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If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)

Accentuate the positive!

That phrase is a ‘catch word’ of sorts in marketing. It’s a sound principle that encourages those in business of any sort to evaluate what is the most important and valuable thing you have to offer.

Competition in this economy is brutal. Regardless of what industry you are in, there is someone else trying to steal a part of your market. The best strategy to take in this situation is to evaluate your strengths and capitalize on them. This gives you your best chance of success. Do the best you can in your areas of strength. Worry more about what you can do and less about your weaknesses.

The same philosophy is true in our personal lives. It’s easy to get caught up in self-destructive attitudes and, as a result, take yourself ‘out of the game’.

Statements such as, “If I didn’t have so much debt” or “If I hadn’t gotten divorced” or “If he hadn’t hurt me” or “That church destroyed my faith” do little to help your opinion of yourself and shackle you to an attitude of failure.

The books written by the Apostle Peter were really letters written to a group of believers who may have lived in the worst period of oppression and persecution the Church has ever known. They were being beaten, had their homes taken from them, were being portrayed as stupid and evil and were being killed for their faith.

The dangerous conditions must have been devastating and demoralizing for those early believers. Yet in the midst of their agony Peter challenges them to do everything they do in the strength that God provides. That little phrase, “in the strength God provides” is the key to our being able to survive the turmoil life hands us.

It’s not our strength that will see us through. It’s not a perfect, holy past that will grow our faith. It’s not a stable marriage that will give us opportunities to see God work. It’s not a strong financial base that will allow us to do great things for God. Our ability to speak, write, fix things, build relationships or amass a fortune may impress people, but it won’t impress God and it won’t lead us to make eternal differences in our lives.

Our weaknesses won’t thwart us; our strengths won’t give us an advantage, the only thing that will really make a difference in our world is allowing God’s strength to work within us. We aren’t asked to go beyond our ability, we are only asked to live up to it. Our ability and God’s strength. An undefeatable combination.

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for the promise that your power is all I really need to do your work. You have empowered me with many gifts and abilities. Please help my gifts to be open for your power so you can work through them. Amen

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7

There are times in life when you just feel like ‘enough is enough’. People say ‘God will never give us more than we can handle’ but there are times when each of us have looked towards Heaven and said “Really? Isn’t this enough? I can’t take it anymore. Maybe YOU think I can handle this. I don’t’.

The ‘human’ tendency in each of us is to take matters in our own hands. We may not verbalize it to anyone, but deep inside us there’s this voice that says we are on our own. God either doesn’t exist, doesn’t care, or is just too removed from my situation to know what to do.

It’s a normal thing to do and God understands that. After all, He created us in His image. He created us to think on our own and to make decisions based on what we know and not on instinct. So, in the midst of our turmoil we seek our own answers. We may turn to revenge and call it justice. We may attempt so cope with the pain with drugs, alcohol, new relationships or even religious practices. But none of those will work and we find ourselves in the same turmoil.

In Psalm 20 the Psalmist offers up a prayer for those of us who have suffered the wounds of physical, emotional or spiritual abuse. His prayer for us is that in the midst of our darkest hour when anger and hate and revenge seem the only way out, that we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

The Psalmist doesn’t tell us to trust His power or look at His works and trust those. The power is in the name. Horses and chariots were items most people considered to be unbeatable in battle. They were swift and dangerous. While Jesus walked on earth many were healed simply by calling on His name. Life is hard. Tragedies come. People and churches and spiritual leaders fail. Family and friends will hurt you and abandon you in the time of your deepest need. But God is there. He desperately wants to walk with you through whatever life throws at you.

Call on His name. Talk to Him about your hurt. Release the pain and burden into His hands and ask Him to bear your load. That’s what He is there for. He loves you and it doesn’t matter if what you are going through is the result of your own choices or the actions of other people. His concern is about you.

Nothing anyone can do to you, no physical or political or even evil spirits can harm you when you call on the name of the Lord your God. Jesus is waiting to hear from you.

PRAYER: Dear God. I’m calling on you today. The trials and struggles that lay ahead of me seem insurmountable. I’ve been beaten up, battered and bruised. You say to call on you instead of calling on physical things like horses and chariots so I’m doing that. I need to feel Your presence in my life today. Empower me by Your Spirit to trust in you because I’m not sure I can do that on my own. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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July 2020
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