As for Me

Joshua 24:15
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: Larry Van Laar

This verse is often printed on plaques, pillows, and coffee. It is an affirmation of a family’s commitment to serve God. This is as big of a deal now as it was then. Joshua, who took over leadership of the Israelites after Moses’ death, had to deal with a lot. Moses’ generation failed miserably. They built a golden calf at Mount Sinai and were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. As a result, that entire generation died without entering and experiencing the Promised Land. After 40 years, Joshua and the Israelites entered into the Promise Land that was supposed to be filled with “milk and honey.” And it was, but it was also filled with pagan beliefs. This had to be devastating for Joshua to see play out over and over again in the life of the Israelites. God had promised He would give into their hands everything if they would just not turn from Him, but many did anyway.

In Joshua’s last days, he took one last stand with the people. He called all of his elders, leaders, and tribes together and made a final declaration through telling the story of how God brought them to the Promised Land. He then gave them a choice: Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve. The choice is God the Creator or something else.

Every day we are faced with the same choice as the Israelites. Who will you serve?

Unafraid Devo 5.31Thought of the day: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” is a promise to do the best we can to make sure everything that takes place inside our home and life honors God. What choices must we make today to fulfill the promise?

Prayer: Lord, even when the decision to serve and follow You is hard, I pray You would guide and give me the courage and strength to serve only You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Gift of Choice

Proverbs 16:20
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”


Written by: Shannon Swenson

God is not demanding or pushy. He tells us what will happen when we use the gift of choice to decide whether we follow His instructions or we choose to take the prodigal path.

How easy is it to forget that there is power in the gift of choice? We can choose to trust Him with the whole of our lives, or we can choose to hold back pieces of it. Who am I to decide with how much or how little the Creator of the universe can be trusted? The things I think I can hold back or hide, He already knows about. In fact, He already knows that you and I are going to take a different path, the prodigal path, from time to time because none of us are as we should be.

We have the gift of choice to listen to the nudge of the Holy Spirit; our advocate and power source behind all that we truly need in this life. We will all be tempted to ignore that nudge at times.

That’s not so smart, now is it? But let’s be real, if we are honest with ourselves there are so many times that we fail to properly use the gift of choice.

He is faithful to tell us exactly what we need to hear, even if it may not be exactly what we want to hear. When we listen, respond, and repent from the things He has lovingly warned us not to do, we are once again exercising our gift of choice.

God chooses us every single day. No matter what we have done, He loves us just as we are and not as we should be. He practices the gift of choice every time we turn back towards Him and loves us even when we don’t deserve it. Our lives are so much more abundantly full and blessed with what His plans are when we experience all that He wants for us through the choice to refrain or the choice to remain.

Unafraid Devo 5.30Thought of the day: How have you experienced an abundant life by following Him and doing the hard, but right thing? What hope can you share with someone who is struggling with something they should be refraining from? How can you celebrate with someone that is remaining the course, and following His instruction?

Prayer: Father God, thank You that Your love of us is evident in the choices you make time and time again. Thanks that You love us, know our every need, and will provide all of the blessings we could ever ask or hope for. Forgive me for holding back from trusting You in all things. In Jesus’ name, amen

Rescued from the Mouths of Lions

Daniel 6:16 and 22-23
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den.  The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you…My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.  They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.  Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”  The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den.  And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.


Written by: Marshall King

Have you ever been faced with a situation that resulted in you giving in to something rather than standing your ground and being obedient to God? Most of us have or will at some time in our lives. It is often referred to as peer pressure; doing something you normally would not do in order to fit in or to be accepted. Giving in to the peer pressure can result in guilt, regret, embarrassment, or even fear.

Jesus was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). In all three of Satan’s tests or temptations, Jesus refrained from giving in.  In Satan’s final temptation, he took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Satan told Jesus, “All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus rebuked him saying, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”  Then Satan left him, and the angels came and attended Jesus.

