I picked up a book this morning at church – Praying for one Another by Gene A Getz. I was flicking through the first chapter and read of a group of Chinese Christians who had all been imprisoned for years during the communist years. Upon their release at their first church meeting the prayer time was so powerful, tears flowed and it really reminded me of the words of the hymn, what a friend we have in Jesus, you know the part that says “what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”. In our western, safe culture we may not appreciate fully how privileged we are to be able to bring everything to our God in prayer yet it truly is a privilege to follow the example of Jesus and pray without ceasing. I then saw that a specific prayer request had come through on our prayer group page and felt drawn towards the following verse:
2 Kings 20:5 – Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.
Make me spiritually strong as I formulate my song of praise to you Father, let me find my inner David as I fight my Goliath, give me the strength to release this load that you never meant me to carry, let me hear the words you tell me, help me carry everything to God in prayer, let me know you’re there. feel your heartbeat, feel your love surround me, feel the power of the Spirit washing over me, free me from depression and oppression, God who came to set the prisoner free, I gladly claim that freedom, I proclaim that I am a citizen of your heavenly Kingdom, redeemed and forgiven, my sins forgotten, left at the foot of the Cross with all the other sin and dross, no longer at a loss, I am a warrior, prayer my weapon of choice, sword of the Spirit in my hand I stand triumphant, God who started a good work in me will see it through to completion, my daily decision, to serve the risen Lord, to claim his healing and to constantly receive this feeling of joy everlasting.
I was reading the story of Joseph this morning and it came to mind that it could have been such a different story had he not been “strong and courageous”. This is a recurring theme for me at the moment probably to do with some of the challenging stuff I am reading and watching, but also I feel probably a natural progression in my walk with Jesus. If Joseph had not been courageous in speaking out in prison or in interpreting Pharaohs dream or even as a young boy speaking out to his brothers he may never have found himself in the position he did where he was able to carry out God’s will from a position of authority. I also read the following in Joshua 1:6-9
- Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
So it’s not just about having strength and courage but also to be obedient which means knowing God’s word, or how else can we be obedient to it, meditating on it, thinking it through and then we will be prosperous and successful. And I don’t red that prosperous as a financial prosperity but being prosperous in our gifts from God, from receiving his love and blessing in every aspect of our lives.
HOLD ON TIGHT
Be bold, be strong, hold on tight cos it’s going to be a bit of a ride but God never lied, when he said, be strong, be courageous he was talking to us, and in a way that paves the way for us to see that he never said it would be easy, courage a necessity to fight the enemy, boldness required to spread the fire that burns inside of me, but all will be in vain if I fail to know God’s word, if I haven’t heard of all his promises, haven’t understood all that Jesus did, what good am I if I cannot distinguish Satan’s lies from God’s truth, or fail to hear the still small voice of God within because I am not tuned in to all he has to say, see like a sheep I need to know my shepherd’s voice, I have a choice and I choose to run with God, co-labour in his workplace, I choose to seek to see his face and I long to be strong for God, I long to spread the joy that I enjoy, I yearn to speak out loud , to lift black clouds, see people healed, for God’s love and grace in me should never be concealed.
Been on my mind about being confident in prayer. If we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move mountains yet time and time again I find myself asking small not big, saying stuff like “if it’s your will” instead of “God I need you to do this.” In God’s word it says he can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, so why not imagine big results and be wowed with massive results? We pray with a human mind asking for what is logical to us or possible for our understanding but God is not logical and he is not fettered by human understanding so our prayers can be confident, bold and forthright.
- Micah 7:7 -But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me.
- Jeremiah 17:7 – But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
FIGHT LIKE DAVID
Walk like Goliath but fight like David, walk tall you are a child that God created, tackle in faith don’t tiptoe in fear, God had called you here, called you into this battle, his fight against evil so be strong and let him lead you, be faithful to ask and believe in his promise, he will demolish the enemy, broken hearts will be mended, beauty will rise from the ashes, our God is a God of second chances, as God bends down to listen and you open your mouth to pray will you take a chance today, once in a while just blow your mind don’t be confined to the same old prayers the same old layers of please and thank you, knock it outta the park as you ask for mountains to be shifted, bondage to be lifted, chains to be broken and as God’s word is spoken in situations that once seemed impossible God is unstoppable, his power phenomenal, he is the source of my confidence so I stand bold and confident in his presence and ask for him to do immeasurably more than I could ever imagine, equip me, inspire me as I stand in your power, I look to the Lord my tower, my rock, I stop asking small and start asking for him to rock this world, working around the clock 24/7 to bring a little piece of heaven to earth, blessed as I unearth the true power of prayer, I watch in hope, I wait in peace, I trust completely I ask freely.
Got to be honest reading through Chronicles was quite hard work. However when I looked back at the verses that I had noted as standing out for me I have got some great snippets from God from reading Chronicles. It just goes to show all the Bible is important for teaching and encouraging us and it’s so worth making an effort to read the more obscure books.
- 1 Chronicles 22:13 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged
- 1 Chronicles 22:19 – Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God.
