I cannot do it

Read: Genesis 41, Matthew 13:1-32

I cannot do it. To most, these words are a signal of great weakness, but they can be the most empowering in the English language.

Having spent years in an Egyptian prison for a crime he did not commit, Joseph was called before Pharaoh because of his skill in interpreting dreams. When Pharaoh asks him to demonstrate his ability, Joseph immediately announces that he cannot.

Genesis 41:16

Now, the man who had brought Joseph to Pharaoh’s attention knew what Joseph was capable of, having received an interpretation for his own dream. Imagine how he felt having vouched for the man who says, “I cannot.”

What would the outcome have been had Joseph taken credit for the ability God had given him as a boy? Would he have been able to tell Pharaoh what the dreams meant? Would the omission of the statement “I cannot” have changed the course of history?

What more could we accomplish with God on our side if we, like Joseph, would simply admit our shortcomings and allow God to work through us? How much more could God do on earth if we would only lay our egos aside?

Joseph’s humility landed him as second in command over an entire nation. Through him, not only Egypt was spared through famine, but many other peoples, including his own family were saved.

I cannot do it could very well be the most powerful phrase we could dare to utter because we have to set ourselves aside in order to do it. And, once we are out of the way, God has room to work.

Living power

For those of us blessed with literacy, our daily lives are filled with words. Emails, books, signs, letters, newspapers. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to read and comprehend words. But, because we see so many of them, they can start to lose meaning. They’re just words.

Because words are just words, we can also have a tendency to apply that attitude toward the Word of God. They’re just words. Numbers. Letters. Stories. Like the words we are surrounded by, the Word of God can become meaningless if we fail to see it for what it really is—full of living power.

For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires It exposes us for what we really are.

Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

Full of living power. Let’s look at a few more words to explain these three big ones.

FULL: Replete, having within its limits all that it can contain; abounding with, having a large quantity or abundance; supplied, not vacant; large, entire, not partial; strong, not faint; abundant, plenteous, sufficient.

LIVING: Dwelling, residing, existing, subsisting; issuing continually, running, flowing; producing action, animation and vigor, quickening.

POWER: The faculty of doing or performing any thing, moving or producing a change in something, ability or strength; force, energy.

We should never allow ourselves to look at God’s Word as just words. The text contained in the Bible isn’t just anything. Those words contain the power to heal and bring life. They also have the power to cut—not to harm, but to remove all of the things that would hinder us from growing into the people that God has called us to be.

There are no limits to God’s Word. The strength and force within His Word flows continually, without end. And that flow isn’t just a trickle. It’s abundant. Large. Not faint. And He’s given that Word, full of living power, to us.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 46-48, Hebrews 4

You All Everybody

The fictitious British rock band, Drive Shaft, had one hit song. You All Everybody was featured throughout the television series, Lost. Today’s wisdom comes from this song.

I know you see what I have been
And compare with what I am
But I don’t care now what you’ve seen
I’m just doing what I can

What does a song performed by people who ever actually existed have anything to do with anything? Everything.

Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT)

We live our entire lives comparing and being compared. Why can you be more like him? I wish I could do that like her. Unless you’re a complete recluse, you’ve most likely fallen prey to a line or two (thousand) like this. But that’s not what we should be doing.

God made each of us with specific talents to accomplish a specific purpose.

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we insult God by saying He got it wrong. The only life we should ever be comparing ourselves to is that of Jesus himself. The only actions we should reflect are his.

Where you’ve been and where you are don’t matter so much as where you are going. What people may have seen from you in the past doesn’t matter as much as what they will see from you. We should never measure ourselves against the call God has placed on others because we weren’t created for that call. Do what God has called you to do, do it to the best of your ability, and enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well.

…What counts is whether we have really been changed into new and different people.

Galatians 6:15b (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 13-15, Galatians 6

Trust Him

The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

In just one verse—four lines—David gives us a progression of strength, trust, and humility.

It begins with trouble. There would be no reason to be looking for strength and a shield if all were well. David knows that God can and will be both to him—if he puts his trust in Him to be so.

Then comes the trust. Not just a bit of trust. Not just a portion. Not just a little. David’s entire heart goes into trusting God to come to his rescue. He knows from past experience that God will help him. And he also knows that he must get out of the way and not depend on his own strength to gain the victory.

