From Our Hearts to Yours

Courage Under Fire

How many situations arise in an “ordinary day” in your life that cause fear or doubt or a lack of confidence to well up in your stomach and maybe even up to your throat? I’ve made my own short list from some of my days that began in the usual way:

  • Witnessing a teen boy and his dad in a physical and verbal brawl
  • Enduring a super-bumpy plane ride
  • Having a flat tire on a dark stretch of road at night
  • Facing a public performance or ministry
  • Suffering through a medical test to determine the cause of an illness
  • Watching a grandchild suffer an unknown long-term medical condition
  • Putting up with a stressful relationship with a family member

God has four words for us when we must face, endure, or are surprised by these kinds of challenges: “Do not be afraid” (Joshua 1:9). These words were spoken by God to Joshua, the new leader of the children of Israel, after Moses’ death. Suddenly Joshua found himself responsible for leading a massive group of people — more than two million!

Fear is often seen as being reserved for the weak. But Joshua, a man experienced in warfare, was in no way weak. Yet God spent a considerable amount of time bolstering Joshua’s courage and admonishing him about the dangers of fear (Joshua 1:1-9).

God knew Joshua, and He knows you and me too. He also knows that we are strong in many ways but still tend to have our own fears and doubts. But no worries! God told Joshua–and He speaks to us as well–to “be strong and of good courage.” Why? Because “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (verse 9).

The first step to gaining courage is realizing that fear is natural, whereas the presence of God right beside you, all the time, is supernatural. When you recall this truth, you’ve successfully begun to fight your fears and gain strength and courage of heart for the tasks—and challenges—the Lord has prepared for you. Strength is yours when you remember that Jesus promised to stay with you when He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Courage was perfectly modeled by Christ in the face of His impending death. But, Jesus was courageous because He knew that He was in the faithful hands of the Father. Fear was never an issue for Jesus because He trusted in the Father’s timetable for His life. Courage is as much about trust as it is about bravery. God was with Joshua infusing him with courage. God was with Jesus. And He’s with you and me too. If we trust that God will guide and protect us, then He will provide the strength and courage we need to make it through the challenges of life.

Question: Can you share a time when God’s presence infused you with His supernatural courage? If you are facing a challenge or fear today, choose and share a verse that you will help you trust God and claim His supernatural courage.

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

Trust in My Might or God’s?

Confidence is a quality that everyone desires. Self-confidence suggests that one trusts in his or her own abilities. The “self-made” person has a firm trust in their education, professional abilities, athletic skills, looks, health, or material resources. Their belief in themselves produces a state of mind and manner that is marked by freedom from uncertainty, self-doubt, or embarrassment.

But there’s another kind of confidence, and it too is based on trust. However, it’s not a trust in self, but a trust in God. Who better to demonstrate the confidence that comes from trusting God than God’s only Son, the Lord Jesus? Even at the early age of twelve, while teaching at the temple (Luke 2:41-52), Jesus was confident in His identity as the son of God.

Likewise your confidence must come from your identity in and with Jesus. He has made you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and given you a fresh start. Your past has been forgiven. The slate of your sins has been erased. Your present is empowered by Jesus’ Spirit. And your future is guaranteed for all eternity. You are one with Christ. Therefore, there’s no reason to be fearful of anything. Oh, you must have a healthy respect for the fragility of life and the need for wisdom and safety precautions. But there’s no reason to be anxious about your normal activities.

If your confidence for some challenge is wavering, maybe you’ve lost sight of who it is you are to trust. Trusting in yourself is shaky ground. Trust instead in the rock that is solid, in Jesus Christ. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7).

Jesus once instructed His disciples before sending them out for ministry. He cautioned them, explaining, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). This doesn’t seem like a very good way to instill confidence in a newly appointed evangelistic team, does it? Jesus wanted to give His new team a realistic picture of what they would face. He told them the truth to make them wiser about what was really out there.

But Jesus wasn’t finished. To ensure that the disciples’ confidence wouldn’t waver, He ended His pep talk with an assurance of God’s care. He clearly communicated that the same God who takes care of the insignificant little sparrow would surely take care of them. Jesus then told them, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (verse 31).

God places great value on you. Savor this truth! In fact, you are so valuable that He sent His only Son to die for you (John 3:16). And because of God’s love, you never need to be afraid of personal challenges or difficult trials. Yes, times of trouble will come, but rather than hiding in fear, have the confidence to trust your all-wise and loving heavenly Father. The wolves are out there, but the Good Shepherd knows that you are one of His sheep. He is always there with you and for you!

