2012 Florida Baptist State
Convention Annual Meeting
Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville, Ky., raised questions among some conference attendees when he said in his sermon that Jesus was “xenophobic,” having an irrational fear of those who were different than Him. Later Cosby clarified that he believes Jesus was sinless and apologized for causing offense. He told Florida Baptist Witness he should have made explicit in the sermon that he believes Jesus was without sin. (For full story, see the Nov. 22 issue.)
George, senior associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., said God uses pain and weakness to teach believers how to trust Him and to increase their effectiveness in ministry.
“If you could get close to some of the greatest men of God that you’ve heard about or you’ve listened to or you’ve read their writings—if you could get close to them, you would see some of them have more hang-ups than a walk-in closet,” he said.
“But do you know what God uses? He uses all those things in that closet to make them as powerfully effective as they are because those things represent weakness, and it’s through our weakness that His power flows the strongest. God’s sustaining grace is dispensed in direct proportion to my need.”
Preaching from 2 Corinthians 12, George explained that some trials in life are our own fault while others are the devil’s work. But ultimately God is responsible for allowing every trial and has a good purpose for them all.
The apostle Paul experienced an unnamed trial he called a “thorn in the flesh,” and God used it to ground him and increase his faith, George said.
“When we encounter thorns like Paul and problems and challenges, when we respond the right way, those things humble us,” he said. “And when we’re humble, we’re reminded that we really do need God. And when we’re reminded that we really do need God, we get on our faces and we cry out to God in desperation. And when we cry out to God in desperation, that’s when we’re best positioned to get the grace that we need.”
God alone knows our needs, George said, so at times He refuses to remove trials when we ask Him to. Pastors have a special need for trials to remind them that God is the source of power in ministry, not their own efforts or influence, he said.
“When I don’t need His grace because I’ve got what it takes, He won’t give me His grace,” he said. “But when I need it in double and triple doses, that’s when it comes in full measure. When I’m weak, then I’m strong. When I’m strong, that’s when I’m really weak.”
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