Strength

Be Weak

Who would ever go around telling people how weak they are?  Most of the people I know want to talk about their strengths, talents and abilities, because we take pride in those areas.  But what are the areas you are weak in?  I’ve heard a song that speaks to this weakness and it says, “I can’t even walk without You holding my hand.” Could it be that of all the things God is doing in your life, he is intentionally making you weak, so that you will be strong?  The apostle Paul prayed for God to remove the thorn from his flesh 3 times.  Evidently this thorn, whatever it was, had a weakening affect on Paul, or at least initially he thought it did.  Is there anything in your life right now that you feel is weakening you and you’ve asked God over and over to remove it?  Some people have a history of rebellion they wish could be wiped away.  Some have needs they feel are hindering their life.  Some people have physical disabilities they want God to heal or take away completely.  There are even people who want God to remove other people from their lives because they think they are holding them back.  But what if making you weak is God’s plan?
You can ask and ask and plead with God to remove certain things from your life, and at times He will, but you can believe at times He will also give you the same answer He gave Paul.
        “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9.
To which Paul replied,
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak——then, then, and only then I am strong.”  
Perhaps what God is doing in your life right now is making you weak.  You can fight against it and you can fervently pray, but when you surrender completely to what God is doing, you can experience His perfect strength.  God’s plan for your life has always been to save you and then to indwell you and then to live His life through you.  That happens in the moments we come to the place of saying, “I can’t” and God says, “I can, let me.”
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

Be Strong

 

How strong are you?  Back in my high school days we worked out just about every day to build up strength and stamina. Even after high school, I found myself pumping that iron to stay in shape and to maintain my strength.  That’s probably the story of many others, but the older I get, I’ve noticed that even with working out, I can be strong, but not like the days of my youth. Physically everyone loses their strength over time, but that doesn’t have to be the case spiritually. The apostle Paul said, “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”  Ephesians 6:10. 

We need this encouragement today because of the hostile environments we enter into and the spiritual wrestling required to survive.  Our mistake oftentimes is that we don’t know who our opponent is, so we end up in major conflicts with our spouse, or with our co-worker, or with our neighbors. Our wrestling is with spiritual forces of darkness in heavenly places.  Our wrestling opponent, Paul said, was not on the human level, but the spiritual.  That’s not to say we don’t come into contact with those who come against us, we certainly do, but even then, we must see our battle is not directly with them.
I love watching the Strong Man’s Contest where those massive men show how strong they are by lifting weights, pushing or pulling trucks, and lifting heavy concrete balls.  It’s possible and very likely to be very strong physically, but a weakling spiritually, and that’s why Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord.” To be strong in the Lord means to walk in love and to be full of faith. To be strong in the Lord you have to know the Lord on a very personal level. To be strong in the Lord means you are a person of prayer.  To be strong in the Lord you must be filled with the Holy Spirit.  To be strong in the Lord you must be completely covered with the armor of God.  Let me ask you, what does it matter if you can win physical battles and intellectual debates if you lose every spiritual confrontation?  God has equipped you to win every spiritual wrestling match against your unseen enemy. Spiritually, you are not someone who should be pushed around and knocked down, but it happens, and it has happened to me more times than I want to admit.  So what do you do?  You get back up, and you go again.  You learn the enemy’s strategy and you renew and gain strength in the Lord. You are strong, but your source of strength is not in you, it’s in the Lord. Starting today, be strong in the Lord!

