If there was a vote to select the most devastating passage in the Bible, Genesis 6:5-6 needs to be a leading candidate:
"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart."
Could you get more graphic, more specific, more all-inclusive words than these? Perhaps even more shocking is the deeply personal nature, describing such heartbreak that you can imagine tears streaming from the Creator.
What could be so significant to evoke a response like this from the King of the universe?
A personal betrayal of relational love.
You see, whether you know it or not, all of us are lovers. It sounds funny, but you were hardwired to love. Everything you do, have done, and will do in your life is motivated by love.
Our first and only love was meant to be for our Creator. Jesus says that the great and first commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:36).
Out of that love for God comes obedience to the rest of his commands. Because we love God the lawgiver, we find joy in staying within his boundaries.
But something horrible happened. After the Fall, a seductive, powerful, and deceptive love replaced the love we were meant to have exclusively for God: the love of self.
When we choose to love ourselves, it becomes very easy for us to overstep God's boundaries, because our hearts aren't motivated by love for him anymore. And when we violate his law, designed to give us life, evil thrives in a way that Genesis 6:5 describes.
And so, humanity needed to be rescued. Someone needed to do for us what we could not do for ourselves: defeat the love of self and restore the love of God in our hearts.
"And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:15).
This Advent season, celebrate the baby who came to deliver betraying lovers like me and you back to our original love. But also remember that the rescuing work of the Messiah is both an event and a process.
By grace, we are no longer slaves to the love of self, free to experience the soul satisfying love of God. Yet the love of self still remains, so we must be aware of the battle for two loves that is being fought on the turf of our heart in the situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life.
One day, because that baby came, every cell of our heart will be captivated by the love of God, and we'll live joyfully inside his boundaries forever and ever.
Now that's a reason to celebrate Christmas!
Many Christians would be surprised, and perhaps even disappointed, to learn that the song often cited as our favorite Christmas carol is not actually a Christmas carol at all. The famed hymn writer Isaac Watts published “Joy to the World” in 1719. Millions of Christians sing this great hymn at Christmas, celebrating the great news of the incarnation and declaring “let earth receive her king.”
“Let every heart, prepare him room, and heaven and angels sing.” At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of Christ, the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem. But “Joy to the World,” though sung rightly and triumphantly at Christmas, is really about the Second Coming of Christ.
Watts led in the development of hymns in the English tradition, drawing many of his hymn texts directly from the Psalms. “Joy to the World” is based upon Psalm 98, which declares creation’s joy when the Lord comes to rule and to judge. When we sing “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come,” it applies when we talk about Bethlehem and when we rejoice in the gift of the infant Christ. But the song also reminds us that Christmas isn’t over; the promises of Christmas are not yet fulfilled. Earth will fully receive her King when Christ comes again, to reign and to rule.
Think with me about verse three of the hymn, in which we read,
“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.”
The reversal of the curse is promised in the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of his atoning work. Implicit in this third verse is the promise of the new creation. We live in light of that promise, even as we look back to Bethlehem and as we celebrate Christmas.
But look carefully at the reference to the curse. Christ’s victory over sin is declared to extend “far as the curse is found.” What curse? How far does it extend? Where is it found?
We find the curse in Genesis, chapter 3. After Eve has eaten of the forbidden tree, and then Adam also ate, and after they found themselves facing God in the reality of their sin, God first cursed the serpent:
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Then, God cursed the woman:
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Then came to curse to Adam, and through Adam to all humanity:
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
By Adam, our federal head, the curse of sin came upon all humanity. We are dust, who must return to the dust, for the wages of sin is death. All creation is under the effects of the curse. “Cursed is the ground because of you,” Adam is told.
The curse is God’s righteous judgment of sin, and the effect of the curse is death. The curse has fallen upon all human beings, first because of Adam’s sin and then because of our own. In Adam, we all sinned. In Adam, we all died.
Where is the curse found? Everywhere we look, we see the curse and its malignant effects. How far does it extend? To every atom and molecule of creation — from coast to coast, shore to shore, sky to sky, and to every square inch of the planet. That’s how far the curse is found.
