Do You Have A Strong Spirit?

Do You Have a Strong Spirit?  One day when I was explaining my considerable difficulties with the process of relocating our church, my father gave me this advice: “Son, it's time to toughen up.” It hit me that I had been hoping life would get easier, when the answer was simply for me to be stronger.  God the Father also wants us to BE STRONG, and if we allow God to make us strong, we will live a more abundant lives.

 

This month we began a short series on one of Scripture’s most important commands: the command to BE STRONG.  Today let’s explore what that looks like and why it’s important.

 

Joshua 1:7, 9 (NIV) - “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

Ephesians 6:10 (NKJV) - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

 

WHY ARE WE COMMANDED TO BE STRONG?

 

Paul directs the people at Ephesus to be strong in the Lord.  He’s taught them about marriage, church unity, employer/employee relations, holiness—and now he drives home the final point: Let God fill you with supernatural power in your spirits.  He said BE STRONG several times in the New Testament because it’s so important…

 

1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV) – “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”

 

Why do we need to have a strong spirit?  Having a strong spirit makes all the difference in life.  God created us with a spirit, a soul and a body.  Our spirit is the part of us that directly engages God and draws from God.

 

Our spirit is the power plant of our lives.

 

When that part of our life is strong, we have the energy to live, laugh, love and lead.  A strong spirit leads to a strong life; a weak spirit leads to a weak life. Being strong affects literally everything we do!

 

  • We need to be strong because of the days we are living in.  We’re facing financial problems, family problems, addictions, illness, wars, injustice and increasing deception. If we have a strong spirit, we can get through the pressures of life without falling apart.

 

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) - “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.”

 

  • We need to be strong because the enemy is at work.  Paul mentions spiritual warfare, and most of the people I know are in battles. A strong spirit will resist troubles, temptations and spiritual attacks. I’m grateful to be a part of a ministry where so many people are becoming strong in the Lord every single day in 4 cities!

 

A man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. Asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied: “Someone already did that.” Today we are not talking about PRETENDING to be strong, which is what many in our day do.  We are seeking TRUE victory over the enemy!

 

  • We need to be strong because it makes our life better.  A strong spirit helps us to accomplish more, rejoice more, receive more, overcome bigger problems, and even enjoy better physical health.

 

Proverbs 18:14 (NET) - “A person’s spirit sustains him through sickness—but who can bear a crushed spirit?”

 

Strengthening each other becomes very important in light of all this. 

 

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NKJV) – “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will…come and save you.”

 

I would say that one of our primary purposes as a church is to encourage the weak and say, BE STRONG!

 

HOW BELIEVERS BECOME STRONG

 

The weakest person can follow God’s Word and discover how to be strong.

 

Just as we can develop physical strength through exercise, we can improve our spiritual strength. There is no limit to how God can strengthen us.  How do we begin to develop a strong spirit?

 

1.  We have to know who God is.

 

Daniel 11:32 (NKJV) – “…The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”

 

Would you say you know God? May I ask, is it by reputation (what you’ve heard) or through your own personal relationship (what you have experienced)? We were created for a close, personal relationship with Father God.

 

How do you get to know God? God the Father sent His Son Jesus to die so you could be forgiven of your sins and brought into close relationship with God. It’s a process of faith and accepting Christ.  You can do that today.

 

John 14:6 (NLT) - Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

 

If you know Him, you understand His unconditional love for you.  You know Him and what He wants.  This relationship gives you strength and enables you to live a life of great exploits that would otherwise be impossible.

 

2.  We have to believe God is with us.

 

One summer evening, during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, I’m scared.  Will you sleep with me tonight?” The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t dear,” she said, “I have to sleep with Daddy.” A long silence a shaken little voice quietly said, “The big sissy.”

 

When you know that God is with you, the storm isn’t as scary.  God’s presence will make you strong.  Believing He is with you is the key to living a life that crosses over and conquers like Joshua:

 

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) – “This is my command—be strong and courageous!…For the Lord your God is with you wherever

 

3.  We have to deal with our dismay.

 

Joshua 10:25 (NLT) - Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”

 

Dismay is a loss of courage in the face of trouble—and it’ll take your strength away.  I have faced seasons of feeling what I’m doing is not working, my efforts are all for nothing—it’s a lost cause, no one appreciates it, I’m the wrong guy and there is no way to win.  We all face these times. 

