We couldn't find what you are looking for. Try searching for something else.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. But even if he doesn’t… we will never serve your gods... - Daniel 3:17-18 (NLT)
Ever notice how prayerful people can be on planes? Takeoff, landing, turbulence. Walking out your door can be risky. But hurtling through the sky in a tube? It’s the only place I can think of that provides for… ahem… throwing up publicly. I read on an airsickness bag recently, “Please do not replace bag in seatback pocket after use.” Wouldn’t want to surprise the next traveller who may or may not have a sensitive gag reflex. It’d be a terrible cycle.
So what makes you nervous? What feels like a risk to you? When it feels like it’s under your control or in your comfort zone, it doesn’t qualify. Not feeling queasy or uneasy? It might not be a risk. The question of risk runs up against another question to wrestle down and resolve: Is God trustworthy? The answer to that question determines a lot about our experience of life. If we answer “No,” we tend to experience greater anxiety, burden to perform, a tendency to position ourselves defensively. But if the answer is, “Yes,” we can live with a covering of peace, releasing the pressure we’ve put on ourselves and others, letting God be our defender, be extravagant with generosity. In short: We can lean into risk, and let the chips fall where they may.
In a life surrendered to God, risk is normal. It might be a crazy ride. It might hurt. Yet, since our God is worth trusting, even if it’s scary or painful, even if we can’t see how it will work out, we can rely on His faithfulness. We may understand God’s plan, have insight into what He’s doing in this season, know exactly which promises apply to our situation or circumstance at the moment… and He still might do something unexpectedly good, or allow something that seems like it doesn’t fit our understanding. But if He’s trustworthy, then the best thing we can do is invest our trust in Him.
But even if He doesn’t do or act or intervene as we expect… a risk taken, trusting in Him, is the best investment we could ever make.
...he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, “Invest this for me while I am gone.” - Luke 11:13 (NLT)
Risk is one way we honor our king. What looks like risk from one perspective looks more like trust from another. Or maybe it’s both? When the King in the parable asked his servants to invest his resources, he pressed into their finances—of the most anxiety-producing corners of anyone’s life. Their money; the provision they depended upon. They should use the resources, but also increase them.
What does that kind of investment look like? We have investment capital at our fingertips. Our time and availability, gifts and our skills, money and resources… all entrusted to us. All belong to God, so we’re in exactly the same situation the servants found themselves. He’s given us much… waiting to see how it’ll be used, grow and multiply, be generously passed along to others. Whether it’s financial, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, intellectual, social… how can we honor God by using it for His glory?
If God is a good God who’s faithful and keeps His promises, wouldn’t anything and everything entrusted back to Him be invested wisely? It’s like the story of the dad who wanted to replace his daughter’s treasured fake white bead necklace from the dime store with a strand of genuine pearls. He asked her to release what she thought she wanted so she could receive something she couldn’t imagine—and hadn’t even asked for. When she finally relinquished the old, she received so much more.
We shouldn’t extrapolate this to mean that if we give, we’ll get upgraded. It’s a reminder that our Good Father has something beautiful in mind for us. The stuff of this world isn’t the greatest good, nor is it the final goal. We will see many reflections of His generosity on this side of eternity. But one day... we will see it all. And that day? When we see the return on investment. When we see that everything we gave was not thrown away or wasted. When we see why we did it, who was impacted, the lives changed, the lives saved… we will not have a single regret.
...those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. - John 4:24 (NLT)
It’s New Year’s Day, 2020! Marking time as we do, it can be hard to imagine we are timeless beings. If you belong to Jesus, your forever life has already started. We are, at root, spiritual beings. C.S. Lewis said, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Our soul… the seat of our thoughts, our decisions, the things we feel… is sandwiched between two realities: physical and spiritual. Our soul is impacted by input from both sides. What we do, how we think, and more is impacted by our environment. But they also receive life from our spiritual connection with Christ. We are influenced internally and externally, impacting our choices, actions, and even intentions.
What we do with our body affects us internally. For good and bad. When we sin, it impacts us. Our soul withers a bit. Our mind, our will, and our emotions are slightly—maybe even severely—desensitized. God doesn’t leave us or drift further away, but it can feel that way. In a similar way, when our physical body is used for an act of faith… trusting God… refusing to be afraid because we know He’s got us… it enlivens, emboldens, and gives strength and courage to our soul.
