Tag: courage

Jul 5 Thou O Lord art a shield about me

roman shield

How amazing You are, Father.  You knew what Paul was headed for and You told him to “Take courage” just when he needed it.

You also worked out that a relative learned about the plot against Paul’s life.  And predisposed the Commander of the barracks to be willing to listen to a boy.  Because he took the boy’s story seriously, it preserved Paul’s life and gave him the opportunity for a greater testimony.

There is no doubt that You involve Yourself with life circumstances here on earth.  And intercede to bring about Your purposes.  Thank You that I am assured that You not only know what will come next in my life, but will prepare me for it, encourage me through it, and cause things to work together for me.  I can trust this to happen, because I can trust You.

“O Lord, no matter how many are against me, You are a shield around me.”  You protect me from their attack.  You repel the arrows fired at me.  You stop the fiery darts flung at me.  You deflect the blows directed at me.  I can stand behind You, as I would stand behind a battle shield and be safe.

Not a flimsy garbage can lid, but a battle shield: reaching from my head to my feet.   And wide enough to cover me so that when I stand next to another, our shields meet and form a wall.  This shield is thick enough and covered with materials that will prevent penetration by darts or arrows.  And it is shiny to reflect the sun and blind the enemy so I am a hard target to find.

“When I cry out to You, You answer me!”  You speak to me through Your Word and in prayer.  You have ways to reach me I haven’t even imagined.  “And when I lie down, and sleep, I wake again because You watch over me.  You sustain me.”  When I cannot defend myself, You are there, protecting me.

So “I will not fear – even when I see my enemy drawn up against me…You will arise!  You will deliver me!”  Thank You Father for Your immeasurable love for me, for Your unfathomable power which You use to strike down my enemies.   All praise to You!  Amen

Acts 23:11-35; Psalm 3:1-8

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Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

Several times today the words “Be strong and courageous” appear.  O Lord, make me strong and courageous!  Lend me Your strength when I am weak.  Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You direct me to do.

How do I appropriate Your strength?

wordsarmsoutstretchedskyReading Your Word is a good start.  It is encouraging just to read Your words that sit by my computer today – “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards with encouraging scriptures.  It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally, or just having them sit out, open to a verse.   They are like personal messages from You to me.

It also helps to know I am being obedient to what Your Word says to do.

There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Even if You are calling me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.

Father, so many times You have protected me and helped me through hardships.  Recalling those times from the past helps me trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble.  I only journal sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points.

With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down.  They confirm Your faithfulness to me.

And You have put people in my life who I can observe being courageous with their own challenges.  Some are in the midst of them right now.  Some have already come through a hard time.  I can watch and learn what encourages them.

They are living examples of how to get through difficulties.  Some have even leaned on me.  And when I need to, I can lean on them.

So You give me Your Word.  You protect me wherever You call me to be.  You Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past.  You put helping relationships in my life.

And most importantly, You promise Your presence:  “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision.  Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

 

 

Mar 13 Egypt or Wilderness?

direction-1033278_640The Israelites.

For several hundred years they had not been in charge of their fate and lived as slaves.  They never really had the freedom to choose what to do, where to go, or what to eat.  And had no time to worship You, or even think about what their future might hold.

All they knew: slavery = more of the same.

And while their freedoms had been stripped away, there was stability and security in what they had.  Barring illness or disobedience, they were provided for, albeit to keep them in working condition for the Pharaoh.

So in this newfound freedom after leaving Egypt, when problems rose, like no food or water for two million people, it was a big deal.  And they were not prepared to cope.

Those things had been provided for them before.  And even though their labor had been hard and bitter, it was at least predictable.   So during these times, it was so easy for one of them to look back to when there was a bit of security and minimal provision; and convince others that what was behind them was preferable to the unknown ahead.

Lord, how many times have I preferred the predictable to the unfamiliar?  It takes courage to step out in a new direction, to get up off the couch of complacency.

I go back and forth between disbelief at how the Israelites rebelled against You even in the presence of the observable and awesome miracles; and being able to understand where they were coming from.

Father I pray You would help me be courageous in accepting what comes from Your hand.  If it requires change on my part, let me be willing to take the necessary steps without whining and complaining.

