February 24

Deuteronomy 7-9, Psalm 55

Like the Israelites, we who are in Christ, face giants or obstacles on a daily basis. These obstacles come in many forms and degrees of severity.  They may be financial, personal, in relationships, health,etc. When we see the magnitude of our obstacles we must make the choice whether we are going to focus our eyes on the problem or focus our eyes on the solution.  The solution is God , not our own strength.  We read the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14.  They were in the middle of a storm (the obstacle) when Jesus approaches the boat and they mistake Him for a ghost.  Peter initially does the right thing, placing all of his focus on the solution, Jesus.  We read in Matthew 14:28-29, “And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come”.  And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.”  Notice this did not come as a result of any special qualities on the part of Peter or any strategy, but by simple faith in Jesus.  But we see what happens the moment we doubt and get our eyes on the problem rather than the solution, Jesus, in 14:30, “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

Notice that God clarifies to the people of Israel, that their strength rested on their relationship with Him, not their innate qualities.  We read in Deuteronomy 7:6-7, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.  The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;…”.  He goes on to remind them in 7:17-19 “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’-you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharoah and to all Egypt,…So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.”  God reassured them that as long as they followed Him and trusted Him, no obstacle would be too big for them.  So God, offered them blessings if they chose to obey them.  But as is often the case, when things go well, people like to take the credit and focus again on their own strength.  God goes on to explain what that would mean to them in Deuteronomy 8:18-19, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.  Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.”

For years, when I read through the Gospels and saw all that Jesus did; the miracles, the power over nature, the power over demons, etc., I shrugged it off and figured, well He is God, so of course He could do these things.  In Phiippians 2:5-11, we see that Jesus emptied Himself of His divine nature, and accomplished all that He did through the power of the Holy Spirit, we read in Philippians 2:7 (NLT), “Instead, he gave up His divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born a human being…”.  This is the same Holy Spirit that resides within us.  The reason that we do not exert the same power, is that we refuse to get ourselves out of the way. Rather than yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit, we try to accomplish things in our own strength.  If the people of Israel would have only looked vertically at their God, rather than horizontally at their situations, nothing could have stopped them.  Likewise, if we learn to look at real strength in the Holy Spirit, rather than our own innate qualities we could accomplish great things in the name of God.  Paul realized this as he pleads with the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he comes to the conclusion in verse 10, “Therefore 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.”  May we, like Paul, arrive at that same conclusion and rest on the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Aaron Salvato