“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
It’s never been my favorite word, or really my goal in life. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably heard me say that over the years, I’ve learned the Holy Spirit thinks I’m stronger, more capable, and able to do more than I ever imagined I could or even wanted to be. Many times He’s led me down paths that I didn’t think I was strong enough to go.
These difficulties have made me stronger. Still, I must admit that when I felt the Holy Spirit speaking this verse into my spirit for 2021, I was less than thrilled. Because even though I’ve learned through the years that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13), there’s still that very stubborn part of me that doesn’t want to do everything—especially hard things. I like it when life is a little easier. (C’mon, I know you do, too.)
And yet, almost every godly person knows deep in their heart that 2021 will probably not be an easier year. It’s like that joke everyone said before the election: “Don’t worry—the pandemic will be over Nov 4.” Then we went into Covid 2.0. Once again, I get the feeling that saying goodbye to 2020 will not solve our problems. Instead, the challenges of 2020 have changed the world forever. I do not believe life is going to get more comfortable for the Church.
Please, do not hear me wrong. I firmly believe that God has incredible plans for His followers, His Church, and His kingdom. However, like the book of Acts, I truly believe that the spread of the Gospel, the miracles God has planned, and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit will be accompanied by persecution. This persecution will create a “falling away” of those who are not genuinely committed to Jesus but are Christians just for the benefits.
The fact is that many in our society downright hate Christians and the beliefs we treasure.
Others see us as hopeless fools.
Even as it’s been relatively easy to be a Christian, we’ve seen many fall into the trap of progressive Christianity that denies the life-changing power of the Gospel and waters down God's Word in the name of tolerance.
In the days and weeks, months, and years to come, those of us who are faithful followers of Christ are going to need to be strong.
Heading into 2021, here are three areas I believe we need to strengthen in preparation:
1. We need to be strong in prayer.
Today is not the day to be “acquainted” with Jesus. Instead, each of us needs to be actively pursuing a deep, personal, committed relationship with Him.
This only comes as we consistently spend time in prayer. As we spend this time with God, He strengthens us, and our commitment to Him is strengthened.
Think about it this way: What would you give up to help your favorite celebrity? Probably not much because while you admire them, losing them doesn’t affect your life.
Now, what would you give up to save the life of your spouse, your child, or your closest friend?
The difference is in the relationship.
If we are going to have the strength to stay firm as Christians and sacrifice for Jesus, it will be because we have a strong personal relationship with Him.
2. We need to be strong in God’s Word.
The days of saying, “I don’t have time to read the Bible,” are over.
Instead, we need to be men and women who know what God’s Word says, understand what it means, and know how to apply it practically to our lives.
We need to love the Word of God. It needs to be why we do what we do the way we do it.
Why is it so important?
Because in the days ahead, many are going to challenge your beliefs. You will be asked to “bend,” compromise, alter your beliefs, or pay the price. When that time comes, you need to be so tethered to the Word of God that you cannot fall away.
The truth is that many will—many already have—fallen away into progressive Christianity, which places social justice above Biblical truth. The only way to keep yourself from being swept away into sin when times get hard is to be fully committed to obeying God’s Word.
Now is the time to begin shoring up this area so you can be strong.
3. We need to be strong in our stand against sin.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
(1 Peter 5:8 NLT)
What is the easiest way for the devil to devour a Christian? When Christians leave an open door by allowing sin to control their lives.
For too long, too many Christians have tolerated sin, excused it, compromised with it, even justified it in their lives. It’s time for this to stop. It is time for believers to get serious about overcoming the habitual sin in their own lives.
Why? Because sin weakens us. It sickens our spirits and weakens our witness to the world. If we want to be strong Christians who can face whatever the days ahead bring, then it is time for us to get serious about overcoming the sin in our lives. It’s time to stop playing around with it and become mature, godly believers who can stand against the enemy's schemes.
It’s time to stop letting sin weaken us and choose to do whatever it takes to be strong in the Lord.
Because, ultimately, we don’t know exactly what will happen in 2021. (Who could have ever imagined 2020?). What we can do is prepare ourselves by strengthening our prayer life, becoming strong men and women of the word, and strengthening our stand against sin. As we do these things, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to make us strong in the Lord and the power of His might so that no matter what the future brings, we can be strong followers of Jesus.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.