TTHE PERHAPS PARADOX

Culled from the SUN STAND STILL Devotional by Steven Furtick

1Samuel 14:1-14

In today’’s reading the army of King Saul has been locked in a standoff against the Philistines. And Jonathan, the king’’s son, has become so aggravated with the inaction of his fellow warriors that he decides to make a bold move. He enlists his armor bearer to join him on a two-man commando raid.

His battle plan is potentially God inspired— – and a little ludicrous. The two young men will openly approach the enemy outpost. If they get a go-ahead sign from God, they will attack. A borderline suicide mission. But if God is with them, Jonathan figures, nothing can stop them.

In his motivational speech to his bodyguard, Jonathan seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth: •

– Nothing can hinder the Lord.

– Perhaps the Lord will act.

At first glance this seems like spiritual schizophrenia.

But perhaps Jonathan isn’’t schizophrenic. Perhaps true faith always feels this way. On the one hand, I know that God is able to do anything. On the other hand, I think He’’s willing to do this specific thing. I know God can. And I’’m pretty sure He will. But I can’’t be completely sure.

That’’s where audacious faith comes in.

Audacity isn’’t the absence of uncertainty and ambiguity. Audacity is believing that God’s promise is bigger than my perhaps.

The Bible says that God’’s Word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), not a floodlight beaming to our destination. So, armed with the confidence that there’’s a decent chance and an interesting possibility that my impulse might be from God (perhaps, in other words), I start investigating.

We’’d all like to live in a world where God lets us do big things that require minimal risk. Where the voice of the Holy Spirit carries for miles and miles, piercing through static and fuzz, jeers and taunts. The fact is, though, that the land where the sun stands still is a land where promise and perhaps must coexist. Audacious faith does not eliminate doubt and fear. It eclipses their power one decision at a time. You know God’’s will by doing God’’s will.

Jonathan and his armor bearer ended up saving the day in a spectacular way. Their act of audacious faith tilted the fate of an entire nation.

Act on your “perhaps”, and see what God will do in your world.

SEIZE THE VISION – DAY 3

From the SUN STAND STILL DEVOTIONAL BY STEVEN FURTICK

Most nights I slip into my boys’ rooms after they’’re asleep, just barely place my right hand on their heads, and whisper: “God, raise up my sons to be the greatest men of God of their generation.” I tell them that I’’m praying this for their lives when they’’re awake too. Of course they don’’t understand many of the implications of this. But one day they will. I’’m just trying to stock their hearts with raw material that God can use to build a vision within my boys when they’’re older.

The point I’’m trying to make has very little to do with me and my boys. It has everything to do with you and your vision: If you want to see God do something impossible in your life, you have to open your heart and mind to God’’s vision for your life. You have to seize it.

Joshua has been a faithful second in command for many years. But talk about having a tough act to follow. For the Hebrews, Moses was a legend in his own time – —the president, chief justice, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs all rolled up in one. But now he is dead, and Joshua is next in line.

Joshua’’s term of office is starting at a perilous moment in the nation’s history. The people are about to try to take Canaan from several people groups who aren’’t exactly eager to vacate the premises and hand it over.

The vision isn’’t in question: occupy the Promised Land. But before that can happen, Joshua has to seize the vision. And judging by the number of times, “”Be strong and courageous”” shows up in Joshua 1, apparently God knows this leader is scared of failing.

God steps in with encouragement. Just as God was with Moses, so He will be with Joshua. God promises, “”I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Interesting how He says the same thing to us [Hebrews 13:5, NKJV].)

Joshua seizes the vision. We know this because practically within moments he is issuing orders to get the campaign under way (Joshua 1:10–-15).

If you’’ve received a vision from God, you need to seize it too. Don’’t waver or put it off. Stop trying to have all the answers before launching out in faith.

All God needs is all you’’ve got. Give it to Him —today.

IGNITE THE ORDINARY – DAY 2

From the SUN STANS STILL DEVOTIONAL BY STEVEN FURTICK

When you strip the biblical miracles of their spectacular special effects, a common plot point emerges: extraordinary moves of God begin with ordinary acts of obedience.

Consider Moses’’s first encounter with God.

Moses is tending the family sheep out in the nondescript countryside.

He happens to notice a bush that’’s caught fire. He walks over to take a look……

Up to this point, it’’s not exactly a riveting scene, is it?

In reality, the illustrious burning-bush encounter that seemed so captivating in Sunday school is… really…quite…ordinary. Moses is performing menial manual labor, working for his father-in-law. It’’s dusty. The sheep stink. Does it get any more mundane?

Almost all encounters with God begin that way. You may be living under the illusion that when God ignites great things in your life, He’’ll announce it with a big bang. He might. It’’s more likely that He won’’t. So stop waiting around for the big bang. Pay attention to the subtle clues and the still, small voice. Maybe you’’ll hear it this very day.

What we call a miracle is really just the right combination of your ordinary ingredients and God’’s extraordinary expertise. When God’’s super collides with your natural, sparks will fly.

God may call you to serve as an unknown youth pastor of fifteen kids in a moldy basement for a youth room and with an Atari for entertainment. Ordinary. But He may also be providing you an opportunity to pour your life into one of those teenagers who will go on to preach the gospel in a thousand places you’’ll never go.

Extraordinary.

God may lead you to stay at home with your young children, forfeiting a second income. Ordinary. But along with diapers, dishes, and naps, you receive the gift of time – —to model discipline, instill values, and speak life into your kids. They could grow up to be Joshua’s in their own generation. Extraordinary.

If God is calling you to make a big difference today, He is likely to start in a small way – —a bush that only you will notice. Will you remove your shoes, draw close, and receive your assignment? Will you give the Lord permission to ignite your ordinary? If you will, before long your faith will start carrying you to a higher level than you ever thought you could reach.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY

September 27, 2018

Is This News or Truth?

LYSA TERKEURST

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 (NIV)

News and truth aren’t always one and the same.

I’m learning this through a medical situation I’ve been facing over the last year. It all started with words from my doctor that I never expected to hear.

“Lysa, I’m so sorry. You have cancer.”

I wish I could properly describe what happened in that moment. Everything around me got incredibly quiet and seemed to move very slowly. I could hear the doctor continuing to talk, but I couldn’t make out his words. I could feel words trying to form in my mouth, but there was no energy to actually speak. I knew I should probably cry, but no tears seemed available.

I am absolutely a woman who believes with all my heart that the presence of God is in the midst of my life. But in that moment, He felt distant and mysterious. I just felt stunned. And then I felt okay. And then I felt stunned again.

I wanted to hold it together. But then falling apart seemed quite reasonable.

It’s scary when doctors shock you with test results, and you don’t know what the future holds.

In the days that followed my cancer news, God tenderly reminded me of an email my sweet friend Shaunti Feldhahn once sent me about another difficulty I was walking through. Her note said, “Lysa, this is news. This is not truth.”

Wow.

I’ve always thought of news and truth as one and the same. What the doctor gave me was news. Honest news, based on test results and medical facts.

But I have access to a truth that transcends news. The restoration that is impossible with human limitations is always possible for a limitless God. Truth is what factors God into the equation.

So, I find myself looking at the word impossible a little differently today.

“Impossible,” in light of Shaunti’s note, could be completely different if I just stick an apostrophe between the first two letters. Then it becomes I’m-Possible. God is the Great I AM. Therefore, He is my possibility for hope and healing.

I’m-Possible is a much more comforting way to look at anything that feels quite impossible.

I suspect many of us have things in our life that feel impossible. Maybe you just got some bad news. News of an impossible financial situation. News of an impossible job situation. News of an impossible kid situation. News of an impossible friend situation. News of an impossible medical situation.

Whatever news you just got or will get, I pray Shaunti’s advice helps you, too.

That is news.

And this is God’s Truth:

I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

I AM FOREVER FAITHFUL.

“He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them — he remains faithful forever” (Psalm 146:6, NIV).

I AM WITH YOU.

“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, NIV).

I AM HOLDING YOU.

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand” (Psalm 73:23, NIV).

I AM YOUR HIDING PLACE.

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7, NIV).

One of the greatest comforts to me through all this has been knowing that somehow, God will use this for good. And that God will be my possible in the midst of what can sometimes feel so impossible.

Of course, I still have those less spiritually secure moments when I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. And cry. And pitch a little hissy fit.

But how thankful I am for the Great I AM. The One who will absolutely “Guide me in [His] truth and teach me” (Psalm 25:5a, NIV).

I love you, sweet friend. And I’m praying for you today. Praying that every time the word impossible creeps up and starts to steal your hope, you will see the words I’m-Possible and hold on to Him.

Dear Lord, You are I AM, I’m-Possible. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life, and You are forever faithful. Thank You for being with me always, holding me close and being my hiding place. Help me lean on these truths when the news I receive feels impossible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:

Do you ever struggle with the fact that your life doesn’t look the way you thought it would? Instead of being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment, discover how to better process unmet expectations and other painful situations with help from Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Pre-order your copy here today, and get the first 3 chapters immediately!

CONNECT:

Find real-life encouragement when you connect with Lysa TerKeurst here on Instagram.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Which truth Lysa shared about God, the Great I AM, do you most need to cling to right now? Join in the conversation here  and then be sure to write it down and carry it with you this week — focusing on and memorizing the Truth.

© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

AUDACIOUS FAITH – DAY 1

For the next fews days I invite you on a journey to the miraculous with Steven Furtick through his SUN STAND STILL Devotional.

The Prayer That Stopped the Sun

Right here on Day 1, I’’m going to throw out a challenge to you: If you’’re not daring to believe God for the impossible… you’’re sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life. And further still, if the size of your vision for your life isn’’t intimidating to you, there’’s a good chance it’’s insulting to God. You should be living by audacious faith every day. Audacity is not just for “elite Christians.” It’’s intended for every believer. So today we’’re beginning a spiritual journey toward trusting God for what seems impossible. I’’m thrilled to think about what it’s going to do for our lives and our world.

A story from the life of Joshua serves as our template for audacious faith.

The Israelites unleash a surprise attack on the Amorites, and right from the beginning the battle goes well. But as the sun sinks toward the horizon, General Joshua faces a decision. The victory isn’’t complete, and once it gets dark, the rest of the Amorites will slip away. Joshua sizes up the situation and delivers one of the most gloriously unorthodox prayers in the Bible. He has the audacity to ask God to make the sun stop in the sky. To freeze time on behalf of His people.

And God gives Joshua exactly what he asked for.

With everything in me, I believe God still desires to make the sun stand still over the life of every believer. Obviously, not in the unique way He did for Joshua, but in ways that are equally spectacular (although not always quite as dramatic), God is perfectly willing to perform the impossible in our everyday lives. If we have the audacity to ask.

Is there something that is seemingly impossible that you’’d like to see God do through you? Maybe God has already been working in your spirit, planting a desire, sparking ideas about the much bigger things He wants to accomplish.

There’’s nothing our world needs more desperately today – —in individuals, families, businesses, churches, and communities— – than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And God is ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible and then will step forward to act in audacious faith.

“It wasn’t long before My-Master-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and destroyed it and its king under a holy curse, just as he had done to Jericho and its king. He also learned that the people of Gibeon had come to terms with Israel and were living as neighbors. He and his people were alarmed: Gibeon was a big city—as big as any with a king and bigger than Ai—and all its men were seasoned fighters. Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon: “Come and help me. Let’s attack Gibeon; they’ve joined up with Joshua and the People of Israel.” So the five Amorite (Western) kings—the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon—combined their armies and set out to attack Gibeon. The men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua camped at Gilgal, “Don’t let us down now! Come up here quickly! Save us! Help us! All the Amorite kings who live up in the hills have ganged up on us.” So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers! GOD told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. GOD threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought them all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah. As they ran from the People of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, GOD pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More died from the hailstones than the People of Israel killed with the sword. The day GOD gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to GOD, with all Israel listening: “Stop, Sun, over Gibeon; Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.” And Sun stopped, Moon stood stock still Until he defeated his enemies. The day GOD gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to GOD, with all Israel listening: “Stop, Sun, over Gibeon; Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.” And Sun stopped, Moon stood stock still Until he defeated his enemies. (You can find this written in the Book of Jashar.) The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. There’s never been a day like that before or since— GOD took orders from a human voice! Truly, GOD fought for Israel.”

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭10:1-14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

WHO GETS YOUR BLESSING

From the (Un)qualified devotional by STEVEN Furtick

“Your brother,” he said, “came here falsely and took your blessing.” Esau said, “Not for nothing was he named Jacob, the Heel. Twice now he’s tricked me: first he took my birthright and now he’s taken my blessing.” He begged, “Haven’t you kept back any blessing for me?””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭27:35-36‬ ‭MSG‬‬

One of the most dramatically unqualified biblical heroes I can think of is Jacob. He was a liar, a con, a trickster, a fraud. He spent much of his life haunted by bad decisions and exiled to the chaos of self-inflicted consequences. And yet God called him, chose him, and even blessed him.

Jacob ended up playing a major role in God’s plan to redeem the world. He emerged simultaneously as one of the most important figures in Scripture and one of the most screwed up.

Jacob was a poster child for the confusion and complications that weaknesses produce. But he was also a dramatic example of someone who was, at least by the end of his life, able to embrace his insufficiencies, look past them, and trust in God.

And when he did, God took over. He overruled Jacob’s limitations and trumped his disqualifications. Jacob was acutely, painfully, spectacularly human. That’s probably why I can relate to his failures faster than his feats. But ultimately God redeemed, redefined, and realigned Jacob through his weaknesses, not in spite of them. And that’s what He will do for you and me, when we embrace who we really are. He wants to bless the real you, with all your insufficiencies and weaknesses. He is the one who has called you, equipped you, and empowered you. And He is able to open doors of opportunity just for you…just as you are.