Friday, October 30, 2015

Be Bold: Proverbs 10:25

"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever." (NIV)

"When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation." (NKJV)

"The wicked are destroyed when trouble comes, but good people stand strong forever." (ERV)

We have spent this week discussing the storms or trials and tribulations in our lives. We have discussed the foggy haze that overtakes us and doesn't allow us to see God's silver lining. Even though we know He is with us and He is for us, we have trouble seeing Him when we are in the midst of the storms. It is at these most vulnerable times; however, that it is most important to keep our eyes strongly affixed on our Lord. Just like the disciples in the boat, we must invite God in to our hearts to help calm the storms. 

In the midst of these storms it is often the hardest to keep our values and our character strong. This is especially true when a person or people are harming us. These storms, to me, are the most challenging. People will fight us, condemn us, and can even hurt us to the very core. So how then, do we keep our own character strong and not lash out and hurt them back? It is when someone is hurting us the most, that we must remember this proverb. When the storm clears, the wicked are gone but the righteous stand strong. So, when your storm clears, do you want to be cast aside like the wicked or do you want to be standing firm in your faith foundation. 

As you move forward in to the weekend take some time to reflect on who you may have hurt during a storm, and think about those who you may have hurt because you were their storm. Often those we have hurt or have hurt us are those closest to us. Take this time to also pray on how you can best resolve these hurts in the name of the Lord. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Be Bold: Job 9:17

"He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason." (NIV)

"For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause." (KJV)

"For he breaketh me with a tempest, And multiplieth my wounds without cause." (ASV)

As you examined the storms in your life yesterday, did you find one or more that you said, "God is not in this." or "There is nothing good coming from this challenge." I know that I have had that response on more than one occasion. In the midst of your challenges, it is so often hard to see the silver lining or even the type of storm that God is using for you. 

Job had the same response in his life. He was unable to see that God was with him all along. God was using the storm that Job was drowning in so that he would grow. Job saw it as vindictive, mean, and uncaring. Job looked at God as a being with a personal vendetta against him. I have also been caught in the midst of the most challenging of storms with blinders on. We must, however, learn to be able to remove the blinders and see beyond the storm clouds to our Father's goals and ambitions for us. 

I know that is often the hardest and most challenging thing to accept. You look through the dense fog of your life only to see more fog and more turmoil. Like fog, however, you can continue to move forward, because somewhere beyond that fog is a rainbow or a golden meadow welcoming you and providing treats and pleasures beyond imagination. 

Today, look at your life at this exact moment. Take note of the storms you wrote off yesterday as the devil's work, coincidence, or as simply something you couldn't understand. Reexamine those storms. Look through the haze and see if you can find even the smallest glimpse of golden meadow. Make a list of three things God could possibly be trying to tell you within those horrible storm clouds. Pray about the results, sit quietly and allow God to speak to your heart, then take another moment to find two more things that God may be trying to tell you within that storm. Use these five results to continue to rejoice, pray, and thank throughout the week. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Be Bold: John 6:18

"But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” (NIV)

"he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” (MSG)

"But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” (NKJV)

How did it go yesterday? Was that feeling in the pit of your stomach just a little bit less intense than it was yesterday? How much farther were you able to push yourself than the day before? While you were pushing yourself, were you able to rejoice in God's greatness, pray for God to give you strength, and thank God for having the ability to take that step out in the first place? It is glorious that we can make these steps. 

Today we look to John's account of the same storm that Matthew recounted yesterday. Instead of focusing on Peter's ability to walk on water with the help of the Lord, John focuses on the weather produced by the Lord and the cosmos. 
18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
God's pop quizzes come in so many shapes and sizes.  This storm was only one of many that tested the disciples faith. During the storm and troubles all the disciples had to do was accept Christ in to their boat for the waters to calm. Throughout our lives, the Lord uses several different types of storms in many different ways.
  • Correcting Storms - These are storms like the one that Jonah went through. During the catastrophe of the storm, he found God again. 
  • Perfecting Storms - These storms are similar to the ones that Joseph experienced in Genesis. Joseph went through many trials though he did nothing to bring them upon himself. The storms that he experienced; however, served to strengthen his faith in God. 
  • Protecting Storms - This is what we see here in the gospel with the disciples. In these storms, the Lord is protecting us from a far worse storm that we would have experienced. Often we don't know what that worse storm would have been, but we need to have faith the the Lord is using our current tribulation to protect us from far worse. 
  • Growing Storms - These storms are similar to perfecting storms and correcting storms combined. They are ones that break you from a rut that you may have found yourself in. Even though still strong in faith it gives you a chance to see how God can move your journey along rather than only fixing or directing it. 
The Bible speaks of what we should be looking forward to (and are looking forward to). We have salvation in the Lord which leads us to the Millennial Kingdom, which gives us eternal life with God, which gives us a future after death. So what about my life now? I am a sinner and I deserve nothing from God in the present or in the future. I deserve the trials and tribulations in my life.

