Strength Beyond Measure

A good friend of mine and I were discussing our financial situations. Although they are different in many ways, they also share similarities. The main similarity is simple, and you probably already guessed it: we need provision. She said something that stuck with me. She said she’s been asking God to provide, and she has a family member who would like to help, yet she feels bad for allowing this person to do so. In other words, she is seeking provision, but has her own idea of how she would like to accomplish that. What if this is God’s provision?

It’s similar to the joke she told me once about a man who is about to drown. He asks God to save him, and has faith He will, and each time a boat passes him and offers relief he responds, “God will save me.” After three rescue denials, the man dies. He asks God “Why didn’t you save me?” God responds, “I sent you three boats.”

Her and I have both been asking for provision in our lives, and we have been given the strength to hold on, but what if each of the scenarios we have encountered, her family offering help and my new job, are God’s way of saying “I am trying to provide for you.”

My point is God will wait for us to accept what He is giving. And this includes strength.

 

Isaiah 40:28-31

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young man shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Here’s the verse (verse 31) that is most powerful for me: “but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

This Scripture is telling us that even though we, as humans, grow weary and are weak, God is never weary and he is always strong. In fact, this Scripture tells us that He will give us His strength.

 

Continuing to be Equipped

Today’s message in church continued our “Equipped” series, and our pastor talked through how God will not fail us, but we must allow Him to lead the way. The Scriptures used were Joshua 1:1-9, Romans 8:31-39, and 2 Peter 1: 5-9.

Joshua 1:9 tells us: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 8:31 states: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and verse 37 explains that “yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

2 Peter 1:1-9 talks about growing your faith in all regards because “if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is short-sighted…and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”

 

The take away is…

No matter what, God will equip us as we need for the journey ahead. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will give us His strength when we are weak because He never fails and is never tired. Because of this strength, we can do more than just survive and win the battle we face; we can overcome and prosper.

When we ask for the Lord’s help, we have to be willing to wait, but He can give us the strength needed to wait.

My friend and I have been waiting and wondering about our financial situations for some time. We have asked god for guidance, for provision, for answers. We have asked for strength to keep going when we don’t know what is next or, quite frankly, if we are going to make it.

But the thing is God has equipped us for this. He has provided answers, even if they are not answers in the way we wanted them. And that’s the key: God provides in His way, not ours.

Our pastor also said today that “power sought after is destructive, but power given is empowerment.” We cannot seek out our answers (or power) apart from God; we have to allow God to grant us those answers (or power) in the way He sees fit for our lives.

When we are at breaking point, we only need to ask God for His strength. But we have to be prepared for what He gives us. If we continue to grow our faith, we are rewarded beyond measure. Because, truly, if we allow God to lead, He will protect us. If He is for us, no one and no thing can be against us.

So, I ask you today: what do you need strength for? Ask God, and I guarantee, if you allow Him to take the lead, He will provide and protect.

God Promises Renewal

Today’s Scripture has taken some thinking, and I am still not sure what God is saying through these words. Yes, I understand it is Him speaking in the context of the Bible and the individual text. But what is He trying to tell me now? I guess we can find out together.

 

Ezekiel 36:24-28

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

God is speaking to His people. Let’s examine context. This Scripture is part of a section, in my Bible, titled The Renewal of Israel. God is telling Ezekiel that He was upset with the Israelites for “defiling” their land. His punishment was to scatter them across many lands and nations where they would be judged according to Him for what they had done. Now, He is telling them He will gather them again, for they have been judged, and He will bring them back to their land and make them clean.

 

The take away is…

I think the lesson here is that, even when God has judged us, or when we have fallen outside of His Will, He still cares for us. I mean, the Israelites “profaned” the name of God! They “defiled” the land He had given them! And yet, God continued to love them, and he showed that love by promising to cleanse them and return them to the land He had promised them. He renewed them. And He renews us too.

God has amazing things planned for us and amazing places He plans to take us. Even if we get off track, He still loves us, and He will always bring us back to where we need to be.

What promise have you let go of? What renewal do you need?

Remember: His mercies are new every day

Today is Day 2 of the Scripture Writing Plan, and I am already sensing a bit of a theme in what God is speaking to me.

