Month: May 2019

Misplaced Faith

Malachi 3:6
“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.


Written by: Cheri Teeter

It was a Sunday night and our softball team was playing the “other church” team. We did all the nightly rituals: stopped and got our energy drinks, warmed up our arms, and even prayed. What I was really counting on was the new Miken Freak softball bat we had spent our life savings on. Oddly enough, I did not hit the grand slam I had been anticipating.

There was also the time I bought the new recipe book from Joanna Gaines and just knew my banana bread was going to taste like no other banana bread I have tasted. Joanna loves Jesus, so it has to taste heavenly, right?! The list goes on and on of times I have willingly and quickly misplaced my faith on items or people I really knew nothing about.

Why is it so difficult to surrender my will and control over to my Savior? Is it because it just can’t be that easy? There must be a “catch?” The good news is that when we choose to put our faith in Jesus, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime decision. The harder part is our daily decisions to seek His will and place our faith in His hands. This takes practice! Spending time in His word, faithful praying, and having accountability partners are a few ways to achieve this.

Unafraid Devo 5.24Thought of the day: What are things you have blindly put your faith in? What is one thing you can begin to do today to help you commit your will to God’s care and control for your life?

Prayer: God, You are the Creator of the universe. Nothing is too difficult for You. Help me daily to surrender my fears, worries, and doubts to You and to share my hopes and dreams. Show me the bigger picture of hope as I lean into You. Thank You for rescuing me through Jesus so I can be close to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

What State Are You In?

Philippians 4:11
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content


Written by: Chris Moss

In the first 20 years of our marriage, my husband and I moved 13 times to eight different states. Our longest stay anywhere was four years and our shortest was only 10 months. (Sorry, Ohio! I could only handle one of your winters.) I sometimes had to remind myself what state I was in!

Moving can be one of the scariest things ever. The emptiness in the pit of your stomach is not fillable. The idea of leaving people you love, along with doctors, schools, churches, and hairdressers (this is no small thing!) is enough to send you into a catatonic state while all the things that need to get done go undone—Because you are undone with fear.

Fear of the losses. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the calendar, the schedule, and the all-consuming and never-ending to-do list. And once the move is made, there is more fear: fear of rejection; fear of failure.

You may not be moving today or ever, but I bet you have experienced change. Change is unsettling. It puts you in an uncomfortable state, whether you are moving from one state to another or it is something simpler. It can be upsetting as you feel the balance beneath you shift. It feels like someone or something is driving the ship you are meant to captain. There is no going back to the shore of what used to be, but what lies ahead is unclear and unknown. You may not know where you are going, how far it away it is, or how long it will take.

God wants us to be content in the change. He wants us to lean into Him during these times. He wants you to trust Him to captain your ship through all of the stormy changes because He planned this for your growth with love. He knows where you are going, why you are going, and how long it will take to get “there.” He knows it—all of it. And He knows the benefits of the changes.

Unafraid Devo 5.23Thought of the day: We can do hard things for a long time. Hard things give us strength for whatever God has planned next. Remember this verse: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

Prayer: God: To build Your Kingdom on earth will take change, starting with us. We are so often afraid of change that it puts us in a state. But we can become content, no matter what state we are in, and trust You will captain our ship through all the changes, the whys, and the how-long-will-it-takes until I’m comfortable again. And on the other side of change, we will be prepared for whatever You had in mind all along—which is probably more exciting than anything we could dream of! We can do all of this, and more, in Jesus’ name, because You give us strength to face our fears. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Come Follow Me”

Mark 1:16-18
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.


Written by: James Rogers

In today’s passage, we find two ordinary men carrying on with their business. These guys spent their days and nights providing for their families. They worked at their trade, made a living, and supported people who they cared about. Sound familiar? Isn’t this what we do?

One day, a man walks up, finds these two guys fishing, and the first thing out of his mouth is “come follow me.”

“At once, they left their nets and followed him.” They didn’t ask any questions. With caution to the wind, they left everything where it was and followed. Why so reckless?

What value must they have seen in Jesus that they would leave it all on the beach? There must have been something so enticing on the other side of those three little words: “Come follow me.” I mean, would you leave your job and your responsibilities with a simple invitation from a stranger?

There are several proposed explanations for their abrupt decision. Maybe they thought Jesus was a religious leader who would guide them into a better career path as a Rabbi (an opportunity they thought beyond them). It could have been that they thought He was an upcoming political leader who would step into leadership over Israel (and they would get to tag along). Or could it be that they looked into Jesus’ eyes and saw something that they had never seen before? Maybe they found something in Him that they were not willing to part with.

