Feeling Strong Today?

What makes a person strong? What makes you feel strong? How do we even gauge strength? Is there only physical strength? How about emotional strength? Maybe even spiritual strength? I used to measure strength by bench-press numbers and will power. But as time goes on, I realize there are much more accurate ways of understanding the strength of a person.

The book of Nehemiah details the return of Jewish exiles to Israel. It is a story of a struggle. A temple is rebuilt and a wall has been reconstructed around Jerusalem. But there is a lot remaining before life can possibly resemble normal. In this midst of the rebuilding process, the scriptures are rediscovered. A man by the name of Ezra will stand before the people and read from it. As he comes to a conclusion he sends the people out with this message:

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

There it is. The answer. Our strength can be found in the joy that comes from the LORD. He is our strength. Being His, makes us strong. Being reminded of His goodness and favor throughout our lives makes us strong. We gain strength by knowing we aren’t abandoned, that we’re unconditionally loved, that we’re accepted and belong to a bigger story. Our strength comes in the joy we have in being free and cherished…always.

Uncertain times can’t shake us. Illness won’t destroy us. Financial struggles can’t break us. Discrimination won’t define us. The culture won’t alter us. We are His. There is no greater joy found in this life. And in that joy, we are strong to face the world. Are you walking in the joy of His salvation? Are you feeling strong today?

Peace and joy in Christ brothers and sister!

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What does it mean to be strong?

According to the dictionary, strength means the quality or state of being strong, mental power, vigor, moral power, firmness, or courage.

“He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.”

Isaiah 40:29 (NKJV)

Often times we think of the word strength as meaning physical might, but this word is by no means limited to this definition. Strength is more often needed in terms of mental toughness, courage to follow through or step out, and to maintain moral integrity in a fallen world. As we think about challenges that we face throughout the course of a day, we’ll find that the vast majority of them require a resolute mind, steadfast soul, and the firm knowledge of who God is in our lives. We get bombarded by messages of insecurity and insufficiency. We are told to seek pleasure and to make ourselves and our dreams come true (don’t mind the expense that others pay along the way to get us there). We’re told love is love and to disregard a moral standard that can be defined. We’re told our identity can be whatever we feel like it should be rather than who we were made and intimately crafted to be. We’re told life evolved which discredits any notion of the unique and overwhelming value of each human being. We’re told that one person’s comfort, future, and even health can override another person’s right to exist and be born.

The message of the world is to eat from the forbidden fruit and denounce your allegiance to your maker. Place yourself in the seat of God because you know what is best for your life. Those are the messages that take real courage and strength to stand against. Because the world does not share a message that values life, morality, integrity, and our true identity as being made in the image of God. Weakness goes with the flow and bends to the moral compromises that common culture offers. But there is an endless source of “mental power” and “moral power” offered through Jesus. However, that power comes through devoting our hearts, decisions, words, thoughts, and total lives to Him. Albert Einstein is quoted saying that, “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.”

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!

1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

White noise

Life is so full. Full of cares and concerns, responsibilities, obligations, and the like. There’s work time, play time, and down time. When I was single, I thought life was busy. When I got married it seemed even busier. Add children to the mix, and time becomes one of the most precious commodities. But no matter how busy life is, it seems like we always find time and ways to distract ourselves.

In a media-driven world it seems altogether too easy to create white noise in our day. Stopping to check ESPN scores, news updates, the social media feed, likes and shares, video games, movies, Netflix, or a quick stop on YouTube for short videos. All of these simply amount to us creating distractions for ourselves. We’re drawn to these things because they are easy and they matter very little. We can escape the weightier matters of life through these other mediums. We can “check out” for a bit. Some might view it as regrouping. After all, some of life’s responsibilities are just too heavy to carry.

I am as guilty as most when it comes to making time to escape. But my goal is to fill that time escaping in more profitable ways. I want to feed my emotional, spiritual, and physical health in that space. It’ll be hard. I’ll have to fight so many urges and temptations. But in the end, if I’m successful, it’ll be so worth it. For me it’s drawing, playing music, working out, and writing that fill me back up. But what fills me the most, is time alone with Jesus. Praying, studying, and journaling. He is our ultimate source of strength and regeneration. He is the vine that provides the necessary nutrients to our souls. There is no greater escape we could make than to escape with Jesus. Then we can return to life’s matters fully equipped with His spiritual strength to face whatever the world throws at us.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May His peace and strength grow in His children so we can face the world full of joy and courage. God bless loved ones.