Bottom Line Message:
The Fourth Benefit of Studying the Bible: Being Strengthened
The reality of the phenomenon of Bible codes underscores the divine origin of the Bible. Given that, we continue our review of the benefits of studying the Bible. In this article, we look at being strengthened as one of those benefits.
When we think of someone being strong, our initial thoughts may be filled with visions of our favorite athlete competing on the field, or perhaps a muscle-bound movie star fighting "the bad guy." But, certainly there are many other forms of strength. Psalm 119:28 speaks of a wearied soul needing strength:
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. (NIV)
What a powerful prayer: strengthen me according to your word! Certainly, if we pray to be strengthened according to God's Word, it will be done. But doesn't this prayer originate from a desire, which is born from studying the Word?
Study the Word
After Moses delivered the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, he exhorts them to:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV)
Just imagine if the Scripture read with all your soul and with strength if you have it. We can certainly infer from Deuteronomy 6:5 that God intends for us to have strength and to expend that strength in loving Him.
In Deuteronomy 11, Moses admonishes the Israelites to love and obey the LORD.
Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. (Deuteronomy 11:1, NIV)
In order to keep his commands, we need to know what they are. Job describes treasuring God's commands more than his daily bread, and David speaks of His precepts as right and radiant, giving joy to the heart and light to the eyes.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. (Job 23:12, NIV)
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (Psalm 19:8, NIV)
The Result Is Strength
In Deuteronomy 11, Moses explains that the result of knowing the commands of God and obeying them is strength.
Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. (Deuteronomy 11:8, NIV)
One of the ironies of life is that God gives us the strength to love and obey Him to begin with.
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. (Psalm 18:32, NIV)
The Flip Side
Often, it is helpful to look at contrasting Scriptures to see the full scope of a topic. Here is a Scripture about what happens if we do not depend on God for our strength:
This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD." (Jeremiah 17:5, NIV)
This is a very severe consequence: Being cursed by God for depending on our own flesh for our strength. Many of us were taught since childhood to be self-reliant and independent. In Western culture, independence is revered. Yet, here we see that God does not want to us depend upon our own strength, but on the strength that He provides.
Depend on our own strength, or receive strength from God? The answer found in Scripture is clear. It is a blessing and a benefit to receive strength from God by studying His Word.
When we meditate on Scriptures about how God gives us strength, we are weaned away from thinking that we can or should find strength within ourselves, or from others. This frees us to be able to receive strength from God directly. Try meditating on the following Scriptures.
God is our strength:
I love you, O LORD, my strength. (Psalm 18:1, NIV)
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (Psalm 105:4, NIV)
O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. (Isaiah 33:2, NIV)
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19, NIV)
God gives strength:
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 29:11, NIV)
You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:35, NIV)
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29, NIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11, NIV)
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9a, NIV)
God is our strength and shield:
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7, NIV)
God is our strength and song:
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2, NIV)
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2, NIV)
God is our refuge, fortress and strength:
The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. (Psalm 28:8, NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, NIV)
O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress. (Psalm 59:9, NIV)
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16, NIV)
O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (Psalm 59:17, NIV)
As we study Scripture, we learn of God's Ways, we fall in love with the God of the Universe, we desire to obey His commands, and He supplies the strength to do all of it.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-27, NIV)
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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