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Episode #61 – Strength In Weakness

February 17, 2008

with Martha Kilpatrick and hosted by John Enslow

(J) Well today’s podcast is going to come out a little later than normal. I had a surprise birthday party, me and my friend Ed, both are two days apart, and we’re both turning forty. We were led blindly down to Atlanta, and then I find out that it’s a birthday party. And the funniest thing is I’m kind of a secret spy and have every clue of what’s going on usually, and I had no idea, I didn’t have any idea five minutes after I’d been in the party, and they’d already said surprise and I saw the balloons and everything. And Ed, who’s in the military and he’s very aware.
(M) An air-force pilot…got to be savvy.
(J) Yeah, and he didn’t know either, and so he kind of had the same experience; it kind of went straight over his head. So we were both kind of dumbfounded. Our birthdays aren’t until next month, mine’s on the fifteenth and his is on the thirteenth. So because of the surprise we weren’t able to get the podcast up and out, but it’ll be coming out today.
Martha you have something on your heart today, and I’d like to join you in discussing it. What is it today?
(M) Well, I’m going back to the two trees, John. We can really never say anything is a conclusion. What we’ve been going through, all of us in our own lives is a work of God, and I’ve realized what the over-riding, probably the work of the cross is, everyday in everything, is to strike our power. That’s what the trees are about, the sin of independence, of thinking your own thoughts, makes you think you’re God; that’s the delusion from the tree of death, is to think you’re God, that you know, and everyone should do what you say because ‘you know’. So you access everything. I think the real crisis, especially in this age is that we will not wait. You said that about some situation the other day that it was the unwillingness simply to wait, to wait until God speaks before you think, before you ponder, to wait for God to move and to not go ahead and move and fix it. At the end of the temptation, after God declares the judgment, the Lord says they will be like one of us knowing good and evil. Now they did not become God, but they became gods. And when we become gods, in competition with God, we enter the realm where there’s death. He is God, and He’s the only one. Over and over He said to Israel, this will happen so that you will know that I am the Lord, and there is no other. So there’s no other that has the right to power. And we can say the trees are dependence on the Tree of Life, and independence in the tree of death. But don’t you see, John, that God works with us to take away our power and our ability.
(J) Absolutely, it’s always a power struggle , who’s is going to be in power?  And I guess that was perfectly seen in the movie “The Lord Of The Rings”, and the corruption of power, and the temptation of power, and how power really when we do gain power, we go a little crazy. So yeah,  I believe you’re exactly right; we have a power struggle, and when we do seize it, and it is a seizing of it, a taking up power, to take power, there’s nothing but death.
(M) Well this morning I was in a Psalm of David about where Saul began to fear David. I think hatred really has at it’s bottom envy and fear, because it says Saul saw that the Lord was with David and that Jonathan loved him.  And because he was loved, and because the Lord was with him, it says Saul became even more afraid of David. And then soon he commissioned Jonathan and his servants to kill David. And the difference between Saul and David is interesting. Watchman Nee says, don’t take a position…a Christian must not take a position of political power. I don’t think that’s a law, I think God can transcend that and call people Himself. But I do think the principle is valid. Saul took power as King, and he began to abuse the power. He took power that wasn’t his, to be a priest, to transcend God’s command.  He spared the Amalekites that later would have wiped out all the Jews in the world.
(J) He became drunk on the power.
(M) Yes he did. And that’s the danger of having any kind of position, but David was so broken and hounded, and so had to see the abuse of power, before he could be trusted to be the King who is the model for Christ. David knew the principle, he wrote in the Psalms, “Twice I have heard this, power belongs to God.” So David, except in a couple of instances, amazingly did not assert power. He came from a man who killed Goliath, a man who killed a hundred Philistines to gain the hand of Michal. And you have said to me as a man, that to be without power is a terrible position. But see, John, when you’re in the Spirit, you have the Spirit’s power, but it’s not you. And I’m not saying this is different for any of us, but I think it’s hard for a man to come to that place.  It’s quite a miracle to me, because a man is supposed to be strong. Right? 
(J) Yeah, yeah.
(M) For David, and Paul in the New Testament, to come to the place of acceptance that they had no power, is an enormous example to all of us. And David lived in weakness. Paul lived in weakness.  He said I came among you in fear and trembling. But that is what God is after in the cross, is our control. And I’ve gone through it.  I’ve talked about it before, but I’m back on it because it is so boiled down.  God’s dealings with us are so boiled down to the issue of power. And Jesus’ three temptations, I saw it years ago, were about power; power over matter, to turn stones into bread; the power over man to rule over kingdoms; and the power over God to force God’s hand. We really want power over God, and that’s what the cross comes to kill, so that we live in utter dependence for everything on the Tree of Life.
(J) I was reading the other morning about how they said of Paul, you’re so bold, and you’re so presumptuous is what they were really trying to say.  You’re so bold in your letters, but when you come to us you’re as timid as a mouse. And you know that’s the reality, you know? Who can write a bold e-mail, but can’t really say it out? But I don’t think his was a weakness, a failing weakness.  It wasn’t a failure of his character that he was a weak person. I think that he was in such dependence, like I’ve seen you quite often, just utter dependence on God, and because you have that dependence on Him, you appear to those that do take up strength, as one that is weak. We’ve had a number of people that have responded to the Manna, and they see, I believe it’s those that are embracing their own weakness, and allowing themselves to be dependent on God, they see the strength in your weakness.
(M) Really?
(J) Absolutely.  They will mention it and they will make comment about it, and they will know where you’re at, because they too are embracing their own weakness.
(M) You can’t spot it unless you’re in it too.
(J) Well that’s exactly right.