Today, think about the storms you are currently experiencing or have experienced recently? What type of storm do you think that God is using? What should the outcome be? Journal today about whays you can reframe the way you think about life's storms. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Be Bold: Matthew 14:27

"But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (ESV)

"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." (ASV)

"But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (NKJV)

Did you take that step out of your comfort zone yesterday? How did it make you feel? If you are like me it made you feel as if you had food poisoning. I get pits in my stomach, begin to sweat, feel my throat tighten, and that is just the beginning. I pray that your experience wasn't quite so dramatic. These baby steps will help you to feel more and more comfortable outside your comfort zone and you will be able to take bigger and longer and more frequent steps. Do not try to do it all at once and do not try to do it without your eyes on the Lord. 

In the gospel of Matthew, as well as in the gospel of Mark, the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water is accounted. 
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (NIV)
Peter was given an amazing gift from God, the ability to walk on water. As long as he held faith and had his eyes on the Lord, he was able to continue to this feat far outside his comfort zone. When Peter's faith and eyesight wavered, however, he began to sink and struggle to finish his task. We should see this story as instruction as well as a warning. When we are called by the Lord outside of our comfort zone, we must keep the faith that the Lord will continue to lead and instruct our steps. In exchange, we must keep our eyes turned to Him.

Today, try to take another step outside of your comfort zone. Build upon yesterday's step. If the step you took was, say, 3 feet out of your comfort zone, today go 4 feet. It doesn't take much, but it does push your limits. In all of it, keep your eyes turned to the Lord. Build upon what we learned last week as well, rejoice, pray, and thank God for all that He is doing for you in giving you courage and strength.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Be Bold: Exodus 20:20

"Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so you may have enough fear of Him to keep you from sinning.” (NLV)

"And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not." (KJV)

"Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (ESV)

Pop Quiz! What strikes fear in to school children more than this phrase. When we finally get out of school we are safe from those evils, right? I mean, yes, there are times at work where you are struck with the same fear and doubt of your abilities; however, for the most part, you are not living in fear of a quiz on an obscure book that you never read. 

Not so! God gives us pop quizzes in order to test us and to push us beyond our comfort zone. I am very happy with my comfort zone. It is comfortable there! When things get too stressful or too anxiety provoking I retreat back in to my comfort zone to get that cozy and safe feeling back. I believe that most people do this. The problem with our comfort zones; however, is that once we retreat back in to them, it is hard to get us out.

That is when God springs a Pop Quiz on us. God places trials, tribulation, and storms in to our lives in order to push us to and beyond those limits. How will we know how much we can achieve with God if we do not step out to where He wishes us to be. God wants us to keep our eyes on Him during these storms so that we may see His awesome power. 

Today, take a few moments to note when you have a chance to step out for God but recoil back in to your comfort zone. Take one chance today to take that one baby step beyond your comfort zone. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Be Bold: John 14:1

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me" (NIV)

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." (KJV)

“Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in Me also." (NLV)

So many things in this world cause us harm and cause us to worry unnecessarily. Isn't it wonderful that God has provided us a way to settle all of this frustration, worry, and doubt by simply being still in His word? How did He provide this? It is through His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that we have this calming influence. In John, Jesus reminds us that it is not enough to believe in God. Jesus is God's mediator and it is through our belief in Jesus Christ as son of God that are worries can be silenced by our eternal salvation. 

