Tag Archives: strength

Embracing Weakness

Each time he [the Lord] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT*

Humanly-speaking, wouldn’t the Apostle Paul have been more effective for the Lord without his limiting “thorn”? Whatever it was, it tormented him and left him weak. It wasn’t a good thing, nor desirable, but God used it for a good purpose – to keep Paul humbly dependent on Him.

Maybe Paul would have seemed more successful in the short term, reaching more people, covering more territory, but would his life and ministry have had such a lasting effect? Might people have been distracted from Christ by the brilliance of the messenger? Would pride have ruined him?

God was so good to give Paul what He knew was necessary, even though it was painful. His goodness helped Paul wrestle through it to understand its purpose. By the time he wrote today’s verse, Paul saw its value. He had pleaded three times for release. Did God tell him to stop asking, or was that when he received perspective?

What do we see as a limitation? A liability or weakness that holds us back? “If it wasn’t for _________, I’d be so much more useful to God.”

God crafted each of us the way we are, and He has plans for us. Even if we’ve taken a detour and feel that our “thorn” is self-inflicted, God can use us as – and where – we are.

Just as Paul learned to embrace the things that kept him weak, knowing they kept him dependent on God’s power, we can do the same, as God helps us to do so. It won’t be easy, but even here His grace is enough.

Instead of “doing things for God,” we’ll be positioned for God to work through us. After all, it’s not about stroking our pride. It’s about showing the world who He is.

Holy, powerful, and sovereign God, You have chosen to work through the weak, to show what only You can do. Sometimes this hurts us, but please help us entrust ourselves to You. In our weakness and in our apparent strength, protect us from the snare of pride and from self-reliance. Help us find our sufficiency and our value in You, surrendered to Your purposes and living for Your glory.

Casting Crowns’ song, “In Me,” shows where our true strength lies.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God’s Strength for God’s Work

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him…
1 Timothy 1:12, NLT*

Jesus gives Paul the strength, and considers him trustworthy despite Paul’s past.

And the work is Jesus’ work, not Paul’s. Not mine. Not yours.

In Paul’s case, it’s high-profile, dangerous work. For most of us, it’s not. We’re parents, employees or employers, citizens, neighbours, friends, shoppers etc. It’s still more than we can handle in our own strength, and we need to rely on the strength and grace that God provides.

We’re Christ’s ambassadors, just like Paul.

If we keep the trust and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel, relying on Jesus’ strength and leading, we’re doing His work of revealing God’s reality to those around us.

That’s a high calling indeed.

Holy One who saves us, You send us just as You sent Jesus, to let the world see that You are God—and You are good. Help us walk by faith, not by sight. Help us rely on Your strength, not our own, and to live for the sake of Your glory, not ours. Thank You for calling us to work with you in reaching the world.

When we find ourselves working in our own strength, we need songs like this one from Brian Doerksen: “Enter the Rest of God.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Our Source of Strength

May [the God of peace] equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Hebrews 13:21, NLT*

The Christian life is about learning what it means to walk by faith, to let the Holy Spirit’s power in us be our source of strength.

This has become my quest in the past few weeks. I’ve realized part of the reason there’s been an invisible cloud over my head is that I’ve felt overwhelmed by the “stuff” of life. I’ve been trying to handle it on my own again.

The more I commit each day to God’s leading, including what goes or doesn’t go on the agenda, the more I pray “Lord, You direct me, strengthen and keep me focused,” the better it is.

I’ve been praying daily for protection from fearful and negative thoughts, and reminding myself in Whom I put my confidence.

Check out the credentials ascribed to God in the verse before our focus verse:

Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— Hebrews 13:20, NLT*

This God, we can trust.

I don’t need to be anxious or to overcompensate. If there’s potential for something to go wrong, either God will help me do it right, or He’ll work within the fallout. If someone else is angry with me about it, God will still be with me.

And I don’t need to think ahead and try to hold everything together. My times are in His hands.

