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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose: God speaks to His people through His Word and uses the truth to set them free to overcome personal struggles including self-reliance and insecurity. Gideon is one man who was raised from his fears by God's powerful word. Gaining Strength is the third lesson in the Discipleship Level 2: Reaching Beyond Mediocrity.
Life is full of surprises, many of which we would not like to see or even hear. The Book of Judges records many of these surprises. It is amazing to see how fast the Israelite society could morally and spiritually decay. They had such a rich spiritual heritage – miracles and wonders of God's grace. Even worse, however, is their willingness to remain spiritually oppressed.
Why would people slough about in spiritual poverty when they are rich? This is so true for our generation today, too. When will we wake up to the glory of the gospel through Christ? The other surprise, much more encouraging, is to see how God would use certain men to lead His people back to himself.
Gideon (Joash) was one of those Israelites trying to keep out of trouble. He happened to be in a wine pit banging out chaff from the wheat (worse place possible to do because no wind in the pit!). He was scared the Midianites would spot him and take his grain.
So what happened to Gideon to have him become one of the hall of faith?
"And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets" (Hebrews 11:32). ￼Here was a man of no courage. How did God instill faith back into him so that he would have vision, hope and strength to do God's will?
When we look carefully at God's Word, we see the indisputable role and power of God's Word at work. "But the LORD said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man"" (Judges 6:16). When God speaks, people change. We see this same thing throughout the scriptures.
Discipleship Level 2 is largely about discovering and experiencing the power of God's Word. It is what makes the 'young man' strong. It is the Word of God that abides in him and convinces him of their victory in Christ. We see the place God's Word has in our lives so clearly in 2 Peter 1.
"Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3).
We lack nothing! He "has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness!" He has given us what we need to live out a godly life in a very ungodly world. This is the heritage of God's people in Christ. It is simply wonderful. This statement itself breathes hope into our fallen lives. He has a greater work to do in us and other believers than we now see. Broken lives can be mended and useful. Biblical statements of truth like the one above become the basis for a strong faith and focus on spiritual growth.
Pause in prayer. Thank the Lord for His power and promises that have given you specifically everything you need to live a godly life. You can admit you do not know how this works, but thank Him for the resources and ask Him for wisdom to grow into a godly man or woman.
"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them ..." (2 Peter 1:4).
So how is it that His divine power works itself out in our lives? He tells us here in 2 Peter 1:4 –through His precious and magnificent promises! These promises are part of the Word of God. God has graciously given us many promises on how He would work generally and specifically in our lives. This verse itself is a promise. God promises to use His divine power through His Word to accomplish His good will in and through our lives.
Remember it is the Word of God that is the seed of our faith (1 Peter 1:23-25). God brings us into a living relationship with Him through His Word. It is this same powerful Word that brings constant change into our lives after we believe.
"… In order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Peter 1:4).
Notice the purpose for which God brings His Word into our lives. "In order that by them (promises) you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Peter 1:4).
Peter states two important matters here:
Just from knowing these fact on how God uses His Word to change our lives, can you guess how the evil one attempts to hold back our spiritual growth? The evil one strategically tries to keep God's Word away from us! Or if we have His Word, he would cause us to doubt it. Or if we believe it, to be distracted from it. Or if we love it, to be too busy to spend time to be touched by it.
The evil one ...
The evil one keeps God's people from being impacted by God's Word
We cannot be strong without God's Word. The importance of our trust in God's Word is shown in how Peter continues speaking about the divine inspiration of the scriptures throughout the rest of the Book of 2 Peter.
God has great purposes for our lives and accomplishes it through His Word. In Discipleship Level 1 God's people are trained on how to listen to God's Word. We train our small children this way.
The parent says, "When I call, you say, "Okay, Mom. I'm coming."
In Discipleship Level 2, however, we must learn how to use those times in the Word with God to live godly lives. We must show our love and faithfulness to God in responding to His Word. It is interesting how Peter describes this spiritual growth process.
"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge" (2 Peter 1:5).
Peter starts in verse 5 and goes right to verse 8 describing his confidence in the developmental process of our spiritual lives. God has a pathway for our spiritual growth. He does not want us wallowing in our battles with sin but to affirmatively live out that divine nature in us. We need to identify that spiritual nature, take God's Word and apply it to our daily lives.
The pattern of growth is given here and should be replicated in all of God's children. This thought is echoed in Ephesians 4:13 by Paul,
"Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
We do not intend to develop this thought here (click for more) but only to remind us of the great purpose God is carrying out in all of the lives of His people. ￼There are no exceptions. If we are God's children, then we have that divine spirit brought into us that gives us a new life through God's Word. It is through God's Word that He empowers us to grow. So in the end Peter, without hesitancy, states,
"For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8).
(Click here for a Bible study guide on the Book of 2 Peter).
You might have some questions. How does one use God's Word to grow? How can God's Word help me overcome this certain problem? How come God's Word does not seem to help me? Why is it that when I read God's Word, sometimes I feel so dull?
Our purpose of this lesson is to provide further training on how to use God's Word to accomplish these things. In 1 John 2:14, John writes, "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." Peter speaks of the magnificent promises of God. ￼Paul describes the Word of God as our sword. Our questions revolve around how does God's Word help us.
Through this lesson we will look at how the Word of God practically helps us in these matters. It is here that we will finally see the full power of God's Word in our lives. Please remember, we do not need to look for any special confirmation as if we should grow or not. Our spiritual growth is God's will! We only need to understand how God wants to work in us and watch out for the evil one who discourages us. God is already at work, but we do not know how to work along with Him.
Do you remember those three-legged races where two people would tie each of their legs together to form one leg? So the pair would run down the field. Well, sometimes it doesn't quite work that way because the pair have not learned to coordinate his step with the other's. This is the problem we have in our relationship with God. We need to keep in step with the Spirit (See Packer's good book, "Keep in Step with the Spirit.")
We typically operate along our own schedule and preference and are very insensitive to what God is doing. We learn to run along with God by carefully hearing His Word and following His advice.
Discipleship at the 2nd level
by Paul J. Bucknell
God's Word comes alive as you learn how to use it to overcome personal struggles like anxiety, depression, pride, lust and anger. God has made you strong! Many worksheets! (300+ pages). This is the full resource with all the complete and updated pages included!
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988