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February 2020

2020

Not-So-Daily Devotions

February 29 • February 29, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

You’ve probably heard it in youth group or Sunday school: “It’s very important to have daily devotions.” But you just can’t seem to make it happen, and you feel terrible. Between homework, extracurriculars, and family activities, it seems impossible to open your Bible every day. A couple of weeks might even go by before you find a few minutes to do devotions. You might begin to wonder, *If Bible reading is so important, why can’t I do it every day?* The Bible is important because it tells us about Jesus and the true story of His good news—news that affects every area of our lives (Acts 10:43). But we get stuck in legalism when we say that anyone should adhere to certain practices or habits to prove they know God. That’s what the Pharisees did in Bible times, and Jesus was pretty clear that the Pharisees did not understand the God they claimed to serve (Matthew 23). Instead, we can live in the grace Jesus has given us, going to the Bible regularly—individually and with other believers at church—because we love Jesus and want to know Him better. Your best friend doesn’t chew you out when you don’t talk to them for a few days, do they? Well, God doesn’t either. He wants us to spend time with Him, but He’s never legalistic about it (Colossians 2:6-18). It’s about having a relationship with Him. What’s important is that you make Jesus and being with His people central to your life, regularly reading His Word and deepening your understanding of the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 4:13). • Robyn Mulder • Since the Bible is about Jesus, what are the central truths of the gospel? (Find more information by checking out our "Know Jesus" page!) How do these truths help us study and understand God’s Word (Luke 24:44-48; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Timothy 3:15-17)? • What is the difference between a legalistic habit and a grace-based habit? Why is it important that our lives are based on what Jesus did, not on what we do (Ephesians 2:8-9)? • How does the Holy Spirit teach us about Jesus as we study the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)? For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB)

Worth

February 28 • February 28, 2020 • Emily Tenter

*I shouldn’t have even brought this into the fitting room*, Mandy thought. *Dresses like these don’t look pretty on girls like me.* But her friends hadn’t understood her hesitation. They were trying on prom dresses and thought she should do the same. Tears stung in Mandy’s eyes as she took a glance in the mirror. She hated her size and shape. She wished she looked like her friends. “Come out and show us,” her friends called. Mandy swallowed. “It doesn’t fit right. I must have grabbed the wrong size.” “What size do you need? I’ll go get it.” “No!” Mandy tugged on the zipper at the back of the dress. “I’m done for today.” When Mandy stepped out of the fitting room in her T-shirt and leggings, the other girls were all wearing the dresses they had found. They looked perfectly petite and happy. Mandy slouched onto a chair in the corner of the room, wishing she could be like them. Maybe your story isn’t exactly like Mandy’s, but it’s close. Maybe you feel ugly. Maybe you think that you are too fat or too thin or that you don’t belong with your friends. Maybe you even feel unworthy of God’s love because of how you look. But the inherent worth you have and the love God has for you are not based on your appearance or what others think of you. God created you in His image, and He loves you so much. You are precious to Him. So precious that He came to die and rise again to free you from sin and the pain and death it causes. If you haven’t already, put your trust in Him today, knowing your worth is found not in what people think—but in and through the love of your Creator and Savior. • Bethany Acker • Jesus died and rose again, and He will one day make all things new, including raising His people from the dead when He returns. Christ died and rose to restore and redeem every part of you. How does knowing these truths help you see how much He values and loves you? • If you are struggling to see your worth, who is someone you can talk with about it? This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10 (NLT)

