will never step down. It doesn't matter because, and I've come to understand, folks, what have we got to do, folks? We got to remember who God is.
We got to release it and we've got to resign. Well, there's a second imperative, make level. By the way, the word there in verse 13 is make level paths.
The word for path in the Greek text is the word trokia, which literally means tracks. And he's talking about the tracks that you leave, the way you walk. When you become lame, you get off track. How do you get back on track? Let me give you a number of thoughts here. Number one, you need to realign, realign.
That's a good thing to do. Realign your focus. Number two, you need to re-envision. Vision is so much an important part of our personal lives.
God has placed you there for a purpose. Re-envision. Take your family, by the way, your wife, your marriage. Sit down, realign, re-envision. Number three, realize that you cannot do it alone.
You've got to come to that point. Number four, restructure. Sit down with pen and paper with your children. Restructure your life. Say, I don't need to do this. I don't need to do that.
I don't need to do this. Number five, refurbish. You need to move some new furniture in there. Get rid of the old furniture. Number six, rededicate your life. Turn it over to Christ. That's what it's all about. Are you ready to find strength in weakness?
Boy, there's an imperative there. My wife, every once in so often, she walks into our house and I love my home. You know, I'm one of those, I think my wife has just got an unparalleled ability to turn a house into a home. My home is just precious.
I love every seat I sit on, my bed. I mean everything about it, but she'll walk into my home, I'm telling you, and she'll look around, she'll say, you know, I think we just need to get a new carpet over here and I'll say, well, what's wrong with that one? I say, jolly nice carpet. She'll say, no, we just need to refurbish a little bit. It's good to just have a little change. Man, I'm just happy with that.
She'll say, no, it's out. Folks, not everybody can go and get a new carpet. My point is there's something about even walking into a home that you love and there's a new carpet.
How do you explain that? It does something for your soul. You like my tie, by the way. It's a new tie.
My wife bought it for me. It's just a new tie. I thought I looked jolly good when I got dressed this morning. It's a new tie. Old suit, new tie. But I just enjoyed putting on a new tie.
Besides that, my wife got it for me. You know something? Some of you listen to me, folks. Some of you need to just throw away some of your old ties, go and buy a few new ones.
And please don't misunderstand me. This is not about buying stuff. You need to move out some of the old furniture in your heart. Move it out.
Move some new furniture in there. You won't do it if you don't realign and re-envisage. You've got to restructure. You've got to do all these things.
It's all part of a big picture. And here's what happens. Here's what happens, folks. You end up, you know what it's like. Life is like that. You end up saying, oh, man, am I worn out and frazzled. I feel so lame. I don't know if I want to do this.
I don't know. Man, I've just had enough. No salt in my life. My marriage is over. He'll never understand me anymore. Man, no more romance.
I don't know what I'm going to do with my kids, my office is in trouble, whatever it might be. And all of a sudden, you strengthen. You begin to make level those paths. God just kind of gets in your bones. And it's kind of like, what's happening? God gets a hold of you. And you begin to stand up straight. Say, I can do this.
I can do this. Man, yeah. Boy, I'm still going to struggle with this and that. And I know I've got all of these things. But boy, am I. Thank you, Lord. I've got strength for the journey.
I feel like I can stand up straight again. Some of you have gone through divorces. You're just hurting, man.
You're down. You're hard. Some of you have got kids who have disappointed you. Some of you lost all your means and your finances. You know, just folks, that's life. Life is just, there are just a lot of things, a lot of stuff, a lot of things, a lot of heartache, disappointment.
Man, it's just, here it comes. But here's what the Bible says. The Bible says if you're willing to strengthen and to make level your pathway, which is a doing word, here's what happens. You will not be disabled. You will be healed. You will be empowered. You'll be strengthened. Oh, how I love our pastor and how he loves the Lord and loves sharing God's word. If God stirred your heart today, let us talk about it. Let's pray with you about it at 866-899-WORD.
That's 866-899-9673. Or connect with us online at theencouragingword.org. And speaking of the encouraging word, if you're wondering how do we do what we do, we do it with the support of friends like you that become encouragers.
Hello, my friends. I want to speak to you personally today from my heart to yours. I don't think there is ever a better or more important time for us to respond to our world by standing up for righteousness. Now with this in mind, I would like to invite you to become an encourager ministry partner. You see, together we can impact lives both now and for all time and all eternity. The encouraging word is a viewer and listener supported ministry. And to know that you are standing with me financially enables me to move forward with confidence to do the work God has called me to do. So please call the number on your screen and just simply say I want to become an encourager. Thank you so much for helping me. Our time's gone for today, but we're continuing to connect online at theencouragingword.org and this phone number 866-899-WORD. That's 866-899-9673. Join us tomorrow when Dr. Wilton's message will be Profiles of a Christian. Look forward to seeing you then.
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