I’ve seen a few changes to my default reactions—all good! And my spirit, lined up with His Spirit, has more peace.

God of peace, You are so good to us. You rescue us when we can’t help ourselves, You prepare good works for us to do and give us people to love… and You provide the power to do it because on our own we can’t do much of value. Forgive us for the times we try life in our own strength, and help us learn to rely on Yours. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Here’s one of my favourite Cliff Richard songs, a worship song I remember singing many years ago to help me focus: “Be in My Heart.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Who’s Bringing the Water?

[Moses] and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”
Numbers 20:10, NIV*

When God called him to lead the Israelites to freedom, Moses was a man deeply aware of his own inadequacy for the task. God gave him power to do miraculous signs, and promised to be with him, but he still resisted.

Fast-forward to the Desert of Zin. Moses has led the people out of Egypt, they’ve balked at entering the Promised Land and so God has sentenced them to roam the wilderness until the faithless generation has died. Moses and Aaron’s sister Miriam has died. The people—surprise!—are complaining because there’s no water.

Never mind the fact that God has provided water before now.

Moses has relied on God’s power every step of the way. He has stood between God and the people when God was angry with them, but this time it’s Moses who’s angry, and he loses it. One frustration-laden sentence, one whack of staff against stone, and Moses forfeits his own entrance into the Promised Land.

God said it was “Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites.” (Numbers 20:12, NIV*)

It looks like such a little slip to me, but God has the full picture and is the righteous judge. One thing I see here is “must we” bring the water? It’s God who supplied the power and the water, but Moses is taking on the responsibility, the burden—the credit—for the miracle.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “seek God first” and from that perspective I see an application to my own life. When there’s a need or a demand, the natural human instinct is to meet it in my own strength and from my own resources.

God wants me to look to Him first, and to respond out of His equipping… His strength, His wisdom, His resources. If I try to do it on my own, I’m getting in the way like Moses did. And I get the whole “Moses burnout complex and attitude” if I’m not careful. Not pretty.

Creator and Sustainer God, You never meant us to rely on ourselves, but we do. You said to trust in You with all our hearts, and not to rely on our own understanding. Forgive me for taking on more than You intended, and teach me to seek You first in everything. Help me trust You enough to honour You as holy in the sight of those around me. Help me rely on Your provision instead of trying to manufacture enough resources on my own.

Here’s a light-hearted look at Moses’ mission: Larry Norman’sMoses in the Wilderness” set to flannelgraph images. Love it!

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Help for a Monday

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.

Proverbs 3:5-7a, MSG*

This was my devotional reading on Monday in the NIV**, but when I saw how The Message phrases it, with that “listen in everything/everywhere” that has been encouraging me lately, I knew that was the version to use here.

Monday… definitely one of those days I longed to crawl back into bed. I wasn’t sick, just painfully sluggish in body and mind.

It was also a day full of commitments.

These verses from Proverbs are old friends to me, and still verse 5 brought a new insight this time:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

It brought back recent advice I’d heard to dwell on the positives: to say “I’m great, thanks” instead of “I’m so tired”. The idea was to talk oneself into a better outlook, not do deny serious trouble, to choose good over bad when both are present.

A question popped up in my spirit: Am I going to believe my mental groaning of “I can’t do this”—or am I going to believe God’s promise that His grace is enough to strengthen my weakness?

Denial is another form of lying, and trying to think things better because we want God to agree with us is shaky ground.

But for me, it’s more a case of settling for less, of listening to my own understanding of how I feel instead of trusting God to be enough to make a difference. Sure, I’m tired, but am I really as tired as I say I am? As I’ve come to believe?

Today’s Wednesday… how did Monday play out? I was slower than normal, but everything got done that needed doing. The biscuits I made to go with supper even turned out fine!

Father, You are faithful to Your promises and loving towards all You have made. Thank You for Your grace. Thanks for reminding me to trust Your perspective instead of mine. Thanks for times of weakness that remind us to trust Your strength.

