Category Archives: Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength

The Virtue Nobody Wants-Day 19

If you want to be strong, be humble. Strength comes through humility. The Bible consistently reminds us of this paradox. As believers, we are called to be servants. To give up our rights and die to self.  During our 21 Days of Strength, we’ve been reflecting on ways to find strength in the Lord.  In considering humility as one of those ways, I’m reminded of Paul’s realization that only when he was “weak,” was he truly “strong”  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Bottom line? If I truly want to be strong in the Lord, I must also be humble. So I want to spend some time reflecting on the delicate balance in the Bible between strength and humility.

We hear a lot about humility, but it seems to be the virtue nobody really wants. We admire it when we see it in others. But it’s so against our nature to walk in humility that most of us run the other way.

I once read a quote that said something like this: “Truly great people are also the most humble. Arrogance is the consolation price for those who aren’t at the top.” I’ve found this to be true. Some of the most outstanding and honorable people I’ve met are also humble. It’s a virtue I greatly admire, and one I’ve tried to teach our children as they were growing up.

The Bible is clear about the connection between humility and honor. We’re reminded that “humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).   “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up,” comes the strong admonition in James 4:10. Humbling ourselves in this verse literally means “to be made low.” Another version adds weight to this promise: “He will lift you up and make your lives significant” (James 4:10 AMP).

A friend of mine who actually seems quite confident expressed his understanding of humility this way: “Without Christ, I am an incredibly insecure person, and so I stick close to Him.” Isn’t that what humility really is? Apart from Christ, I’m weak and I know it. So I’m going to make a point of sticking close to Him.

This is also called abiding. Jesus made it clear that abiding in Him is the secret to our strength. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).


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


Guard Against this Enemy-Day 16

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:16). 

In order to grow strong in the Lord, we need to stick together.  It’s true. We are better and stronger when we’re part of a team—a body of believers. Who would dream of fighting a war alone?  Or playing against an entire basketball team by ourselves?

I heard a statistic recently that sobered me. Guess why most missionaries leave the field? Not because of living conditions or less creature comforts; not fear of threats like ebola or isis; not rejection or even attacks from the locals; not family issues. The reason most missionaries leave the mission field is because of conflict with other missionaries.

Internal strife is destructive—perhaps the most painful type of conflict. Those who know us best have the power to wound us most deeply. Just ask anyone who has experienced divorce. Continue reading


First, Make Your Bed–Day 13

Welcome to 21 Days of Strength.  We’ve been focusing on how to strengthen ourselves in the Lord.  No doubt, if we follow Christ, we’re always in some kind of battle.  And like any good soldier, it pays to be strong–fit for the fight. I’ve learned through the years that it helps to be practical, as well as spiritually prepared,  if I want to be strong.  Simply lightening my load, both mentally and physically, gives me more strength. Decluttering my soul and my surroundings renews energy.  I’ve also found that structure and order keep me mentally healthy–able to stay positive.

Strength is somehow connected to our habits.  I’ve discovered that simple daily habits build strength—which in turn, helps keep hope alive.   Small habits can lead to large actions. Large actions lead to big dreams and big dreams have wider reaching and even world changing impact.  And since we are talking about ways to increase our strength, I thought I’d share the following words of practical advice from a member of our armed forces and a man whose life, and the lives of his men, depended on staying fit for battle.

Navy Admiral and former SEAL William H. McRaven challenged graduates in his commencement address at University of Texas to dare to change their world.  But he started off by talking about the importance of our habits:

“Changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it,” he said. “But change starts with small actions. Every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

His advice to the graduates? “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the reminder that the little things really do matter.  Please show me some small, daily habits could help me build my strength in You.


Clean House-Day 12

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).

God’s strength helps us to keep our hope alive. Hope, in turn, makes us even stronger—like an anchor for our soul. Perhaps you’re fighting to hold on to your hope. The mountain of obstacles look too big to overcome. We’d all agree it takes spiritual muscle to keep dreaming when circumstances look bleak. Strength to resist the aggressive intruders of discouragement and fear. I pray that you’ll find encouragement as we continue our 21 Days of Strength.

Years ago when I was walking through infertility, I experienced God’s strength in practical ways.  The lessons are with me even today. But one thing’s for sure.  Waiting is hard work!  One day my husband spoke words that helped me turn a corner. He looked at me and said quietly, “You know, we’ll never be happy with a baby unless we’re happy without one.” We were on vacation at the time.  So I went for a walk to do business with God. Two hours—and a very long walk on the beach later—I returned. I had surrendered my dream to God. “Buried” my dream to have a baby in the sand. But I still held onto hope that God had a plan for us that was good.

I felt strangely empty and free at the same time. There was a new fire for change. I wanted to begin again. And this time, hold my dream with a looser grip. I took stock of where I was. What I had. What I lacked. Where I could grow.

In short, I began to clean house.  This was part practical and part spiritual. I worked at redoing the fixer-upper we purchased a few years earlier. Paint, wallpaper and yard work were doable. These, I could control.

I also took stock of my physical “house.” My health had suffered from all the infertility drugs and treatments. Plus, I had always been a junk food addict. So I found a good naturopath and began to eat organic and healthy, not easy or even embraced by most people thirty years ago. I also found ways to discipline myself through exercise.

I discovered that structure and order kept me mentally healthy. There was some comfort in controlling what I could control. I could not control when I would get pregnant. But I could make a conscious choice to declutter both my soul and my surroundings.

Friends, we grow stronger when we lighten our load. The Bible encourages us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).  Is there anything in your life that’s slowing you down?

Prayer: Lord, please reveal any sins, habits, or circumstances I need to “throw off” so that I can grow stronger. Empower me anew to pursue the dream You have placed on my heart.