Jesus goes on in this passage to assure us that God's house has enough room for all of His followers. Jesus comforts us in saying that He would not have invited us if there were not room. This reminds me of when I was a kid and my sister and I would fight over who our mother or father loved more. My mom would say "I love you both the same". If you have a sibling you know that this answer never put the argument to rest. We would continue to argue; however, Mom would continually assure us that she had enough love in her heart for both my sister and my self. I wondered if this meant she loved my older sister half as much as she did before I was born? If she loved my sister 100% before I was born, she certainly only loved her 50% now since there were two. right? Well, no. 

The same way that my mom's love multiplied over and over again when she had a second daughter, God's love multiplies with each and every new child adopted in to His kingdom. His house is certainly big enough for all of the believers in this world dead, alive, and future and it is certainly able to be multiplied over and over again as we set out on the Great Commission to bring more followers to Christ. There is no end to the love that God has for us; therefor, we need to go forth an allow others to experience that love. Bringing other followers to the house will not lessen the spot that Jesus has prepared for us, it only multiplies to love that much more! 

Today, challenge yourself to speak with one person outside your family about the love of Jesus Christ. As a new challenge, this can be a fellow believer. The Great commission can be hard for those of us with shy and silent personalities, but God is there for us through it all. So, make that effort. Spread some extra love from Jesus to a friend or coworker today. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Be Bold: Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (NKJV)

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for (GNT)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

How did your task go yesterday? Were you able to keep track of the small glories that God produced in your life? Did you rejoice, pray, and thank Him? I know that it helped me so much to feel the presence of God in my life at every single moment of my day. This is something that takes time and takes work. It is not easy, but it does get easier as you practice. I like continuing to use the notebook, as it helps me to remember what I am supposed to be looking out for. It also helps me to be in a better mood. When something negative happens I can take that split second and say, but what good has come or what worse did not come. I wonderful exercise for those of us who are known to begin spiraling down the rabbit hole when one thing goes wrong. 

Today's verse follows the same trend from the rest of this week. There is an old Yiddish proverb that roughly translates to "When man plans, God laughs". I find this proverb both funny and self-fulfilling at the same time. God knows our future. God knows where He needs us and when He needs us there. It is all a part of His global and universal plan. That does not mean we are called to sit on the couch and eat potato chips, though that does seem appealing some days. It means that we need to listen to God's plan and calling. This is hard. It does not come easily for most people, but we needn't fear. God has His ways of getting us to exactly where He wants us to be. 

How do we know if what we are doing is pleasing to God and following His plan? There are a couple tests that you can play out, though the final answer may not be revealed until the moment when you see Jesus face to face in this world or the next. One test is that God will never contradict His own word. Therefor, if you believe that your task or path is one that contradicts the Bible, it is not from the Lord. The next test is in relation to today's verse. The Lord's plan for you will lead you to eventual prosperity and hope. This does not mean that there will not be heart ache or pain along the way; however, the Lord does not wish for us to be in disaster and mayhem long term. Storms and tribulation are used for the eventual good; however, that is exactly that point, the eventual good! 

So, we needn't worry about our futures. As children of God we can be assured in our salvation and eventual resting place with the Lord God. I will be straight with you though, your eventual good may not be on this earth and in this world. God wants that you should have joy and prosperity and hope; however, these are all feelings that will be 100% achieved in God's kingdom. It would be wonderful for them to be achieved on this earth as well, but do not disparage God when you find that this world does not hold that exact opportunity. 

Today let's work to look toward the future with hope. Let's look forward and tell God that we are excited for the next steps that He brings to us in this world and that we are hopeful for the wonderful gifts that we will receive in the next. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Be Bold: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

"16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (MEV)

"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (NKJV)

In full disclosure, yes, I am aware that today's post does not have anything to do with "fear", "anxiety", or really "boldness", but it is a wonderful verse to reflect on in the context of the things that I have been discussing so far this week. As someone who lives with all kinds of anxiety and fear in so many situations, I have trouble understanding why and how I am supposed to Be Bold for Christ when I have trouble even advocating for myself when an order is wrong at a restaurant. 

Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians helps me to keep in mind priorities. Rejoice always. Rejoice. How hard is it for us to rejoice when we follow the same pattern of life day in and day out. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, do chores, go to bed. Again and again and again and again. In just that list and not real life, there is so much to be thankful for! Wake up - You are alive another day to help spread the word of God! Get Dressed - You have been blessed with clothes to wear and shoes to keep your feet warm. Eat breakfast - You have food on your table and a place to eat it. Go to work - You have a way to provide the needed things for your family or your self like the food you ate for breakfast. It continues. Do we rejoice in these things? So often that joy and that love that God has washed over us slips by us. 

Pray without ceasing. Pray continually. Do you forget this simple command more often than not? I know that I take time to pray throughout the day, but do you give it all to God every chance that you get? It is in the fact that we cease praying that we forget to glorify God for the simple blessings of our day. We need to take ever moment to speak with God our father about the glories, hardships, pains, and love of our days. We are not bothering God. I can promise you that. The bible tells us to pray and pray and pray. God can handle it. We need to not feel as though we are bother Him as He wants to be bothered. He wants to hear our voices. He wants us to glorify the gifts He gives us and also to verbalize the pains and sufferings that we endure. Does this mean that He will take away the pains? No, but our praying and our rejoicing will help to minimize those negative aspects of our lives that God is using. 

Finally, we are instructed to give thanks. It is so simple. Thank God. How many times do we go through our days noting all of the things that went wrong? I split coffee on my shirt on the way to work, I stubbed my toe getting out of my truck, I tripped going up the stairs, I sent an email without the attachment, I quoted a statistic wrong in front of my boss. Are all of these things embarassing and in the moment horrible? YES! However, what we forget is to take note of all of the amazing things God did. In spilling the coffee on yourself God kept you from burning your tongue because it was too hot. In stubbing your toe, God kept you from stepping on a nail that was in front of the thing you stubbed your toe on. In tripping up the stairs God caught you so that you didn't fall and seriously injure yourself. See how it is so simple to forget that ways that God is playing in to our lives every day? 

Today, take note of the little things God is doing for you. Rejoice in His works. Pray to Him continuously, and thank Him for those little things. Keep a note pad with you for one day and take notes. I think you will be shocked to find out the amazing things that you will see when you open your eyes to God's hand in your daily life. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Be Bold: 1 Peter 5:7

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (KJV)

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

I am an expert internalizer. What does that mean? Well, to me it means that anything that happens to me, around me, about me, or in any way in relation to me thereby affects me. I have been like this for as long as I remember. In way, it is a very helpful defense mechanism against some of the evils of the world; however, for the most part, it is a hard fought battle to realize that it isn't all about me an not everyone and everything is out to get me. Even in typing this it seems like such a silly and nonsensical thing to worry about; however, I can't ever seem to shake it. 

Today's verse is one that I try to keep on my heart at all times to aid me in fighting this demon that I have. God loves me. God is in control. God has a plan. God's plan has my best interest at heart. Therefore, the things that happen to me are not negative. They may not make sense to me at the time, and I may struggle with the understanding of why it is happening; however, I need to keep in mind that God is in control and has a reason for all of it. 

So many times, I am still chewing on something that someone said in passing and no one else even remembers that it happened. It reminds me of something my mother always said (in full disclosure she got it from Beth Moore, amazing author and woman of God), "Bless it and Release it". I always laughed and agreed with my mom when she said this. It sounds so much better than "forgive and forget", because let's be honest, who really forgets things that hurt them. However, we can look upwards, thank God for His blessings and the way that this incident plays in to His plan and then give it over to Him. 

Today, I am going to make an effort to give it over to God, trust that He loves me, cares for me, and has a plan for me! Can you cast your anxiety on God? In what ways will you or have you blessed it and released it today for the glory of God's plan and love?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Be Bold: Daniel 10:12

"Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words." (NKJV) 
"Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words." (ESV) 
"Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer." (NLT)
Reassurance. No matter how old we are or how long we have been saved or how skilled or how knowledgeable or how anything, we are comforted with reassurance that what we are doing is on the right track. The book of Daniel helps us to be reminded of God's immediate and everlasting love and assistance. He assures us that from the moment we opened our hearts to His love and we admitted that we could not handle this world alone, He was there. It was our own act of love for Him that allows His love for us to shine.

