A Bible Verse about Strength
The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation, Psalm 118:14.
A Story of Courage
In 2004 Victor Yushchenko stood for the presidency of the Ukraine. Vehemently opposed by the ruling party Yushchenko’s face was disfigured and he almost lost his life when he was mysteriously poisoned. This was not enough to deter him from standing for the presidency.
On the day of the election Yushchenko was comfortably in the lead. The ruling party, not to be denied, tampered with the results. The state-run television station reported “ladies and gentlemen, we announce that the challenger Victor Yushchenko has been decisively defeated.”
In the lower right-hand corner of the screen a woman by the name of Natalia Dmitruk was providing a translation service for the deaf community. As the news presenter regurgitated the lies of the regime, Natalia Dmitruk refused to translate them. “I’m addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine” she signed. “They are lying and I’m ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our president.”
The deaf community sprang into gear. They text messaged their friends about the fraudulent result and as news spread of Dmitruk’s act of defiance increasing numbers of journalists were inspired to likewise tell the truth. Over the coming weeks the “Orange Revolution” occurred as a million people wearing orange made their way to the capital city of Kiev demanding a new election. The government was forced to meet their demands, a new election was held and Victor Yushchenko became president.
Philip Yancey writes:
“When I heard the story behind the orange revolution, the image of a small screen of truth in the corner of the big screen became for me and ideal picture of the church. You see when a church does not control the big screen. (When we do, we usually mess it up.) Go to any magazine rack or turn on the television and you see a consistent message. What matters is how beautiful you are, how much money or power you have. Similarly, though the world includes many poor people, they really make the magazine covers all the new shows. Instead we focus on the superrich, names like Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey.… Our society is hardly unique. Throughout history nations have always glorified winners, not losers. Then, like the sign language translator in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, along comes a person named Jesus who says in effect, Don’t believe the big screen – they’re lying. It’s the poor who were blessed, not the rich. Mourners are blessed to, as well as those who hunger and thirst, and the persecuted. Those who go through life thinking on top went up on the bottom. And those who go through life feeling there a very viable and up on the top. After all, what is a prophetess person to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
Source: Philip Yancey, What Good Is God, pages 184-186
Ground Work: Read Galatians 6:7-16
You reap whatever you sow (Galatians 6:7c), or as Job 4:8 says, “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” From a gardening perspective, in addition to the seeds that we sow, the soil plays an important part in impacting the harvest or the yield. It is soil that stores nutrients and water so that seeds can sprout and have the necessary food to grow. Soil is also porous enough to prevent over saturation of the seed, it filters water and the nutrients and provides stability for the plants roots. Soil also houses other seeds besides the seeds you plant, some lying dormant for years before they sprout and grow. Some of the seeds we harvest in our life come from our family of origin, our environment and other factors.
The point Paul is making in this verse is that if you want to grow strong in your faith and trust in the Lord, you need to invest in your faith. How does this happen? First, by reading and reflecting on Scripture throughout your day and life strengthens faith. Secondly, you can practice faith by exercising it by the use of prayer: talking and listening to the still, small voice of the Spirit. Third, share your faith with other Christians. How did you see God at work today? For what are you thankful or want to praise God? Listen and even sing along with Christian music on you cell or your IPod. Share your faith with people who may be distant from God or the church.
If our mind is focused on ourselves or simply rarely if ever thinking about God or practicing faith, we will harvest self-centered or simply secular fruit. This is the basic fruit of the non-faith world. It’s all about me and those I care about. This fruit can be kind, helpful and happy. Oftentimes the nicest secular people I know still have the seeds of compassion and kindness from their Christian ancestors. While they may not exercise faith in God and Christ, the prayers of their grandmothers and moms still are bearing fruit in their lives. When I see Christian fruit in non-practicing people, I often ask about their relatives and their faith. It is pretty easy to spot the impact of a praying grandparent!
A primary reason that I continue to write and encourage us as a congregation to get on the same page by studying the Bible together is to grow our common faith. If we do not practice our faith or know what God has called us to do as a church in mission, we are like a football team where most of the players have not studied the playbook and have no clue what to do on the field. That is not a formula for winning football. God wants to use us – all of us – to love and serve God and our neighbor. God desires a strong and courageous church with a strong and courageous faith. We are hear to honor God in this life, to be used by God to improve life in our community for all people and show and tell others so that all may know Christ’s love and worship him. That is the bottom line.
- How can you encourage others to join you in studying and practicing our faith? Who comes to mind for whom you can share a copy of this study and future studies?
- Keep on practicing prayer for your family, our church family, and those who come to mind as needing the love of Jesus in a real way. Talk about prayer to encourage others to pray. Give a witness to the value you find in prayer.
- Invite your church family who do not worship often to come back and worship, watch a particular sermon online, or send invitations to worship by using social media.
- Perhaps the first step to worship or to return to worship may be joining you in a service project. Asking someone to help you at the Rescue Mission, or weeding the flowerbeds at church or serving at the Mobile Food Pantry or setting up communion or whatever you think of can ease someone into church. What comes to mind?
A Final Thought about Love (Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14):…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, Ephesians 4:2.