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Strength from Weakness

December 6th, 2017

God’s Word in your spirit echoes His truth.

“As your days, so shall your strength be.”

Deuteronomy 33:25

My thoughts and comments today are about,
“Strength from Weakness.”

Most everyone has certain words, ideas, or convictions that shape and direct their journey, maybe from something they read or from someone’s advice or experience with which they identified. Such words become a fixed point, a North Star, from which you can navigate daily life.

Beware of the world’s noise and be suspect of the cacophony of its errant suppositions. Along your journey, when you are seeking and listening for God’s voice, He will speak a word to teach and guide you. God promised, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV. It is important that you give God opportunity, and critically important that you listen carefully and obey when He does.

Across my seasons of my life and circumstances, I have found God’s promises true and available exactly when I needed them most. Such a word from God, spoken into your spirit, instantly echoes with truth and becomes a fixed point from which you can then safely navigate the moment, confidently chart the course ahead, as well as mark the progress of your journey.

You must find a dynamic balance between those who feel a helpless paralysis, afraid to do anything or afraid of doing the wrong thing until God has spoken, or the presumptive casualness of others going full speed ahead while assuming God will just speak if and when He chooses. Either would be an uncomfortable extreme for me. I want to walk wisely according to the Word, while listening for the gentle voice of the Spirit to direct my steps and choices along the way. I want to live in such a way that I am always attentive to God, welcoming His voice and wisdom at all times, while living confidently in the moment.

Some years ago, my Mom suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was not expected to live through the night. God gave us another seven weeks with her before her death. The first week at the hospital was numbing and wearying for me, praying for her recovery but knowing that any hour might be her last. One night as I trudged home from the hospital exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I felt God quietly whisper into my heart, “As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25. God’s Word in your spirit echoes His truth.

I was too tired to ask for such a word and not at all expecting it, but God spoke when and what I most needed to hear. I recognized the familiarity of those words from the Bible, and later looked up the verse, to find the added strength of the following words accompanying His promise, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27. I cannot describe the strength, assurance, and comfort those simple words made at that moment, and in the several weeks that followed, and still to this day. When you feel most alone and without strength, you are neither alone nor without strength when God is with you.

I was glad that I had previously hidden God’s Word in my heart and recognized His promise from the Bible. Every night following, I went to bed knowing the sufficiency of God, and every morning I awakened confident of His abiding, daily supply of strength. These years later, I still walk each day in that gift from the Lord given to my heart. Like the manna God provided to Israel, they could gather only enough for each day. But His provision for each day was sufficient and exactly enough. Strength isn’t physically bankable. “To those who have no might, He increases strength . . But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary.” Read Isaiah 40:29-31.

There will be much about tomorrow that you cannot know now and may not understand then; but nothing that God does not know. When you know that His strength will be equal to each day’s responsibilities and necessities, you will live with anticipation and confidence. “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Read Proverbs 3:5-10 NIV. Our Father has promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your weakness].  With Paul, you can know that, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Today, I pray for you to recognize God’s voice amid the confusion of so much other noise.

Christian Communications 2017
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Stress and Distress

October 31st, 2017

When Life is not easy God’s grace is sufficient

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“stress and distress.”

You and I live in a world of unceasing and increasing stress. Stress is harmful. Stress does a lot of things, none of which are helpful. Stress accelerates your heart rate, increases blood pressure, manufactures anxiety, creates mental and emotional exhaustion, steals peace of mind, and destroys health. Stress is from the emotions you feel when the pressure seems overpowering. Hurry and worry result.

The eventual consequence is distress. Naturally, everyone would prefer no problems. No worries. No uncertainties. But no troubles equal no growth and result in little or no faith. Written years earlier, these lyrics provide a faith perspective about problems, “If I never had a problem, how would I know that God could solve them; I’d never know what faith in God can do. But through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus; I’ve learned to trust in God. I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” (Through It All, Andrae Crouch).

The Psalmist, David wrote, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT. God’s Word and truth is where you find wisdom. Don’t wish your problems away. Learn from them. Learning brings enlargement. The truth you learn by personal experience is truth that you will not soon forget. Life is better when you experience truth firsthand rather than trusting secondhand opinions from others.

Whenever David experienced distress, he also discovered something more about his God. God was there and His love did not wane, nor were His grace and power diminished. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as, “distress,” describes, “pressure or narrowness of room.” Trouble narrows your view, appearing to lessen your options and exaggerating your distress.

The Psalmist cried out to God, “When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, You gave me room; now I’m in trouble again. Grace me! Hear me!” Psalm 4:1 MSG. A more current expression would be this, “between a rock and a hard place.” Today, we call that stress. You won’t find rest and understanding until you turn to God. Why does it take us so long before we look to the only One who is all-knowing and always has sufficient grace and power?