Most importantly, every single human being is found under this curse. “For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So, how can we sing about joy to the world?
Look with me to Galatians 3:10-14:
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”-- so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Here is the gospel of Christ, the good news. But first, the bad news. All who rely on works of the law are under a curse. All humanity is born under this curse, and under the law. The congregation that originally received Paul’s letter would have understood immediately where Paul grounded his argument, in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. At the end of the series of curses God delivered from Mount Nebo, we find the most comprehensive of all: “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” [Paul in Galatians 3:10, citing Deuteronomy 27:26]
We are born under the curse, we are cursed by the curse, and the law offers no escape. We cannot work our way from under the curse.
So where is the good news? Where is joy to the world? Look at verses 13 and 14.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. What we sinners could not and cannot do for ourselves, Christ has done for us. He removes the curse and the power of the law to condemn us.
How? He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us. The sinless Son of God became incarnate as the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. That sinless Son of God became sin for us, in order that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became a curse for us, by hanging on a tree, in fulfillment of Scripture.
Christ died on the cross, in our place, bearing our shame and guilt, paying the full penalty for our sin, dying as our Substitute, in our place, by his shed blood. He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us. He died our death, in our place, bearing our sins, redeeming us from the curse. And on the third day the Father raised him from the dead. The cursed and crucified Savior rose victorious from the grave.
Paul concludes that all this took place so that in Christ the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, and so that we, as Christians, might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
Today we celebrate commencement, the graduation of ministers of Jesus Christ who now enter into a new season of service to the church and to the gospel. The main contours of the ceremony would be recognizable to almost anyone. Here you see graduates, diplomas, faculty, academic regalia, dignity, proud loved ones. But this is a distinctively Christian service. This is an academic ceremony, but it is a Christian service of worship.
These graduates are one of the most remarkable sights you will ever see. Who gets to observe such a moment as this, looking at newly minted ministers of Christ and knowing that they are soon to be deployed to the church and to the ends of the earth? No school is worthy of them, and not one of them is worthy of their calling. Everything you observe is by grace, and to the glory of God.
Graduates, you are wearing the gowns of academic and ministry preparation. You will soon hold diplomas as evidence of your seriousness of preparation and devotion to the ministry. You are surrounded by a host of friends and family and faculty. Their own hopes and dreams of ministry go with you and in you. This faculty has taught you with conviction and affection, and now you go to bear the gospel of Christ and to preach the Word.
Why? Because the world is full of sinners who live every day under the curse, and the penalty of the curse is death. You go to preach the gospel and to declare salvation to all who believe in Christ and repent of their sin. You go to feed Christ’s flock and to shepherd the church for whom Christ died.
How far does the gospel reach, and to what lengths must it be taken? Far as the curse is found. Go and preach. Go and tell. Teach the good news that Christ has redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.
And so, prayerfully and proudly, we send you out — ministers of Christ, heralds of the gospel, far as the curse is found.
This is the text of the commencement address preached by President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. at the December 8, 2017 commencement ceremony at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
"He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature" (Heb. 1:3).
Jesus is both God manifest and God in substance.
Just as the rays of the sun give light, warmth, life, and growth to the earth, so Jesus Christ is the glorious light of God shining into the hearts of men and women. As "the radiance of God's glory," Jesus expresses God to us. No one can see God in HIs full glory; no one ever will. The radiance of that glory that reaches us from God appears in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Just as the sun was never without and can never be separated from its brightness, so God was never without and cannot be separated from the glory of Christ. Never was God without Him or He without God, and never in any way can He be separated from God. Yet the brightness of the sun is not the sun, and neither is Jesus exactly the same as God in that sense. He is fully and absolutely God, yet as a distinct Person within the triune Godhead.
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). As the radiance of God's glory, Christ can transmit that light into your life and mine so that we can radiate the glory of God to a dark world.
In using the term "exact representation" to describe Christ's relationship to God's nature, the writer employs terminology usually associated with an impression reproduced on a seal by a die or stamp. Jesus Christ is the reproduction of God—the perfect, personal imprint of God in time and space.