Because He Lives…

Just take a moment to fill in the blank, “Because He lives, I can __________ __________!”  This truth has to be more to us than the familiar lyrics of an old gospel song.  Because Jesus lives and death couldn’t keep Him and the grave couldn’t stop Him, there is power to live your life by.  His resurrected life enables us to do what we could not otherwise do.  Not only that, but because of His life, we are able to have a life.  What I mean is that we exist, only because He exists.  Think about it, if God somehow stopped existing this moment, so would every form of life, including human life.  The apostle Paul said,

The reality of our lives is that we are God-sustained and not self-sustained.  He is the One who gives us breath and keeps our hearts beating.  He is the One who holds all things together.  Because He lives, and only because He lives, I can face tomorrow.  I can get up in the morning.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Because He lives, I can go beyond my natural abilities and do what only can be done in His power.  I can love those who are not so loving.  I can forgive those who have wronged me.  I can walk where God wants me to walk.  I can endure what life throws at me.  I can love my neighbors as myself.  I can be the witness He wants me to be.  I can survive the fiery storms and I can walk through the valley.

Because He lives, I can face the giants that threaten.  God is your enabler!  Yes He is, because otherwise you would have quit a long time ago.  The reason you are still going and giving and loving and haven’t become bitter and angry and isolated is because of God.  His life means everything to the disciple of Christ.  Because He lives, you can go to bed tonight and have sweet rest.  Because He lives, you can live in complete confidence that He sees you right where you are, knows where you’ve been, knows how you feel and knows what you need.  Because He lives, I can believe and know that everything is going to be alright.  Because He lives, I can lift my head up and march on in the name of Jesus!  March on!

Crushed

Keep this in mind! The enemy’s goal today is to crush your spirit. Recently I’ve been watching this couple who’s life God has really been working in. Last night we got a phone call from them telling us their dog had been ran over and killed. They loved their dog like we all love our animals and they were heartbroken over their loss. Was this really the unfortunate fate of an unlucky dog with bad timing, or just an accident or the work of the enemy? It’s hard to know what is behind every heartbreaking moment in our lives, but keep this in mind, the enemy doesn’t care how he crushes your spirit so long as he accomplishes his goal. And we all go through these moments in life, but especially in times when spiritual progress is taking place. Maybe you’re reading this and your heart has been broken. Keep this in mind what David said in the 23rd Psalm. “He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Our God is a restorer of crushed and broken hearts—Praise God! What needs to happen when you’re crushed under the weight of any kind of loss, rejection or betrayal is go to God in prayer and ask Him to restore you just like the word says.

Life is unfair and accidents do happen, but our enemy is ruthless, but God! Think about it, if God were not a restorer of crushed and broken hearts, we all would stay hidden in our homes living in despair. But God is a restorer of hearts!Let Him counsel you today back to the strong and powerful person He created you to be.

This, You Must Do!

1 Samuel 30:6 “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” After returning from a battle, David and his solder found their homes burned to the ground and the wives and children taken captive. Those solders were following their leader, but exhausted and now completely grieved by their loss to the point of stoning David to death and David was aware.

David had a choice, just as we do today when it seems everyone has turned on us and you have no strength to take another step. David chose to strengthen/encourage himself in the Lord. And maybe that’s what you need to do in this moment. Don’t wallow in defeat and don’t wait for those around you to come and lift you up and strength you. Many times remaining weak is a choice, and being strengthened is up to you. You may be down today with everyone against you, but if God is for you, you can renew your strength. You can play the leading role in your own encouragement. How? Where do you begin in strengthening and encouraging yourself in the Lord? Start by praying to God and confessing the truth about how you feel at this moment. After that, talk to God about what you know God would have you live and engage with those around you. You can strengthen yourself in the Lord by speaking the truth over your life out loud. Listen for a moment to uplifting praise music. Ask God to give you a word to repeat through you day, or a phrase like, “God is for me!” Believe deep in your heart that God alone is the strength of you life. Do not live long in the defeat of a moment, but rally yourself in the name of Jesus, because the enemy has not won. Strengthen yourself for the sake of those held captive. After David strengthen himself in the Lord, he lead 600 men to go on a rescue mission to take back their wives and children. Two hundred of those men didn’t have enough strength in themselves to go all the way, but David with 400 men took back what was stolen. Today you can count your losses and lay down or you can strengthen yourself and go on a rescue mission for what has been stolen from you. No one can decide this for you. Only God can renew your strength.

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