November 22, 2009
“You’re only as strong as your weakest moment.”
We’ve all heard that statement. And while true, we often miss the potential behind those words. Our weakest moment doesn’t necessarily have to be our greatest defeat.
In this message, Ed Young shows us what lies beyond our weakest moments. And he reveals the fact that our weakest moment may be the very moment when God can show us what it takes to experience a life of purpose, hope and success.
INTRO: Good morning, good morning, good morning. Do you have something I can put my Bible on? That’d be great. How many people in here like to fish? Anybody like to fish? I love fishing. I really love it. And one of my favorite things to do is fly fish. So, I brought one of my fly rods up here because sometimes when people think about fly fishing, they don’t really understand the essence of it. When you fly fish, unlike other types of fishing, you’re actually casting the line. You’re not casting the weight of the lure or the bait, you’re casting the line. When you fly fish, a lot of people do it in salt water, like I do. I love fishing, especially fly fishing in salt water. When you fly fish, as you cast the line, you have to get the line out, obviously, to where the fish are, and it has to kind of roll out and it plops down right in front of the creature that you’re hunting.
Here is the fly lines. See that? See the yellow stuff? Believe me, there’s no hook on it. Here’s the fly line. No, I’m not going to hook anybody. And this is the leader. So the yellow is the fly line, and this clear stuff is the what? Leader.
So, the weight of the line goes down the leader, and if you had a fly on the end of it, it would kind of roll out and, of course, you catch the fish.
Well, here’s what’s so tricky about the leader. This leader is made up of different types of line, different weights of line. This section is about fifty-pound test line. What do I mean when I say fifty-pound test line? At fifty pounds, POP, it’ll break.
The next one is made of about forty-pound test line. Thirty-pound test line, at the end, it’s only sixteen-pound test. Isn’t that crazy?
So the weakest point of this line is what? Sixteen-pound test. If you can pull sixteen pounds, which most people can, it’s going to pop. So, you hook a ginormous fish, a fish that weighs, let’s say, eighty pounds, you’ve got to be very, very carful. You can’t pull more than sixteen pounds.
So, as cool as this outfit is, as strong as this outfit is, as costly as this outfit is, it’s only as good as its weakest link. It’s only sixteen pound test. And you’re the same, and so am I. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.
Have you ever thought about that? We’re only as strong as our weak point. A chain is only as strong as its weakest point. A rope is only as strong as its weakest point. A man is only as strong as his weakest point. A woman is only as strong as her weakest point.
That sounds fascinating to think about it. It sounds, in some respects, cruel. Some of you, right now, be going, “Well, hey Ed, are we-are we sort of set up for failure? I mean, I’m only as strong as my weakest point? I mean, how can I really overcome my weaknesses?”
Because the Scriptures say that the enemy knows our weaknesses. He knows yours, he knows mine, probably better than we know them ourselves. How do we live this victorious life, how do we achieve this kind of purpose when we’re only fishing with sixteen-pound test. How do we do it? What do we do? Those are towering-towering questions.
But I’ve got some great, great news for you today. I’ve got some wonderful words of wisdom for you today. You can survive, thrive and shore up your weakest point. And your weakest point can be your greatest point of strength as you discover the kind of life that the Lord wants you to live.
But again, let’s face the music. All of us face weak points. All of us face areas where we’re tempted and tried. And when I think about this whole genre – this whole train of thought – this whole vibe, my mind rushes back to the book of Genesis.
Now, the book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Genesis. That’s when the whole thing started. God, you know, created and made the earth, and we know some of the major players. Adam and Eve, you’ve heard about those people. You’ve heard of Cain and Able. You’ve probably heard of Abraham. Well, I’m going to talk to you about a guy who really struggled in this weak moment.
And maybe right now, let me stop, maybe you’re going, “Ed, wow, that’s where I am right now. I’m struggling with a weak moment. I mean, I’ve got about a sixteen-pound test, and I feel like I’ve got an eighty-pound fish on the line. I’m struggling with this weak moment.”
If that’s you, wow, today’s talk is tailor-made for you. Because the guy I want to talk to you about was named Esau.
Esau had a brother named Jacob. Esau was the oldest. Jacob was the youngest. He had a couple of parents that you probably heard of. Their names were Isaac and Rebecca. They’re found in the book of Genesis, specifically, Genesis 25. If you ever think about the fact that you might have come from a dysfunctional family, your dysfunction doesn’t come close to some of the families in Scripture. Especially, this family.