So, to worship in spirit and in truth? It’s allowing the spiritual input to have the upper hand. These realities filtering through our soul and finding expression in our bodies. It’s actively living out what we believe. We know it’s happening when our actions, reactions, thoughts, choices, and emotions seem to be empowered by another source. So that the way we face challenging moments, hard seasons, and difficult people is almost “otherworldly.”
As believers, we’re invited to no longer worship safety. We worship the One who guards us and provides for His kids, the One we trust and will never abandon us, the One who is preparing a place He’s promised so we can move out from under the domination of fear and death. We worship Him… in spirit and in truth… whatever the road we walk may look like. Scary. Difficult. Unsure. Dark. In Him we have hope. In Him we are secure. And we can rest because of the spiritual reality and ultimate truth that we know in Christ.
...to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. - Luke 11:26 (NLT)
I wonder sometimes if it’s less of a risk for us to be part of Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost, to set the captives free… and more of an inconvenience, really. I know there are places around the world, in our country, and even in the towns or cities in which we live where seeking and saving might require risking our lives. But I’m going to guess that many of us live in places where simply sharing our life in a household, neighborhood, workplace… isn’t dangerous at all. It’s still risky, but we’re not risking our lives. (Check out Hebrews 12:3–4)
Risk is part of being in God’s Kingdom. It may look different for you than it does for me. So whether you’re reading today’s devos from a place where you’re in physical danger because you bear the name and message of Jesus—or from a place where the only risk is that someone might think less of you if they disagree with the way you live your life for Jesus—I want us to ponder one question: What’s the worst that could happen?
If you were to take a risk to share Jesus, would the consequence be death, physical pain, literal struggle? Do you live with the possibility you’ll be imprisoned because of following Jesus? Do you risk rejection, disconnection? Are you afraid you won’t do it right? Whatever is true about your situation: If you are growing close to Jesus, getting to know His voice, if your time in the Word helps you recognize when you’re hitting the bullseye and when you’re not… you’re becoming a reflection of Jesus. And, in spite of all possible risks, when Jesus is lifted up in your life, He’ll draw people toward Himself. (See John 3:14–15)
So wherever you find yourself... on a dangerous mission field or in a home where you’re the only Christ-follower… take the risk and invest what you have. Don’t hide it. Share it with others. Love well. Serve until you are well aware of what it’s like to be treated like a servant and still experience joy. What could God do with the simple investment of your life right where you are?
… Perhaps the LORD will help us… - 1 Samuel 14:6 (NLT)
The army of Israel was at a major military disadvantage when Jonathan, son of the king, goes rogue. His armor-bearer in tow, he took the fight to the enemy. Perhaps the Lord will help us… Really? Jonathan is either foolish, crazy, or confident. The decision-making process between Jonathan and his armor-bearer went like this...
“All right, then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.” (1 Samuel 14: 8–10, NLT)
In the end, God came through for His people. Again. Jonathan, with God’s help, starts a ruckus. Panic ensues. Then the Israeli army piles on for the win. What a risk! Perhaps the Lord will help us?! Can you believe Jonathan’s guts to say this when an entire army was on the opposing side? Maybe his trust in God was that deep and unshakable. Or maybe he was a little off-kilter.
We can get bogged down assuming God has a specific will about every detail rather than looking for His overarching will. Sure, God may have a very specific set of marching orders for you. But more often we’re guided by His overarching desire for us to love Him and love people. I’ve seen (and been) the person who ended up paralyzed to the point of inaction by trying to discern or divine a “correct” answer—a specific instruction from the Lord, which, if He hasn’t made it clear, nothing is done at all. We’re left seeking a clear voice from Heaven or passively waiting.
When we adopted our son, we were stuck seeking specific direction when we sensed this nudge from the Spirit of God instead: Pick a place and go! What would that kind of risk look like for you in 2020? Draw near to the Lord and pay attention to the desires of your heart. (See Psalm 37:4) Try something that’s been rolling over in your mind, pray about it, and take a step. Who knows? God might help you…!