Daily Devotion thoughts by Pastor Greg
Today, we begin a journey. A 12-week journey toward strength. We begin reading together as a church family Robert J. Morgan’s book, The Strength You Need. Morgan takes 12 passages from Scripture in which God promised His people strength for their journey.
The question Morgan asks in the book is, “Why are we feeling so depleted when God has promised us the strength to equal our days?” That is a good question. If God has truly promised His children strength, then why do we feel so depleted and worn most days? Since God’s promises are always true, then what are we missing? Hopefully, this journey will show you in how to move from strength to strength, as Psalm 84 states.
Please know that I am praying for you as you embrace this journey. I will pray that God will use this adventure to be a blessing to you and encourage you along the way. I love each of you and feel blessed to serve Jesus alongside of you.
In 2016, Pastor Robert Morgan was leading a busy life. He was serving his church as pastor and was also a multitasking caregiver to his disabled wife. Most days he felt exhausted. Yet over time, God showed Robert how to build himself up when he had worn himself out. He learned to fully embrace Psalm 84 and move from strength to strength. This was when Morgan wrote our book for this season at FBCG, The Strength You Need.
The valleys and the weaknesses are inevitable. Our task is to embrace them as we wait for God to take us to our next time of strength.
Morgan reviewed every occurrence of the word "strength" in Scripture. After examining each of the 232 occurrences of the word “strength,” Morgan identified and explained 12 passages that offer reminders of the stamina God provides throughout our lives---sustenance that never wavers, always endures, and is continually renewed.
These are the passages that we will be studying over the next 12 weeks at FBCG. I am delighted that you have joined me for the journey. Hang on for the ride.
You may have noticed by now but the first passage of strength that we are examining this week is the same verse which I prayed for you last year. On a flight back from Charlotte, North Carolina in November of 2019, God impressed upon me that Deuteronomy 33:25 was to be the verse that I prayed for you as members of FBCG each day of 2020. Little did I know that four months later, there would be a global pandemic sweep our world and we would need God’s daily strength desperately.
Deuteronomy 33:25 comes in the middle of Moses’ blessing the Israelites. They had arrived east of the Jordan River and were preparing to inhabit the Promised Land. Moses was about to die and Joshua would become the new leader. As one of his final acts, Moses pronounced a blessing upon the tribes of Israel.
Interestingly, the order in which Moses blessed the tribes of Israel in this passage was unusual. It was a different arrangement from when the tribes were listed previously in Scripture. The tribal listing in Deuteronomy 33 seemed to be almost arranged in the order of their future success. God promised to each of the tribes the strength that each of them would need to accomplish their tasks.
I pray this week that God will give you strength to equal your days for the tasks you need to accomplish. Know on this Wednesday that God is for you, whether in good times or in a global pandemic. His strength will equal your needs.
I was struck immediately by his humility and graciousness. This was my first impression two months ago when I first met Robert J. Morgan, the author of our FBCG book study, The Strength You Need. I spent parts of two days with him in Nashville back in June. We arranged the details of our church reading through his book and worked out arrangements for Robert to be with us and preach at FBCG on Sunday morning, October 31. Robert is truly one of the most humble, gentle, and gracious men I have met in quite some time.
I also noticed something else about Robert J. Morgan. He is a man who deeply misses his wife, Katrina. She went home to be with her Lord in November of 2019. The Morgans had been married for 43 years.
You will notice in our book, The Strength You Need, that Katrina adds her notes to the passages at the end of each chapter. She details her daily struggles with multiple sclerosis. This book is the only one Robert and Katrina ever co-authored together. Robert still cherishes this fact and for this reason, The Strength You Need holds a special place in his heart.
Regardless of where you are in life … leaving home for college, raising children, struggling to make ends meet, battling health difficulties, bending under the strain of a difficult marriage, dealing with the loss of a spouse, or a myriad of other difficulties, you can know that your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. He is there to provide the strength you need for the day. One of my favorite verses Morgan quotes this week is 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Today, may He find you and show Himself strong and may your heart be loyal to Him.
Robert Morgan notes in Chapter 1 of The Strength You Need that his study of the writings of earlier generations of Christians revealed that many of them held tightly to our passage for the week … Deuteronomy 33:25. Many of the heroes of the faith leaned heavily upon it. In addition, Morgan also related how President Franklin D. Roosevelt valued and framed this wonderful verse. He told about how Lucy Thurston valiantly clung to this powerful verse as she went into surgery for cancer. I was privileged to pray this inspiring and encouraging verse over each of you as members of FBCG during 2020.
