Sunday, July 9, 2017

Glorious inner strength
Photo from Psychology Today
I was delighted when I realized this next passage: Ephesians 3:14-19. This has long been one of my favorite prayers; one that I've specifically prayed over my oldest son Devon for years. Today I pray that God would show me what He wants for me today in this portion of His Word.

I'm especially partial to the way this reads in The Message paraphrase:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Today I'm extra drawn to the words about glorious inner strength because I'm tired. About a month ago I went back to work for a company that I've worked for before. This time around the company has huge staffing problems. I'm called constantly and am in the position of constantly finding coverage, sometimes ending up coming in myself and working. I'm on salary so I'm not paid any more for coming in, and I still have all the regular work load expectations. As long as I'm at this job, I want to do a good job and glorify the Lord by my work performance. As of yet, no other work doors have opened up for me; so I take that as an indication that God must want me where I am at for now. I'm exhausted and struggling with discouragement. Today I fully recognize how much I need His strength.

I appreciate Jon Bloom's thoughts on these verses:

"This was not only Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians; it’s God’s desire for us today. He wants us to have more strength, enlarged capacities, to know Christ’s love and enjoy more of his fullness. Because more of God’s fullness means greater love for him. And greater love for him means more delight in him. And the greater our delight in him, the easier his yoke and the less burdensome his commandments become (Matthew 11:30; 1 John 5:3), for God has enlarged our heart (Psalm 119:32).

This concept of enlarging our capacity is what draws me here.  God is is the One of supreme strength (Isaiah 40:12-31, Jeremiah 32:17-22, Acts 17:26-27, Psalm 136:11-12).  He has given me His Holy Spirit who lives within me.  The Holy Spirit within me can be a source of strength. Richard Patterson discourses about Believers living their lives dependent on God's power:

"in his epistle to the Philippians Paul declares that it is not in his power that he lives out his life and ministry, but solely in the Lord’s strength: “I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12-13). As Comfort points out, “This powerful presence enabled Paul to go through bad times and good. Paul no longer relied on his own strength but on the strength of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who lived in him and worked through him (see Gal 2:20; Col 1:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:8-10; 4:7-12).” 

Today I'm thinking about how do I access or experience God's strength?  I sure need it!  I feel exhausted so much of the time. John Piper had some practical thoughts on the answer to this question. He wrote about using the following sequence: A.P.T.A.T.

A. Admit - Admit we can't do anything on our own
P. Pray- Ask God for help
T. Trust-trust God that He will help. Piper talks a lot about memorizing scriptures about God's provision and choosing to believe they are true. I appreciate these points of Piper's regarding "Trusting":
             "When Peter says, “Whoever serves, [let him serve] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11), we do this not only by praying for that supply, but by trusting in the promise of the supply in specific situations. Paul says that God supplies the Spirit to you “by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). That is, we hear a promise and we believe it for a particular need, and the Holy Spirit comes to help us through that believed promise."
A. Act-Go to work with a good will and a high heart, expecting to be helped as you asked to be.
T. Thank-Thank God for His help, provision and blessings in your life

Oh Father, help me follow this sequence in my life.  Help me stay in Your word and know and count on Your promises.  Help me hold steadfast and rely on You throughout the challenges of my life.  Empower me to live a life filled with words of thanksgiving and a grateful attitude.  Please, strengthen me with Your strength.

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