Encouragement for Facing our “Giants”
Some time ago, I read a secular book on writing and attended a Christian writers conference within weeks of each other. I’m going to share with you something that greatly impacted me at that time to remind us of who we are in God and what we have.
What struck me was that the advice from those at the conference and from the author of the secular book was basically the same. Everything about becoming a successful writer stemmed from you and your strength, not God. Why was there no difference? Aren’t Christians to be living in God’s strength, not man’s? Then why was the counsel the same?
Many Christians are living like mere men. God calls us to live in His strength and that shouldn’t look the same as the world’s ways, should it? I speak to myself as a reminder as much as anyone else. There is a better way to live, so why settle?
When you dive into the Bible, what you find is a description of a life with God that varies from what the world offers. Below are some elements of our lives when we are living in His strength:
I’m sure there are many more but these came to mind. Each scenario above creates an opportunity for the power of God, not man, to be displayed. God revealing Himself to the world through us is what our lives are about. And that means we will be living beyond our capabilities in many ways – it is uncomfortable and glorious all at the same time.
If you look at the characters in the Bible (Peter, Paul, Daniel, David, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, the prophets) they had one or more of these aspects. Their lives showed the strength of God, not the power of man. Often times they got scared, doubted, questioned, but they pushed forward with God.
Makes you think . . . what does your life show? What will be the story of your life? What would it read if it was in the Bible? What does it tell the world about who and what you REALLY trust?
For the child of God, there is a new way of life. Often God puts us in situations beyond our abilities so we can learn to trust Him. Our trust isn’t in our talents, skills, or gifts, how many extra hours we work, or if we did all the necessary preparations. It’s in God’s ability, power, and strength, because we are here for His glory not ours. In Him, we do what we never could. That is our life.
Running the rat race like the rest of the world isn’t for us. Nowhere in the Bible do I find that to be the case. Look at the Israelites. God established their life full of celebrations and feasts. I have never seen a group of people rest so much and yet accomplish what they did. God provided for their physical needs. He defeated enemies far stronger. He guided them and instructed them in every facet of life. They were living a life that was impossible in their own strength and God was glorified. However, our lives also aren’t about sitting around – but following His lead and moving forward in His strength.
Striving, toiling, and living by the same rules as the world – what is the difference then? What is the abundant life that God brought to us in Christ? His life consumes ours and that means everything changes. Yes we work but it is in a different strength. It isn’t our work, but His in us.
I know it can be extremely uncomfortable living beyond yourself. You aren’t in control so at any moment it feels like things could turn for the worse. Because of this discomfort, we often give into the fear and hold back from moving forward into what God has laid on our hearts. Like Moses, we are full of buts and what ifs. Exodus 3:11, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13. It isn’t easy to live in His strength, to make that leap and let go of what we have always trusted in. It takes time. If it was easy we would all be there. But God is offering us a much better way to live. I’ve tasted it. If we feast on His pure Word and seek to do it His way, then He will show us the way and give us the faith to live as He ordained – in abundant life, in His presence. If this life is your desire, then step out and follow Him beyond your strengths into His. Pray to let go of the control and to have a peace about it – God is driving now.
Psalm 21:13 “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.”
Hosea 11:7 My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him.
Calling upon God is easy. Exalting Him isn’t. Exalting Him means we truly believe and act on the truth that He is God, sovereign in all situations, loves us deeply and passionately, and has power and might in all our circumstances. That He is Almighty God, Creator, Deliver, Protector, Provider, and Comforter. That He is our everything. That His Word is true and we show our belief by living and speaking it with conviction.
How many of us truly live by these truths? How many of us truly believe He is who He says He is to us? What do our actions show? Who are we attributing power, strength and influence to in our lives? Who are we truly honoring? Whose truth are we living by? Whatever or whoever is the answer to these questions is who we exalt.