I have always enjoyed reading the preaching notes of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great British preacher of the 19th century. I love how our book emphasizes Spurgeon’s words while preaching on this text, “The same God who guides the stars in their courses, who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and keeps the stars burning perpetually with their fires, the same God has promised to supply thy strength … as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
I trust that our initial week of the book study has filled you with hope. May this Friday be one in which you feel the God who empowers the universe empowering you. Remember believer in Jesus, underneath you are the everlasting arms of your loving Father. Have a wonderful weekend. I will see you Sunday.
Each Saturday of our book study, The Strength You Need, I want to give you some of my favorite quotes about God’s strength. Here is the quote from our first Saturday of the study …
“If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened.” ~ George Mueller, Evangelist who founded orphanages in England in the 1800’s. Mueller cared for more than 10,000 orphans during his ministry.
“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely, we are the most favored of all creatures.” – A. W. Tozer
What is a kiloton? It is the unit of measurement equal to 1,000 tons of TNT. The bomb explosion at Hiroshima was equal to 20 kilotons. Now, there are forces that measure into the thousands of kilotons. Years ago, Russia detonated a weapon with the force of 100 kilotons and there were pressure pulses measured that went around the world twice. Since 1996, all nuclear testing has exceeded 510,000 kilotons.
All of this is mind-boggling. To think of the sheer power and strength which humanity has produced is staggering. Yet, Scripture repeatedly informs us that the power and strength God possesses is much greater than that of humans.
Jeremiah said that God made the heavens and earth by His great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17). The Psalmist said that the sound of water is loud and the ocean waves are powerful, but the Lord is much greater (Ps. 93:4). God’s power and strength are greater than physical difficulties, a global pandemic, troubled marriages, poor health, cancer, heart disease, and, yes, even world-wide political situations.
As we enter into the second week of The Strength You Need, allow the sheer strength which God possesses to encourage you. Allow the fact of His unbridled power speak into your heart and life. God is far more powerful than anything we can imagine (Eph. 3:20). Plus, He is for you (Rom. 8:28). Rest today. Calm your spirit. Whatever you are going through, God is powerful enough to handle it.
It is a simple axiom but a difficult one for us to always remember. Obedience brings blessings from God and disobedience brings discipline. The Israelites lived this truth often in the Old Testament. More specifically for us this week, King Asa lived this truth.
Asa’s heart was right in that he consistently loved God, but his obedience was lacking at times. He trusted in a foreign alliance and later in physicians more than God. Defeat and death were the results.
This week, we are looking more closely at the life of King Asa in Robert J. Morgan’s book, The Strength You Need. As we examine his positive traits and his fatal failures, I hope that we will learn from both. In the midst of Asa’s story, God reminds us, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Commit your heart fully to the Lord this week. Regardless of the circumstances. You will find strength from Him through your commitment. Plus, it will bring forth blessings from God as you obey His Word. Let this axiom guide your heart and decisions this week.
Perhaps you did not know much about the history of King Asa before this week and Chapter Two of our book study, The Strength You Need. Chronicles gives much more attention to Asa than Kings does. This is because Asa’s experiences illustrated the points that the Chronicler wanted to get across to us.
In his story, it is almost as if we meet two different men. One Asa appears strong and reliant upon the God of Israel. The other Asa appears to be weak and self-reliant. When confronted with his failures, rather than repenting and turning to the Lord, King Asa became angry and oppressed his own kingdom.
How often our story sounds similar to that of King Asa. At one moment, we appear strong during our trials and difficulties and rely upon God. The next moment, sometimes the very next day, we are weak and self-reliant. Rather than coming to God in repentance, we become angry and defiant.
In all honesty, this latter description may fit you today. As you truly evaluate where you are in relation to Jesus right now, maybe it is time to draw upon His strength rather than your own. Maybe today is the time to repent of any anger, bitterness, self-reliance, or defiance. You will find the strength you need in reliance upon God and repentance. I hope this is the path you choose today. His strength is all you need.
