How To Be Strong, a Daily Devotional by From your friends at RayStedman.org
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1).”
The first thing you have to do when things start falling apart, Paul says, is to be strong yourself in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; that is a fundamental principle of helping anybody. You can only pass on to others what you yourself have received. Head knowledge is of no value. If you merely pass on a knowledge of the truth—teaching people the various doctrines of Christianity—you have done nothing to help them at all. Unless they can see that that truth has changed you and made you different, that you speak out of the experience of having been altered by the truth you believe, you will never do anything to help someone else stand in the hour of danger. If you want to strengthen others, Paul’s advice is to start with yourself.
That which strengthens is grace. A peculiar thing about grace is it is never available to strong people. That is what makes it difficult for us to get hold of it sometimes. We are continually assaulted today with a barrage of propaganda teaching us that the way to be strong is to develop some quality about ourselves, some hidden power, some reserve of personality, some right that we need to demand. But if you believe the Bible, these teachings are the way to be weak—and that is what proves to be the case. God’s grace alone is strong enough to handle the pressures of a fallen world, but the only way you can lay hold of the grace of God is to acknowledge that you are so weak you do not have anything else that will hold you.
Many today are unable to be strong and don’t stand in the day of pressure, although they give great testimony about how they are going to follow Christ and stand for Him. In the moment of pressure, however, they go down almost instantly. They have bought the lie of the world that if they just make up their mind, that if by their will or their effort they display their tremendous natural gifts, or if they develop some power to ride over the rights of others, they can stand. But Paul’s word is that the way to strength is to discover “the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Recognize your own weakness and then accept God’s promise to work with you and through you in your weakness to make it strong. That is how it works.
Christians should continually be learning to say, “I can’t live up to this demand. I can’t do this thing that is asked of me. But He can; therefore I can.” Take the action based upon the expectation that God is in you, and He will enable you to do what you otherwise cannot do. That is authentic Christianity. It is supernatural. Natural strength is its greatest enemy. When we learn that, we can be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
‘TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS by William James Kirkpatrick, Canzetta Staton, Louisa M. Stead
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.
Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
It is time to dwell on the book of Hebrews because, as I said at the beginning, this marvelous doctrine is a precious thread that begins in Genesis 15, weaves itself through the prophets and climaxes in the epistles.
Again I hesitate to use my own words in this exposition for I feel they would be inadequate. Once again I refer the reader to the words of Andrew Murray because there is such a reverence in his dealings with these topics. From the following book quoted, “The Holiest of All,” my heart was touched by His Spirit and I learned things I previously could not comprehend. I pray the Lord does a similar work in your heart and spirit as you read the following.
SIXTH SECTION.-viii. 1-13.
The New Sanctuary and the New Covenant
THE PRIEST-KING, THE MINISTER OF THE TRUE SANCTUARY.
VIII.—1. Now In the things which we are saying the chief point Is this: We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty In the heavens,
- A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
- For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: wherefore It Is necessary that this High Priest also have somewhat to offer.
- Now If he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are those who offer the gifts according to the law;
- Who serve that which Is a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses Is warned of God when he is about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern which was showed thee in the mount…
A Minister of the sanctuary. Jesus is the Minister of the heavenly sanctuary. He represents us there. He has opened up the way, and brought us in, and sends down into our hearts the life and spirit of the true sanctuary; without ceasing He maintains the cleansing of His precious blood in our conscience, and, in the power of an endless life, enables us to worship in spirit and in truth, and to live our earthly life in the presence and the favor of God.
These are indeed spiritual mysteries of which we speak. Oh, let us not imagine that these are things which reason can grasp or hold; they are a supernatural wisdom, a divine revelation which none can receive but those who receive it from the Spirit of God.
THE PRIEST-KING, THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT.
Vm.—6. But now hath he obtained a ministry the more excellent, by how much also he Is the mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better promises.
- For if that first covenant had been faultless, then would no place have been sought for a second.