How wonderful to realize that Jesus Christ, who is both the full expression of God and exact reproduction of God's nature in human history, can come into our lives and give us light to see and to know God! His light is the source of our spiritual life. And His light gives us purpose, meaning, happiness, peace, joy, fellowship, everything—for all eternity.
Suggestion for Prayer
Thank God that He determined to become a man so we could know what He is like.
For Further Study
Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and note who allows people to see or not see spiritually.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187.
The waiting of Advent is actually good for us and is molding us into the likeness of Christ. By Coleman Ford
As a culture, we can’t wait to get to Christmas. Retailers can’t wait to put out the Christmas decor and prep you for their “must have” Christmas deals. Children can’t wait for presents, and parents can’t wait for the extra vacation time. Everything in our frenzied Christmas culture is driving us to that 15-minute period on December 25 when meticulously wrapped presents will be clawed open to reveal an item that will likely be in next year’s garage sale or donation box.
As advertisers and retailers push the season of Christmas upon us with ever-increasing ferocity, it has increased our impatience and inability to wait. The very thing that was once part and parcel of the season has become its dreaded enemy: waiting. We have been trained to miss the weight of waiting during the season.
Waiting for Christ
First, we must understand that the church is not in the “Christmas season” but the season of Advent. Advent (from the Latin for “coming” or “arrival”) is the church’s celebration of the first coming of Christ. It’s the season of reflection upon the light of Christ shining after a long period of darkness.
The nature of Advent is all about waiting.
It points us back to the 400 years of silence following the last prophecy of Malachi who foretold the arrival of the Messiah and the era of justice he would usher in with this kingdom. As Malachi’s final pen stroke dried on the papyrus, the people began this period of waiting. In that period of waiting, God’s people faced intense suffering. Wars continued, famines struck, infertility persisted, and the broken world continued to demonstrate its need for redemption. A messiah was promised, yet the promises of God seemed to be null and void. Where was God in the midst of people’s affliction? Where was his promise of healing and restoration? How could he leave his people in the midst of their distress? These questions marked this agonizing period of waiting.
Waiting is good, waiting is difficult
Advent is all recognizing that we have real problems that require divine solutions. In the midst of this waiting, we ask God to intervene in our lives to bring healing, strength, and hope. The 400 years of God’s silence put his people’s faith to the test. Advent for Christians presents us with an opportunity to enter into this era of delayed gratification. Though on one side we recognize the Savior has come, we also need to acknowledge the dramatic nature and timing of this coming. Paul said at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6). God knew the timing of Christ’s coming; he had planned it from before the foundations of the world. Yet there was still a necessary time of waiting.
Waiting in Scripture is often characterized in two different ways.
The reality is this: we hate to wait. By nature, we are impatient. This tells us waiting is actually good for us and is molding us into the likeness of Christ. Paul encourages his readers, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Col. 1:11). Indeed, one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience (Gal. 5:22).
Christ is the fulfillment of our waiting.
This does not mean however that we should neglect the heavy feeling of waiting which has marked the people of God and should still mark us today. The Christian faith is a waiting faith. The people of God in the old covenant waited for in the coming of the King born in Bethlehem. In the new, the people of God wait for the King to return a second time in glory.
In a season fraught with busy schedules, waiting is counter-cultural. But we do not wait without hope. We wait and we hope because we recognize that we have a God who fulfills his promises, even though we may not always recognize how he does so. We wait because we know God has a redemptive plan which is more beautiful than any other vision this world can offer. This plan, so clearly demonstrated in Scripture, has as its fulcrum the coming of God’s Son in the flesh.
Put Christ at the center of your waiting
Thus, Christ is at every point the focus of our waiting. This season should instill in us a richer understanding that God has a plan which will be accomplished according to his will and purpose, and ultimately for our good. As ministers of the gospel, we should not be remiss in communicating this glorious truth to our people.
What would it look like to be a Church once again marked by the weightiness of waiting? While war continues, relationships fracture, sin and suffering persist, we wait for the return of the King. So let’s avoid the temptation to make this season of Advent more palatable by neglecting the weightiness of waiting. Let us reflect on the period of silence preceding the coming of Christ, and find strength in our current waiting. Advent means “to come,” and we wait longingly for the Lord to come again.