Could there be times that God does not quickly deliver you from your distressing situation but allows circumstances to grow increasingly uncomfortable and confining until you will look to Him, and listen to Him, and embrace and obey His good will? “Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:1 NLT.

Even when in distressing times or circumstances, be confident. God can enlarge you in your distress. “God, You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1 AMP. His grace can give you needed relief, providing room to breathe and believe again. His power can push back the realities that press too tightly upon you, allowing you room to recover and regroup.

Life is not fair, but God is eternally loving and just. When life is not fair, God is righteous.  God promises, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV. When life is not easy, God’s grace is sufficient. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to call on God in your distress and lean on Him in your weakness.

Christian Communications 2017-0707

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Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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Weakness and Strength

June 4th, 2014

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV.

God more easily supplies what you lack than can displace what you are proud to possess.

Today my thoughts and comments are about “weakness and strength.”

Whether in the barnyard, school yard, or market place, others seem to take advantage of those whom they perceive as being weaker than themselves. For that very reason, people learn to mask weaknesses with denial or pretense. Neither of those are a winning strategy. No one enjoys being weak or being considered weak. Denial of a fact does not change it, and pretending you are other than you are doesn’t alter facts. Here’s the reality; every person has both strengths and weaknesses peculiar to themselves. Your recognition and response to either is what will make the difference. In your strengths, be humble; about your weaknesses, be honest.

God looks at your weaknesses and strengths much differently than you or others do. What you perceive as strength is of more concern to God than your weaknesses. Strength can be beguiling, leading to pride and living independently of God when you are not. Pride is not a pretty thing and God will not long indulge it. Humility is the cure for pride. From his earlier lessons of humiliating failures and humbling experiences, Peter wrote, “Be [aproned] with humility [toward one another], for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV. Voluntary humility is an easier path than imposed humiliation. If you will not embrace the first, you will face the latter.

Let’s see what God says about weakness. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Think of what you were when you were called [by God]. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong . . so that no one may boast before Him.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 NIV. God does not respond well to boasting. God more easily supplies what you lack than can displace what you are proud to possess.

In the great chapter of faith, you can read of those, “Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Hebrews 11:33-34 NIV. Who were these incredible, powerful, conquering people? They were ordinary people, “whose weakness was turned to strength.” God alone can do that. They were people who found strength is their God. “The Lord . . gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV.

Paul wrote, “God said to me, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my [weaknesses], that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV. It may sound counter-intuitive, but in Christ, that is ever true.

I pray for you today that you are content that your strength depends entirely on His.

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Breaking Points

April 11th, 2014

“We should trust not in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV.

A breaking point may actually become your breakthrough.

My thoughts and comments today are about “breaking points.”

Breaking points are times when you come up empty – no further resources, no fresh ideas, no better options, and you are left with nothing in reserve, financially, mentally, emotionally, or physically. At the end of yourself, you will meet God there. You are not alone. The prophet Elijah was at a breaking point – in fear for his life, fleeing from an angry monarch, drained physically, feeling alone and abandoned, and wishing to die. Read 1 Kings 19:1-20 NIV. Elijah was empty and exhausted – disappointed with people, discouraged by threats to his safety, and depressed about the future. That’s what a breaking point looks like – until you meet God there. Let’s consider some practical truths for such moments.

Quitting is not an option. If you think giving up is a viable option, you will eventually find an excuse to do so. My dear friend, Kenny, often reminded me and others, When you find yourself at the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hold on tightly till help comes. The Bible says, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:35-36 NKJV. Perseverance is a virtue. “Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us . . do this by keeping your eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish . . so that you do not become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT.

Don’t pick up what is not yours to carry. Over-involvement in too many things or assuming too much responsibility for too many people soon becomes an unbearable burden. Keep the load light, and remember, As your days so shall your strength be.  Deuteronomy 33:25 NKJV. Jesus will give you wisdom and daily strength if you, “[Cast] all your care on Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV.

A breaking point may become a breakthrough. Paul found the renewed strength and assurance he needed, when at his own breaking point God said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT. That discovery is life changing when embraced in faith. Read Hebrews 11:32-35 NLT. In God, your breaking point may be preparing you for a breakthrough. When you can’t be strong, let God be strong in you.

With a future dire and uncertain, Paul affirmed this practical, liberating truth, “We were burdened above measure, beyond strength, so that we despaired even of life. We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should trust not in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in Whom we trust He will still deliver us.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NKJV. Think about your Heavenly Father as, “God who raises the dead.” If God can do what is impossible, the most extreme circumstance can still be alive with hope. “What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you are always preparing yourself for a breakthrough.

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