I am moved by the notes penned by Katrina at the end of each chapter of our book study, The Strength You Need. I can hear the frustration and apprehension as she details her struggle with multiple sclerosis.
This week’s section by Katrina was especially moving. She detailed the loss of dignity as MS progressed. Fumbling and losing items constantly. Going out to eat at restaurants was no longer a treat. It was simply too difficult using utensils. The disheveled look which haunted her.
Katrina’s words are a reminder to us all that we live in a fallen world. The result of sin in the Garden of Eden is that we are living under a curse. Decay and death have entered our world and we are all victims of both. We, too, will succumb to both eventually.
However, the good news is that we have a Savior who has defeated both! In Jesus Christ, this world is not our final destination and death is not the ultimate winner. Praise God! Our sins are atoned and we are one with our Creator again, in Jesus Christ. We are destined for a place where everything will be made new (Rev. 21:5).
Today, allow Jesus Christ to be your hope of glory regardless of the frustrations of life under the curse. Submit all of these frustrations to Him and allow His strength to sustain you. His strength is perfect.
Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. She was imprisoned for her actions. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, describes the ordeal.
During much of ten Boom's 90 years of life, she kept a journal of spiritual insights and observations. She collected her devotional writings and published them in a work entitled, Clippings From My Notebook.
Interestingly, in this book, ten Boom wrote much about strength. She detailed her thoughts from a German concentration camp as she watched her family members perish under the Nazi regime. God’s strength supported her each day.
One of my favorite quotes of Corrie ten Boom is, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Whatever is on your mind today and tempts you to worry, remember these powerful words of one who endured more than most of us. Do not allow the worry over tomorrow rob you of strength today. God has promised daily strength for you. Live in the strength He has provided for you today.
“Do not strive in your own strength. Cast yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus and wait upon Him in the sure confidence that He is with you and works in you. Strive in prayer. Let faith fill your heart, so will you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”
~ Andrew Murray, South African pastor in the late 1800’s
“I have kept Him waiting when I ought not, but He has waited even then. Always waiting – so patient with my foolishness, my weakness, my fear. Our fellowship is with God, and fellowship is friendship, and friendship means that partnership which, on His part, is the accommodating of His strength to my weakness.”
~ G. Campbell Morgan, British evangelist and Bible teacher in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s
The first time I heard the verse, I was a child in southeastern Oklahoma. I have heard it many times since. It is short but powerful. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” This verse from Nehemiah 8:10 is the passage we examine this week in our book study, The Strength You Need.
Often, we misinterpret this impactful spiritual truth. We believe it is saying that only when we are joyful does God provide strength. Yet, the truth is, most days we are not filled with joy. Others misinterpret the verse to mean that we are to put on a smile and be happy about all of life. Both of these thoughts miss the mark.
Notice the context into which this verse appears. God’s people had been in Exile, less than a joyful experience. They had neglected God’s Word and Law for generations, again a less than joyful experience. They were encountering one difficulty after another as they were attempting to return to normalcy in the land of Canaan again. None of these were joyful experiences. Yet, in the midst of difficulties and trials, God brought them a joy which would strengthen their spirit.
This Monday, life experiences may not be joyful for you either. You may find yourself in situations, much like the Israelites, which are less than ideal. Financial problems. No job. Family issues. Strained relationships. Marriage on the rocks. Health issues. Problems at school. Your children are stressed. Depression and anxiety. Death in the family. Allow God to give you joy in the midst of them all. As He does so, you will find your strength.
Notice that the verse does not say, “Your joy is your strength.” It must be the joy of the Lord. Take Him at His Word today and allow God to bring you a joy that strengthens your spirit.
Churchwide Book Study Begins August 8
Beginning August 8, we will go through the book, The Strength You Need, together as a church family. The author of the book, Robert J. Morgan, is a popular writer, speaker, and pastor. We have gone through two books as a congregation over the past few years and God has used these experiences in wonderful ways among our fellowship.
The book details 12 Scripture passages concerning strength. We will read one chapter per week for 12 weeks. During this time, I will send you daily e-mail devotionals which I have written specifically for you to find strength in Christ. At the conclusion of the 12-week book study (Sunday, October 31), the book’s author, Robert J. Morgan, will be preaching at FBCG.
Click here to sign up to get the daily devotion as we read through the book togther.
-Dr. Greg Ammons, Senior Pastor