The Command: Do Not Be Afraid

I command you…be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

As I read the Scripture, I see little room for the follower of Christ to be afraid (except for the fear of God).

Perplexed; yes. Confused; sometimes. Overwhelmed; often. Angry; when necessary. Distressed; possibly.

Yes, I fully agree, just the fact that the command is there does not mean we will always follow it. Quite the contrary; I have been afraid many times. I fight the worry battle like all the rest. Wasn’t it David, the man after God’s own heart, who said that “when I am afraid, I will trust in you”? Sounds like he may have struggled with fear also.

Still, the Bible is consistent, and it consistently reminds us not to allow fear to captivate our lives. Obviously, when God first gave this command to Joshua, being an all knowing God, He knew that Joshua was about to encounter some pretty scary days. No doubt the enemies of Joshua had ample opportunity to attempt to make him squirm.

Today God knows there will be times that cause fear to be our primary emotion. He sees the trouble before it comes. It was He who MADE the disciples get into the boat and face the raging sea. It is He who allows the storms in our lives to come.

God knows there is plenty in life to make us afraid. Still, the challenge remains, and the command remains to not be afraid! And, in those moments, God know we will need to rely on His strength being perfect when our strength is none.

How are you doing these days obeying the command of God to not be afraid?

Call on the Lord today and ask Him to help you overcome your fears!

Getting Gut Honest with God

I love the story in Judges 6 where God called Gideon to save the Israelites from the land of Midian. Gideon was the weakest of his clan from the weakest clan, yet God chose to use him for a powerful leadership role for God’s people. You might read the story again HERE.

Consider a small part of Gideon’s conversation with angel of the Lord:

(I’ve embellished the story a bit to illustrate the way I view the story. My embellishment is in parenthesis.)

“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor”

“Well, please sir…(I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but) if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? …

…And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us…”

Imagine the scene. An angel shows up, which was usually a pretty scary part of the story, but instead of reacting in surprise, Gideon respectfully questions where God has been lately. He’s not disrespectful, but he is gut honest with the concerns he has with God.

Do you ever wonder where God is when life seems to be falling apart?

Do you ever question God’s involvement when He seems to be nowhere around?

Do you ever think things may never improve?

Gideon had those type questions, and he didn’t cover them up with phony praise, he let his concerns be known.

Yet God’s angel didn’t curse Gideon. Instead, God used Gideon, in spite of his doubts and fears.

“The Lord said to him, but I will be with you…” Judges 6:16 God simply pointed Gideon back to the faith he originally had in Him. That was not the end of Gideon’s fear or questioning, but it was the beginning of his journey back to complete faith.

Perhaps instead of continuing in our own doubts and fears, you and I should get gut honest with God. Maybe we should tell Him how we really feel. I’m not suggesting we become flippant towards a Holy God. That’s never a good idea. I’m suggesting we be honest with the God who already knows our heart and allow Him to restore our faith and strengthen us for the journey ahead. That often begins when we become real with God with who we are, who we are not, and who He is.

God uses people who are willing to humbly surrender their insufficiencies; their doubts and fears, to His sufficiency.

By the way, He knows your heart because He made your heart.

How are you at being honest with God?

4 Activities for When Life is Uncertain

What do you do when life is uncertain?

Trust – God has a plan even when you can’t discern it. Faith is being certain when life is uncertain; believing when you cannot see. It’s much harder to worry when you are trusting. Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5, Jeremiah 17:7

Pray – Ask God for discernment and clarity, but also for patience. Keep talking and listening. Jeremiah 29:12, Mark 14:38, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Wait – God will reveal Himself in due time. Our job is to be still. Psalm 27:14, Psalm 46:10

Act – Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means acting on only what you’ve been given instructions to do. That’s usually plenty to keep us busy. 1 Kings 2:6a, Isaiah 52:13, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Colossians 3:23

Are you in a time of uncertainty?

Which of these is proving most difficult for you right now?

Which do you most need to do?

5 Questions to Discern God’s Will

I am often asked how to know if the plans we make are God’s will for our life. This is a common concern. Most of us want to do God’s will, but God seems to give us a tremendous amount of freedom. If you’re like me, you’re fully capable of making a mistake. I’ve made many.

Here are 5 Questions I often ask myself to help discern God’s will:

Does what I’m doing (or planning to do) conflict with Scripture?
God’s will never will. God is always true to Himself and His Word is the best place to start. We may differ in interpretation of a passage, but if it’s clearly spelled out in Scripture, then we clearly know His will.

Does what I am doing conflict with the counsel of others?
God uses others to confirm His will. I am thankful for the people in my life, including my wife and sons, who have helped shaped the path of my life. Often they see things I can see or believe in me when I can’t believe in myself. God sends the body of Christ to encourage, challenge and strengthen the body. (Don’t be confused, however, with times God calls us to go against the grain of life and walk by faith when everyone is saying we are crazy. See Noah about that one.)