- 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 – Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honour come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name
- 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
- 2 Chronicles 15:7 – But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
- 2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
- 2 Chronicles 20:21 – After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever”.
This is how I summarise Chronicles (which I appreciate is very different from how others do!) but really as 2 books that catalogue Kings who turn away from God time and time again and then new Kings who turn back to God I think the message is quite apt, God will bless those who honour him.
Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever, praise him for the splendour of his holiness, in your brokenness be strong and courageous do not be afraid for God has said if my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, truly seek my face and turn from their wicked ways he will hear us from heaven, forgive us our trespasses and heal our land, he stands firm in his promise, devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God who is great and powerful, his is the power and the glory, majesty and splendour, forever and ever, everything in heaven and earth belongs to our God, he is exalted head over us, wealth and honour he bestows on us, he rules over all lands, in his hands are strength and power to exalt, he gives us our strength, so be strong and never give up for your work will be rewarded, for the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen all who are fully committed, driven witnesses of his love, sing praise to the Lord in heaven above
- Judges 16:6 – So Delilah spoke to Samson. She said, “Tell me the secret of why you are so strong
- Judges 16:20 – He woke up from his sleep. He thought, “I’ll go out just as I did before. I’ll shake myself free.” But he didn’t know that the Lord had left him.
I have been reading the story of Samson and these two verses kind of stuck out. It doesn’t matter how strong we think we are if we don’t have God we lose all our strength. In our weakness his strength is perfected and he gives us strength in all situations. So I acknowledge that I am strong because God is with me and I will honour him so he never leaves me.
- Daniel 10:19 – Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
- Psalm 121:2 – My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
- Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD
I AM STRONG
I am strong as long as I have you in my heart, well founded, well made, hard as nails, unyielding to Satan’s lies, eyes wide open, so here’s how it works, God takes a broken life and makes it better, he takes it from mediocre or even dire to a higher place, you see God gives us grace daily and that’s not the kind of grace before you eat your meals, this grace well it’s a major deal, like God’s love in action towards man who deserved a different reaction, love for man who did not deserve it, for sinners who could not lift a finger to help themselves, God sent Jesus to descend into Hell and I can’t oversell that concept, the prospect of eternal life because of that selfless sacrifice, you know the score, Jesus was crucified because of our lust and pride, because of the tide of sin that swept over mankind, I think you’ll find not one could be found who was free of sin except Jesus of course and his act underpins the foundations of love that only God could demonstrate, he put hatred in its place and now we can face life with a new perspective with God in our hearts we are no longer broken or defective, irrespective of our past behaviours we are filled with God’s Spirit, we are at one with our Saviour, when God speaks we are strengthened, at the mention of God’s name every knee will bow so how can we fail to be invigorated when we realise that we are part of God’s story, our history written before we were born, we are strong in our weakness, made in the likeness of the Lord God most high, arise and be strong, take heart our God will never be apart from us as long as we honour and obey, trust in all that God does and says.
Saw a post on Facebook today – out of difficulties grow miracles – based on 1 Peter 5:10. Went on to read 1 Peter 5 and it’s a powerful message.
1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast
Message Version – Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
Four words stood out for me and reassures us of God’s hand in our lives
- Restore – brings me back to his perfect and original design
- Strong – strengthens me to overcome problems
- Firm – make me stable and makes sure I won’t trip over any obstacle
- Steadfast – makes me unmovable no matter what the devil does in my life
I met God who painstakingly put me back together again, broken becomes beauty when God does the mending no longer fending for myself, casting all my anxieties on him because he cares and out of those difficulties grew miracles, I’m thankful for my struggle for without it I would never have found my strength in God, Jesus saw the wholeness of who I am, built on solid rock I now have a firm foundation and I have salvation, a new stability allowing me to overcome all hostility from the enemy, God owns my story and is leading me to eternal glory, restored, brought back to his perfect and original plan, his strength in me helping me to overcome all difficulties and he holds me fast, unmovable, fixed and anchored, no matter what the enemy throws at me I am free back on my feet and I can see the strength of his Spirit working in me.
Discouraged today basically feeling a bit demoralised, frustrated and disheartened and quite frankly lonely, so what does God tell me?
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Hey God thanks for being with me wherever I go, you know that is awesome cos sometimes when I’m outside my comfort zone I feel so alone, even with company surrounding me I can feel solitary and momentarily I can forget you are there and then in a moment of immense awareness I remember your greatness and no longer feel helpless and you have commanded me to be strong and courageous, and then I remember your outrageous love for me, a love that set me free, a love that helps me be solid in my faith, that lets me stand up and say this is me, I am a daughter of God and he’s working hard to perfect me, his love impossibly pure and holy, he is almighty and highly exalted, he never alters, never falters, he walks on water and I oughta remember that I am a member of his special family, he chose me personally, works for me tirelessly, provides me with certainty and most importantly shelters and protects me, so God next time I think I am lonely, prompt me and remind me of your amazing love and grace and keep my focus on your face.