Slumber or Sacrifice

February 27 • February 27, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

I was already asleep when my grandpa called, asking for help with my grandma’s diaper. I don’t feel especially loving when sleep-deprived, but the quiet stirring of God’s Spirit within me assured me what the next step was. I slipped on a sweater and puddle boots and stumbled down the darkened dirt road between our house and their snug log home. With barely open eyes, I pushed into Grammy’s room. She weighed only ninety pounds at that time, but it’s hard to lift someone when they don’t have strength to help. My cousin and I got Grammy cleaned up and settled in bed. Her osteoporosis was so bad we had to prop the pillows and blankets around her twisted form to make her comfy. There was no way for her to lie straight. The next night they didn’t need me. Grammy didn’t wake from her deep and quiet slumber. She didn’t wake the next night either. Only once after that late night did she stir, when I stopped by and brushed her white hair off her forehead to give her a kiss and say, “I love you.” She blinked weary eyes at me and said, “I love you too, Honey Girl.” She died the next morning. Waking to help my grandma when she was in need made me so grumpy at the time. Yet the still, small voice of God’s Spirit urged me on, and so I went. As I walk by her house today and miss her—miss having tea from real china cups at her one hundred-year-old oak table and hearing her urge me to take just one more cookie—what brings me the most joy is knowing our last exchange was one of love. That late night, it was the Holy Spirit who urged and sustained my reluctant spirit onward. While it was tempting to ignore His call to show love to Grammy, I followed His gentle leading. When we obey—walking in the love of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit—we find true joy. Grammy taught me that. • Kristen Joy Wilks • How does the truth of the good news of Jesus help us to show love? How can loving others show Christ’s love for us? • Have you ever felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit to show God’s love to someone? Reread today’s Bible passage. How can you know when a prompting is from the Holy Spirit? We love each other because he [Jesus] loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (NLT)

The Leaf Pile

February 26 • February 26, 2020 • Emily Tenter

When I was little, I spent countless afternoons with my brother and cousins raking leaves into enormous piles—and then leaping through them joyously. We always had a blast until somebody found the ever-dreaded “prize.” We’d be rolling around, tackling each other, diving in and out, getting lost under the colorful crispy blanket. Then everything would stop when one of us yelled, “OH, MAN!” And everyone knew. Someone had found dog poop, and not just with their eyes! That pile of leaves was immediately abandoned and labeled “ready for pick up.” Those memories shed light on 1 Peter 1:13-25, which reminds us of the hope we have in Christ, who, through the Holy Spirit, empowers those who know Him to live holy lives. Today’s passage calls us to live holy, and, because Jesus has set us free from our “old ways of living,” we can (1 Peter 1:14). He alone can make us holy and free from sin’s power, working to restore us completely until we see Him face-to-face. What does that have to do with my leaf pile story? Our leaf pile was contaminated with not only dog poo but also sticks, rocks, and other things that would hurt us when we jumped in. Sometimes, when we forget Jesus has made us new and His holiness lives in us, we rake sinful things into our lives that might not be visible at first glance. Remember: what we let into our lives might affect us and others later. Living holy means remembering the hope we have in Christ. He is the only One who can fill our lives with holiness! • Dathan Tenter • It can be tempting to try to live a holy life by relying on our own strength, but this always fails. Read Ephesians 2:8-10 and Philippians 1:12-13. Why is Jesus the only One who can produce holiness in us? • Read 1 Corinthians 5:17-21. Why is it important to remember Jesus has given His righteousness to those who know Him through faith in His life, death, and resurrection? But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 1 Peter 1:15 (NLT)

When the Walls Start Closing In

February 25 • February 25, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

My cellphone was set to full volume—there was no way I could miss this call. A small tech company had expressed interest in hiring a freelance writer to create promotional material for a new app, and they were considering me. What an impressive addition to my writing portfolio! Actually, it would be the only addition so far. I was just starting out. I could pay my electric bill and get a long overdue haircut. My mind was churning out ideas and making plans and…then they called. They had changed their minds and gone with someone else. No reason, no explanation, just a big *no.* The disappointment washed over me like a mini tsunami. I didn’t know what to do, so I called out to the Lord. He reminded me of Isaiah 49:16: “Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” My walls were closing in on me. Fear gripped me. I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent or bills. I didn’t even know whether another opportunity was around the corner…or miles down the road. What I did know was in God’s Word: His promises in Christ. The Lord knows exactly what is going on with me. Every detail. Every moment. He has helped me through tough times and disappointments before and will again because He loves me. He is in control and will work out the details. Nothing can stop His good purposes; His kingdom will never be shaken, and His people will never be outside of His loving presence and care (Romans 8:28, 37-39). So, when the walls start closing in, we can go to the Word—God’s love letter to us, His people. • Rosemarie Pagano • In Isaiah 49, God comforts His people who are in exile. He promises to be with them in their hurt and to one day restore them from their sin and brokenness. Read Matthew 28:20 and Acts 3:19-21. As Christians, how do Jesus’ promises to be with us and to restore us from sin and death affect the way we view the tough circumstances we face? • How can you remember these promises when you are overwhelmed by a mini tsunami of disappointment, fear, or sadness? Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:16 (CSB)

