Deep Strength

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthI used to work out lifting weights and doing some good cardio, but I’ve slipped tremendously over the last 20+ years. (Please try not to laugh at this confession.) I exchanged one discipline for another and the truth is I need both. I have grown deeper and stronger spiritually over the last several years, but physically I’m weaker (and older) than I’ve ever been.  I enjoy some forms of exercise like bike riding on the Carrollton Greenbelt. I must pay attention to my physical body and cultivate physical strength. The more important strength conditioning comes from my spiritual exercise. I started getting up early many years ago to carve out time that I could spend with the Lord focusing on His Word and His heart. That one decision changed everything about my perspective and game me insights into life that I never had before. The more I study and walk with the Lord, the deeper my love for Him grows. I look back and realize that I spent way too much time in the shallow end of His swimming pool. I want to go deeper every day with Him. The Psalmist was a human being who loved the Lord and walked deeper. Check this out…

13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done. (Psalm 118:13-17 NIV)

I would rather have deep inner strength than brut physical strength any day. The ideal would be both!  I have had times of suffering in my life where they physical exercise was a great distraction and helped me work out some stress, but it did very little for my spiritual journey. That takes time alone with the Lord in deep study, discernment and conversational prayer. He gives me strength I can’t describe. He gives me insight that is way beyond my education and comprehension. His Presence calms my soul. His Presence gives me strength to navigate the most challenging path.

I will say that there are times in my life, I’m not sure how I lived to talk about the struggle except that His is in me and He is for me. He flat out saved me and I want Him to use me now for His Glory and His Fame. I am nothing without Him, but with Him I have everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strong & Courageous

 

Man praying with the BibleI’ve learned the hard way that being strong doesn’t have a lot to do with my physical strength – it’s inner strength. Being Courageous is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear”. I believe both these words are character qualities of the heart and mind that are displayed outwardly and visibly.

Joshua epitomizes these two words in my view. This young man was the protégé of one of the godliest men on earth – Moses. Joshua became the leader to succeed Moses in leading the nation of Israel. After a time of mourning, the Lord started everyone moving, including Joshua. The Lord gives quite a “pep talk” to His young leader. Check this out…

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: 2 ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the River Jordan into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites.

5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

7 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1:1-2; 5-9 NIV)

Strength and Courage point me back to the Lord. He is my Source of all that I am and all that I possess. I believe that as I walk with Him through His Word, He reveals more of Himself to me so that He becomes more and I become less. These few verses are very inspirational to me because they come from the heart of God. He loves this people and He’s delivering on a promise that He made to Abraham, Isaac & Jacob many years before. This young leader, Joshua needed just what the Lord was speaking into him.

Being strong and courageous in God’s economy is about dependence and trust upon God. It is not about mental strength and self-help. I believe that a person can appear weak on the outside, but actually be incredibly strong and full of courage inside. I think it’s a bad idea to “judge a book by its cover”. Inner strength is invisible until the action takes place. I’ve seen people say they are strong and courageous only to seem them cower and hide when the heat is on. I love the way the Lord installs His young new leader. The Lord promises His Presence. The Lord requires obedience. The Lord promises Joshua prosperity and success. I believe the success and prosperity that came with this promise wasn’t about possessions and power – it was about position in the Kingdom. The Lord always promotes His leaders based on the inner devotion of ones heart and not their appearance. The Lord always starts with the heart and works His way out from there. I want to be strong and courageous because of my dependence upon the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Steady

LincolnThis word has several facets to its meaning and they all seem related to me:

“firmly fixed, supported, balanced, not shaking or moving, not faltering, or wavering; controlled, sensible, reliable, self-restrained.” After reading that entire definition, I really like that word. Hidden among all those descriptive words is great strength. It takes a strong person to be steady in the face of the high winds of trouble as well as the gusts of greatness. One of my favorite people in history is Abraham Lincoln because he led this country with a steady hand. He wasn’t without fault, but he epitomizes this word.

Jacob was giving a blessing to his 12 sons at the very end of his life. He’s lived in Egypt for quite some time and thanks to his son Joseph, the family was saved from starvation. Jacob goes through the birth order of his sons and gives them a blessing or a sobering reprimand. When he gets to Joseph, he says a bit more. Check this out….

22 ‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,

    a fruitful vine near a spring,

    whose branches climb over a wall.

23 With bitterness archers attacked him;

    they shot at him with hostility.

24 But his bow remained steady,

    his strong arms stayed supple,

because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,

    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,

    because of the Almighty, who blesses you

with blessings of the skies above,

    blessings of the deep springs below,

    blessings of the breast and womb.

26 Your father’s blessings are greater

    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,

    than the bounty of the age-old hills.

Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,

    on the brow of the prince among his brothers. (Genesis 49:22-26 NIV)

What a cool moment of blessing for Joseph. He had indeed proven himself steady and strong. That really inspires me, because it’s pretty easy to become “unsteady” and therefore “unstable”. I believe that I can remain steady as long as I’m leaning into the Rock that doesn’t move. The Lord’s Presence in me is the Supreme Stabilizer. I really want to be a steady follower of Jesus. I want to be a steady husband. I want to be a steady Dad. I want to be a steady leader/teacher. I want to be a steady REALTOR. I want to remain steady and strong no matter what comes my way – whether great success or great challenges.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Secret Strength

 

Strength Level Measured on Thermometer Ultimate StrongI’ve seen weight lifters lift a lot of weight and I imagine what their joints are going through. I can usually see their muscles and know that they have obviously worked up to that lift. The joints are mostly like everyone else, but the lifting is sure putting pressure on them. There is really no secret to their strength, they worked out; they trained and prepared for the lift. I have a feeling if I met Samson from the Old Testament that he would look fairly ordinary. As we know, he contained amazing strength and power in his body. His strength and power was a gift from the Lord.

There is another strength that is not always visible because it’s “inner strength”. This strength really doesn’t show out until a crisis or deep pain. I remember when my heart was broken a couple of times years ago and the pain seemed unbearable, but somehow I made it through. Zerubbabel was about to rebuild the temple after Israel’s captivity in Babylon. His skill and his strength as a builder was well known and when he shows up the people got excited. Check this out…

6 So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.

7 ‘What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of “God bless it! God bless it!”’

8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. (Zechariah 4:6-9 NIV)

I think inner strength is more important than physical strength. My physical strength will continue to diminish with age, but my inner strength gets stronger as my relationship with the Lord gets stronger and stronger each day. I believe that inner strength is directly related to my journey with the Lord and my walk through His Word. I would really like to have physical strength and inner strength because I really need both. I want my inner strength to keep growing as I grow older. I want to face each day with the Spirit of God in me supplying me with incredible inner strength!

 

Pressing On!

Dwayne