Lord, give me strength…

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One of the words that keeps popping up in my devotions and sermons I am listening to is about how God gives us strength

I talk about this a lot with the band of brothers and to myself because often I have confused the purpose of that strength He gives me. 

It is easy as humans to want that strength to be applied to the tasks we have set our own minds and hearts to accomplish instead of for the purpose for which it is promised. 

Classic misuse in youth? 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength as a ball is dribbled down a court and an impossible shot from the three point zone is launched. 

Not saying that using Scripture to encourage us in all our tasks is bad, but I don’t think we are always making full use of God’s promises. 

As I speak to myself and to anyone who might be walking the path of the journey beside me or behind me, I constantly remind us all that the strength He has promised is to overcome my human weakness and tendencies and bents toward a less than Christ-like lifestyle. 

Case in point is something I have been noticing about Jesus in contrast to his detractors in several New Testament passages lately. 

I notice the Pharisees and Scribes plans and such are described with words like “cunning, plotting, scheming” and I don’t see that in Jesus. 

It would seem the tone of His ministry was a daily walk (literally walking from one place to another) explaining what the Kingdom of God is and isn’t. 

I don’t see Him strategizing with the disciples on how to get an agenda hoisted on to anyone. 

I don’t see Him thinking ahead about how to outsmart the Pharisees and Scribes. 

I do see Him going off to quiet places alone to pray and then being present in whatever moment He found Himself in. He ministered with healing, deliverance and provision for physical needs while he continued to teach us what God and His Kingdom are about. 

This morning I was reading in Mark 14:1-9. 

The passage is most likely familiar. 

Jesus is dining at the home of a Pharisee and an unnamed woman enters the setting with an expensive jar of oil that she breaks open and lavishly pours over his head and feet. 

I am a visual person so this always gives me pause as I try to imagine this oil in His hair and I really have to get over my American sense of what is okay…but I digress. 

Jesus accepts this potentially embarrassing display of extreme affection in public because He sees the heart of the woman and He blesses her. 

Others begin analyzing the situation and how much better and wiser it would have been of her to sell that oil and then give the money to help poor people. Never mind that they probably used as much or more of their own money to furnish their homes and clothe themselves on the daily. 

It made me think of the way our current culture is sitting in the seat of judgment constantly. 

We all do it. 

The media, the mainstream church, the Hollywood and sports celebrities, the “progressive” church, the politicians, the liberals, the socialists, the conservatives….all of us…sit as armchair critics and are in an atmosphere of open critique of everyone and everything.

We pass advice on how the governor, the president, the preacher, our neighbor, could have done this or that in such a better way. We work hard to seek out stories that make those we oppose look bad. We plan our next argument and how we can trap someone with words.

And I am reminded that in this particular weakness, Christ has given us strength to S.T.O.P. and to become more like Him. 

Perhaps if we would pray and ask Him for strength to spend more time in quiet, solitary places of prayer and for strength to have discernment without having a critical spirit and wisdom for what to say and when to advance His Kingdom…well…we might just find ourselves making impossible shots that really matter for eternity <3

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