Fear, Discouragement, or Peace

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Do not be afraid…

Do not be discouraged…

Easy for you to say.

Most of the time I am neither afraid nor discouraged. Most of the time I am doing just fine. But there are times when I do fear and am discouraged. And when I am afraid or discouraged, someone telling me not to be afraid or discouraged doesn’t help. In fact, it’s annoying. I am already experiencing fear and discouragement. How am I supposed to change what I’m already feeling?

Great question.

There are two truths about the verse of the day.

First, peace is not the absence of difficulties, hardship, or fear. Peace is the presence of God. God’s presence changes everything. God doesn’t change what we have to go through in life as Christians, but the presence of God changes how we deal with life. The presence of God is a game changer. God’s presence reminds us that there is nothing in the created universe that can separate us from his love and purpose. The worst that this world could do is death. But because of what God has done through Jesus Christ, death is no longer the end. Death is the gateway to eternity with God.

Second, whether you stay in fear and discouragement or you experience peace has everything to do with perspective. If you’re focused on your problems and the world around you, you will have reasons to fear and be discouraged. But, once you take your focus off of the problems and turn to God, you will experience peace. You are never alone. God is always with you. Through all situations God has a plan and a purpose for you. God loves you. You are never alone. God is God Emanuel – God with us.

Don’t miss – Living in peace and faith is not about how you’re feeling. It’s about an ongoing decision to choosing God and turning our gaze upon God. It’s choosing to focus on God. Once we focus on God, we will have peace.

No matter what you are facing today, you are not facing today alone. God is with you. Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Don’t Stink

“If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you” (Psalm 130:3-4).

What happens if you don’t shower regularly? You stink. You can try to cover the stink with deodorants and perfume, but if you don’t wash regularly you stink. That’s what happens when you live in a world with dirt and grime.

What is true for our physical bodies is true for our spiritual bodies. If we don’t regularly confess and repent of our sins, we stink. That’s what happens when we live in a sin-filled world.

That’s why a daily time of prayer and confession is absolutely necessary. If we don’t confess and repent, we literally stink.

It is absolutely true, “If the LORD kept a record of our sins, who could stand?” But this doesn’t mean that God ignores our sins or looks the other way when we sin. The reason why there is no record of our sins is because when we confess, God forgives our sins. When God forgives our sins our sins are erased. There is no longer any record of our sin. The record of our sins are erased precisely because God forgives us when we repent and confess.

In order to cleanse us and renew us God offers us forgiveness through his Son, Jesus Christ. But we must repent. We must confess our sins.

Make it your daily practice to confess and repent of your sins.

Before we go, let me clue you in on what the devil will do with all of this. The devil will make you feel guilty about confessing your sins daily. You see, for most of us we wrestle with the same sins over and over. And we will feel guilty asking for forgiveness for repeated sins. This is going to happen. But don’t let this deter you. The reason why we are repeat sinners is because we are sinners in need of a Savior. God already knows that.

Imagine if someone said, “Why should I take another shower when I’m just going to have to take another tomorrow?”

Why? Because you stink!!!

We shower because we get dirty.

We confess because we sin.

God already knows. Take your daily cleansing and confess your sins daily.

Running the Race of Faith with Perseverance

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).

The last several daily verses have focused on the need for our effort and commitment to know and grow in our faith. Because of the emphasis on our efforts, it may seem like the journey of faith has more to do with our effort and less with God’s grace.

Let’s get a couple of things straight.

These verses that deal with growing in our faith and understanding assume we are already children of God. These verses deal with sanctification – growing and becoming more like Christ as a disciple. Sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and us. The Holy Spirit guides, nurtures, and inspires. But we must work at doing what the Holy Spirit calls us to do. We become more like Christ when we practice the things that the Bible and the Holy Spirit tells us to do.

The reason why this is important is because our effort is done in response to God’s salvation. Salvation is all God. It’s all grace. We don’t do anything but believe and accept everything God has already done for us in Jesus Christ. Whereas, sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and disciples, justification is 100% the work of God.

Once we have received and accepted God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to growing in Christ. That’s where sanctification comes in. This is an ongoing journey until the day we die or until Christ returns. This part – sanctification – will take our best effort, commitment, and work.

If we are disciples, we respond to God’s grace by seeking to become more like Christ. That’s what it means to be a disciple.

There are two things from our verse of the day that I’d like for us to focus on in regards to discipleship.

First is the call to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. The Holy Spirit invites us to become more like Christ. This journey is not a sprint. This is a lifelong marathon. Therefore, what’s required is the perspective of perseverance. We will have good days and bad days. But the main thing is that we keep going. We’re in this for the long haul. We’re in this for eternity.

Second is our motivation. How can we persevere when things are hard? When we don’t feel like it? The text tells us to “fix your eyes on Jesus.” Fix – don’t take your eyes off him. Keep your focus on Christ. Fix it on Christ. The reason for this is because the things of this world are so “blingy”, so shiny. It is too easy to lose focus. It’s too easy to take our eyes off of Christ.

The longer we take our eyes off Christ and focus on the world, the more we forget the reality of the kingdom. We know that this world is not our permanent home. We know that the things of this world are not the totality of reality. We know that we are children of eternity and that what matters most is eternal things. But the longer we focus on this world, the more we forget the reality of the world that is coming.

You know I play golf. When a golfer takes his/her eyes off the ball the result is always painful. Nothing good ever happens when a golfer takes their eye off the ball.

Same goes with our faith journey. Nothing good ever happens when we take our eyes off Christ.

  • We are in this for the long-haul. We will run the race that has been set before us with perseverance.
  • We will fix our eyes upon Christ. This world is a passing world. Christ’s kingdom is coming. We are children of eternity.