I know for a fact that God was at work in my life long before I willingly gave my life to Him. This verse negates that fact though, doesn't it. Absolutely not. This verse is a simple reminder that God's works should be and are openly revealed once we have accepted Him in to our lives. Before we accept God's mercy and grace, we attribute His works to luck, coincidence, superstition, etc. It is our humble acceptance of God, however, that allows us to be able to see the amazing works that God presents to this world.

These verses remind me also of the following:
1 Corinthians 2:12-16 New International Version (NIV)
12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
It is the work of the Spirit due to our vocalization of our humbleness before God that allows us to discern the amazing glories in our lives. So, with an open heart and an eager mind, seek what the Lord has done for you in this life as well as your previous worldly life. Don't forget to thank God for all of those amazing gifts that He gave you before you even acknowledged Him. What an amazing gift.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Be Bold; Luke 8:15

"But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience." (NKJV) 
"And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest." (NLT) 
"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." (ESV)
Today I need to write about patience. Patience plays a huge role in being bold for Christ. We are called to reflect Christ's love for us outwardly to others. So, when we are wronged or hurt or even just have the inward feeling that you have been wronged (it being all in your head that you have taken something far too personally) it is important to take that step back, have patience, and appreciate what others have done. It is hard, nay, fairly impossible to reflect Christ's love while harboring a vengeance or anger in your own heart. 

I am an extremely sensitive person. When someone says anything negative I reflect it 200 fold back on a view of my own worth. I know that this is wrong on so many levels. The only one who can measure or reflect my worth is God. So, why do I let worldly people and worldly events take such hold on me and make me feel so inferior to what I should feel as a child of God. This is the demon that I bear. Each of us has a way that the devil has found to worm into our hearts and souls. This is mine. So, patience. I can not be bold for Christ and live without abandon if I am constantly feeling as though I am not good enough or that I am letting the world down. It is not up to me to carry the weight of the world bit is not even up to me to care what others think of me. The only opinion that matters is God's.

So, what does all of this mean and how does it get us back to patience. Well, when someone says something that I feel is immediately hurtful or something that is a slight against me personally or someone I love, I need to bear patience and take that step back to realize and understand that this is not personal. This is my demon fighting to regain control of my life. The play of my emotions making me want to scream and shout and cry and hide all at the same time, that is my demon. God doesn't want me to feel this way. No, God wants me to be empowered and to be bold and to be fierce with His works. So, that is what I shall do. 


What a simple word for such a hard task. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Be Bold: Luke 18:27

"But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”" (NKJV) 
"But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”" (ESV) 
“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”" (MSG)
Continuing on the theme of this week, we are discussing what is possible when we simply ask God for His help.  Yesterday we discussed easy times verses the more difficult times. It is in those more difficult times when the work of God is seen more clearly in those who give their works over to God. It is those that try to handle the situations for themselves that have more difficulty.

In those times where we think "There is no way I can handle this" what we should be saying is "God, please help me by handling this." One thing that I often muse at is when people say "God won't give you more than you can handle". This is so often quoted as if it is from the Bible. I believe that honestly, most people do believe that this is truthfully in the Bible. It isn't. In fact, this is 100% contradictory to what the Bible says.

The theme and prose of the Bible actually says, God often gives you more than you can handle." What? How is this consistent with a loving and gracious God that wants us to succeed in life. It is in actuality that God gives us more than we can handle so that we turn to Him. These trials are often the times when people most doubt God or His love for us. Instead, it is these times when God is trying to get our attention. He is begging us to turn to Him and to give our worries over to Him. We need to realize our inability to handle the situations and immediately fall to our knees to His glory.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Be Bold: Philippians 4:19

"And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (ASV) 
"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (NKJV) 
"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." (NLT)
As I sit in write I am reminded of all of the times before I was saved that God was still at work in my life. There are so many things that I believed to be coincidence or fate or just a work of the world that I now see was God. I was so loved by my God before I even acknowledged Him or His Son. Don't get me wrong, I loved God and I knew of Him and His great works. I had yet to delve in to a relationship with Him though. Once I was able to boldly and humbly stand before Him in His throne room and announce that I am His child, my world completely changed on end.

I see now as I am a child of God how great it is that He is able to provide everything that we need. In that same way as I discussed in yesterday's post, God has more to give then we could ever need. He is definitely able to provide more than we will ever know to ask for Him to provide.

When things are going well and when things are easily manageable within our means, it is easy to forget that God is still at work. Do we think that life is really that easy? No it is God playing out His work and His plan constantly through the Holy Spirit which is dwelling inside of all of us. It is the times that are more difficult that we need to rely on the greatness of God's overflowing glory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Be Bold: 2 Corinthians 9:8

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." (ESV) 
"And God is able to give you more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause." (GNT) 
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." (NKJV)
 I am not able. I am not good enough. I am not worthy. These are the thoughts that are placed in your head by the devil when an opportunity is presented to you or when God opens a door to you. I hear these phrases all of the time. They come from so many different sources. I know that my own head is the greatest of all these sources; however, they also come from external outlets such as media, people, and society as a while. When I feel unable or not good enough, I began doubting everything about myself and my situation.

God sees this spiral down the rabbit hole as we all begin to doubt and questions and drive ourselves crazy. That is why He reassures us with this verse. Paul writes to the Corinthians to assure them that when they have these same feelings and begin their own spiral, that God is able and will provide.

The Good News Translation is a wonderful example of God's graciousness. I love the way that the translation begins with "God is able to give you more than you need". This is a wonderful reassurance that we can ask God for whatever it is that we may need because He has infinitely greater than we will ever need. We should not be embarrassed or nervous about asking God for the things that we need. God is a never ending pool of love, support, and care.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Be Bold: 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (NKJV)

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (NLT)

"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (ESV)

This entire series is about learning not to fear and to be bold and to live without abandon. It is amazing to me that I am sitting here running through Bible verse after Bible verse teaching us not to fear and teaching us to live through God for our boldness in His great commission and yet, as Paul tells Timothy in this second letter, God did not give us the spirit of fear. What? We do not even have the spirit or means to Fear? Then what is the point of this entire exercise? I have already run through 8 previous posts and have begun research on hundreds more, so if God did not give us the spirit of fear, then why did He devote so much of His word to this topic?

Fear is one of the devil's greatest weapons that he uses to lure us away from our ever loving God. What a wonderful weapon he yields. All he has to do is tell us to fear what lies ahead, fear what lies behind, and fear what lies within us. God, however, tells us that this is not only not necessary, but it is not in our nature. Instead of fear, we should replace this feeling with power, love, sound mind, self-discipline, and self-control.

What an extremely loaded verse! The virtues that God fills us with are such amazing and powerful feelings.
Power - Power is a feeling of self-empowerment and boldness! This is a feeling that is bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit living within our very souls. Power does not reference worldly power as we know it. It is not authority over others but rather authority over our selves.
Love - Love is such a broad word in the Bible. There are so many kinds of love, including brotherly love and intimate love through Christ. Honestly, since I am not a biblical scholar and do not read Greek, I like to read this verse to mean all love. We should fill ourselves with all different types of love for others, for self, and for God.
Sound Mind - The NKJV translated the final virtue in to sound mind. I see this virtue as a a reflection of our saved soul. If we are filled with empowerment and love then we must also ground these feelings in a solid and wholesome and God loving cleansed heart. We cleanse our heart through the power of the Holy Spirit when we accept God in to our hearts.

Therefore, stamp out the devil's power of fear and instead fill your God loving and wholesome heart with empowered love for yourself and an even stronger power and love for God.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Be Bold: Hebrews 13:5

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (KJV)

"Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (MSG)

This series is about living boldly and without abandon, so you may ask, what on earth is this verse doing here? It neither says "do not fear" nor does it speak about being bold. Well, here is where I disagree. Being relaxed in what you have and trusting in the Lord is a very respectable and very honorable form of boldness. To be honest, I have had trouble finding the ambition and the drive to write. As I write today it feels as though it is an obligation. An obligation? To who? I am writing this for my study of the Bible and my own journey. It is an obligation to myself and an obligation to my Lord. I feel as though there is a fine line between obsession and conviction. I am not obsessed with writing the blog, but instead I am convicted to read and internalize my Lord's word.

