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Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

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I recently watched with fascination as Nik Wallenda walked across a high wire 1,500 feet above the Grand Canyon floor without a safety harness. And as he inched his way across the empty span of nearly five football fields, he constantly thanked and praised Jesus.

Nik, a Christian, is a seventh generation member of the Wallenda family of high-wire performers, and began walking the wire at age four.

But could you or I accomplish such a feat? After all, have we not believed or quoted Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”? (King James Version, KJV)

When the Apostle Paul penned those words to the Philippians, did he mean that Jesus Christ would grant us superhuman abilities to accomplish anything we imagine?

Could we use that verse to affirm our way to earthly riches, as proponents of the “prosperity” gospel try to do?

Many believers quote Philippians 4:13 and try to apply it to their lives without fully understanding the context in which the Apostle Paul wrote it.

He was imprisoned in Rome and was writing to Christians at the church in Philippi to encourage them to be joyful and contented in every circumstance because of their faith in Jesus Christ, even when things went badly for them. He also wrote to thank them for their financial gift to him in prison, and added:

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. But even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.” (Phil.4: 11-14, New Living Translation, NLT)

The “everything” or “all things” refers specifically to Paul’s ability to be contented and joyful in all circumstances that life threw at him. Because he relied on Christ to strengthen him and supply his needs, he could be thankful and joyful:

• Whether in times of plenty or times of great need, in feast or famine
• Whether preaching the Good News in prison or on the outside (Phil. 1: 3-7; 12-14)
• Whether living and suffering for Christ or dying for him (Phil. 1: 20-24; 27-30)

His was a joyful acceptance of Christ’s will and provision for him in every aspect of life.

And that should be our attitude in our journey with Christ—finding in his will equal contentment and joy whether in wealth or poverty, sickness or health, fame or obscurity, failure or success, marriage or singleness.

Can we do all things? Only those things that are within Christ’s will and plan for us, in which case he will give us the strength and resources to do them. He does not give us superhuman abilities to accomplish anything we want if they do not serve his purpose or are not in his best interest for us.

The Apostle James warns about self-confidence and rushing ahead with our own plans and desires without regard for God’s will:

“Look here, you people who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16, NLT)

Solomon expressed this succinctly when he wrote in Proverbs 17:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (NLT)

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 8.01.04 PMOn Sunday, June 23, 2013 I saw Philippians 4:13 and Proverbs 17:9 lived out over the Grand Canyon as Nik’s years of training and planning proved successful when the Lord guided his steps safely across that high-wire.

Nik became the first human to tightrope across the Grand Canyon, and a worldwide television audience of millions saw and heard him thank and praise Jesus Christ.

Can I accomplish that same feat? As of now, no, because so far it doesn’t seem to be in God’s plan, training, or mission for me. And I am certainly okay with that.

 

 

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Four times those words of encouragement were given to Joshua—three times by God and once by the men serving under him. (Joshua 1)*

And that encouragement is relevant to us today.

For forty years God had been preparing Joshua for leadership by having him serve as Moses’ assistant and military strategist. When Moses died, God appointed Joshua to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land and establish a homeland for Israel.

His primary task was to lead more than two million people into Canaan, defeat the armies of the nations that occupied the land, wipe out those nations because of their wickedness, and divide the land between the twelve tribes of Israel.

It would involve years of protracted warfare against thirty-one kings and their armies, destruction of their cities, and putting to death millions of their inhabitants.

It was a daunting task, and God knew that there would be many times that Joshua would feel overwhelmed, even afraid. So, to assure and strengthen him, God said:

“…I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors.” (Joshua 1:6) Joshua would succeed because God would fulfill his promise made to their ancestors.

“Be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:7-8) This time God outlined for Joshua how to be strong, courageous, and successful—by obeying the laws that Moses gave him; and by studying and meditating on Scripture at all times.

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9) This third encouragement came with the assurance, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The twenty-four chapters of the book of Joshua provide a fascinating account of how Joshua, with God’s help, succeeded in establishing a homeland in Canaan for the Israelites.

Although we are not called to lead millions of people into battle, we face a different kind of battle—living life and meeting challenges of every-day living that sometimes cause us to be afraid and discouraged.

Whether it is the loss of a job, taking on a new job and new responsibilities, financial problems, declining health, broken relationships, the loss of loved ones, uncertain tomorrows, or a host of other challenges, each of us experiences times of fear and discouragement.

And there will be mornings when, for unknown reasons, we will wake up afraid to face the day.

To us, God says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged!”

How can we be strong and courageous?

Believe and trust in God’s words of encouragement:

“I will be with you…I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1: 5 & 9)

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will hold you up in my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Believe and trust in the words of Jesus Christ as he encouraged his followers:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.” (John 14:1)

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift that the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

And take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul who suffered many things in his ministry, but always found strength and encouragement to press on in the task that God had given him in service to Jesus Christ:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

I pray that whatever you’re facing in life at this moment, you’ll put your trust in God, spend time alone with him as you meditate on his holy Word, and seek his guidance, strength, comfort, and direction.

May the words and music of Maurette Brown Clark inspire you to find your comfort and strength in God for the task ahead of you. I encourage you to listen to it in its entirety.

*All Scripture passages quoted above are from the New Living Translation © 2007

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