Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"BE STRONG IN THE LORD"

Have you ever prayed for God to give you strength? Have you found yourself in a cycle of sin, followed by shame and repentance, only to turn back to do the sin again? Maybe you prayed for God to strengthen you and keep you from doing it, but to no avail. Did God let you down? The problem is mostly that we are not trusting in the things of the Lord.

The following are some ways that God strengthens those who trust in Him.

1. With the full armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-18. God wants every Christian to be "strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might" (6:10). This is possible when the believer trusts in the armor that God gives. If you want to be strengthened by the Lord, then put on the helmet of salvation, shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, gird your loins with truth, take up the shield of faith, put on the breastplate of righteousness, take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and pray. Once you have stood firm against the temptations of the Devil, you will have God to thank.

2. The Word of God, Matthew 7:24ff. In the last verses of what is called the "Sermon on the Mount", Jesus says that the wise man who builds a house that stands against the storm is the one that "hears his word and acts upon them." It seems reasonable to conclude that everyone is building a house, and some people build upon a lasting foundation and some do not. The previous words in Matthew 7:13,14 shows that it is the majority who do not act upon his word because they are on the broad way that leads to destruction. By hearing the Words of Jesus, and acting upon them, it provides the material for a lasting structure. When the storms of life come and go, and you step out into the bright sunshine with a house that still stands, you can thank God for that.

3. God strengthens through His promises (see Matthew 5:3-12, Revelation 2:10, 1 Peter 1:4-6, etc.). When the Christians in Smyrna were facing persecution to the death, Jesus encouraged them to be faithful until death and they would receive from Him the crown of life. Christians know what is more valuable. It is more valuable to have treasures in heaven than to save ones' life here. "Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." (Mark 8:35). God's reward helps the weak to have new courage. God also strengthens through relationships found in the church (Hebrews 10:24,25). God strengthens through prayer and providence. James shows that God gives wisdom to those who pray without doubting (1:5,6). He shows the importance of praying with pure motives (4:2,3) and if it is a righteous person who is praying, it is effective. God works His will and answers prayer to bless those that love Him. The Apostle showed that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Just knowing and trusting that God is working behind the scenes through prayer and providence is a source of strength.

4. Let's give God the glory for the power that He works out in our lives. We are not asking for Him to take us over, to suspend out freewill, and make us stop sinning. That would be asking God to do what He does not do. How silly it would be for someone to pray, "strengthen me, Lord, so that I do not sin again." If our attitude is such that we still love to sin, God wil not make us stop. If we go on sinning, it is not because God has failed, it is because we have failed to trust Him. If we keep caving into temptation and sin, we have a lack of faith and trust in the will of God. It would be more productive in such cases to pray and meditate upon His word and then plan ways to put that into action. You will thank God for the newfound strength He has given.

5. And last, but definitely not least, the Gospel is the greatest power available to man. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because "it is the power of God to save..." (Rom. 1:16). Without this power, all mankind would be lost and destined to the punishment of hell. I imagine we can all identify with Paul who said, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7;24). Thanks to God for the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ through faith! If we have confidence in Jesus' cross, we will strive to think on things above. Here's how Paul put it in Colossians 3: "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." In the previous chapter, Paul says that the Christians were raised in Baptism to walk in newness of life (Colossians 2:12). It is not likely that we will give in to sin if we have our eyes on Christ. That is all the strength we need.

When we find that we continually commit the same sin, the best explanation is that we have turned away from God and His word. The next time the old Devil tempts you to do wrong, trust in and act upon God's word to give you courage, trust in God's promises to lift you up, and confide in and assemble with fellow Christians who can stimulate you to love and good deeds. God will bless you if you seek His will.

You can help me out in this study if you would like. If you have some thoughts to add to this study, please email them to me and I'll add them later.

1 comment:

  1. You nailed it here. We cannot blame God when we sin. We always have a choice and God has promised we won't be tempted by more than we can bear. The problem surely is that we all have something sinful that we like too much to give up completely. But, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, Paul says it shouldn't be that way.

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