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Bible verses about Spiritual Strength
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Numbers 11:33-34

The first lesson is that human nature is fickle. When it begins to get an upper hand, it points to our lack of faith and understanding. God knew that the Israelites needed privation to prepare them to take over the Promised Land. He knew they needed to go through periods of time when they thought that the pressure was too hot, that God had denied them access to something they really desired. It is an interesting comparison to us to remember that they came out of slavery. How much privation do we who are living, relatively, in the lap of luxury need before entering God's Kingdom?

In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul says he had learned to be content. Contentment is not something that comes naturally. He says there were times he was abased and times he abounded, but he found that he could count on Christ to supply all his needs.

The second lesson is that in rejecting the manna, the Israelites were rejecting the major source of their strength. They, of course, did not look at it this way: They said their life was dried up. However, we have the New Testament understanding of it. In John 6:33, Jesus says that He is the true manna which came down from heaven. If we connect this to Matthew 4:4, "Man shall live by every word of God," and John 1:1, 14, that Jesus is the Word, we find that typically, symbolically, they were rejecting the major source of their strength—God's Word.

Unfortunately some of us are spiritually malnourished. We are really on a starvation diet, spiritually, and yet we need the word of God because it is the primary food from which we get our spiritual strength.

We need to ask ourselves, what are our study habits like? Do we have intense cravings to go back to the world in terms of television or movies or novels? These are things that feed the mind, not the stomach. What is feeding our minds? Is it nothing? If so, our minds are wide open for God's Word—or for anything else.

Israel's physical taste buds were perverted. Spiritually, we should be concerned about this because we have come out of a world that has a terrible ability to pervert our spiritual taste buds. There are all kinds of sights, sounds, colors, amusements, and entertainments that are very stimulating. They may not be evil of and by themselves, but like any spice, they need to be controlled, or they will take over the whole dish. Unless our lives are just delicately flavored with those things, we might be in spiritual trouble.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Ecclesiastes 7:23-29

God is allowing us some insight into Solomon's heart and life. He gifted Solomon with a proclivity for understanding and wisdom, but this passage reveals that achieving them did not come easy.

The true God gifts us to enable us to fill our place in the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:1-11), but this does not mean He gives the gifts in full-blown perfection so we can fulfill that role without effort (Matthew 25:14-30). His gifts must be developed, fine-tuned, and polished until they are truly fit to be used—even then they are still less-than-perfect in actual practice.

Solomon is confessing a truth that we, too, discover as we continue our conversion. Finding wisdom is difficult and not as satisfying as we might think. These verses are a confession by the author that, despite all the great intellectual gifts given him, in the end what he did not know far exceeded what he actually knew.

This section is a reminder of Solomon's purpose, as stated in Ecclesiastes 1:12-13: “I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this grievous task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised.” He was indeed gifted, but God in no way drilled a hole in the top of his head, stuck a funnel in the hole, and poured wisdom in, requiring no effort on Solomon's part. He had to participate in the search to reach his goal. It became a lifelong pursuit.

This pursuit took earnest effort. His goal was set; his was no superficial overview. With earnest, exhaustive thoroughness, he applied himself to discover what lay behind the conduct he observed. He wanted to know the reason of things, as verse 25 shows. Why did he search so thoroughly? “Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers of the city” (verse 19). He was looking for spiritual strength through understanding. The fruit of that search would be wisdom to equip him to make better choices.

Wisdom, spiritual sagacity, can be an extremely valuable resource. Sagacity indicates “discernment,” that one is “keen,” “perceptive,” and “sound in judgment,” insuring that one's choices produce good fruit. Through verse 19, the Bible is showing us that wisdom can govern thought, the will, and one's actions to produce good results. This is not to say that he found them all, but that is what he was determinedly seeking.

The deep insights he found revealed the order and harmony supporting the things he witnessed from the outside. However, we should understand that seeking wisdom exacts a price. It is interesting how the Bible compares the costs of achievement: by the value of what a person might buy on the market. It declares that one pays more for wisdom than for goods that people expect will fetch a high price on the open market. Wisdom's costs are largely in terms of time, attention, and discipline to achieve (see Proverbs 3:13-15; 8:11; 16:16).

