Strength

Exodus 12:35-36 (NKJV) 35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

This year began with the study of favor given by God to the children of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt. The Lord instructed Moses to tell the Israelite women to go to their neighbors and ask them for articles of “silver, Gold and clothing.” God promised to give the Israelites favor with the Egyptians. In today’s verse, we see the fulfillment of this promise.

It is important to remember that they did not get these things through intimidation or threat. God gave them favor and the Egyptian women simply complied. The Israelites did not remind the Egyptians of the plagues and tell them if they did not do as they asked they would get worse. They simply asked and God moved on the Egyptian women to give them what they asked for. This is favor and that is what I believe the Lord wants to do for his church today.

Although this favor did not come via threat or intimidation, the Israelites were asking from a position of strength. We know that they made this request in response to the direction of Moses, so the request was made sometime during the plagues. We do not know at what point because today’s verse says the Israelites “had done” what Moses directed which means it was in the past. However, there can be no question that they went at some point in the process of the judgment of Egypt.

When the Israelite women went to the Egyptian woman, I do not believe they went with the attitude of slavery. They did not go begging for these things. They simply went and asked the Egyptians to give them what God commanded them to ask for. When they asked it was from a position of strength. They did not use the plagues, but the Egyptian women were completely aware of them. They knew that the God of the Israelites was powerful. There was no need for threats or intimidation. The Israelites were stronger because of their God. They knew it and the Egyptians knew it.

I do not believe the church will walk in favor if we live from a position of weakness. The world tries to intimidate the church of Jesus Christ. Media most often tends to portray Christianity as either weak or radically intolerant. Often we are portrayed as both. There is an effort among some in government to eliminate Christian influence. Under the guise of separation of church and state, we are told that anything overtly Christian has no place in the public forum. Under the guise of tolerance, we are told that any public display of faith is in bad taste because it will offend those who disagree. The only ones no one seems to worry about offending are the Christians.

These tactics are designed to keep us weak. I am not advocating political activism or some kind of Christian intimidation tactic. Just as the Israelite women did not need them, neither do we. It is not really important that the world think we are strong. That is God’s business just as it was in the day of the Exodus. What is important is that we know our strength and where it comes from. It is important that we approach the world from a position of inward strength. It is important that we do not allow the world to intimidate us into cowering in a corner. It is important that we walk in the confidence that comes from our relationship to Jesus.

I am reminded of a story from the days of Christian martyrdom in Rome. It seems that as the Christians were being burned at the stake, they sang hymns to God. The powers of the world were in the process of killing these people. As they sang, they demonstrated where the real strength was. In America today we are not facing these kinds of trials. However, we should face the trials we do endure, as well as life itself, in the same strength that they faced death.

As I was preparing this message, I felt the Lord spoke something to me. He said, “My church is asking permission when I have given them authority.” I am not talking about breaking the law or having the wrong attitude at work. I am talking about the inward sense that we do not really have the right to do what God has commissioned us to do. I am talking about that spirit of intimidation that says we have no right in the public debate. I am talking about allowing those who would portray us in an untrue light to go unchallenged because we are “just religious people.”

Matthew 28:18-19 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The world may not recognize this scripture as true, but it is important that we do. When Jesus made this statement, he had just defeated Satan and all of his cohorts. This was not some theoretical boast on the part of Jesus. He had earned the right to say what he said in combat. This was not a physical combat. In truth, it could be said that he lost that fight. It is just as true that he won the spiritual battle. The real power is in the spirit.

Jesus tells the world, the church and the devil that he is now the spiritual power in the earth. Then he tells us to go into the world and preach the gospel. Were we to go intimidated? No, we were not. Were we to ask permission? No! Look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 16.

Matthew 16:18-19 (NKJV) 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus sent us in a position of strength. This strength is not in the flesh but in the spirit. Nevertheless, it is real. Jesus is the dominant spiritual force in the earth today. When we stand before the world, we must do so knowing this is true. I believe that is how the Israelite women felt when they went to the Egyptians. The Egyptians responded to the move of God to give them favor, partly because they came to them in a position of strength.

If you are a born again Christian, you are in a position of spiritual strength. Do not let the devil intimidate you. Jesus defeated him in his death, burial and resurrection. You need to remember that and remind the devil of it as often as you remind yourself. Do not be intimidated by people. When you talk to someone about the Lord, remember that you are the one in the position of strength. If you are right and they are wrong, you are bound for eternity in heaven and they are bound for the opposite. Does their ridicule really matter?

What are you facing today? You face it from a position of strength. You are a child of God and all of heaven is behind you. You do not need to threaten or try to intimidate. Those with real strength do not need to do that. You do need to rise up in faith, walk with your head held high and be proud that you are a Christian and serve the Living God.

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