Scripture Reading: Courage

Courage is faith in action. We are called to step out in faith, regardless of opposition. Please join me for August Scripture Reading: Courage.

scripture reading courage
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash by Guillaume Briard

I need courage. I’m terrified at failing at this blog. Deep down, I wonder if I’m tough enough to handle all the crazy curveballs parenthood throws. Did I ever mention that my marriage to Dan is actually my second marriage? Yup, my first marriage failed after he left me for another woman. I get sick to my stomach if I entertain the possibility of this one ever failing. Here is another big secret – I’m in the market for new mom tribe, but too scared to actually go out and make friends. Right now, my husband is unemployed and I don’t work. God has promised us a job and we are trusting in him to provide. I need courage.

Don’t we all need a little courage? We all have things that we either too scared to set out and do or situations that leave us cowered in a corner. We need courage. Well, we’re blessed because Christ provides it. The bible is full of examples of courage.

Joshua & Caleb

One of my favorite stories about courage in the bible is about Joshua and Caleb, two of the twelve spies sent to scout the promise land. Here we find the people of Israel, they’ve been led out of Egypt and finally they found themselves at the threshold of their new home. The spies came back with a report and proof of plentifulness of the land. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is the fruit.” There was just one catch. The current inhabitants were formidable and giant. “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so were in their sight.”

That was all the people of Israel needed to hear. They immediately became despondent and began to whine and complain. After all they had suffered they were overwhelmed by the thought of having another obstacle in front of them. Even though God had promised to give them the land and victory, the Israelites began to rebel. Only Joshua and Caleb remained faithful – and God was watching.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors.

God ordered that all the non-believers over the age of twenty to remain in the wilderness. Those over twenty, along with Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter. The disobedience of the Israelites cost them their promised land.

Choose Courage

I like to think of courage as the physical manifestation of faith. In other words, courage is faith in action. Throughout scripture God encourages us to “fear not” and ” be courageous.” He tells us “do not be discouraged.” Courage is how we obey those commands. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling fear and doing it anyway.

Faith is a choice. We choose to either take God at his word or disbelieve him. God never lies. So when he says he will not leave or forsake us, we can count on that. If he promises a victory, he will ensure a win. When he promises to provide, we won’t go hungry.

Peter and John

After the death of Christ, the apostles continued performing miracles in the name of Jesus. John and Peter are subsequently arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the very council of holy men responsible for crucifying Christ. First they are interrogated. Then the Sanhedrin forbade them from healing in the name of Jesus Christ. In holy courage, Peter and John stand up against the council and stand in faith refusing to stop. The Sanhedrin, faced with the healed man and a growing crowd of support for Peter and John, agree to release the apostles. As a Christian, you can expect to be told to stay silent or reject the teachings of Christ.

Of all heroes in scripture, I find Paul the most inspiring. Paul faced numerous threats of imprisonment (Acts 20:23, 21:11) and death (Acts 20:3, 23:12-14) and refused to yield. In fact, Paul wrote about half the New Testament imprisoned, surrounded by a sewer. During his imprisonment he even dared to evangelize to his captors (Acts 23:1-10, 24:21-26, 26:32, 28:30-31). Regardless of circumstances, he reminds us we are “more than conquerors.” This kind of steadfast courage is not generated by the flesh, but rather manifested by the Holy Spirit.

Pray everyday for God to bless you with holy courage.

Courage & Conviction

Don’t think that persecution was only in the time of Christ. Christians today are facing immense opposition. The world (society at large) will always try to promote and normalize sin. Christians should not only remain obedient to God’s word, but to continue to speak light into the world. However, this is both unwelcome and unpopular. Christians can expect to ridiculed, humiliated, ostracized, and mocked for our beliefs. In these moments, we will have to find holy courage to remain convicted. Jesus told us that most of the world is fleshly and on a path to destruction. Doing the right thing is a lonely road. Most of the world, won’t agree with you.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

When we endure humiliation or persecution for His sake, we should remember that we have the great reward of heaven. Earthly persecution is temporary.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Scripture Reading: Courage

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Scripture Reading: When to Be Quiet

Not everything requires our comment or opinion. Let’s take a look at how the bible instructs us. Please join me for May’s scripture reading: When to be quiet.

scripture reading when to stay quiet

I have a major problem keeping my mouth shut. My mouth has placed me in trouble more times than I care to admit.

