Success through your own strength is limited


I like being productive. It’s the double-edged sword of a performance-driven perfectionist. I like getting things done, being able to check the boxes off, scratching the tasks off my to-do list. I’ve even been known to make a to-do list filled with tasks I’ve already completed just so I can tick them off and feel better about myself. I’m sure it’s some kind of psychosis.

Don’t get me wrong. Getting things done is good. Everyone should have goals, and we should all be working to accomplish and achieve something with our lives. But the trouble comes when we try to accomplish lasting goals in our own strength. There’s only so much of your own strength you can invest in a project or in someone else’s life before your strength runs out. And what happens when your strength fails you? All those project you’re juggling will drop like leaves in autumn. If you have no more strength to pour into them, they’ll fall away. That’s just the way it works.

But what if you could do more? What if you could accomplish great, lasting things? It is possible. It’s just not possible for you.

J8LSZELS1RToday’s verses are John 15:4-5.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

I don’t think anything I’ve done in my own strength or power will last beyond my lifetime. I could be wrong, but from what I know about myself, my own accomplishments pale in comparison to what God has been able to do through me. Because of God, I’ve been able to do things I never would have dreamed, help people I never would have met, go places I never imagined possible.

Maybe I can write a little devotional every morning for four years, but God’s the one who gives me the words to write. He’s the one who takes those words and uses them to speak to someone else. That’s not me. Gosh, guys, I mean it’s miraculous enough that I can even crank out anything coherent at this time in the morning.

My problem is that I try to do too much in my own strength. I tend to leap before I look. I rush into a situation before I ask God if it’s what He wants me to do. That’s not the life a Christ-follower should have.

A Christ-follower should live plugged in to Jesus. He’s where we get our strength. He’s where we get our wisdom, our peace, our love for others. And it’s His strength and power that allows us to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Hands down. No discussion. I love the colors and the temperatures and the flavors. I love sweaters and socks and hats. And pumpkin everything. But the next time you see a tree losing its leaves, take a moment to remember God’s strength. While that tree is alive and awake, it’s pumping life into those leaves. But when it goes to sleep, the leaves don’t have the strength to hold on to the branch anymore.

I’m like a leaf. I am fully dependent on God’s strength to get me through my life. Sure, if I cut myself off from Him, I can make it. I can exist. I can let the wind blow me around listlessly and aimlessly. But what kind of life is that? That’s not the life God has in mind for me.

So don’t cut yourself off from God. Stop trying to live life without His strength. Stop trying to make a difference without His power. You can’t do it. If you want to productive, if you want to be effective, if you want to be successful, get plugged in to Jesus. His eternal, everlasting strength is ours for the asking. And with Jesus, you can do everything.


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