Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
In the Old Testament God spoke to Joshua and told him to be “strong and of good courage” [Joshua 1:6,7]. In his last letter, written whilst facing death in Rome and several years after his letter to Corinthians, Paul exhorts Timothy to be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” [2 Timothy 2:1]. What then are the keys, for Joshua, Timothy and us to be strong in the Lord? Today I would like to suggest four of those keys:
Firstly, honouring God’s Word. When telling Joshua to be strong God gave him a key. He was to obey God’s Word, speak it out, and meditate upon it [Joshua 1:7,8]. Only in obeying God’s Word “will we find strength. It shall “not depart from our mouth” [v.7]. God doesn’t say mind or thought, but mouth! There is something powerful when we speak out God’s word. To meditate on God’s Word means to think about it, pray over it and allow it to rule in our lives. Here is the first key to being strong in the Lord.
Secondly, waiting on the Lord [Isaiah 40:31]. The Hebrew word for wait is Qavah and has various meanings. They include to wait, to expect, to look for patiently, to hope, to be confident, and to trust. Basically it is spending time waiting for God, looking to Him, and confidently trusting Him. Those who take time and do this will renew their strength.
Thirdly, rejoicing in the Lord. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” [Nehemiah 8:10]. Joy is far deeper than happiness. Happiness depends upon circumstances, but joy exists whatever the circumstances. It knows that whatever may happen God is in control, and all things work together for good to those who love God [Romans 8:28]. Joy always sings in the darkest night.
Where there has been grief and sadness God can give the oil of joy for mourning [Isaiah 61:3]. Paul and Silas, beaten and bruised and in chains prayed and sang songs at midnight and God moved powerfully [Acts 16:25ff].
King David lost his joy and his song after his sin with Bathsheba, and in his prayer of repentance he cried out to God, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” [Psalm 51:12]
Fourthly, recognizing our weakness. Jesus said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” [2 Cor.12:9]. I recently heard someone say, “Weakness is the new strength.” It is when we are incapable, vulnerable and struggling that we honour God’s Word, seek His face and rejoice in Him, and suddenly Christ gives us new strength, so that Paul can say, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” [2 Corinthians 12:10].
Is it possible that God wants to meet with you afresh if you are experiencing physical weakness? What steps would you take to meet afresh with God?
If you have lost your song, and the joy of the Lord would you today pray sincerely the prayer of David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation”?