I overstep boundaries. I give my opinion where none is needed. I’ve been sanctimonious, arrogant, and rebellious. Cantankerous, venomous words have escaped my lips. I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. The truth is, most people struggle with this. We tend to think too highly of our own opinions.

This month, we’re going to take a look at scripture to guide us when to speak and when to bite our tongue.

Scripture Reading: When to be quiet

Never Quiet the Gospel

First, let’s take a moment and look at when the bible commands us to speak up. As Christians, we are called to bring darkness into light by spreading the Gospel.

To Defend Our Faith

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16

To Proclaim the Gospel

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” – Romans 1:16

To Lovingly Correct Other Christians

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” – Galatians 6:1 

To Repair a Hurt or Disagreement

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. -Matthew 18:15

For Praise & Thanksgiving

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.” – Hebrews 13:15

To Expose Darkness Including Apostasy

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;” – Ephesians 5:8

To Confess

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” – Romans 10:9

The bible

How To Speak Up

When we are instructed to speak up, it should always be with love. This includes any admonishment. Once corrected, we should be quick to extend the mercy of God.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:!5

Scripture Reading: When to Stay Quiet

Thank you for joining me this month for Scripture Reading: When to Be Quiet. I know correction isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s important in our walk with Christ. Please and take a moment and read some of my other Scripture Readings like Depression & Grief.In the comments below, I’d love to hear how I can pray for you.

April Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief

Overcome depression, sorrow, and grief with these powerful scriptures. Speak truth into your life with the Holy living word of God. Join me for April Scripture Reading: Depression and Grief

SCRIPTURE READING: depression and grief

A Season of Sadness

I live with depression. I know well the feeling of complete hopelessness. Depression and grief has a way of stopping time. The moment can feel endless. You may find it hard to believe that situations or feelings will ever change or improve. I promise you friend, it will. It’s a season – and seasons don’t last. Read what the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) says:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
            A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal;
            A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;
            A time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
            A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
            A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
            A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;
            A time for war and a time for peace.

Depression, sorrow, grief is for an appointed time. We have seasons of abundance and seasons of loss. I love what the Psalmist says: “Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) The good news is this: this season of your life is temporary. One day, it won’t hurt like this. One day this will be over. God will bring you out of the pit (Psalm 103:4).

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A Time to Cry

When calamity strikes, it is our nature to wonder why. We want answers, no – we demand them. Our humanness wants explanations in order to process loss. But sometimes there are no answers. There are no reasons, at least not earthly ones.

In times like these, we must remember that all things that happen in our lives are designed to draw us closer to Him. And our trials? What about our hurt, pain and suffering? Yes, that too. He wants us to fervently seek Him. Secondly, our weakness, our tears, our hardships all exist to magnify His glory. In order to be our Savior, we must first need saving. See what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10

Not convinced? Read what the Psalmist writes in 50:15:

“Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Simply put, God uses our pain to show non-believers how He saves.

Death

Maybe you are struggling with a loved one who has passed on. I encourage you to comfort yourself with the living word of God. He has promised that we will be reunited with those we love. We will see them again. Therefore, death is not the end.

I have learned that grief comes in waves. Like the ebb and flow of an ocean, grief subsides allowing you to catch your breath for a moment, then it seems to overcome you again all at once. One minute you think you’re doing better. Then a reminder or a memory will surface and the thought of having to live the rest of your life without them seems unbearable.

