Called and Strengthened

By: Beth Doohan & Jenni Walker

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do His work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve Him.”  ~1 Timothy 1:12

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”  ~Hebrews 13:20-21

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The title of this week’s devotional can evoke very different responses in our hearts. Some of us envision ourselves as the woman standing on a rock’s edge overlooking a great and vast adventure to which God has called us.  Others of us still see ourselves as the little girl struggling to hold a heavy burden and feeling like we have very little to contribute despite our efforts.

If we want to minister and have an impact for God, we must surrender every area of our lives to the lordship of Christ.  This means we also are able to receive with open arms His strength, and experience deeply His intimate love, as He sanctifies us and makes us more like Him!  The more clearly we see Jesus, the more we will see ourselves in Him.  We are loved, we are called, and we are strengthened by Him and for His purposes (1 Timothy 1:12; Romans 8:28)!

Philippians 2 shows us Christ’s ultimate example of how to live a surrendered life in worship to God. Verses 6-11 say, “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

You see, Christ knew that His purpose and calling on earth was ultimately to demonstrate God’s love (Romans 5:8) and to bring glory to the Father through the cross. This was at the helm of everything He did during His time here on earth.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to humble obedience, to look out for the interests of others, and to live for the glory of God like Jesus did (Philippians 2:5). But just what does this look like…?

In last week’s devotional, we explored how the daily details of life are ongoing opportunities to orient our hearts toward the Lord in worship to Him.  Today, we want to look at how these daily details, when watered by the Lord, can produce mighty and lasting fruit in the kingdom of God when we offer Him all that we do and all that we are!

During the height of the oppressive Soviet Union, a frail woman in a region near the Baltic Sea was doing just that.  She lived in a one-room apartment with her husband.  A visitor described her as an elderly woman “lying on a small sofa, propped up by pillows.  Her body was bent and twisted almost beyond recognition by the dread disease of multiple sclerosis.  Her aged husband spent all his time caring for her since she was unable to move off the sofa.”

Corrie Ten Boom recounts her mid-1900s visit to this sister in Christ in her book “Tramp for the Lord’:

“I walked across the room and kissed her wrinkled cheek…She raised her right hand, slowly, in jerks.  It was the only part of her body she could control, and with her gnarled and deformed knuckles she caressed my face.  I reached over and kissed the index finger of that hand, for it was with this one finger that she had so long glorified God.  Beside her was a vintage typewriter.  Each morning her faithful husband would rise, praising the Lord.  After caring for his wife’s needs and feeding her a simple breakfast, he would prop her into a sitting position on the couch, placing pillows all around her so she wouldn’t topple over.  Then he would move that ancient black typewriter in front of her on a small table.  From an old cupboard he would remove a stack of cheap yellow paper.  Then, with that one blessed finger, she would begin to type…”  (One Finger for His Glory)

You see, this dear sister in Christ not only lived in dictatorial Soviet Russia as an acute sufferer of multiple sclerosis, but she also knew several languages.  With her one finger of which she still had muscle control, she secretly and painstakingly translated Bible passages and Christian books into Russian and languages of the Baltic Sea region hour after hour, each and every day, one key stroke at a time.

Her husband explained to Corrie during her visit, “Every other Christian in the city is watched by the secret police.  But because she has been sick so long, no one ever looks in on her.  They leave us alone, and she is the only person in all the city who can type quietly, undetected by the police.”  (You can read the rest of this story and others like it in Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom.)

This beautiful, wholehearted woman was not only called by God but strengthened mightily by Him!  When we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, we, too, can learn to live our lives as worship unto God and to respond to specific things He has called us to do no matter our circumstances. John 17 tells us that Jesus brought glory to the Father by fulfilling God’s purpose and calling for Him. In verses 1, 4-5, Jesus prayed “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so He can give glory back to You. I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, bring Me into the glory we shared before the world began.”

What work has God given you to accomplish for His glory?  What is His calling on your life and even in this specific season? As Christians, we are all given the purpose to love the Lord with all our hearts and to love others, but He also gives us specific callings. (See Philippians 1:11-14.)  This can be a certain vocation; a family role of wife, mother or daughter; a spiritual gift that allows you to serve others; or perhaps a passionate interest that connects you with people in order to show them God’s love. All these things are unique and specific to God’s individual purpose for His children’s lives.

We encourage you to take time to reflect on God’s calling for you in this season of your life, whether it be in your work, family, church, community, or the world. If you are uncertain, seek God in prayer and His Word, and talk it over with a close friend or mentor.  And remember, God never calls anyone without equipping them to do His good work. In I Timothy 1:12, Paul wrote, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do His work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve Him.”

No matter what our seasons of life or challenges we may face, we can live intentionally and with purpose as wholehearted women of God.  Ask God today to help you have the strength to do His work each day.  Like the woman who covertly typed with one finger, a peck at a time in Soviet Russia, what is He calling you to right where you are at?  He will show you and will help you to live your whole life as worship to Him!

Time to Reflect

1) Consider Philippians 2:6-13 and the example of the woman in the Soviet Union who worked with “one finger” for God’s glory.  How does self-sacrifice go hand-in-hand with God working in and through us?  How does humble obedience actually produce God-given strength?

 

2) Read Philippians 1:9-14.  How do verses 9-11 affect the way we approach the daily details of life?  What were some of Paul’s specific callings based on verses 12-14?  How was he strengthened by the Lord?

 

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(Some excerpts of this devotion topic are from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She Is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan and Jenni Walker.)