Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 33:24,25
Text: Deuteronomy 33:25 “As thy days so shall thy strength be.”
These are the words of Moses in his last benediction to the tribes of Israel. He is leaving a blessing to each one of the twelve tribes before they go into the Promised Land and He goes to heaven. These blessings are in the form of prophecies regarding how God will bless each of these tribes in the future. When Moses comes to Asher, who was the eighth of Jacob’s sons, born to Zilpah, the handmaiden of Leah, he gives this blessing found in these two verses. The blessing is greater than just our text but it is the text that has become the famous promise so treasured by many of us; “As thy days so shall thy strength be.”
I used this text recently with our teaching staff from Harvest Baptist School. It just seemed to me that everyone was stressed out and under a lot of pressure. So I said to the Lord, “Lord, where in the Bible do you deal with this?” This scripture came to mind. God deals with everything we go through, we just have to find where He deals with it and study it! This rich promise has three implications that can help us when we are stressed out!
I. It implies that we are weak in ourselves
Actually the nearer we are to the Lord the more of our own weakness we see. When we think we are strong we are really weak. I am only as strong in the Lord as I am weak in myself. Second Corinthians 12:10 says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” It is when we are weak and know it that God has a real opportunity to work in us and through us. I Cor. 1:26ff “For ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the weak things of this world…” Again, Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.”
Now, by weakness we don’t mean a “lack of preparation” or laziness for God never condones laziness. But by weakness we mean a realization of our inability and insufficiency to cope with the pressures of life in ourselves. Put all the ingredients together in all the right proportions and you and I will not impact men for God. But, put those same ingredients in with dependence and faith in God and God will work miracles through us! Pablo Cassals, the famous cellist, was teaching a student. The student was playing when Cassals stopped him and said, “You are playing all the right notes but you are not playing the music!” How many times is this true of us in our service for Christ? We are going through the motions, doing all the right things, but missing God’s desire for us to be in constant awareness of our need of His strength.
God often allows us to become stressed out for us to realize how weak we are in ourselves. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” Perhaps the reason for Paul’s weakness and trembling at Corinth was that he had just come from Mars Hill (Acts 17) where he had used his learning to try to win philosophers to Christ and he had failed. Men are not won by our learning but by God’s power! So when he went next to Corinth he says, “I was with you in weakness…”Sometimes for Christian school teachers and pastors, the best year of their ministry is the first one! Why? Because that was their most dependent year! But when we get to the place where we know all the answers and have the curriculum down pat and know what to do next, but forget to fall on our faces and beg God for His power; and lift our voices many times in a day to ask Him for help, then we fail. Our text implies that we have daily need of strength because we are weak in ourselves.
We have seen that an implication of our text is that we are really weak in ourselves. Thus, stress is simply an indicator that we are realizing our weakness. Another implication of the text is:
II. We have daily needs. The text says, “As thy days…” It does not say “As thy weeks” or “As thy years”. You see, we cannot store grace. God gives “grace to help in the time of need.” We have to get grace for today and the needs we have today. So many times we want to gather enough grace on Sunday to last all week, but mine usually runs out about Monday afternoon! The manna that God gave in the wilderness could only be gathered day by day and if it was left over, it bred worms. You can’t get strength for two days, just one day! How many, many times the Lord speaks about our walk with Him being a daily walk! We are told to ask for “daily bread” in the Disciple’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Luke 9:23 says, “Whosoever does not take up his cross daily…” Acts 17:11, in speaking of the Bereans says, “they searched the scriptures daily…” Paul said in First Corinthians 15:31 “I die daily.” So many times at the beginning of an endeavor like the beginning of the school year, we have meetings and challenge teachers and they vow to die to themselves for the year. The problem is that we can’t just die once and for all; we have to die daily. Hey, when is the last time you consciously died to yourself? Our text is a marvelous promise for stress because it teaches us that we must seek the Lord on a daily basis and not allow our problems and burdens to pile up on us! I have needs today for which I will need grace today just like I eat each day to gain physical strength for the day!
III. God’s strength is equal to God’s load. “So shall thy strength be.” God always supplies enough strength to fulfill His commands. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. used to say, “God puts omnipotence in back of His commands.” In other words, God will not tell you to do something He will not give you the strength to perform. But I have found in my ministry that the best Christians usually try to do too many things! Some Christians will hardly do anything but good Christians sometimes, nay, many times overload themselves with things that God has not commanded! I would not want to throw cold water on anything God has commanded you to do, but do not get so over burdened that you are not enjoying serving God! “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17) God told us to “Go” but He did not tell us to “Go-go-go!” Sometimes I need to be reminded that God got His work done before I came along! Remember, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” (Psalm 37:23) Just make sure that what you are doing has been ordered by God and not by someone you desire to please beside God! God is not the Author of a nervous breakdown, so, if you have one you will have take the responsibility for it! On the other hand, don’t be a shirker! Don’t have misplaced priorities so that you do everything besides God’s work and then can’t get God’s work done! Don’t be lazy and disorganized so that God’s work gets the blame for your “lack of time to get everything done.”
Are you a nervous wreck? Are you, as they say, “stressed out”? Then remember to spend quality time in God’s Word each day and time in prayer. It is much better to spend 15 minutes of quality time with God each day than to spend 3 hours at the end or beginning of the week. “As thy days so shall thy strength be.”
Points to Ponder
The secret to staying close to God is in our sense of need. Thus, stress should be a signal that we have not heard His voice that gives peace today!