Receiving strength from the Lord

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 or Jonah 3:10-4:11; Psalm 145:1-8; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
Receiving strength from the Lord
God allows His people to suffer difficulties. Why? – To strengthen our faith (Exodus 15:25; 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2, 16; 1 Peter 1:6-7). He chastens us, to teach us repentance (Revelation 3:19).
Don’t forget God’s love. He is faithful: ‘He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.’ He shows us His glory (Exodus 16:7). He assures us that He is God (Exodus 16:12).
He provides us with ‘daily bread’ (Exodus 16:4). Yesterday’s ‘bread’ is insufficient for today’s challenges (Exodus 16:19-20). ‘Morning by morning’, the ‘bread’ is to be gathered (Exodus 16:21; Lamentations 3:22-23). Jesus is the Living Bread (John 6:32-35, 48-51). Feed on Him each day. Don’t invite spiritual starvation by missing days. If you miss some days, don’t let it continue. Remember: ‘Seven days without prayer makes one weak’! ‘How long has it been since you talked with the Lord?’ Too long? It is time to pray and feed on Jesus!
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done…’ (Psalm 105:4-5).
The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).
How do we receive the Lord’s strength? We must ‘seek His face always.’
We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without the strength of the Lord, we will be defeated. He has helped us in the past. Never forget this. Give thanks to Him for every victory won. As you face temptation, remember the Lord’s promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape…’ (1 Corinthians 10:13).
‘He brought His people out with joy’ (Psalm 105:43).
When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, we must remember the Word of the Lord: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10).
We are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’. The Lord does not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. He is there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:4, 19).
When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, the Lord comes to us with His Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Through the Word of God, we receive strength. His Word brings joy to us. Let us sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’ (Psalm 118:14-15).
Our strength comes from God’s faithful love and saving grace.
The people of Nineveh ‘believed God’ and ‘turned from their evil ways.’ God had shown Himself to be ‘a gracious and compassionate God…’ How did Jonah react? Was he rejoicing in the Lord? No! He was complaining – ‘Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.’
Jonah was a proud Jew. He despised the Ninevites. He didn’t want them to be saved. That’s why he was ‘so quick to flee to Tarshish’ (Jonah 3:5, 10; 4:1-2).
What does God’s Word say about Jonah’s attitude? – ‘You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else.’ We must not ‘show contempt for the riches of His kindness.’ We must not say, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men.’ We must pray, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Romans 2:1, 4; Luke 18:11-14).
‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is beyond understanding’. Let us worship our great God: ‘I will exalt You, my God the King. I will praise Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever’ (Psalm 145:1-3). The God whom we worship is so much greater than the worship we bring to Him. Our worship is to be a ‘joyful celebration.’ We celebrate His great love: ‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.’ We rejoice in His great faithfulness: ‘The Lord is faithful to all His promises’. Here on earth, we have only begun to worship our great God. Our worship will continue in His ‘everlasting Kingdom.’ There, we will ‘praise His Name for ever and ever’ (Psalm 145:7-8, 13, 21).
Do you feel like you can`t go on? Do you feel like giving up? Here`s God`s Word of encouragement for you: ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). God finishes what He starts – ‘He didn`t bring us this far to leave us. He didn`t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn`t build His home in us to move away. He didn`t lift us up to let us down.’ In all the changes of life, we must remember this: God is faithful. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. We don`t keep going because we are strong. We are ‘kept by the power of God’ (1 Peter 1:5). In ‘humility’ let us live ‘to the glory and praise of God’ (Philippians 2:3; 1:11). ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ (Philippians 2:11) – He will give you the strength to keep going when you feel like giving up.
The workers served for different lengths of time (Matthew 20:1-7). They received equal payment (Matthew 20:8-16). This a parable of grace. Some have served the Lord a long time. Some have served Him a short time. The length of time is not the most important thing. More important is this: each one of us has been saved by grace. We owe it all to the Lord, the Giver of salvation.
In Matthew 20:17-19, Jesus speaks of His death and resurrection. These are the great events upon which our salvation rests (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If we are to follow Christ, we must walk the way of the Cross (Matthew 20:22). He suffered for us. We must be ready to suffer for Him. His glory did not come without suffering. Our glory will not come without suffering. Do not seek ‘greatness.’ Go the way of the Cross (Matthew 20:26-28).

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