Our New Power for Living

When we turn over the controls of our lives to Christ’s Spirit, we’re opening up to a power beyond anything we can imagine. We rely on His power to live out our new life. And the Spirit leads us to a life of peace and freedom.

… Christ is alive and now present through his Spirit…through the risen Christ there has been let loose into the world a force which can transform life beyond recognition—this is the most momentous message human lips were ever charged to speak.
— from Heralds of God by James S Stewart

Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.

May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever!
Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21)

 

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Psalm Prayer:

But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
(Psalm 59:16) 

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Much more on the power of the Spirit in you:
Psalm 25:15; Psalm 25:20; Psalm 105:4; Isaiah 40:29-31; John 14:15-17, 25-26; John 15:4-5; John 15:26; John 16:13; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 6:6, 7, 10; Romans 7:6; Romans 8:1-16; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 17; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 3:16-20; Ephesians 6:10,11,13; Philippians 1:9-11; Philippians 3:10; Philippians 4:13; Colossians 1:11; Titus 3:4-6; Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Peter 1:3-9.

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Unlimited, beyond imagination!

Over three years ago, I wrote this about a friend:

She looks even better than the last time we talked, almost a year ago. Yet in those intervening months, doctors found a disease ravaging her body. There is no stopping it, she was told, and it will take her life.

“When they told me what was wrong with me,” she says to me now, “all I could think was, What am I going to do? What am I going to do? I knew I’d have to make all kinds of decisions, and I just didn’t know how I was going to go through this.

“So I just prayed and prayed and prayed. And one day — it was just as though someone was talking to me — God said everything would be all right. And I quit worrying.”

She goes on to tell me about mountains that have loomed up along the way that God has shrunk to little piles of dirt in her path. I listen to her stories and think that here is a jar of clay, very fragile clay, who has the all-surpassing power of God shining through.

She is positively shining with strength and peace.

That was over three years ago. This jar of clay, who doctors thought would not live a year, is still alive, still shining.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

I pray that from his glorious unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. (Ephesians 3:16)

Did you catch that word unlimited ?

Strength and power available to us, through His Spirit, from unlimited resources!

This is our great hope: That God’s power works best in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9) and that His power and resources go far beyond anything we can imagine.

I want to draw on His unlimited resources and strength every day.
I want His Spirit to empower me when I feel overwhelmed by circumstances or schedule,
when I would rather hold on to bitterness than forgive,
when I am too selfish to live love,
when people are so annoying that I lose sight of how much God loves them,
when I’m tempted to think any situation is hopeless …
then I need the power of His resources.

And—hope piled upon hope!—God assures us that His power working in us can accomplish “infinitely more than we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Now that’s something to ponder today. No matter what you ask, God’s power can accomplish even more — beyond your wildest imagining!

I’m eager to see just what God has in store …

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Psalm Prayer:

But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
(Psalm 59:16) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Blooming!

cropped-crocus-003.jpgOK, so this photo has nothing to do with today’s post. Except that I had to let you know the first of the crocuses opened yesterday. To all of us who’ve had a long, hard winter:   Happy Spring!

 

 

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On second thought, maybe that crocus does have some connection to today’s meditation. Give me two seconds, and I’ll scrap the first part of what I was going to write …… We’ll re-shuffle a few things ….

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How’s the winter been in your neck of the woods? Here in Ohio, it’s been colder, snowier, icier, and generally wintery-er than usual. We’ve had many cancellations and much sickness. As much as I love a snowy winter day and the moon glittering on fresh snow and invigorating crisp air — the warm sunshine of spring will be very welcome.

But you know what? (And this is obvious, of course.) There was absolutely nothing we could do to melt the snow and bring those crocuses in the flower bed to life. Nothing. My grandson and I have been checking on them for about a week, and even though we longed to see the first buds unfurl their cheerful flags to say, “Ta-da! Here we are! Announcing spring!”, we had no power to hasten that moment.

Ah, isn’t that much like the things we long to see blooming in our lives? Love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, a righteous character pleasing to our God — don’t we desire to have those burst forth in full bloom?

How successful have you been at forcing those blooms?

I was constantly frustrated. Pretty much failing at the entire checklist. Then, finally, God got through to me with the message in Scriptures like these:

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation — the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ — for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:11)

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

[Jesus said,] “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Do you catch the common idea in these Scriptures? The fruits in our lives that are pleasing to God are produced by the Holy Spirit, our connection to Jesus Christ. No matter how hard we work on our own, these things come only from the life of Christ growing in us.

I know we don’t always feel that God is working in our lives. Sometimes we feel caught in the grip of winter, and spring seems discouragingly far off. In your tired times, in those moments you feel helpless and hopeless, when you despair because so much in the world seems bigger and more powerful than you, ask the Spirit for assurance of His power working in your life. He will answer that prayer.

This is the great hope that we have: We are in the hands of the Master Gardener! Instead of working at the impossible, frustrating task of making myself loving, patient, joyful, and righteous, I turn over my vineyard to Him and let Him work. Only His power can bring the desired blooms and harvest. Once His life begins to unfurl and open, my life changes dramatically. That’s the secret.

And all glory and praise goes to God.

Amen.

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Psalm Prayer:

But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
(Psalm 59:16) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Always walking with the Teacher

As a teacher, the best moments come when I see in the eyes and face of the learner a sudden light that means, “I’ve got it! I see it now! I know how all the pieces fit!”