Does what I am doing conflict with the spirit within me?
God sent the Holy Spirit as a helper. He guides us with an inner peace or a holy unrest. If Christ is in you, He will not leave you to make a decision completely alone. Often God provides a peace or a lack thereof when He is trying to confirm His will.

Does what I am doing conflict with my life experience?
God uses our experiences in life to teach and mold us to His will. Often it isn’t as unusual of a path when we look back over our life experiences. Again, don’t be confused, because He usually stretches us out of our comfort zone also.

Does what I am doing conflict with my passion for life?
God tends to work with the things that fuel our fire. He loves when we are energized for the tasks He calls us to. When I look at Bible characters like Joseph, David, the disciples, Abraham or Paul it appears their calling matched their wiring. Paul was zealous for whatever he did. God used that passion for good. What’s your passion? God may work within it to confirm His will.

Try those 5 questions together and see how they line up to help discern God’s will as it relates with your plans.

Here’s some good news.

I fully believe God works all things for good even when we miss His will in individual decisions. You can make a bad decision, but God retains the right to finish your story His way. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Do you ever struggle as to whether your plans are God’s will? Tell me your current situation and I’ll pray with you.

You may want to read 7 Ways to Distinguish God’s Voice from the Circumstances of Life

Share Your Favorite Bible Verse

I have a hard time saying something is my “favorite” of anything, but perhaps especially a Bible verse. There are so many.

What about you?

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

What if we shared some of our favorites with each other? It could be an encouragement.

I’ll go first. As I said, not sure I can land on just one, but here is certainly one of my favorites:

There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1

Now your turn.

The Trees of the Lord Flourish

The trees of the Lord flourish…

I was reading the sixteenth verse in Psalm 104 recently and this phrase appeared to jump off the page at me.

The trees of the Lord flourish…

I was reminded:

Whatever the Lord touches…

Whatever God decides to do…

Wherever God places His stamp of approval…

Whatever God chooses to bless…

Whatever God builds…

Wherever God dwells…

Whatever God plants…

F L O U R I S H E S

God is God and there is no other.

Are you looking for success in life? Are you chasing a dream?

The trees of the Lord flourish…

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

10 Lies Women Believe

Recently I posted 10 Lies Men Believe. As expected, whenever I post about men the women ask when I’m doing a companion post. Several women said they often believe the same lies as the men. I don’t doubt that. Some men will believe some of the lies in this list also.

Let me make this clear. I am not a woman. If you weren’t sure, now you know. 🙂

In my role as a pastor and counselor, however, I have observed the differences in men and women for years. It does appear to me that the most common lies we believe…at least the ones the enemy uses against us most often…are often different. Again, these are by observation only.

Here are 10 lies women often believe:

I will never let someone hurt me again

I can depend on this guy to meet all my needs

I think everyone is talking about me

I’m not as beautiful as she is

I can’t do that even if I try

I must do ________, so I’ll be loved

I won’t let it hurt my feelings

I’m not good enough for him

I’ll never recover from that mistake

I know this guy would never disappoint me

I continually encounter women who have been emotionally injured or heart-crippled, because they are believing lies fed by the world, broken dreams or misplaced full devotion. The only way out of a lie is with truth. You might begin by reading Psalm 139:14, Jeremiah 31:3, 1 John 4:8, 1 Samuel 16:7 or Proverbs 31:30.

But, since I’m not a woman…

What do you think? What other lies do women believe? Perhaps some women will educate me now 🙂

10 Lies Men Believe

I sat with a man recently. He’s lost his job, can’t find another and it’s having an impact on his marriage. I quickly diagnosed his real problem. Not that I’m an expert in diagnosing problems, but I’ve seen this one many times and his language made it clear.

He said things like, “I used to be able to…” and “I don’t think I’ll ever…”. It seemed clear to me, so I took a chance and told him my theory. He was believing a lie.

If you’re a man, at some point, you’ve probably believed one of these lies:

I will fail if I try

I don’t measure up

I am not as good as he is

I don’t have what it takes

I can’t win

I can do this and no one will know

I can’t be honest about that

I’m the only one who has ever struggled with this

I can’t recover from that

I can’t be the spiritual leader of my home

If you’ve been hit with a setback, if you are licking your wounds from a failure, if you simply can’t find your way right now, you may be allowing the enemy, the world or your own mind to feed you some lies.

One way out of the “funk” may be to insert some truth into your life. (Look up these verses as a start: Philippians 4:13, Joshua 1:9, 1 John 4:4, Psalm 121:1.)

Which of the above lies are you currently believing?

You might also read the companion post, 10 Lies Women Believe.