Being strong while being weak - which is what scripture tells us. From the outside, non-believer perspective, that appears to be a dichotomy. Yet as believers, who know a decent amount of scripture, we know that some things are hidden from the "wise" so that they can't understand it. Most of us have some basic idea that when we are weak, God steps in for us so that His strength becomes our strength. But as I've been studying strength to prepare for this month's topic, I've learned that there is so much more to God's strength and it's not just for when we are weak.
We have access to Almighty Father God at all times, not just when we are weak. And we are actually called to operate in God's strength every day, regardless of how we feel. When we operate in His strength daily, we start to build an immunity to feeling weak. We get so used to operating out of the Lord's strength, we don't wear down because you can't wear down God's strength. God doesn't get depleted, God never has loss. This is one way that keeps us pressing on.
So the question becomes how to do we actually operate in God's strength? How do we take it from a bible scripture and apply it to our daily living? The answer is surprising simple - you receive it by faith.
And this is where the church divides - insert my heartbreak. Regardless of what conservative practicing Christians believe, it's not a theological difference - it is a matter of faith. Do you have child-like faith to take things like the gospel at face value? Can you receive something "by faith" and then start operating in it? The Pharisees couldn't. The Pharisees considered themselves experts in their field; holy men who knew scripture off the top of their head but there was nothing child-like about them. They never exercised their faith. They didn't need to exercise their faith to recite scripture or to go through the temple traditions. They didn't need to exercise faith to convict a person of guilt or to go to a banquet and sit in the place of honor. The Pharisees didn't have any faith, they had habits and traditions. And that is what much of the church has - habits and traditions.
Habits and traditions place a person on auto-pilot. That's why it's so hard to form a new habit because we've adopted habits after habits, stay in them over time, and then it just becomes a part of us. And sometimes it becomes a personality trait. And the world is really great about 'encouraging' people to love who they are even when there is a personality flaw. And what seems like encouragement is actually holding that person back from who God created them to be. Personality flaws are adopted sinful behaviors and sin is not of God. But when we understand God's character and His personality traits, then it's up to us to see if our own personality traits reflect His. If ours look different then we have work to do - and we always have work to do!
Just like with all of God's gifts, we have to receive them by faith. How do you know that you are forgiven? You have read God's Word and you receive His forgiveness by faith. You have trained your mind to fully believe, without a doubt, that when you ask God for forgiveness then He actually forgives you. You receive His forgiveness and through receiving it, you don't need to ask for forgiveness, of that same thing, over again because you received forgiveness for it. And that same way of receiving works for all of God's gifts, including His strength.
Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].
God is strong - fact. God's strength doesn't wear out - fact. Our Holy scripture tells us that we are called to operate in faith - fact. And faith is defined as the EVIDENCE of things that we can't see - fact. So it actually should make perfect sense that we get to operate in God's strength because He has it, He gives it to us, and we receive it, and then we operate in it. It's a transaction that we can't see, just like forgiveness, but it's very real. So take in a deep breath, extend your arms, open your hands and receive the strength that God has for you. It's simple, it's biblical. Then exercise your faith that you now have it and you now get to operate in it.
The Lord is my strength and my [impenetrable] shield;
My heart trusts [with unwavering confidence] in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I shall thank Him and praise Him.
When we merely believe, without a doubt, then we receive. It's the way God designed His Kingdom. It's a Kingdom principle. It's a free gift and a truth that is ours because we belong to Him.
I'm a big believer in visualizing the transaction between us and God. It helps train my mind to believe and understand things of God that don't make earthly sense. And scripture tells us that the things of God are outside of our human understanding. So we have to train our minds to set our thoughts and beliefs on the things above, the things we can't see. So when we take the time to visualize the real spiritual transaction that is taking place, it helps to renew and transform our mind from the world's ways back to God's way. So close your eyes, take in a deep breath, and imagine/visualize yourself receiving God's strength.
God's ways truly are simple. Receiving and operating in God's strength is simple. But we need to exercise our faith and renew our mind in God's principles in order to make God's ways a reality in our life. The world is a twisted and complicated place, but God has a straight path that He's made for each one of us, and we get to walk on it with His strength shielding us and empowering us with each and every step.
I hope this gives you encouragement and hunger to make life easier by doing things God's way. All month long we are focusing on God's strength. CLICK HERE to listen to our first, of five, podcasts on STRENGTH this month.
You are blessed. You are strong. Walk with boldness!