V. For ability:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22).
Jesus asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). In Matthew 21, He also told a parable of a man who asked each of his two sons to go and work in his vineyard. He said the one who said “Yes” ended up not going, but the one who initially said “I will not” eventually went. Jesus then asked; “Which of the two did the will of his father?” And they said to Him, “The first.” (Matthew 21:28-31a).
The bottom line therefore, is the DOING, not just the saying or hearing. It is the doer (and not the forgetful hearer), that will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25). The difference between the wise and foolish builders, was also in the doing; they both came to Jesus and heard Him (Luke 6:46-49).
Many reasons could be attributed to not doing, even what we know we should be doing; but they most likely will come down to one thing- the lack of strength! Doing requires inner strength- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Like it’s been said, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride! When Jesus took 3 of His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane to watch with Him, He always found them sleeping; and He said to them, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:37-41). You must therefore realise that, it isn’t enough to desire or be willing to do (e.g. the right thing); you also need the strength to do it- “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).
Vi. For strength of character:
It’s been said, If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for everything! Someone said your character is who you are or what you do, when nobody is watching you; it’s not about trying to make an impression on people. Strength of character can be defined simply as, “the amount of strength one has towards negative actions or deeds. Taking the moral high road with the strength to stand up for your beliefs and do what is right, regardless of how it may make you look or what money it may cost you. High moral fiber and the courage of your convictions held strongly.” (Urban Dictionary).
The Bible records stories of people who demonstrated great strength of character, at different times:
Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he rather chose to identify with the suffering of the people of God; “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Joseph refused to sleep with his master’s wife, despite her persistent appeal; he said to her, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego refused to serve the gods of king Nebuchadnezzar or to worship the gold image he had set up. When threatened to be thrown into the fiery furnace; they still refused to bow (Daniel 3:13-18)!
Daniel remained consistent, even at the risk of his own life! When he knew that the decree has been made; “he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” (Daniel 6:6-10).
Having a strength of character is doing what is right, even when it isn’t popular, convenient; and that takes an inner strength! The Bible says those who will worship in God’s sanctuary and enter His presence are “Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts…and keep their promises even when it hurts.” (Psalm 15:2,4c NLT)
Having been challenged by Mordecai to do something about the impending doom of her people, rather than remain silent in the ‘safety’ of the palace; Esther replied, And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16c).
It’s encouraging to, however, note that each of these stories had a happy ending! About Moses: “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer.” (Acts 7:35a). Joseph went on to become the prime minister of Egypt- a position second to only the king’s and higher than his former master’s, Potiphar. We know that not only did the 3 Hebrews not burn when thrown into the fire; but were rather promoted afterwards. Daniel told the king, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me,” (Daniel 6:22a). He was also promoted by the king afterwards.
vii. To resist the devil effectively:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). The Amplified Bible says, “stand firm against him;” and that would require an inner strength. To resist means, to “withstand the action or effect of.” It also means, to hold out against, to combat, to counter, to be unyielding, etc.
We are dealing with an enemy who sometimes will not go without putting up a fight. In the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, the Bible says he refused to grant her request (or ignored her) for a while; “but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” (Luke 18:4c-5 NLT).
We are also dealing with an enemy who is relentless, who would always look for another opportunity to be back. At the end of the temptation, the Bible says, “The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” (Luke 4:13c MSG).
The enemy we’re dealing with has schemes, wiles, and strategies; and we must be strong enough to stand against them all!
You must, however, realise that you can’t take on the devil in your human strength, no matter how mentally or physically strong you are. There’s a limit to how far a strong will or sheer determination can take you, when it comes to dealing with sins, wrong habits, sicknesses, diseases, and the devil himself. Therefore we are told, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
Don’t succumb to the enemy, put up a massive resistance; don’t watch him mess you up. Our adversary, the devil, goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour; but we’re told to “Resist him, steadfast in the faith,” (1 Peter 5:8-9a).
The enemy likes to throw up situations and attacks- to frustrate, disrupt and destabilise us and ultimately to stop us. Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10a). We mustn’t be powerless or weak against his onslaught. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by his attacks, like king Hezekiah was, when he received the message of threats from king Sennacherib of Assyria. In panic, he said (in his message to the prophet Isaiah); “Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby.” (Isaiah 37:1-7 NLT). It is interesting to contrast the words of king Hezekiah with the words of king David- “The Lord is my light and my salvation– so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident (Psalms 27:1-3 NLT). May we not lack strength in the day of trouble or adversity!
viii. To move ‘mountains’:
Jesus said, “whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:23c). A mountain could be anything standing in your way- to block you; or standing between you and something- to hinder you; or an oppression of the enemy (like a prolonged sickness or disease); or a difficult or seemingly impossible situation!
A mountain represents something humanly impossible to accomplish; therefore in Zechariah 4:6-7, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, ’Says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’ ”Here, the Bible contrasts human strength and the strength of the Holy Spirit (He is the Spirit of might- Isaiah 11:2). Jesus said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27c NLT).
There are ‘mountains’ in our lives, that can only be moved by the might of the Holy Spirit within us. For instance, the Bible says; the Spirit helps in our weaknesses. “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26). And that is of great help because He makes intercession for us saints, according to the will of God!
How then do we develop inner strength?
- By Waiting on God
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;” (Isaiah 40:29-31a).
The psalmist said, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalms 27:14). To wait on God is to spend time to fellowship with Him and to seek Him- in His Word, in worship, in prayers and fasting.
Waiting on God gives you inner strength; because when you wait on God:
2 .You hear from Him.
When Jehoshaphat was under attack, he and all Judah came to seek the Lord and to ask for His help. They prayed and fasted a whole day; and as they stood before the Lord, He spoke to them, through a Levite- “Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15c). Those words gave them the strength to go out against their enemies!
Also, in the Church at Antioch, while some prophets and teachers (including Saul, i.e.Paul) “were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2 NIV).
One of the reasons why believers are weak, is because they’re not hearing from God. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4c). This implies that, just as the body needs physical food for strength; man’s spirit also needs to hear from God to be strong and stay alive! Remember, you are a spirit, you have a soul (mind, will, emotions); and you live in a body! The real you is your spirit; Paul said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection,” (1 Corinthians 9:27a). Your body is only your earthly house (2 Corinthians 5:1), to help you function on earth.
3. You get to know Him.
Inner strength comes from knowing God- “but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32c).
God reveals Himself to those who seek Him.
When you seek Him, He won’t turn His back on you; He said, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. “ (Jeremiah 29:13).
4. You develop your faith in God.
People of faith are strong- “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age,” (Hebrews 11:11a).
Those who spend time with God, are usually strong in faith. You can’t develop faith in the one you don’t know: and you can’t know the one you don’t spend time with! Paul said, “for I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Also, faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17); but you need to wait on God to hear from Him- “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says.” (Habakkuk 2:1b). So you see how one is connected to the other; and you can’t have one without the other.
God bless you.