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Stirring The Deep


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In God’s Strength, Not Ours

In God’s Strength, Not Ours

 

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:

  • We work in situations beyond our capabilities.
  • We are not limited to what we know; we are limited to what God knows, which has no limit.
  • God accomplishes a lot with a little.
  • God moves in the hearts and minds of others to accomplish His will in our lives.
  • God uses ordinary people to accomplish mighty works.
  • We work yet at the same time rest, because it is His power working through us.
  • We often work in areas or in ways that are specifically our weaknesses so we learn to trust Him.
  • We are prospered beyond our own capabilities.
  • We are asked to do something for which we aren’t prepared.
  • We don’t endlessly strive.
  • Our efforts don’t equal our returns – they equate to God’s work in us, which is much more.
  • There is no rat race in God’s Kingdom.
  • There is balance, rest and satisfaction.

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.”

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Our Minds’ Focus

Our Minds’ Focus

What do you focus on? What are the default thoughts that fill the spaces of your mind? Is it worrying about the future or reliving the past? Is it about you, a self-focus and self-analytical mindset? Is it about others, their needs, desires, and wishes? Is it a combination?

God has been showing and teaching me about what consumes my thoughts – and for me on top of worrying about the future it was mostly a self-focus, how I am being received by others, what others think of me, what I need to improve, etc. It is hard to admit because it is so selfish, but it is true and that is why God is giving me some powerful lessons in the matter. When I first realized this I assumed I needed to focus more on others. So that is what I prayed for – for God to rewire my brain to attune outward instead of inward.

But this weekend, He showed me that wasn’t His desire either. He wants me to be spirit-focused. To be in the moment, not the past or future, and focused on His spirit’s guidance, not me or anyone else.

Many of our thoughts go through our brain unnoticed. Before God shined His light into this area of my life, I wouldn’t have thought this about me. The Spirit provides a second pair of eyes searching our depths. We start to see ourselves in ways we never have before because we were never able to before.

This attunement is what Jesus exemplified. He had a singular focus which was to do the will of His Father. God called Him at times to attend to others (Luke 4:43) and at times to attend to His needs (Matthew 14:23). But regardless, Jesus was focused on God, His leading and His will. (John 6:38)

This is to be our focus. If we are self-focused or focused on others, we miss out on what God desires of us in the moment. We no longer live for ourselves and what we deem important, but we live for Him. (2 Corinthians 5:15) That means He is the object of our attention. When we tune into Him, He takes care of all of our needs and we are able to love others by giving them what they truly need, not what we think they need.

So what does this mean in a practical sense? It means when we are facing issues or problems we seek His help and wisdom not the world’s. When we are standing in line at the grocery store, we aren’t worrying about something else we are we in tune to the spirit’s prompting to the needs around us. When we are with family members we aren’t focused on us and how we feel or busy trying to please them, but we give ear to the spirit as to what our next word or action might be.

How do we change our mindset, the very way we think that is hardwired in us? We abide in Him, fill our minds with His truth, and ask Him to rewire our minds to tune into Him. Like all things it is His work in us, not ours. It isn’t about efforting a change. It is about yielding to His workmanship, waiting on His perfect work and timing and following wherever He leads.