Courage

After wandering around for 40 years in a primitive wasteland, where God provided both food and water when none could be found otherwise, the chosen Hebrew nation was at their defining moment once again.  As a people group, they could decide once and for all to live as God called them to live, in a Promised Land… or they could reject the words of God, and wander in the wasteland forever.  Their leader, Joshua (not Moses at this point), said to them:

Joshua 1:7  Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

The people chose to listen and heed these words, at least for a period of time, and God blessed them greatly… as long as they did.  The law of God was the equivalent of God’s divine voice, given through Moses, as the instruction manual for maintaining the covenant relationship God had established with them.  When they began abandoning these words, things turned against them.  When they returned in repentance to God, seeking forgiveness and restoration, heeding once again His instruction manual, God reconciled with them and began blessing them once again.

By the time Jesus arrived in Galilee and Judea hundreds and hundreds of years later, the words of Moses and the law of God was so misconstrued that few of the leaders, and most of the people, looked very little like the trusting Hebrew nation that came out of the wilderness.

They needed a new word from God.  They needed a new covenant.  So God (the Son) left heaven to come and reconcile all mankind, not just the Hebrew nation, back to Himself.  He spoke the divine voice of God again, with new instructions about a new covenant.  His authority was established in mighty ways, through signs and miracles, through which He demonstrated His authority, control and presence as “God with us.” (Immanuel)

One night as the disciples were crossing the sea of Galilee, a storm threatened to sink their boat, and in the process they would all die in the depths of the raging waters.  But then, suddenly, out of nowhere, Jesus comes walking to them on the waves.  They cower in fear, thinking they see a ghost.  Now hear the words of Jesus, to these fearful expert fishermen:

Matthew 14:27
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Courage then, from the Old Testament and the New Testament, could be defined as the RESULT of faith in action, placed in the divine voice of God, instructing us to NOT BE AFRAID.

Not so easy to do in this world today is it?

Not when those given the task to protect us… allow innocent lives to be taken, when it could so easily have been averted.

Not when those given the task to rule and lead us… constantly politicize the event rather than deal with the real issue of accountability of the humans involved.

Not when the society we live in constantly belittles and condemns our leaders who have the courage to stand for their faith in God, and vocalize it publicly.

But here’s the thing…

Neither God the Father in the Old Testament, nor Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the New testament… said it would be easy.  Remember what they did say…

“Be strong and very courageous…!”
“Take courage… it is I; do not be afraid!”

Think of it this way…

It is not courage, if it is easy.
It is not courage, if you are not in danger.
It is not courage, if the core of your faith is not challenged in any way.
It is not courage, when you say, or do, or think… like everyone else.

Courage is living out your faith in Jesus…
Living as He lived, by yielding every moment of every day, to the glory of God the Father.

What does courage look like… for you?

 

 

Courage

Mnemonic

An easy definition for mnemonic is:  “a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.”

I saw this “Word of the Day” prompt, and immediately thought this is something missing in so many Christ-followers today.  Somehow we’ve forgotten some of the most important things designed to keep our daily relationship with Jesus fresh.  However, there is a simple mnemonic I learned years ago which I still use often these days to refocus my mind on the major elements of my faith.

When I’ve taught folks as new believers how to pray Biblically, I’ve these letters:  A.C.T.S. It goes like this…

A= adoration

All too often the first thing out of our mouths/minds towards God’s throne in heaven is, “help” or “could you please…?”  While God is interested in hearing our heart-felt cries for help, the fact that we begin our prayers this way is telling us something.  Maybe we haven’t quite figured out what our relationship with God entails.  We serve the God of the universe who has all authority, is in control of everything, and has promised us His eternal presence here and now in our lives today, not just in heaven when we get there.

Knowing this about God should generate a more appropriate response of adoration, and a desire to bring God glory with the praise of our lips.  We should exalt Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do in the future to glorify Himself in Jesus Christ, and in us.  Seeing and knowing God these ways should result in a specific response.

C = confession

What a realistic view of God usually does for the true Christ-follower is very humbling.  Like the apostle Peter in the boat when he realized Jesus was the true Messiah, Peter basically shouted “get away from me Lord, I’m a sinner!”  Acknowledging our failures and sins before our Savior, and feeling the need to run and hide, is the very point at which Jesus pulls us into Himself.  With fabulous forgiveness and glorious grace multiplied daily by our confession, we continue to walk in His spirit, bringing light and salt into the world around us.  It also generates another response.

T = thanksgiving

The basic difference between adoration and thanksgiving is the understanding between God’s nature and God’s actions.  We adore Him because He is God, and deserves to be glorified, exalted and adored.  We offer our thanksgiving for how He acts toward us, and the world. The best and easiest way to do this is found in the old hymn “Count your blessings.”  This song is not to be confused with the famous “White Christmas” song, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.”  That’s a great song, but has a totally different meaning.  The one I’m referring to goes like this…

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

And finally, after we’ve adored God’s nature and character, confessed our sins before Him, and offered our many thanks for all God has done, we’re prepared, in humbleness to approach the throne of Grace with…

S = supplication

I realize this is a word not many 21st century believers are even familiar with.  So, again, a little definition.  Supplication: the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.  Perhaps the keys words in this definition are “earnestly or humbly.”  Too many people I know, start their prayers here, and in their voices all I hear is “God, look at all I’ve done for you… you owe me this.”  They approach the throne of grace without knowing who God is (Adoration), knowing who they are (sinners), or with a grateful heart for how God has blessed them in the past (thanksgiving).  They just jump right in, as though God is some cosmic slot machine, they throw up their many requests, and pull the handle (“in Jesus name”) and expect God to deliver whatever it is they want.