Another example is Daniel. He was a man of God, praying regularly to Him. When faced with King Darius’ written decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man during the next 30 days, except to King Darius, shall be thrown in the lions’ den, Daniel refused to follow the decree.  Daniel was not afraid of what might happen to him if he failed to obey King Darius’ decree.  Instead, three times every day, Daniel got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before the decree (Daniel 6:10). Because of Daniel’s faith, obedience, and spiritual discipline of praying regularly, He was able to trust God to protect and provide for him in the face of his present trial.

Unafraid Devo 5.29Thought of the day: If you were faced with a similar situation, what would you do? Peter told Jesus that he would never deny that he knew Jesus, yet he ultimately denied on three different occasions that he knew and was a follower of Jesus. What is your response when someone asks if you are a Christian? Would your answer change if you faced being killed for being a follower of Jesus? It is the test that we all would want to pass, but never want to take. In Luke 9:26 Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are my rock and my salvation. You alone are worthy of all my praise and worship. Father, during times of doubt or fear, restore my mind and my soul to trust You completely. In the midst of my trials, remind me that the testing my faith develops perseverance and that perseverance must finish its work so that I may be [spiritually] mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1: 2-4). You are faithful, and I can trust You with my life. Through my faith, trust, and obedience, You are glorified. Amen.

I Will Trust His Plan

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”


Written by: Patty Esposito

Everyone is searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. We see it every day: on social media, in the news, and with our friends. Everyone is trying to understand why we are here. We see life happen and a lot of what we see is messy.

Have you ever seen a tapestry? The final work is a gorgeous, intricate piece of art, but the back is a different story. The back is messy, intertwined pieces of yarn with no real relationship to the beauty of the reverse side.

Our lives are like the back of that tapestry. Just like the strands of yarn, life is a messy jumble of events and choices we’ve made. God’s ultimate plan for us may be hard to see now but if we choose to let God take control, His final masterpiece will be a beautiful life of one surrendered to Him!

We might look at our life and be dissatisfied with how it’s turning out or compares with our friends’ fabulous lives. We need to realize that the bigger picture will have God’s touch and stamp of approval and be exactly what He made our life to be.

There is hope for us and this hope is found in God. He is in control. We can trust in God because He is the Author and Creator of all.

Thought of the day: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Prayer: Father, help me to trust You in the outcome of both my here and now and my future. You are weaving a beautiful tapestry out of my life. Even though I might not see it now, allow me to rest in You and be faithful in my life because You are faithful to me. Amen.

 

Triple Prayer Power

Ephesians 3:14-16 (NKJV)
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.


Written by: John Esposito

In this passage, Paul is speaking about the “mystery of God.” The Trinity (God exists as three co-equal persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is perhaps one of the most profound mysteries of scripture. But Paul clearly identifies each person individually in Ephesians 3:14-16.

In my own life—I realize this is a bit of a meager attempt to explain this Triple Power—I know that as one man I have three different roles. To my wife, I am a husband; to my daughter, I am a father; and to my parents, I am a son. I am just one man, but with different roles within each relationship.

Now think of roles the Trinity plays in our prayer lives. Scripture clearly speaks of our prayers directed to each person of the Trinity.

In Luke 11:2 when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray he answered, “When you pray, say: Our Father in Heaven.”

In Hebrews 7:25 it says of Jesus, “He always lives to make intercession for them.”

And then in Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

I believe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit desire and enjoy our “leaning” on them in our prayer time. Each of them would like to hear from us and desire to have time with us!

Unafraid Devo 5.27Thought of the day: Consider the incredible power that can be unleashed through our prayers to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Consider being intentional by including each Person of the Trinity in your prayer time.

Prayer: Father, hallowed be your name, I praise and thank You for Your daily provision. Jesus, You are glorious, and I thank You for sacrificing Your life so that I may have eternal life. Holy Spirit, You are mighty and I am glad You live within me to guide me through life. Amen.

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.