And let us pass this critical message on to those whom God has graciously put in our care.
From Southern Seminary http://equip.sbts.edu/article/need-advent-realize/
“He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” Mark 3:16-19
Questions such as “Who were the twelve men whom Jesus called to be His disciples and Apostles?” inevitably follow once one learns about our Lord’s calling and commissioning of the Twelve (Mark 3:13–15). Mark answers this question in today’s passage, revealing the identity of the first twelve men Jesus called to be Apostles.
Although Scripture does not tell us very much about most of these men, this particular grouping conveys to us a key fact about the church of Christ. Note the diversity of backgrounds and occupations represented here. Simon Peter, James, John, and Andrew were all fishermen (Mark 1:16–20). Matthew, or Levi, was a tax collector (2:13–14; see Matt. 9:9). Simon the Zealot was part of a movement that advocated throwing off Roman rule over Palestine by any means necessary. In his commentary Mark, Dr. R.C. Sproul points out that the Twelve represented the church in miniature. We see among them the kind of diversity of backgrounds that the church is to reflect. Additionally, we know that the regular band of disciples, or “learners,” who followed Jesus included not only the twelve Apostles but also many other men and women such as Mary Magdalene, Susanna, and Joanna (Luke 8:1–3). Christ’s church is not made up of one race, gender, or socioeconomic class; rather, it includes men and women from every nation (Rom. 9:23–24; Rev. 7:9–11).
Let us also note that only Jesus Himself can bring unity to such a diverse body. The Twelve all came from different social backgrounds, but they also represented diametrically opposed philosophical and political viewpoints. Matthew the tax collector was content enough with Roman rule to represent the government in an official capacity. Simon the Zealot was a member of a group that sought the expulsion of the Romans and the regaining of Jewish independence. Presumably, Simon left this movement when he joined the Twelve, but the key fact here is that Jesus brought together into one body two men who could not have disagreed more politically, at least when Jesus called them initially. Nothing but the effective call of the Messiah and common faith in the Savior could bring such people together. The same is true today. Jesus alone can unite people of varying backgrounds and who hold varying opinions into one body in service to the Creator.
Today, we hear a lot about the need for diversity. But as we see from the political system and nations around the world, diversity without unity leads to infighting and even civil war. Scripture does call God’s people to embrace diversity, but it is a diversity that is unified in the common confession of the biblical faith. People from every background are welcome in the church—provided they repent of their sin and trust in Christ Jesus alone. Only Christ can unify the church.
Passages for Further Study
Taken from http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/who-were-twelve/
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Luke 2:1–5
Have you ever thought what an amazing thing it is that God ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem (as the prophecy in Micah 5:2 shows); and that he so ordained things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living not in Bethlehem but in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill his word and bring two unheard-of, insignificant, little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town? A decree for the entire world in order to move two people seventy miles!
Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a world of seven billion people, where all the news is about big political and economic and social movements and outstanding people with global significance and lots of power and prestige?
If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy. For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake, but for the sake of God’s little people — the little Mary and the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God wields an empire to fulfill his word and bless his children.
Do not think, because you experience adversity in your little world of experience, that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity or our fame but our holiness that he seeks with all his heart. And to that end, he rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” And he is always turning it for his saving and sanctifying and eternal purposes among his people.
He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors and chiefs of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ — and then enter his eternal glory.
Taken from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/for-god-s-little-people
“He was in the beginning with God” (v. 2). John 1:1–18
Protestants fiercely defended the traditional Christian doctrine of God during the time of the Reformation. The writings of the Reformers are filled with defenses of the Trinity and arguments against contemporary heretical groups such as the Socinians, who denied the deity of Christ. Part and parcel of their defense of the Trinity, however, is the recognition that merely defending the deity of Christ is not enough to give us the biblical doctrine of God. More must be said about how Christ, who is God incarnate, is related to God the Father, who has not taken on flesh.
