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Stronger – part 4

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God desires for you and me to become stronger. Stronger emotionally, in faith, in love and stronger in the sense that we rest on His sufficient grace.

Stronger, Stronger – part 2, Stronger – part 3

Today, I will continue to talk about how to become stronger, for His Glory and to help fulfill His purposes in our lives.

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Process

As a Potter moulds his pot, so too, should we trust the process as God moulds us.

You might be wondering regularly, how do I move from my “now” to my “future”. The key to is to embrace the process. Very few people like It’s a process! They do not want to go step for step to what God made them to be, they want it NOW!

As individuals, I believe we all aspire to grow, see good changes in our lives and accomplish great things in our lifetime. (I pray that you embrace growth and change).

However, it is the commitment to the unglamorous things, the difficult things, the trials and tribulations in our lives that will inevitably make us stronger and help us get to where we want to be.

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Joy in the wait

Finding joy in the waiting and gratitude in the process is never an easy thing, but it is something we should all strive for. I try really hard to learn this on a daily basis, for instance, when my laptop freezes or needs to do an update, it takes time to boot back up. For someone who is not known for patience, this is a big deal to me (even though I’m sure you must be thinking “that a dumb example). But often, it is the smaller frustrating things throughout your day that steal your joy and brings about the imbalance in your mood.

No one likes waiting for things, especially when it comes to waiting on God. Yet in reality some of the greatest things I have been able to receive, are things I have had to wait for. In order to strengthen us along the journey I believe we need two things –

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1. Daily Devotion 

Our daily devotion to God is one of the most underrated things in our lives. 

For it is in our daily devotion where we can forgive others, repent, be filled afresh, listen to Him, be humbled, be renewed – it’s how we grow to become more Christ-like. Without devoting ourselves daily we become like a plant in the desert in need of water.

Daily Devotion is the key to unlocking your Spiritual Strength

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2. Divine Power

As well as the need for our own daily devotion, we can unlock God’s divine power.

I say this because reading your Bible every day isn’t always enough when you receive the devastating phone call that you never expected. Going to church every week isn’t enough, when you have been threatened to be evicted from your house because you can’t afford to pay the bills. Posting good Christian quotes with hashtags isn’t enough when you are fed up of waiting for God to bring you your blessings.

Your daily devotion will make you stronger, but it won’t always make you strong enough. We need his divine power.

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14

Divine power starts when we stop!

There will be moments when you cannot do anything but to stop, pray and trust God.

I’ll give you another example. I have a physical condition where sometimes my food gets lodged in my throat. Thankfully it gets stuck below my windpipe so I can still breathe (Hey, look at that, just by writing about it and I found thankfulness in a panicked situation). It can take anything from 2 min to 30 min, and a bit of coca-cola or enos to be dislodged. Throughout that time, all I can do is pause, pray and trust God has got me covered – His divine power has helped me more time than I can count or remember.

Your daily devotion will sustain you, but sometimes the only thing that will be able to carry us through is His divine power.

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When miracles occur

The greatest miracles I have seen are not when we do all the work, but when God does the work for us.

If we desire to become stronger we need to trust in His divine power.

Where in your life do you need to trust in God’s divine power?

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 0 comments

Stronger – part 3

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God desires for you and me to become stronger. Stronger emotionally, in faith, in love and stronger in the sense that we rest on His sufficient grace.

Stronger, Stronger – part 2

Today, I will continue to talk about how to become stronger, for His Glory and to help fulfill His purposes in our lives.

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Abandon

Lukewarm

Have you ever drank coffee that has been standing for too long and it turns to lukewarm and even undrinkable? Unfortunately, I do that sometimes. I don’t finish that cup! I throw it out and make a fresh cuppa.

When the Bible talks about being Lukewarm, it’s not talking about a temperature of a liquid, but the temperature of your heart. 

If you have been a Christian for a while I assume that you would know what it is like to plateau in your relationship with Jesus. Perhaps through no fault of your own, trials or disappointments, it is easy to lose the passion you once had.

Let me set the scene: Peter has just denied Jesus, and after doing the exact thing he said he would not do, he finds himself back in his boat, fishing. Back to his old way of life and the things he used to do before he knew Jesus. The same happens to us. We also go through phases of full on faith and times when we resort to doubt, and go back to what is known and comfortable to. Plateauing and just cruising in the waters. 