Perhaps it is not the physical death of a person you are grieving, but the death of something else. Your dream, health, a job, a friendship, a marriage. Maybe you are so overcome by disappointment you can’t see a happy future. There is one. He has promised it.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

despair
Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Battling Feelings of Grief

Remember Who God Is

Compassionate

I count at least 20 times in scripture where God and Jesus are described as compassionate. Paul writes in Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Jesus understands our suffering. He empathizes with us. He is compassionate towards our troubles.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Psalm 145:8-9

Unchanging

The character of God is unchanging. “I am the Lord. I change not.” (Malachi 3:6). Everything is subject to change except for God. Read that again. God does not change. Therefore neither do His promises. I love an easily overlooked verse in Psalm 11. “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3). In other words, when the floor beneath you gives way, what should we do? The answer can be found in the next verse. “The Lord is in His holy temple. The Lord sits on his throne in Heaven.” This declaration reminds us: when all that is good falls apart, God is still in control. He is still on his throne. He is not shaken by our troubles. God does not change.

Put Your Hope In God

The Psalms are a wonderful comfort in times of trouble. The Psalms demonstrate the cry of someone in need of help and refuge. They echo our troubled hearts. They also model how we should pray (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication). But Psalm 42 also describes what we should do when we are sorrowful and disturbed.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

The Psalmist tells us to put our hope in the Lord. Hope is the happy anticipation of good. It is the belief that God is a good God and He has good things in store for us (Jer 29:11) . We get hope by praising God in the midst of our sorrow and by comforting ourselves with His promises.

praying over him

Give Up Your Ashes

One of my favorite verses in the bible is Isaiah 61:3. It is the messianic prophesy of why Christ came and died for us. This lone scripture has brought me so much peace when I’ve been overcome with depression and grief. Here is the truth:

to provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” “Then people will call them “Oaks of Righteousness”, “The Planting of the LORD”, in order to display his splendor.

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty instead of ashes. Ashes represent what is left over after something has burned away. The leftovers. The broken pieces. But here is the rub. An exchange has to take place. Note that scripture says, “instead of.” Some translations say “for.” You must give your ashes to God. Give Him the brokenness and remains. Give Him the ashes and He’ll give you restoration.

Remain Thankful

Another way to pull ourselves out of sadness is to try and get the focus off ourselves and on our creator. You can do this by praising God through thanksgiving. It is hard to be downtrodden when you are remembering all the good God has already done for you. This is why Paul says to “set your mind on the higher things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief

Thank you for joining me for April Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief. In the comments below, I’d love to hear how I can pray for you. In case you missed it, see also March Scripture Reading: Fear & Anxiety.

January Scripture Reading: Identity in Christ

Are you struggling with self-esteem and confidence? Maybe you are disappointed in yourself or struggling to forgive yourself. In those moments, it helps to remember who God says you are. This year, I’ll be offering a monthly scripture reading plan. Join me for the January Scripture Reading Plan: Identity In Christ

Identity in Christ

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Today, I’m sharing something close to my heart – our identity in Christ. I wish I could say that 2018 had been kind to me, but honestly it was a hard year. First, I had a complicated pregnancy, followed by a hard birth and my son’s club foot treatments. Secondly, I’ve had severe postpartum depression. Lastly, I experienced a toxic friendship which ultimately left me without friends or my beloved mom’s support group.

Harsh words were exchanged and sadly, the situation made me question every aspect of my personality, my qualities, and my identity. In those moments, we can believe the enemy’s lies or we can choose to remember our identity in Christ.

Losing Our Identity

It is very easy to get caught up in what the world thinks about you. Our image and reputation becomes important to us starting as children. It’s formed by assumptions, accusations, criticism, popularity, and rejection. Soon, it becomes our inner voice and how we see ourselves. It’s the ground work for insecurity, negative self-talk, and low self-esteem.

Maybe a parent or teacher didn’t think much of us. Those words have a way of haunting us even years afterwards. But here is the good news. Our non-Christian identity is not our true identity.