The more we are able to trust in God and put ourselves aside, the more room we make for God to be victorious. If we only trust God with a portion of our troubles, we cannot blame Him if we don’t come out of it with complete victory. Trust in Him with your whole heart, then get out of the way and let Him work.

Because David was able to trust God with his entire being, God comes to his rescue and helps him. Instead of being filled with anxiety over the situation, David is filled with joy! When we are able to put all of our trust in God’s word, our worries will be replaced with joy. How can you be anxious when God says that the battle has already been won? When we trust wholeheartedly in God, we can be confident in His strength and ability rather than wavering in our own shortcomings and weakness.

Once the battle has been fought and won by God, David bursts out in songs of thanksgiving. He gives credit where it is due—taking none for himself and giving it all to God.

In short, this verse is all about humility. David recognises where he falls short. He knows that he cannot win on his own. Instead of striving alone, he puts his trust in the best place anyone can put their trust—the Lord God. God steps in and fills the gaps lending His strength to the situation. David is at peace and filled with joy. When the victory is won, he gives the credit and thanks to God.

The battle can only be won when God gets all of our trust. Then He can be our strength and shield, our help, and our joy. In all of that, what else is there to do but give Him our thanks?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 28-30, Acts 21:1-14

Skills

What are you good at? Don’t say, “nothing”. Everyone is good at something. Maybe your talent is obvious in music or fine art. But perhaps you’re good with numbers—solutions come easy to you. Maybe you are good with organization—you see how things can be done in a certain way to maximize impact and profitability. Maybe you’re really good at fixing things. Can you write? Can you listen well?

There is no end to the list of possible natural talents.

Have you ever thought about why you’re good at things?

In Exodus, God has just finished giving Moses a (really) long list of things required to complete the construction of the temporary temple. This is a big deal and no easy task, not even for the most talented workman. But God has provided Israel with what they need to complete His list.

“Look, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence, and skill in all kinds of crafts…”

Exodus 31:2-3 (NLT)

I think often, the church puts so much emphasis on the anointing on the five fold ministry gifts (prophets, preachers, teacher, apostles, evangelists) that those who are not a part of that small group of people feel as though they have no proper place in the church and that there is no anointing on their skills and talents. Not true!

The skills required to grow the Kingdom of God are near infinite. The Church needs talented accountants and carpenters. We need mechanics and maintenance people. And not only are these people needed in the Church, God has filled them with His Spirit to do His work. He has gifted all of them, not just the leaders.

“Moreover, I have given special skill to all the naturally talented craftsmen so they can make all the things I have instructed you to make…”

Exodus 31:6b (NLT)

If you’re not of the estimated ten percent called to the five fold ministry, don’t count yourself out. God has placed within you gifts that He needs to accomplish His work here on earth. If you’re at a loss as to what you can do with what you have, talk to your pastor or other leaders in your church. I know that I can speak for my pastor when I say that he will never turn down skilled hands and a willing heart.

Just because you don’t preach doesn’t mean that you can’t reach.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 31-33, Matthew 22:23-46

Ability

How do you get good at something? For some of us, it comes naturally. For others, they need to work at it. How do you get really good at something? I believe that, for everyone, hard work is in order. To achieve excellence, commitment and work are required no matter what it is you want to be good at – a trade, a sport, a game, a craft, a career.

I firmly believe that the Church should be the world’s thermometer for excellence. When unbelievers want to see how things should be done, they should be able to look at the Church.

Why?

Because we have the Spirit of the Living God inside of us. Working with us. Guiding us. Showing us how to do things. Because whatever we do, we work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord we will receive the inheritance as our reward. We are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24 [ESV])

Read through 1 Chronicles 26 and you’ll see verse after verse talking about people who were good at what they did.

  • they were men of great ability (vs. 6)
  • able men (vs. 7)
  • able men qualified for the service (vs. 8)
  • able men (v. 9)
  • a shrewd counsellor (vs. 14)
  • men of ability (vs. 30)
  • men of great ability (vs. 31)
  • men of ability (vs. 32)

And what happened because they were good at their jobs? They got promoted.

When we view our work – no matter what type of work we do – as doing it for God and not for the men/women who are over us in authority, there should be a greater sense of urgency not only to do our work, but to do it well.

Whether it’s your career or a voluntary position, work for the Lord. Be known as a man or woman of great ability. Not only is there opportunity for earthly reward, but a heavenly one as well.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 26-27; John 11:18-46