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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 04/25/18

The Lord Strengthens You

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STORY: Where Does My Strength Come From?

Today we’re starting a new series on the word strength. When I think of that word, my mind flashes to the back of comic books, where they illustrate a wimpy guy on a beach being beaten up by a bully, and then a new screen where the wimpy guy becomes a weightlifter and then goes back to the beach with confidence. Mr. Bully wasn’t going to bully him anymore!

I can relate. It all started in third grade. I walked to school with my neighborhood friends and walked home with my grade-school friends. Trevor was one of my new classmates. In third grade, she already wore heavy-duty foundational undergarments. Let’s just say her meanness combined with her girdled girth intimidated me! Each day we’d walk home, and each day she’d beat me up. When other bullies realized I was a soft target, they joined in.

After a few sore ribs and hurt feelings, Dad couldn’t stand it anymore. He taught me how to make a closed fist punch. I don’t think I ever used it, but it gave me extra confidence, to know I could stand up for myself. As I matured, I learned a few ways to avoid being in a bully situation, but there have been times I’ve had to face grown-up bullies too.

What I eventually learned is that strength starts from the inside out, and the source of unfailing strength comes from the Lord. Other kinds of strength don’t have the staying power God’s strength gives me.

The Message paraphrase words Psalm 121:1-2 like this, “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.”

STUDY: The Lord Gives Strength

Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:46 NLT)

  • Why did Elijah need special strength?
  • Can you think of a time when the Lord gave you special strength?

God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. (Psalm 18:32 NLT)

  • When we think of strength we often think of sinewy arms, so it’s a great visual to see God “arming” us with strength.
  • How does strength team up with God’s other actions to help your way be made perfect?

The Lord gives his people strength. He is a safe fortress for his anointed king. (Psalm 28:8 NLT) The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. (Psalm 29:11 NLT)

  • These two passages start with the same sentence. Who does the Lord give strength?
  • The first passage ends the verse discussing a safe fortress. What does strength have to do with safety?
  • The second passage ends discussing the Lord’s blessing of peace. What does strength have to do with peace?

God is awesome in his sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:35 NLT)

  • Focus for a moment of God in His sanctuary. He is awesome! He deserves praise.
  • Now, thinking of Him in that light, look at the second sentence. That mind-blowing God gives what to His people? What does power have to do with strength?

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. (Psalm 138:3 NLT)

  • Do you feel like God answers your prayers immediately? We know the David didn’t always see instant results, so perhaps the answer to his prayers was something more personal—knowing he was heard.
  • David says God’s strength did what for him? And isn’t encouragement a great way for the Lord to respond when we pray?

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

  • This verse is the go-to Scripture on strength God’s way.
  • What is the key ingredient to being able to do everything?

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NLT)

  • What does it mean to you, to hear that the Lord is faithful with strengthening you, especially when it comes to enduring and facing resistance?
  • Does God’s indwelling strength help you discover more bravery when you read that He guards you from the evil one? What does this strength help you to do?

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him. (1 Timothy 1:12 NLT)

  • Paul wrote this note to Timothy, his young mentee. What does Paul thank God for?
  • Why does Jesus give Paul strength? What qualified Paul for this according to the second sentence here?
  • Based on the other verses we’ve read in this devo-study, do you think Jesus will strengthen you to do His work, too? If so, how does this passage inspire you with renewed actions or attitudes?

STEPS: Build up Your God Muscles

  1. Seek the Lord. Seek His strength rather than self-strength. “Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.” (1 Chronicles 16:11 NLT and Psalm 105:4 NLT)
  2. Full-on commit to God—with nothing held back. “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT)
  3. Renew often (or as we say, rinse and repeat). “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” (Psalm 23:3 NLT)

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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