"His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure." (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)
Say the following as a prayer.
In faith, I know this to be true:
God is in love with me, and when he thinks of me, it brings him joy.
It was his good pleasure to create me, and he created me so he could love me and his glory could shine through me. He chose me “in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4 NIV).
In his love, he determined to adopt me into his family, and, even then, he planned for my redemption through Jesus’ blood, bringing “the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on [me] with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7–8).
His love for me is continuous, so that I can say with confidence and joy, “When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalm 139:18b).
By his Spirit, I can live a life worthy of the Lord, and I am able to “please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
Jesus teaches me this confidence in God’s love, so that the same joy that is in him will be in me and so my joy will be complete, centered wholly in God (John 15:11).
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NASB)
God wants you confident in the truth that, through him, all things are possible.
Every day of your life, you have a choice:
However, two of the scouts remained confident in the promise from God that he would hand the land over to the Israelites. One of those scouts, Caleb, silenced the others when he said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30b NIV). He was focused on the magnitude of God and not the magnitude of any giant challenge ahead.
Today, you may be facing giants that challenge your faith. Some of the giants crowd around you — giants of time and energy, finances and resources, fear and faithlessness.
God wants you confident that he’s pouring his strength into you so you can do whatever it takes to overcome these obstacles. He says you can take possession of your promised mission; you can be certain you can do it because God is strengthening you.
Consider this: God wants to build up your faith, and one way he’ll do it is by showing you how, together with him, it is possible to defeat the giants that keep you from moving into your promised mission.
“Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29-30 MSG)
Jesus calls us to a level of intimacy that can only be sustained by his constant presence in our lives. He says, “Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:29-30 MSG).
Jesus is real, and so our response to him must be real. In other words, we can’t just say we have faith; we must show our faith by doing what God tells us to do. Deitrich Bonhoeffer, an influential theologian who was martyred under the Nazi regime, says, “For faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience.”
But taking a step in and of itself doesn’t mean we obey Jesus. He is very specific in what he tells us to do. He doesn’t say “Follow some general biblical principles” or “Submit yourself to a certain doctrine.” Jesus doesn’t present a plan for positive thinking or suggest seven simple steps to becoming his disciple. Jesus says, “Follow me,” and we do just that. Bonhoeffer also says, “Discipleship without Jesus Christ is a way of our own choosing. Even if our choice leads us to martyrdom, it is devoid of promise and Jesus will certainly reject it.”
Bonhoeffer notes we can never follow an idea in personal obedience. “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship; Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
“It remains an abstract idea,” says Bonhoeffer, “a myth which has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as the living Son. And a Christianity of that kind is nothing more or less than the end of discipleship. In such a religion there is trust in God, but no following of Christ.”
"Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?' he asked Peter." (Matthew 26:40 NIV)
Read this devotional as a prayer:
Help me, Lord, to develop a strong prayer life. I know you desire intimacy with me and that you want me to watch with you and pray (Matthew 26:40).
Yet I never seem to find the time to pray in a deep, fervent, consistent, persistent way. What draws me to my knees the most is when I have a problem, when I want something from you, when I need your help.
I’m flipping through my calendar, stressing with commitments, and you just want to hang out — with me. Help me turn my prayers into conversations with you that keep flowing throughout the day — an on-going communication, where I never say "amen."
Keep me close to you, no matter what it takes. I’m not sure I really want to pray that; I have bruises and scars from whatever-it-takes discipleship, but, then again, I confess the crush of these moments have taught me to throw myself on the stone before the stone falls on me.
And that has moved me closer to the love that compels my obedience, closer to becoming one with your heart. So, I’m asking that you change my “wants” until my deepest want is to be with you.
With this I pray that you will create me worthy of my calling and that your power will fulfill every good purpose you plan for me and energize everything I do in faith.
My prayer is that your life will emerge in my face and in my hands, in my thoughts and in my words. I know your grace will make it so (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
“Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land — against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.” (Jeremiah 1:18 NIV)
Read the following as a prayer today.
In faith, I know this to be true:
By God’s hand, I am “a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land” (Jeremiah 1:18 NIV), and I am enabled to fear no one but God.
I will not fear, for I know God is with me. When I face fear, he whispers in my ear, “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
He says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
When standing before fear, I can boldly say, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one that condemns? Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:33-35, 37).
I know my God goes before me and comes behind me (Psalm 139:5). He is “my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalms 61:3).
And, because of this, I stand convinced that, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of.” Luke 19:26 MSG
God uses risks, large and small, to stretch us into a life of faith. The irony is that if we concentrate on the risks instead of God’s faithfulness, we fail to understand that the greater risk is remaining independent of God.
If we believe what we say we believe, then regardless of what we are able to seeon the other side of a faith-related risk, the reality is that God is there. What may appear to be a no-guarantee situation actually comes with the greatest guarantee of all — a God-guarantee — that he is working everything out (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11).
Give God permission to clear any obstacles in your life that keep you from trusting his promise (that, in itself, is a risk that requires faith, isn’t it?).