I’m pretty sure it saddens God’s heart when lost people do this.  I’m convinced it grieves God’s heart gravely when He hears His own children act in this unbecoming way.

If you want to turn around the relationship you have with God in Christ, to be the living, vibrant life you truly desire spiritually, and Jesus described as “life more abundant”, then fill you prayers daily with:   A.C.T.S.

Remember: who God is, who you are, all your blessings, then make your petitions…

The results will astound you.

 

Mnemonic

Enroll: choosing to sign up

Here’s a poem I wrote three years ago, published as a newspaper article.

“One of these days,” the old saying goes, that infamous trite, of favor and woes,
“I’ll this or I’ll that,” whether it’s my “ship will come in” or “I’ll get rid of this fat!”
January comes, and February follows, then slowly but surely the promises hollow.
The doldrums return, the vision almost lost, humans fail to see the infinite cost.

“He’s a man of his word,” an interesting phrase, the sum of his actions, given in praise.
Just think were it true of the many, not the few, would peace, love, and harmony ensue?Most people aren’t, because words are just cheap, good intentions to be burned on the rubbish heap.
The thing left undone, lies rotting and wasting, a carcass of words, for the scavenger’s tasting.

“I’ll get around to it” oh, certainly you will, the timing’s the thing, like cash in a till.
Good intentions aside, it’s action He seeks, not tomorrow, the next day, or even next week.
Now is the time, what prevents such a thought? Time itself cannot be borrowed or bought.
Words, words, words, words, spoken and unheeded, the fallow field left unseeded.

“The crux of the matter”, the truth yet untold, most flounder and flutter, and the promises get old.
Transformation is required for most human wills so not to be caught in a broken-promise swill.
Transformation cannot be learned and taught, yet in such knowledge life can be fought.
Winning battle after battle against mediocre living, action in life given, and keeps on giving.

To whom does one go for this transforming power, the life-giving knowledge kept in high tower?
Only one source exists which answers these needs, found only in One man’s words, and His deeds.
“The crux” in fact is the cross of our Christ, without which the enemy achieves a great heist.
To steal the will and soul of man, is his singular focus, his ultimate plan.

“The Old Rugged Cross,” through thousands of years, still now is the resource dispelling our fears.
The man who hung there, with transforming power, now offers a reason no longer to cower.
A trade so simple a child can engage, an action so strong no enemy can upstage.
Invitation to transformation, take it fully in stride, change words into action no darkness can hide.

But a heartbeat away, a choice from inside, to engage the Creator, in His arms you’ll reside.
Do it now, no waiting, no hemming and hawing, do not hesitate, no time now for fawning.
For darkness increases, it’s almost over, even now skies wilt, and there’s no more clover.
Grains of sand draining away, holds time itself in absolute sway.

One choice remains, trust Him completely, rely on His grace, His forgiveness implicitly.
These actions alone, and no other words, will secure eternal life only He affords.
Call on His name, rely on His word, and “one of these days,” will be yours in the Lord.
“He’s a man of His word,” trust it for sure, life which He gives is the life that endures.

 

 

Enroll

Profuse

At times I become so passionate about the message, that I go way over the top trying to make a point.  In an extravagant, gushy way, I over-speak, or over-teach, because I want to make sure I get through to my listeners or readers.  Recently I’ve discovered, sometimes less is more.  Like when Jesus asked the simple question of his listeners:

Luke 6:46 – “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

So, in the interest of brevity, I want to challenge those today, who feel the discord and division of our political climate, and the social consequences of these problems.  The conservative minds, the evangelical minds across our country, need to listen closely to the words of Jesus and not get caught up in the hate-mongering, judging, critical rhetoric coming from antagonists stirring the pot.

Luke 6:27-28  – “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Those who are blind, but think they see; those who see themselves wise, but are merely self-deluded by their own agendas; those who would mock us, belittle us, or worse silence us… are the very ones some would call enemies… and the very ones who need our prayers most.

So, Christian… true Christ-follower… I call on you today to love those who hate you, bless those who curse and mock you… but mostly pray for those who want to silence you.

Father, this person will never understand how much they have hurt me, until you give them sight and understanding. My prayer for them, is for You to bring light and life into their heart and mind. In coming to know you, help them to be transformed by your power. And help me to love them as You do, as though this has already happened.”

I call out to the persecuted, the hated, the judged, the condemned… for all those who are the “underbelly of America” because you want to trust God instead of politicians to rule across our land.  I call out to you to pray.  Pray for our President, our elected officials of both parties, our judges, our military leaders and soldiers, our governors, our mayors, our town councils, our police and first responders… pray for the person who disagrees with you most about Truth… pray that God will transform our country into a nation state that brings Him great glory.

Luke 6:46 – “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Profuse