Firsts and Lasts


We are in the two weeks leading up to my son’s high school graduation. Things are getting a little sentimental around here. He just received the senior superlative for the person most ready for high school to end. And this comes as no surprise. Ever since he decided on a college, that’s been in the forefront of his mind. He’s eager for the next phase, and we are excited for him.

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His Strength in Our Weakness

When my children were younger, for a short season, I would send them a verse for the day and write about it. This is one that I came across a week or two ago that I needed myself to be reminded of. I’m not sure who first said, “preach the gospel to yourself,” but it is a valuable instruction to remind ourselves again and again of truth. This particular truth I think of as my “lifesong.”

Have you ever felt like you can’t do it? You can’t live the Christian life well? It’s just too hard?

Or why not just keep going like things are—isn’t that good enough? Do we really need to try to do better? or be better? And is that even possible in a world stained by sin? Can we possibly improve ourselves, much less make a positive difference in this world?

If you’ve ever struggled with these things, those questions, then I think you are in a really good place. Does that sound strange? What?! Feeling as though I can’t do it is a good place to be? Wouldn’t it be better to feel like I am competent and able and strong and doing really well?

I introduce you today to my life verses, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Paul has been talking about a thorn in his flesh that was given to him, and he had pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from him.

“And He [the Lord] said to me [Paul], My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefor I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NKJV)

Think about that. God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. If we could do it all, if we had all it takes, why would we need Him? But when we wrestle in our Christian walk of faith, when we see this is too much, it’s too hard, it’s when we begin to realize, yes, it’s too hard! But not for Christ! He is strong, He is greater than it all, and He is able by the power of His Holy Spirit to work in you for his good pleasure, your great joy and good, and His glory.

See your inability, your weakness, not as something to discourage you, but to lead you to Christ. He does still call us to act and obey, to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), to “put off” sin and “put on” godliness (Col. 3), but He will help us. Keep calling out to Him for help.

He forgives us when we repent (1 John 1:9). He hears us when we cry. He answers us when we call. Let Him give you His strength to live each day. Sometimes it may be up and down and hard, but keep looking to Him, keep seeking Him, keep believing He is able and will lead you. Let His strength help you in your weakness.

We can’t live this life in our own strength. (We can try, we may feel we can for a bit, but it will always fail!)  When we understand and see the truth and beauty of that reality, then we are able to accept something which is so much better: we live this life in His strength, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we come to You this day acknowledging our sinfulness and the things that so easily beset us and discourage us. Help us to give up ourselves and turn to You who is able to keep us from falling and is able to give us the strength that we need to obey and follow You with great joy. We are human, we surely fail, but we have You, our God who is greater than all our sin, who rejoices when we repent, who waits patiently for us, and who will supply us with all we need for life and godliness. We love and praise You this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Letters to My Children: Treasure God’s Word

My children are growing up quickly. There aren’t many more days for me to try to instill in them key truths that could shape their lives. I thought I’d begin a series of posts that point them to different things I want them to know, things that matter.

Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11)

Dear children,

Treasure God’s Word. Psalm 119 details in its 176 verses the many reasons why this is of such value. This is God’s Word to us, Him speaking. The God who created us, made us, loves us, knows us, died to redeem us—He has given us this personal Word.

It is different from anything else you will ever read. This is because it is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). These are His words to us. We dare not ignore this Word because it brings life and truth and direction.

Let’s let the Word itself speak for us as to what it brings: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Just one verse before (2 Tim. 3:15), we see that from childhood, Timothy has “known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.”

This Word brings wisdom, salvation, faith, training, teaching, correction, reproof, things that make us complete and adequate, equipping us for every good work. It will guard us from sin and help keep our way pure (Psalm 119:9, 11). That’s just to name a very few things!

What else does this? If you have any doubt, test it. Read it every day. Pray. Ask God by His Spirit to speak to you. Record what it tells you, things you see about God and yourself. Act on what it teaches you. Let it be the lamp unto your feet and the light to your path (Psalm 119:105). Nothing and no one else can deliver on these promises given to us in God’s Word, so take Him at his Word and treasure it.

There’s much more I could say, but go to the Word and let the Word tell you. Start in Psalm 119.

Then, from another angle, treasure this Word, your Bible, your physical, actual Bible. Read it, note in it, wear it out from use. Do you know how many people in the world do not have a Bible written in their own language or available to them, who do not have the freedom to own one and read one, who may not have the money to purchase one, who would be persecuted if they had one? We have multiple copies in various translations and versions all over our house. We are given free ones regularly. With so much access and abundance, it’s easy to take it for granted, underestimate its value, or set it aside. Treasure it because it is a treasure! Be thankful!

I was given my first study Bible when I went to college at our state’s big university. I took that Bible to church, but also took it in my backpack to every Campus Crusade or RUF meeting, to every Bible study, to sorority meetings when I was chaplain, to every place where God’s Word would be discussed or read. I wrote in it. I underlined. I wore it out. I still have it today. Though at some point I got a new study Bible and started all over again, I can pick up that first study Bible and see and feel and remember and taste all that God was doing in my life during those years. And it’s something I can share with you.

Take your Bible with you where you go. Display its worth to yourself and to others. Value it and treasure it. Read it, study it, and let God through His Word mold and make you into the man or woman of God He desires you to be. You won’t regret it! Give it time. Be persistent. Keep seeking God. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him in faith (Hebrews 11:6).

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).