Does Your Life Attract and Repel?

God Uses Our Weakness And Fragility To Draw People To Jesus

Dan Franklin
Jun 12, 2022    43m
God uses our weakness to draw people to Jesus, and at times we will attract people to Him, and we'll rejoice in that, and we'll also repel, and we will trust God in that. We learn that those who are being saved are drawn in as we reflect Jesus to them, and those who are perishing are repelled by the message of Jesus. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] Oh, man, what a great morning so far. I'm excited as we're going to get into the first passage in the series that we're going to go through during the summer. So I've got a question for you, how many of you have at some point in your life been the subject of a job interview? All right, most of us have. If you haven't, don't worry, your time is coming, and someday you will, it's a joyous experience. But one of the questions that's become common in job interviews, it's hard to get through a job interview with at some point the person not being asked this is the question, what are your biggest weaknesses? Somebody knew, what are your biggest weaknesses? It comes up in almost every job interview, and just as quickly as that became a common question that would show up in job interviews, came the solution for how you're supposed to handle that question. And some of you are laughing, you know how you're supposed to handle that question, the way that you're supposed to handle it is that you talk about your weaknesses, but in a way that they really turn out to be strengths. So the way that you're supposed to answer the question when they say, what are your greatest weaknesses is you're supposed to say something like, you know what, once I get going on a project, I just get tunnel vision and I can't stop until it's done right, it's a real weakness that I have. Other people will say something like, you know, once I become a part of a team, I become so loyal to the team that sometimes I even get taken advantage of because I just want to do everything to make sure my team is taking care of, it's a weakness that I have. Or some people just simplify it, and they just say, I'm a perfectionist. You're like, I get what's going on here. The point is this, when you're asked in a job interview, which is one of the few places that you're really trying to put forward the best version of yourself, you're really trying to sell yourself so that somebody will buy into you, when you're doing that and you're asked about your weaknesses, you don't talk about your weaknesses, you talk about your strengths. Just imagine somebody actually answering that question honestly in a job interview. What are your greatest weaknesses? You know what? Sometimes I'm lazy. I have a real procrastination issue and sometimes I just let projects fall down and I don't pick them back up. Imagine somebody saying, I'm highly disorganized. Or just imagine somebody answering that question and saying, you know, I frequently get into petty squabbles with other people, I'm kind of cantankerous. You would not say this, I mean, it seems silly, like even if you were going to say a weakness, you would downplay it as much as possible because if you're in a situation where you're trying to sell yourself and trying to get somebody else to buy into you and you're trying to put forward the best version of yourself, you don't lead with your weaknesses.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:06] Now let's try to take this same concept that we're talking about and talk about God. Now it's a little weird because God isn't being interviewed by anyone, God doesn't need any of us to hire him. But we could look at it and say, well, God is wanting people to buy into him. There's a sense in which there's a parallel there, and you can say, yeah, God wants people to believe in him, God wants people to trust him, God wants people to obey Him, and believe in him, and follow him, God wants all that, so how is God going to do this same thing that we try to do in job interviews? In other words, how is God going to show His glory to the world, how is God going to show His greatness and His power and His Majesty, and how is God going to put the best foot forward to the world if his desire really is to get people to buy into him? And the short answer to this question, how does God show His glory to the world, it is through us, through believers in Jesus Christ. People who are bought by the blood of Jesus, forgiven of all of our sins, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God consistently chooses to show His glory to the world through His people.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:28] So if we're going to take that u\in, we can say, all right, well, then clearly the way God would do that is by putting front and center the best of the best. I mean, we're going to find the richest Christians out there, we're going to find the most famous Christians out there, the ones that are the best looking, the ones that maybe they had problems in their past, but we really view them as overcomers, you know, their past is all of those problems, and they're thriving right now, those are going to be the people that we put front and center. And that's probably how it would work if we were the ones coming up with the ideas of how God was going to show His glory to the world, but as you might suspect, that's not how God does it. What we're going to see today, and what we're going to see all throughout the 12 weeks that we're in this series, is that God shows the world his glory through the frailty of his servants.