Question: How have you seen God’s care for you demonstrated to you in the past? Does this bolster your confidence for you present circumstances?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

The Difference Between Good, Better, and Best

Perhaps as a child, you heard your teacher at school say,

Good, better, best,
never let it rest,
until your good is better,
and your better is best.

God has promised us that His ways are the best path for us. And, in choosing God and His ways our devotion to Him will deepen. Well, I try to apply this in very practical ways to my own decision-making and choices. Here’s just one way that doing so has helped me develop a deeper devotion to God.

While living in Los Angeles I spent a lot of time in the car in traffic. There in the car — all alone — I had options about what I could think and do. For years I drove around with an easy-listening music station on the radio. That was a fairly good choice. However, after some thought, I decided a better choice for me would be to listen to classical music (a passion of mine). After thinking about my choice a little more, I decided an even better choice would be playing a CD of uplifting Christian music. Then I moved up the “better” scale again as I chose to listen to sermon CDs instead — recordings of a man of God teaching the Word of God to the people of God. Next, playing CDs of the Bible seemed even better. Then one day I turned the whole audio system off and landed on what for me was the best choice for my car time — memorizing Scripture. Good to better to best!

When I was a new Christian, I heard a more spiritually mature woman at church tell about a choice she made each day as soon as her husband left for work. She said she could do almost anything she wanted — turn on the TV and watch a soap opera or talk show, read the Los Angeles Times, or — her choice — pick up her Bible and have her quiet time. Here was a woman — a woman after God’s own heart — paying close atten­tion to what was good, better, and best, and striving to make the best choices.

Carole Mayhall of the Christian discipleship organization, The Navigators, once said “Daily I live with [one] fear — a healthy fear — that I will miss something God has for me in this life. And it is mind-expanding to contemplate all that He wants me to have. I don’t want to be robbed of even one of God’s riches by not taking time to let Him invade my life. By not listening to what He is telling me. By allowing the routine, pressing matters of my minutes to bankrupt me of time for the most exciting, most fulfilling relationship in life.”

I also do not want to miss out on God’s best due to merely choosing what is mediocre or just okay. At each moment of decision in your day, ask God to help you choose beyond the better choice to what is BEST!

Choosing the One Thing Needed

Luke 10:42 — “And Jesus, answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But, one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'”

Today, let’s take a closer look at someone who sat at Jesus’ feet and received His praise. Can you imagine that — receiving God’s praise! The attitude of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, demonstrated for us the meaning of a heart devoted to God. What did Mary do that moved our Savior to praise her?

Mary discerned the one thing needed — The events leading up to Jesus’ words set the scene for us to look into Mary’s heart (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus (probably accompanied by His disciples) arrived at the home of Mary’s sister, Martha, for a meal. I’m sure it was a joyous and festive time. Imagine, God in flesh coming for dinner! He was total love, total care, total concern, and total wisdom. It would be heaven on earth to be in His presence — the presence of God.

But Martha, Mary’s sister, didn’t discern the miracle of God in the flesh. Consequently, she marred His visit by her behav­ior. She crossed over the line of graciously providing food and became overly involved in her hostessing. When Jesus opened His mouth to impart words of life — the Word of God spoken by God Himself — and Mary slipped out of the kitchen to sit quietly at His feet, Martha broke. She interrupted the Teacher, her guest, to say something to this effect — “Don’t you care that I’m putting this meal together all by myself? Tell Mary to help me!” Martha failed to discern the priority and importance of time with God.

Mary, a woman after God’s own heart, made the choice that indicated her heart’s devotion: She knew it was important to cease her busyness, stop all activity, and set aside secondary things in order to focus wholly on the Lord. Unlike her sister, who was so busy doing things for the Lord that she failed to spend time with Him, Mary put worship at the top of her to-do list.

Mary chose the one thing needed — Because Mary was a woman after God’s own heart, she was preoccupied with one thing at all times — Him! Yes, she too served. And she too tried to fulfill her God-given responsibilities. But there was one choice that Mary made that day in Bethany, a decision to do the one thing that mattered most: Mary chose to spend time worshiping God. She knew that nothing can take the place of time in God’s presence. Indeed, time spent sitting at His feet fuels and focuses all acts of service.

Today, let’s not allow the demands on our lives, the busyness of our choices, or the significance of our service steal the “one thing” that will bring us closer to Christ. Time spent hearing from and worshiping God can never be taken away, for it is time spent in eternal pursuits, time that earns permanent and everlasting divi­dends. Mary chose to spend that precious time with Him. Let us also join in her worship of our Lord today and everyday of our lives!

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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