I’m glad feeling weak can remind me of God’s strength. Here’s a vintage Amy Grant song (written by Gary Chapman & Michael W Smith) with a similar perspective: “I Love a Lonely Day”.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

**New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Review: So Long Insecurity, by Beth Moore

So Long Insecurity, by Beth Moore (Tyndale House Publishers, 2010)

“Insecurity among women is epidemic, but it is not incurable. Don’t expect it to go away quietly, however. We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.” (p. xiii)

Drawing on her own experience and the responses of over 1,000 women (and men!), and using Scripture as a key weapon, Beth Moore has given us a book that equips us to change. So Long Insecurity is about empowering women to find their security in God.

One surprising point that comes up early in the book is the idea that it may not just be self-doubt that cripples us—we may be doubting God.

How? By doubting what He says about us. He says He loves us, and that He values us. But do we secretly think we know better, that if He really knew us completely He’d discover He’s been wrong?

The book exposes insecurity for what it is—a lie from the enemy of our souls—and takes a good look at the things that may have let it flourish in our lives.

There may be parts you relate to and parts you don’t, depending on your own personal experience. Insecurity manifests itself in various ways, and some women may be surprised to discover this is what’s been hindering them.

Prayer and Scripture form the basis of our defence against our individual default patterns of insecurity. One key verse is from Proverbs 31:25, where it declares “She is clothed with strength and dignity.”

Our God-given right to dignity—and our responsibility not to give that away when something threatens us—is central to maintaining our security. No, dignity is not something we can earn. It’s a gift from our God, and we need to hold it tight.

We also need to trust God. Beth says, “Whenever you get hit by a wave of insecurity, the wind driving it is always fear” (p. 320).She reminds us to consciously choose to trust God without conditions.

Not to say, “I’ll trust You as long as You don’t let my fear come true.” To decide that even if what we fear happens, we will trust Him to look after us.

If we must picture the worst-case scenario, we need to remember that God will be in it too. He won’t vanish in a puff of surprise and leave us fending for ourselves.

So Long Insecurity isn’t a quick-fix, one-time deal, because the triggers to insecurity are all around us. But it is a practical resource to help us reclaim our security and to arm us with what we need to guard ourselves.

I appreciated the solid reliance on Scripture, and the focus verses and short prayers that are perfect to write down and carry with us. There’s also a slightly longer prayer we can use each morning to keep our defences up.

Working through this book has changed me. I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m closer. And I have the tools to get there. Whether you’re deeply or only mildly insecure, or if you want to understand an insecure woman in your life, I recommend reading So Long Insecurity. Check out the first chapter of So Long Insecurity here.

Beth Moore is a popular Bible teacher and author. You can watch an interview with Beth Moore about So Long Insecurity here, or learn more about the book here. Or click here to visit the So Long Insecurity website.

[Book from my personal library—and while I may lend it to you, I want it back!]

Of Tea and Spiritual Maturity

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1, NIV*

I often read pages of Scripture before something nudges my spirit. Other times the same verse catches me for days.

This is one of those times. Today I’m looking at the “be strong in” segment of this verse.

Hot tea steeps in 3-7 minutes. Sun-brewed tea takes 2 – 5 hours. Refrigerator tea steeps 6 hours or overnight. One starts with boiling water, the others with cold.

If we’re the water, the steeping time depends on our temperature—how much heat we’ve been exposed to before we come to Jesus.

As water that hasn’t been heated enough to boil, I’m drawn to the sun tea image. Not that I can go sit in the sun and relax, but as I go through the day, can I keep that spirit-focus to be held in His Light?

Tea has an optimum strength, depending on the variety and on the taster’s preference. Leave the bags in too long and it’ll get bitter. Not so with us.

Steeping in the Lord’s grace takes a lifetime.