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:23] And this morning we're starting a 12-week series, we're going to be in this series all summer, and we're calling it Glory and Frailty because of this exact idea. Each week we're going to be touching on the theme that God shows the world His glory through the frailty, through the weakness, of his servants. Throughout the series, we're going to be in the Book of Second Corinthians, we're not going to cover the whole book, but we're going to start where we are today at the end of chapter 2, and by the end of the summer, we'll finish chapters 3, 4, and 5, also. It's just an extended passage of Scripture that we're going to go through verse by verse each week, and we're going to keep hitting it on this theme.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:05] And today we're sort of introducing this theme through the passage that we're going to go through in Second Corinthians chapter 4 verses 14 through 17. And here's sort of the extra question that we're going to get into this week, beyond this idea that God shows the world his glory through the frailty of his servants, where we're going to ask the follow-up question to say, how then do we, as his frail servants, relate to the world where he wants to show his glory? How do we relate to the world? And through these four verses, we're going to see Paul walk us through three things. He's going to walk us through what God does, then he's going to walk us through what happens when God does the stuff that He does, and then he's going to walk us through what we do. There is going to be a calling for us, but what we're going to see is that it comes at the end of a long line of things that God does.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:01] So let's start through this passage, if you have an open Bible, be sure to turn to Second Corinthians chapter 2. Second Corinthians is easy to find, it's right after first Corinthians, okay, that was all right. And we're going to be in here, and so we're going to start in verse 14 and we're going to start with that question, what is it that God does? He's going to start with something that God does before He even gets into what we do. Verse 14 says, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere."

Dan Franklin: [00:07:39] And so Paul starts off and he wants to paint a picture for us, and it's a picture that's a little bit foreign to us, but for the first-century readers, this would have been easy for them to pick up on, he is talking about a Roman victory parade. Now, this is not something that we do nowadays in the same way, but you might think after a sports team wins the World Series or wins the Super Bowl, typically they go back to their city, and they have a victory parade, and people come out and greet them and welcome them back. Yeah, sorry, it's been a long time for the Colts, Duane, but someday. There's a similar idea that Paul is talking about here, but it's after a military victory, it's the idea of a general returning to the city that he's from after winning a great battle. And there's this great victory procession, there are trumpeters, there are soldiers, there are captives, there's the general being honored as he's welcomed back into the city.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:35] And by the way, just take this in for a second for where we've already been today, so thanks be to God because God is the one who leads us as captives in this triumphal procession, God is the one who does this, se just sing. And I love that Andy had us pause and take in the last verse of that song, "When we arrive at Eternity's Shores, death is just a mist, a memory, tears are no more." Do you know who makes that happen? Not you, you don't need to this morning take on the burden of saying, if I don't do my job, maybe this time won't come. God will do that, that is part of God's glory, he is the one who leads this victory procession. Paul's pausing to praise God because ultimately, the weight of the world does not depend upon us. Can I get an amen? Thank God it doesn't depend on us. I'm going to tell you, we are going to be called to respond in some ways to this passage, there are going to be some marching orders for us. But what we get to do first is we get to just pause, take a deep breath, and realize that the victory is going to come because God will make it happen, he leads the victory procession. Which in some ways, anything that God is leading, is going to be a victory procession because God wins. But also this is a victory procession because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, won the final victory over sin and death, and we are all living in that victory now.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:11] So Paul starts with this picture of triumph, God has triumphed, and thank God that He leads us in this victory procession. But some of you picked up on something, where is Paul in this victory procession? Did you catch it? He is not the general, he's not a soldier, he's not one of the trumpeters, he's a captive, he leads us as captives. Which would have been, part of this victory parade would have been conquered soldiers being brought back as captives. And Paul is like, yeah, that's me, that's where I am in this victory parade. He's not one of the soldiers that helped win the battle, even though there are other passages in the Bible that would somehow draw that analogy and we could see ourselves in that role. And sometimes, he says in this story, I'm a conquered captive. And I think Paul wants us to see him that way, but he also does want to broaden that out to all of us. And if this seems strange and you're like, why is Paul a conquered captive? For those of you that know a little bit about the story of the Apostle Paul, this might start to make sense if you pause to think about his story because Paul was not a man who aspired to be a Christian, Paul was a man who violently opposed Jesus and the Christian faith. You can read about this in Acts chapter 8 and 9, and you can also read about it, it shows up in different letters where Paul references back to this, but he was a passionate Jewish leader who was so opposed to the message of Jesus that he was rounding up Christians, throwing them in jail, and