Margarida F. Sarli works at the Ministerial Association as researcher and assistant at Shepherdess International.

"And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth."1 Samuel 17:42.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" Ephesians 6:5.

"Christ has made every provision for us to be strong. He has given us His Holy Spirit, whose office is to bring to our remembrance all the promises that Christ has made, that we may have peace and a sweet sense of forgiveness. If we will but keep our eyes fixed on the Savior, and trust in His power, we shall be filled with a sense of security; for the righteousness of Christ will become our righteousness ..."- Messages to Young People, p. 107.

I. Introduction

Where do you find the strength you need for the living of life in the present?

Some seek for strength and help through the securing of a good education. This is to be commended. However, a doctor's degree does not guarantee him the strength he will need when the pressures of life threaten him.

Some seek for strength on the basis of financial solutions for the problems of life. It should be granted that adequate financial resources solve many of the problems we confront. With man's acquisitive instinct, he is always striving for more of the things the world provides. However, in the final analysis, a man needs strength other than in the area of finances.

Many seek strength through the formation and development of meaningful friendships. We cannot overestimate the value of the right kind of friendships for a successful life. A true friend can be a rich blessing from God.

Some find strength and help through listening to beautiful music.

Others will search for strength by developing the art of meditation and contemplation.

The apostle Paul said: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." Paul was living in an environment where the force of the Roman Empire was prominent. He was living in a place where evil was well entrenched. From many years of experience this veteran follower of Jesus Christ encourages us to: "Be strong in the Lord, and the power of His sufficiency." Paul had found the strength he needed through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13). He had learned how to live in the depths of despair as well as on the crest of victory and success.

Paul knew that our only hope of victory was to be found in the strength of the Lord. He was aware of the weakness in every person that makes him a potential victim of Satan unless he is strengthened with the strength that comes from God.

The immensity of the task of the church and the responsibility of each believer to be a responsible follower of Jesus Christ demands a strength that comes from above.

Our Lord promised His disciples the spiritual vitality and strength they would need for living a victorious life and for rendering effective service (Acts 1:8). Paul is encouraging the believers in Ephesus to be strong in the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). These exhortations of being filled with the Spirit and being strong in the Lord are in the imperative mood. To be filled with the Spirit, to be strong in the Lord, is not optional to the believer if he would overcome evil and render effective service.

II. The Holy Spirit is a personal gift from God

A. One of the great promises to each person who repents and confesses his faith in Jesus Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
B. We receive this gift of the Holy Spirit when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Galatians3:14). 

God's gifts are personal to us. In the Holy Spirit God gives us His personal presence.

III. The Holy Spirit is a current gift from God (1 Corinthians 3:16).

There are some who think of the Holy Spirit in terms of ancient history. They think of Him as having been active on the day of Pentecost and during the days of the infancy of the church. They have not yet fully responded to His living presence in the present.

Are you aware now that God has given you this precious gift of the Holy Spirit? Do not relegate the work of the Spirit to the past or think only in terms of what He might do in the future. He is God's gift bestow to you.

IV. The Holy Spirit is a precious gift from God

In God's gift of the Holy Spirit, He has given to us a most precious gift. 

A. The Holy Spirit helps us to know that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). The Holy Spirit will assist us in our prayer life (Romans 8:26).
B. It is the Holy Spirit who wants to lead us in the right paths as we try to be worldly children of God (Romans 8:14).
C. It is through the Holy Spirit that God has assured us that He will raise us from the dead (Romans 8:11).

How do you value this gift of God to you? Do you consider it a precious gift?

V. The Holy Spirit is a permanent gift from God

A. The Holy Spirit is the divine seal of God's ownership granted to each believer, and serves as a divine guarantee that God will complete the great redemption that was started within each of us in the conversion experience (Ephesians 1:13, 14).
B. Jesus encouraged His disciples in a time of despondency by assuring them that the Holy Spirit would dwell with them forever (John 14:16).

In comparison with the brief ministry of our Lord, the Holy Spirit was bestowed as a permanent gift to do the work of God within each of us.

