Posts Tagged ‘Strength

27
Aug
18

The Secret Of Contentment

Philippians 4:13 is a very popular Bible verse. It is used to motivate people to do all kinds of things – climb mountains, win boxing matches and run marathons. The biggest problem is that this verse has very little to do with any of those activities. This powerful verse has a much different context. This verse is about being content no matter what. Paul wrote:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

It takes the power of Jesus to be content no matter what you’re going through. Whether you’re living high on the hog or underneath it, Jesus gives you strength to be content. Whether life is handing you lemons or lemonade, Jesus gives you strength to be content. Being content is difficult and it takes the very strength of Christ to do it.
Advertisements
13
May
18

Who’s Laughing Now?

04
May
18

Do Not Covet

The tenth commandment has to do with covetousness. It’s wanting what belongs to someone else so badly that you’ll break other commandments to get it. Coveting leads to murder, adultery, lies and theft. God said that it has no place in the community of faith. He said:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. – Exodus 20:17 (NIV)

Coveting is the opposite of contentment. The apostle Paul said that the secret of contentment is the strength that Christ gives. It takes the power of Jesus to be content no matter our circumstances. We’re not a content people and we want what others have. It might be their house or their car or their spouse or their job. Don’t let covetousness fill your heart, but be content instead.
07
Apr
16

Strengthen Me Lord

Some of the most famous words in Scripture are found in Philippians 4:13 (NLT):

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

This verse gets plastered on posters of mountain climbers.  It is quoted by victorious athletes.  It is used to motivate people to new heights of success.  It is used to remind people that they can overcome any obstacle.
But it isn’t what the verse means.  In its original context, this verse means quite the opposite.  Look at verses 12-13 (NLT) together:

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Paul is writing about being content.  No matter what he’s going through in life, he can be content in any situation.  Whether he’s hungry or stuffed.  Whether he’s got a little or a lot.  Whether he’s living high on the hog or underneath it.  He can do it because Jesus gives him the strength to be content.
Contentment.  That’s a word we don’t hear very often in our world today.  We don’t hear people say things like, “I could have bought a brand new car, but I was pretty content with my old clunker that still ran fine.”  We don’t hear anyone say, “I went to the store to buy some new clothes, but I realized that I was pretty content with last year’s styles.”  You won’t hear these words, “I was going to take the family out to dinner, but then I remembered that we have plenty of food at home and we were content with that.”  Nope!  Even if we are blessed beyond measure, we still want more.
We don’t hear the reverse, either.  “We can’t afford a new house, but we’re content with the one that we have.”  “We’re content to eat peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches for the next four days until we get to payday and can afford strawberry jelly!”  “We’re content with the three outfits we have in our closet.”  Nope!  We may be struggling to get by, but what do we do?  We start maxing out our credit cards so we can buy more.  Then we’re in a heap of trouble!
The reality of the situation is that it Paul knew that it takes a lot of strength to be content.  We’re not a content people.  We like stuff.  We like new stuff.  We like the shiny and the latest and the greatest.  The new and improved.  It takes all of the strength that Jesus can give us to be content in any and every situation.  It’s a real struggle when we live in a land where we don’t have to be content with what we have. We can be instantly gratified with gadgets and possessions and stuff.
The challenge for today is to pray for contentment.  Perhaps that car will run another year and you could send that car payment money to a missionary (who may or may not have a car at all).  Maybe you could wear those jeans another six months and give that $50.00 toward the children’s ministry at your church.  Instead of going out to eat tonight take that $75.00 you would have spent (you really should tip well) and buy a couple of bags of groceries and ask your church to give them to someone who is struggling more than you are.  It’s going to take some strength to do it, but you can do all things through Jesus.  We can even learn to be content.
PRAYER: Father, You have blessed me in so many ways.  Help me to be satisfied with what I have been given.  Give me the strength through Christ Jesus to be content in You.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, amen.
 Philippians 4:10-23 (NLT)

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.

15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.

18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

Paul’s Final Greetings

21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.

23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

18
Feb
16

Unity Among Generations

1 John 2:11-14 (NIV)

I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.

