Not in My Own Strength
by Sharon Betters
[Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you – energizing and creating in you the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
Philippians 2:13 Amplified
Did you know that when Jesus forgave you and came into your heart, He brought His DNA? That the Scripture actually uses the word “sperma” in
1 John 3:9
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed (sperma) remains in him. He cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
Think of it! God has permanently placed His eternal “seed” or DNA fingerprint in each of His children. This passage is packed with mercy and holy encouragement, but I want to focus just a little on the fact that when we belong to Jesus, God’s DNA now permanently resides in us. Our privilege is to live the rest of our lives “working out” what that DNA looks like in the pathways God has marked out for each of us.
Today’s Treasure verse reflects the amazing truth that God does not leave us alone to figure out how to look like Him in our interchanges with others. We are not on our own, instead, it is God who is all the while effectually at work in us, energizing and creating in us the power and desire to want to please Him and experience the delight of knowing Him. This is mind blowing, but it is also reassuring as we struggle to offer life-giving encouragement in our circles of influence. We reveal more and more of His DNA, as we learn more of Him through His Word, through His love and compassion extended to us and as we pray for direction in our interactions with others.
Remember the life crises described in Wednesdays devotional: the mother whose daughter was being molested by a friend, the parents whose son announced his sexual preference was not heterosexual, the moody teenager?
Hurting people need encouragement that helps turn their hearts toward Jesus, but they, in turn, must learn how to offer that same kind of encouragement to their loved ones. The ultimate goal of biblical encouragement is for the encourager to display the very DNA of God that resides in them. The only way one can do that is through running to the Cross, expressing their specific needs and asking the Lord for specific instructions on how to interact with these people they love so much. The goal is not to fix the person, though that might be their heart’s desire. Instead, they need to partner with the Lord with the goal of helping turn hearts toward Him.
Take time today to meditate on the fact of God’s DNA permanently planted in your heart. Revel in the promise that you are not on your own in displaying that DNA. Through time in His Word and prayer, God will continually transform you into the life-giving encourager He calls you to be.
Sometimes it’s hard to spend blocks of time with a broken friend, no matter how much you love her. Her tears, sadness, dark moods, what can sound like heretical questioning of God, her refusal to engage in life or leave her home – all of this can diminish your desire to stay the course of encouraging her heart in the Lord. You feel helpless, frustrated, broken hearted for her but clueless as to how to help. You wish she would just get better, but when you take time to consider the circumstances of her life, you’re not sure you would respond any differently. And yet, staying close is draining.
These are the moments to rely on this promise of Scripture. You are weak, but it is in your weakness that the Lord sends treasures to help you stay on track. We don’t go in our own strength. We go because Jesus loves us and we cannot keep that love to ourselves. We pray before we call, text or send a card. We ask the Lord to direct our words, our actions and most of all that He will cultivate a life-giving desire to reflect Jesus, to “become Jesus” for your friend. Though your friend does not respond in the way you hope, you can trust that the Lord is planting seeds of encouragement designed to turn her heart toward Him.
Ask a trusted friend to hold up your arms through prayer as you enter the darkness with your shattered friend. Guard your hurting friend by refusing to reveal private information to your prayer partner. Make this prayer need about your needs. Ask your friend to be willing to shed tears and experience your exhaustion through prayer so that you can go with confidence that the Lord is with you.
Oh Father, we cannot get our heads around this fact! You have planted your DNA into everyone who loves Jesus as Savior! You have planted Your DNA in me! I am your child! You love me! Show me how to “work out” the seed that You have placed in me. Show me how to water and fertilize that seed, how to make sure the sun shines on that seed. Make my family connection to You obvious in the way that I encourage others. Make me a life- giver!
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the grief audio resource titled “When A Child Loses a Parent” so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Joy was 10 years old when her mother lost her battle with aggressive breast cancer. Her two little sisters looked to her for mothering. She became her father’s confidante as he tried to navigate grief, single parenthood, and looking for a new wife. Joy’s story gives listeners a glimpse into how the loss of a parent can create an ever widening circle of grief that takes years to process.