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Be Courageous - A Devotion

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I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

Who doesn’t want to live life fearlessly? Boldly charging through life in complete control in a life dominated by success and prosperity. No one is born with the heartfelt desire to live in fear and discouragement. Children want to be doctors, firemen, police officers, and every other powerful or successful role model that they can imagine. We have five amazing children. While the boys were raised to be men and conquer the world, our daughters have been brought up to be powerful princesses (Lord, please help their future husbands). Hope is the inner desire for the unseen to become a reality. A child playing in the hose on a hot summer day pretends to put out fires but until they become an adult maturing developmentally, acquire the proper education that promotes mental maturity and apply at the local firehouse to gain experience, they are not a fireman or woman. The little people with great imagination unhindered by doubt or bound by fear will step boldly from childhood fancy to adult completion one day. The problem is too many of those children are being led astray. They have no confidence in themselves or their own ability to overcome their circumstances. This is fostered by parents without faith in anything but what they can see, feel and touch shutting the door on the unseen hope that the Lord is offering them. Your life doesn’t have to be cautious – you were called to be courageous. God placed faith inside of you so that it would become confident hope that never leads to disappointment. (Romans 5:5) He created you with Eternity in your heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so that you would continue to try to get more out of this life until you discover the future and hope that He planned for you, provided for, and promotes to the fulfillment and satisfaction of inner purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11) Courage is the confidence to act in accordance with what we believe. If all that we believe is culminated in this life, then fear certainly is relative because we will die. But for those who take their faith and decide to invest it in the Love of God, hope will begin to grow. Now your life is filled with endless possibilities and nothing will be impossible because you believe. (Matthew 17:20; Luke 1:37)

I John 4:16-18 (NLT)
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

How does one find courage in a lost and dying world? It is a place filled with corruption and betrayal where love has most certainly grown cold even in the church. Sin is rampant. The message of grace so convoluted that it has become agreeable with sin, erased the image of the Cross, and finds the Blood of Christ offensive albeit unnecessary. Have we forgotten just how much God loves us? Do we know His Love at all anymore? How can we put our trust in a God that we do not know and a Savior whose sacrifice is being ignored? God loves us. We can put all of our trust in His Love. God IS love. God lives in us so that we can live in His Love and express His Love in this world. Who has the courage to do so? Who will tell others about a God who loves us when they do not know and understand its true potential personally and intimately? I cannot tell you exactly what God will do in your life if you trust Him, but I can tell you this – I know that He loves me. I didn’t always know the Love of God even as a so-called Christian who called on Jesus to be saved but had no idea what to do next. Rather than allowing love to expel all fear from my life, I allowed it to be transferred from this world to God. That’s right. When I believe that God withholds His Goodness from me in disobedience or that He gets mad at me when I sin, I acknowledge that I do not know or fully understand God’s Amazing Love or His Great Grace. God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of love, power and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6-7) We are no longer to live as fearful slaves (Romans 8:14-16) who must sin, but as Children of God free from sin and empowered by His Spirit to be boldly confident in the hope that is found in His Love, Power and Self-Discipline. God is Love. Jesus gave us His Power. The Spirit leads us from our old life into a brand new fearless existence. We just have to be courageous.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is the source of hope. There is nothing outside of this world but the Love of God reserved for His People. There is no greater aspiration or power in the universe. Those who discover God’s Love open a portal of joy and peace because the Spirit of God completes them. Suddenly, faith begins to grow and develop into confident hope. Fear is removed and doubt with it. As our soul prospers (3 John 1:2) so does our life, we finally find satisfaction that allows us to grow patient learning to endure as the Lord perfects that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) Hope reminds us that His Plan is good containing a future and hope well worth waiting for so that is what we do. Christ gives us confidence that what we hope for will be a reality. (Hebrews 3:6) His Spirit is our guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:22) Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen. (Hebrews 11:1) Courageous people do not fear that faith will let them down, hope is not real or that the Word of God will not accomplish what it set out to do. The Power of the Holy Spirit which is God living and breathing within us gives mankind courage to live apart from fear in confident hope.

Psalm 27:11-14 (NLT)
Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

There is a term in the fitness realm called “skinny fat”. It means to look thin but have absolutely no muscle mass (or tone) in your body. While the world thinks thin is in, they ignore the benefits and longevity of developing a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise. Many would rather be skinny and deprive their body of proper nutrition rather than investing the time, energy and effort necessary to change their lifestyle for better health. As long as they look good in their clothing, they do not care what is going on underneath or even deeper in their body. I believe that there are a lot of so-called believers living the very same way. If their life looks good to the world, they are not as concerned with what is going on inside of them. Hope is the product of faith development and prosperity (which is maturity). We have no confidence because we have no faith. For many years, I was “skinny fat” physically. Dieting would shed the unwanted pounds but I had no strength in my body. I had no confidence either. I was always trying to hide behind clothes and makeup so no one would see my worn-out body (five pregnancies will do that to you) and flabby physique. I would mock those who tried to be physically fit calling it a waste of time. When my body began to show the signs of emotional abuse following two years of fighting cancer with our son and my mind was too busy to sleep, I decided that it was time to make an example of my flesh. So armed with praise and worship music and ready for a change, I hit the gym. Working on my mind, soul and body, I am no longer skinny or fat. I am healthy because my body is finally working together. Our faith has the potential to become confident hope – it also requires a lifestyle change. We must change our diet, incorporate exercise and change our routine. Now you are not only battling your flesh but the enemy of your soul who wants to steal, kill and destroy your faith and hope before it makes a difference in your life. Sin creates distance between us and God which also gives the enemy an unfair advantage. (Psalm 40:12) it is time to take back our mind, take back our body and take back our soul to give it all back to Jesus Christ. It is not as hard as you think, it begins with this thought God loves me. He is with me. I will see His Goodness while I am still alive and will not stop until I do. God’s Love must become the One Thing in our life! (Psalm 27:4) We just have to be where He is and everything changes from that moment on…