14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

​John lists three groups to whom he is writing when it comes to the reasons he wrote this first letter.  He addresses his “dear children,” “fathers” and “young men.”  The first group, “dear children,” is how John refers to the entire church to whom h he was writing.  Then he addresses the older people in the church and then the younger people in the church.  The Greek words are masculine in gender, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were only referring to men.  ​The form he uses could have been used for both men and women according to one commentary (The IVP Bible Background Commentary).  In any case, John is not writing to them because of their ages.  Rather, he addresses these groups on the basis of spiritual maturity.
All believers have been forgiven by calling on Jesus’ name (Acts 22:16).  The older people in the congregation knew Jesus from the beginning meaning that that they had been walking with the Lord for quite some time.  The younger people, even though less spiritually seasoned, still had the Word of God living in them and had overcome the evil one.
What does all of this mean?  I believe that it means that we all, no matter our ages or maturity levels, have to be united in the church.  We have all been forgiven by the same grace through the same cross.  We need spiritually mature people to pass on the faith to the younger people.  We need younger people to use their vigor and strength to continue the work of the older generations.  There is a place for everyone, regardless of age or maturity, in the Kingdom of God.  We may be tempted to dismiss the older folks because they’re perceived as “out of touch.”  We may be tempted to dismiss the younger folks because they’re “not mature enough.”  We have to learn to work together to build the Kingdom of God.  By His grace, we can do just that.  How do we do that?  By keeping our eyes on Jesus.  He can make us one in purpose.  When we focus on what Jesus wants instead of what we want, the differences between the generations can melt away.
PRAYER: Father, I pray today that we can be one in the church.  That we will not allow our differences to divide us.  I ask that we would be united in our purpose and our mission to share Your love and grace with the world.  This is not possible apart from Your Son, Jesus.  I ask these things in His name, amen.
13
Nov
15

Strong Weakness and Foolish Wisdom

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. — 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)

I guess it never occurred to me the implications of this verse.  Is there such a thing as the foolishness of God?  Or the weakness of God?  God is all-powerful and all-knowing!  How could He have foolishness and weakness?  It’s all in how you look at it.

God’s Foolishness

God is, obviously, no fool.  He has infinite knowledge and wisdom.  It is God’s message of salvation by grace through faith that seems foolish to humanity.  How could believing in a Jewish carpenter who lived nearly 2000 years ago and died a humiliating, torturous death on a Roman cross bring forgiveness for horrible, awful sinners such as us?  That doesn’t make any sense!  Surely there are rules that need to be kept, right?  There must be something more to it than simple faith!  It just seems so…foolish.

God’s Weakness

God is not weak, right?  He can move mountains!  He can shake the earth that He spoke into existence!  Nothing is impossible for God!  How could anyone say that God has any weakness?  Because Christ came.  The One by and through Whom all things were created emptied Himself of Himself and came to earth as a helpless, weak human baby.  He limited Himself and though He was fully God, He was fully human as well.  Yet, even in this weakness, He demonstrated incalculable strength by enduring the agony of the cross!

Why?

Why?  Why would God do all of this?  Because of His intense desire to see His most prized creation be restored to a right relationship with Him.  So He sent a weak, helpless baby to bring a foolish message of grace to the world.  Though we may think we are strong and wise, we may just be too strong and wise for our own good.  May we be a little weaker and a little more foolish today.

PRAYER: Lord God, help me to trust in the power of the cross today.  To the world, Jesus seems weak and foolish and the cross seems powerless.  Help me to know the unfathomable power of Jesus’ cross to give me hope, healing, strength and wisdom today.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

13
May
15

Using What You’ve Been Given

Solomon recounts a story of a king who laid siege to a city.  The wealthy king had a powerful army, but the city had a poor, wise man.  The wise man came up with a plan that saved the city, even though they were outnumbered.  Solomon’s point is that “wisdom is better than strength” (Ecclesiastes 9:16, NIV).
It reminds me of a proverb I read about in the book Good To Great by Jim Collins.  There are two animals: a fox and a hedgehog.  Inline image 1The fox is bigger and stronger than the hedgehog and tries a myriad of ways to eat the hedgehog.  The hedgehog is small and easy prey for the fox.  The hedgehog knows one thing – roll up in a ball.  He may be small, but he wisely uses what he’s been given to live another day.
The point is to use what you’ve been given in a wise manner to overcome the obstacles, temptations and struggles in your life.  Sometimes the answer or solution is the most obvious one – prayer.  Don’t try to overcome your struggles on your own.  You’ve been given the power of the Holy Spirit!  Trust in the Lord with everything you’ve got and let Him lead you and guide you to safety.  Let God protect you and your heart.  Let God defeat your enemies.  He’s given you what you need (His Word and His Spirit), so use the tools you’ve been given to overcome a formidable enemy.  Victory is assured if you will use wisdom and the tools you’ve been given to seize it!
Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 (NIV)

I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one sinner destroys much good.




%d bloggers like this: