How would you like to win every fight before the fight begins? Would you like to have such strength and favor on your life that nobody can defeat you, ever?
Would you like it if people shook their head when they thought about you, thinking, “I just can't figure it out, but it seems like s/he's always on top and I can't get around her (or him)?”
You can. That kind of strength is a gift of God. He's given it to others, and He'll give it to you too.
How do I know? Because we read in the book of Acts that God did this for the apostle Paul–then called Saul–after his conversion. Saul was a Pharisee–one of the spiritual elite in Israel–and he murdered many Christians. But then he met Jesus on the Damascus road, and his life was never the same.
In Acts 9:20-22, the Bible tells us what happened, and how Paul was increased in strength:
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ“ (emphasis mine).
So here are the factors in this situation that made Paul increase in strength and confound his enemies–and how can you do the same thing:
(And trust me, you're gonna like this …)
1. Paul was clearly accomplishing the will of God.
When Paul increased in strength, He was preaching about Jesus. This is clearly God's will as revealed in the Bible. And God has a habit of blessing people who are devoted to obeying His Word and His will.
If you will devote yourself to obeying God's Word and doing His will as outlined in that Word, God can increase you in strength too. Why? Because:
- It pleases Him to reward your obedience; and
- When He blesses your obedience and expands your life, He's expanding His Kingdom on earth… which pleases Him too.
So follow Jesus' command in Matthew 6:33:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
2. He was risking humiliation and persecution.
I've heard various sermons from the folks out at Bethel Church (Redding, California), saying, “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” And that is so true. Paul was taking a huge risk by preaching Jesus:
- He was risking humiliation, because he was known as being a Pharisee. He was totally switching teams here. (Adios, reputation. Adios, friends…)
- He was risking persecution, because he hadn't been the only one devoted to persecuting Christians–and here, suddenly, he was a Christian.
- He was literally risking his life. Jesus was not exactly popular among the Jews, so he ran the risk of being killed any moment. (And subsequent verses tell us that the Jews did actually try to kill him.)
Why did he take such a risk?
Because he had gone all-in for Christ. He suddenly became humble, submitted to Jesus. He was willing to do whatever God told him to do.
What has God told you to do that requires you to risk humiliation? Or even persecution?
- Has He told you to go against the grain of other people's opinions?
- Has He asked you to quit doing something that others think you should continue doing?
- Has He asked you to implement a new idea that other people scoff at?
- Has He asked you to sacrifice your party reputation so you can live holy and pure?
- Has He asked you to chase a dream that nobody else thinks you can achieve?
Whatever God has commanded you to do, do it. Even if it involves risk.
You will always have to take a risk in order to reach your destiny. But when you do, if you're obeying God, He will come up under you and reward your effort. He will increase you in ways you never dreamed.
3. He deflected the attention to Jesus.
Paul was not building his own kingdom. He was helping to increase the Kingdom of God by preaching about Jesus.
God can and will bless and increase people who are devoted to His Kingdom, rather than their own. So if you want to increase in strength and confound your enemies, again… SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM. It's all about Jesus.
4. He had prepared for his call through years of study.
Philippians 3:5 tells us that Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, well-learned and zealous for God.
It's true that his zeal was definitely turned the wrong direction before his conversion; however, after he was converted, all that preparation and all those years of study were crucial to his call in life. He was able to prove from the Scriptures how and why Jesus was the Son of God.
Maybe that's why he was able to exhort Timothy to work hard to prepare for his call:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
When we prepare for God's call on our lives, He can increase and bless us when our moment arrives. Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14); and the ones that are chosen are the ones who are ready for the call.
When Paul went all in for Jesus, God increased him in strength. He gave him such strength that his enemies were confounded. No one could stand up to him. No one could get in the way of God's purpose for his life.
Do you want strength like that too?
Do you want to walk in such anointing and power that no one can come against you? That every attack is deflected? Do you want to see God give you such strength that you have victory before the fight even begins?
You can. Obey God's Word. Take Spirit-led risks in faith. Deflect the attention on Jesus by being devoted to His Kingdom. And prepare for your call.
If you will do that, you will be a person whom God can increase in strength, and He will confound your enemies.
Does this word resonate with you? If so, please leave a comment and share your thoughts! I'd love to hear what you think!
Image courtesy of amareta kelly on Flickr via Creative Commons license. Image has been edited and graphics added.