even overseeing their executions. This was Paul, and the reason he became a Christian is not because Paul was able to draw back and say, well, there is this one day that I really started to think it through, and once I really started to think it through, I realized that I needed to change course. He doesn't even say, well, I was really reflecting, and I suddenly got convicted of my own sin and my own weakness, and I realized that I needed to change my mind. That's not what happened with Paul, what happened with Paul is that Jesus captured him. Jesus stopped him in his tracks by appearing to him, the resurrected Jesus appeared to Paul, you can read about this in Acts chapter 9. Paul was knocked down, literally blinded for a time until God gave him back his sight. God snatched him from the enemy and brought him into the family. If there's anybody in the Bible that could sort of say, I'm a Christian and not totally by choice, it's Paul. It's like God snatched me and brought me in as a captive, and he doesn't have any problem bragging about this in a sense, not because he's anything but he says, this is the weak and frail role that I play in this victory procession, I'm just a captive because God captured me.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:13] Now here's the good news, this victory procession has some differences from a Roman victory procession. Because do you know what happened to the captives at the Roman victory procession? They were publicly executed as a show of the strength of the victory. And thanks be to God that when he snatches us from sin and death and from the devil, he doesn't do it so that he can execute us, he does it so that he can adopt us into the family. We are captives in this victory procession, and so just take this in if we're trying to take in this parallel, how much credit do the captives get for the victory? Are you picking up on this? God shows the world his glory through the frailty of his servants. And Paul says, I want to paint a picture of a glorious victory, and do you know where we are> We're the captives who had nothing to do with it. Paul wants us to understand right off the bat, our weak and frail position in all that God is doing.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:26] And if you're looking at this and saying, well, this seems like a strange anomaly that God would do this, this seems sort of like a different way, a new and different way that God would handle things. What you need to realize is that this is not a unique situation, this is the way God works. Paul wrote in a previous letter to the Corinthians, First Corinthians, and in chapter 1 verses 26 or 29, I want you just to read about what he says here. He says, "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called." In other words, think of what you were before you were Christians when God called you into the family. He says, "Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him." God didn't look at the world and say, you know what, in order to show my glory to the world, I need the best of the best, I want a bunch of first round draft picks. To show his glory to the world, God chose the weak and foolish and non-influential. And right now all of you are like, thanks. Like, that's us? Yes, that's us, that's us who he's talking about right here. It says God didn't choose you because you were really something, God chose you because you weren't terribly impressive, and He chose to show His glory off in you.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:05] Way back when I was younger, my brother and I used to like playing video games together. And then I went off to college and when I came back, he was way better than me at every video game because he'd been the only kid in the house and just had the run of the place. So I remember a football game that we used to play together, and he was way better than me at the football game, and so he started deciding how badly he could beat me if he used the worst team on the game and I used the best team. And by the way, he could still beat me when we did that. It showed just how good he was at the game because he used the worst team and was still successful, are you picking up on the parallel?

Dan Franklin: [00:16:48] There are times where we feel embarrassed about our weaknesses, which it's understandable. Some of you, you might have something physical that you're just like, I wish I was past this sickness or this injury or this limitation, then I could really be used by God. Some of you might have something in your past that you're just embarrassed about, and it's still impacts your life today and you're embarrassed about those things in the past, you said, if I just wouldn't have done those things, if I just didn't have that checkered past, God could really use me. Some of you right now might have ongoing battles where you're just like, I'm not as disciplined as I should be, and I still have temptations in different ways, and I still feel like I fail, and my prayer life isn't what it's supposed to be, and then if only I had everything together in these areas, God could use me. Please hear this, God shows His glory to the world through the frailty of his servants. If you are weak, if you are frail, if you're looking at yourself and saying nobody is really impressed with me, congratulations, because you're in prime position for God to do something amazing through you.