Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of 21 Days of Strength. I hope you’ve found a few strategies that will help you strengthen yourself in the Lord. Remember. God is near to the broken hearted. He loves us when we’re weak. But He delights in making us strong.
We’ve talked about the importance of abiding in Christ, of spending time alone with God in His Word and prayer. Jesus Himself reminds us to make time to “go to our room and shut the door and pray to our Father in secret.” If we want to remain strong in the fight of faith, it’s important to stick together with our fellow believers, to de-clutter the sin that weighs us down, to obey God’s calling, and to give our lives away to others.
Growing strong in the Lord occurs as we fervently seek Him day in and day out. But even when we grow weary and weak, we know that God is ready and waiting to give us His strength. It’s His character and His very nature to give out of His own storehouse of strength and power to His children. The Apostle Paul puts it this way as he pours out his heart in prayer for all believers, including you and me:
“I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:14-16).
Did you catch that? Strength comes in the form of power through the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We grow strong so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. Amazing. No wonder God wants to make us strong!
The next verses give more reasons to grow strong in the Lord: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
Strength from the Holy Spirit helps to ground us….to root and establish us in love. Together with other believers, united by love, we’re enabled to grasp this enormous love of Christ. A love that’s beyond comprehension. A love that fills us with the “fullness of God.” A love that gives strength and power!
Paul attempts to describe this wonderful love-power in his final benediction. May this promise from the Word of God send us back out into our hurting and broken world, armed with unshakeable strength and wrapped in love: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” ( Ephesians 3:20). -Amen!
4 Comments | tags: help, Holy Spirit, hope, strength | posted in Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, finding strength, Honor
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.
Leave a comment | tags: battles, discipline, dreams, hope, strength | posted in Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, finding strength, hopes and dreams
Sometimes the journey to find strength is an uphill climb. Especially when our hopes keep getting dashed, and we begin to wonder if this desire of our heart is truly from God. My friend Bethany Kortekaas has watched God do amazing things to restore her strength in difficult places–especially during her hard fought hope of holding a baby in her arms. Bethany has shared some of the heartaches and joys of her journey. I believe you’ll be strengthened by her beautiful story of Resurrection Hope on this Easter Sunday!
GUEST BLOG: Bethany Kortekaas
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
“I would love to see Baby K grow into a young and beautiful version of the wonderful people that you and Adam are. We will be seeing you in just a couple of weeks now!” These were the words of the young lady who is giving us the gift of our baby girl.
Strength from the Lord comes in all kinds of vessels. There are no words to describe how I feel about this young mother who is willing to walk the hard road of a full-term unexpected pregnancy. In a time when everyone points to easy solutions, she was determined to bless us with this child regardless of what that meant for her.
See, strength is more than just muscles and a work ethic. Strength is the courage to stand when you want to hide. It is the willingness to walk when the way is not clear. It cannot be measured by outward appearance nor reserved for the privileged. It is turning everyday to something more than what is visible to others.
Adam and I have uncovered this strength in our path to parenthood. God provides Himself as a source of strength to each person. If you are willing to admit that you need it, He is willing to provide it. How do you cope with being single longer than you hoped to be? How do you respond to yet another round of infertility treatments? What do you do once you discover you have a brain tumor? Where do you turn when your adopted embryos die? When you miraculously get pregnant and then miscarry? Do you say yes to adopting a baby?
How do you keep praying, keep thanking God, and keep hoping? Our strength to answer these questions has come from God. He is the almighty, powerful Creator of all we know and the only trustworthy source of strength that can never run dry.
Our family has tapped into God’s strength through three main ways: reading the Bible, prayer, and community:
- There is a deep comfort when you pick up your Bible and read Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We read our Bible for encouragement, insight, and to learn more about our Father who loves us and wants the best for us even in the pain. The Bible reveals that there is more to our story than what we can see right now.
- Prayer is direct access to God. Because of Jesus, we have the freedom to talk openly with the One who created starfish, Jupiter, and all the synapses firing in our brains. In prayer is where we acknowledge that the world is outside of our control and we need more strength than we can muster up for ourselves. It is safe for me to cry, question, feel, and hope as I pray. Prayer is where we respond in relationship with a God who can provide strength in the waiting and in the wonder.
- God created community. He made it clear that it is not good for man to be alone and He reinforced this by how He instructed the people of Israel to work, worship, and celebrate together. Without our friends, family, and the community of believers around the world, we would be lost in this journey.
We have seen others adopt embryos because of our story. We have heard how God provided financially in other adoptions. We have felt overwhelmed by the love at our baby showers. We have even been strengthened by the very words of our future daughter’s birth mom.
God has given us vessels of His strength through promises like Psalm 46:1, through prayer, and through the give and take of community. By His strength, we can walk forward in confident hope toward our next adventure.
Leave a comment | tags: adoption, community, faith, God's Word, hope, prayer, Resurrection | posted in Begin the Journey, finding strength, hopes and dreams
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?
Leave a comment | tags: encouragement, Friends, God's Word, hope, strength | posted in Agree with Others in Prayer, Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, finding strength, hopes and dreams
Some of God’s best miracles happen behind closed doors. Jesus instructed his disciples to go into their room and shut the door when they prayed. Their Father, who “sees in secret,” would reward them, He promised. We may discover that God gives strength when we’re out of sight. Hidden from people. Away from distractions.
I’m glad you’ve joined 21 Days of Strength. We’re taking a look at some of the ways God empowers us. But occasionally, He puts us behind a closed door to not just to strengthen us, but to protect us from a situation that is about to get dangerous.
Sometimes, when God plans to judge sin, He tells us to shut the door to protect us from His wrath. “Wait a minute,” you may be saying. “You mean God judges sin here and now—not just in eternity?” You bet. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of people whose hearts grew so hard that they eventually got what was coming to them in this life. In real time. And in eternity.
Think about the massive flood during the days of Noah. Or the incineration of Sodom and Gomorroah. Or the 40 laps around the wilderness for those Israelites who refused to trust God—even after all the miracles they had witnessed. The Apostle Paul reminds us that these things happened as “examples and warnings” to us. (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Let’s look at God’s instructions to the children of Israel while slaves in Egypt. “Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning” (Exodus 12:20-22). In other words, “Shut the door and stay put!”
God was about to do two very dramatic things:
- First, He was about to judge the Egyptians for their refusal to heed His repeated warnings to release the Jews. He sent a destroying angel to strike down the firstborn son of each Egyptian home, passing over those homes that had blood on their door. The children of Israel could finally leave after hundreds of years of slavery—and begin their journey to the Promised Land.
- Second, He provided the Israelites with an important foreshadowing of the redemption which would take place though the coming Messiah. The blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus, would bring forgiveness of sin and protect people from God’s wrath forever.
Remember: God may shut the door–for a season–to protect us. The prophet Isaiah said it this way: “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until His wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of His dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins” (Isaiah 26:20-21).
My friend, are you discouraged by that “shut door” in your life? God seems to have knocked you off course in a relationship. Or a plan. Or a dearly-held dream. But as my husband is fond of saying, “Rejection is God’s protection.” God may take us out of the game when He’s preparing to “take care of business.” He sometimes strengthens us by shielding us while He cleans up a mess that’s not of our making.
So be patient. Seek the Lord. Use this time to grow strong. To prepare for the purpose that awaits you as soon as this storm is over. And don’t forget to look for miracles behind closed doors.
Leave a comment | tags: dreams, hope, Passover, protection, strength | posted in Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, finding strength, wait training