Encouragement for Today - August 1, 2011

Marybeth Whalen

August 1, 2011

Finish Like You Started
Marybeth Whalen

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" Galatians 3:3 (NIV1984)

If you've ever felt God call you to something, you know the sheer excitement — and sheer terror — of stepping out in response to His call. You know what it means to walk in faith, to follow Him into the unknown. You know the huge spiritual growth that can take place when you say yes to Him and learn to trust Him implicitly.

Even though these "yes" times in our lives can be taxing and frightening, they can also be exhilarating. I've never felt closer to Him than when I've stepped out in faith and set my sights on a goal He has provided for me: a goal that is bigger than me, that is clearly God-designed.

And then time goes by. The first tremors of excitement fade into the daily monotony of continuing to walk forward, sometimes doing the smallest of tasks along the way. The big goal that seemed so paramount begins to shrink the closer we get to it. We feel our excitement give way to apathy.

And, too often, we get out of step with the Spirit and start trying to do things ourselves.

The less afraid we are, the more we try to do things on our own. We start feeling capable — and our capability makes us less reliant on the very One who called us.

When I read today's key verse I literally gasped in conviction. My answer to both of the questions Paul was asking was yes. I was being foolish. I was trying to attain my goals by human effort.

What had happened to that daily reliance, that absolute need for God to work through me? I realized I had become stronger, more confident, and less needy. My flesh had taken over and all but silenced the Spirit within me.

Maybe you've found yourself in a situation where — somehow — you've taken over. Your capability has made you complacent like mine did.

I don't ever want to be complacent. I want to stoke the fire, stay on the edge, be ever-mindful of my own inadequacy in whatever place God has me.

After I read Galatians 3:3, I wrote it down on an index card and laid it on my nightstand so I would see it often. And every time I saw it, I asked God to make me mindful of His Spirit within me, to keep me from getting in my own way, to help me realign my goals with His. Even if it takes humbling me. Even if it takes giving me a new calling so I am out of my comfort zone again. Even if it means starting all over. I began with the Spirit, and I want to finish still holding tightly to Him.

I imagine you do, too.

Dear Lord, I began with the Spirit and I want to stay in step with the Spirit. Help me to rely on You and not my own effort. When I am capable, allow me to be reminded of my own inadequacy so that I would never try to do things by human effort, but always through Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Marybeth's blog where she will be talking about ways to align yourself with the Spirit again. Stop by and share your ideas!

Becoming a Woman of Influence (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen.

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Application Steps:
Spend today getting back in touch with the call God has on your life. Redefine what He's asked of you, and pray specifically for new challenges that will make your more dependent on the Spirit and not do anything by human effort.

Am I trying to attain my goals by human effort? What do I need to do to get back in step with the Spirit?

Power Verses:
Romans 4:2, "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God." (NIV1984)

I Corinthians 1:26a, "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called." (NIV1984)

I Thessalonians 5:19, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Monday, 01 August 2011.