BOLD Devotionals: WEEK ONE

Day One: 

Joshua 1:9

“Be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This verse marks the theme for this season at Southside Church.  As a church body, we are embarking on a journey together to put a stake in the ground for the Kingdom of God to ensure that Southside exists for the generations. 

But as we embark on this journey together, we recognize that God wants to meet each of individually too.  He wants us to come out of this journey with a deeper understanding of who He is, how deeply He loves us, and that His plan for us, laid out before we were even born, is one of BLESSING in every area of our lives.  Like Moses, God is calling us to step out of our spiritual slavery and into the Promised Land of freedom, trust, and a deeper faith.

For some, this is going to be the first significant spiritual journey you’ve ever taken.  For others, it is going to be one of many.  But one thing I know:  if you commit to the 4 steps on the last page, and believe that God wants to do something significant in your life, He will meet you exactly where you are and reveal Himself to you in a new way. 

No matter who you are, I want you to do something during these next21 days.  Start each day by saying these two things to yourself:

1)  God’s promises are TRUE

2)  God’s promises are FOR ME

Believing these two things will lay the foundation that God will build on during these 21 Days.

Reread Joshua 1:9.  For many people, I know that boldness and strength seem out of reach.  Fear and doubt may be your very constant companions, often drowning out your faith in God’s promises.  Reread Joshua 1:9 again.  Do you notice the promise there?  The one that is TRUE and the one that is FOR YOU?  Here it is: “I will be with you wherever you go.”  A few verses earlier, in Joshua 1:5, God says, ”No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will I be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  It’s almost like God knew we might be afraid sometimes.  It’s almost like he knew that from time to time we wouldn’t feel very bold or very strong.  And it is also almost like He knew exactly what we needed to know in order to OVERCOME the fear that stops us from being brave.  He knew all of those things and so He promised us that HE WILL BE WITH US WHEREVER WE GO.

So if God’s promises are TRUE and they are FOR YOU, then that means that you can stop being afraid because HE IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. Let’s let the truth of that sink into our hearts as we continue this 21 day journey together.

Prayer:  "God, I want to be bold and strong.  Help me to know that I can be bolder and stronger than I think, because You will be with me wherever I go."

Day Two: 

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

This BOLD campaign is going to require BOLD faith.  And not just from the Pastors and leaders, from every man, woman, teenager, and child who call Southside Church their home. In our verse for today, it says that faith is “confidence in what we hope for”, so maybe it is a good idea to take a minute and clarify for yourself what it is you hope for during this time—for Southside and the BOLD Campaign, but also in your own spiritual journey.

Obviously, we want to raise a whole bunch of money to buy a permanent home for our church family.  We want Southside to continue to be a church that unchurched people love coming to.  But what about personally?  What do you need from God in your own life right now?  If we’re honest, some of the first things that come to mind are often pretty superficial. 

“I need a house with a better floor plan.”

“I need a different job.”

“I need to lose 25 pounds.”

Don’t you think we should go a bit deeper?  What do you REALLY NEED from God right now in your life?

Instead of a different floor plan, maybe it is contentment and gratitude you need.

Maybe instead of different job it’s perseverance and patience that you need.

Or maybe you need strength? Wisdom?  Courage?  Love?

We serve such a generous God.  And the coolest thing is that just when we think He is asking something from us, He is there, offering to give us what we really need. 

During this BOLD Campaign we are asking everyone who calls Southside home to prayerfully consider the sacrifice they are willing to make so that we can put a permanent stake in the ground; to ensure that Southside will exist for the generations.  But here is the amazing thing about God:  as we prepare to sacrifice financially, He is going to bless us with things money can’t buy.  “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Eph 3:20 The Message)

So ask God today to show you what you REALLY need and then prepare for Him to meet you and to work deeply and gently within you.  Be prepared to be blessed with things money cannot buy.

Prayer:  "God, show me what it is I really need.  Help me to trust that as you call me to financial sacrifice, you will bless me with things money cannot buy."

Day Three: 

Matthew 16:25

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

I love the way Jesus says things don’t you?  Apparently contradictory things that are actually the most profound truths you will ever hear.

I like to summarize this amazing statement this way: “Unclench your hands.”

