Friday, August 7, 2009

Be Strong in the Lord

This series of devotions will present "the whole armor of God" as an essential Divine provision. It is marvelous in scope and thoroughly effective. Its necessity postulates a hostile and aggressive environment in which protection is essential. It also presupposes certain militancy on the part of the believer that requires offensive weaponry. Indeed, faith has placed us into a realm of intense and militant activity, as the Scriptures will strongly affirm.

The described circumstance will not allow for the casualness that pervades the Christian world, particularly in the Western world. ANY level of disinterest, lukewarmness, unresponsiveness, or deadness in unacceptable. There is no place for the absence of an appetite for truth.

The details of the "whole armor of God" will clarify the nature of the warfare in which we are engaged. It will become obvious to you that no provision is made for a backward stance, drawing back or retrogression. Where such traits are found, danger accelerates, and doom is imminent. On the other hand, when the "whole armor of God" is appropriated, the power of the enemy is neutralized, and the concord between God and man made more clear and firm.

There are certain traits, or spiritual qualities, that are to be nurtured and matured in the saints of God. These are not mere options, or idealistic goals toward which believers are encouraged to move. The very nature of living by faith requires the involvement's that are admonished. You are surely familiar with many of these. "BE ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." "BE ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." "BE not carried about with divers and strange doctrines." "BE ye holy; for I am holy". (Rom 11:20; 12:10; 12:21; 2 Cor 6:14; Eph 5:1; Heb 13:9; 1 Peter 1:16). These, and similar, exhortations are given because of the nature of living by faith. Such admonitions are to be taken seriously and zealously appropriated.

Our text admonishes, "BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT." The rigors of spiritual life require strength. There are a number of things inferred in the words "strong" and "strength." Some of them include the capacity for exertion or endurance, solidity, and the ability to resist. Zeal, intensity, and establishment are also implied in "strong". Being "strong' is being equal o the requirements of spiritual life. It is being able to resist the encroachments of the enemy. It involves determination, consistency and being able to continue on when weariness comes upon us. When we are "strong" we can "mount up with wings as eagles," run, and "not be weary," and "walk, and not faint". (Isa 40:31) Strength enables us to engage the enemy, maintain what has been given to us, and expand our spiritual possessions.

The admonition to "BE STRONG" IS COMMON THROUGHOUT Scripture. When they came into Canaan, Joshua admonished the people, BE STRONG and of good courage.' (Josh 1:18) Later he cried out, "Fear not, nor be dismayed, BE STRONG and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.' (1 Chron 28:10) In the rebuilding of the temple, the word of the Lord came to Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, "Yet not BE STRONG, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and BE STRONG O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and BE STRONG, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and wok: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts." (Hag 2:4) When promising salvation to the houses of Judah and Israel, the lord sent this word to them: "Let your hands BE STRONG" (Zech 8:9, 13). These admonitions continue in Christ Jesus. The Corinthians believers were urged, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, "BE STRONG" (1 Cor 16:13). Timothy was admonished, "Thou therefore, my son, BE STRONG in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 2:1).

Throughout Divine history, wherever there had been a wok to do, strength has been required. Every person aligned with God was apprised of the necessity of strength. Spiritual strength is always a virtue, and spiritual weakness is always a vice. An absence of the required strength gives the advantage to the adversary. If this were not so, there would be no need to "BE STRONG."

The human will does not generate this strength. It is not mere resolve, determination, or self discipline. While all of these are inherent in spiritual life, they are derived from true strength. They are not its source. Our text exhorts, "be strong IN THE LORD." That is, our strength flows out of our identity and fellowship with Christ. The more we are experientially aligned with the Lord, the stronger we will be. There really is no valid strength outside of the "the Lord."

We actually become strong indirectly. By drawing near to the Lord (Heb 10:22), walking in the light (1 Jn 1:7), and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18), we become stronger. As we increase in such progression we "go from strength to strength" (Ps 84:7), advancing in spiritual aptitude and stability. Being "strong in the Lord" results from availing ourselves of "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." Such things have been freely and abundantly "given unto us" (2 Peter 1:3).

True spiritual strength is nothing less than the experience of DIVINE MIGHT. Thus we read, "be strong in the Lord and in THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT." God's own power strengthens the believer. The Word of God informs us of the exceeding greatness of this power, assuring us it is "toward," or devoted to those who are in Christ. It speaks of 'the exceeding greatness of this power, assuring us it is "toward," or devoted to those who are in Christ. It speaks of "the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when he raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:19-20). Powerfully the spirit affirms God can open the eyes of our understanding to the greatness of that power (Eph 1:15-19). The premier demonstration of that power is revealed in the resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ!

What can such power do within you? Who dares to place a limit upon it, or cease to stretch forward to comprehend its greatness! Ah, child of God, Your Father has provided such power and ability as has scarcely been imagined! When the Spirit calls out, "BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT," who knows what glorious evidences of that power may be realized by it?

And how is one to actually "BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT?" Is there some procedure, some secret discipline by which this can be realized? Indeed, there is not! This is realized by faith and a fervent desire for what God has provided for you. This is illustrated in the desire for what God has provided for you. This is illustrated in the healing of the impotent man by the pool in Bethesda. When Jesus saw this solitary man amidst a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt and withered, He came to him knowing he had been "now for a long time in that case. > Focusing upon this helpless man, Jesus said, "Do you want to be made well?" After some explanation that he did want to be made well, but all of his efforts had been futile, Jesus said, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." (John 9:1-9) What could this man do in response to such a word? How could a powerless and impotent man get up, pick up his bed and walk? All he could really do as WANT to walk and believe the word of Jesus. When willingness and faith were realized he was thus enabled to do what Jesus said. It is essentially the same with us. The Lord has told us, "BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT." When we earnestly WANT to be strong, and BELIEVE the word of our Lord, that strength will be realized! From one point of view that is rather simplistic but from another it is one of the most challenging things you will ever do!

During the Babylonian captivity, Daniel prophesied, "but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32). If you are in Christ Jesus, there is no reason why you cannot personally fulfill that marvelous word. Now, "BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT."

The Indiana GoBeDoer

Indiana State Prison

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