David Brandt Berg
I’m sure that every one of you can look back on your life and see how God’s hand was upon you all along, how He was preparing you for the job He was going to call you to do one day. Even before you were saved He was already preparing you, taking care of you and protecting you so that you could one day serve Him.
“The preparations of the heart in man are from the Lord. A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven” (Proverbs 16:1; John 3:27). The Lord made you and designed you, prepared you and gifted you for the work He had for you.
God is the great master craftsman who chooses, ordains, designs, and creates specific tools for specific purposes. As long as we give Him the credit and the glory, and use the gifts and talents He’s given us for His purposes, He’s happy to use them to the full.
When God has given people certain outstanding gifts, He doesn’t hesitate to use them. That’s what He gave them to them for (James 1:17). In many cases, He simply takes people who have already got that natural drive, and He takes their gifts and their talents and their strengths and their drive and vigor and fervor and fight and He uses it for His glory. In fact, He enhances it and inspires it even more and gives them strength to accomplish His results and to glorify Him—providing they’ve learned to put their will on God’s side and to let Him take control of their lives and actions.
The strength of weakness
Of course, a lot of the time most of us don’t feel very strong and we feel sort of lacking in gifts, strengths, talents, or abilities. That’s when we can encourage our faith by remembering that God specializes in taking and using people who seemingly have little or nothing in themselves.
He says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29).
His Word even says, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God has ordained strength” (Psalm 8:2). Why does God purposely choose weak people, even “babes and sucklings,” of all things? Because it’s in our weakness that He is able to manifest His mighty power and His strength to overcome our human frailties and limitations. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
When you don’t feel capable or sufficient for the task God has set before you, He has a chance to take over and do things to suit Himself. He says it’s “not by (thy) might, nor by (thy) power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). When you’re weak, you can be strong, because that’s when His strength comes in (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The very fact that you don’t feel like you can do it and you feel so incapable is one of the best things possible, because then you will seek the Lord, and God will manifest Himself. The Lord has a chance to work, and He will, if you will let Him. “For it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
The more incapable you feel, the more you will depend on God. The Lord likes for us to be dependent on Him. He likes for us to know that we need His help. He likes for us to ask Him for it, to look to Him and cry out to Him for the strength which we lack. It’s then that “the things that are impossible with man become possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Praise the Lord!
You don’t know how you’re going to make it, and that’s when He can make it through you. It’s then that you trust in the Lord, and in your weakness you find His strength.
The weakness of strength
The biggest temptation for people who have a lot of natural talent, drive, dynamism and abilities is to push things through in their own strength. Such natural human force has its limits. “Men of force are men of faults,” and their biggest fault is when they keep on going in their own strength, their own force, instead of letting the Lord work through them.
Having so much natural ability, strength, and drive is often the very thing that stands in the way of the Lord showing His strength. It can be more difficult for such people to just depend on the Lord because they’ve got so much natural strength that they’re used to leaning on.
All of us lean on the arm of flesh to some extent at different times. This is a very big part of our Christian life: to learn to lean on the Lord and to not do things in our own strength or depend on our own natural abilities and talents. The Lord wants us to rely on Him and His strength, the kind of strength that is strictly from the Lord. You get it mostly when you’re down and out or almost dead. It’s at times like that when you realize how much you need it and you turn utterly to the Lord.
This is something you must learn before He can ever fully use you: that you’re never going to be able to do what the Lord wants you to do by yourself or by your own will and own strength and self-control and determination or merely making up your mind that you’re going to do thus and so. It’s going to take prayer and faith and trust and utter reliance and dependence on the Lord.
How to win spiritual victories
It’s been said that, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” That certainly is the truth when you are “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). However, the Devil might not tremble so much if you’re someone who thinks that you’re such a “strong” saint. If you think you can make it on your own and you feel self-confident, that you’re so strong, that in itself is a major spiritual weakness. (See 1 Corinthians 10:12.)
But if you’ll just completely throw yourself on the mercy of God and depend on the Lord, that’s when He will mightily empower you and give you strength that you know not of. As Martin Luther wrote,
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing.
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s Own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is He.
Lord Sabbaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
We cannot strive and wrest in our own strength—we must look to the Lord, and He must win the battle. You don’t have to try to win victories by your own striving, struggling, and working in the flesh. Just do your part by putting your will on God’s side, and God will do the rest. Praise the Lord!
It’s one thing to admit and confess your weaknesses, but you also need to go on the attack and praise the Lord for the strengths you have. Once you’ve confessed weaknesses, you’ve got to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and strive to overcome them with the Lord’s help. When you make the right choice, the Lord will step in and help you to overcome your weaknesses, and will manifest His strength through you.
Of course, some people don’t want to overcome their weak areas. They’d rather excuse all their faults and weaknesses by saying, “I’m just that way. That’s just me; I can’t help it. My dad was that way, or my mother was that way, and it’s just born in me. I can’t overcome it. I’ve got that weakness, that personality trait.” That is just not so! God’s Word says, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
If necessary, God can completely transform your personality despite any and all natural influences. You’ve just got to do your part by putting your will on God’s side, and then depending utterly upon the Lord and His love, His power, His strength, His Spirit, and His Word.
You’ve got to look to the Lord in very earnest prayer for His strength and Spirit and inspiration and power to pull you through. Otherwise, you’ll never make it. He says, “Without Me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). If you don’t really trust the Lord and rely on Him to carry you through, but you just keep struggling and pushing in your own strength, you’re apt to wear yourself out and be headed for a nervous breakdown before you know it.
Bless and strengthen them in the power of Your might, Lord. Not in their own strength, but Your strength. Not their own self-confidence, but confidence in You. Bless and keep them humble, close to You, totally dependent on You and Your Spirit. Help them to know that they cannot do the Master’s work without the Master’s power. We know, Lord, that You always provide the strength and the wisdom and the power for the tasks and challenges before us as we lean hard upon You and Your Word, so help us all to continue doing that. In Jesus’ name, amen.
God bless you and keep you and encourage you and comfort you, strengthen you, help you and love you with all His might.
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