Solomon looked at problems from all sides, and even analyzed the opposite of the way he first saw things. He uses terms like “wickedness,” “folly,” and “madness,” showing that he was looking deeply at human behavior. He examined these things so closely that he believed that at least emotionally, he experienced a small measure of the characteristics—even the bad ones—he was searching into.

What did Solomon learn from this? Ecclesiastes 7:23-24 reveals it was humbling: “All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, 'I will be wise.' But it was far from me. As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it out?” It was far more difficult than he imagined when he began. If we measure our gifting against his, what kind of wise plan could we produce that would impress God to remove the burden of a trial? As we can see, searching for wisdom is a necessity but difficult. The answers are rarely right on the surface.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Thirteen): Confessions


 

Matthew 5:3

We can gauge how important the quality of humility is to our relationship with God by considering the setting of this statement. It appears in the Sermon on the Mount, three whole chapters in which Jesus lays out before His followers the foundational teaching that, if followed, will work to produce a good relationship with God. The foundation of the foundation, we might say, is the Beatitudes, and the very first quality He presents, implying its prime necessity, is poverty of spirit.

Poverty of spirit is the diametric opposite of the haughty, competitive, self-assertive, self-sufficient arrogance of pride that says, "This is the way I see it." Being poor in spirit has absolutely nothing to do with being hard up in one's circumstances—in fact, it has nothing to do with the physical realm. It is a fundamental part of the spiritual realm, of which God and the purity of His attitudes, character, and truths are the central elements.

"Poor in spirit" is poverty as compared to God's qualities. It is poverty in terms of Holy Spirit. It is to be destitute in regard to the fruit and power of God's Holy Spirit of which we all desperately need. This attitude is the product of self-evaluation in which a person, comparing his own spiritual qualities to God's, finds himself utterly impoverished of any virtue of value to eternal life. Not only that, he finds himself utterly unable, powerless, to help himself to become like God.

Thus, a person who is poor of spirit clearly sees and appreciates his dependence on God both physically and spiritually. Humility is a fruit of the realization of his complete dependence. He is nothing in his own eyes and knows that his proper place is face down in the dust before God.

The apostle John writes in I John 5:4-5, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." The honest recognition of need, the desire to glorify God, and the practice of overcoming leads a called-out one to live by faith.

Jesus Christ is the One that God has assigned to oversee and empower us. He is the Helper and Advocate (I John 2:1) who goes alongside, enabling us to be created in His image. From Him, we draw spiritual strength, and He gives grace to the humble.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and Humility


 

Matthew 27:46

Could it be that this provides insight into the only thing He feared - the loss of contact and communication with His Father - and that He did not know what He would do then?

We need to consider this deeply and appreciatively because this is the great gift made available to us by Christ's sacrifice. Fellowship with God, being at peace with Him, and having access to Him are admittance to the very fountain of living waters. We can safely say that, once our sins are covered by Christ's blood, access to God is the source of all spiritual strength and growth because the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us (Romans 5:1-5).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Six): The Sin Offering


 

Hebrews 13:9

"Foods" represent physical, ritual observances. God is the author of rituals as well, and they have their place. Paul is referring to the ritual observances, the ceremonies, of the Old Covenant, as food was involved with them. But over the years, people came to have a superstitious attitude toward such things—that if, for instance, they ate of something that had been offered in sacrifice, it would impart to them some spiritual strength. Of course, it could not. We receive spiritual strength from spiritual things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

Revelation 2:9-10

Both Smyrna and Philadelphia are beset by those who claim to be Christian but are not. Because Smyrnans are more truly righteous than some others in the end-time church, Satan hates them and brings heavy religious persecution on them (II Timothy 3:12). They may be some of those in Daniel 11:32-35 who show strength in the face of such persecution and "carry out great exploits."

Staff
The Seven Churches: Smyrna


 

 




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