Devastation fills his heart as the waves rock his old and familiar boat. Not only has Jesus died, but the expectation he had in his journey had not turned out like he had planned. 

He had become lukewarm.

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Jesus meets you in your place of need

But we see that Jesus meets him in his place of need. See John 21:4-7:

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realide that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Peter had a decision to make. Am I willing to be ‘all in’? 

This decision was not one to be made lightly, for he knew it was going to require everything. In fact, I believe that he knew that if he was going to jump out of the boat, he was going to be leaving the boat for the last time. 

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What is in your boat?

Lay down whats’s in your boat and leave in order to pursue Jesus.

Your identity, career, friends, family, comforts?

Just like Peter we need to:

1. Choose – The power of free will to choose whether we will pursue Jesus and leave the boat.

2. Abandon – To what degree are we willing to lay everything down to follow Him? What do we need to abandon?

3. Remember– We leave these things behind because we remember who we are and the plans that he has for our lives. Where do you need to remind yourself of who you really are?

When you build your kingdom your future is only going to be as big as the boat.

But when you build God’s kingdom your future is as big as the Ocean.

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Stronger – part 2

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God desires for you and me to become stronger. Stronger emotionally, in faith, in love and stronger in the sense that we rest on His sufficient grace.

Today, I will continue to talk about how to become stronger, for His Glory and to help fulfill His purposes in our lives.

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Labels

What do others think of you or how do they perceive you? That you’re smart? Introverted? Funny? Your wealth or lack thereof? 

Unfortunately we all have labels that have been placed on us. Sometimes labels are okay, like when you visit a doctor, it’s helpful to know who the doctor is. Other times, labels only serve to create divisions, such as racial labels – the moment you categorise people into social labels, those labels create unnecessary division and conflict. So yes, some labels are needed, if they are helpful but others we can do without if they create negativity and division. 

What labels have others placed on you, more importantly, what labels have you placed on yourself? 

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Whatever the labels that has been placed upon you, especially those you place on yourself, God’s desire is to speak directly into them to remove them. He wants you to realise just who you truly are.

The left-handed Ehud

I’m left-handed, a little fact you’ll only know if you see when a write, play sport or eat. Otherwise you wouldn’t know.

There was a man named Ehud, Son of Gera the Benjamite, who was a left-handed man. These are the only two things we know about Him. Over-time this became a problem for Ehud because in those times, to be left-handed meant you were awkward and evil. Being bullied for a name like this slowly would have begun to define Ehud and label him.

Unfortunately for Ehud, been left-handed in his life was viewed as weakness.

But Ehud’s story is written for a reason. In fact God calls him to go see the King of his enemies, who had had his people in oppression. He takes a double-edged sword and conceals it on his right thigh, and awaits the presence of the King.

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From Judges 3:15-22 we have a snippet of the story: 15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19 But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.” The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left. 20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.

Despite the gruesome details of the story, I want you to realise that the exact “fault” Ehud had, become His strength. This is something profound – The same hand that was labeledl of weakness and evil, was used as a hand of strength – it was his left hand that he used to defeat the enemy.

God used the label of limitation as a label of liberation to set free a whole nation! 

Imagine what God desires to do with your weaknesses.

Change your perception

Perception: How we view ourselves vs how we believe others perceive us.

It is high time that we change our opinions of our perceived weaknesses. Rather than viewing them as a disadvantage or fault, what if we see them as an opportunity for God to use?

In fact what the enemy wants to use for your shame, God wants to use for His glory.

So here’s what I want you to do:

Don’t quit it, submit it

It’s easier to overlook the negative labels in our lives, rather than allowing God to use them. In humility, when we submit our weaknesses to God we will see that it’s not just that God can use our weaknesses but He desires to use them.

As a result, the shy can become confident, dyslexia can become creativity, being a loudmouth can be harnessed for boldness, the unqualified will have humility and the overwhelmed will turn fear into faith. 

In essence, if you want to become Stronger, you have to become weaker. Because His power is made perfect in your weakness!

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:6-10Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul speaks about having a thorn in his flesh. This refers directly to the hardships he has faced. Yet, he does not boast about what he had achieved for the Lord, so he is not perceived any differently and so that God’s grace can be shown as sufficient for him. Paul delights in weaknesses (see verse 10)

Throughout the Bible, God uses people’s weaknesses, to accomplish His work, to bring shame upon the enemy. The weaknesses we have is one of the keys to accessing God’s power.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 0 comments