Category Archives: Agree with Others in Prayer

Endure with Joy

I’ve long been inspired by the vibrant faith of believers in China’s underground church. No one is sure, but some think there may be over 60 million believers in these secret house churches. Astounding when you consider all the forces over the years that have tried to stamp out the Gospel in China!

Chinese believers are known for their steadfast and joyful faith in the face of intense persecution. A man who had just returned from visiting members of an underground church was asked how the believers were able to cope with the continued trials.

“These brothers and sisters know this is not the end of the story,” he explained.  “They EXPECT God’s glory to come at the end of their trial.  They believe the trial will end. And they expect to be victorious.”

Are you wrestling with a tough problem? Maybe it feels like your trial will never end. Perhaps we don’t suffer the same kind of intense persecution as Chinese believers, but we fight the same devil. James urges us to “resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7).

Peter also challenges us to join the “resistance:” Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8).

We can draw strength from the example of Chinese believers. They remind us that our trial “is not the end of the story.” They inspire us to “expect God’s glory.”

We strengthen our own faith when we encourage each other to stand “firm in the faith.” Joy in our journey comes as we team up with other believers.

The Christian life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured.  So daily, let’s ask the Lord to help us find joy while we endure!


Stand Your Ground-Day 17

Remember those earlier days…when you stood your ground in the face of suffering  (Hebrews 10:32).

We’re on the homestretch of 21 Days of Strength. We’ve looked at several ways God makes us strong as we grow closer to Him. He helps us stand our ground through His Word, prayer, and joining forces with other believers.  Often, our strength is best developed during times of weakness—especially during seasons of suffering.

Life can be hard.  It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us.  “In this world you will have trouble.”  But “take heart,” He reminds us.  “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   I need to stay connected to Jesus if I hope to stand my ground and stay strong in the spiritual fight. Continue reading


Stick Together-Day 15

I am fascinated by bottlenose dolphins, the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.  Dolphins are easily trained. They can reason, solve problems, think abstractly, and even recognize themselves in a mirror!  Dolphins can also swim up to 35 miles an hour. They’re incredibly strong and can use their snout as a high speed battering ram. No wonder they have virtually no natural predators.

Welcome to 21 Days of Strength. Let’s see if we can learn a few lessons about strength from these powerful and magnificent creatures.

Stories abound of dolphins protecting humans against sharks. My dad happens to be one of the few living World War II submarine veterans. While on long, hot tours in the South Pacific, the sailors hoped to see dolphins swimming close by so they could dive off the sub for a refreshing swim–sure to be safe from sharks.

Sharks steer clear of dolphins for another reason.  Dolphins don’t travel alone. They find safety in numbers by sticking together in groups or “pods.”  Like dolphins, our teammates can help us gain strength in prayer. This, in turn, helps us defeat our spiritual enemies.

Jesus said it this way:  “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19).  The Greek word translated “agree” is symphone, which comes from two words which mean together and voice.  So when believers gather for prayer, they are like a “symphony” of powerful prayer.

This principle is reinforced by a former Marine who saw lots of combat duty in Iraq. He shared a lesson I’ll never forget. “When danger hits,” he explained, “I’m trained to run toward the danger. But my second response is to look around for my men.” “So you can protect them?” I asked. “No,” he said firmly. “I look around for my men because I know I cannot do this mission by myself.”  Even the marines know they need to stick together to be strong.

Are you connected with other members of the body of Christ?  In prayer, in Bible study, in fellowship, and in service to others?  Our mission–the Great Commission–is too important, and too dangerous, to be accomplished alone.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Romans 12:5-6).


Confession-Good for the Soul

God loves us when we are weak, but He delights in making us strong. His power shines most powerfully through our weakness. This is Day 14 of our 21 Days of Strength.  We’ve been exploring the various ways God strengthens us. We’ve seen that structure and order help us free ourselves from the things that rob our strength.  This enables us to follow hard after Christ.

Friends, God wants us to travel lean and light through this life. Light-hearted, that is.  He knows that getting rid of the internal baggage that weighs us down helps run our race of faith.  That’s why He provided a way to cleanse us of the overwhelming penalty of sin through Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection.

Even after we have received God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus, we sometimes find ourselves entangled in sin.  Let’s remember the challenge from Hebrews 12:1 to “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”

Confession is one way we can declutter our soul and “throw off sin.”  We rid our soul of toxins that drain and weaken us by taking them to the cross. “If you confess your sins,” we’re reminded in 1 John 1:9,  He is faithful and just to not only “forgive our sins,” but also to “purify us from all unrighteousness.” We do the confessing, He does the forgiving. The purifying. If that seems too easy, just remember.  It cost God everything.

One area of my life that is mentally draining and sure to weaken my faith is worry.  Over the years, I’ve made a lot of progress in dealing with this unwelcome intruder into my mind.  But I have to be ruthless.  Worry is a robber and a thief.  It steals God’s peace.  Let’s face it.  Worry is exhausting.  A friend of mine developed this little acronym for W.O.R.R.Y:  Worry Only Robs Rest from You.  How true!

So I have to be alert, and when worry springs up, I confess it as sin.  I take my thoughts captive. Remind myself of God’s power.  Reflect on how He has worked in the past.  Fill myself with the promises in His Word.  When I do this, my hope soars in proportion to my lighter mental load. And I gain new strength.

What areas of your life cause to to grow weak and weary?  Rob your strength? How about confessing those to God and trusting Him to give you the strength to overcome.


Health Food for Your Soul-Day 9

Where do you find strength when you feel weak? When your hopes grow dim? King David faced a traumatic crisis—his village was plundered and all the wives and children taken captive. The Bible tells us he “strengthened himself in the Lord.” God filled him with strength and empowered David and his men to recapture all that had been stolen(1 Samuel 30).

So glad you’ve dropped by for 21 Days of Strength. I hope you’ll find a word or a suggestion that encourages your heart and helps you grow strong.

I asked several friends for practical tips on how they strengthen themselves in the Lord. All agreed on the importance God’s Word as a means of encouragement.

But their answers for what this looked like were as varied as their personalities. As on friend put it, “I like to read and meditate on God’s Word. But with my creative and artistic side, I find it helps to actually draw the verses. Sometimes I embellish them with designs and colors. I meditate on the words of Scripture as I do this.”

Another has a more musical bent. Listening to worship music feeds her soul. After all, many worship songs are simply the words of Scripture put to melody. One young man prefers to hear the Word of God through preaching. Still another friend feels especially close to God through nature. So she likes to meditate on a special promise from Scripture as she walks outside. You get the point. God has wired each of us in a unique fashion—so it helps to experiment to learn how best to nourish our soul.

My friends all stressed that encouragement from other believers is vital. One confessed that sometimes he tries to find strength on his own. “Finally, after going around in my head, I realize I need to get perspective from somebody else,” he admitted. “And after a few minutes of talking things over with a friend, I realize that this was what I needed all along.” The Christian life, we agreed, is not to be travelled alone.

Each has discovered that giving hope to someone else who is hurting brings strength. One friend sends encouraging notes to those whom God puts on her heart–she’s done this for years.   Writing notes, she admits, always lifts her own spirits.  I’ve personally been on the receiving end of some of her beautiful words of encouragement.

God’s economy is upside down. We give life away, only to get it back in return. We grow strong as we pour out our strength to others. I’ve discovered that encouraging the broken hearted brings strength and even healing—both emotional and physical. So Isaiah 58:10 has become one of my life’s verses: “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10 NIV).

How about you? What brings strength and healing, to your soul?