Be Bold

31 01 2014

“…but the righteous are bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1b

My son loves the Disney movie The Lion King. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times we have watched that movie. The story follows a family of lions as the youngest, Simba, discovers who he is and whether he has what it takes to follow his destiny. Simba’s father, Mufasa, is everything that the King of the Beasts should be – strong, confident, wise, and larger-than-life. His evil brother, Scar, uses lies, trickery, and deceit to steal the throne, banishing Simba even as he destroys his confidence and steals his future.

When we talk about being bold, the world often pictures Scar. He is bold in the sense that he is willing to take risks in order to steal the spotlight. He knows what he wants and takes whatever steps he needs to take in order to get what he wants. Simba, on the other hand, has to find a different kind of boldness in order to reclaim the legacy that is his birthright. Friendship, honesty, humility, and certainty of purpose empower Simba to face his uncle and take his place in the circle of life.

God means for you to be bold. Boldness is the fruit born in a heart that has put on the armor of God. Bold really has two different definitions. The first is the idea of courage. Boldness is the inner strength to step up, speak out, and stand firm. The second is a picture of distinctiveness. Bold type stands out from the page. A bold color draws the eye. A bold move sets one apart from the crowd. Putting on Christ gives us the boldness, the courage, and the fearlessness we need to stand with God in the middle of our struggles. It empowers us to take the next step, speak the needed word, or get up one more time. Wearing the armor of God makes us distinctive in a world that wants us to blend in and gives us the boldness we need to live in His purpose.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be bold. Boldness is not flashy or flamboyant. Boldness is the courage to look like Jesus every day, in every place. It isn’t noisy and doesn’t call attention to itself. Boldness simply does what is necessary to follow Jesus all the way.





Prayer

29 01 2014

“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Some days we move through this world as the walking wounded. Our hearts hurt. Tears fall. Fear and faith feel like they are in a wrestling match in our souls. Putting on the armor of God helps us stand, rather than stumble as we navigate the struggles of this life. Prayer is the final piece that pulls all the rest together.

In prayer, very simple but amazing things happen. When we pray, we make a declaration of faith that transforms us even as the first words are spoken. Bowing our heads acknowledges that God is here, God is real, and God is listening. Prayer helps us look at our circumstances and see through them, around them, and  beyond them. When we pray, we do so because we believe that God is active in our world and willing and able to move on our behalf. Prayer understands that the One who lives in the highest heavens is willing to step into my struggles and make a way for me to walk more closely with Him.

Prayer is like a tether. It keeps us tied to God. It fixes our hope in the power of God. It prevents us from drifting away from God. It keeps my heart soft, my spirit humble, and my life bound to Him in dependence and trust.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on prayer. I have never met a person of great faith who is not also a person of deep prayer. That understanding is both humbling and convicting. Putting on prayer changes it from a “do” to a “be.” I don’t just want to pray. I want to be a person of prayer. When I put on prayer, I invite God into the middle of who I am and where I walk. I want the connection I share with God to so permeate who I am that prayer surrounds every conversation, saturates every encounter, and fills every breath.





The Word

27 01 2014

“I have stored up your word in my heart…” – Psalm 119:11a

Putting on the armor of God empowers us to stand in the difficult places of life, rather than being run over by fear, desperation, and despair. The armor doesn’t make life easy. It gives us the courage and the perspective we need to face our struggles with grace and walk with Him in full surrender.

Perhaps no piece of armor penetrates the needs of our souls more pointedly than the Word of God. In the Bible, we hear His voice, enter His presence, see His hand, and experience His love. Here are ten ways to practice putting on the Word of God.

1. Study His Word – dig deeply into the treasures God wants to give you through His Word.

2. Meditate on His Word – let His Word soak down into the thirsty crevices of your heart.

3. Sing His Word – allow a melody to shape your steps and define your rhythm.

4. Read His Word – reading His Word is like turning on the light. It illuminates everything.

5. Speak His Word – talk to someone else about how God’s Word is speaking to you.

6. Listen to His Word – let His words echo in your mind as you learn to listen to His voice.

7. Write His Word – slowing down to write a verse down helps us write it on our hearts.

8. Memorize His Word – when you memorize scripture, it becomes a part of you in a way that is special and unique.

9. Carry His Word – put the Bible on your phone and check your “messages” from God.

10. Live His Word – the best way to cement the Word in your life is to live the Word and let it be your life.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on the Word of God. I want it to saturate the core of who I am. I want it to shape my spirit, transform my soul, define my vision, and mark my steps. Sometimes because the Word of God is so readily available I get complacent about being deliberate about putting it on. Today that changes. God chooses to speak to me. He wants me to know Him. He invites me into His presence. The Bible is more than an amazing book. It reveals an amazing God. Time to put it on and experience the amazing things He has in store for me.





Salvation

24 01 2014

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13

The day I got married changed my life. It changed my name, my address, my identity, my perspective, and the way I lived each piece of the day. Now my decisions had to be made in the light of this new relationship. My actions became tethered to the well-being of another person. Love took on dimensions I had never imagined.