Job 11:13-17 (NLT)
“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning.”

Hope gives us courage. It makes us strong and free of fear. The more hope that we have the more courageous we become filled with holy boldness to come before the Father and confidently fulfill His Great Commission. But we must fix what is broken first, or at least allow the Lord to fix us. We must prepare our heart. It needs to be fortified. (Titus 3:4-8) We need to allow our heart to be cleansed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Prayer connects us to God. We have to communicate with the Lord to develop a relationship with Him. When we do not know what to pray, His Spirit will pray for us. (Romans 8:25-27) Every day should be filled with conversations with the Lord. Repentance is an important part of our new life. It removes any sin that tries to obstruct our view of Jesus. We must become steadfast in removing those things that might offend the Lord not because the Blood of Jesus is not enough, but because we are attempting to love Him back. (Psalm51:7-12) Going to the gym sporadically, once in a while, or when I get a bad report from the doctor will not produce long term effects, but when I make it a habit it becomes my lifestyle so that I do not just change my appearance but my whole lifestyle pursues its purpose. What if our purpose became to get as close to God as possible and experience His Love to its fullest extent? Those who decide to step out of their old life and claim their new life in Jesus Christ choose to be righteous! Jesus Christ is our righteousness. When I give all that I am to become all that He promised, I will be courageous. The more hope that I have the more courageous that I become. With a made up mind, I am able to wait out the process of prosperity and allow the Lord to prosper me. The less of me that there is the more of Him that is manifested in my life.

Acts 27:23-26 (NLT)
For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”

This passage makes me chuckle. It reminds me of all the times that I have told God how I want to do it, and He shows me how it will be done. We want everything in life to be smooth sailing just because we have made Jesus Christ our Savior. Note that I did not say “Lord” as that might offend some people who struggle with the whole obedience thing, don’t worry we will come back to that. Paul had a vision or dream. Although the captain had charted his own course when Paul told him not to according to the Holy Spirit working in him, the captain sailed out anyway. Now in the midst of the storm and panic, Paul comes back to the captain and tells him look the God of goodness promises that we will not be destroyed or die BUT we are still going to be shipwrecked. Seriously? Why is it that we expect to do things our own way, make a total mess out of life, completely stray off course, but that God is going to erase it all and start over again? This is contradictory to His Will and Way according to His Word that says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28) Trusting the Lord is not telling Him what to do and waiting for Him to do it. Trusting is telling God whatever your Will is help me find it and do it. Faith and confident hope does not exempt us from the trials of life but does empower us to overcome them all! Hope is the anchor for our soul so in the storm we are not destroyed by doubt or discouragement. (Hebrews 6:17-19) Faith is the confidence that hope is the reality in which we live. (Hebrews 11:1)

Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT)
“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

It is time for us to be courageous Christians again. The Lord tells us over and over again to be strong and courageous. Strength comes from the Lord. The more that we surrender our heart, soul and mind to the Lord the more we become strengthened and empowered by the Holy Spirit who is working in us to do the Will of God so we will prosper in this life. Now! God created you to be strong and courageous to fulfill His Purpose and Plan for your life that will satisfy your soul. His Word will lead you to success in EVERYTHING you do. He will show you not only what to do but how to do it. I have nothing to fear ever because God is with me. He lives inside of me. Obedience gives me the opportunity to capitalize on faith from the confident hope that I have in God. (I Chronicles 22:11-13) We must not be afraid and we must do it to benefit from its blessings. Do the work. Don’t be afraid. Do not get discouraged. The Lord will see to it that His Plan is carried out correctly and completely. Trust the Lord – be strong and courageous! True courage is not based on my ability but God’s Ability and Willingness based solely on His Great Love!

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NLT)
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

My friend it doesn’t matter how big the opposition is or how huge your adversary, God is with you! He loves you so much that He will never let anything separate you from His Love. Jesus is all the evidence we need of such great love. The more that we come to know the Love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ the more powerful we become to overcome the enemy and even our flesh. It is all about love. You can’t earn it so don’t even try – you can only experience it more and more each day as we learn to trust Him more. Faith will grow deep roots and hope will build confidence to stick out until He comes. Good news! You don’t have to be the strong one. Less is definitely more when it comes to the Lord – less of me and more of Jesus will produce the courage and strength I need to overcome!

I John 2:26-29(NLT)
I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

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