We exalt God when we look to His wisdom and not the world’s. Whether our health, job, finances, relationships, or anything else in our lives, there is a way and wisdom of the world and there is His. Whichever we seek and trust is what we exalt.
Giving into worry, living in fear, succumbing to discouragement and despair, dwelling in anger and resentment, and taking a passive stance in life are a few of the signs that we aren’t exalting God. Though some more than others, we all experience these emotions. We experience them because we don’t trust Him and we don’t trust Him because we lack a deep intimate knowing of Him.
Therefore the path to exalting God with our lives is one of drawing near. When we cultivate an intimate relationship with God in truth, then our faith grows and these symptoms, which arise out of a lack of faith, start to dissipate. It isn’t instant, but a process over years as He takes center stage in every area and in every way. Our part is to constantly draw close to Him. Learn about Him and His ways. Listen to Him. When we do the natural outcome is trust – and when we trust we exalt.
Examine your own life. What or who are you honestly exalting in the various areas of your life?
It is a constant temptation for all of us, battling the world’s pull on our beliefs and trust. The world bangs at our door calling out to us to trust in its schemes and philosophies about what leads to a good life. True life on every level is found in God.
I want to exalt God with my entire life. So I am going to continue to draw near to Him in truth, in His Word so that my confidence will grow in Him. And I chose to dwell and meditate on His truth not this world’s philosophies. Freedom and power flood our lives when we trust Him. I have tasted these gifts in my life and it compels me to keep pushing into a deeper union with Him; a union where He is exalted above all else.
Psalm 21:13 Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power
God is the Great I AM . . . everything. Exodus 3:14
The power of His name, I AM, hit me a couple of years ago and it still astounds me when I meditate on it each morning. As the source of everything that is good, God is everything we need. When we are in a relationship with Him and seeking His face and His truth then we lack nothing.
Psalm 34:10 “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
As God’s children, it is no longer about our strengths, abilities or resources, but about His. His truth, love, mercy, protection, provision, peace, rest, freedom, purity, beauty, comfort, wisdom, strength, and power become a part of our lives. We have access to incredible riches that the rest of the world doesn’t because we have Him and He is everything.
In Luke 5, the guys were out fishing without a bite. Jesus told them to go out and cast their nets one more time. They had been toiling day and night and caught nothing but at His word they let down the nets. They caught such a great number of fish that their nets started to break and their boat started to sink so they got another boat to help carry the multitude of fish. God’s Word has power in our lives. It accomplishes what man cannot. It does the impossible. But we have to listen, trust and act on it.
In this economy, many are pulling up empty nets. But when the Word of God penetrates our lives and we trust in His words and not the words of this world then what is impossible by the world’s means is possible for those who trust in God. His wisdom and ways defy the world’s.
God provides for every need. There isn’t an area of our lives that God doesn’t attend to. He is in the details because He loves us. The more you love someone the more you care about each little concern. He loves us beyond our comprehension thus He cares about everything. If we don’t believe He is in everything then we will limit out trust in Him and our lives will suffer for it.
God may use the world around us to test and refine us, but we lack nothing. If we trust in His Word He will provide and fill our nets in due time. But this promise is to those who seek Him. Many Christians have cultivated a relationship with the church and not God. They seek what the church offers and not God’s truth. They spend time at church, but not one-on-one in the Word cultivating an intimate relationship with God. As a result, their lives are full of hardship, suffering and lack like the world’s.
Everyone has hardship. But for God’s children it is completely different. We are always in the midst of God’s provision as He disciplines, tests and refines with the elements of this world. Tough circumstances teach us that we don’t lack and that we aren’t limited to the world. When you are in a tight situation then you see God’s deliverance that is beyond this world it is astounding. Without the trying circumstance, we can’t witness and learn about the power of His deliverance. But if we trust in worldly means then we will miss the lesson and often the blessing. We have what the world doesn’t because we have Him.
