imageI’m in the middle of preparing messages for an event this weekend. I don’t know about most speakers but I always come to a task like this with a healthy fear and a little trepidation.

Am I meeting the needs of the people who will be in front of me?
Am I being sympathetic and empathetic?
Am I “rightly dividing the word”?
Of course, there are always the questions like “Is this going to be relevant, interesting, and am I going to hit it out of the park?”
While all of these concerns are valid, I’ve begun to realize that I will never get the right answers until I ask right questions.

“…out of the the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” Luke 6:45

Through the years, I’ve had the privilege to sit under the teaching of many talented preachers and teachers. I found myself impressed by (and a little envious of) their style, their exegesis of Scripture, and the beautiful way words flowed from them “like butter”. But something became apparent to me as I listened with some of these audiences. Our hearts were not move. Our intellects may have been stimulated and we were entertained but, there was no real inspiration. Why?
It,s because we need a little aspiration in the heart before there can be inspiration.
The messages that have always inspired me are those from speakers whose LIVES preach and their lips only ” play catch up”. Because of their example, not just their words, I’m compelled by a little “holy envy”. I want some part of their lives to be reflected in me so I absorb as much from them as I can during that short period of time called “the message”. That kind of speaker must, within him, carry two ingredients: authenticity and passion. Without those two things we fail at inspiration but, accomplish mere clever manipulation, which produces nothing in the life of a believer.
I want to be a man that is REAL with the people I’m entrusted to instruct and I want only to speak about the things that I strive to flesh out in my own life. If I am truly honest with an audience I will preach my own “funeral” every time. I must preach the things I have to “die to”. That’s when an audience can truly relate and be inspired, knowing that we’re all in the struggle together.
If I AM an inspiration then the rest is easy.
I’m praying that this will be a weekend of inspiration for all of us.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty*; walk before me and be blameless. Genesis 17:1

* Hebrew El-Shaddai

God demanded that Abram walk blameless. There’s one problem with this demand; it seems to be an impossible task.  Abram, like you and I, was born of Adam and therefore had this thing called “the flesh” that keeps a blameless life “at bay”. For many Christians, each morning begins with a prayer something like this: “Father, give me the strength to walk blameless before you today”. Then, before we’ve even left the house, we’ve lost that strength and fallen to some stupid self-serving sin. Where did that strength go? At this point one of two things happens:
We settle for defeat and fall into condemnation or we decide to “knuckle down” and try harder. We will read the Bible more, pray more, go to church more, and then we will be strong. THEN we’ll finally be able to walk blameless before the Lord.
And tomorrow’s prayer will begin the same as today’s.

There are two fundamental flaws with this daily “battle for blamelessness”,
First, you can’t “tinker” with your flesh and make it better. Paul wrote: “in my flesh dwells no good thing”. If you could “fix” your flesh, surely the author of 13 books of New Testament would have figured it out. His conclusion: “I die daily”. His solution was to die to his flesh; not try to fix it. He understood the flesh is irredeemable.  In fact, Paul went on to say,  “His strength is made perfect in our weakness”. I believe that’s exactly why God demanded blamelessness from Abram. God wanted to show him human strength was not up to the task of righteousness. It showed Abram just how weak he was.
Which brings us to the second flaw which manifests itself in our prayer for “more strength”.

We cannot ask for strength from the Lord.
Let me explain.
As with most names ascribed to God or given to Him by Himself, there is a deep meaning behind this title. The Hebrew name El Shaddai or God Almighty carries with it the implication of His “might”or strength, but there is an incredibly important nuance to this name. It does not mean that God possesses any strength. If He merely possessed strength He could dispense it to us like a gumball machine. But this name in Hebrew means God IS “all might” He doesn’t possess it, He embodies it! Therefore I cannot ask Him for more strength. I must come to Him in my weakness and ask for more of HIM! He doesn’t merely want to help me.  He wants to live His life through me. He wants to grow inside of me until I am a testament of HIS strength. That’s why the Scriptures teach us to “…be strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might”.

Our prayer should now be: “Live Your life through me today God. In my weakness be made strong. Lord, You BE my strength and make me blameless because only You can”.

How comforting to know that not just my salvation, but my sanctification is His gift. Everything God expects of me He will empower me to do.

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