Archive for the ‘spiritual strength’ Category

Traumatic events such as the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 almost always produce feelings of loss and weakness.

But they also give us the opportunity to rebuild new hopes and gain new strength.

It’s true in the natural world and in the spiritual world.

Most every believer has experienced an extreme loss somewhere along the way in life, a loss that left him or her in a painful fog with little emotional strength to put one foot in front of another.

It’s at such times, though, that the value and power of faith in Christ can be clearly seen and received.

In the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks, there was a sense of unity in this country that was special and that has long since dissipated.

I pray that our current atmosphere of chaotic finger-pointing and animosity toward Bible believers will somehow be reversed.

But if it doesn’t, we still have available all the help and hope we need.

Even when all else fails.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness,” Christ said to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Paul was suffering as a result of God’s desire to strengthen and humble him.

Paul didn’t like it, of course, but over time realized that this hardship was for his best.

And for the best of God’s kingdom.

Because Paul suffered and learned, we’ve been able to learn from suffering.

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me,” Paul wrote in verse 9.

People will be more interested in learning about our faith if they see it actually help us through a tough time.

So please don’t gripe about hard times.

Instead, rejoice in God’s grace during hard times.

It’s how Christ’s grace and power becomes more visible to us and to others.

As always, I love you

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Go to the beach at night and you’ll likely see little points of light miles away out on the ocean.

It’s amazing when you think about it, this evidence of electricity flowing through these small, glass-encased filaments on bobbing vessels perhaps seven miles away.

A tiny light in a massive expanse of darkness, yet it is clearly visible.

The darker the night grows, the more visible the light.

And so it is to be with the light of our lives as our world becomes a spiritually darker place.

You see what’s happening.

You feel the sadness at the moral decay of our nation, our communities, our workplaces and perhaps even our extended families.

You pray with increasing frequency that those close to you will draw closer to the Light of Jesus Christ, rather than moving away from Him.

It’s sad when people about whom we care are making choices that increasingly define them as “people of the night” rather than “people of the Light.”

It’s comforting, though, to know that as we make more room in our hearts and minds for the Light of scripture, the Light of the Holy Spirit and the Light of Christ’s presence, we’ll shine brighter into the darkness invading our corners of the world.

It is a truth of physics that you can’t “turn on” the dark. Remove the light and darkness automatically inhabits the space.

We can, however, turn on the light and darkness has no choice but to flee.

There is no pushing and shoving when it comes to photons.

They win every time.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)

Let’s flood our circles of influence with spiritual photons.

Let’s radiate the brilliant light of faith.

Darkness cannot overcome light.

We just have to make sure that pride, envy, materialism, apathy and other tools of the Enemy don’t corrode our connection to the Divine Creator empowering our light.

As always, I love you

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I’m one of those people who rarely sleep well.

I can count on one hand the number of times a month that I awake actually feeling rested.

It’s not pleasant.

But I’ve learned to push through it, drink coffee and focus on my missions for the day rather than what I missed while on my pillow.

My eyes are achy tired now even as I write this.

There is a silver lining to this recurring circumstance, though.

I think more about God than I might have otherwise.

Here’s why:

“I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night.” (Psalm 63:6)

We’ve all have times when we couldn’t sleep because we were thinking optimistically about what someone might do for us.

And we all have had times of sleeplessness because of negative thoughts about what someone had done to us.

When it comes to God, however, our thoughts should only be on that which is good.

We can never wrap our brains around all that God does for us or around how awesomely loving and perfect and merciful He is.

So when we have opportunity to put our brains to work while we await the onset of sleepiness, let’s redeem the time.

Let’s find rest in the restlessness.

Let’s meditate on the amazing grace and perfection and power and wisdom of our God, finding peace in the darkness of closed eyes and enlightened minds.

Our bodies — including our eyes — might awake tired in the morning, but our souls will be refreshed and ready to go forward in strength for another day of personal ministry.

I like that idea. Hope you do, too.

As always, I love you

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There are boxing matches where both contestants are winners not because it’s ruled a draw but instead because both fought bravely and smartly and effectively.

And then there are matches where the weaker, less skilled contestant had his hand raised by the referee not because he fought a good fight but instead because the stronger, more skilled contestant wasn’t prepared mentally and physically and let his emotions take over in the hostile setting, a sure recipe for defeat.

Simply stated, this was a case when the favored contestant lost the fight through failure rather than being defeated on his best day.

God desires every believer to experience spiritual victory and that’s why He sent Jesus into the world.

We are assured of victory as long as we keep fighting the good fight, according to the Apostle Paul.

Our battle is not against the heavyweight who packs a powerful left hook but against the scheming voices that lie to us about the neglect of God and “damaged goods” status of our ability to overcome challenges.

As long as we keep fighting, we haven’t lost.