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:59] Do you guys remember Moses? Moses is a pretty big deal. Moses was used by God to set free the Israelites. Moses was a stuttering murderer hiding in the wilderness, and God showed His glory through him. Hopefully you guys are familiar with the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, it's a great small book about a woman who ended up being the great grandmother of David and continuing on the kingly line in that way. Ruth was a foreign Moabite woman who had no husband and had no money, and God showed His glory through her. And you think of King David, King David, the greatest king of Israel, King David was so unimportant in the family he grew up in that he wasn't even invited to his own coronation. Samuel came by to choose a king from among all the brothers, David wasn't even invited in because he didn't matter, and God did tremendous things to David. Think of the New Testament, think of Peter, think of how many times Peter screwed up, think of how many times Peter thought he knew what Jesus was saying and he had no idea. People talk about Peter as the disciple with the shoe shaped mouth because he kept putting his foot in it. Peter had more faith in his own courage than he did in Jesus, and Peter ended up being the rock upon which Jesus built his church. Think of Paul, who wrote almost half the New Testament letters, a persecutor and being opposed to the church. And just think of the Lord Jesus, born in a manger, rejected by His own people, betrayed by a disciple of his, and nailed to a cross. Are you seeing a pattern? God shows the world his glory through the frailty of his servant. So here's the deal, none of this is meant to say, well, if you're in sin, just don't worry about it, God will use it. Or if you're not very disciplined in your prayer life, don't even try, God will still use you. But it's a moment for us to say God is the one who wins His victory, and if I feel weak, if I feel frail, I'm actually exactly where I'm meant to be for God to use me tremendously. Thanks be to God who always leads us as captives in Christ triumphal procession.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:22] And now look at the last part of verse 14, "And uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere." God is going to make the knowledge of God known everywhere to everyone through us, and Paul uses the metaphor that we are like the aroma, they're going to smell us and they're going to understand who God is.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:45] And Paul zeroes in, he decides he's going to go further with this aroma idea in verses 15 and 16, as he moves on from what does God do to what happens when God does this? And here's what we read in verse 15, verse 15 says, "For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." And just notice that there's a cool little thing in there where he says, "We are to God the pleasing aroma." The analogy here, some people think that the analogy is still with the victory parade because at the victory parade, maybe there would be some people burning incense so that as the victory parade is getting back to the city, people would actually smell the victory before they'd see the victory. And it's possible that's part of it, but it also seems like Paul sort of transitions here to talking about burnt offerings and sacrifices, which in the Old Testament are frequently described as a pleasing aroma to God. Not because God needs a dead animal to smell something good, but because it was an offering to God that pleased him. So just once again, follow on this, in the two possible analogies, we are captured enemy soldiers or burnt offerings on the altar. Do you know who's doing this? God is doing this, we are just there while God is doing this. He says, we are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ among those, among two groups, those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:23] He breaks the world down into two categories, those who are being saved, now, this includes all of us. You might say, well, I'm not being saved, I am saved. Well, in the New Testament, you get past, present, and future when it comes to our salvation. If you're a believer in Jesus, you were saved when you put your faith in Him, you are being saved as a Spirit works in you to continually renew you, and you will be saved when Jesus comes back and brings final salvation. So when He says those who are being saved, that includes all of us who are believers, and it also includes all of those who are not yet believers, but they are being saved because God is still at work. And then He says, we're also the aroma of Christ among those who are perishing.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:08] There are those who are being saved, and there are those who are perishing who ultimately will reject Jesus and end up in final judgment. And look at how he takes it further in verse 16, he says, "To the one we are an aroma that brings death.", the literal Greek is from death to death. And then he says, "To the other, an aroma that brings life.", or from life to life. We smell like something, and we smell different to different people. To some people, we smell like life, and to some people, we smell like death. And here's the deal, here's just what we get to take in, first of all, once again, take in, we've been given no commands yet. In verse 17, we are going to get a little bit of marching orders, but to this point, this is all about what God does. He does not say to us in this passage, be the aroma of Christ, he says, you are the aroma of Christ. This is something that God is doing, we are the aroma of Christ, but what He's telling us about the effect of this is that we end up both attracting and repelling people. Those who are being saved are drawn in as we reflect Jesus to them and those who are perishing are repelled by the message of Jesus. And if nothing else, what this partly means is, that we need to willingly accept that this will be the way our lives play out.