 

To those in dismay today, God says:

 

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) – “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

 

The Lord God commands us to BE  STRONG!  He says, I’m with you…You can be free from your fears and your dismay. This divine strength is coming into your spirit by the Holy Spirit right now, and it is releasing abundant life!

GOD'S GOT YOUR COVERED

Terrorists, weather disasters and financial uncertainty have many people worried today.  Here’s how you can live under the covering of God’s protection while avoiding the confusion of erroneous teachings.

We live in a world that seems ready to burst under the rising pressures of natural and spiritual threats. Beyond the strains of terrorism and natural disasters, our age-old adversary is relentlessly leveraging his dark forces against us, knowing that his time is short (Revelation 12:12b).  Make no mistake: In these last days, the enemy is targeting your family, your health and your spiritual life as never before.  

Despite the dangers, God’s people can live with an unshakable confidence in the safety of His protection.  Psalm 91:4 reassures us, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge…” And Deuteronomy 33:12 declares, “The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long...”   If we’ll connect with His covering, we’ll never have to fear the turmoil of our times.

“Curiouser and Curiouser”

Unfortunately, making sense of the issue of spiritual covering isn’t easy.  After studying the Scriptures on the subject, I spent some time searching the internet.  My head is still spinning!  Controversy and confusion have become attached to this issue like few things I’ve ever seen.  I was left feeling a bit like Alice trying to make sense of Wonderland:  Things just seem to be getting curiouser and curiouser.

So what’s going on out there in the Christian world on this topic?  Prepare to be disturbed, and perhaps a little embarrassed.

The “Covering for Cash” Approach:  There is a growing trend in many ministries toward paying for spiritual protection.  One well-known ministry offers your choice of “three levels of covering” in exchange for monthly tithes and offerings.  I can become a “spiritual son or daughter” if I just send in a check!

The “He’s All I Need” Camp:  Some decry “the myth of spiritual covering” as unbiblical.  Citing examples of past abuses of authority, they contend there is no need for any additional protection if Christ is in your life.  I’m hoping that means I won’t have to pay my health insurance premiums much longer.

The “Keep the Women in Their Place” Club:  A few seemed alarmed by an epidemic of error-prone women running around “uncovered.” I hadn’t noticed, but was relieved by how simple the solution was: wearing veils, keeping silent in church, and obeying one’s husband.  Lord, help us.

 The “Safety in Numbers” Networks and Fellowships:  Others seem sincere in their desire to bring leaders together for fellowship, mentoring and outreach.  In essence, these ministries offer to be a relational safe harbor in stormy times.  And judging by their number of people seeking covering through them, the need is felt by many.

The muddled message out there seems to be, If you believe the right revelations, join the right group, and do the right things (especially with money), you’ll be spiritually covered.  

But is any of this Biblical?  What does God think of the idea of spiritual covering? 

Christ is Our Covering

The moment we receive Christ, a canopy of protection is stretched out over our lives.  We see this pictured in the Passover (Exodus 12:21-27).  As the children of Israel prepared to flee Egypt, a spirit of death was released against the firstborn of the land.  The only protection for Israel was the shed blood of a spotless lamb on the doorposts of their dwellings.  With the blood in place, they were spared.  

Today, Christ is our Passover Lamb (see 1 Corinthians 5:7). His blood keeps us safe and secure.  This is the glorious work of the cross in our lives, and the inheritance of every believer.

We get another glimpse of the covering power of the blood in the amazing story of a harlot from Jericho (Joshua 2:6-25). Rahab knew it was inevitable that Israel would prevail against her own lost city.  So with legendary faith, she requested and received protection during the invasion.  The key to her protection was a red cord hanging from her window which speaks again of the blood of Christ. Though Jericho was destroyed, her family was spared through the provision of the crimson cord.

The Power of Proper Positioning

But there’s a common thread of truth we cannot overlook in these examples of Christ’s provision:  Spiritual protection for God’s people depends completely upon proper positioning.  Even though the promise of safety was made, nobody was safe unless they were in place. Had the Israelites left their homes during Passover, or had Rahab been anywhere but behind the crimson cord, they would not have been covered.  The same is true of Noah and his family during the flood.  

