Stand Steady in His Strength

My previous three ABC posts are entitled: Prince of Peace Please Come, Quiet my Questioning Heart, and Rest with Him, Run with Him. Today it is Stand Steady in His Strength.

Stand Steady in His Strength? Jesus' disciples were on a boat in the midst of a fierce storm. Late into the night, they saw a ghost-like figure walking on the water with the waves swirling all aroud him. Jesus called out, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Then Peter confidently called to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So the Lord called him, and Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water with his eyes fixed on Jesus. But as he was stepping forward, he started panicking because of the wind and the waves; consequently, he began to sink. He was no longer standing steady in the strength of the Lord. Lovingly, Jesus held out His hand to Peter, and once they stepped into the boat, the wind and the waves became calm. (see Matthew 14:22-33)

Stand Steady in His Strength? On antoher occasion, Jesus was teaching a crowd of people in a house in Capernaum. Four men were carrying their paralyzed friend on a mat towards the house, hoping to get close to Jesus for healing. The room was packed, so they climbed to the roof, pulled it apart, and then lowered their sick friend down into the room directly in front of Jesus. Jesus spoke these words to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven…I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." The healed man was now able to stand in the strength that the Lord had given him. He and all the people in the house were amazed at Jesus' wonderful work. (see Mark 2:1-13)

In these two passages, I see one man sinking and one man rising. Peter, who often wrestled with over-confidence, realized he was "in over his head." When he took his eyes off of Jesus, he momentarily thought it was up to him to keep himself afloat. (Thankfully, he cried out, "Lord, save me!") On the other hand, the paralytic, who knew he could do nothing in his own power, obeyed Jesus' command, rose to his feet, and then walked home with confident joy.

How often we, in our flesh, become unstable. We can either sink down into a pit or climb up onto a pedestal. Those of us who tend to have a self-dug "pit-iful" mindset say things like: "I'm a failure", "I don't measure up", "Nobody loves me"; they blame and shame themselves. On the other hand, those who tend to have a man-made "pedestal" mindset say things like: "I'm in control", "I'm always right", "I don't need anybody"; they blame and shame others. These mindsets, although very different from each other, both have "self" at the core. Neither pit nor pedestal will ever provide a firm foundation for standing.

by Gigi McMurray
But then, there is a not-of-the-flesh power that we as Christians inherit through faith; if only we would live by it! Fellow believers, His Spirit is alive in us! When we realize, like the paralytic, that we can do nothing in and of our own strength, and when we decide, like Peter (at first), to fix our eyes only on Jesus, then and only then, can we stand steady in His strength. His power, not our own, makes our feet firm and our foundation solid so that we can do all we were created to do, for His glory.

So friend, ask the Almighty One to pull you out of your pit before you're covered, or ask the Exalted One to help you to step down from your pedestal before you fall. Allow Him to set your feet upon the solid rock so that you can do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that you ask or think according to the power that works within you. (Eph. 3:20) It's how Peter walked on water; it's how the paralytic skipped home; and it's how you can perseveringly run the race set before you. (Hebrews 12:2) Yes, with Him you will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of may waters… He brought me forth also into a broad place… for by Him I can run upon a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. (Ps. 18:16, 19,29)

Rest with Him, Run with Him

The previous few ABC posts are entitled: Offer Help Often, Prince of Peace Please Come, and Quiet my Questioning Heart. Today, it's Rest with Him, Run with Him.

Rest with Him, Run with Him? Long ago, a man named Saul became the appointed king of Israel. The people were proud of King Saul, for he was taller than any of his people from his shoulders upward (I Samuel 10:23). The Israelites wanted Saul to represent strength and power to all the other nations. King Saul did lead mightily for a time but his heart did not rest nor run with the Lord. As a matter of fact, Saul was driven by jelousy and anger because of a young shepherd boy named David who had killed the Philistine giant. The Israelites began to praise David's name over that of Saul's, which was infuriating to him. Many times Saul tried to kill David with his own spear, causing David to flee from his presence. Instead of pursuing God, King Saul ran after David; because of this misdirected ambition, his soul never found rest. (I Samuel 18:5-16, 19:9-18)

Rest with Him Run with Him! David, on the other hand, both rested and ran with the Lord. As a young shepherd boy, he learned how to be quiet as he watched over the sheep, and also, he learned how to fight as he protected them from predators. This trust and training is what gave him the confidence to face and then slay Goliath. In time, David became king of Israel. Although his reign was not flawless, his life was marked by receiving forgiveness and then living in obedience to his God. Because of these qualities, God called David "a man after His own heart." (See Psalm 23, 18:28-36)

by Gigi McMurray
When looking at these two men, it is safe to say that if you're not running with the Lord, you're restless. Saul was fitful because his mind was full of jealousy; this emotion drove his actions. But David knew how to be still before the Lord. In the quiet, he poured out his heart and knew he was heard.  We see much of his raw emotion and his absolute trust thoughout the pages of the psalms. After David poured out, God was able to pour in.

Friends, let's learn how "to be" and how "not to be" from these two men. What controls your thoughts, and then possibly your actions? Are your restless because things aren't quite the way you think they ought to be? Are you trying to manipulate or control someboday or a certain situation? Be still, bring all your hurts and all your desires before the Lord. Daily rest with Him, so that you can daily run with Him.

For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, "In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength." But you were not willing. Isaiah 30:15

Quiet my Questioning heart

My past three ABC posts include: Name above all Names, Offer help Often, and Prince of Peace Please Come. Today, it's Quiet my Questioning heart.

Quiet my Questioning heart? Long ago, Moses led the Israelite nation out of slavery from Egypt. They survived the ten plagues and made a grand exit, straight through the parted Red Sea. These people saw and experienced God's powerful work on their behalf. Three days into their new freedom journey, however, they began to grumble due to lack of water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter…So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?" Likewise, two weeks later, they grumbled again, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you (Moses) have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." The Israelite nation could not trust the faithful goodness of the Lord due to their unquieted questioning hearts. In spite of their grumbling, the Lord provided food and water daily for them during the disciplining forty years in the desert. (see Ex. 15:23-16:1-17)

by Gigi McMurray 
Quiet my Questioning heart! If only these Israelites had remembered the story of their great ancester Joseph. As a young man, he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers; then later, once in Egypt, he was thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. For a decade, he had reason to cry out often, "Lord, quiet my questioning heart." In His time and in His way, God did send His peace and provision as Joseph contiued to put his trust in the Lord's direction. He eventually was released from prison and rose to the position of second in command in Egypt. Joseph continued to walk with the Lord; he even gave forgiveness to his brothers, saying to them, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish now what is being done…". (see Gen. 37, 39, 50:20)

When I look at these two stories, I see both questioning God. Really, I think God is fine with our questions. Even Jesus questioned His Father on the cross. What God is after is the attitude of our hearts. Do the questions we raise to Him come from a place of angry mistrust, or are they a plea for His help in the midst of our diverse circumstances? He must discipline the former, but He honors the latter. Let's bring our BIG questions to the Lord, and ask Him to quiet us in whatever answer He chooses to give, all the while remembering, He is ALWAYS working for our ultimate good. Can you trust Him?

Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy…I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. Psalm 130:1-2, 5