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:42] Now I'll just say for most of us, the repelling part, that's the hard news. We're just like, I don't want to be the kind of person that repels others. I don't want to be the sort of person that people are looking at me and saying, I want nothing to do with you because of your faith in Jesus. This is hard for some of us, but I do also want to throw in, especially in our very polarized society, there are some of you that are probably like, nah, I'm okay with it, I'm okay with repelling people. In fact, some of you have no problem with being the sort of person that you come back at the end of the day, and you pat yourself on the back for all of your courage because you told the bold truth to anybody who asked, or maybe didn't even ask, about what their problem is. Here's the deal, the hard truth that we get in this passage is, that if we are really living for Jesus, there will be people who are drawn to Jesus because of us, and there will be people who are repelled because of us. If people are only sort of tepidly drawn in, and nobody is ever repelled, nobody ever gets upset with you, you're probably soft-pedaling things, you're probably not telling the true gospel story. But if no one has ever drawn in, if you're looking at your life and you're like, yeah, I draw the lines, but I'm not seeing people attracted, then you're also not doing something right because people should be drawn. This is the message of life, this is the good news of the Gospel, and that same smell for some people is going to bring them in and for other people, it's going to turn them away.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:23] I don't know a good parallel, maybe garlic is the right parallel here. Anybody here, I'll be honest, when I smell garlic, I get stoked. If anybody has ever asked me, is there too much garlic on this, the answer is always no. I don't know how Karina feels about it, but the answer is always no. Some of you are like garlic, that's the worst thing ever. So we both could smell the same thing and have violently different reactions. There are going to be people who smell your life, and they say, that smells like life, I want in. And there will be people who smell your life, and they'll say, that smells like death, I want nothing to do with it.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:23] Quick story. A friend of mine named Jonathan, this was a story from a long time ago, but it really stuck with me. It was back when he was in college and he had a group of friends that he was going on a road trip with and he was the only Christian in the group, four guys in the car, a couple of guys in the front seat, and then him and I don't remember his other friend's name, let's say his name was Bill, so Jonathan and Bill are in the back. Now Bill was a friend of Jonathan's, but was just a big partier, he was trying to fill up something that was broken inside of him with drinking and with parties. And so even as they were starting this road trip, he was kind of hung over and he was not quite all there. And as they proceeded on the road trip, Bill just turned to Jonathan and just said, I just feel like my life is empty. I'm trying to fill it up with all this partying and all this activity, I just feel empty inside. And he knew that Jonathan was a believer, so he started asking him, you know, what is it, really help me understand what it is that you believe? And Jonathan was like, okay, and started walking through the Gospel, started telling him about the idea that we're all sinners and we're all estranged from God because of our sin, but this is what Jesus has done for us through this sacrifice on the cross. And He started walking through all of this, and as he's walking through the Gospel, one of the guys in the front seat turns back and says something sort of mocking to Jonathan about his beliefs. And when this front seat person turns back and mocks Jonathan and what he's saying, Bill, who's sitting next to Jonathan, says to the guy in the front seat, shut up! And then he points to Jonathan and he says, what he's saying makes sense. In the same car, the same message smelled like death and smelled like life, and Bill gave his life to Jesus, embraced Jesus by faith because it was the aroma of life, and he ended up being the aroma of life to others. If we are just being who God has called us to be, we will attract and will rejoice in that, and we'll also repel and will trust God in that.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:02] And look at the question he asks here at the end of verse 16. And in a way, it's a rhetorical question, he says, "Who is equal to such a task?" He is talking about, we are weak, we're frail, we're still in the battle, we're still struggling, and we're not terribly impressive. He's saying this is what God's going to do, God is going to lead us at a victory parade and then he's going to spread the knowledge of him through us, "Who is equal to such a task?". Well, the ultimate answer is no one's equal to such a task, but in verse 17, Paul is going to tell us what we do with this privileged role that God has given us.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:36] Verse 17 says, "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit." And if you don't know what peddle means, this is the idea of sort of a slimy salesman, sort of like a clever salesman. And if you've been around a clever salesman, you know that what they try to do is they try to really play up the benefits and they try to hide the costs. Until you get to the point that you're signing something, that you're like, oh, I didn't realize, I thought that sticker price was what I was going to get, I didn't realize how many extra things there were here. Paul says, we don't hide the cost of following Jesus, we don't try to convince people and trick people into following Jesus, and he says, for profit. Because often the reason that people are doing that, are playing up the upsides and hiding the costs, when Jesus said Consider the cost, is because those people want a greater following and more fame and more people around them.