Our journey to becoming the person God created us to be is one of constant surrender isn’t it?  When we first meet Jesus, we surrender our ownership over ourselves and say to God: “I give you my life. I am a sinner in need of a savior.”  That is the BIG surrender—the one that changes our eternal destinies.  But it isn’t the ONLY surrender.  As we walk with Jesus, the process of CHANGE happens when LISTEN to him as he walks beside us, whispering in our ears, “Unclench your hands.” 

We hold on very tightly to certain parts of our lives and even though we know we are supposed to surrender EVERYTHING to God, we are often reluctant to do so.  We think that if we give God control of our relationships we will end up bored and lonely.  We think that if we give back to God 10 percent of what He has given us we will end up broke and lacking.  Or if we already tithe, and we hear God asking us to step up and give MORE, we think we must have heard him wrong. 

We hold very tightly to our rights don’t we?  This plays out especially in our relationships.  We hear God whisper, “Unclench your hands—let go of your anger toward that person who hurt you”, and we argue—thinking that if we do, it means we are less, that we are wrong, that they won.  We hear him whisper “unclench your hands—let go of your pride and go ask that person you hurt for forgiveness”, and we resist, not wanting to look weak or foolish. 

If we argue, resist or ignore these whispers we will never experience the truth of Matthew 16:25: that “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”. 

“Unclench your hands,” Jesus whispers. When we do this—when we obey the whispers that come throughout every season of our lives, we discover the freedom that comes from saying “not my will but yours be done.”  We say, “I don’t feel like letting go of my anger but if you say so, Jesus, I will”, and we find peace.  We say, “I don’t really want to give this money, God, but if you say so, I will”, and we find contentment.  We say, “I would prefer not to ask for forgiveness, but if you say so, I will”, and we find rest.  In other words, when we lose our lives, because God asks us to, we find TRUE life.

Have you been ignoring the whispers? —justifying when you should be obeying?  Over the next 21 days, ask God to make your ears receptive to his whispers.  Then you will start understanding the truth of Matthew 16:25, and see its truth play out in your life.

Day Four: 

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.”

 

Pastor Mike has just taken us through Proverbs 3—showing us how this verse applied to our lives will change everything—that’s why I have chosen it as one of our key verses for these 21 Days.  I’ve noticed something that happens when I embark on any kind of spiritual journey.  When I decide I need to wake up, grow up or straighten up in my walk with God, I immediately encounter resistance.  Have you ever had that happen to you?

This 21 Day journey is going to be no exception.  In fact, if I was a betting person, I would bet you have encountered some resistance already.  For the next few days, let’s take a look at some of the things that tend to stand in our way whenever we commit to going deeper in our faith.

Faith vs Common Sense

Have you ever had a well-meaning Christian advise you to use your “God-given common sense” when you were faced with a decision?  On the surface, this advice sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?  But in light of Proverbs 3:5-6, we aren’t supposed to lean on our own understanding.  This verse tells us that trusting our common sense can actually be in conflict with trusting God. 

Proverbs 3 verse 5 isn’t telling us that we should NEVER use our common sense.  We all know that person, don’t we?  Ignoring our common sense all the time would mean denying that God has given us a rational brain and the ability to make decisions.  What is DOES mean, though, is that as a follower of Jesus, when what God is telling us to do contradicts what our common sense is saying, we must follow God.

Let’s take a look at how this contradiction plays out.  What if the original 12 disciples had chosen to follow their common sense?  Jesus’s closest friends and followers, the ones He commissioned to go into all the world to preach the gospel—what if they had sat down with a pro-con list and used their God-given common sense to decide whether to accept this commission?  From a human common sense point of view, the pro list would have been pretty short, wouldn’t it?  The cons?  Persecution, imprisonment, homelessness, friendlessness and poverty to name a few.  Common sense would have said, stay home with your friends and your remote control, man!

What about in our lives? Here’s how faith and common sense collide for us:

“Say sorry?? Makes no sense.  I’m right and she’s wrong.”
“Give THAT MUCH?? That just makes no sense at all! What if I need it?”
“Do THAT??  I need to get on with my life and that would be a major setback.”

Which voice are you going to listen to in the decisions you are facing right now?  Are you going to trust in the Lord with all of your heart or are you going to lean on your own understanding?  Proverbs 3 makes it clear that if you want your paths to be straight, pick the voice of God over your common sense every time. 

