I took my car in to be serviced the other day, taking with me the license plate that had come in the mail. After conveniently renewing the plates on the internet, I was surprised when a completely new plate came instead of the little sticker that’s placed in the upper right corner of the plate that identified the new year.

The reason I took the plate with me to the service department was because I could not loosen the screws holding the old plate in place. Maybe my screwdriver was too small or maybe I’m just weak, but my guess is the screws had rusted in place. I just knew I couldn’t budge them.

When the car came back from being serviced, the new plate was attached. I didn’t think to ask about the screws and how they loosened them. I was just glad to have it done. What my efforts were unable to do, they did. Whether it was superior equipment or a stronger mechanic, I don’t know. But they succeeded where I failed.

The ancient prophet Zechariah had a vision in which the Lord gave him a message for Governor Zerubbabel: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6 NIV). The immediate reason for this message was that the people, in their own strength, had not been able to rebuild the temple. God’s message was that they needed a strength greater than their own to get the job done. God would help them if they would acknowledge it was by his Spirit.

In our day, we often fail to achieve our spiritual goals because we try to do it in our own strength. Is there a habit you can’t seem to break? Is there a sin you have been unable to overcome? Is there a person you cannot forgive?

I encourage you to ask God for his help. What we cannot do, he can enable us to do. Spiritual struggles are overcome not in our strength, but in his.

— The Rev. Ron McClung, a former pastor of Owosso Wesleyan Church, now living in Indianapolis, Indiana, currently serves as the assistant general secretary for the denomination.

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