This is also a verse to spark our fire. How can we be bold if we fear our earthly lives and our earthly reputation? Instead, we see here that God says, He will never leave us, He will never let us down, He will never forsake us, He will never walk away. This should give us the confidence to follow Him and to charge forth without abandon! No matter how hard or how many times we stumble and fall on our faces and make fools of ourselves, God is with us. This should give us the courage.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Be Bold: Matthew 6:34

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (NIV) 
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (NKJV) 
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (ESV)
Anxiety about the unknown is something that has plagued me my entire life. What will happen tomorrow? If I do this and someone sees it in 2 weeks what will they think? For so long, this has given me major anxiety. In this verse, God reassures us that there is no need to worry. There is enough worry and stress in the world to be borrowing problems.

Growing up, my mom would always tell me "No need to borrow problems." I now see the wisdom of this sound advice. What does it mean to borrow a problem? What it means is that you begin spinning your own versions of the future. Can you know the future? No, only God is aware of the future and so, we should just allow the world to happen an approach each anxiety, fear, and trouble on our knees with God. If we sit with humble abandon, then the worries of today will dissipate into the memories of yesterday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Be Bold: Deuteronomy 1:21

"See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (ESV)

"Look! The Lord your God has given the land that lies before you. Go and possess it, just as the Lord God of your ancestors commanded you. Don’t be afraid or discouraged." (ISV)

"Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged." (NKJV)

 I thought it would be interesting to continue through Deuteronomy 1 as the subject of not fearing or being bold comes up a few more time. Only a few verses after yesterday's verse, we have another command from God telling us not to fear. Here we see how faithful and consistent that God truly is. God has made promises and God has fulfilled those promises. That is all well in good in those Old Testament times when God was ever presence, but what about in 2015 when no one has seen a vision of a God as a burning bush or heard his voice booming from the sky? Is there a difference.

It is hard for me, and I suspect others, to read through the Old Testament and read the glorious stories of the prophets having these miraculous revelations and experiences in which God is so present and so forthright. Then, we look around in the present day and we haven't seen those type of experiences. Is that true though, or are we just less likely to believe them. Do we just call those people crazy? Do we just tell those people that they are making excuses for radical behavior? I think that is the case.

We see time after time the repetitive stories of God's faithfulness, so why would we believe that it was any different now? It reminds me of the song Do Something by Matthew West. God is still here with us in 2015, but are we listening? Are we following? Are we obeying?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Be Bold: Deuteronomy 1:17

"and impartial in your judgments. Hear the cases of those who are poor as well as those who are rich. Don’t be afraid of anyone’s anger, for the decision you make is God’s decision. Bring me any cases that are too difficult for you, and I will handle them." (NIV)

"You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it." (NKJV)

"You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it." (ESV)

Fear as an equivalent to intimidation. That is an extremely interesting concept. This is one reason that I love to examine bible verses from different translations. There are times when I listen to Bible studies or to other informative information and they discuss the original Greek. I find that information so interesting and I would love to be well versed in the Bible and in Greek to know how to do all of this. But, I assume like many people, I do not have the means or the skill or the time to translate every word of the Bible and look up everything in the concordance. So, I work to be able better understand by examining my favorite verses or study verses in different translations. 

Today's verse is a great example of how looking at different translations can be helpful and informative. There are three distinctly different commands here from Jesus. On is that we shall not be afraid of anyone's anger. This really resonates in relation to yesterday's post. When breathing and discussing the joy of Jesus Christ with others, it is likely that it will invoke others to be angry. Many people have chosen to live in the world and to embrace lifestyles contrary to the lifestyle I promote, praise, and live myself by the command of God and Jesus my savior. However, we can not be afraid of the anger that will be provoked. 

In the next translation, Jesus commands that we shall not be afraid in the presence of any man for judgement is God's.  This is a stronger command that discusses judgement rather than decisions. A decision is something that I make for myself. Judgement can have two definitions. In one it is my personal ability to make a sound decision. The other is a legalistic view of punishment or decision regarding another person. In this verse I believe God is talking about my personal ability to make sound decisions. This is important in that it takes the step farther than simply making a decision to making a sound decision based in God's word. It means that I don't have to take responsibility or stress for that sound decision making when I follow God, for God has already grounded the decision in sound judgment, I must only listen and follow. 

