Limitations

Pembroke Lodge.
Pembroke Lodge.

Satan limited by God:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  –  NIV Genesis 3:1

Disguised as a crafty serpent, Satan came to tempt Eve. Satan at one time was an angel who rebelled against God and was thrown out of heaven.  As a created being, Satan has definite limitations.  Although he is trying to tempt everyone away from God, he will not be the final victor.  In 3:14, 15, God promises that Satan will be crushed by one of the woman’s offspring, the Messiah.

Not an excuse to stop serving God:

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 

“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” – NIV Judges 6:14-16

“I will be with you,” God told Gideon, and God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise of strength, Gideon made excuses.  Seeing only his limitations and weaknesses, he failed to see how God could work through him.

Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Although God promises us the tools and strength we need, we often make excuses.  But reminding God of our limitations only implies that he does not know all about us or that he has made a mistake in evaluating our character.  Don’t spend time making excuses.  Instead [communication] spend it doing what God wants.

Putting out fleeces limits God’s answers for us:

Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request.  Allow me one more test with the fleece.  This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.”  –  NIV Judges 6:39

After seeing the miracle of the wet fleece, why did Gideon ask for another miracle? Perhaps he thought the results of the first test could have happened naturally.  A thick fleece could retain moisture long after the sun had dried the surrounding ground.  “Putting out fleeces” is a poor decision-making method.  Those who do this put limitations on God.  They ask him to fit their expectations.  The results of such experiments are usually inconclusive and thus fail to make us any more confident about our choices.  Don’t let a “fleece” become a substitute for God’s wisdom that comes through Bible study and prayer.

God works through those who recognise theirs:

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no-one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army.  O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”  –  NIV 2 Chronicles 14:11

If you are facing battles you feel you can’t possibly win, don’t give up. In the face of vast hordes of enemy soldiers, Asa prayed for God’s help, recognising his powerlessness against such mighty army.  The secret of victory is first to admit the futility of unaided human effort and then to trust God to save.  His power works best through those who recognise their limitations (2 Corinthians 12:9).  It is those who think they can do it all on their own who are in the greatest danger.

God not bound by human limitations:

For a thousand years in your sight

are like a day that has just gone by,

or like a watch in the night. – NIV Psalm 90:4

Moses reminds us that a thousand years are like a day to the Lord. God is not limited by time.  It’s easy to get discouraged when years pass and the world doesn’t get better.  We sometimes wonder if God is able to see the future.  But don’t assume that God has our limitations.  God is completely unrestricted by time.  Because he is eternal, we can depend on him.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.”  –  NIV Luke 1:18

When told he would have a son, Zechariah doubted the angel’s word. From Zechariah’s human perspective, his doubts were understandable – but with God, anything is possible.  Although Zechariah and Elizabeth were past the age of childbearing, God gave them a child.  It is easy to doubt or misunderstand what God wants to do in our lives.  Even God’s people sometimes make the mistake of trusting their intellect or experience rather than God.  When tempted to think that one of God’s promises is impossible, remember his work throughout history.  God’s power is not confined by narrow perspective or bound by human limitations.  Trust him completely.

Believers’ only temporary:

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  –  NIV 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

We all face limitations. Those who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities are especially aware of this.  Some may be blind, but they can see a new way to live.  Some may be deaf, but they can hear God’s Good News.  Some may be lame, but they can walk in God’s love.  In addition, they have the encouragement that those disabilities are only temporary.  Paul tells us that we all will be given new bodies when Christ returns and that these bodies will be without disabilities, never to die or become sick.  This can give us hope in our suffering.

 

©Kingsway International 1973.

 

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