Real true faith is man’s weakness leaning on God’s strength.
—D. L. Moody
Sing for JOY to God our strength;
shout JOYFULLY to the God of Jacob.
By Brian Biggers
And He said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9
This is one of the greatest mysteries in the Kingdom; that God will never allow His power to rest on human strength or ability, only on human weakness. It goes completely contrary to rational thinking.
All our lives we’ve been taught ‘do your best and God will do the rest’ or ‘God helps those who help themselves’. The reality of Scripture is that He waits until I’m completely hopeless before He steps in and does for me what I can’t do. When in lifeguard training we were taught that when someone was drowning we were to swim to where they were but not to attempt to help them as long as they were still struggling. If you did they would drown both of you. Wait until they had no more energy and were going under, then you can reach in and save them. I don’t need Him to help “me” do anything, since “apart from ME you can do nothing”. A life that will experience the power and presence of God’s Spirit being in me and through me what I could never be begins not with trying to do His will, but by bending my knee in His presence and humbly confessing my total inability to do anything without Him. This is the place in His Divine mystery that His power will meet me in my weakness and I will find that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
By Patricia Knight
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31)
Eagles are magnificent birds, flying at level speeds around thirty miles per hour. It is fascinating to observe the great birds soar without flapping their wings for long periods of time, gliding on thermal updrafts, disappearing above the clouds at altitudes of a mile or more.
The eagle is opportunistic and fast. Spying rodents in a field or fish swimming beneath the water, the eagle can obtain diving speeds of one hundred miles per hour, splashing into the water to grasp a fish with its sharp, curved talons. Capable of lifting its prey while ascending at full speed, the eagle may slice the catch with its hooked, razor-sharp beak to eat in mid-air, or it may deliver the meal from miles away to feed eaglets in the nest.
God masterfully created the eagle with hollow bones for minimum weight and maximum flight aerodynamics. Each bird is covered with about seven thousand feathers, tapered for flight and downy for insulation. It has been estimated that, pound for pound, an eagle’s wings are stronger than the wings of an airplane. Is it any wonder our Lord has selected the example of the eagle to promise the renewal of our own strength?
Human weakness provides the ideal occasion for the display of divine power. The apostle Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove his distracting physical problem, but the Master Physician replied that the better solution would be to convert Paul’s weakness to His sovereign strength. God’s answer prompted Paul to admit, “‘For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’”(2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul established his priorities and trust in the almighty source of all power, who promised to respond to believers with the gift of extraordinary strength.
The classic example of power in weakness is the cross of Christ. “He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power” (2 Corinthians 13:4). Imagine the tremendous divine force required to raise Jesus from the dead, the ascension power that restored the Son at the right hand of the Father in heaven. That same immense power is available to those who believe.
Though our Lord delights in enhancing our physical strength, He is far more interested in providing our strength of character by empowering us spiritually. “‘Let not wise man boast of wisdom or strong man boast of strength; but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in this I delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23).
The apostle Paul prayed to God, “‘that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you … may have power … to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God’” (Ephesians 3:16-19). How incredible that God desires to share His infinite love and strength with His finite children! His magnificent love measurements are beyond our calculations, unfathomable in human understanding. God desires to fill us up to the brim with the inexhaustible measure of His love.
Paul prayed that the Ephesian church would experience God’s “‘incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength’”(Ephesians 1:19). In Greek, the term for God’s greatness of power is “dunameos,” the origin of our word dynamite. God’s power extended to us transcends the force produced from a blast of dynamite, the intense power of an atomic bomb, or the energy required to launch a rocket into space. God promises that His power will be available to us upon request, for the purpose of buttressing our stamina to serve Him. Spiritual dynamic power is ours to claim!
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace
gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your heart and strengthen you
in every good deed and word”(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
We were created in our heavenly Father’s image. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we assume His characteristics of purity and righteousness. God not only commands that we mirror His personality, but that our motives align with His. He provides the inner strength we need to maintain a sovereign replica.
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” (Psalm 119:28). The grieving psalmist asks for God’s encouragement in order for him to endure emotionally. Strength is endowed for truth and obedience to prevail, providing a lesson to us about requesting our Lord’s intervention for our daily needs and emotional courage. Like the eagle who is uplifted in the thermal air currents, our spirit rises on the strength of God’s provisions.
Extraordinary expressions are emitted from those of us who observe the graceful, powerful feats of an eagle soaring to the heights of the atmosphere. Do we exclaim in proportion to the Designer of such a magnificent bird, for His awesome gifts to us? As with humans, the eagles’ only strength comes exclusively from its Creator. Let us soar in God’s love and glide on the strength of His encouragement, as He lavishes us with gifts of love and power!
By Patricia Knight
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
We were watching the final segment of a law enforcement show on TV. The police found the perpetrator of a crime hiding at his mother’s house. As officers were escorting the felon into their squad car, one of them lingered to offer words of hope to his mother for the probability of a shortened jail sentence. She immediately retorted, “hope is useless” and turned away. There was no doubt about the growing bitterness and hate that was seething from deep within her being. At the conclusion of the show, overwhelming disillusionment spontaneously erupted from her heart as the door slammed shut behind her.
Hope is not about what will happen to us or around us. Hope resides in God and in His promises. King David admitted, “In His word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5).
Hope is not an inaccurately placed belief. It is a personal desire that we expect to have fulfilled. It is a true yearning, an expectation that God will provide for us as He carries out His promises. Misplaced hope is of no value. Only when substantiated by God’s promises can hope have significant meaning in our lives. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
God is able to provide for every aspect of our future. All authority and power rest in Him, a guarantor of our hope. Just as God’s power worked in Christ’s life to accomplish His mission of redemption for all creation, He will also complete His sovereign purpose in each of our lives.