Remind me of the times in the past when You have rescued, delivered and supported me through difficulties and challenges.  Let those memories add to my faith and increase my trust in You.

And I will say, “whenever I am afraid I will trust in You” and “walk before You in the light of life”.  Amen

Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 56:3,13

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You

worship-435108_640

So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord.

In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe.

These were not easy promises to fulfill.  They were quite costly.  Jesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way.  And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.

So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit.  But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition.  You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons as well as Your faithfulness, Your trustworthiness to Your promises, Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, “I will extol You!”

According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You.  I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips.  My soul will boast in You!“

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen.

I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations.  I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain.

I will let them know that You are in the business of revealing wisdom when I ask for help making decisions and don’t know the way to go.  When I have felt trapped, You made a way out of the situation I had never thought of or considered.

I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help.

I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good.

Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You.  And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need.  Amen

Matthew 27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Jan 11 Be like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_wellpainting of Rebeca by Michael Deas 1995

Father, may we be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord,” how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her.

When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately.

She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her.

Give me Rebekah’s courage.

Let me be willing to go when You say ‘Go.’ Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.”

I ask for that blessing for myself as well.

Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands.

And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she “went to inquire of the Lord.” You gave her an answer and a revelation.

May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation.

Let me not lean on my own understanding, but give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level.

In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23

Oct 22 Holy Spirit fills with power and love and a sound mind

cross shadow

Father, thank You that You, as the Holy Spirit are alive in me.  And thank You that the Holy Spirit fills me with “power and love and a sound mind.”  Father, help me live this Spirit-filled life.  Show me how to use these gifts the way You intended.

The Amplified Version of this scripture, tells me this power will keep me from being fearful, from cringing and behaving cowardly.  It tells me I will have boldness, courage, and authority that comes from You.   I will have access to Your love to treat people compassionately and caringly.   And I will have a well-balanced mind with discipline and self-control.

Father, remind me in times of decision making and stress, that You have given me a sound mind for figuring things out.  And that I can trust those thought processes when I ask for Your, the Holy Spirit’s help.

Father, I claim “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  You are the Most High and the Almighty God, and You allow me to dwell in Your shelter and rest in Your shadow.   The picture here is one of complete protection.  Refuges and fortresses are defensible places where one can be safe; safe from the elements, and safe from enemies.

It is not just a place I run to in times of trouble, but because You are my God, I can live there all the time.  I have a place of safety and security to operate out of, always.  There I can live, and there I can find rest.  Your rest includes elements of:  R- relaxation  E- enjoyment   S- security  and T- triumph.

Psalm 91 pictures this place as a mother hen protects her young chicks by sheltering them literally under her feathered wings.   And Your refuge protects me in every way possible.

Your protection includes the physical, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual; every way I need to be shielded.  I am protected from entrapment and disease.  In daylight and in darkness, I am covered.   Weapons, epidemics and mass death will not touch me.  I will not be overcome by disaster or harm.

But I will see the wicked punished.  I will receive help from Your angels.  You promise to protect me, rescue me, answer my call, and always be with me.

I have received Your salvation.  I could not ask for more.  Thank You.  Amen

2 Timothy 1:7; Psalm 91:1-16

Oct 2 Direct me

Father, Paul had much to be proud of: his lineage, his heritage, his education, his religiousness.  But he considered it all worthless compared to knowing You.  Lord, I agree.  There is nothing I have become or attained that can compare to my relationship with You and the salvation and blessings You have given me.  So I desire to live the life You died to give me.

jogging-2343558_640All that is behind me, all that has come before, Father, I let go of, so that I may fully embrace whatever it is You have for me now.

Paul put it this way: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I too, move my focus from earthly things, to heavenly priorities, where my real home is.  I believe You can give me the wisdom to make decisions with an understanding of Your purpose for my life.  I believe You will fill me with the courage I need to act.  And I believe it is by Your power that all You purpose for me will be accomplished.

road-363265_640

Open my eyes to all I must let go of.  Show me where attitudes and priorities must change.  Help me see the direction I should go.  I will remember Your faithfulness to me.  I will recall Your power.  And I will trust in Your purpose and Your love for me.  Amen

Philippians 3:4-14

Aug 25 Last words

scroll-310783_640

O Father, how I agree with the words of Job! “I know that my Redeemer lives! And that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.”