Today’s One-Year Bible reading includes a verse that is so helpful to us with this need to not lose.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (Psalm 100:5)

Satan couldn’t overcome the person, the purpose and the power of Jesus’ life and ministry, despite his best efforts.

He wasn’t strong enough to throw a knockout punch in heaven before the creation of the universe and he was declared the loser.

He wasn’t strong enough to throw a knockout punch in the Garden of Gethsemane or on Mount Calvary or at the Rome-guarded tomb and he was declared the loser.

And he’s not strong enough to throw a knockout punch against our faith and as long as we keep the light of Jesus beaming from our lives as we live according to His Word, Satan can never extinguish it.

Really, the boisterous nature of Satan’s threats is pathetic.

For all the darkness in a huge, indoor arena doesn’t have the power to extinguish a single candle in the middle of the building.

No matter where somebody is seated in those millions of cubic feet of airspace, that single point of light will still be seen.

Please remember the power of our light. Keep it shining.

Satan has no power to overcome our light with his darkness.

His only hope is for our light to fade because we don’t prepare for the battle and we let emotions rule.

Keep shining. Keep fighting. And Satan will keep losing.

As always, I love you

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Some might think that after more than 20 years as a full-time apostle used SO powerfully by God, the Apostle Paul should have developed enough spiritual wisdom, boldness and strength to could cut the apron strings loose from time to time regarding his moment-by-moment dependency upon God.

After all, isn’t every believer tempted to think they can lean on their own understanding and power, charting their own course through the minefields and deserts of life?

I face that temptation and I’m sure that you do, too.

We’re wrong when we do so, however.

And we’re setting ourselves up for failure, something I’ve experienced on more than one occasion.

The fact is that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against powers of darkness and against our own fallen nature that tends toward sinfulness and independence from the voice of God.

Paul didn’t write much about his own battle with sin and independence from God, though he did acknowledge it in several of his letters.

He clearly recognized that his mission to share the Gospel with people was greater than what he could accomplish on his own.

As smart as he was, he knew that he wasn’t smart enough to outfox the Devil.

As careful as he was to keep his body in a condition to keep traveling, to keep teaching and sometimes to keep working for income purposes, Paul knew that his obstacles were greater than his flesh and that his fears were sometimes greater than his faith.

That’s why he prayed as he did in the desire for God’s provision and protection. And that’s why he asked the church at Ephesus to offer the same prayers in his behalf.

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19)

As a minister of the Gospel, I know that my effectiveness is limited when I’m leaning too much on my own abilities and strength. I don’t want that. I want to imitate Paul who knew that he needed God’s help when doing God’s work.

He knew that his human nature was outgunned in the battle with Satan and that he’d pull back if he leaned on himself.

That’s why he asked for the prayers of others.

That’s why I need the prayers of others.

And that’s why I encourage you to ask others to pray for your courage and wisdom so that people in your life will hear the message of God’s love.

As always, I love you

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No, that is not a typo in the headline.

I was reminded by my Bible reading this morning that the power to influence lives for God doesn’t rest in our power and words, but instead in God’s power flowing through us for the good of others.

We all know people who know all the right “church” lingo, are experts at church socializing but who rarely — if ever — bring people to church with them or volunteer for a key, lay ministry role.

You’ll recall that Jesus spoke about the need to bear fruit, not just put up lots of branches with lots of leaves. You’ll also recall that it didn’t turn out well for the tree that didn’t bear fruit.

I want to encourage you to examine your life as I examine mine. Are we talking a good line but not walking in the power of God?

Are people seeing God transform us daily into more gracious, more generous, more wholesome people who don’t listen to dirty jokes or to gossip from dirty-hearted people?

Are we telling others that it is the leading of God’s Holy Spirit that is prompting this change in our lives?

Are people seeing us hold up with humility and grace under great stress at work or home?

Are they hearing us credit God with giving us the strength we need to keep serving Him and others, no matter what?

Are our family members and church friends seeing us continually reach out with helping hands to people whom we want to eventually invite to church?

Are family members and friends seeing us make time for a coffee shop meeting or a midweek lunch or a Saturday picnic with unchurched people?

Listen, there is power for influence when we commit ourselves to allowing God’s power to flow through us.

The unsaved or unchurched person can hear us talk about our powerful God OR he/she can see the power of God flowing through us.

Which alternative will have more influence?

The Apostle Paul answers that question in this way:

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (I Cor. 4:20 NLT)

God will NEVER run out of power. Let’s make sure that we never stop running to Him for the power we need to live, to love, to shine and to share.

Remember that God is able to make all grace abound to us so that in all things, at all times, having all that we need, we will abound in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).

As always, I love you

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It’s time to take our vacation, so I’ll be on the road for a week. Looking forward to a May 21 return that is refreshed and refocused.
God bless you all!

As always, I love you

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