So, you’ve got the parents, Isaac and Rebecca. You’ve got the kids we’re going to talk about. Jacob, who was a mama’s boy. You know what I mean when I say that, don’t you? And then you’ve got Esau, who was a daddy’s boy. Esau, the Bible says was all hairy and rough and gruff and he was a Copenhagen dipping, beer sipping guy. He liked to go out and hunt and-and trap things and-and-and bring home the bacon for the family to eat. He was the man. And Isaac loved Esau.
Well, Jacob was the mama’s boy. And Rebecca loved Jacob. Isaac knew the score. Isaac knew that the blessings and everything was kind of around Jacob. However, when you were the first born in Scripture, you’ve got the inheritance, you got the special anointing.
So, Esau was carrying that around with him. One day, Esau got up early. Had a grand-slam breakfast, and went out and did some hunting. As he was out in the fields, you know, there’s something about going outdoors. If you’re fishing, or if you’re hunting, or whatever, it just makes you hungry. If you’re riding your bike, or if you’re running, and if you’re outdoors, there’s something about it, you get really, really, really hungry. So, when Esau came back from a day of hunting, Jacob began to mess with him.
Now, the name Jacob, this is the interesting, in the Hebrew, means “supplanter”. It means cheater. And this guy did that. Jacob was at home cooking this big ol’ pot of beans. And Esau had the mantle of the birthright. He was the first born, he had it going on. And his nostrils began to flare, as he smelled those beans… How many people in here like beans? Man I love me some beans. Oh I love beans. Beans. Ya, I love ‘em! So, he smelled those beans, probably beans and rice, rice and beans, maybe a little bit of plentils, and he got closer and closer. And his boy Jacob was making this big honkin’ pot of beans.
Esau goes, “I want some beans. I love me some beans.”
You know what Jacob said, “Oh, you can have the beans. You can have a big ol’ piping hot bowl of beans, if you’ll trade me your birthright, your anointing, your blessing for the beans. You’re the oldest, I’m the youngest.”
Again, Jacob, cheater, supplanter, he said, “Uh, come on, man. Just give me your birthright!”
A weak moment. I mean we’re talking about something big here. Your birthright? A weak moment! Sixteen-pound test. As strong as Esau was, he was only as strong as this weak moment.
And we’re going to find out something. We’re defined, so often, by our weakest moment. If you don’t believe me, ask the governor of South Carolina – Governor Sanford. If you don’t believe me, ask about Michael Jackson and some of the things that he did personally. As great as Michael was, as musically gifted and as creative as he was – he was the best! But when you see these documentaries about him, they always go back to what? Those weak moments.
So, we’re defined and refined and we can be confined by our weak moment.
And you can feel the tension. You can feel the tenor. You’re like, “Man, Esau – don’t give away your birthright! Just because your nostrils are flaring. Don’t give away your birthright for some plantains and some rice and beans. Don’t do it!”
He did. He did. He did it. He gave it to Jacob. And Jacob was thinking, “What an idiot!”
And here’s Esau chowing down. He’s like a bunch of sharks. His eyes rolling back in his head – and it’s a feeding frenzy.
We’re only as strong as our weakest moment. We’re only as strong as our weakest moment. Isn’t it interesting? Yeah, we’ve got strength, we’ve got ability, we’ve got giftedness on one hand. But on the other, all of us have those weak areas. And the enemy knows – I’ll say it again, those weak areas.
Think about Jesus. Just for a second. Think about Jesus. Jesus, after his baptism, after his spiritual high point, the Bible says what? He was driven out into the wilderness and spent, Jesus I’m talking about, forty days and nights fasting. And the Bible says after that time, the enemy came and began to tempt him at his weakest moment. He didn’t tempt Jesus on the first day. “Hey, Jesus, you’re just out into the desert like for a day, ok now…”
No, no. the enemy didn’t come to Esau after the grand-slam breakfast. He waited until what? He had hunted all day long. The enemy came to Jesus and began to tempt him after that time. After those forty days.
What do we do in a situation like that? So many people, so many of us turn into Esau. Because Esau mortgaged his future for that passion. Passion.
Our passions drive us to those weak moments, don’t they? Those fleshly desires. Those desires are God-given. But what can happen is a God-given desire can go haywire.
For example, the fires of lust can burn to such a degree that we lose our equilibrium. And the fires burn up everything around us. We’re not thinking about the implications of the decision. We’re not thinking about the future.
When those weak moments strike, when those times hit you where you feel like you only have sixteen-pound test attached to you, and the whole situation, borrow some pain from the future.