Trials come for a season. The ultimate purpose of any trial is to move us closer to God and His truth. Therefore, we aren’t meant to remain in those tough places, but move through them by growing and maturing in our relationship with God. However, if we lack a love of the truth and don’t seek its revelation in our lives then we will miss out on the abundance of His promises. We will live limited lives like the rest of the world.
God wants to show His power and glory to the world through His people. Tough times are the perfect opportunity.
In Ginny Owens’ song Free, she sings we have been made free. Free in every way including free to dance without concern or worry because of God’s great love toward us. Yet, how many of us experience this light heartedness on a daily basis that moves us to dance before our Lord like King David? 2 Samuel 6:14 “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.”
Jesus Christ came to set us free. Isaiah 61:1 Not only did He bring freedom from the bondage of sin and its penalty of death, but also He brought it to every area of our lives. Freedom from troubles, afflictions and fears. Psalm 34:4, 17, 19 Freedom from worry, anxiety, and concern. Matthew 6:25-34 Freedom from proving, earning, and striving for internal wholeness. Colossians 2:10 And so on.
The freest people in the world are those who are completely surrendered to God. Sounds like a paradox, but I have found it true in my life. When we believe, trust and live by the ways of God we experience freedom for our souls. It is God’s design. We follow Him and we live free. All this world offers puts us in bondage in one way or another because it is counter to the ways of God. Only living in God’s truth do we experience true freedom. Most believe the opposite is true. That He binds us to rules and regulations. But this is not the God I have met.
Take a glimpse at what God does for us:
Changes our circumstances to help us
Moves the minds and hearts of others in our favor
Gives us purpose, value, meaning
Opens doors, closes doors
Heals us, blesses us
Renews our minds to what is true and real
Gives us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind
Fills us with His love to pour into others
Delivers us from poor decisions
Gives us mercy for our foolishness, gives us what we don’t deserve
Defends, protects, and delivers from the evil plans of others
Makes our paths smooth
Fights for us
Gives us insight, direction, counsel
Provides for our needs internal and external
As for His rules, they all boil down to love. True love doesn’t bind, but frees. Oppressive rules and regulations come from man’s ill attempt to speak and work on God’s behalf to control others.
There is nothing God won’t do to bring about good in our lives if we seek, ask and trust. Psalm 84:11 God is in control of everything, therefore there is no limit to what He can do for us in any given circumstance. Tremendous freedoms come when we aren’t limited to ourselves or others but have God on our side working for us.
The main hindrance to living free outside of lack of knowledge is trust. Trust is the result of continually seeking Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It is born out of an intimate relationship with Him; a relationship that requires time, attention and devotion to nurture. When I feel the weight of a chain wrapped around my ankle keeping me from dancing, I know it is because of lack of trust. God is on my side. What do I have to fear or be worried about? Is His love to small or His power to weak? The truth is in my mind but it has yet to fully become my truth, because when it is mine I am free.
My husband said trust is like a light shining into our souls that extinguishes fear. Trust and fear can’t coexist at any one time and fear is the core emotion that keeps most of us from dancing. Because we have lived for years in a reactive mindset of fear, it is easy for this habitual response to take over. Though it may sneak in we no longer have to succumb to it.
Our response to its invasion? Abide in His truth. As we continue to fill our minds with His Word we will start to think and respond differently. For seven years, I have been intimately seeking God in His Word. He has dispelled many fears, worries, and afflictions. What lingers is a remnant of what once was. Though fears still creep in they are fewer in number and less powerful than they use to be. I have found the path to freedom to conqueror what remains – abiding in His presence in His Word.
For believers, fear is an illusion. The truth is we are in the palm of a mighty, powerful God who loves us beyond measure. He desires to show Himself strong to those who are loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:7 He desires for you and me to know Him as God in our lives. He wants to show Himself to us, but He wants us to seek Him with all our heart, soul and mind. When we seek our trust will grow, His promises will manifest in our lives, and we will dance with all our might because we are living free in the arms of a mighty loving God.