Father, I know, without a doubt, that You exist. That You are alive. That You are in control. And that one day all this earth will pass away, but You will still be. And because I am Yours, I will see You! And in so many ways, I truly yearn for that day.

But You bring my mind back to the present. And how I must live my days out on earth. Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Corinthians. And much like me saying good-bye to my children, and trying to get every last thought of instruction and encouragement in, he includes a short paragraph that sums up his reminders for faithful living.

“Be on your guard”. Father, help me see everything I need to be aware of. Help me discern Your true wisdom, and reject the wisdom of the world and of the evil one. Open my eyes and my spirit to temptations that would lead me into sin. Do not let me be swept up into or be part of causing division in my church.

“Stand firm in the faith”. Lord, help me read and study Your Word so I understand what my faith is based on. Show me how to apply Your Word to my life today. And do not let me stray from it. Instead, help me live out what I believe. My actions, my attitudes, my words, all need to be in agreement because they show outwardly what I really believe inwardly. Help me enjoy the freedoms of my faith but also be aware and careful not to be a stumbling block to others.

“Be men of courage; be strong”. Father, strengthen me against the laxity of society.   Embolden me to use the spiritual gifts You have placed in me.   Help me to encourage others. When I need to speak out, fill my mouth as I open it. When I need to act, I will draw my strength from You.

“Do everything in love.” Finally, help me to be more loving. In all I do, show me what You would do, how You would do it. Before I speak, let me ask myself if I am speaking in love. Before I act, remind me to ask myself if I am acting in love.   So many emotions and motivations influence and drive me, Father.   Help me seek love as my primary motivating factor.

Help me live out my days in a way that honors You. And when You take me home, I will rejoice! Amen

Job 19:25-27; I Corinthians 16:13-14

July 16 Robed in Righteousness

clothed-in-christ

Thank You Father for giving me a righteousness I could never earn on my own. You know human tendencies and have proclaimed “There is no one righteous, not even one.” David even wrote in a song: “the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men”. When You gave the Law You knew no one could ever live up to that standard. What it did was make people aware of their sin, pointing them to their need for a Savior.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the Law, has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. This righteousness from God comes from faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”   The Savior that was needed is a gift from You. So thanks to You, I have the righteousness that will allow me to live and be with You forever.

David knew this righteousness, even in his sin. And he knew You would keep Your promise to him. He had dreams for his son, as I have for mine, and prayed for Solomon. I join him in asking that my sons “will be [men] of peace and rest…that You would be with them and give them success…may You give [them] discretion and understanding…[may they] be strong and courageous and not afraid or discouraged.”

Father, I thank You for Your righteousness. Apart from You I have nothing. I am nothing.   You protect me and keep me safe. No matter the circumstance, my faith and my trust are in You.   Amen

I Chronicles 22:1-13; Romans 3:9-26; Psalm 12:1

June 6 By God’s Power

“Sovereign Lord, You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Your servant David when he said ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One.’.”

God in control

 

It was true in David’s time that the Philistines and others came and attacked Your people who were led by the men You had anointed to rule them.  When You came to Israel in the flesh, the High Priest and Sanhedrin plotted against You to have You killed

 

And today, many other religions are set against You and Your believers with plans of destruction.  Even more, the culture I live in does not embrace a Biblical worldview, but is focused on material gain, social success, political intrigue and self-gratification.

The prayer of Your disciples is a great guide for me.  First, they acknowledged that You were and are in control.  “They (your enemies) did what Your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”  In David’s time, in Your time here on earth, and now in my life, You are in control.  When things aren’t going well, I sometimes forget that.

Thank You for the reminder that I don’t have to worry that something is going to slip by You unnoticed. You know all things.  You do not sit wringing Your hands wondering what to do next.  I can trust that not only is Your plan advancing, but Your plan is the best one for me. Your power and Your will have already determined beforehand, what is best.

Their prayer was to “enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness.”   What a courageous prayer!  The disciples had just been told by the religious leaders NOT to speak of You, and they had the courage to say they would prefer to obey You, rather than obey man. Show me Lord, when I should speak. And as I open my mouth, fill it with Your words.  And then close it when I am to remain silent.

“Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.”  I have spoken to several people in the last few days who have described dire circumstances for themselves and/or their children.   What I see is that the stage is set for You to do a miracle!

Let the people of my generation see that You are a miracle-working God.  Let them see how much You care for them, and want to have a personal relationship with them.  When things work out, let them see and acknowledge Your hand in their lives, and turn to You!

This was a powerful prayer for the disciples.  I ask it would also be for me.  Amen

Acts 4:1-31

 

Apr 11 Courage for the next step

directory-1273088_640

“Hear me O Shepherd of Israel, You who led Joseph and his people like a flock” to greener pastures in Egypt because there was an extreme famine in the land. “Hear me, You who sit enthroned between the cherubim” on the golden Ark of the Covenant that Moses had made so the High Priest could seek Your face and wisdom in making atonement when Your presence dwelt there in the form of a pillar of cloud. “Awaken Your might! Come and save me!”

As the Israelites went into the Promised Land to take possession of all You had promised them, lead me, Lord, to what You have for me. Let me see and possess all the blessings You have prepared for me. Do not let me miss out on Your blessing because I am too afraid to get my feet wet! The Israelites had to step into the floodwaters of the Jordan River before You stopped the flow of water to let them pass. Sometimes I also must take a step of faith to see Your provision in my life. Show me that step so I can also come into all that You have for me.

What a missed opportunity that would have been, had they not had the courage to do as You said! The same for the people You spoke about who were invited to a great banquet. They made every excuse to stay away. Although they were acceptable excuses for the day and time, they missed out on the bounty, provision, and the very salvation You had prepared for them.

I am sad to say that very often, I delay our time together because there are errands to run, shopping to do, bills to pay, or meals to fix. These are all things that really do need to be done, but it shows that my priorities are not right. How sad that I sometimes choose checking email over hearing from the God and Creator of the Universe who makes time to speak with me!

“Restore me O God. Make Your face to shine upon me that I may be saved.” Restore me to right thinking so I will set my priorities straight, Lord. Make Your face to shine on me so I may walk in the light of Your radiant presence. Show me when I need to take a step of faith and get my feet wet. When I make excuses, remind me of the rich banquet of blessing I am missing by not spending time with You. Thank You for Your unending faithfulness. Amen

Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:7-24; Psalm 80:1-3

Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

wordsarmsoutstretchedsky

Several times today the words “Be strong and courageous” appear. O Lord, make me strong and courageous! Lend me Your strength when I am weak. Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You direct me to do.

How do I appropriate Your strength? Reading Your Word is a good start. It is encouraging just to read Your words that sit by my computer today – “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards with encouraging scriptures. It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally, or just having them sit out, open to a verse.  They are like personal messages from You to me.

It also helps to know I am being obedient to what Your Word says to do. There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Even if You are calling me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.

Father, so many times You have protected me and helped me through hardships. Recalling those times from the past helps me trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble. I only journal sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points. With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down. They confirm Your faithfulness to me.

And You have put people in my life who I can observe being courageous with their own challenges. Some are in the midst of them right now. Some have already come through a hard time. I can watch and learn what encourages them. They are living examples of how to get through difficulties. Some have even leaned on me. And when I need to, I can lean on them.

So You give me Your Word. You protect me wherever You call me to be. You Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past. You put helping relationships in my life. And most importantly, You promise Your presence: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision. Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

Jan 17 Be my guide

right-238369_1280Lord, I desire to dwell with You in Your sanctuary. And to live on Your holy hill. Your Word tells me how.

Help me keep my walk blameless and do what is righteous according to Your standards. When I am not sure which is the right way, give me discernment. When I know what is right, give me strength to do what is right. Keep me from temptation that would entice me to act unjustly or immorally. Do not let me be drawn into evil or behave badly for personal gain.

Help me speak the truth from my heart, even when it is more convenient to lie. I desire to be honest in my speech and in my actions. Do not allow me to speak ill of others or be a gossip.

Help me treat my neighbor as I want to be treated, with respect and compassion. Teach me to hate what is wrong and vile; not calling what is good evil, or what is evil, good. And to stand up for right, defending those who are defenseless. Show me how to recognize and give honor to those who are godly and live their lives in the fear of the Lord.