Fast forward to today. Years have passed. Anniversaries have been celebrated. Our family has grown, and we have developed a rhythm that comes from living and loving together for a long time. I am still married. Just as married as I was on the day I said, “I do.” Yet, I have matured in my understanding of what it means to be married. I have a better picture of what it takes to be a wife, to love through thick and thin, and to rest confidently in the love that God has given us.

The moment of salvation is like a wedding day. In baptism, we commit to belonging to God and accept the relationship He so wants to share with us. It is a moment of transformation that moves us from death to life and changes our names, identity, purpose, and perspective. The Holy Spirit moves in and we begin to learn what it means to live in rhythm with God. As time passes, we mature in our understanding of what it means to put on salvation. We are saved, but we grow in our salvation as we learn and experience the richness and beauty of being loved by God.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on salvation. God has made me amazing, faithful, heart-changing promises. He wants me to have confidence in His grace, assurance in His purpose, and faith in His constant presence. Salvation isn’t a one-time action that I mark on a calendar and becomes dusty history. Salvation is a commitment to a relationship that becomes sweeter with each step we take together.





Faith

22 01 2014

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

One of our little friends just got glasses. He looks very cute and is very proud of how smart they make him look. When we asked him if he likes his new glasses, he said, “Sure, now I can see.” Before glasses, he didn’t realize that there was a whole unblurry world out there for him to enjoy. He thought that fuzziness was a reality for everyone. It is amazing how rich the colors are, how deep the horizon goes, and how limitless the possibilities are when our vision is clear.

Faith is in many ways a vision word. It is a way of seeing the world, of looking at life, at choosing a path, and understanding our circumstances. It is a decision to see ourselves through the eyes of God. His truth becomes the lens that gives us focus. It helps us step around the potholes, avoid the traps, and recognize the world’s mirrors of misdirection.

Faith is the choice to trust God enough to move with Him. There is no such thing as theoretical faith. Faith expresses itself in the decision to walk where He walks, rest where He rests, and follow where He leads. It is not always easy. We stand in difficult moments that require hard heart choices. Will I trust that God is in this moment? That He loves me? That He is keeping His promises? That I can trust Him when everything around me is crumbling and doesn’t make sense? Faith says “yes” to God even when we can’t see anything but “no.”

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on faith. Faith works a lot like a seed in our lives. It has to develop roots, be nurtured, and given time and space to grow. The better I know God, the deeper my faith roots can go into His heart. Every time I surrender, it stretches my faith and expands my ability to see more clearly. Faith allows me to see the richness, depth, glory, and beauty of the life God wants me to live. I don’t want to live a fuzzy, blurry life. I want to live a life that is focused by faith.





Peace

20 01 2014

“For he himself is our peace…” – Ephesians 2:14a

Sometimes my entire decision about what I am going to wear is based on my shoes. Do I crave comfort? Do I need something dressy? Is it sandal weather or are boots required? I build my outfit from the feet up.

God pictures peace as the shoes that we put on as we get ready to walk in the world. Many times we think of peace as something that we hope follows as we move through life’s circumstances. The Lord tells us that peace is what we put on to help us be ready to face whatever life throws at us.

Peace is an active trust in the sovereignty of God. It is a decision to stand in whatever situation we find ourselves believing in the truth that God is present, God is faithful, and God is moving for our very best good. Peace doesn’t mean that everything around us is calm and under control. Peace is the decision to trust that God is in control – even if I don’t understand, can’t see, am blinded by tears, or want something different. Peace flows from putting on shoes that will help me walk with my hand in His.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on peace. When I get dressed in the morning, my entire outfit for the day is determined by the kind of shoes that I decide to wear. The same is true for my soul. Peace grows out of the decision I make to trust the heart of God. Today I can stand in the middle of whatever circumstances life throws my way because God has given me the shoes I need to walk in His steps.





Righteousness

17 01 2014

“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3b 

Have you ever gotten lost? Really lost? So turned around that not only couldn’t you figure out where you are going, you are not even sure how you got where you are? Being lost is disorienting and discouraging. You think you are making forward progress only to run into a dead end or find yourself somewhere you never meant to be.

It is easy to get lost in this world. In the blink of an eye, we take a wrong turn, make the wrong choice, or follow the wrong set of directions. We end up looking around our circumstances, our relationships, and our souls wondering how we ended up so far from where we wanted to be.

God knows my tendency to get lost. His righteousness is the answer. It is a GPS system for my heart. Covering myself in His righteousness protects me from wrong turns, foolish decisions, and the dangers of ending up where I don’t belong. The righteousness of Jesus Christ shows me how to walk in the right path, make the right decisions, and live in the right way.

Walking in righteousness works the same way as following the directions on my GPS. I have to trust the path that God tells me to follow. I have to listen to His voice and watch for His instructions. When I get off course, I have to let repentance follow the “recalculating” directives meant to draw me back to His side.

My Jesus Resolution today is to put on righteousness. I don’t want to end up lost, alone, scared, and trapped because I followed my own intuition or listened to the directions of the world. I want to be in the presence of God. Jesus came to earth in order to become the right way to God. His steps define the path I need to take. His words are the instructions I need to follow. His cross is the marker that points me in the right direction.