Today’s verse is Lamentations 3:22-26: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

I felt yesterday’s verse, Isaiah 43:16-19, was about letting go of the past to allow God to do more in our lives. Today, I sense a bit of the same. If His mercies are what keep us from being consumed, if His compassions are new every day, then surely He forgave us for whatever happened yesterday (both immediately yesterday and the more distant past). So surely we can, and should, forgive ourselves and not dwell on it. God has promised us a fresh start every. single. day.

I have heard that forgiving yourself is often the hardest thing to do, and I think that’s because we truly know what was in our heart and our mind, and we must live with that person for the rest of our lives. We must live with the knowledge that we have the power to be that person again, good or bad. But I have also been told that if we cannot forgive ourselves, then we are saying Jesus was not enough. Because if God can forgive us, if He sent His Son to die for us, then what more could we possibly want?

So, yes, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.”

The other thing I hear from this is that God is faithful, and He will “show up” (as our pastor says) when you seek Him. But what gets me is verse 26: “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” I do not take this as God telling us to hide our faith (“Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket” – Matthew 5:15). Instead, I take this to mean that we should seek Him in our hearts and wait and listen for His answer to our seeking.

I can’t help but feel that God is telling me to let go of things in my past, great and small. He is reminding me that, yes, His mercies are new every day and that He is always faithful. This Scripture Writing Plan is reminding me of all I can learn when I actively seek God and take time to truly listen to what He has to say to me.

My question to you today is this: What new mercy do you need God to show you today? What forgiveness do you need reminding of so you can move forward and seek God?

Letting Go, Letting God, and Feeling Peace

The tighter we hang onto the rope someone is trying to tug from our hands, the worse our wounds are and the longer it will take them to heal. If we are always holding on, our hands will never be empty for God’s next plans for us.

A friend of mine said this at our women’s Bible study last night, and I was surprised at how relevant it is to me right now. While I have let go of most of the offenses I feel I have encountered in the past year or so, I know that there are things I am holding on to.

Like any young woman my age and in my shoes (you know, 25, with a degree, and seeking a career), I have goals. Desires. Dreams. For someone who just received her master’s, I have a pretty solid idea of what I want to do with my life, and I have since I started graduate school. But how do I know it’s a desire from God, and not something I have been hanging on to as a desire I have created? This is a question I have struggled with for some time.

In a meeting my husband and I had with our pastors to discuss this season we are in, I began to cry at the thought of getting, or even not getting, this job I so desperately want. Our pastor told me it is okay that I have this much emotion tied into this goal because it shows that God has placed this calling on my heart. And I have felt this calling for years now. But he also told me to be aware of why I have this excitement, and to really think about what God is saying to me,

I am excited by the possibility of moving again, and I know things will work out if we do. This is not out of pride, or out of a “I know what I’m doing” idea. I know it will work because in the past 6 years my husband and I have been together, we have moved states a total of 3 times. Each time, God has proved his faithfulness—we got jobs, we got places to live, we succeeded. Then, when I graduated and, for once, we stayed in the same city, my husband got a promotion and we got a great apartment all on the same day. A month later, I got an offer to teach 3 courses for my university. Each time we have gone through a season of change, God has showed us He is faithful. I have no reason to doubt Him, to doubt that He will not provide us with what we need.

Our pastor also delivered a message one Sunday on being faithful in your season. Of planting, of sowing, of believing. If we are not content with where we are, God will not advance us. We have to learn to be happy, to be thankful, with what He has provided us before He will allow us more.

All of these messages seem to tell me the same thing: stop worrying. Do what you are doing, and it will come. Sow, plow, believe, have faith. And over the past few weeks, I have experienced something I have not experienced since this whole season began: peace.

I am still pursing what God has called me to do with my career, but I am at peace knowing that I am also at a great place in my life. I can honestly say I enjoy teaching. I love my students, and I love watching them grow throughout the course of a semester. I have a faithful and amazing husband who has a good job, who does all he can to support and provide for his family, who will always tell me “let’s pray about it” before we jump to conclusions. I have a family who supports my dreams. I have mentors who respect me and guide me and help me to be the best I can be. I have a church I love and pastors who love and support their leaders, believers, and community in a way I have not experienced before. I have friends who know what my goals are, who know my personal struggles, but who support me none-the-less and know how to ground me.

I’ve gripped my rope of worry, of “I want!”, of my own desires and ambitions so tightly, I do have burns. But, you know something? When I stopped fighting and said “alright, you can have it,” when I asked God if this is from Him, He has done wonderful things. I am ready to have my hands empty so I can receive what God has in store for me next.

Are you?