Here’s courage, take it…

When Paul was in Jerusalem a lot happened to him.  He was dragged from the Temple, beaten by Jews, arrested by Romans, threatened with flogging, brought before the Chief Priests and all the Council.  The Sadducees and Pharisees became so violent, the Roman Tribune feared for Paul’s life and had him taken to the Roman barracks.  While all this was happening Paul continued to testify; he continued to tell the truth about himself and about God.

Paul’s life was in jeopardy because of what he was saying.  I imagine, Paul, being human, felt some discomfort, if not fear.  It seems if he had just stopped talking he would not have been in danger of being hurt or even killed.  But Paul did not stop talking.  Through it all he refused to take the easy way, the comfortable way, and tell the people what they wanted to hear.  He kept on telling them what they needed to hear.

The following night while Paul was in the Roman barracks the Lord came and stood by him.  And after all he had been through what did the Lord have to say to him?  Did He say “well-done, now take some time off, get some rest, visit friends and family, enjoy.”  No.  The Lord gave him the next assignment.

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage!  As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Acts 23:11 niv

As Jesus tells Paul what he must do He also gives him something.  Paul was not being sent off to Rome without resources.  He already had his testimony; and now Jesus says, “Take courage.”  He was giving to Paul what he would need for the journey to Rome and what he would need while there.

The bible is history.  It tells stories of the Saints who came before us.  But it is also about current events; what is happening to the Saints now.  The history tells us what God had people like Paul do and how He equipped them.  It is the same today.  When we read these words they are meant for us, too.  He does not leave us without resources; as He said to Paul, “Take courage,” so He says to us, “Take courage.”

Just as Paul had a testimony so do we. Now is not the time for us to rest and relax. We have an assignment, a story to tell.  We may not be sent to far away places to tell the story but we are sent.  And we are equipped by the Lord.  Just as He offered courage to Paul so he offers it to us.  It is offered not forced upon us.  We decide whether to accept or refuse.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 esv

I wonder why it is hard to accept what is so freely offered to help with the assignment given?

I wonder if I do not accept what is offered thinking that  I will not  have to take the assignment?

Just wondering…





















My Word For The Year…

For the last several years instead of  New Year’s resolutions I have chosen a word (or verse) from scripture as my word for the year.  During the year I will look up the word in dictionaries and commentaries to learn the different meanings it has.  I will  use it in my meditations and in my prayer time.  Not every day or every week but at least once or twice a month it will be my focus.  Past years I have been quite happy with the word I chose. This year is different–I did not choose the word.

In December I started scanning my bible looking for the word for 2011.  Nothing really stood out…except this one word kept coming to mind.  I do not especially like this particular word so I would shake it loose and keep looking.  Then a verse kept coming up, and of course, it had the word in it. 

I tried really hard to ignore the promptings and find another word.  I chose other words and verses but the Spirit would have none of it.  So, this year, the word and verse were chosen for me.

The verse is Psalm 27:14, the word, wait. 

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.

 WAIT!  Ugh, I do not like to wait. I get nervous when I have to wait. I worry when I wait, I get angry and impatient. I am not a nice person when made to wait.

Think maybe the word, wait, was chosen  for a reason?

Well, I have done a little word study on three words of this verse; wait, courage, and strengthen. Wait here is not passive; it means  be in readiness, to expect, to watch for, and hope, patiently.  To be of good courage is to seize, to fasten upon, and be established.  Strengthen is to be alert, to fortify, prevail, and increase.

Okay, what have I learned so far?

  1. I am to be in readiness and to watch for and expect the Lord, with patience.
  2. I am to be joined to Him and established in Him.
  3. The Lord will awaken my heart, He will fortify it and make it strong so it will prevail and grow to be like Him.

The Living Bible Paraphrased says it this way,

Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and He will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted and courageous. Yes, wait and He will help you.

Still that word wait!

I wonder why, just when I am feeling calm and settled, this word?

I do not wonder if He has a sense of humor!




Being who we are…

This world is a place where it seems a chosen few, an elite force, decide a lot of things; who is pretty or ugly, successful or a failure, popular or excluded, valuable or worthless.  It is frightening to be exposed to be your naked self in this world.
So to protect ourselves we put on masks.  A mask is something worn to conceal or disguise one’s real identity, personality or character. A mask can also be something that covers up our intentions or something we have done.  We put masks on to hide things about ourselves from others.
We hide silly things; we read romance novels, we paint our toenails blue, we sometimes have dessert for supper, we have not moved or dusted behind the dresser in years…
We hide hard or sad things; our marriage is falling apart, we do not have money to pay the rent, our child is on drugs, we are depressed…
We hide what embarrasses us; where we come from or what we have done in the past, Daddy was an alcoholic, have an addiction, have been arrested, we have doubts about our faith…
Our masks are in place because we are trying to be what we think others want or expect from us.  We want to be accepted and to belong.
We hide our thoughts and beliefs–things most important to who we are. We are afraid to defend our thoughts and beliefs because we do not want to be misunderstood or to be outside of what is currently popular in the culture of the times.
We hide our personalities in a box.  Sometimes a pretty box but more often in a plain brown box. We try to be like everyone else so we will fit in.
Instead of being someone of strong character, like actors we become a character playing someone else, an illusion. We weaken our character by following the crowd and trying to fit in.
I would like to say I never wear a mask.  But the truth is I often do and it is rarely, if ever, comfortable. There a few people with whom I am truly myself. And with all my faults and failings unmasked and right out there for them to see they love me–even like me.  They see me for who I am and they are encouraging and helping me  become who I am meant to be.  I am blessed.
My prayer is that we all will be brave and strong and stop hiding. That we come to know that who we are is more than just OK.  We have been created  for a purpose, to be who we are and where we are, by our loving Father and sovereign God.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to it’s level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:2 The Message Bible 
I wonder why I sometimes think the woman I really am is not good enough and I must hide her and be like everyone else?
I wonder what awesome things we would see and do if the masks came off and we just let God bring the best out of us.
Just wondering…