Empowerer of me

EagleSoaringPhil413“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)  I memorized that verse many years ago when I was going through some tough times.

A divorced woman whose married friends had suddenly become “busy” all the time, a single parent with growing teenagers to raise, sometimes no car, always too many bills and never enough money to pay them with, sometimes I had a hard time keeping a positive, Christian, faith-filled attitude.

I would stand in the middle of my bedroom floor and repeat that verse with clenched fists and teeth, refusing to give in to depression, frustration, and anger toward the Lord.

Whispers of “Why me?” ran through my mind and heart. It was tempting to demand that out loud – “Yeah, God, why me?”

Occasionally I did say it aloud, but then would determinedly follow it with that verse. I’d say, “No matter what it looks like, God, no matter how I feel, I will praise you. I will thank you for Jesus. I can do this. I can get through this. I will survive this!”

And I did. Amazingly, usually my hurt and anger would subside in a few moments and I could go on with my day, as though I hadn’t just been having a pity-party. A not-too-spiritual temper tantrum. The Lord brought me through those times with my faith a bit battered but intact. Even better than intact, actually; stronger. (I learned by experience what John 10:10 means.)

I was thinking about Philippians 4:13 this morning and decided to do a word study using an online Strong’s Concordance. (http://www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html) Here’s what I found:

I can do = ischyō (Greek)

. To be strong in body, to be robust, to be in sound health
. To have power as shown by extraordinary deeds
. To exert, wield power, to have strength to overcome
. To be a force, avail
. To be serviceable
. To be able, can

all things = pas

. Individually – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
. Collectively – some of all types

through = en: In, by, with, etc.

Christ = Christos: anointed. Christ was the anointed one, the Messiah, the Son of God. However, this word doesn’t actually appear in the original Greek verse. It was added by the translators.

which = ho: A definite article such as the, this, that, or these. Means the particular one.

strengthens = endynamoō (en plus dynamoo)

. To be made strong; endue with strength, strengthen
. To receive strength, be strengthened, increase in strength

strength = dynamis = strength power, ability (dynamite comes from this word)

.  Inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person    or thing exerts and puts forth
. Power for performing miracles
. Moral power and excellence of soul
. The power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
. Power and resources arising from numbers
. Power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

me = me:  personal pronoun I, me, myself

All of that was really good in helping make the verse even more meaningful. Then I took a look at the original Greek and found only a few words. Literally translated, they would say:

“Empowered am I for all things by the Empowerer of me.”

I like that even better.

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Plans, as in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

I came across this in a book the other day. The verse being quite familiar, my eyes were skipping down to the next paragraph when the Lord stopped me. “Plans,” he said. “What are plans?”

He often does this, asking me a question to get me to stop and think, to meditate about something. To not just read, but to communicate. To have a conversation with the Holy Spirit.

So, okay, plans. Automatically I began to define plans. Agendas. Itineraries. Events. Happenings. Occasions. Places to go, people to see, things to learn, things to do, those are plans.

blueprints2Blueprints, he said. Think blueprints. Oh, wow. My thoughts took off in a very different direction.

He began to unroll a set of blueprints in my mind’s eye, and then to show me the results of those blueprints. Mud huts and wood shacks. Three-bedroom brick houses. Manufacturing plants and office buildings.

Chapels, churches and cathedrals. Ornate palaces and castles. Fortresses.

Temples.

For many minutes we discussed this concept, as he began to describe the steps necessary to build a natural structure. Foundation. Electrical. Plumbing. Insulation. Walls. Roofing. Furnishing. End goal? Inhabit it.

There was so much more, many details. And then he began to describe what he is doing in the spiritual, building a supernatural structure for himself to inhabit.

Plans are good, he said, and he has plans for every one of his children. No two are alike, but all have one thing in common. He has building plans for each one, and he himself will inhabit them.

You know, it’s really fascinating to read God’s word with the author at your elbow.