Day Five: 

2 Timothy 2:13

“If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

Faith vs Self-doubt

I spent a lot of my life knowing that God’s promises were true, but also being convinced that my short-comings COULD and probably WOULD somehow short-circuit those promises. It’s not that I didn’t think God meant what He said, it was just that I was pretty convinced that I was a big enough screw-up that God’s promises wouldn’t “work” for me.

That was a very discouraging time in my life.  And it lasted so much longer than it needed to.  I don’t know if you can relate to this or not—this feeling like you’d sure like to believe all the great things that God promises, but they can’t possibly be true for someone like you.  2 Timothy 2:13 points to the reason that there is nothing we can do to cancel out the promises of God:  His promises are TRUE because He is TRUTH.  They have nothing to do with us.  I am forgiven because Jesus—perfect, sinless, and God-in-the-flesh—died in my place.  He paid a penalty I could never have paid—not if I was the best, brightest, kindest, most wonderful person in the world.  God keeps his promises not because of anything we do or ever can do.  He is faithful because he can’t NOT be faithful.  This was very good news when it finally sank in to this girl’s thick skull.  There is such a freedom that comes when we look less at ourselves and more at Jesus—when we look at his promises, see who is behind them and just know that they are true. I think this is what Jesus meant when He said to come to him like little children.  Kids trust more—they just believe things without self-doubt and second-guessing coming into it.

So when God says: “I will never leave you.” Just like a child, we believe it.

When He says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Just like a child, you come.

When He says: “I will supply all your needs according to my riches in glory.”  Just like a child, we give generously and are not afraid.

Where do you need to be more like a little child in your walk with God?  Do you need to look more at God and less at yourself?  Do you need to stop thinking you are the one person on earth who God’s promises won’t “work” for?  That needs to change.  Ask God to help you over these 21 days, to learn to take God at His word and like a child, just believe what He says.

Day Six:

Isaiah 41:10

 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    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.

Faith vs Fear

Judging by the amount of times God tells us in the Bible not to be afraid (over 100 times), it is clear that fear is a huge barrier to faith. I don’t think that is news to anyone, is it?  Fear most often manifests itself in our lives as worry and anxiety.  Mark 3 talks about 4 different kinds of people and how they respond to the word of God. Verse 18 says, “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word, but the worries of this life…come in, making it unfruitful.” I love how The Message paraphrases this verse: “The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.”  Does this sound familiar to anyone? Do you recognize the pattern in your own life?  You hear the word of God and the truth about the life He has for us and within days, moments even, your worries and fears have drowned out the voice of God.

During this BOLD campaign, God is calling us as a church, and as individuals, to stop being afraid—to stop letting the worries and stress of this life choke out the fruit God wants to produce in our lives: peace, joy, contentment, and most of all, a BOLD faith.

I definitely struggle with letting worries crowd out God’s voice in my life.  There just always seems to be so many things to worry about, doesn’t there?  Having 6 kids produces enough worries to fill my mind 24/7 if I let them.  Having young adult children and teenagers is super stressful.  When they were young, I worried they would touch the stove, fall down the stairs, or stick a bobby pin in the electrical outlet, and now that my kids are leaving the nest and testing out their wings I worry that they will get burnt by relationships or fall in their faith. I long for the days when a trip to the emergency room was my biggest concern!  But it’s not okay to worry.  It’s actually a sin.  So I have committed to saying this verse to myself EVERY TIME worry threatens to crowd out the peace that God promises:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:6-8).

This verse it THE formula for ruthlessly eliminating worry from our lives.  Step 1: When you start to worry, PRAY instead.  Step 2:  God gives us His peace. Step 3:  Replace the “worry thoughts” with thoughts about good things.

Does worry crowd out God’s peace in your life?  Commit to making Philippians 4:6-8 YOUR verse—memorize it and say it EVERY TIME those “worry thoughts” come.  And remember God will “strengthen you and help you and uphold you with His righteous right hand.”

Day Seven:

Before church today, reread the key verses for this week:

“Be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (Timothy 2:13)

 “So do not fear, for I am with you;
    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)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:6-8).

 

Ask God to make these truths real in your life—not fleeting and momentary bursts of insight, but enduring truths that sink deep into your heart.  Come to church expecting God to speak to you and He will.  As the BOLD campaign continues, ask God what part He wants you to play and what sacrifice he is calling you to make. 

Thank him for his presence in our lives and recognize that “every good and perfect gift comes from his hand.” (James 1:17)

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