Thoughts of inability or incompetence visit me making wonder if I am fit for service. I sometimes think that the sermons I deliver just add to the excess of words in the world. The rapid changes in our culture make me to question my ability to relate, even to understand a way to make the unchanging message of Jesus comprehensible. When I compare myself to others who enjoy a different kind of ‘success,’ I conclude that I must not have the skills to see the results they enjoy. Those thoughts do not come from God! They are an expression of pride, a focus on me instead of Him!
Many is the Christian (perhaps you are one of them?) who lets insecurity, comparison, or memory of past failures bring on a kind of paralysis in life. When we spend too much time thinking about self we grow anxious and become ineffective; not because we are without gifts or skills, but because we lose connection with the Spirit Who is our Strength!
Moses was an amazing leader of God’s people, mightily used of God. But, he was also insecure, anxious, and prone to losing sight of his true strength. God met Moses in the desert, at the flaming bush. There He commissioned him to return to Egypt and deliver the children of Abraham from slavery and to lead them to the Promised Land. It was a tough calling. In that supernatural encounter, a bush aflame without being burnt up, one might think Moses would surge in faith and courageously commit himself to the call. He did not!
He was wrapped up in anxious thoughts. He offered excuses. “They won’t trust me. They won’t listen to a word I say. They’re going to say, ‘God? Appear to him? Hardly!’ ” (Exodus 4:1, The Message) Then, he whined, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.” (Exodus 4:10, NLT) At each excuse, the Lord met Moses with assurance that the real issue was not Moses’ competence, but His. And we know the rest of the story. This man, who tried so hard to dodge his calling, became the law-giver, the father of the nation, God’s man!
When God calls, He equips. Truth is – on our own we cannot live a godly life. We cannot defeat sin and Satan. We cannot bring about conversion and new life. But, God can; He does; and He will – when we let Him be our strength.
David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel, wrote a song that celebrates this fact. “Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:6-9, NIV)
When the Lord extends an invitation to live a holy life, to perform acts of service for His church, to carry a burden on behalf of another, you can do it. The real question is not ability; it’s willingness.
God is still building His Church. The Spirit is actively working to equip YOU AND ME to fulfill His calling! “God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, The Message) What can you do in the work of God? What kind of spiritual gift has been invested in you? Serving, loving, speaking, praying, giving, teaching, leading worship, encouraging, building, making art, telling the Gospel … the list is long and God has promised us that His Spirit will put skills, ability, and knowledge in us that makes us effective.
Make no mistake. God’s strength and the Spirit’s gifts do not excuse us from study, learning from mentors, and faithfulness. The Lord demands both our diligence and our dependence on Him.
We tend to fall into one extreme or the other:
thinking it’s all up to me (and making ourselves more susceptible to feelings of failure), or
just sitting back and waiting for God to make puppets of us.
The Word says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. … So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3, 10-11, NLT)
Consumed by anxiety?
Resisting God’s call?
Spending too much time wanting to be someone else, somewhere else, doing something else?
Focus away from yourself to the One who calls. Renew your heart and mind with the Truth in this word from the Word from my favorite book in the Bible. Believe it, forget yourself, and discover the wonder of the Spirit’s strength in you.
“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. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!” (Ephesians 3:16-21, The Message)
Declare this – “The Lord is my strength and shield. My heart trusts in Him and I am helped!” Amen