Sunday
Mar062016

You made me bold with strength in my soul

“On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:3

We have been following the theme of what it means to be strengthened by the Lord, drawing our inspiration from the example of Jesus, who was strengthened by an angel from heaven to fully accomplish the will of the Father. (Luke 22:43) This is an important key in our understanding of what it means to be strengthened, we are strengthened to do the will of our Father in heaven. As we proceed in our walk with the Lord there will be many things in life that will cause us grief. The psalmist writes of such a time and says, “My soul weeps (drops) because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word.” We sometimes use the expression, ‘don’t drop your bundle’! It’s a simple way of saying, ‘don’t give up, keep going, everything will work out’. That may or may not be the case, it very much depends on how we respond at the point we are being tempted to drop our bundle. Right at the moment, where we feel we could let go and ‘drop our bundle, the psalmist encourages us to cry out to the Lord, “Strengthen me according to Your word.” Note though he is asking to be strengthened in that which is according to His word and not just so he will feel better about himself. We can be absolutely confident that God will strengthen us according to His word because His word that is forever settled in heaven, is His will for us. (Ps 119:89)

Under extreme provocation and with the backdrop of much threatening, the early church gathered in prayer and lifted up their voices to God with one accord and said, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus,” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31)

These humble bond-servants of the Lord lifted up their voices and called on the name of the Lord. As a result they were made bold with strength in their souls to speak the word of God.

Sunday
Feb282016

Strengthened to Receive the Word

By faith even Sarah herself received ability (strength) [power for the laying down of seed] to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Hebrews 11:11

Sarah was strengthened by God for a particular work; she was strengthened to conceive a seed. This seed was according to the word God had spoken to Abraham, a word that was settled in eternity and was now coming to reality in the flesh of Abraham and Sarah. When Sarah became pregnant it wasn’t the completed work God had for her. A woman doesn’t remain pregnant, she must deliver or bring the child to birth and then, together with her husband, train the child according to the way of God for him/her.

Sarah didn’t just receive strength to conceive the seed of Isaac’s life; she received strength for the word of God, spoken to Abraham as an everlasting covenant, to be laid down to her. That word was settling Sarah in the will of God that was determined in eternity. As she learnt to receive and believe the word, then her obedience was enabled by the miraculous power from God. All her capacity was from Him. There was no capacity in the natural that could bring forth what only God could do.

Yes, she did need to receive strength to conceive what was impossible in the flesh. Abraham and Sarah didn’t wake up one morning and discover a new baby in the tent with them. God wanted them to participate with Him in the bringing forth of His seed.

When God spoke to Sarah about bringing forth a seed of His word, He wasn’t just wanting her to bring forth Isaac, He wanted to establish her in the way of His word. This was to become the foundation of her life so that she could then raise Isaac in the way he should go.

As a result of this foundation in her life, Sarah was able to see what was going on in their house and recognised the mocking attitude that was persecuting what God had predestined. Sarah was able to establish the way of God as a culture in their house because she considered Him who had promised faithful.

Just like Sarah, each one of us can join the word of God’s will for our lives, in our weakness, and receive strength to fulfil what He has spoken concerning our life. Don’t let the weakness of your flesh sit within you as a hindrance to the power of God’s strength working miraculously within you.

Sunday
Feb212016

You Have a Little Strength

“I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power (strength), and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:8

These words are addressed to the church in Philadelphia by Jesus. He says they have a little strength. Little (‘mikros’) is the opposite of ‘megas’ (great) and means ‘small, little or insignificant. In the natural having a little of something is not thought of as a good thing. There is not much you can do if you only have a little. Being the ‘bigger guy’ is better than being the ‘little guy’! But we need to remember that God’s ways are not our ways. (Is 55:8) God’s strength is perfected in the weakness of our little. (2Cor 12:9)

Where did the church in Philadelphia receive the little strength they possessed? They received it from the Lord, it was not their own. Jesus said, “Because you have kept My word and have not denied My name.” The strength they had was in His word and name. As they held fast to the will of His word and kept abiding in His name, they would have all the strength they needed to overcome, though it was a little.