- For finding fault with them, he saith,
Behold the days come, saith the Lord,
That I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
- Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers;
In the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt;
For they continued not In my covenant,
And I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
The fault of the old covenant is stated to be (ver. 9): They continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not. Israel began well, and accepted the covenant, and promised obedience. But they continued not. There was no power to continue; no power to conquer temptation, or the evil heart; to remain faithful. Against this the new covenant would provide, because it was better, enacted in better promises. It would, by the blood of Christ, provide such an actual putting away and cleansing of sin that God would actually remember them no more for ever. With this He would, by His Holy Spirit, so put His laws into their heart that they should delight in doing them. God would Himself work both to will and to do. And then, in this power of Christ’s blood and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, they would no longer be dependent on men for their knowledge of God, but have direct access and direct intercourse with Him.
Come and listen. But they continued not in My covenant. This is the experience of the old covenant, to which there now can be an end. The whole provision of the new covenant is to fit us for continuing in it, for abiding continually.
THE CENTRAL BLESSING OF THE NEW COVENANT – THE LAW WRITTEN IN THE HEART.
VIII.—10. For this Is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after these days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws Into their mind, And on their hearts also will I write them.
The new covenant does not do violence to man’s will. lt is only where the heart sees and believes what God has promised, and is ready at any cost to claim and possess it, that any blessing can be realized.
In chap. 7 (ver. 16) we saw what the difference is between an external law and an inner life. The one is impotent, the other mighty. And we saw how even God’s law failed of securing obedience, because the heart was not right. The promise of the new covenant is to convert the external law into an inner life, to put it so in the heart that it shall be its inmost life, so that, as naturally as the heart wills and lives and acts on earth, it shall will and live and do what God demands…
This is the covenant I will make, saith the Lord. And God hath given His own Son with an oath to be of that covenant the surety! And of that covenant He, the High Priest upon the throne, is the Mediator. Oh, what think you? Will God fail in the very thing the covenant was devised to provide? Will He disappoint us in the one thing in which, as it deals with our experience, the new covenant is to be better than the old? In the one thing His heart and our heart longs for, to serve Him in righteousness and holiness all the days of our life,—is this one thing the very thing we are not to realize? God forbid. He hath said—This is the covenant I will make; and He will do it.
Let us look up to the Mediator of the covenant, our High Priest upon the throne in the heavens. When He was with His disciples on earth, the law was not yet put into their hearts. How often they failed in humility and love and boldness. But when He sat down upon the throne, He sent down the Holy Spirit from heaven in their hearts, and all was new. They were full of humility and love and great boldness. The law of God was in their hearts as the power of a life that knew, and loved, and did His will. Christ dwelt in their hearts by faith. The power of the endless life from the throne of God had taken possession of them. Oh, let us not doubt. Let us plead God’s promise, I will make a new covenant. Let us trust God’s Son, the surety of the covenant, and receive God’s Spirit.
Life Application: He came to bring us into Holy fellowship with Himself. He provided a way to do just that. He promised He would not fail in His greatest desire to make us Holy as He is holy. How can we doubt Him? Ask Him to fulfill His promise of the New Covenant in you.
No response necessary for the Life Application this lesson. If you wish to leave a comment or questions, please click here
(One of my favorite songs, maybe because it’s so simple and true):
WHEN I LOOK INTO YOUR HOLINESS
MAY THE PEACE OF THE LORD JESUS ABIDE IN YOU RICHLY
Happy New Year!
How To Be Strong by Your Friends at RayStedman.org: Excerpted with permission from How To Be Strong, © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit http://www.RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org. https://www.raystedman.org/daily-devotions/timothy/how-to-be-strong
Song: ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus Written by William James Kirkpatrick, Canzetta Staton, Louisa M. Stead • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group
The Holiest of All by Andrew Murray: https://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/murray-holiest-of-all/sixth-section.html
Song: When I look Into Your Holiness by Wayne & Cathy Perrin. Copyright © 1980 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/Adm. by worshiptogether.com Songs excl. the UK, adm. by Integrity Music
I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Hannah Hall, Michelle Arrington, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, J.P.Wilhelm, and Tracy Yoder. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.