Position is important.  The Psalmist wrote, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).The best umbrella is useless in a rainstorm unless you are positioned under it. 

Today, it’s essential for us to know how and where to come under the full protection of Christ’s sacrifice.  Our faith in Christ saves us, but our cooperation with His provision is the key to everything else.  God is under no obligation to protect us when we resist His direction, but He will guard those who are surrendered and in place.

Connecting to God’s Covering Systems

My wife and I recently took a drive in a nice convertible.  The top was down, the sun was shining and we were heading for the coast.  As we stopped to get a couple of coffees to go, rain clouds gathered and it started to sprinkle.  We were disappointed, but not concerned for our comfort because the car had a built in system to move the top into place.  

Spiritual covering works much the same way.  Scripture reveals that while God’s protection is present and available in Christ, it is carried to us through the delivery systems He has set up.  Here are two delivery systems we need to be aware of:

Prayer is a Covering System.  We’re encouraged to use constant intercession with the shield of faith to quench the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:16, 18).  There is nothing like a prayer shield to provide covering over the life of a believer. All of us should continually pray for each other, our nation and its leaders.  Prayer activates the heavenly host (Psalm 34:7), erects a hedge of protection around us (Job 1:5, 9-11) and seals the gaps through which the enemy tries to gain access to our lives (Ezekiel 22:30).  With the covering system of prayer in place, we can move forward in our lives without being continually knocked back by the enemy. 

Divinely Appointed Relationships are a Covering System.  Isaiah prophesied of our day: “The Lord will create above every dwelling place of MountZion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering…for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.” (Isaiah 4:5-6).  The covering over every home speaks of family relationships.  The covering over every assembly speaks of the local church.  Don’t miss this:  God’s covering is released to us when we are rightly connected in our families and churches.  Those relationships are the joints that supply us (Ephesians 4:16).  Right relationships have always been key to our safety (1 Corinthians 11:11-12, Ephesians 5:21-16, Hebrews 10:24-25, 13:17).

Keep Covering in Balance

Still, whenever the word covering comes up, a lot of us want to run and hide under a pew. We’ve seen the tragic abuses of authority and control that can surface when we fail to view of all this correctly.  

Let me offer some advice:  Don’t allow anyone to control you or make you fearful by twisting Scriptures that relate to covering.  Beware of top-heavy leadership structures that overemphasize tithing, authority and headship. Think twice when you hear legalistic messages about submission that rob you of your freedom in Christ.  Be cautious when you see an overuse of titles and holy hierarchies that keep you dependent on spiritual “big shots.”  Don’t play into the unhealthy control of those who desperately seek importance in your life.  These imbalanced arrangements grieve the Holy Spirit and hurt people.
            
For sure, abuses of authority, legalism and ignorance have attached themselves to the subject of covering.  But does that mean we should banish it as revelation altogether?  The accountability and care I’ve enjoyed by being a part of a believing family, a praying local church and a dedicated network of friends and ministries has been an indispensable part of my growth and success.  So in my view, it’s far better to stay covered and connected, if we can keep it balanced.  

Allow the Lord to guide you into the blessing of divinely appointed relationships at home and in the local church.  Whenever Satan seeks to divide, strive to stay united in love and order, knowing that Christ has shed His blood for us all.  Position yourself to both offer and receive continual prayer.  Let His precious blood anoint the doorposts of your life, and the crimson cords of His love protect you in the day of battle.

There really is a safe place for each of us in God.  The threats out there are real, but we should never be afraid.  When we’re positioned in Him, and connected to His provision, the canopy of His protection rises high and strong over us.  The next time you’re caught in a storm, or you sense the attack of the enemy, settle it in your heart that things will be okay.  Just stay in faith and remember: God’s got you covered.


David Cannistraci is the Senior Pastor of GateWay City Church in San Jose, California.  He travels internationally as a speaker and has written Apostles and the Emerging Apostolic Movement(Regal, 1996) and God’s Vision for Your Church (Regal, 2000).  For more information, go to davidcannistraci.org