During His three years of public teaching, Jesus was handing out some new and puzzling thoughts. There had to have been many times when His disciples were struggling to understand and put all the pieces together.

And then, too soon, Jesus told them He was “going away.” But, He said,

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth” (John 14:15-17).

I can imagine the disappointment the disciples must have felt, as though they were being set adrift. They had left their old, everyday lives behind. They had ridden the ebb and flow of the tide of Jesus’ popularity—but now Jesus was leaving and they were left stranded. I would have been devastated.

No, Jesus assured them. I will always be in you. I will never leave you. My Spirit will come and live in you and continue to teach you and guide you. He will remind you of everything I’ve said, and He’ll lead you to truth.

In the middle of all the disciples’ grief and confusion about what was happening, Jesus told them at least four times that evening that He was not leaving them stranded…the Holy Spirit was going to continue teaching and guiding them. This was not the end. He would be coming back to them in a different way.

This is the Spirit that is poured out generously (Titus 3:6) on every child of God to this very day.

Today, let’s keep this uppermost in our minds as we go about our day: Jesus Christ is alive on this earth. He lives with us. Just as He lived with His disciples in Galilee and taught them every day, He is constantly with us, teaching, reminding, encouraging, and leading to the truth.

When we believe this hope, it changes all of life.

Because we know that now we walk, literally, with Christ—just as surely as Peter, James, and John walked and talked with Him.

And He is continuing our training to be His disciples, teaching, molding our thinking, showing us truth.

There are countless ways He works every day—

Sometimes, there’s a nudge to do something you would never have thought of before or to speak to someone you might have passed by.

You’ve been puzzling over an issue, and a new insight comes.

Or you’re given a quiet assurance when you need it.

Or someone else shares what they’ve learned, and the Spirit says, Yes, that’s right. Pay attention to this.

Or you read a passage of Scripture and there’s a verse that you’ve never noticed before—and it is exactly what you need for today! It is, literally, God’s Word for you at that very moment.

I’m guessing you can add many more examples of how the Spirit teaches you.

The Spirit of Christ is constantly shaping us, helping us along the way, sharpening our sights, showing us the invisible.

I like to think of Jesus, patiently showing me the truth, teaching me the things I need to learn. Every day. We aren’t by the Sea of Galilee or on the road to Jerusalem. We’re taking a walk in the sunshine. We’re driving down Route 39. We’re preparing for an interview for a story. We’re relaxing by the fire. We’re talking with my Bible Read-Thru group or my friends or my sisters or a complete stranger. Oh, yes, and sometimes we do sit on the rocks and gaze at the sea.

Some things take me awhile. But when I finally “get” whatever He’s teaching me, in my imagination, I can see the smile of my Teacher. 

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Psalm Prayer:

But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
(Psalm 59:16) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The Power to Change our Lives

It seems the old me is determined not to die and leave me alone to bask in my new holiness.

We’ve been given a new life. We belong to Christ’s Kingdom. But exactly how do we live this new life we’re given as a citizen of heaven?

How can I pray for the one at work who treats me so badly? How can I forgive that wrong that turned my life upside down? How can I give up the desire to strike back when someone hurts or insults me? How, in this world, do I love others the way God wants me to love?

How do I break the strength of old desires, the cravings of old weaknesses, the power of old thoughts, and the sting of old wounds?

We all still have those dark parts within us that we know don’t belong in the life of a child of God. Scriptures say our old selfish nature will always be with us—until the death of our earthly bodies—and that old nature will always be at war with what God wants our lives to show.

So what hope is there of living a new life with that conflict constantly raging as all of those old things still try to raise their ugly heads and spew their poison?

Hear God’s promise:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:1-2).

This is how we live our new lives in Christ’s kingdom: First of all, under grace.

We will sometimes fail Him, very much like Peter. Sin is still part of our humanness, but if we belong to Christ, we are forgiven and are not condemned for those times we fail. That is so important to know and take the assurance to heart. You belong to Christ. There is no condemnation when you fall short.

Secondly, the power of Christ’s Spirit living within us can free us from the power of our old nature.

In the western world, society glorifies self-determination, willpower, and strength. Yet we all know those things can quit on us. The right attitude can be capricious and undependable. I don’t know about you, but I’m sometimes shocked at what arises up out of my dark corners even when I thought everything was “under control.”

But our hope says that we are not at the mercy of our destructive impulses and wrong desires. We are not. Because we are not living on our own strength and resources. We are in the hands of the Spirit of Christ, and His power is greater than all our human resources.

We do have to make the choice, though. We must choose to let the Spirit get to work in our lives.

We must choose to say, “Lord, what I feel toward him is hate. I want revenge, but I know that is not what You want. Holy Spirit, change me, because You know I can’t change this myself.”

Or, “Father, I never should have said that. It was mean and spiteful and only meant to cut her down a notch or two. She knows exactly how to push all my buttons. Please, please help me hold my tongue.”

We open up the command center of our lives and turn control over to the Spirit of God.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves (Galatians 5:16).

Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace (Romans 8:6)

Both such simple statements. But what hope those words give us!

This is the answer for all those things in our lives that we have struggled with because we know they are not pleasing to God—all those things which we thought we could never control or change. This is how we change. This is how we live the life God has called us to.

This is what brings us life and peace.

The power of the Spirit of Christ is our new power for living.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
(Psalm 59:16) 

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, and Lana Turner for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)