The Death of Death

February 24 • February 24, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Death smiled as his followers swept down onto the farmlands below. For centuries, he had ruled in secret over the whole world, owning all men and ending them when he chose. But his wrath had been kindled, and he was ready to destroy those who dared to resist him. The arrows flew thick as the battle lines below met and clashed. Death’s followers far outnumbered that of the resisting forces. The distant castle would soon fall, along with all the people inside it. Suddenly, a Man broke away from the fight and ran, His feet pounding up the hill as He screamed at Death. But Death, being immortal himself, wasn’t concerned. He reached down to strangle the Man…but found himself on his back. The Man had dropped His sword and was savagely punching Death in the face. Death felt something he had never felt before: pain. Panicked, he thrashed and flailed to escape. But the Man, impossibly strong, wouldn’t let his neck go. Death wondered, in his last moments, if the legends were true. If he *could* be killed—and if he was—would the earth bloom in eternal springtime like the old prophecies said? Would all those who had died hating him come alive again? Would all Death had ever done be *un*done? He never found out. • Kevin Zeller • Why is death referred to as an enemy in today’s Bible passage? • Read John 11:25 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. What does it mean that Jesus defeated death? • To learn more about how Jesus defeated death, check out page our "Know Jesus" page. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8 (NKJV)

Burnout

February 23 • February 23, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Life’s busy—we all know that. Between school, friends, and extracurriculars, by the end of the day, we’re burned out. And then we have to start homework. God knows our lives are busy. That’s why He created Sabbath. God invented all kinds of rhythms in nature. Night and day, the different seasons, and the tides of the ocean all show patterns in creation. The cycle of work and rest is another one of those patterns. In the beginning, God showed us how to schedule rest into our hectic lives. In Genesis 2, it says God not only rested on the seventh day of creation but also “blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Genesis 2:3). God even takes it one step further: rest gets its own commandment in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus did not save us so we could work until we burn out. Instead, He died and rose again to save us so that we could live joy-filled lives in the rhythm of God’s grace—because of what *He* did. We are made to live in a rhythm of rest and work, acknowledging that, as created humans, we are dependent on God the Creator and Jesus our Savior. So, how do we practice Sabbath? The simple answer: plan ahead. It sounds difficult to think a whole week ahead, but it makes finding time to sabbath much easier. Next, find something that is restful to you. That might mean taking a nap or going for a hike, but it should be rooted in restfulness. Finally, seek God in your rest. The Sabbath is a great day to recenter yourself on Jesus, trusting in Him enough to take a break. This is why Christians typically gather together on their Sabbath day—to remember together that Jesus is the One who gives them rest. • Naomi Vroegop • What things do you find restful? What would a Sabbath look like for you? • Different Christian churches get together on different days of the week,and your Sabbath day might fall on a different day than the day you go to church. Read Colossians 2:13-17. Why are we free in Christ to rest and gather on different days? Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

