It’s been said that “man’s extremities are God’s opportunities.” It’s not a Bible verse but a spiritual truth seen throughout the Bible.  What it means is that until we come to the end of ourselves and our resources and our fleshly attempts to solve the issues in our lives, God is then given a platform to work on our behalf. God will often allow us to get to the very end of ourselves in our current situations.  He will watch us fight and squirm. He will observe us struggle and wrestle until we come to the very end. He wants us at the place where we finally conclude it’s too much, where we just can’t take it anymore. It’s when we finally give up that God is given the opportunity to take over and do His work, showing His solution, revealing His salvation.

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Some take much longer in this process than others. Those of you who are seemingly stronger seem to actually suffer the misery longer than others until you finally give up. Pride holds back the hand of God.

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b (NKJV)

Jesus really illustrates this well for us as he teaches the parable of the young man who walked away from his dad (Luke 15:11-32).  The young man left so cocky and confident. He was rich with his dad’s money and full of dreams.  It didn’t take long for him to gather quite a few friends. Together they lived it up!  It’s not there that we read of him wanting to go home. Actually as Jesus shares the story it wasn’t after he lost all his money, or lost all of his friends, or after living in a serious famine, or having to find work, or taking the job of a Gentile, or feeding the pigs, or hunger pains, or loneliness, or the sadness that he decided to go home. It wasn’t any one of these things but ALL of them that were used to get him to come to the end.  Jesus says, “but when he came to himself…” (Luke 15:17). It took a lot! But when he did come home, his abba ran to him! Oh what a response!

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“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ‘ Luke 15:20-21 (NLT)

God, in His great love for me and his desire to mature me into the image of Christ, often allows me to get the place where I must acknowledge to Him and others that I’m helpless.  He wants me to see my feeble limitations so He allows me to take my own path until I’m at the end.  Some might be asking, Why?!  Why would God do that?  Why not just fix things right then and there?! Ha! I’m with you on that question!!

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Our gracious Heavenly Father wants me to throw myself completely upon Him. He wants me to fully commit myself and my situations in live to Him. He wants me to pray diligently seeking Him in deeper ways. He wants to reveal Himself strong and powerful. He wants me to recognize His delivering power. At the end of the day, and all the way through, He desires my lips to praise Him and give Him all the glory for the great things He has done! Charles Spurgeon puts it this way, “Never trust Him just a little. Never give Him only a part of your cares. Never rest just a portion of your trials on Him. Lean on Him with all your weight. Bring all the tons, pounds, and ounces and throw them all on God. Do not carry an extra ounce yourself. God loves His children to place their entire confidence in Him.”

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.  It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God. 2 Cor 3:4-5 (NLT)

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I know some of you have been really wrestling with the question, “God why have you allowed this to happen? Where is your help? Why won’t you stop it or them in my life?” Could it be that you’re still struggling in it? Could it be that you’re still trying in it? Are you still trying to manipulate and work things out for yourself? Are you not dead to yourself yet? As long as you have one idea left, God will watch. As long as you have one justifying thought, God will watch. As long as you are still thinking through how to fix it, God will watch, until finally you just give up and give in.

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 This is what he taught them: “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. Matt 5:2-3 (NLT)

If our plans really did work, if our maneuverings really did come to pass, if our reasoning and good explanations were successful we would be tempted to take the credit, to take part of the glory.  We would tend to take pride in our part. I can hear it now, “Oh yes God did the work, but not without me!  I’m sure He’s very grateful to have me helping him out a little!” Before You know like the little engine that could. So many of us were raised reading that book. In it we learned if we just keep trying, if we don’t give up, if we say to ourselves I know I can, I know I can, then surely success is around the corner. But that is not the way of the Lord. The way of the Lord is to recognize and admit that we cannot!  In our own strength we are powerless.  We’re saying I knew I could do it. I knew I could work it out. But when we get to the end, and give up, and God rescues us, and delivers us, and saves us how easy and joyful it is to glorify our faithful God!

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Is that where you are today? On the way to your extremity? It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Surrender. Throw up your hands in surrender. Kneel to your knees in humility. It’s when you come to the end of yourself, the Father is there waiting with open arms to act, help, and deliver you!

Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart.  But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore his people return here, And waters of a full cup are drained by them. And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?” Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me– Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. Psalms 73:1-17 (NKJV)

NOTE: I’m especially grateful for Pastor Chuck Smith for introducing me to these powerful thoughts surrounding the work of God in our lives. He is greatly missed but heaven awaits us!

 

“You Can Trust God With Your Life” 2 Samuel 17:1-14 from TEACHING BEGINS 37:48.