Unafraid Devo 5.22Thought of the day: Here we are 2000-plus years later: still working, still managing our responsibilities and Jesus still says, “come follow me.” What does it mean to follow Jesus in 2019? That’s a hard question and there are no cookie-cutter answers, but there is something each of us is being called to do. What do you feel Jesus is asking you to do in your life right now? Maybe it’s something you keep putting off. Do you feel a tug to the mission field? Has God been prompting you to become a foster parent? Is there a hurt, habit, or hang-up that you’re supposed to leave on the proverbial beach?

Whatever it is, Jesus is saying, “Do you have the guts to follow me and is there enough value in who I am for you to take the leap and trust me?” As we look into the eyes of our Savior, may we find the love that we are not willing to part with. May we be people who leave our nets on the beach and follow our Savior in what He asks us to do.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for welcoming me on this journey with You. Please give me the courage to follow You and to walk the road You’ve laid out for me. Help me to listen to Your direction. Help me to follow well. Bless You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Fear or Faith

Joshua 1:16
“And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.”


Written by: Russ Ripley

The nation of Israel was on the verge of entering into the land that God had promised them. It was a promise given to Abraham in the book of Genesis. Israel had been at this very place 40 years before, ready to enter into the promised land. God promised to go before them just like He had when they left captivity in Egypt and passed through the Red Sea. He had led them through the wilderness as a cloud by day and a column of fire by night. God had miraculously provided for them the entire time. But when they came to the point of entering into the promised land the Bible says in Deuteronomy 1:26, “Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God.”

Why would the Israelites refuse to go into the land even after seeing God continuously lead and protect them? One reason: fear.

Deuteronomy 1:28 says, “Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.’”

So, God had them wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

In this passage, Israel is in the exact same position. God has told them to enter into the land and they have a choice to make. Do they cross the Jordan River and go where God has told them to go? The cities were still fortified, the people in the land were still tall and strong, and there were still “giants in the land.” What did they do?

Joshua 1:16 is the nation’s response, “And they answered Joshua, ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.’” They followed Joshua and God led them through the Jordan River on dry ground into the promised land.

What was the difference between the first and the second time Israel was at the Jordan river? Faith. The second time the people trusted God. They believed all of His promises. They had experienced His faithfulness while in the desert, and they believed what God had said to them.

Unafraid Devo 5.21Thought of the day: Is there something that you know God is leading you to do? You have a choice: fear or faith. Don’t let fear keep you from the blessing of following God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to trust You. I know You have been with me this far and I know You will be with me always. Help me to follow You in faith, believing Your many promises. Amen.

Which Kind of Pain Will You Choose?

Joshua 24:14-15
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.


Written by: Matt Swartz

I was talking with someone recently about those points in our lives where we face major decisions and spend way too much time worrying about making the right choice. I made a comment about a principle that has helped me again and again when it comes to making big decisions: When facing most major decisions, we see the uncomfortableness that is associated with change and tend to forget that there will also be uncomfortableness if we choose to stay.

This principle has been so helpful to me because I, like most humans, try to avoid pain. I can get caught thinking about the pain associated with the decision to make a change and forget that there also tends to be pain associated with the decision to stay where I am. This was especially true for the nation of Israel. They faced a decision standing at the Jordan River where they could either cross the Jordan and step into battle or face the struggle that they would experience if they failed to claim the land that God has promised them. Either choice had pain and struggle associated with it.

In today’s passage, Joshua is giving his farewell message after leading the nation of Israel in conquering the “Promised Land.” The very pinnacle of his message is a challenge: decide who you will follow. It was not enough to follow God in conquering the land, now they had to make a choice to follow God while living in the land. The choice to follow God is not a one-time decision. It requires regular renewal.

So back to the conversation I was having with my friend. I believe that each of us will tend to stay put in the pain that is making us miserable over embracing the pain that will lead to a new chapter in life. The issue is not about whether or not we will experience pain. The issue is whether or not we will embrace pain that will actually lead us somewhere that will give us a fuller and more healthy life.

Unafraid Devo 5.20Thought of the day: Which pain will you choose? Pain that leaves you stuck where you are, or pain that could lead to the life God wants for you?

Prayer: Jesus, please give me the courage to lean into the pain that will lead me towards the life you have always wanted for me. Amen.