Think about, “Ok, if I do this, if I take a step into this situation, if I hook up with this individual, if I go there or try that, what are the implications? What are the ramifications? What is the situation in the future, what is that going to look like and feel like if I do this particular thing.” That’s why all of our decisions must be in-tense. Say in-tense with me. In-tense.
Based on the past, thinking about the present, and especially looking to the future, what is the wisest thing to do.
That’s why Jesus told his disciples, remember this? He said, in Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray.” He didn’t say just pray. In your mind, ask, based on my past and now, thinking about my present, and thinking about the future – what’s the wisest thing to do? We need to be very, very careful with our passions.
That’s why when it comes to these weak moments, halt! Stand up and do that with me. Everybody – stand up. Ok, you’ve got to be coordinated, you see. Ok, watch me do it. One-two-three, [stomp-stomp] halt! Ok, so just kind of do a little jump. You got to go boom-boom halt. One-two-three [stomp-stomp] Halt! Do it again. [stomp-stomp] Halt! That’s very good! Thank you!
Someone told me this, and I’ve never forgotten this principle. We all have weak moments, we all have those times, you know, we’re attached to sixteen-pound test. Don’t get too hungry – H. Don’t get too angry – A. Don’t get too lonely – L. and don’t get too tired. H-A-L-T!
Think about, access, study, know your life. Try not to get too hungry, too angry, too lonely or too tired. Because when we have those situations and those feelings and those conditions, and when they all converge, when there’s a fusion of them – what can happen? That is when we can get into a weak moment.
David, at the peak and pinnacle of his career. David had it going on. David, a man, the Bible says, after God’s own heart. He should have been on the battlefield. What was he doing? He was walking around the top of his home. And he knew where Bathsheba lived. That beautiful, biblical girl. And he saw her, he lusted after her in a weak moment. He mortgaged his future. He didn’t think about his past, the present. The fires of lust just consumed everything. He committed adultery with her. Had her husband killed. A year later, he came clean, yeah, God forgave him. However, the Bible says the sword never left his house.
God will remove and forgive the sin, but he’s not going to remove the consequences of the sin. This is a talk to young people. This is a talk to all of us, because many of us say, “You know what – I’ve messed up in a weak area. You know what? I’ve stepped over the line. You know what? I’ve tripped up. You know what? I did maybe what David did, or I understand what Esau did. I understand that…”
From this day forward though friends, say, “You know what, I realize my weaknesses and I believe God can turn my weaknesses into strengths.”
Because when we do the HALT principle, when we surround ourselves with other fallen and fallible people, other brothers and sisters, other believers to shore us up, to help us, people that will speak truth into our lives and scripture into our lives. We can stand and have victory over those weak moments. And those weak moments can be like loose change in a jar.
Illus: You ever come home guys, at night, and you just kind of put your loose change on the dresser. Or maybe you throw it in a jar. Have you ever done that? If you do that for a while – one day you look and you’re like, “Wow! I’ve got a lot of money!” It’s like
That’s the way these victories will be, as we face and have victory over these weak moments. It’s like loose change in a jar. It builds and it builds and the interest compounds daily, and we get stronger and more victorious and every time we have a victory in a weak area – we step up the ladder. We go to another level of character development.
So, surround yourself with people. Understand the HALT principle. Make sure you – you discover the intense decisions. Have people in your life when the fires begin to burn and consume, to like fire-extinguish those flames so you can see the way God wants you to see. But passion is real.
Something else that causes us to fall in weak moments would be the pursuit, wouldn’t you say, of the almighty dollar. The Bible does not say money is the root of all evil. The Bible never says that. Now and then I hear people say, “Oh, you know money is the root of all evil.” That’s not true. The Bible says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. It’s the love of it – it’s the LOVE of it.
And I’ve talked to large blocks of people in my life who have mortgaged their future because of the love of money. They make decisions on the down-low. They make decisions as they exaggerate. They make decisions as they contort and twist the truth just to make an extra dollar. Just to get a little bit – a little bit ahead. A weak moment. By this pursuit of the almighty dollar.
I think fear is something else that drives us to make some wacky decisions during weak moments, don’t you? Fear. Remember Simon Peter? Simon Peter was like this guy, he was telling Jesus how strong he was and he was in the garden when they came to arrest Jesus. And he pulls the sword out –cuts the guys ear off. You remember that? This is the first instance that we have of Benihana’s in Scripture. Simon Peter cut that guy’s ear off.