The other translation says that I shall not be intimidated by anyone. This is the translation that I take most to heart; however, it builds upon what I have learned from the other translations thus far. I believe that in making sound judgment on how I live my life is important. Not being afraid of professing that belief grounded in God's decisions in judgment is even more important. Personally, however, I find myself being bullied or being afraid of others opinions of me or my professed beliefs. Therefore, God telling me to not be intimidated gives me an extra strength to be able to go where God leads and to be strong enough to verbally and morally and physically live that every single day. 

Isn't it amazing how much one verse in three translations can speak to us? 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Be Bold: Acts 18:9

"Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent" (NKJV) 
"And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent" (ESV) 
"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!" (NLT)

For most of my life I was a shy and somewhat silent person. I was in theater and debate and I had a voice. I was taught by my parents to be strong and to stand up for myself. So, do not mistake my saying I was silent for me having no voice or being meek. That is far from the truth. I didn't, however, like to be the center of attention. I did not want to be noticed. I wanted to be behind the scenes orchestrating everyone else's good time. I think that is why I went in to event planning in college and then in to student activities in Grad School. I enjoy seeing other people enjoy. 

Because of this, it has been extremely hard for me to understand God's commission to go and to pronounce His word. I love my Lord God and I am so thankful for the way that He has redirected not only my life but my husband's life and the lives of those around us. I want others to feel His love and kindness and patience. How then do I read through Acts 18:9 and not get a pit in my stomach. The only way people will know about the love of God is  to hear about it. I would so much rather crawl under a stump and believe that someone else will tell the world about God and I can just help setup the meetings. But that isn't God's commission, is it? 

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus makes it very clear: "Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NLT). 

This is where Acts 18:9 is meant for encouragement and strength. Don't be afraid. Why do I not like to speak out. Fear. Fear of what? Of, it could be so many things. I do not need to pay heed to that fear though. I need to speak boldly and know that God will use me for this commission in the best way for His kingdom. It is not up to Me. I gave away my right to be scared of speaking for God the day I gave Him my life. Does this mean it will all of a sudden be miraculously easy, absolutely NOT! We have already seen the pain that Paul went through. I know that there is pain awaiting this commission, but it is all aimed toward the goodness and gloriousness that is awaiting me in my next life. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Be Bold: 2 Chronicles 20:15

"And he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's." (NIV)
When you are engaged in battle it can be hard to take your eyes off of the enemy. In the 21st century our battles can be extremely diverse. Most likely, we do not fight battles in the way the King Jehoshaphat did. At least, I know that I do not face an army marching at my door. Instead, our battles can be within ourselves, among our peers or coworkers, or even within cyberspace. 

Recently I have seen these cyberspace battles among Christians and unbelievers. Good Christians engage in a battle for God. They become so intent on bein right and on proving the unbeliever wrong, that their battle becomes more about them than about God. Where is Gods love and mercy in these conversations? Do I believe that as Christians we need to fight for the Christian way of life? Absolutely! However, it often becomes more about the fight. 

We can't forget that Jesus did not walk among "yes men". He lived among thieves, prostitutes, unwed mothers, and other people living lives a "Good Christian" would consider a life of disrepute. Jesus did not condemn these people. Instead, he loved on them and used a gentle hand to show them His light. Even as Jesus walked among mankind, The choice to believe was put I. To the hands of each person. As Christians, we are called to the Great Comis├čion; however that commission is to spread the light of Jesus through our kind acts and through loving on people. The people who need His light will see the Light shining from us as we love on them. We ,just be available for those choosing to commit their lives to Him so that we may assist in their path.

In the same way God helped in the true battles of the Old Testament, God is in us every time we act and love on a person. Therefore, we must let God guide the conversation and allow each person to choose the Light due to the wonderful way that we are examples of Jesus' love. No conversation should contain condemnation or hatred. I am not saying that we should sugar coat the Bible and glaze over the harder and more negative aspects of eternal separation from God. No, we must accurately portray Gods word; however it should be done with care and concern and not judgeme to or self-righteousness. That is not our job. The battle is God's, we are mearly a vessel for the Light of His love.