(M) But it is the most frightening experience. And if you give your life to God, and if you give Him the right to your life, He will come after your sense of power over everything that is human and not divine. There is a tremendous power of the Spirit, and if we’re dependent enough, that power of the Spirit will rule in us, and be effective. But the conflict between human strength and power, human self-confidence and independence, and the helplessness that brings you to Life and power, as Paul said, I glory in my weakness. I know this subject, but ever it is a shock to me how God can find, and come after our strengths, and how much He wants utter weakness before Him. Rosemary Lokers in Honduras sent me this passage from Andrew Murray.  This is really about the trees.  “Man was not to have in himself a fountain of life or strength or happiness.  The ever living and only iving One was each moment to be the communicator to him of all that he needed. Man’s glory and blessedness was not to be independent or dependent upon himself,” That’s a power we’ve dealt with and talked about, depending on yourself. “But dependent on a God of such infinite riches and love, man was to have the joy of receiving every moment out of the fullness of God. This was his blessedness as an un-fallen creature; but when he fell from God, he was still more absolutely dependent on Him. There was not the slightest hope of his recovery out of the state of death. But God in His mercy and power… it is God alone who began the work of redemption, we didn’t originate it; it’s God alone who carries it on each moment in each individual believer. Even in the regenerate man there is no power of goodness in himself. He has and can have nothing that he does not each moment receive, and waiting on God is just as indispensable and must be just as continuous and unbroken as the breathing that maintains his natural life. Christians do not know their relation”, this is so critical, I want to emphasize it, “Christians do not know their relation to God of absolute poverty and helplessness. They have no sense of the need of absolute and unceasing dependence, or the unspeakable blessedness of continual waiting on God.” See John, that’s what it means, “blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom.” So when God strikes, we can know that it is to kill that natural adamic power and strength, and the resurrection life is out of, and dwelled on out of, and risen from, the death of our power. The whole conflict of the universe is about power; and who will have the power, and who is more ambitious for power. So it’s just what we’re on for this morning, but weakness is a blessed place to be, because it’s rest.
(J) Will it always look like foolishness to the world?
(M) Yes it will, because the world is in a madness for power. And the temptation of the enemy is to pick up power. And though some people might not approve of our liking “The Lord Of The Rings”, it is a revealing of every kind of human being of those who are noble, and those who are not noble. But everybody wanted power. And only the weak and childlike foolish ones could conquer it. Well, you know.  There are flaws in it.
(J) And of course they didn’t go through it unscathed. You know?
(M) That’s true.  There was great war about it, and war against the one who would refuse to use that power. If you used that power you’re fine.  You’re in Satan’s camp and he will support you. But if you refuse to use it, all hell comes after you.
(J) But if you do not use it, then all heaven is revealed in you.
(M) Yes. That’s the resurrection side.  That’s the life side. But I’ve been seeing, John, what do you have when you don’t have any power in yourself?
(J) Dependence.
(M) Exactly; so if you’re dependent you have the capacity to receive, and only in the capacity to receive can you gain all that life in God would give you. As Murray says… He’s way beyond, out there, beyond us; but he understood it was moment-by-moment receiving what you need.
(J) Well if you’re dependent, then your hands are open to receive, and if you’re in power your hands are gripped.
(M) In a fist, you just did a fist. I just said to the Lord because He’s crushing me lately, I just said to Him yesterday, please do not leave any semblance of this in me. It’s excruciating, but keep on, keep on. He’s preparing us for Eternity in this. And the glory is that….We really don’t believe that God will do it if we don’t. You’re shaking your head (Laughter); you really agree with that one don’t you? We really don’t believe that if we relax and lean on Him then nothing will happen.  It all depends on me. But if you do relax, the most incredible presence and power and manifestation of God comes through. And He does perform that which concerns me. So I know this is a message I go back to over and over again. If you don’t have any power what are you reduced to? Asking God.
(J) Right.
(M) Asking Him for everything, praying over everything, because you can fix nobody, you cannot fix yourself. When the Light comes in, the darkness is exposed and everything goes ‘kaflooie’. I’m so aware that God said to Jeremiah, tare down, destroy, wipe out, crush, and then build. And so when God comes in there’s a tremendous destruction and pockets of places where His Life has come. And it’s to destroy the strength to be other than God’s, the strength to try to be God, and all the various ways that we want to control and be God. You could boil down our ambition to that we want to be God.
(J) Why? Why do we want to be God?
(M) I think it’s in the adamic nature that we inherited; we were born wanting to be gods because that was the real choice; I will be God, or God will be God.  It boils down to that choice. The trees are named other things so that you have to discover from God himself what it’s really about; and what it’s really about is who’s going to be God? Am I? Or is He? And most of the time we vote for ourselves. And then we have to be broken from being God. And that was the process in David’s life.  He was so broken that when Absolam took his kingdom, he just walked away; that is incredible. The power and spiritual strength that really is power, is the power to yield to God, to believe Him, to be meek and humble. And I think I said last podcast that the trees could be named pride and humility, strength and weakness, life and death. God summed it up with life and death. And we have to find the things that are life and the things that are death. You’ve got bushels of insight about this.  May the Lord pull it out of you for this, because you’ve been a light too.
(J) I don’t think I’ll ever leave it, and I don’t think that I ever can leave it.
(M) It is the issue.
(J) It is the issue.
(M) Who will be God? So I want Him to conquer that in all of us. And He’s doing it in us corporately as a Body. It’s not just you and me.  It’s our whole world is understanding that it’s the issue of giving up and withdrawal.
 

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