Courage 5

Romans 14:17-18

Paul’s comment in verse 17 seems an odd thing to say. But the reference to eating and drinking is a concluding statement to what he has addressed throughout most of Chapter 14. He has spoken about potential conflict among believers when this one considers a certain food or drink acceptable while others do not. He goes on to point out that other activities done in faith may be held sacred by some but not by others.

The over-riding concept is that the details of faithful living are not as important as our overall attitude of faith. Our faith must be about serving God and furthering His kingdom.

What comment does Paul make about working for God? What should we find as we commune with the Holy Spirit? How does God feel about the devout believer?

It is not a new concept that people see certain aspects of church as important while others do not. Apparently, people in the early church often allowed their differing values to cause dispute. But, as Paul points out, our faith is more than just the activities of worship. It is more than just a time to be with others who are just like us.

Our faith and our connection to God should be a time when we build up our spirituality to become more righteous, to develop our morality, and to focus on doing good and holy things to help others. Our relationship with God should be a time when we find the peace that comes from being in intimate communion with the Holy Spirit of God. Through that we find joy and comfort. Through our connection with God we learn to have the courage to face the adversities of life.

Those who are faithful believers, who have the strength and courage to trust in God, who are willing to share the love and mercy of the Lord serve Jesus Christ. In this way we are pleasing to God. We are approved by men; that is, other people will see the goodness of a strong faith in God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you deepen your connection to the Holy Spirit in your faith community?

Courage 4

Psalm 91:9-10

When the youth group at our previous church took a mission trip to North Carolina they stopped to help a van that was broken down on the side of the road. As they approached the van one of the people there said, “You’re Christians, aren’t you?”

Our youth leader said, yes, they were and asked how they knew. The man said, “Because we just prayed that God would send us someone to help.”

The story is an incredible testimony to the power and grace of God. Unfortunately, the solution to our troubles doesn’t always come as quickly as that.

The author of Psalm 91 has a great deal of confidence in God. What advice does he give? What assurance does he offer?

A common misconception is that once you have turned your heart and your life over to God then all of your problems will disappear. It can cause those who believe to doubt their faith when troubles do arise. “Why has God abandoned me?” they might ask.

The words of Psalm 91 can’t always be taken quite so literally. Life is full of troubles and problems. Some are of our own making. We make wrong decisions and bad choices and then suffer the consequences of them.

Other troubles come from people and situations outside our own control. We can feel assaulted and under attack from many different sources.

While I do not believe that faith in God will spare us from all heartache and pain, I do believe that a confident and sure trust in the Lord will bring us safely through any situation. We may have to endure hardships and troubles, but if we believe completely in the love and grace of God then we can weather the storms of life with a peace in our hearts that lets us know that goodness will come from even the darkest of times.

The disaster and harm mentioned in this psalm is more of a devastation of the heart and soul. If we will take refuge in the Lord then our troubles cannot shake our heart and spirit. No harm will befall your soul.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you make the Most High your dwelling?

Courage 3

Exodus 12:21-23

One of the most frightening things we can face in our lives is any time when we need to have surgery performed. In those times we must learn to have courage and faith, for we are trusting in the skill of the surgeon and staff as well as the grace of God as we allow ourselves to become helpless and at the mercy of so many other people.

The Israelites went through a similar situation as God prepared to set them free from the bondage they were experiencing in Egypt. God had afflicted Egypt with many plagues in an attempt to have the pharaoh set the people free, but the king would not relent. Finally, God sent one last plague, the death of the firstborn, to turn Pharaoh’s heart. To be safe the Israelites had to trust and obey God.

What instructions did Moses give? What assurance was given?

We all know the result of this final plague. In retrospect we can see the great power of God to protect the Israelites from harm. But at the time the Hebrew people could not be absolutely certain their actions would protect them.

They had to have the courage to believe that they would be safe even though they were in a helpless situation. They had to trust that God would honor His promise and spare their families because they had followed His instructions of slaughtering a lamb and painting their doorposts with its blood.

We can imagine their fear as they heard the cries of the Egyptians, as they listened to the sounds of the Angel of Death visiting each household that was not protected. Certainly they wondered if their obedience was sufficient to save them from this terrible fate.

We also face many afflictions and situations in our lives that may make us fear the results. We may tremble with fear wondering if we have done what is right and wondering if God will be true to His word.

As faithful believers we must have the courage to hold to our faith. We must have courage to believe that God will indeed be with us to protect us from harm.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can help you have courage in the face of distress?

Courage 2

Galatians 5:13

In the movie “Secretariat,” the character of the daughter – part of the anti-establishment movement of the 70s – asks her parents “Why do we call it freedom when it costs something?” Good question.

As we consider our military veterans at this time and the sacrifices they have made, as we consider our troops serving now on foreign soil, we may wonder why it is that we are so involved in the struggles of other nations. I believe today’s passage may be at the core of that attitude.

What does Paul say of those who believe in Jesus Christ? What warning does he give? What does he urge the believer to do?

The freedoms we enjoy in our country are the freedoms from oppression and hopelessness. We enjoy the freedom of living in a country where we are not held down by our own governing bodies. We are not victims of tyrannical rulers or ruthless military powers.

Similarly, we have freedom in our faith. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, because of God’s mercy and grace, we are free from the burdens of sin and hopelessness. We are assured of a great eternal reward. We are released from the guilt and pain of our own wrong-doing and can live lives of joy and happiness knowing that we are loved by God. We are precious to the Almighty.

As we enjoy these freedoms, not just political freedoms but freedom of the soul and spirit, we must remember that these freedoms do not exist for our own selfish interests. Our freedoms could cause us to fall into self-indulgent and self-destructive behaviors if we let them, but we are called to a higher purpose.

Both our political freedom and our spiritual freedom are there to be shared. Both exist within us so that we might share those freedoms with others.

Just as politically our nation involves itself in the struggle of people trying to shed the yoke of oppression and hardships, we as Christians need to be involved in helping others discover the same freedom of the soul that we enjoy. We are called to share the renewing and refreshing grace and love of God with those who are trapped in a life of sin and despair.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you share the freedom of faith that you have?

Courage 1

Joshua 1:9

Our oldest son bought his first car this past week. He has been working to get it in shape – replacing the ignition switch, flushing the radiator, changing the oil. For my part I bought him his first tank of gas and then got him an ice scraper and a blanket, preparation for what lies in store this coming winter.

We can take the same approach to our life in faith. Do we have everything we might need as we face each day and the challenges it might bring?

God’s command to Joshua in today’s passage is a good one to remember as true believers. Where do the instructions come from? What attitude should Joshua have? Who is with him?

Although these commands were meant for the leader of the Jewish people thousands and thousands of years ago, the same can apply to each of us. God is the one who has commanded us in how we are to live and what we are to do as believers. God has sent us out to share His love with all the world.

Just as Joshua was certain to encounter those who opposed him, we will encounter those who will oppose us. We will be faced with temptations and lures that will try to distract us from our holy purposes.

But like Joshua we should be strong and courageous. We should not fear or feel discouraged as we attempt to live out the love of God. We are setting out on a journey of faith, a journey that begins each morning when we begin our day. And like any journey we make we must be certain we have all that we need before we go.

Before we start each day, before we confront the challenges of life that may cause us fear or discouragement, we should remind ourselves that what we are doing as Christians is what God wants us to do. We should remind ourselves that we have what it takes to accomplish our tasks because we have the greatest asset of all. God is with us wherever we go.

With God at our side we can confront any and all challenges. Through the power and presence of God Most High we can overcome all obstacles and accomplish God’s holy tasks.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you that God is with you wherever you go?