Now Playing: What gives us strength ?
We all desire to have strength, both natural and spiritual. But how can we find it? The apostle Paul admonished Christian believers "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13). But spiritual strength is not found in the most obvious place. Paul also wrote "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong". (2 Cor. 12:10) Similarly, "For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection." (2 Cor. 13:9). How could he say this ? "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25) We know we were not born with this capability, because we know that, "when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).
The divine source of our strength we find in Paul's desire for the Ephesians that the Lord, "would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man". (Ephesians 3:16) Paul proclaim, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". (Philippians 4:13) He also wrote to the Colossians, earnestly desiring that they would be "strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness" (Colossians 1:11) The Ephesian believers were urged, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10). But the believers at Sardis had to be warned, "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God". (Revelation 3:2)
But the apostle John commended some, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one" (1 John 2:14). Timothy was encouraged, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1) The Roman Christians were told, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves". (Romans 15:1) Peter could say of the lame man who had been healed, "his name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" (Acts 3:16)
What are we to do when we have this strength? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:27) The Lord Jesus could say to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32) The apostle Paul could write to Timothy, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion". (2 Timothy 4:17)
The Lord Jesus Himself, "grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him". (Luke 2:40) As we grow in the faith, there is maturity, "strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil". (Hebrews 5:14)
We have many good examples: Abraham "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God". (Romans 4:20) Of Joseph it was said, "his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob" (Genesis 49:24).
After the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and see the Lord's protection, they could sing "The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him" (Exodus 15:2) Moses reminded the children of Israel of the Lord's provision, "as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:25), and "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee". (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Faithful Caleb could say, "yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in" (Joshua 14:11) When he was younger Joshua said, "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9) Some years later, he also said, "Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight" (Joshua 10:25) And even at the close of his life Joshua could say, "For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day". (Joshua 23:9)
King David could say, "God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect" (2 Samuel 22:33), and "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually" (1 Chronicles 16:11)and, "riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all" (1 Chron. 29:12)
David also encourage his son, "David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD" (1 Chron. 28:20) King Solomon also sought the Lord, "Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly". (2 Chron. 1:1)
A man of God warned King Amaziah, "if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down" (2 Chron. 25:8) The prophet Hanani said to King Asa "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him". (2 Chron. 16:9)
Faithful King Hezekiah kept himself busy when, "he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance". (2 Chron. 32:5)
Ezra could write, "I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me". (Ezra 7:28) Nehemiah likewise expressed, "I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, 'Let us rise up and build'. So they strengthened their hands for this good work" (Nehemiah 2:18), and when he was discouraged Nehemiah said "they all made us afraid, saying, 'Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done.' Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands". (Nehemiah 6:9)
Job could say of the Lord, "With him is wisdom and strength, He hath counsel and understanding" (Job 12:13). May we be as the believers in Philadelphia, "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". (Revelation 3:8) His strength is enough for us today!