God Stands Near and Gives Courage

“. . . the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage!’” Acts 23:11 NIV

We’ve all been there—in situations where the stakes are immense and our courage has all but vanished. The life of a loved one may hang in the balance, a disaster may threaten to crush us, or a dream may be crumbling before our eyes. Fear grabs us by the throat and leaves us shaken in every way. We need courage and strength beyond our own.

We find in the Bible that the apostle Paul was no stranger to desperate and dangerous circumstances of his own. The instance from the passage above happened one time when Paul was in Jerusalem. A great uproar had broken out amongst the Jews over Paul and his teachings. He faced deadly mob violence until Roman soldiers took him prisoner. Then when the commander had Paul speak to the Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish court—the circumstances turned violent again. And again, the Romans intervened and took Paul prisoner.

Just when Paul must have been wondering if he’d make it out of Jerusalem alive, the Lord came and imparted courage to him. Scripture tells us he stood near Paul and told him to take courage, that he had further work for him to do. Whether the Lord stood there physically or in spirit, he came to encourage Paul—in fact, to give him courage. And he drew near to do it.

Will not the Lord also come to us when we are in dire circumstances? Will he not also stand near us and speak courage and peace to our hearts when we desperately need it? Indeed he will. We can count on it. We can count on him. 

“say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . he will come to save you.’” Isaiah 35:4 NIV

*When has the Lord drawn close and imparted courage, peace, or strength to you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Curtis Simmons, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger Julie Gillies: Let’s Choose Brave


I’d like to welcome writer friend and author Julie Gillies to my blog today as she shares an excerpt adapted from her recently released book From Hot Mess to Blessed. I’ve already read the book and it’s filled with biblical wisdom, encouragement, and hope. I pray Julie’s words bless you today!

Let’s Choose Brave

Bravery has ripple effects. We rarely consider this (at least I don’t) because we’re so caught up in the everyday and the here and now. Life’s daily battles are intense, and sometimes it’s all we can do to remain focused and keep plowing forward. Yet our courageous choices act as a gleaming machete, slicing a path through the thick jungle of fear that entangles and trips.

Choosing brave helps us fully believe and embrace and pursue God’s promises while inspiring those around us and making a way for those behind us.

A key component in learning to embrace bravery is praying brave prayers—prayers that focus less on avoiding fear or keeping fear away from us and more on courage and confidence and holy mettle. Though we might not always feel fearless, by praying for specific qualities from Scripture, we can fear less.

– Instead of praying that fear will be far from us, we can pray for strong, bold, and very courageous hearts (see Joshua 1:9) when fear comes near.

– Instead of asking God to remove all the sources of fear in our lives, we can pray for His grace to run toward the big, scary things with great courage (see 1 Samuel 17:48).

– Instead of praying that fear will leave us alone, we can pray that when we are afraid, we will have confidence and put our reliance on God (see Psalm 56:3).

– Instead of asking God for all fear in our lives to vanish, we can pray that His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus—and supersede all fear (see Philippians 4:6-7).

– Instead of feeling alone and fearful, we can pray to consistently remember God is with us, and we don’t have to fear. King David declared, “The Lᴏʀᴅ is for me, so I will have no fear” (Psalm 118:6 ɴʟᴛ).

I think I need to write the above verse on a Sticky Note and attach it to my forehead. If I had it my way, I’d never wrestle with fear again. It would be completely and permanently eradicated from my life (Can I get an amen?). But this side of eternity, I don’t know how realistic that goal is. I think we will all have times when we must battle fear, but it is always for a purpose.

Facing down fear teaches us how to engage the enemy, to fight, to stand, and to prevail. So be beautifully clothed in His mighty strength and the holy dignity He lavishly provides. Laugh without a care, free from fear’s taunts and digs. I see us—hot messes though we may yet be—laughing beautiful, musical laughs, heads tossed back, and hearts lifted toward heaven because we have nothing to fear.

This is an adapted excerpt from the book, “From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything”, Harvest House Publishers 2017. Used with permission.

*Question from Cheryl: What situation in your life is God calling you to choose brave for today?

Julie K. Gillies is the author of From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything and the devotional, Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. Healed from a traumatic childhood, Julie’s message helps women pray, know, and believe God’s Word. Julie is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of two soldiers and one civilian, and Grammy of four. She loves bicycling , any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family at home, especially on days when her house is clean. Find FREE resources and connect with Julie at www.JulieGillies.com .

*Photos courtesy of author.

Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

Leap of Faith

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As I opened the blinds and looked out into the backyard one winter morning, a neighborhood daredevil unknowingly treated me to his early morning leap of faith.

With the trees still leafless, a darting movement in the branches quickly caught my eye. As I looked more closely, I could see that it was a squirrel — though he quickly proved he was not just any squirrel. He must have thought he was Wonder Squirrel or something. He skillfully zoomed higher and higher and then boldly ventured out on the tiniest limb. Before I could finish thinking where is he going? I bet he’s going to jump, he did it, hesitating only ever so slightly before his leap.

After sailing through the air to the closest limb of a nearby tree, he landed his leap with the sure-footedness of . . . well, a squirrel. He completely trusted that limb. He seemed to know it would hold his weight, that it would catch him. And he was right. It bent, but it didn’t break. It seemed to bounce back at just the right speed, allowing him to keep his balance and continue on his frenzied little journey.

Watching this little daredevil’s leap of faith, I immediately thought of the times we are called upon to jump into our Father’s arms. You know, the times when God wants us to trust him. The times when he wants us to go where he’s calling us to go or do what he’s asking us to do, even when it means stepping out into the unknown. He wants us to believe he will catch us and help us maintain our balance as we journey on with him. He wants us to trust him completely.

I want to be ready to do just that—to trust God completely. How about you? Any other daredevils out there?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

*When have you taken a leap of faith?

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from March 2008 blessed you all and provided just the word of encouragement someone needed today. May it be so, Lord!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Maxwell GS, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Old Glory Still Flies

419187374_244fb2442b_zAs we head into this Fourth of July holiday weekend, aren’t you glad that Old Glory still flies? Much blood has been shed and many sacrifices made to ensure that our country is still “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I, for one, am forever grateful, and I’m sure you are, too.

Let’s not forget that it’s because of the One to whom all glory is due that our nation still stands where Old Glory can fly. Thank you, Father, for the freedom we enjoy. Thank you, O Lord, for your watch-care and mercy!

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2

*What are some of the ways God has blessed our nation?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early August. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by arbyreed, Creative Commons License