THINKING ON ……… STRENGTH FOR THE YEAR AHEAD!! (Part 1)
As 2017 unfolds we want it to be a year of strength for our family, friends, and prayer partners. We are admonished by Paul in Ephesians, “Be STRONG IN THE LORD and in the power of His might!” (Ephesians 6:10)
Have you ever watched those body building competitions on TV. Muscles and biceps bulging out everywhere. Many of those people have great strength on the outside but are falling apart on the inside. A truly strong spiritual life does not have its foundation primarily displayed externally, but internally. Instead of just body building we should focus on becoming spiritually strong – strong in spirit. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus told a story that illustrates the difference between a strong life and a weak life. He said to those who are wise to build their lives upon the hearing and applying of God’s word. But those who merely hear the Word and never act upon it are building on shifting sand.
Both of these lives look pretty stable on the outside – that is, as long as the weather is good. But the true test of strength occurs when the storms come. The way we respond to hardship, trouble, suffering and disappointment reveals whether or not we have built upon the rock of obedience to Christ’s words or not. Those who have no firm foundation quickly succumb to doubts because they don’t understand why God would allow these difficulties into their lives. Often they feel overwhelmed and filled with fear, anger, self-pity or discouragement.
This coming year may bring a few storms into your life – most of them will probably be small, but perhaps one or two will greatly challenge your faith. It is so important for us to remember that the time to begin building on a sure foundation of Biblical application is not in the middle of the storm but every day as we choose to live in obedience to the Lord and the principles found in His Word.
So we ask the question, what does a strong spiritual life consist of and then look like? Here are a few thoughts to ponder:
1. A strong spiritual life is committed to knowing and applying the Word of God!
We need to see the Bible as our most treasured possession. We must believe and be convinced that it’s the Lord’s voice speaking directly to us, His people. This is how we gain His perspective, come to understand His purposes and therefore receive His guidance. Just knowing what God says won’t make us strong. We actually have to do what he says (James 1:22). Obeying the Lord should be the norm in our lives not the exception. This strengthens our inner being and prepares us for all kinds of situations that may arise in our journey of life.
2. A strong spiritual life is committed to making prayer a priority!
Prayer is our true connecting point with the Lord and the means for nourishing our relationship with Him (Psalm 5:3). We’re not talking here about merely bringing Him our list of requests and desires but actually communicating with Him, person to person. One of the best ways to approach this is to enter into a prayer time with your Bible open in front of you. As you let God speak to you in His Word respond in prayer asking Him to show you how to apply the passage to your life. You will find that many times the Lord will speak to you through a passage of Scripture that applies to the situation you are currently facing! This strengthens us to face what any and every day may throw at us.
3. A strong spiritual life is committed to praise and worship!
This is another strong connecting point for us with the Father. Praise and worship gives us a laser-like focus on who He is, what He’s done, and what He is able to do. This focus on Him alone pours strength into the foundation of our lives. The reality of Jesus becomes profound in our deepening understanding of Him. We need to give ourselves unreservedly, and with abandonment, to worshipping Him in spirit and in truth (John 4). When we worship in this way He becomes large in our eyes. The bigger he becomes in our view the smaller our problems will appear to be. By this we become strong in spirit.To broaden your understanding of His greatness and the power that flows when he speaks; read Psalm 29.
4. A strong spiritual life is committed to being led by His Holy Spirit!
In Romans 8: Paul makes clear that “Those who are led by the Spirit are the son’s of God!” This aspect of truth is crucial to our success in Christ this year. One of the things we’ve always been concerned about in ministry is that we would keep going straight on our jolly way with our own plans and logic when the Holy Spirit wants to lead in a different direction or within a different set of circumstances. Learning to hear the Holy Spirit and sense His direction is indispensable to us fulfilling God’s desires and purposes for us and our ministries. How often we read in various parts of scripture (and particularly in Revelation), “He that has an ear let Him hear what the Spirit is saying….” (Revelation 3:6). We become spiritually strong when we tune our ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit!
Mmmmmm …….. Think about it!!