(Ephesians 6:10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
There are so many things I tell myself I cannot face, or I cannot do, or that are way too much for me. It's easy in a world hostile to God to become discouraged and despair. It's easy to think of those suffering for Christ in such unspeakable ways, and to tell myself, "I could never endure that!" But God never tells us to muster up enough courage, or faith, or strength in ourselves or in our flesh. He never tells us to call on our own resources. He never tells us to strengthen our flesh. He does tell us to be strong "in the Lord." He tells us to be strong "in the power of His might." We learn that we can only do that by daily "putting on the whole armor of God." We learn that as we are being filled with the Spirit daily, as we take in His living Word, that we are filled with assurance, strength in our inner being, faith, hope, love, and all the fruit of the Spirit which is the power of His might. His presence in us is made manifest and He assures our hearts of His love and provision for us.
There are many things in this world that we should rightly fear. Aside from God's indwelling presence and His promises we have good reason to fear. We have good reason to despair, as we see evil forcing itself on us and overcoming the world, thinking to take it as its own and rule making all earth's inhabitants its slave. How are we to stand up against such things? If we think we can, if we think we have the strength to do so, we only deceive ourselves. If we are rightly made to see the lack in ourselves and our own insufficiency, it causes our hearts to cry out, "Abba, Father!" We look to Him. We turn to His Word, reminding ourselves of His promises, of His blessed hope, of His truth, His righteousness, His peace, His faith, His salvation, the privilege of prayer and coming to His throne of grace and mercy at our time of need and the assurance that because of the blood of Christ we are heard, and we are strengthened with the power...the very true power of all He is, and has promised us, and we are assured, as His Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God. We are assured that if we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him. That inheritance is more real to us than anything we are now experiencing in this world. The knowledge that He could come for us at any moment gives us energy to all the more live to please Him and to bring His light before a dying world. It gives us joy that strengthens our walk, knowing this is not our home, but we are ambassadors for a Heavenly city while here below. We live to please our King!
It is the power of HIS strength. It is the power He gives as we are in fellowship with Him. We cannot be living as we please, ignoring our fellowship with God, and just calling on Him when we have a problem, as though He were our magic lamp, where we go to have things go our way when we need. We must be dressed, daily, in the full armor of God. We must walk in the provision He has given. He Himself, in our spirits, is that full armor, that provision, that strength. It is not received apart from our union with Him, as though it were a separate force we can somehow receive.
(11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
(12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
(13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
(14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
(15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
(16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
(17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
(18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
This is daily surrender of faith, and communion with God. This is understanding our position and calling in Christ. This is "no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God Who gave Himself up for me." (Gal. 2:20). This is living by the Spirit of God, not by the flesh. Unless we learn in these perilous times, to live by the Spirit we will not have the armor of God in place in the time of need, when our trial comes. And it will come. God does not spare us from tribulation in this world. He told us just as they persecuted Him, they would persecute His followers, and all who love Him. Since the Lord was resurrected and gave His Spirit to those who believe Him, this has been the time of our tribulation as the church. The time of the world's tribulation is soon to come, when the Lord calls His ambassadors home to be with Him.
The world hates the light of His truth, because it exposes their lies and their sin, which they love and cling to. They choose to hide in the darkness. A child of God cannot walk in darkness with the world to appease the world, but must choose to either stand with Christ, bearing His reproach, and be light in that darkness, or to deny Christ and be a part of the darkness instead. Those who truly love Him and have His Spirit indwelling them, cannot but choose His light and life and suffering. Yet today there are many professing Christians who find it more comfortable to be a part of the darkness, the lies of the enemy that pervert His true Gospel, just enough so that they think they can have both Christ (a jesus of their own making - an idol), and the world as well.
We are faced with a choice when we are faced with evil. Will we hide ourselves in the darkness, or will we stand in the power of His might? God has a way of revealing what is of faith or what is actually of the flesh (living by our own will, appetites, and abilities for ourselves).
I've been meditating on Hebrews 11 lately, and I see throughout the book of Hebrews, that the hearts of those being addressed were being tested to see if they had true faith... the faith that "entered in" and truly believed God. Hebrews 11 talks about the actions of faith, or what faith truly produced in the hearts and lives of those who possessed it. When we are put to the test, true faith is revealed because we can only act on what we truly believe, are convicted of, and the heart truly accepts, which I wrote about in my last devotional. It is by this conviction, the evidence in our hearts of what God speaks to us and we believe, that we are strengthened in the power of His might for whatever He calls us to endure, or obey, or wait on Him for.
So what do I do if I find myself lacking, and I fall short? There is always one way to receive from God. It is to turn to Him in surrender of humility and faith. Humility - acknowledging our inability, sin, and weakness. Surrender - the giving up of ourselves, our own understanding, our own way, our own self-serving. Faith, trusting in His written Word to be true to what He says, and applying ourselves to it. If we ask, we receive. But we must ask with sincere hearts. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). We must not look to our own feelings, weaknesses, or understanding but look to what He says, and choose to surrender our whole self to that in trusting it. This is the surrender of faith. It is not a surrender of ourselves by our own strength or power, which is impossible. Our flesh cannot surrender itself to death, because it seeks only to please itself. But we can surrender to the Lord in our weakness trusting He alone has the power of salvation and deliverance through His cross, through His resurrection, and through the Spirit He gives us.
We must wait on Him. To wait on Him is to spend time before Him, His Word, letting His Spirit bring the living Word to our hearts to examine, to cleanse, to fill, to empower, to build faith in our hearts. We must abide in Him through this daily fellowship.
(3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
(4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
(5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(6) If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
(7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
(8) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Father in Heaven, You see our hearts, our helplessness, and our need. You only command that which You intend to fulfill in us Yourself. I ask that You examine our hearts and fill us with the power of Your might, to do that which You are calling us to, and sending us forth to do. In Jesus name, amen.