It Takes Courage…

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 NIV

Courage is not the absence of fear…Courage is the willingness to move forward without knowing the outcome…to admit we don’t know the answers…to be patient…to share and be vulnerable with another person.  Having courage is placing your trust in God ahead of fear…it is about not allowing fear to stop you or defeat you.  It takes courage to seek the Light…to surrender your plans for God’s plan…it takes courage to live the life that God has intended for you…and where can you find strength for courage?  In a relationship with Jesus Christ.  There you will find joy, peace, patience, and strength for courage. Seek Him and His will and live with hope from God.  Amen.

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Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands)

Faith Over Fear

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

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

God is greater than anything we face in life.  No challenge or difficulty, no pain and suffering is too much for God to handle.  He is the Creator of the universe…He knows you…He loves you and He is with you every day, all the time.  Put your faith in God and let your faith be greater than your fear.

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Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)

Spiritual Growth

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV

Stay committed, stay focused, stay patient and trust God’s way.  Spiritual growth is not about immediate gratification…it is a process of daily meeting with Jesus Christ in prayer and reading God’s Word.  Learning, asking questions of trusted advisors or mentors and spending time with God in whatever way works best for your spiritual growth.  Not sure how to begin?  Start by praying to God to help you focus on your spiritual growth.

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Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:1-5 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2015 while driving through South Dakota)

Living Hope Perspective

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

1 Peter 1:3 NIV

Hope in this world mostly gets aligned with wishful thinking in general conversations.  This hope is not sure, not firm and is not based on belief.  The hope talked about in the Bible is hope that believes and knows God’s promises for good things.  This hope is supported by actions and behaviors.  The hope we receive from Christ is a hope that knows and believes that Christ lives and that God is for us and working for our good, even when, especially when the visible evidence is against it. The hope from God’s Word tells us to not give up or surrender to sin and doubt, rather know that God is with you and you can trust in Him…not for the things you believe you should have but for the things God knows that you need.  May the God of all hope be present in your daily life. Amen.

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 NIV

(This photo was taken in September of 2016 on a lake in central Minnesota)

A Foundation Of Faith

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21] [a]

Matthew 17:20-21 NIV

What is the foundation of your life?  What do you stand on?  Worldly beliefs and values that reject God or Jesus Christ and the Word of God?  We are all free to choose what we believe and our decision has a direct impact on our life in this world and in the life to come.  What is the foundation of your life?

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“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Matthew 7:24 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 near Dillon, Colorado)

An Encounter

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

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Faith is about trust and belief because we have experienced the Presence of God in our lives.  Has it happened to you?  It can be hard to put into words…unexplainable…one experience in my life was when I was putting together and delivering the eulogy at my father’s funeral.  This is not something I ever could have done on my own…when I think about that time my words to describe it are few, yet some that come to mind are comfort, unusual peace, clear thinking.  The process of putting together the words came naturally by talking with people from all parts of Dad’s life and God had prepared me to speak in front of others in several experiences in my past both in work and at church.  It was an incredible experience.  An example of an encounter with God from the bible is found in the book of Exodus…Moses was up on the mountain for 40 days with God without food or water, yet it does not say he felt any hunger or thirst.  Moses had all that he needed because he was with God.  An encounter with the Presence of God is unlike anything else you will experience in life.  Faith is about a personal relationship with God.  Where has God shown up in your life?  Think about it…give thanks and know that He has been with you.  Amen.

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“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14 NIV

(This photo was taken in September of 2014 on a walk near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Shine The Light

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 NIV

Our purpose is to learn about Him who loves us and sacrificed Himself for us… and then to shine the light of God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s grace for others to see, not for ourselves but for God.  We can show God to others by who we are in how we treat others and by our actions and behaviors.  Shine the light in this dark world and trust in the Lord.  Amen.

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“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands)

Contentment…Gratitude

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]

Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV

God is always with us…if God feels distant, it is because we have wandered off and away from Him.  Believe in Jesus, confess your sin and invite Him into your life daily.  He will be with you and He will lead and guide you forever.  Thanks be to God.

Forever by Michael W. Smith

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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.”

Psalm 136:1 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2019 at a lake in northwestern Wisconsin)

Do Good Things

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:24-26 NIV

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:1-2 NIV

Don’t give up…keep doing good things…be persistent in sharing God’s Word as opportunities present themselves.  You never know the impact a verse or a word of encouragement may have on another person.  Be led by the Holy Spirit and do good things.  Amen.

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Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:7-10 NIV

(This photo was taken in May of 2020 at Palisade Head along the North Shore of Lake Superior)

To Know Him…

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

John 10:14-16 NIV

From the very beginning God created us out of his love.  As we try to find satisfaction and happiness in worldly things we will come to find that only by God’s grace will we find true joy and peace in life.  Wisdom is found in spending more time with God and reading His Word.  The more we know Him rather then just know about Him…the more our eyes are opened and the better we begin to understand that we are broken, sinful people in need of a Savior and Jesus Christ is our good shepherd and our redeemer.

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 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:13-14 NIV

(This photo was taken in May of 2014 at a lake in central Minnesota)