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Equipped And Ready

Gideon is one of those stories in the Bible that I go back to over and over again. He was scared of his enemies, so he was hiding when the angel appeared to him. The angel then greets him with, “Mighty Hero! The Lord is with you” (NLT). I’m sure Gideon had a confused look on his face and then looked around for the hero. He then asked a great question any of us would have asked. If the Lord is with me, why are things so bad? He didn’t get an answer though. Instead, the angel calls on him to save Israel from the very enemy he’s hiding from.

In Judges 6:14, the angel of the Lord said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” I love this response because it is a great picture of who God is. He calls us to do things in our own strength and giftings. When we see ourselves in the mirror, we think who we are and what we have is not enough. God sees beyond our fears and insecurities though. He sees who we can become if we would trust that He’s with us and will pick up the slack for the things we lack if we will simply step out with what we have already been given.

I believe every one of us are called to do something. There is a purpose and a plan that God has for each of our lives. It’s up to us to trust Him to be with us, and to walk in that calling. It’s time for us to quit looking at ourselves with these human eyes so we can trust what God sees in us with His eyes. It’s in our weaknesses and inabilities that His strength is made perfect. He only asks that we trust Him enough to do the things He called us to. If God has confidence in you, I think it’s time you had it too. Through Jesus, you are more than a conqueror. You are a mighty, valiant hero ready and equipped to do what He called you to.

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Courage To Pray

Recently I asked people on social media what their definition of courage was. I got quite a few responses. Some gave people’s names. Some told stories of maintaining faith in difficult circumstances. The rest had some form of doing what needed to be done in the face of fear. Every one of us face fear of some kind, and its intent is to keep us quiet and still. It tells us we don’t belong, don’t have the right, that we will be embarrassed and ridiculed. Fear makes us think that we don’t have a seat at the table or the right to ask God for things in prayer.

In Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus to request healing for her daughter, but Jesus ignored her. The disciples wanted her to go away. She begged Jesus again to help her. In verse 26, Jesus replied, “It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (GNT). Despite being told she didn’t have a seat at the table, she pushed through her fear and kept asking. Finally Jesus said, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” The Lord answered her request because her faith was greater than her fear.

Psalm 10:17 says, “You will listen, O Lord, to the prayers of the lowly; you will give them courage.” I believe He gives us the courage to keep asking despite what the doctors say, what others think or what fear makes us feel. Don’t let fear of rejection, fear of the worst happening or fear of what God may say keep you from praying and asking for the impossible. God hears every prayer no matter who it comes from. Through Jesus, you and I have a right to enter God’s heavenly throne room to make our requests known. Enter into His presence today and tell Him what you need.

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Never Failing

Have you ever let anyone down? I have. I’ve been the person who was supposed to show up, and didn’t. I’ve been the person was supposed to speak up, and stayed quiet. I’ve even been the person who said I’d do something, and didn’t. Chances are, someone like me has failed you along the way. People can be unreliable at times and even fail us when we need them the most. They have good intentions, but don’t always come through when you need them to. Because that’s happened to us, many of us live by the saying, “I don’t give out trust. You have to earn it.”

As I read through the Bible, there are plenty of stories of how people have failed each other and God. There’s no one perfect in there because perfect people don’t exist. But amidst all the imperfect people is a God who is perfect and never fails to do what He says. No matter how many times, or how badly people treat God, He always keeps His Word. He always shows up. He always does what He says He will do. God never fails. He may not always answer the way we want Him to, but He always keeps His promises because His Word never fails.

Here are some Bible verses on some ways God never fails.

1. Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side— no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp! You know me inside and out, you hold me together, you never fail to stand me tall in your presence so I can look you in the eye.

Psalm 41:11-12 MSG

2. My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the word that I speak— it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do.

Isaiah 55:10-11 GNT

3. The earth and sky will wear out and fade away before one word I speak loses its power or fails to accomplish its purpose.

Matthew 24:35 TPT

4. For the word of God will never fail.

Luke 1:37 NLT

5. It is because of the LORD’S loving-kindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness.

LAMENTATIONS 3:22-23 AMP

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Godly Counsel

We all need counseling from time to time. We need the wisdom of a trusted friend, advisor or professional. Whoever we get it from, it’s important that the counsel we receive lines up with God’s Word. The Bible is full of wisdom that can provide insight and give direction in just about anything we face. The book of Proverbs alone is full of wisdom and great insight into how we should think and make decisions.

As King, David was often in need of counseling. He wanted to make the best choices. If he couldn’t find someone to give him godly advice, He went straight to God for help. In Psalm 16:7, David wrote, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (ESV). David took what God said and put it in his heart so that even at night he dreamed about what to do.