Don’t despise the little strength. God can do amazing things through people who move in the faith of their little strength. That little strength can accomplish miracles when we place ourselves into God’s hands and not into the thoughts of our own hands. Consider the widow woman of Zarapheth, just a little strength for one last meal. But because she placed the little flour and oil she had into God’s hands, God worked an ongoing miracle. (1Kings chp 17) Then again we consider the widow woman who possessed nothing but a jar of oil and had the debtors banging at her door. She obeyed the word of the Lord and God worked a miracle. The one jar of oil kept flowing and flowing and flowing. (2Kings 4:1-7) Just a little strength, but God can work miracles with the weakness of just a little strength that obeys His word.

For the church in Philadelphia who had just a little strength God said, “Behold I have put before you an open door which no one can shut.” Don’t wait for something big to happen before you think you can go through the open door but proceed in the faith of God’s word and the little strength you have will keep multiplying over and over again.

Sunday
Feb142016

Strengthened in Heart for Every Good Work and Word

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” – 2Thessalonians 2:17

Do you realise that God has a good work and word for you to personally accomplish. Paul understood, that salvation for him was to be put into service for Jesus Christ. He writes and says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” (1Tim 1:12) When Jesus was strengthened in the garden He was not just being bolstered in the reserves of His own capacity. Rather he was receiving the Father’s enabling to fully accomplish the Father’s will. (Luke 22:43)

Many times in our lives, our first reaction to a work or word has been, ‘I can’t do it’. Sometimes the ‘I can’t do it’ is a disguise or cover for ‘I don’t want to do it’. I say sometimes because it is not always. There are times when we genuinely want to do what’s been required of us in our service and work for the Lord.

But immediately we feel an inadequacy within ourselves, a weakness that says, ‘I don’t think I can do it’. (2Cor 3:4-5) What does a disciple of Christ do at this point? As we submit our will to God, to join Christ in His prayer meeting in the garden, where we resolve to do nothing but the Fathers’ will, then, like Christ, we are enabled by the strength which God supplies. (1Pet 4:11)

We are going to feel weak many times. I encourage you to get used to feeling weak. Don’t despise it. Because it is in weakness that His strength is made perfect, so that the glory is not of ourselves but is of Him. (2Cor 12:9) The fulfilling of God’s will does not depend on our strength but it depends on our obedience to His word. It does not depend on whether you think you can do it or not. If God has asked you to do it, He will enable you.

Like Jesus, Paul knew a supernatural strengthening that, despite every weakness, enabled him to fully accomplish the service of work that God had appointed him to do. (2Tim 4:16-17) If God appoints a load to you, and He has for everyone, then He gives you the daily strength to carry that load.

Sunday
Feb072016

The Lord Stood With Me and Strengthened Me 

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

We have been looking at what it means to be strengthened, as Christ was strengthened, in order to accomplish the Father’s will. As Jesus cried out to the Father, “Not My will but Yours be done”, an angel from heaven appeared to Him strengthening Him. (Luke 22:42-43) At that point the severity of the trial did not get any better but rather it grew decidedly worse. To use a metaphor from the book of Daniel, ‘the furnace was heated seven times hotter’. (Dan 3:19) Jesus was strengthened all the way through His suffering, until He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Likewise as we join with Christ in His sufferings, we can be confident of being strengthened by the God of all grace, to walk with Christ in His will to do the Father’s will.

Because the apostle Paul learnt to identify with Christ in His sufferings, he also learnt to identify in His strengthening. Paul writes of a time when, in doing the Lord’s work, he was being vigorously opposed and many evil deeds were being done against him. This was an extremely difficult time for him. He goes on to say, “At my first defence no one supported me, but all deserted me; (just like Jesus) may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the mouth of the lion.” (2Tim 4:16-17)

Again Paul writes and says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” (1Tim 1:12) All of us are to be put into service! Have you allowed yourself to be put into service? If so, can you identify that service and are you faithful and fruitful in the service that the Lord has put you into? The Lord stood with Paul and strengthened him so that the service of work He had given him to do would be fully accomplished. Peter says, “Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies.” (1Pet 4:11) It is only the strength which God supplies that will sustain us through the fiery trial and see His work fully accomplished.