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Psalm 44:5–8 says, “Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long.” “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm” (Psalm 20:7–8, NIV).
It is God’s delight to show His power at work through our lives. He is calling for each of us to trust in Him, to rely upon Him and to see what He can do through us. When we accept His call and choose to depend upon Him, we are able to stand firm, our feet placed on solid ground. Here are the points we must remember in order to stand firm:
It is important for us to understand that the Lord rejects a work dependent on any thing or any person other than Himself. God desires that we always look to Him, never relying on our own strengths and abilities or depending on anything apart from Him. Be it our talents, friends, family members, buildings, money, or the resources of other people—none of these should become the source of our trust. God uses these as means to help us in our times of need and to further His Kingdom, but ultimately He is the only one whom we can depend on.
Our abilities, skills, talents and backgrounds have no relationship to how much God can use us. God is almighty and He can do anything, but He has chosen us to partner with Him. He seeks us as jars of clay—channels for His work. God uses us to do His eternal work based on one criteria: our willingness to depend on Him and give Him the glory. The greatest saints are simply the greatest receivers. Relying upon the Lord, they are nothing but channels; they know this and give God all the glory.
The more naturally gifted one is, the more he or she must go through death to self and pride in order to be used by God. Our ego is so deceitful. All the talents and natural abilities given to any of us were given by God in the first place. Yet we so easily take ownership of these things and attribute them to ourselves. We must realize that God always seeks to bring us to the place of death so He can work through us (see Galatians 2:20). When we surrender our abilities to God, we become partners with Him, and He accomplishes great things through our lives.
It is possible to begin with absolute trust and dependence upon God and later to be led astray, thinking we had something to do with the victories. In the midst of great blessings, we can be rejected by God because of our pride. As we saw in Chapter 2, King Saul and King Uzziah both fell because of this. God can do great things through us, but we cannot take credit for what is His. Paul did amazing miracles, established churches throughout Asia and led hundreds to Christ, but he also said truthfully of himself, “I know that nothing good lives in me” (Romans 7:18, NIV). We are merely the instruments of God.
On the outside, something can look very wonderful (like King Asa’s victory) but in actuality be very displeasing to God. Nebuchadnezzar built a large and beautiful city, but does it stand today? Where is the Tower of Babel in our history? It is a remembrance only of the sinfulness of good-intentioned flesh. We need to keep in mind that that which is esteemed before men is despised by God. If anything in our life or ministry is to count for eternity, it will come forth from Christ as we are dependent upon Him.
Mother Teresa, the woman who gave her life to help the needy in India, was born into a wealthy Albanian family. When God called her to go to the poor of Calcutta, she was a respected principal at a Catholic school. Yet with joyful persistence she obeyed. Despite the worldwide fame and attention that later came her way, Mother Teresa remained humble and unimportant in her own eyes. She walked in the reality of knowing that the fruit from her life did not come from herself but was merely a by-product of depending on God and His working through her. For years she labored among the diseased and dying, never having received any formal medical training. Yet her service impacts thousands even today. Toward the end of her life she said, “I am convinced that when I am gone, if God finds a person more ignorant and useless than I, He will do greater things through that person because it will be His doing.”1
What a lesson for us all to learn! I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, learn the strength of God, which is stronger than man; learn the wisdom of God, which is wiser than man. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). We began well by trusting in the Lord. Let us now continue in His strength and live in His blessings.
Dear Lord, please show us parts of our lives, whether big or small, where we have not looked to You, depending on Your grace and strength. Father, we want to please You by living lives that bear good fruit. Help us do that and to know You, and in knowing You, depend on You, giving You the glory for the work done in and through our lives.
Thank You for being God, all-powerful and all-knowing. Thank You for having ways that are higher than ours and for teaching us of those ways. Help us to humble ourselves and depend on You for everything. Be glorified in our lives, O Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.