I've been so encouraged by Bill Johnson's book Strengthen Yourself in the Lord, and wanted to share some of the gleanings that have particularly touched me. This is the second post, so far, of the things I've been learning from this wonderful book. To read the first part, go to Strengthen Yourself in the Lord – Pt. 1.
The enemy uses lies to make problems appear bigger than the solutions we carry.
God never sets us up to fail…only to grow.
Staying Connected to Your Destiny is the title of Chapter 2, and the focus is on knowing who we are in Christ and who He created us individually to be. One of the key phrases that stood out to me was
You become what you behold.
What do we fix our eyes on? Where is our focus most of the time? Do we zoom in on the problems, hardships, frustrations, inadequacies, and let them take center stage?
Scripture exhorts us to ‘fix our eyes upon Jesus’ (Heb 12:2), and the famous hymn nails it on the head:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth,
Shall grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
That’s the point the Bill makes in this chapter…the problems we face become insurmountable when we focus on them, but they fade into the background when confronted with the glory of Jesus. That doesn’t mean they disappear and we live a carefree life. It just means that we recognize the omnipotence of our King, and choose to dwell on His character and nature. The more we come to know Him, the more we become like Him, and we can face the challenges of this world with greater courage and confidence.
In YWAM we teach about developing that deep, intimate walk with the Lord, where we hear His voice, understand His will for our lives, and follow Him wherever He leads. The fruitfulness in our lives flows from this place of intimacy with the Lord.
Johnson reminds us to ‘jealously guard our intimacy with the Lord’…it is the key to stewarding our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
When we face challenging situations, we can look at them from two angles:
1. The situation is a test that proves and strengthens our character and faith to walk in our purpose, and shows God that He can entrust us with more of Himself, or
2. The situation is a temptation away from God into bitterness, doubt, anxiety and disappointment.
If we are not stewarding our hearts and guarding our intimacy with the Lord, we may find ourselves blaming God, wallowing in self-pity, and basically allowing satan to run riot in our lives.
But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the reality of who He is starts to flow into our lives and transforms us into His likeness. We grow in our faith. We overcome the obstacles. We win the battles.
I want to live a victorious Christian life. I know what happens when I blame God for my hardships and turn my back on Him. For 13 years I experienced the void of living without Him. I never want to go through that again.
Help me, Lord, to see You and Your power and Your glory, rather than fret about whatever problem I am facing at the time. Help me to remember that You are with me in my battles, and that You already won the victory! Help me to grow in faith, in perseverance, and in maturity as we walk through this journey together. Help me to become more like You, Jesus.