To Those Affected by Abuse

February 22 • February 22, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Editor’s Note: Today’s devotional reading discusses abuse. In this sinful, fallen world, abuse happens everywhere; we see it on the news, at our schools, and even in our churches. When we hear about it or experience it, it leaves us reeling, grasping for answers. Abuse whispers in its victims’ ears, saying, “You’re worthless. You’re broken. Nobody could ever love you. You are never safe.” Dear friends, these are lies. Abuse is never your fault. It is the result of sin—which affects us all—taking hold in someone’s heart and making them forget that both they and their victim are made in God’s image and are therefore worthy of love and full of inherent dignity. Abuse isolates people and tries to convince them that Jesus is not with them. But that is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Jesus is with you in the midst of your pain. His heart breaks for you. He cries with you. He is holding your hand, walking with you through the muck and bringing you safely to the other side. If you or someone you know is being abused, report it immediately to somebody you can trust. One way Jesus reaches into the worst of situations is by putting people around you who can help—whether they are friends, police officers, counselors, social workers, teachers, or other trustworthy people (Romans 13:3-4). Pray for God’s guidance and His restoration. By the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can have secure hope that, someday, Jesus will come back to fully defeat all evil, sin, and death and restore all of creation to Himself. Until that day, if we know Him, He lives inside us through His Holy Spirit, experiencing our hurts with us and encouraging us. Bring your pain to Him and rest in His secure love and in the promise of His justice. • Taylor Eising • God is just, so no wrongdoing will go unpunished (Psalm 103:6; Revelation 20:11-15 and 21:1-8). Why is this so important? • How is abuse a violation of the fact that we are made in God’s image? • Who is a trusted person in your life you can talk to about abuse—whether the abuse is happening to you or you suspect it is happening to someone else? • What are some ways you can pray for abusers and the abused? • If you are in danger, call 911 (or the emergency number for your area). • If you need someone to talk to about your current situation or past abuse, you can set up an appointment for a one time complimentary phone consultation with a Christian counselor through the Focus on the Family Counseling Service: In the United States, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) to set up an appointment. In Canada, book your appointment by calling 1-800-661-9800 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) and ask to speak with the care associate. The Lord executes acts of righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6 (CSB)

Judgement

February 21 • February 21, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

*Judgment.* We hate that word. We don’t want people to judge us. One of the embarrassments of being a Christian is that the Bible is full of stories of judgment. And, of course, the Bible also promises God will one day gather all of the wicked people from throughout time and judge them. But isn’t God a God of love? Why would He be so harsh with people? The answer lies in sin. We as humans have brought brokenness into the world through the bad things we have done. Our world has become a place full of hatred, violence, and pain. But God is merciful. He did not leave us alone to our sin, brokenness, and death. In His kindness, He stepped into our brokenness to offer us salvation from it. When Christ came, His kingdom began breaking into this world of sin. And His church has been growing ever since. Christ is making a new world, a perfect one. A world in which all people will love Him and love one another. A world in which there will be no sin, no hate, no pain, no death. A world in which His righteousness—His goodness and sinlessness—fills everyone and everything. Those who don’t love Jesus cannot be a part of this world. If they reject Him, they reject the only Source of life, justice, and hope (John 14:6). They have no place in a paradise without sin since Jesus is the One who takes it away and who supplies all of the righteousness. Since He will be the center of this new existence, if someone hates Him, there is no reason to think they will want to spend forever with Him and His people. The gospel is less about *what happens* to those who reject Christ and more about what they will miss: Jesus Himself, reigning over a perfect world free from death and filled with nothing but love and peace between God and people (Revelation 21:1-8). • Kevin Zeller • Where do you see evidence that the world is completely broken by sin? • How does the anticipation of a world of righteousness affect the way we think about judgment? • Still have questions? That’s okay! Who is a trusted Christian in your life you can talk with about the questions you have? (You can also find more information about Jesus and His plan to destroy sin and death by checking out our "Know Jesus" page!) But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 (WEB)

