Greater Strength

Written by Lisa Hagen (Minnesota, USA)

Lisa Hagen is a home-schooling mom to 7 amazing children, whom she and her husband hope to raise for God’s kingdom. She also coaches track and cross-country for local high schools. Additionally, Lisa is also a coach for the wheelchair division in track as 2 of her sons have muscular atrophy.

November 5, 2023

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:30-‬31 (ESV)‬‬                                                                                                                   

As runners, increasing our strength is something we each strive for.
When we grow stronger, the hills seem smaller, the miles seem shorter, our speed increases, and our times drop.
I recently returned to running after taking almost three months off due to surgery, and I am well acquainted with feeling weak and slow.
The slight incline in the road seems like a huge hill that I must concur!  

As a runner, how do we accomplish greater strength?
We must train.
Day after day, we must diligently find time to lace up our shoes and hit the roads.
Various workouts will build muscle, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and mental toughness.
Speed work, fartlek, tempo runs, and long runs work together to build strength.
Yet rest days and easy, slow days are vital to allow your body to heal from the hard days and repair damage. 

Without rest days, you will not grow stronger.  

As followers of Jesus, we have a greater call to grow in strength than just our physical bodies.
How do we grow in strength in the Lord Jesus?
Similarly, we need to take on spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines are things we do every day!
They do not rely on our feelings and emotions or a law, but we do them because we love our King, and we want to stay in constant communication with Him and draw closer in our relationship with Him.  

Before we can even begin any spiritual discipline, we must submit every part of our lives to Jesus.
He is our Lord, Redeemer, Messiah, and King.
He wants every aspect of your life.

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:10b

You cannot be spiritually stronger unless you give everything to Christ Jesus, even that deep, dark corner of your heart that you don’t want others to see.
He wants to bring light in there. 

Now, we are ready to discuss spiritual disciplines. 

  1. Prayer

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

Praying is direct communication with our Father.
He wants to hear from you. 
He wants to hear all of your joys, sorrows, and frustrations.
He wants you to come to him for your needs, worries and thoughts.
Your Abba loves you.
I love prayer runs, waking up in prayer, and sneaking away for a few minutes alone with my Father throughout the day.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, elaborate prayers, just time set aside often with your Abba.

  1. Reading your Bible daily

The Bible is the Word of God.
One of the ways He speaks to us is through the Word of God.
You will NOT be able to grow stronger in the Lord without daily reading His Word.
He reveals so much about His nature and what He desires for His children in His Word.

  1. Fasting

“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:17-‬18(ESV)

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”

Mark 2:20 (ESV)

Fasting and prayer together is a powerful combination.
The hunger pains or desire for food when fasting should be a reminder to go to Jesus in prayer.
Keep drawing close to Jesus throughout the fast.
Yes, you can still run during a fast.
I will say that if you have a medical condition, please speak to your doctor before beginning a fast.
Some people may only be able to fast one meal a day or some other modification.

  1. Meditating on God’s Word/Journaling

“but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 1:2 (ESV)

When we meditate on God’s Word, He reveals even more to us.
It can be how to apply His Word to your life.
It will draw you closer to Jesus as you think about what He is saying through His Word.
You will see how great He is and the awesome things He has done and is doing when you take time with Jesus and think about what His Word reveals to you.
Journaling these thoughts and writing the verses will often cement them into your mind and strengthen you for the future.

  1. Memorize Scripture

Number 4 flows right into number 5.
Writing Scripture and memorising Scripture strengthen you for when the enemy attacks.
With Scripture memorisation, you have it right there when you need it. 
Moments will come when you are ministering to someone in need, and the Holy Spirit brings the perfect verse to mind.
It is vital to know His Word so the enemy or a false teacher cannot deceive you.

  1. Praise and Worship

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

“Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!”

Psalm 150:4 (ESV)

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Psalm 34:1 (ESV)

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24 (ESV)

God created all things, everything in Heaven and on Earth, He created!
His Son died for you, as a sacrifice for you so that you can be adopted as His son or daughter!
He loves you and calls you His own, wiping away every sin and drawing you near.
How great He is! 
How great is His love!
He deserves and is worthy of worship, adoration, and praise!
So sing, dance, rejoice, and praise Him throughout the day for all things!
Even in trials and difficulties, praise Him for the growth and refining He is doing in your life because He loves you!
These trials will bring even greater strength in Him. 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2-‬4 (ESV)

We train hard and use disciplines to strengthen us when we run.
These bring to us awards that will rust and decay, so how much more important is it for us to discipline ourselves as we seek to grow closer to our Heavenly Father? 

If anyone here has yet to take the first step to truly knowing Jesus and following Him, the above steps will do no good. Only when you follow Jesus, walk with Him, draw closer to Him, and rely on Him will you start developing GREATER STRENGTH in Christ.
Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.
He loves you and calls you into a stronger, deeper relationship with Him.

PRAYER & REFLECTION

  1. Which of the spiritual disciplines above are you lacking/struggling with?
    How can you put that into your life to strengthen your walk with God?
  1. Revisit these verses for your Salvation and recommit yourself to the Lord:
    • Acts 2:38
    • Romans 10:9
    • Romans 10:10
    • Ephesians 2:8
    • Hebrews 11:6
    • 1 John 1:9

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