2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.
Without God’s incessant guidance mankind creates destruction because of its own wicked and selfish heart. We see man’s insufficiency in government oppression, mismanagement leading to poverty, abundant financial debt, hideous animal and child abuse, and the widespread lies leading to spiritual death. When self is in control – mankind suffers.
As believers with the power of God on our side and the ability to call upon Him, we can be an influential force in the world for God’s purposes. In the stillness of prayer, we galvanize the strength of God. If we trust our own strength we are fighting a losing battle. Good will only come if we call upon and trust in God’s power and not man’s. Ezra 9:12
Many pray then go off and fight the battle in their own strength in the name of God. We are never to fight in our own strength. The act of prayer, which we are to do unceasingly, means we are acknowledging God’s strength, surrendering to His power, and letting Him direct our steps and guide our actions – not us.
God wants us to call upon Him for this forsaken world and He wants to show the world His power and might through His people – that is you and me. God wants our faith to drive us with conviction to His feet and in response He will restore, mend, and heal according to His will.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Where we need to start in our fervent prayers is for our own people, the true Church. To be effective outwardly we have to be healthy inwardly. We have been beaten up and weakened by a religious mindset, mega churches, works mentality, deception, shortage of truth, lack of abiding in God’s Word, being taught by man instead of the Spirit, and neglecting the ubiquitous call to be one with Him. We have become too complacent with spiritual and physical decrepit lives for ourselves and our brethren, when those lives are supposed to be abundant and glorifying to God.
Understanding the impact of interceding on each other’s behalf is exemplified in Moses. God, completely frustrated with Israel, planned to destroy them, but Moses interceded and God saved them. Psalm 106:23 Moses’ prayer turn the tides for a nation headed for destruction.
But what made Moses’ prayer so successful, and what will make ours?
1. Intimacy with God – Moses’ effectiveness resulted from the intimacy he cultivated with God. Like our earthly relationships, we develop intimacy with God by spending time with Him one-on-one, listening to and abiding in His words and not man’s interpretations, growing in knowledge, and cultivating trust. Moses knew God face to face. For our prayers to have power we have to pray in spirit and truth and that means we intimately know our Lord and our spirits in Him are healthy and thriving. Praying without abiding in the Word is a self-center focus and a one-way relationship. To get our focus on Him and to develop true intimacy, we need to abide in His personal revelation to us, Jesus Christ, the Word. John 1:14
2. Understanding God’s will – Moses knew God’s will to be glorified through Israel. Exodus 32:10-14. God’s will is not the same for all people. Some people He wanted to completely destroy like the pagan nations as the Israelites moved into the promise land Deuteronomy 31:3. Some He wanted to save like Nineveh Jonah 3:10. We have to seek God’s will in every area of our lives and the lives of others because He is sovereign and all knowing and not follow our wills which are limited and deceived. Walking daily with God, Moses understood His heart. We come to understand His will by daily abiding in His truth. When we pray His will we honor Him, not us. If we don’t seek His will, we aren’t listening to Him but advocating our own agenda, however good we think it may be. In being taught by the Spirit, we find that these stories about destroying the pagan nations is about letting the truth of God destroy our internal enemies; pride, arrogance, selfishness, self-rigteousness, etc. As for others, we are called to love all and treat others as we want to be treated. Love is what heals and renews and what is needed.
3. Trust in God’s mercy. From their experiences together, Moses developed a steadfast faith in the mercy of God. He knew what God was capable of, what they deserved, but knew He was a God of mercy. He didn’t rely on his own goodness to save these people. His hope was in God’s compassion alone.
Moses made a profound difference from his conversation with God so can we when our prayers are based on a similar relationship with our Father. We have access to the power of God so we can be victorious as a nation of His people. As we continue to seek after God’s heart so we can pray in spirit and truth, His power will heal us and be manifested in us infusing His goodness into the world.
Proverbs 15:8b But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much