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:38] There is a whole wing of Christianity in the United States, and in many places, that's called prosperity theology. That's what this is, they are peddling the word of God, they are trying to be salesman, slickly emphasizing all of the great prayers that God is going to answer for you without ever talking about the cost of discipleship, without ever talking about the idea that we are sacrificing all because we trust Jesus with everything. He says, that's not what we do, if we're going to be equal to such a task, that's not what we do. Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, he says here's what we do, in Christ we speak, that is the main thing that we're told to do in this, in Christ we speak. Now, Paul's an apostle, so he obviously had a big special role, that was a big part of his ministry. But broadly, if we're talking about all Christians here, he's saying this is what we do, we just tell people about Jesus through our lives, and through our words, whether it's our kids and our grandkids, our neighbors, our classmates, or the people that we work with, we just speak about Christ, we tell people about Jesus. And he says, we do this in three ways, in Christ we speak in three ways.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:52] First of all, in Christ, we speak before God, and what this means is basically we act like God is watching when we talk. We act like God is listening. Have you ever been in a conversation about somebody, and then that person walks up and suddenly you're thinking, I'm going to talk about them differently because they're right here? In Christ, we speak before God. When we're telling people about Jesus, we have the absolute recognition that God is listening and we are living to please Him, not anybody else.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:27] We speak before God. Number two, he says, we speak with sincerity. This means that we speak the truth, we tell the whole truth, and it also means that we live our lives in a way that demonstrates that we actually do believe this. We proceed in our lives with the kind of sincerity that shows that we actually really do believe that this is true.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:27] In Christ, we speak before God as if He is looking, with sincerity, and finally, he says, as those sent from God. In other words, it's not our message to the world, it's God's message to the world that He sent us out to give. We are the aroma of Christ, but do you know what some of us like to do? Some of us like to grab our own perfume and sort of improve the aroma. Like, all right, let me just do something to take the edge off this so that people smell something good. So I'm going to go before and I'm just going to sort of improve the aroma, improve the scent as we go forward. This shouldn't need to be said, but let's just all take this in, God doesn't need your help with this. God doesn't need our help improving the scent, and in every culture that any human being has ever lived in, there are certain things about the Gospel that are terribly confrontational and countercultural. If you are talking to anybody today about the idea that we, as believers in Jesus, we believe that we are so sinfully estranged from God that our only hope is the sacrificial death of God's Son, some people are going to be repelled. So we go forward with our own perfume and we're like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, let's kind of cover that part up. And our culture right now, if we're talking about lots of different sinful areas, but especially ones that surround the idea of sexuality and the idea of identity-related to sexuality, we want to cover that up, we want to grab some perfume and just make that scent a little bit more appealing. God doesn't need your help with the aroma. And the powerful thing is that again and again, we see people drawn to the Gospel of Jesus when it's proclaimed with sincerity and truth. God doesn't need us to step forward and improve the message that He's given. When we get our marching orders here, after being told, here's what God does, God spreads the aroma through us, here's what happens, people are attracted or repelled. He says, here's what I want you to do, I want you just simply to speak the truth of the Gospel as if God is listening with full sincerity, and then as if it's God's message and not your message. And when we do all of this, we get to take on the amazing task of showing the glory of God to the world through our frailty.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:23] I just want to ask you to do something right now as you're thinking, think about the times that God has really worked through you. That you could look back and say, wow, God really used me in a great way there to either draw somebody to salvation, or to help somebody when they were hurting, or to encourage somebody when they were down. You might have some times in your head that you can think right now, yeah, all right, I've had some times that God has used me. And I'm going to bet that the more you think about those times, the more you'll realize that what God was using was your weaknesses and your failures to actually propel somebody else closer to Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:00] I mean, quick thing, this is just an aside behind the curtain real quick. I can never predict how people are going to respond to the sermons I give on Sundays. There are times that I come into Sunday, and I feel like I am ready, things really came together this week, this is going to be a good one. If there was some game show that was about pastors competing with each other, this is the one I'd send in there as my representation, you know, I just feel like this is really good. And then there are other times that I show up on Sundays and I'm like, I'm going to be proclaiming God's word, I don't know if it quite came together. I'm still unsure about some of the elements of it, and I consistently have the experience of people coming up and saying, that was God's word to me that day. And I end up saying that one, like that sermon, that's the one you're talking about. I got done with that and kind of felt like, well, you know, I didn't totally lay an egg, but I mean, all right. God consistently works through our weaknesses.