The thing about counsel is, it’s worthless unless you follow it. You can listen to it, dream about it and think about it all you want, but nothing in your life will change until you do something with it. So many times, we get good, godly advice, but we are afraid to act on it. People who are like that are like those who admired the Brooklyn Bridge when it was built. They stood on the edge and admired it, but were afraid to walk across it. It wasn’t until P. T. Barnum walked his elephants across it that they started using the bridge.

God’s Word, like the Brooklyn Bridge, is strong and can be trusted to handle whatever you’re going through. Listen to the advice and counsel that comes from Him. Put it deep in your heart so that it becomes a part of you. Trust your heart too. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us discern what is right. It’s not a sign of weakness to need or to get counsel. It shows strength to admit you don’t know everything. Just make sure the people you’re getting it from know God’s Word.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Get Back Up

In high school, I played basketball, but our school was very small. One night we were playing a much larger school and we were down by 20 at the half. Coach threw the door open coming into the locker room. He screamed, “Are y’all scared of them because they’re taller than you? Are you scared because they’re more athletic? It must be something because you’ve quit. You’re a bunch of quitters! If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a quitter…If you quit, I quit!” He stormed out as loudly as he came in. Our captain said, “Let’s Open with the starting five in a Black Diamond defense. Lets get out there and win!” Coach returned halfway into the third and we won that game that night because we got back out there and played hard.

Not long after the Israelites defeated Jericho, they went to fight a small town. They only sent 10% of their warriors. The other city beat them, chased them down and embarrassed them. Joshua returned to the camp and fell on his face before the Lord. He laid there all day giving up. In Joshua 7:10 the Lord said to him, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?” (NLT) God told him to get back up, fix the problem, get back out there and fight. After finding and removing sin in the camp, they went back to that town and soundly defeated them.

How do you deal with defeat? Do you quit, hide or get depressed? One defeat doesn’t not define you. Ax God told Joshua, you need to get back up, make adjustments and get back out there. Your life is not over. There is still a lot of fight in you, plus you’re not fighting alone. God is with you. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the lovers of God may suffer adversity and stumble seven times, but they will continue to rise over and over again” (TPT). No matter how many times you’re defeated or fall flat on you’re face, get back up and fight. Don’t quit. You’re victory is ahead.

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Participating With God

When God called to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (NKJV). God then asked Moses to return to Egypt where the Lord would perform miraculous signs and wonders. Moses argued with God and gave excuses as to why he couldn’t speak to Pharaoh. Eventually, God convinced Moses. He then spoke to Pharaoh, God performed 10 plagues and the Israelites were set free from their bondage because of the things God did.

Fast forward 40 years and Israel is finally permitted to enter the Promised Land. They cross the Jordan and begin to prepare to attack Jericho. While Joshua is surveying it, the Lord appears to him in Joshua 5:15 and says, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” Did you catch the difference? When Moses met God, he had to remove both sandals. When Joshua met with Him, he only had to remove one. I believe it’s because with Moses, God was doing all the work, and with Joshua they were going to work together to subdue Canaan.

I believe God wants you and I to participate with Him in living an overcoming life. We can’t sit back and wait for Him to do all the work. You and I are going to have to step out and face some giants. We are going to have to attack some walled cities in our life. The great news is that God will fight our battles if we’ll have enough faith to get onto the battlefield. If we’re going to live An overcoming life, we’re going to have to quit making excuses and letting fear make our decisions. If God is for you, who can be against you? It’s time to quit camping by the Jordan and to fight for the land God promised you.

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Chasing Your Dream

What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? What dream would you go after? So many times fear of failure or being defeated is what holds us back from chasing after the things God put in our heart. Back in the early 2000’s, I started writing devotionals. There were no blogs really, and social media was yet to come. I figured I would just email them out to friends and whoever wanted them. I asked about five people if they’d be interested. One person replied, “Please don’t put me on any list. I get enough junk mail as it is.” I didn’t write for 10 years after that. I quit chasing after something God put in me because of something someone else said.

After the Israelites left Egypt, God reminded them that He had promised them land. It was a good, beautiful, fertile land, but they would have to fight to take possession of it. They were guaranteed victory if they were willing to fight for it. Instead 10 of the 12 spies came back confirming what God said about the land, but they were afraid of the giants and walked cities in the land. It took forty years before they had an opportunity again. This time, the spies were told how fearful everyone was of them, and it boosted their confidence. In Joshua 2:24, they reported back, “The Lord has given us the whole land for all the people in the land are terrified of us” (NLT).

The only thing that changed was that they quit listening to fear and started listening to God. That’s exactly what you and I need to do. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, there will be some struggles and battles ahead when you chase after what God has put in you, but you are guaranteed victory in the long run. God is ready to act on your behalf, but you have to be the one to step out in faith to chase after what He called you to. As my friend says, it’s time for you to smash fear in the face! The enemy is afraid of you doing what God told you to do so he uses fear to hold you back. The Lord has given you victory. You just have to step out and claim it.

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