Thus, the Reformers, like the early church fathers, turned to John 1:1–18 not only to demonstrate the deity of Christ but to prove His distinction from the Father. As we see in verses 1–2 of today’s passage, the Word—the Son of God—in the beginning was God and was with God. John introduces a distinction between God the Father and God the Son. Both are equally God and yet the Father is not the Son. Each possesses the full complement of divine attributes, but each in some way also has a particular identity. As John Calvin comments, “It would have been absurd in the Evangelist to say that the [Word] was always with God, if he had not some kind of subsistence peculiar to himself in God.”
Over time, the church came to use the Greek word hypostasis, which we usually translate as “person,” to refer to the distinctions within the one God. The Reformers adopted this terminology because it is a helpful way of describing the multiplicity Scripture tells us belongs to the Godhead. The hypostasis of the Father is not the hypostasis of the Son, but both hypostases are homoousios (of the same essence).
This language is helpful, but we must note that it does not eliminate the mystery inherent to God. Our Creator is ultimately, but not totally, incomprehensible. We can know true things about Him, but we cannot know everything about Him. We cannot know Him as He knows Himself. It is difficult to define what we mean by person when we talk about the three persons of the Godhead, for in theological language, person is not identical to our modern concept of personhood. We are on safe ground to say little more than this: personhood in the Godhead means that while there is no difference between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in terms of deity, there are still distinctions between the persons that enable Them to enjoy personal relations with one another, to love and be loved by the other persons.
In considering the Reformation and biblical doctrine of Trinitarian (3 persons) monotheism (one God), we will at several points reach a point where we can say no more. Because God transcends the limits of our creaturely minds, we cannot fully comprehend Him. This is a necessary facet of His greatness, and we should be overwhelmed by God’s greatness whenever we think on the Trinity. Knowing the greatness of God will fuel our worship.
Passages for Further Study
Taken from http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/not-father/
"By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace" (Heb. 11:31).
Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.
Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that. The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.
Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (emphasis added). Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.
Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn't lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.
As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab's faith wasn't perfect, nor was her knowledge of God's moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho's conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.
For Further Study
Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.
If you want to live productively in this fallen world, it's absolutely critical that you humbly admit your limits as a human being, and then proceed to live within them.
You won't get much encouragement from the surrounding culture. In fact, think about all the branded slogans, advertising campaigns, or inspirational Instagram quotes that encourage you to deny or even ignore your limits:
We can only be in one place at a time, no matter how hard we dream. We can't tell gravity that impossible is nothing. We can't just do it and be all we can be without oxygen, food and water. Which, by the way, we don't supply for ourselves.
We can't remove our words and actions from history or redo a situation. We can't know the details of tomorrow, let alone know where we'll be or what we'll be doing in five years.
We can't accurately read the desires or predict the actions of someone else, and certainly not control them. We can't make our acquaintances respect us, and we can't assure that our family members will treat us with love. We can't change our spouse or force our children to have faith.
We can't avoid natural disasters or protect ourselves from suffering. We can't ward off disease and sickness or keep ourselves from aging. We can't defy the mortality of our humanity.
Discouraged? Don't be, and don't panic; reality is a healthy place to be.
Think about this: only when I humbly embrace my weakness, humbly admit my limits, and humbly recognize how small I actually am, can I begin to reach out for the help of the loving, powerful, and gracious Redeemer who is the true source of my strength, wisdom, and hope.
Only then can I begin to function as an instrument in his powerful hands, rather than being in his way because, in forgetting who I am and who he is, I have been trying to do his job.
You don't have to fear your limits. They were designed by the God who is the definition of everything that is knowledgeable, understanding, wise, and true. Your limits are not a flaw in his creative plan. They are the product of his wise choice and the fulfillment of his intentions. God made you limited, in exactly the way you are.
Your limits are meant to drive you in humble and worshipful need to your Lord, who has promised never to turn a deaf ear to the cry of his children (Psalm 34:15). He has welcomed you to cast your care on him (1 Peter 5:7). He has said that he will never leave you by yourself (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Admitting your limits is not a sign of weakness; it's an essential ingredient of mature faith.