Father, help me rest in You—steep in Your Spirit and Your grace. Let it change and flavour me as I learn to abide in You. Quiet me, remind me, draw me ever nearer to Yourself. Cradle and sustain me until You brew me into that which You’ve designed me to be.

This week’s song is “If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile,” written by Dennis Jernigan. I’m glad I found the version sung by Todd Agnew on one of his early indie CDs. Please ignore the typing issues in the video. I work with what’s available on YouTube.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Grace for Today

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1, NIV*

No, I didn’t leave last week’s verse here by mistake. Same text, different focal point: grace.

Often when we speak of God’s grace it’s in terms of forgiveness, salvation, eternity with Him after we die. And it is.

But it’s also strength for today and for all of the tomorrows until we reach the end. It’s God—His presence with us.

I’ve been thinking about grace and what it means. It’s something given by a person who “has” to a person who “has not” with no strings attached.

There’s no obligation to give, just a valid need that will otherwise go unmet. The giver acts out of goodness, compassion or a similar motivation. The recipient can’t earn it but desperately needs it.

The recipient has no claim on the giver. The recipient is unworthy, but with the gift comes worth. I am worthy because God conferred worthiness on me along with the gift of His grace.

I am not entitled. But I’m valued—validated—by God.

Father, on our own we’re nothing, and what little we have, we’ve damaged. But You love us. And You choose to rescue and mend us, and to dwell in us. Amazing grace indeed!

Listen to this beautiful song from the band Fee: “Grace Will Be My Song“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Christoverts, Unite

…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1b, NIV*

I’m writing this on Monday, after a three day writers’ conference and a Sunday packed with church, Fathers’ Day celebrations for my husband and for our fathers—and an extended family barbecue on my husband’s side that included relatives from out of town. Some of these folks I’ve met before, some are new to me.

My husband’s uncle died last week, and we’ve gathered to support the immediate family and to work through our individual and corporate loss. Today we’ll be together for visitation and another meal. Tomorrow will be the funeral. And then the hard part will come: learning to live without a man who loved well.

I am not a people person. Groups drain my energy. But it’s not about me. I need to be a support and a comfort, especially these next few days.

As I prayed this morning and committed this crowded day to God, I reminded myself that He is my strength. When I opened my Bible, what did I see but this verse from Paul’s letter to Timothy? I’d highlighted it in the past, and it jumped right out at me in living orange.

He is so good to each one of us.

I’ve been thinking that as Christians we don’t have to be limited and labelled as introvert or extrovert.

I will find my identity from now on as a Christovert. Since I’m inventing the term, I’ll set the pronunciation: the ‘i’ is short, like in ‘Christian’, not long as in ‘Christ’.

Father, thank You for being so near to us, so ready to encourage each of us in ways perhaps only we will recognize as from You. Thank You that we don’t have to rely on ourselves. Help us draw our strength from You. Help us to be Christoverts.

Our song this week is “The Solid Rock (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)”, presented here by Amazing Worship:

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Weak is Okay… When Your God is Strong

But he 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*

Monday came with a low-level anxiety. Too many deadlines looming too near. I felt unsettled, needed comfort, reassurance. An anchor.

I found a quiet corner with my Bible, to spend some time with God. Wished I could just be with Him, instead of feeling so weak.

A new thought surprised me: don’t regret the weakness, be glad it’s pointing me to my Strength. Rest in God, draw what’s needed for each moment as it comes, be glad of the reminder to do this. Forgetting only leads to launching out alone, which tends to mean missing the mark.

I don’t have to be strong in myself. God never asks that. He asks me to recognize my need and His bounty, and to love to run to Him.

Father, I’m so thankful that in my weakness Your strength shines, and that we’ll navigate today by Your plan. It will be enough. Today I will be neither introvert nor extrovert, but Christovert.

He also gave me this song for the morning. What a God, so good on so many levels. Here are my favourites, the newsboys, with “I’ll Be,” from their album Born Again. May it bless you today.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.