Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? Have you recently faced a devastating loss or were the holidays especially difficult? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …
Beaten and Bruised?
Not by Might
Verse 4.6 says, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Sixteen years previously, doubt, discouragement and opposition had caused the Jews to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was God’s chosen leader and this word from God was meant to be an encouragement to him that they were to finish the task God had given them.
This should be an encouragement to us, as well, when we feel beaten and bruised or when God has called us to some challenge—whether raising a strong-willed child, honoring Christ in the midst of a difficult marriage, growing a ministry, or serving Him in the workplace. It is not by might, not by our own strength or abilities, but through God’s power that we will succeed.
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14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When we come to Him boldly in prayer, He promises to give us the help and the grace we need in every situation.
And James 1.2-7 says:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
He will provide us with the wisdom we need, but we must trust Him implicitly, not wavering back and forth between trusting Him and trying to take control on our own. When we do, we only slow down the process and hinder our prayers.
Finally, we must step out in faith and DO what He is asking us to do! That may mean …
Responding with kindness and compassion when we feel like pushing back with anger and revenge (Eph. 4.31-32; Rom. 12.17-21).
Staying when we are hurt, rejected and disillusioned (1 Cor. 7.12-14).
Waiting when we feel like taking matters into our own hands (Ps. 27.14).
Praying when we are tempted to worry (Phil. 4.6).
Lovingly disciplining our children when we feel guilt ridden and alone (Eph. 6.4).
Speaking words of grace when we are tired and frustrated (Eph. 4.29).
Getting up when we feel like pulling the covers over our heads (Jas. 1.22-25).
Calling on the power of God when we are stretched beyond our abilities (Heb. 4.14-16).
Counting it all joy when we are in the midst of the battle (Jas. 1.2-4).
Submitting to God when it goes against our feelings (Jas. 4.7).
Resisting the devil (Jas. 4.7).
Loving the unlovable (Matt. 22.37-40).
Today’s Other Readings:
Praise Him Continually!
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
2 Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
3 Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
4 Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
For He commanded and they were created.
6 He also established them forever and ever;
He made a decree which shall not pass away.
Just as all creation itself praises God by its very existence, so are we, His creations, to praise Him continually!
God’s Perfect Design
24 There are four things which are little on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25 The ants are a people not strong,
Yet they prepare their food in the summer;
26 The rock badgers are a feeble folk,
Yet they make their homes in the crags;
27 The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks;
28 The spider skillfully grasps with its hands,
And it is in kings’ palaces.
In these four tiny creatures—ants, rock badgers, locusts, and spiders—we see the sovereign design of a faithful creator and the importance of hard work, faithfulness, organization, and making good use of our God-given resources.
This harlot on a scarlet beast represents the world’s false religious systems which all originated at the Tower of Babel, and in particular, it represents the system which will take shape at the end of the age. The beast which carries her is Antichrist who will use her for a time as it suits his purpose. The purple, scarlet and gold represents royalty and wealth. She is very successful at luring men and women into spiritual adultery, even the rich and famous.
She is drunk with the “blood of the saints.” Satan hates those who belong to God and he has used false religion to kill true believers throughout history from Old Testament times to the Reformation and Inquisition to modern times in China, the Middle East and many other places. It will continue to get worse, especially, during the Tribulation.
But in the end Satan will turn against this false religious system and set himself up to be worshiped.
Getting ready for 2017
What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January 1.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.