Not In My Strength
I stared at the computer, waiting for the words to come. But nothing.
What was happening? What had once come to me so easily seemed to flee from my grasp.
This was not just writer’s block—that might last for a few hours or days and then pass. This was a struggle to even link coherent thoughts.
Depression gripped my life, making even the simplest tasks seem impossible.
In college, I was a journalist. Writing was my vocation. So, to struggle putting words together was devastating. It would be like a builder who could not nail boards together.
Yet I could recall enjoying writing since I was in middle school. In sixth grade, I was reading my essay to my class, when I looked up from my paper to find that my classmates were all turned in their chairs and listening to every word. I paused for a moment—shocked to have such a captive audience. Then my teacher instructed me to continue reading, saying, “This is good.”
I suppose when we discover something in our lives that seems like a gift, it’s easy to feel like it is ours to do with as we please—and not give God the credit or ask for His direction. It’s easy to feel like it is all about us. But after that bout with depression in college, I realized that any gift that I had would require God’s help—if I wished for it to flourish and accomplish anything that was of eternal value.
In Exodus 36:1-2, the Bible shares the names of Bezalel and Oholiab, two skilled artisans whom God had gifted with the ability to work skillfully with their hands.
Moses summoned them, and others, to participate in a highly significant building project.
Men like Bezalel—whose name, in Hebrew, meant “in the shadow (protection) of God”—were the earthly hands that would not only help build the Tabernacle of God, but also the sacred pieces that went inside it, like the Ark of the Covenant.
I truly cannot imagine how that would feel to carve and then cover, with gold, such a sacred shrine. Once the Ark was completed and inhabited by the Spirit of God, no one was allowed to touch it or they would die.
Perhaps if we had a commissioning to do such an obviously sacred work, we might take added care to listen to God’s every instruction. We would not wish to omit or alter one request. We would realize our efforts were important.
Yet, we all have a Great Commission to share the Gospel and make disciples, according to Matthew 28:16-20.
Still, other Scripture reminds us that it is not through our own strength and giftings that we do these things.
2 Corinthians 4:7 says,
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (NLT) .
The strong one driven out by a stronger one
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he … divideth his spoils … When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man…’ Luke 11:21–24
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1–10
So long as you are content with the world, and with the prince who governs it, you will go on, on, on, to your own destruction. Satan does with men as the sirens are fabled to have done with mariners; they sat upon the rocks and chanted lays so harmonious that no mariner, who once caught the sound, could ever resist the impulse to steer his ship towards them, so each vessel voyaging that way was wrecked upon the rocks through their disastrous, but enchanting strain. Such is Satan’s voice; he lures to eternal ruin with the sweetest strains of infernal minstrelsy. This is the dulcet note ‘Peace, peace.’ O sinner, if you were not a fool, you would stop your ears to this treacherous lay. For ever blessed be that sovereign grace which has saved us from the enchantments of this destroyer. The tenant of the heart is called ‘an unclean spirit.’ He is unclean, notwithstanding all the peace he gives you. Flatter not yourself to the contrary. He is ever the same, unchanged, unchangeable. Perhaps you tell me that you are not subject to any uncleanness; you do not drink, nor swear, nor lie; but remember, it is unclean not to be reconciled to God; it is unclean to be a stranger to Christ; it is unclean to disobey God who created you; and above all it is unclean not to love the Redeemer, whose most precious blood has delivered his people from their sins. At his best the devil is no better than a devil, and the heart in which he dwells is no better than a den for a traitor to hide in.
For meditation: Sin affects every part of our being; even what we regard as our good points are unclean in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). We remain unclean until we trust in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
From: Today Devotions
SCRIPTURE READING — PROVERBS 3:7-8
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
We tend to believe that we will be the most happy—physically and spiritually—when we have everything under control. We want a wisdom that tells us how successful we will be, how much money we’ll make, where we’ll be in five or ten years, and what our retirement will look like.
When everything feels controlled, we feel happy and content. So we try to do whatever we can to control our circumstances, or else stress will overwhelm us, and our mental and physical health will suffer.
These verses in Proverbs teach us otherwise. Trying to be wise in our own eyes is actually not what is best for us. To help our bodies flourish, we need to surrender ourselves to the Lord.
Gaining wisdom from God and seeking to be wise in God’s eyes will bring health to our bodies. The book of James instructs us this way: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously . . . and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
God wants to give us his wisdom because he knows it will enable us to flourish. In his love for us, God knows that this true wisdom will release us from worry and allow us to surrender our lives to him—that we may live fully, as he intends for us.
God of all wisdom, help me to be wise in your eyes. By your Holy Spirit, keep me from seeking control and running after worldly ideas about wisdom so that I can focus my attention on you. Amen.