Falsehood and Deceit

February 20 • February 20, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Throughout the Bible, God makes it clear that falsehood and deceit are serious problems. Jesus, who is God, is the very definition of truth, so it makes sense that He takes lies so seriously, even including a command against falsehood in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16; John 14:6). And that’s not the only place God speaks against the sin of deceit. The prophet Jeremiah wasn’t fooling around when he slammed “the lying pen of the scribes” (Jeremiah 8:8). The greedy scribes, prophets, and priests were deceiving the people for personal gain, and God was not pleased (Jeremiah 8:10). These religious leaders cared nothing for the people. We’re even told that these leaders had forgotten “how to blush” (Jeremiah 8:12). In other words, they felt they’d done no wrong. Even from the beginning, the serpent, Satan, deceived Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-4). He lied about God’s instruction that they avoid eating from a certain tree. But they fell for the lie, plunging humankind into sin and destruction. Satan has been lying to us ever since (John 8:44). We see lies all around us today. We—whether we’re leaders in power or normal, everyday citizens—often lie about questionable decisions we’ve made that hurt others. However, our good God not only warns but also comforts us when it comes to falsehood and deceit. While lies bring death, the truth of who Jesus is brings us life. As Christians, even though lies surround us, we have a champion in Jesus and can find comfort knowing that the One “who is true” will win out in the end (1 John 5:20; 2 John 2). • Susan Sundwall • The truth of the gospel can set us free from the lies that surround us (John 8:31-36). False teachers tell lies about who Jesus is and who we are in relationship to Him, which is why false teaching is such a big deal (2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1-6). As Christians, how does this affect the way we talk about Jesus with others (2 Corinthians 4:1-6)? • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians share truth in hard situations (Luke 12:11-12)? We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 (NIV)

God Sees

February 19 • February 19, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Ever since I learned to walk, I have had a tendency to look everywhere—except where I am going. And this has caused a lot of bumping into things and other mishaps. It’s no wonder that as I was growing up my dad would always tell me to walk in front of him so he could see me. When I was little, there was a time when I insisted I could manage and went behind him. You guessed it—as soon as he was five steps ahead, he heard a loud bang and a little girl sobbing. As we get older, we might outgrow our accident-prone nature, but we still yearn for Someone who sees us, especially when things become challenging. In today’s Bible passage, while Hagar was running away from Sarai, who mistreated her, she didn’t expect Someone saw her misery. Yet the Lord sent an angel to assure Hagar that God saw what she was going through. More than seeing her struggles, He even promised to increase her descendants. He saw her suffering and promised to one day bring good through her difficult situation. In response, she called God *El Roi*—which means “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). As Christians, when we are faced with challenges, it’s easy for us to forget we have a God who sees us. God knows what we are going through. Jesus knows what we need and when we need it. He is with us, and He is working all situations for good (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:28). When you struggle, will you look to the God who sees you? • Jennifer A. Sun • What struggles do you need God to see you through today? • Read 1 Peter 5:7 and Hebrews 4:14-16. When we’re struggling, why can we call out to the God who sees us? • Read Romans 8:18-25, 28-29 and Revelation 21:1-5. Because of Jesus, will pain and struggle last forever? She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

Misfits

February 18 • February 18, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Moses, David, and Paul. When you read these names, do you think of them as great biblical leaders? How about as misfits? The amazing truth is, they were both. While they accomplished incredible things, they were not the kind of people you would expect to lead. Moses did not speak well and hesitated to lead the people of Israel. He also killed an Egyptian man for beating up a Hebrew slave. David was the youngest of his brothers, and he had blood on his hands too: David intentionally sent Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to the front lines of battle to be killed so he could have Bathsheba. Paul persecuted and killed Christians before he came to know Jesus. Yet God chose these misfit, broken, and sinful people to transform into redeemed leaders for His kingdom. He worked through them, transforming them the same way Jesus transforms His people today (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:8-10). When God handpicks broken people to carry out His work, He shows us His power and sovereignty (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God is perfect, but He can and does empower imperfect people to fulfill His plans through the Holy Spirit. That’s great news for us. It means we don’t have to be perfect to be a part of God’s kingdom. If you know Jesus, He lives in you and He works in and through you to accomplish God’s plan, just like He worked through Moses, David, and Paul. Despite our flaws and shortcomings, God loves us and chooses to include us in carrying out His plans. • Naomi Vroegop • In Christ, we find true worth, love, security,and forgiveness, despite our shortcomings. When have you felt unworthy of leadership? How does knowing your worth doesn’t come from what you do affect your view of yourself? • How might God be calling you to serve in His kingdom? Who is a trusted Christian in your life you can talk with about this—such as a pastor, camp counselor, or friend? Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?...And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV)

What About the Ten Commandments?

