One of the things that has most troubled me over the expanse of my spiritual life, is the ups and downs. The confession that my faith has had its good times, and its bad times; I’m sure is one that most everyone is familiar with. You would think, that a preacher that spends his time — reading religious books, studying for Bible classes, preparing sermons, and being around Christians; would have a strong faith. The truth of the matter is, that sometimes all of that just becomes a job like any other job.
So what is the secret of being a strong Christian? Well, obviously it is listening to God through His word, associating with others that are on the journey with us, learning and practicing praise in our life, and developing a prayer life. But still we still struggle. I believe, that most would say that we are not as strong as we would like to be.
There was a verse that jumped out at me in my reading this morning. Psalm 89 is a fascinating chapter, and it spoke to my struggle this morning. Look at how the message develops:
“I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.”
(Psalm 89:1, NLT)
“All heaven will praise your great wonders, Lord;
myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness.”
(Psalm 89:5, NLT)
“The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours;
everything in the world is yours — you created it all.”
(Psalm 89:11, NLT)
“Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.
They exult in your righteousness.”
(Psalm 89:15-16, NLT)
Obviously, the psalmist (Ethan the Ezrahite) is just overwhelmed with who God is, and the attributes that God exhibits over and over again. That being able to worship in the presence of God is the most remarkable experience, that anyone will have the opportunity to participate in. BUT, verse 17 is the verse that spoke to my heart this morning.
“You are their glorious strength.
IT PLEASES YOU TO MAKE US STRONG.”
(Psalm 89:17, NLT)
This great God, who is beyond anything that we can possibly imagine; who possesses everything, because He made it; who exhibits unfailing love, faithfulness and power all the time — that He is my strength. AND, on top of that He finds pleasure in making me strong.
Could it be, that I have believed (and preached) that my being strong was totally dependent on my efforts. Believing that God’s grace would cover my shortcomings, failures, and sins — but thinking that my strength would come from my own efforts. Has your prayer ever been, “Lord, make me stronger,” or has it just been “Lord, forgive me when I fail.”
I am not taking away from the grace that is given to cleanse and forgive me by the blood of Jesus. I am not saying that God will do it all for us. What I am saying, is that when I struggle to be what I know that I need to be, and want to be; that when I pray, I ask God for strength to do it, knowing that I can’t do it by myself. When I do that, I need to really believe that it PLEASES Him to do it, and not just words that I repeat.
According to II Timothy 1:8-9, God has GIVEN us strength to suffer for the sake of the Gospel and to live a holy life. I know that Bill Hooten needs to take advantage of everything that He gives.