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:59] One other story, this happened to me several years ago, but it was such a powerful example that I want to share it with you. I was in a bookstore, which shows it was a long time ago because it was a bookstore, I was in a bookstore and there was somebody kind of sitting across from me from where I was, and I wanted to be the aroma of Christ, so I started a conversation with him. And the funny thing was, there is never a point in the conversation where I said I'm a Christian, but he figured it out pretty quickly by the way the conversation was going, and he was talking about big philosophical ideas. And I felt like, I'm a smart guy. I can keep up with him on this. So when we talk about the big ideas, I'd kind of give a Christian response and we were talking back and forth and I was constantly surprised that when I was giving what I thought were really good, solid, strong, true answers, he was not budging an inch, that they were just falling flat. I mean, this was the kind of discussion, if somebody was videotaping it, they would have put it on YouTube and, you know, Christian destroys atheists in four quick minutes. I was like, I'm killing it right now, nothing, just no response, it didn't make sense to him. I sort of gave up on it and was like, all right, nothing's going to happen, this guy just isn't willing to listen. The conversation took a different route then, it just sort of got very casual, and he started talking about the idea that he had, for a long term, been estranged from his sister. And I ended up just talking again, at this point, I'd given up, nothing was going to happen, God was not going to work through this in my mind. I just started talking about an estranged relationship in my life, and the pain of it, and the frustration and what it looked like to really try to walk in forgiveness, even though I felt like I was the one who was wronged, and when it came to a point of fighting against bitterness and enjoying the peace that forgiveness could bring. And I was just casually talking about this, and then suddenly I looked over and looked across at him, and he had just this dumbfounded look on his face, sort of like somewhere in between, I don't get it, and that's really cool. He had this shocked look on his face in hearing me talk through all of this, and the words that he said were, wow, I sure wish I could experience that. It was not when I was strong that the Spirit was drawing him in, it was when I was weak that the Spirit was drawing him in. And once again, I'm going to bet, if you think about the times that God has used you in your life, you're going to find that that's consistently the case.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:32] Brothers and sisters, we don't have to take on the weight of the world, that we need to be strong in the eyes of the world. We get to accept our weaknesses, we get to embrace our weaknesses, in fact, we get to anticipate that it's going to be primarily through our weaknesses, through our failures, and through our frailty, that God is going to show off his great power and his great glory. And so each week during the series, we get to come together, and we get to reenter into the reality that God shows the world His glory through the frailty of his servants.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:11] I'm going to ask you right now to stand as I pray for us. After I pray, I'm going to give a word of benediction, but as you're standing and I'm just going to invite pastors and elders and any members of the prayer team, now would be a great time just to come up front, because part of what I'm going to pray for us is that God will lead us to be in a position where we will not hide our weaknesses, where we will not pretend that we're stronger than we are, but where we will embrace that when we are seen as weak, that's when God is going to be shown as strong.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:46] Let me pray for us. Father, thank you so much that we don't have to take on the burden of making you look good through our strength. Father, we come to you as people who have baggage, as people who have weaknesses, as people that have physical ailments and temptations and frustrations and failures, we come to you, and we thank you that you have forgiven us in Jesus. You have poured out Your Grace, and you lead us in victory, even though you had to snatch us from the enemy to get us into that parade. Thank you that you work through our weaknesses, and Father, I pray that you keep us from the temptation of trying to show ourselves to be strong and adequate when you want your glory to be shown through our weaknesses. Father, lead us to the relief of that, to the joy in that, and lead us to celebrate when you show your glory to the world through the weakness of your servants. And Father, I pray this morning that if there's anyone that needs to come forward and confess a weakness, confess a failure, confess a way that they're in the battle and that they're struggling, that shame will not keep them from that, but that you allow them to experience the freedom that Jesus brings. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:10] Just as a word of benediction, I want to read, a quick background, I want to read the most famous passage of Second Corinthians. It's not the one that we're going to cover in this series, but it's where Paul talks about the thorn in the flesh, which isn't random, it's right in line with this theme. Second Corinthians chapter 12 verses 9 will be our benediction. He says, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." Amen? Amen. God bless you today.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848