“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”
- Philippians 2:13 NLT
I can still remember the first time I saw this verse in the Bible. I had been struggling in my walk with God, and I had become frustrated and discouraged. I wasn't satisfied with my spiritual progress, and I was disgusted with my many shortcomings. God used this verse to reassure me that I was not alone in my struggles. He showed me that He is always at work in me, giving me the desire and the power to do His will. I still stand on this promise every day, especially when I'm having trouble obeying God, or when the enemy is assailing me with guilt and condemnation. The apostle Paul wrote: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT) God has promised that He's not going to abandon us or give up on us. He will stick with us and work with us each and every day of our lives.
Psalm 23:3 (NKJV) says, “[The Lord] leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.” The Living Bible puts it this way, “He helps me do what honors Him the most.” Once we have received Christ as our Savior, God is committed to helping us grow in grace and to become increasingly more like Christ. Philippians 4:13 (TLB) says, “I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and the power.” God will never ask us to do anything that He won't empower us to do. The enemy will try to convince us otherwise, but we must not make the mistake of falling for his lies.
I love what the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Galatians: "Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?" (Galatians 3:3 NLT) Paul points out that it's God Who saves us and fills us with His Spirit as a result of our believing the message of the Gospel. And it is God Who, by the power of His Spirit, helps us grow spiritually. We can't earn our salvation or become Christlike through our own human efforts. All we can do is cooperate with God and allow Him to transform us into the likeness of Christ a little at a time. Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed when we think of how far we are from being like Jesus. We need to remember that God can't deal with us about all of our sins at the same time, because it would crush us. At just the right time, the Holy Spirit will convict us about a particular sin. That's when we need to agree with God that we are sinning. Then we need to ask for God's forgiveness, and for His help to do His will. God will show us steps we can take to do our part in the process. And as we do our part, God does His by giving us the power to obey Him. Some of our deliverances will come more quickly than others.
One of the most powerful prayers we can ever pray is, “Lord, change me.” If you'll pray like this every day with all your heart, God will do awesome things in and through you. Most of all, always remember that God sees your heart. He knows you love Him and want to please Him. Let me leave you with a promise from God to encourage your heart today: “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. GOD will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, when I feel overwhelmed by my shortcomings, grant me Your reassurance and sustain me with Your peace. Give me the desire and the power to do what pleases You in all things. Show me how to cooperate with Your plan to make me more like Jesus each day. Thank You for turning my discouragement and defeat into victory and praise!
- J. M. Farro