VI. The Holy Spirit is a powerful gift from God (Romans 8:26)

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he declared, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7).

God's power becomes available to us in adequate supply when we recognize our weakness and cast ourselves upon His grace and sustaining presence (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10)

We are encouraged to strengthen ourselves in the strength of the Lord rather than leaning upon human resources as we try to cope with the stresses, pressures, and dangers of life.

VII. Conclusion

The apostle speaks from personal experience when he says, "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). This declaration does not come from the wild imaginations of a fanciful thinker. Instead Paul is declaring the adequacy of Jesus Christ to give one the strength to do what needs to be done in whatever life might bring. 

In the strength of the Lord, let us face the fears that threaten us.

In the strength of the Lord, let us resist the evil one and draw close to our God.
In the strength of the Lord, let us face our responsibilities and opportunities.
Jesus Christ wants to bring the strength of God into your life and will do so as you trust Him and follow Him. 

VIII. Illustration

A. Only he who can say, "The Lord is the strength of my life," can say, "Of whom shall I be afraid?" Alexander McClaren.
B. My brother and I were preparing to leave the bank with his 5-year-old daughter, Melissa. She ran ahead to open the heavy door. She huffed, puffed, and pushed; she stepped back and started again. Finally she pushed with all the might her little body could muster, and the door opened. She was unaware that her father's hand, high above her head, had actually pushed the door open for her. I laughed at my niece, but then realized God does the same for me every day. Vicky Marra Franklin
C. I relive each moment of my visit with Corrie ten Boom (paralyzed by a stroke). Helpless and for the most part dependent, I felt our mutual weakness. Yet I am certain neither of us had ever felt stronger. It makes me think of the Cross of Christ a symbol of weakness and humiliation, yet at the same time, a symbol of victory and strength.

For a wheelchair may confine a body that is wasting away. But no wheelchair can confine the soul . . . the soul that is inwardly renewed day by day. For paralyzed people can walk with the Lord. Speechless people can talk with the Almighty. Sightless people can see Jesus. Deaf people can hear the Word of God. And those like Tante Corrie, their minds shadowy and obscure, can have the very mind of Christ. Joni Eareckson Tada. 

D. Aqaba in 1917 seemed impregnable. Any enemy vessel approaching the port would have to face the battery of huge naval guns above the town. Behind Aqaba in every direction lay barren, waterless, inhospitable desert. To the east lay the deadly "anvil of the sun" The Turks believed Aqaba to be safe from any attack. But they were wrong.

Lawrence of Arabia led a force of irregular Arab cavalry across the "anvil of the sun." Together, they rallied support among the local people. On July 6, 191 7, the Arab forces swept into Aqaba from the north, from the blind side. Arabs on their camels and horses. Lawrence at their head, galloping past the gigantic naval guns that are completely powerless to stop them. The guns were facing in the wrong direction. Aqaba fell, and the Turkish hold on Palestine was broken, to be replaced by the British mandate and eventually by the State of Israel.

The Turks failed to defend Aqaba because they made two mistakes. They did not know their enemy, and they did not have the right weapons.

We must be careful not to make the same mistakes. Ephesians 6:12 makes it very clear who our enemy is: "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world." Michael Boyland.

E. In The Encourager, Charles Mylander writes: Sunrise was dawning when Los Angeles motorcycle police officer Bob Vernon saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. This guy must be late to work, he thought to himself. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached. 

Meanwhile in the truck, the driver thought: The cops already know! He was scared. He rested his hand on the same gun he had used a few moments before to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him on the seat. The officer said, 'Good morning, sir, may I see your. . .'

He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman's chest and fired from just inches away. The cop was knocked flat seven feet away.

A few seconds later, to the shock of the criminal, the officer stood up, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver's left leg.

'Don't shoot!' the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window.

What saved the policeman's life was dozens of layers of Kevlar, the super strong fabric used for bulletproof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold.

In Ephesians 6, the Bible instructs every Christian to put on the full armor of God. Simple qualities like righteousness and faith can deflect what the enemy of souls may fire at us.

Margarida F. Sarli is the editorial coordinator for this section.