When I make a promise, help me keep my word, even when it is not convenient. Even when it costs me more that I thought it would. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

When I can lend to one in need, do not let me take advantage of their need for my own profit. But let me act compassionately. When it is profitable to deceive others, let me turn away from that temptation. Do not let me accept a bribe or cause harm to the innocent.

Teach me and strengthen me to walk in this way, to live uprightly and to love mercy. Living this kind of life will give me confidence and courage. It will be an example to my children and to others. And it will help me to honor You. This is my desire. Amen

Psalm 15:1-5

 

Oct 2 Direct me

Father, Paul had much to be proud of: his lineage, his heritage, his education, his religiousness. But he considered it all worthless compared to knowing You. Lord, I agree. There is nothing I have become or attained that can compare to my relationship with You and the salvation and blessings You have given me. So I desire to live the life You died to give me.

jogging-2343558_640All that is behind me, all that has come before, Father, I let go of, so that I may fully embrace whatever it is You have for me now.

Paul put it this way: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I too, move my focus from earthly things, to heavenly priorities, where my real home is. I believe You can give me the wisdom to make decisions with an understanding of Your purpose for my life. I believe You will fill me with the courage I need to act. And I believe it is by Your power that all You purpose for me will be accomplished.

road-363265_640

Open my eyes to all I must let go of. Show me where attitudes and priorities must change. Help me see the direction I should go. I will remember Your faithfulness to me. I will recall Your power. And I will trust in Your purpose and Your love for me. Amen

Philippians 3:4-14

Apr 11 Courage for the next step

“Hear me O Shepherd of Israel, You who led Joseph and his people like a flock” to greener pastures in Egypt because there was an extreme famine in the land. “Hear me, You who sit enthroned between the cherubim” on the golden Ark of the Covenant that Moses had made so the High Priest could seek Your face and wisdom in making atonement when Your presence dwelt there in the form of a pillar of cloud. “Awaken Your might! Come and save me!”

directory-1273088_640

As the Israelites went into the Promised Land to take possession of all You had promised them, lead me, Lord, to what You have for me. Let me see and possess all the blessings You have prepared for me. Do not let me miss out on Your blessing because I am too afraid to get my feet wet! The Israelites had to step into the floodwaters of the Jordan River before You stopped the flow of water to let them pass. Sometimes I also must take a step of faith to see Your provision in my life. Show me that step so I can also come into all that You have for me.

What a missed opportunity that would have been, had they not had the courage to do as You said! The same for the people You spoke about who were invited to a great banquet. They made every excuse to stay away. Although they were acceptable excuses for the day and time, they missed out on the bounty, provision, and the very salvation You had prepared for them.

I am sad to say that very often, I delay our time together because there are errands to run, shopping to do, bills to pay, or meals to fix. These are all things that really do need to be done, but it shows that my priorities are not right. How sad that I sometimes choose checking email over hearing from the God and Creator of the Universe who makes time to speak with me!

“Restore me O God. Make Your face to shine upon me that I may be saved.” Restore me to right thinking so I will set my priorities straight, Lord. Make Your face to shine on me so I may walk in the light of Your radiant presence. Show me when I need to take a step of faith and get my feet wet. When I make excuses, remind me of the rich banquet of blessing I am missing by not spending time with You. Thank You for Your unending faithfulness. Amen

Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:7-24; Psalm 80:1-3

Apr 7 Your Strength Your Courage

wordsarmsoutstretchedsky.jpeg

Several times today the words “Be strong and courageous” appear. O Lord, make me strong and courageous! Lend me Your strength when I am weak. Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You would direct me to do.

How will that happen? How do I appropriate Your strength? Reading Your Word is a good start. It is encouraging just to read Your words that sit by my computer today – “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards with encouraging scriptures. It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally, or just having them sit out, open to a verse.  They are like personal messages from You to me.

It also helps to know I am being obedient to what Your Word says to do. There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Even if You are calling me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.

So many times Lord, You have protected me and helped me through hardships. Recalling those times helps strengthen my faith in You. Knowing how You came through in the past allows me to trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble. I journal only sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points. With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down, that confirm Your faithfulness to me.