If we attempt to place our hope in ourselves or in anything finite, disappointment will ensue. Unless we place our confidence in God, our expectation for hope is dashed. No one is as worthy of our hope and our reliance on future good like God is. He is the author and embodiment of all hope. With confident expectation we diligently rely upon Him for anticipated results.
Godly hope renews our strength. Giving our hope to God, transferring it from our own inadequate efforts, liberates our meager inner resources. We are more fully equipped to do His work while we depend upon the Lord for all of our strength.
According to the felon’s mother, human hope is offensive. More accurately, true hope inspires and enlightens. God is the source of all hope. Our future rests in Him because He has a plan for each of us. We can be assured that our life’s blueprint will be constructed just as He designed it for us.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
We are God’s workmanship. Let our hope reside in His design for us, for God doesn’t make mistakes—ever!
No matter what is going on in your life:
leaning on and trusting God for strength and direction always produces a mighty faith, joy, and hope. And how can you not share all of that with those who need to hear it?
When a man has no strength, if he leans on God, he becomes powerful.
—D. L. Moody
As I’ve written about before, the short version of our church’s mission statement is “Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 29:19). To be able to do that effectively, we pray for each mission. We also pray over our bikes and riders, that God will use these to spread His Gospel message, for His glory.
Each year we also gather in several different places for the annual bike blessing. The photos in the collage above are from the bike blessing on March 15, 2015 at the Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson dealership in Mayer, Arizona. The prayer blessing was led by Pastors Joe and Tim of our Full Throttle Biker Church. I thought it particularly appropriate to make up a collage using photos from one of this year’s bike blessings to illustrate D. L. Moody’s wonderful quote.
by Patricia Knight
“’I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
I’ll admit it; I’m a pushover for statuesque oriental lily plants. From each underground bulb, a gallant plant emerges. Growing to heights of four feet, the lily boasts a sturdy but invisibly reinforced stalk whose purpose is to support and nurture the entire plant, as well as showcase the lily flowers it produces.
Though the lily plant is tall and grandiose, it seldom requires external support for stability. Even during summer windstorms, it will skillfully withstand thrashing wind without bending or breaking the stem. The lily is built for endurance. Even a plant rimmed with pendulous flowers remains stable under pressure.
It is apparent that the balanced lily stalk must possess intrinsic features that prevent it from breaking under intense environmental conditions, specialized fibers comprising the stalk that offer reinforcement. God, the Creator, designed the majestic lily plant for beauty and dependability, giving it equilibrium by strengthening its internal composition.
What augmented inner support do we depend upon when adverse conditions assail us? With personal tragedy, every fiber of our being revolts, thrashing our hearts, twisting and churning our minds, and interrupting our intrinsic ability to remain calm and composed. We may groan and bend under the emotional or physical weight of the hardship.
Whether we break or rebound depends upon the strength within us. Our tenacity alone is insufficient to fight our personal battles, to provide confidence and composure amidst life’s entanglements. When the winds of adversity blow through our fragile lives, does our resolve wither and snap? Reacting to trauma, we may feel as if all of our energy is sapped. Physical weakness may cause us to tremble or shake, but there is a solid Source of immeasurable reinforcement available to us. God converts our trembling to peace; our weakness to strength.
Unlike the lily plant, our Lord designed His children with a renewable Source of strength. The Creator implanted our psyche with innate fortitude, but when that limited resource of inner strength wanes, our Lord is delighted to buttress our supply with his own infinite strength. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights” (2 Samuel 22: 23-24).
Believing in God’s absolute authority and power is much more straightforward when our days are peaceful and predictable. But, how do we respond in an emergency?
It must have been a traumatic jolt the day King Jehoshaphat of Judah was informed that a coalition of enemy armies was poised at his country’s borders threatening to attack. Vulnerable without a militia or armaments, where would the King find strength of opposition against such a formidable foe? “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord. The people of Judah came together to seek from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town of Judah to seek him (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
The people prayed continuously as they stood firm to wait for the deliverance they knew the Lord would provide. The frightened, but trusting inhabitants, prayed, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
Delighted with their faith, God informed King Jehoshaphat and the people that they need not fight the battle. God further instructed them to stand firm in their faith “and see the deliverance the Lord will give you” (vs. 19).
God developed unique war strategy, creating an ambush between that caused the two foreign armies to destroy each other in the confusion of battle. Not an Israelite was harmed. God’s strength was magnified and the people learned a significant lesson about faith and trust at a time when their personal supply was impoverished.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Scripture reminds us to plunge our roots into fertile, watered ground, accessing the Lord, our sovereign Source of all strength. God has created each of us with a natural desire to seek Him and His provisions, to help with both minor and major calamities. Then on the occasion when we are confronted with an unsolvable adversity, it will be our first response to call on God for His expertise in fighting our battle, for lavishing His gifts of peace and love, and for His intervention to deliver an extra boost of strength.
The lily plant is strong, but not impervious to destruction. Drought, insect infestations, and flooding will defoliate the plant, eliminating its source of nutrition. The plant is given one chance to perform majestically with the nutrition stored within its bulb. If the stress is too great, the plant will collapse.
Our Lord is the God of second chances, over and over again. With the renewable Source of strength God provides, we are able to grow in faith, combat stress, and to submit to the will of the Father. Whatever we lack for life and fellowship with God, He will graciously provide. Union with the living, exalted Christ is the secret to contentment and the Source of abiding strength.