Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

As the Lord Enables

Week 4  Obey and Submit

Day 22

As the Lord Enables

I can’t force God's timing, but my continued efforts are nevertheless important.
The light of His enabling power will shine in His perfect time and not mine. At that point I must still be willing to try.


s we take our first steps toward obedience, discouragement is a constant threat. We make sacrifices in response to God’s call on our lives, but where is the fruit we expected to see from this willingness to follow the Lord? And, once in awhile, someone is openly critical or even hostile in response to our efforts to obey. 

Even more frustrating are life circumstances that fling us back into old patterns of behavior against our best intentions and desires. For reasons we can’t necessarily chart, the Lord does not always meet our determination to obey with His enabling power. 

When the prophet Elijah was overwhelmed, he spoke words that resound with the discouragement we feel when our efforts toward obedience are frustrated: "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away" (1 Kings 19:14).  

Poor Elijah had good reason for his discouragement, but in general I think people of faith tend to give up easier than those who are wise in the ways of the world.  Sometimes we allow trust in God to contribute to a helpless attitude that says, "Well, I tried my best and God let this hard thing happen and so that’s that." We give up our efforts toward freedom too easily.

In his commentary on the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16, Matthew Henry says, "Worldly men, in the choice of their object, are foolish; but in their activity, and perseverance, they are often wiser than believers. The unjust steward is not set before us as an example in cheating his master, or to justify any dishonesty, but to point out the careful ways of worldly men. It would be well if the children of light would learn wisdom from the men of the world, and would as earnestly pursue their better object."[i]

When the enemy works hard to derail our freedom efforts, we must pray to recognize God’s provision through the difficult circumstances He allows. Like a loving parent who keeps firm hold of a toddler’s hand and catches the child when he trips on bumpy ground, our Lord does not let go of us: "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." (Psalm 37:23-24 NLT). 

The enemy will attempt to derail us from our toddling steps toward freedom, but the Lord will not let go of us. He never sleeps, always resides in our hearts, and is able to make us unstoppable and unshakable. His timing is perfect, and He will work even through circumstances that frustrate our fledgling efforts to bring the unruly flesh under His control.

Pray: Lord, please renew my strength and hope; help me not to give up so easily. Please cleanse me of the paralysis of discouragement and grant me perseverance.  Help me stay alert so I will be ready to take the freedom path when You open the way before me. Lord, please grant me Your enabling strength as I work to bring my flesh into submission to Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.


God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:19

I will strengthen you, I will help you
Isaiah 41:10

[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Luke 16, public domain

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