February 17 • February 17, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Some rules are made to be broken. Even reading the Ten Commandments sends a shiver of intimidation down our necks, mixed, perhaps, with something darker. The laws God gave to Moses on the mountain are probably the best summary of human morality the world has ever seen, but the reaction they produce in human beings is frightening. The culture of ancient Israel was based around the Ten Commandments. It should have been the most successful civilization ever, filled with moral, prosperous people. Instead, the Israelites were evil, sometimes even more so than the surrounding nations. They broke all ten laws, starting with the first two and working their way down the list. But here’s the thing: the Ten Commandments were never meant to be the end of the story. They were meant to shine a spotlight on all that is evil and futile about the human race. God gave the best morality guide in history to prove humans can’t be moral. The truth is, God never wanted humans to follow rules. He wanted to fill them with His love, that they might love Him and love others. The goal was always for God’s life, God’s love, and God’s very character to be united with the human race. That is why God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, and that is why the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within His church. God Himself is doing in us what the Ten Commandments never could: producing righteousness and love. • Kevin Zeller • Read Mark 12:30-31. What two principles does Jesus describe as fulfilling the Ten Commandments? What do the two principles behind God’s laws show us about who He is? • What questions do you have about the law and the Old Testament? Who is a trusted Christian—such as a pastor, camp counselor, or friend—you could bring those questions to? Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child [Jesus] who was promised. Galatians 3:19 (NLT)

Closer to You

February 16 • February 16, 2020 • Emily Tenter

I want to be closer to You. I want to feel You when I breathe— Feel You in all that I do, Know that You’ll never leave. I want my life to be about You— Put Your wants over mine, Always do as You would do, Know that I will be just fine. Jesus, You’ve made me new. Guide the choices I make. Everything that I do— Direct the steps that I take. • Emily Acker • Jesus will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:1-5). How does this promise give you hope when God seems distant? • In the meantime, as Christians, we can rest in the knowledge that God has made us like Christ through the Holy Spirit; we are new creations in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). By faith, we can claim the power of this transformation in our everyday lives (John 14:25-26; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:3). How does this promise give you comfort in the present? He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 (CSB)

Fear Is a Type of Faith?

February 15 • February 15, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

You know those days when you are overloaded with homework, you get bad news, and you feel rejected by others? It’s so easy in those moments to rely on doubts to shape our mindset rather than faith. It’s easier to believe we’re not enough than to believe Jesus makes us royal (1 Peter 2:9-10). Relying on fear is easier than choosing faith. At least at first. Over time, choosing doubts takes a toll on us. That’s because fear is a type of faith—it’s simply faith in the wrong things. We all choose faith every day. Faith in our past or in the future Jesus wrote for us. Faith in what we can do or in what God can do in us. Faith in God or in the enemy. Faith in truth or in lies. Ultimately, our doubts reveal more about who we are than who God is. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). He’s steadfast when we’re flippant. He’s good when we’re anything but. Jesus fights for us even when we sit on the sidelines of apathy. Psalm 47:9 says all “the shields of the earth belong to God.” Ephesians 6:16 tells us to take up the shield of faith. Psalm 7:10 says our shield is with God. Psalm 18:35 says His hand sustains us. In other words, we don’t have to hold up the shield of faith on our own. We were never created to. Jesus is the One who holds it up. Because all the shields of the earth belong to Him. When you experience doubt and fear, take it as an encouragement to learn more about God. With Him, faithfulness is unwavering, and doubts don’t have the last word. In Christ, we have a shield! • Sarah Rexford • We all have doubts. What doubts are you having about God? What lies do they show you’re believing about His character? • Read Ephesians 2:8-10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. Why is it so important that Jesus is the One who holds up our faith? What has Christ done—and what will He do—that we can’t? Above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16 (WEB)

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