The world is quick to label us. For example, the world says I’m a woman. I’m a minority. I’m middle class. The world has called me a “know-it-all,” fat, an overachiever, and condescending. According to the world, I’m not normal because I have bi-polar. The world will say I don’t measure up and that I’m unworthy of love and acceptance. Maybe you have heard similar things. But your identity in Christ is far from what the world thinks.

God’s Unstoppable Love For Us

The beauty about our identity in Christ is that it is not dependent upon our accomplishments or failures. The love and acceptance we have in Christ is not dependent upon us or our deeds. It is freely given by a loving and perfect God.

It’s hard to remember, especially when we don’t have the love of the world. After all, if people can’t love us as we are, how can a perfect God? He sees everything I do. He watches me when I’m haughty and self-righteous. He knows when my tongue goes from surly to downright venomous.

Thankfully, God does not love as people love. His love is unconditional. He loves us even when fail to measure up. Mankind revokes grace and mercy when we repeatedly fail. But His grace is new every day (Lam 3:22-23).

Certainly, I have asked if God truly loves me at my worst. Isn’t that what we all want to know? How much does God love us and does He love us when we fail at everything we touch? When Paul asks, “can anything separate us from the love of Christ,” haven’t we all wondered that?

The apostle Paul professes in Romans 8:38-39 (NLT):

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Enemy’s Voice

People are going to say mean, hate-filled things to us and over us. We will never be able to stop people from doing that, but the enemy will try use it against us. He knows how insecure we can be and therefore, he will remind us of every fault, mistake and flaw to keep us trapped in a web of self-loathing. He wants us paralyzed, convinced we are unloved.

It’s almost embarrassing to say, but I was there. Over the last several months those words haunted me every day. I truly felt hated – like I was the worst person alive and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. That’s just what the devil is hoping for too.

The enemy wants to steal your joy, kill your confidence and destroy your spirit. He wants you broken, confused, defeated, desperate and exhausted. Christ however, wants to give you goodness and give it in abundance. If you doubt that for one second, read John 10:10:

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest.

God has good plans for us (Jer 29:11). To clarify, this does not mean we never experience hardships or cruelty from others. It means those things no longer have power over us.

Remember this – no matter what someone calls you, no matter what someone says you are – God says different!

Who God Says You Are

Finding these scriptures was a fun exercise, because honestly, I could have done this for a year! The more I read, the more excited I get.

God says you are:

  • Anointed (1 John 2:27)
  • His child (1 John 3:1-2)
  • Accepted (Rm 15:7)
  • Included (Eph 1:13)
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9)
  • Justified (Rm 3:24)
  • Adopted (Eph 1:5)
  • Blessed when you come and go (Deut 28:6)
  • An oak of righteousness (Is 61:3)
  • Marked with His Seal (Eph 1:13)
  • Chosen (1 Pet 2:9)
  • Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13)
  • Worth dying for (Rm 5:8)
  • A conqueror (Rm 8:37)
  • A soldier in the army of Christ (2 Tim 2:3-4)
  • Ordained and Sanctified (Jeremiah1:5)
  • A citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)
  • Appointed (John 15:16)
  • His heir (Eph 1:11)
  • Free (Heb 9:15)
  • A priest (or Priestess) (1 Pet 2:5)
  • Redeemed (Is 44:22 / Ps 111:9)
  • Precious (Is 43:4)
  • A Saint (Eph 2:19)
  • An Ambassador (2 Cor 5:18-30
  • Without blemish (Col 1:22)
  • A temple of the Holy Spirit (1 For 6:19-20)
  • Reconciled (Eph 2:8-9)

Feel better? Me too.

Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me in. (Psalm 27:10)

The post January Scripture Reading: Identity in Christ first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

Join me in February for Love and Kindness Scripture Reading. In the meantime, learn more about making wellness a priority in the post 30 Day Wellness Challenge