And You have put people in my life who I can observe being courageous with their own challenges. Some are in the midst of them right now. Some have already come through a hard time. I can watch and learn what encourages them. They are an example to me of how to get through difficulties. Some have even leaned on me. And when I need to, I can lean on them.

So You give me Your Word. You protect me wherever You call me to be. You Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past. You put helping relationships in my life. And most importantly, You promise Your presence: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision. Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

Mar 13 Egypt or wilderness?

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The Israelites. For several hundred years they had not been in charge of their fate and lived as slaves. They never really had the freedom to choose what to do, where to go, or what to eat. And had no time to worship You, or even think about what their future might hold. All they knew: slavery = more of the same.

And while their freedoms had been stripped away, there was a stability and security in what they had. Barring illness or disobedience, they were provided for, albeit to keep them in working condition for the Pharaoh.

So in this newfound freedom after leaving Egypt, when problems rose, like no food or water for two million people, it was a big deal. And they were not prepared to cope. Those things had been provided for them before. And even though their labor had been hard and bitter, it was at least predictable. So during these times, it was so easy for one of them to look back to when there was a bit of security and minimal provision and convince others that what was behind them was preferable to the unknown ahead.

Lord, how many times have I preferred the predictable to the unfamiliar? It takes courage to step out in a new direction, to get up off the couch of complacency.

I go back and forth between disbelief at how the Israelites rebelled against You even in the presence of the observable and awesome miracles; and being able to understand where they were coming from.

Father I pray You would help me be courageous in accepting what comes from Your hand. If it requires change on my part, let me be willing to take the necessary steps without whining and complaining. Remind me of the times in the past when You have rescued, delivered and supported me through difficulties and challenges. Let those memories add to my faith and increase my trust in You.

And I will say, “whenever I am afraid I will trust in You” and “walk before You in the light of life”. Amen

Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 56:3,13

Jan 27 I want to obey You

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O Lord, I read about Moses and wonder how he could have backed away from the great opportunity You gave him to be a part of Your miraculous plan. It seems he made every excuse in the book to avoid joining You in the amazing deliverance of his people.

Then I wonder if I have been guilty of the same.

Have there been times when You offered me an opportunity to accomplish something with You and I chose the safer, easier path with no risk? Have You allowed me to be in situations where I could have told someone about who You are, and I chose not to speak? Have there been circumstances when I could have offered to go and do, to act as Your hands and Your feet, but I chose the response that afforded me more leisure?

Have there been occasions when I might have stood up and spoken out for what is right, but remained silent under the socially acceptable guise of being tolerant?

Have there been times when I opted to remain in my comfort zone rather than step out of it in a way that would have honored You?

I believe there have been. And ask myself why? Is it that I doubt the power of the God who created the universe? Do I doubt that You will be true to Your Word?

No. I believe it is rather, that I doubt myself. I may doubt that I’m hearing You clearly. Because if not, then I have walked out on a limb that could easily but cut off from under me. Or I doubt my ability to carry through and finish what I start in Your name, bringing embarrassment to both of us. Or I fear it might hold me up to ridicule. So, bottom line, I fear what other people will think about me.

Please forgive me for the times I’ve let You down. Help me be so strong in recognizing that my identity comes from You, and in believing what You say about me, that I am not swayed by fear of what others think of me. Help me recognize the next time You give me an opportunity. And help me be courageous enough to act. “I will declare Your name to my brothers!” “I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and a sound mind.” “I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved.”

Oh Lord, fulfill Your purpose through me! Amen

Exodus 4:1-17; Psalm 22:22; 2Timothy 1:7; Colossians 3:12; Psalm 138:8 ESV

 

 

Jan 11 Make me like Rebecca

Rebecca at the well painting by Michael Deas  1995

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Oh Father, may I be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord”, how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her. When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately. She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her. Give me Rebekah’s courage. Let me be willing to go when You say ‘Go’. Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

 

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.” I ask for that blessing for myself as well. Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she “went to inquire of the Lord”. You gave her an answer and a revelation. May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation. Let me not lean on my own understanding. But give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence to point to that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level. In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23