Then, later, he was hanging out by the fire. Jesus had been arrested, and here’s Peter, just rough, tough fisherman! Just like, you know, standing around the fire, warming himself, and a young girl begins to go, “Hey- aren’t you with Jesus? I think I’ve seen you with Jesus.”
Simon Peter cowers in fear, totally petrified, cusses a blue streak, denies he ever even knew Jesus.
So if you can identify with Simon Peter, I think we all can, we’re in good company. Fear called him to fold, caused him to fold, like a cheap accordion. That’s what can happen in the-in the weak moments.
Well, let’s go back to Esau. Esau, when he realized what he had done, when he realized he had sold his birthright for some rice and beans and maybe a couple of plantains, you know what he did? He went through bitter remorse. Tears. And all the convulsions that so many of us have gone through during a time of a weak moment, during a time of a fumbling of the ball.
Can’t you hear the echoes of his scream? There’s echoes in the screams of bedrooms and hotel rooms and board rooms and cars and homes and apartments throughout this area. The remorse, the tears, the shame, the guilt of fumbling the ball, of sinning, of selling your birthright in a weak moment. We’re only as strong as our weakest moment.
And if we’re not careful, we can be defined, confined or refined by the weak moments. And sadly, the Bible says, even though Esau cried and went through all of the contortions and all of the crying before the Lord, the Bible said he never, ever, ever got the blessing that he wanted. Don’t block the blessings of God.
Today, resolve, “You know what, I’m not going to block the blessings of God, I’m going to receive the blessings of God.” We’ve got to realize that God has our best interests in mind. That’s why he’s put these guidelines and guardrails around our lives.
Are you facing a weak moment? I’m talking to students now. Are you facing the weak moment. You will face that weak moment. We got to be solid. We have to have ourselves surrounded by the right people. We’ve got to say, “You know what, I’m not going to get too hungry, too angry, too lonely, too tired. I’m going to make intense decisions based on the past, thinking about the present and looking toward the future. I’m not going to do this, even though it’s tempting, even though my passions are burning. Even though I want to pursue and make an extra buck. Even though I’m freaked out with fear … don’t do it. Do what God wants you to do.
“But Ed, uh, I’ve fallen in a weak moment. I mean is there – is there hope for me? Is there a future for me? Is there a situation out there for me? Is there still an agenda for me?” The answer is yes.
God is about forgiveness. He is about reconciliation. He is about life change. But we’ve got to do it God’s way. We’ve got to say, “You know what, God? I want to do it your way. I know my weaknesses. Here I am, warts and all, weaknesses and all. Bring people into my life who are strong where I am weak. Give me accountability. I want to hook into the church. I want to serve within the church. I want to do your will. I want to be your person.”
Because when you begin to make those decisions and say those things, God will give you the strength to do what he wants you to do and be who he wants you to be.
Illus: For years, people have asked me, “Ed, how in the world have you amassed such a great staff at Fellowship church?” That’s an easy answer. First of all, it’s a God-thing. But secondly, we have some phenomenal leaders at Fellowship Church. I have a few things that I can do pretty well before God. I’m gifted in those areas. I also have great weaknesses. So I’ve tried to hire people who are strong where I am weak, and hopefully I am weak where they are strong.
Well the same should be done in every life here. We should have people who can speak into our lives. I’m talking about believers who shore up the areas where we’re weak and maybe, just maybe, where we’re strong, we can help them. That’s the beauty of the body of Christ. That’s the beauty of the church coming together.
But don’t be defined and don’t be confined by your weak moments. Be refined by them as God gives you the ability to go to another level.
This rod and reel is a great tool. It’s a fly rod. But remember, it’s only as strong as its weakest link. And as a good fisherman, and hopefully I get better and better. I’m a fellow struggler with all the other fishermen here. I’ve got to realize that I cannot pull more than sixteen pounds of pressure on this outfit.
You know what the Bible promises us? The Bible promises us that we will never, ever, ever be in a situation, ever, where we will not have the strength from God, the ability from God, the fortitude from God, the endurance from God, to get out of it and to be victorious. Isn’t that a great promise?
So, as a believer, I can cast and cast and cast into any situation. And if I’m relying on him, he will show me just how hard to pull, just how to fight the situation, when to drop and run, because it’s all about him. It’s all about what he wants you to be. And the reason that we’re facing these weak moments, and the reason that so many of us feel tempted and tested is because the enemy sees what we’re going to be. And really, he’s tipping us off to our fantastic future. Why do you think he went after Jesus? He knew the future. He saw what was going to happen. And the same is true in your life and mine.
Let’s pray together.
<Ed leads in closing prayer.>