Bread – Strength

January 20, 2012


Readings for Friday, January 20, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 11:27-12:8; Heb. 7:1-17; John 4:16-26; Psalms 31, 35

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An old Webster’s dictionary (1974 New World Dictionary, College Addition) has several meanings for strength. The first four in order are: “1. The state or power of being strong; force; power; vigor. 2. The power to resist strain, stress, etc.; toughness; durability 3. The power to resist attack; impregnability 4. Legal, moral, or intellectual force or effectiveness.” Those definitions will do.

In today’s lesson from Scripture, we are shown four different ways in which God gives us strength.

The first way is the strength we have through God-given faith. In our reading from Genesis, God tells Abram “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Gen. 12:1 Scripture reports that “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” Gen. 12:4 Where does the strength come from to be radically obedient to the Lord’s purpose in our lives? Through the exercise of faith in the Lord’s promises. Through the exercise of faith to go where God would have you go, even though you may not know where that is or even how or when you will get there.

The second way is the strength we have by virtue of Christ’s position. In Hebrews, we are presented with a discussion about the high priest we have in Jesus Christ, who forever intercedes for us. “Therefore He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” Heb. 7:25 We have the strength to stand before God because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

The third way is the strength we have by virtue of the truth spoken into our lives by the Holy Spirit. In our reading from John, Jesus speaks truth to the Samaritan women, not only about who He is but about who she is. The Samaritan woman has her sin revealed to her, but does not run away and hide. Instead, in the light of true revelation of her true state, she is given the strength to not only recognize who she is but who Jesus is. When we know nothing is hidden from God but He has forgiven us anyway and given us faith, we can stand fearless at all times, knowing that in life and in death there is victory.

The final way God gives us strength is by being our strong place of shelter. In Psalm 31, David is having a bad time, but he recognizes the strength he can find to overcome all adversaries by seeking refuge in the Lord, starting the Psalm off by saying “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge…be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.” Ps. 31:1,2b. After resting within the Lord’s place of safety, David has the strength to end the Psalm with “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Ps. 31:24

Today, will we engage the world in our own strength? Or in the strength of God’s gifts of faith, of Himself for our salvation, of truth spoken into our lives, or of safety, of refuge, of sanctuary, of rest? Which source of strength, ours or His, will give us vigor and power? Which source of strength, ours or His, will give us power to resist strain and stress? Which source of strength, ours or His, will give us the power to resist attack? Which source of strength, ours or His, will give us effectiveness where it counts?

I know you think the answer is obvious. But if it is so obvious, why do we rely on ourselves so much?

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