Category Archives: Answer God’s Call

Mighty Man of Valor

Valor comes in all kinds of packages. Perhaps you or someone you love is in the military—bravely guarding our freedom. Or maybe you’re a first responder. Or a caregiver holding the hands of the dying. You might be quietly and faithfully caring for your children—raising up the next generation. Or nursing your spouse through a long illness. People show courage in different ways.

Perhaps you don’t feel strong enough or brave enough to do what’s required of you. If so, you’re in good company. Some of God’s most courageous men and women started their journey in weakness. But God’s power transformed them into mighty men and women of valor.

Take Gideon. He was the youngest son in a family and tribe that were the weakest in Israel. The people had fallen into great evil, so the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. “But Israel grew weak and cried out to the Lord” (Judges 6:11 CEB).

So the Lord sent His angel to Gideon with a message: “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). To which Gideon said something like, “Who me? I’m just a frightened nobody.” “Mighty man of valor” was a term that described warriors. Heroes. Champions.  Not a scared young man from the weakest tribe in a beaten down nation. The word translated “valor” is chayil, the very same word that describes the “woman of valor” in Proverbs 31.

God must have seen something special in Gideon and said to him: “You have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?” The Lord promised, “Because I’m with you, you’ll defeat the Midianites as if they were just one person” (Judges 6:14-16 CEB).  And that’s just what happened. It took some persuading, but Gideon took courageous action to save his nation. He became a new man in the process. A man sold out to God. A mighty man of valor.

Friend, God sees within you the strength and courage He put there—even if you’re anxious and full of fear. Even if your family is a mess. He loves us when we’re weak; but He delights in making us strong. Men and women of valor.

We may feel exhausted, rejected, ignored, or afraid.  If so, His words to us are His words to Gideon: “Because I am with you, you will defeat your enemies. Enemies like job loss, depression, anxiety, marriage problems, a rebellious child, the inability to have a child, or loneliness. Maybe you struggle with fear like Gideon did.

God is whispering to you right at this moment: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior, man or woman of valor. And because I am with you, you will have strength to prevail!”


Strong Like a Rock-Day 6

God loves us when we are weak, but He wants to make us strong. It’s true. The Bible is filled with stories of how God empowers broken men and women to conquer enemies, pull down strongholds, move mountains, and accomplish His work on earth.

Gideon sure felt weak.  He referred to himself as the “least” in a family whose clan was the “weakest” in his tribe.  But God sent an angel who greeted the tired and broken man with these encouraging words:  “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”   It took a little persuading, but God gave amazing strength to this unlikely hero who defeated enemy armies and returned Israel to her glory.

God wants to make us strong–especially in our marriages.  When we’re strong in the Lord, we don’t drain our spouse through our neediness. My husband David and I deal with this subject in more detail in our recently released companion books: Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband/Wife.

God’s original purpose for marriage was to provide companionship. He looked at Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” There was no “suitable helper” for Adam, so God makes a “helper.”  (Genesis 2:18-24).  Sadly, our English word, helper, has evolved to a very watered-down version and can mean anything from a distress call, to roadside assistance, to domestic servants.

The word translated as “helper”, or ezer, means “to support.”  Actually, as one scholar points out, ezer is actually a combination of two roots meaning: “to rescue, to save,” and “to be strong.” Ezer is used over twenty times in the Old Testament–just twice for the woman.  The other times,  ezer refers to God Himself as the helper, especially during battles. So when David says, “The Lord is with me; He is my helper, I look in triumph on my enemies,” he uses the word ezer (Psalm 118:7).

Ezer is related to the word for “rock,” or eben. Thus, the Ebenezer stone mentioned in the Bible was a “stone of help.” It was a tangible reminder for the Israelites of the Lord’s power and support.  Even the famous prophetEzra’s name comes from ezer and means “helper.”

Wives, let’s  think about what it means to be strong like a “rock” for our husbands, our families and the broken and hurting world around us.  Your challenge is to draw strength from the Lord so that you are a source of strength for a husband who will sometimes be weak.

Now, I don’t want you guys to feel left out.  So tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at Gideon and explore how God transformed a man who felt “less than” into a “mighty man of valor.”  I’ll say it again. God loves us when we are weak, but He delights in making us strong!

Honor Book mar

 

Honor Book DEC

 

 


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 21

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 1:1 KJV).  What things are you hoping for?  I come from several generations of school teachers.  If your mother was anything like mine, she reminded you never to end a sentence with a dangling preposition, such as “hoping for.”  So let’s ask the question another way: “For what things are you hoping?”  The King James Version completes the verse: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  There’s a mysterious element, an “unseen” aspect to this thing called hope.

According to my “big fat Greek Bible,” the word elpis, translated as “hope,” describes an “inner, psychological sense of hope” and defines it as “confidence, eager anticipation, expectation, longing, or aspiration of the heart.”*

That’s a big hope—a risky, audacious brand of hope.  I don’t see a lot of “high hope” these days. People seem guarded. Cautious. Afraid to “get their hopes up.”  I don’t know about you, but I am more afraid of low-level living–without this kind of daring hope–than I am of falling from the cliff of high hopes.

Let’s ponder the question one more time: What are you hoping for? Let the thought roll around in your mind. Take it to the Lord and ask: “Lord, is this hope from you?” Then, over the next few days, seek Him with your whole heart.  Watch.  Listen.  Spend time in His Word.  Share your hope or dream with a wise friend.

Remember. Hope is hard. It calls for courage.   It’s costly and requires constant filling by the Holy Spirit.   Over the years, I have learned that to hold onto a high hope, you have to stay close to Jesus.

But with a God-given hope, the sticking power of the Holy Spirit, the affirmation of God’s Word, and a few good friends, nothing is too good to be true.  And nothing is too hard for God.

 

* The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, NIV version, Spiros Zhodiates, ThD. Editor, (AMG publishers), is my personal favorite Bible ever!


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 20

Here’s a little secret: Hope is not just an attitude or an ambition. It’s a person. His name is Jesus. But my guess is you already knew that.  Sounds so simple—yet if you’re like me, you sometimes forget that Jesus is a real, living person. He’s the whole point of our faith. The indwelling presence that animates our very life.

I’ve heard it said that if you want to succeed in life, then “the main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.” In our case, as believers, the “main thing” is Jesus.

The Apostle Paul knew this full well. Here’s how he identifies himself in his letter to his young protégé, Timothy: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). He says that Christ Jesus, Himself, is our hope.

We often try to build our hope on strength, ambition, dreams, Bible study practices, knowledge, or even friends. But in the end, the only lasting hope, the hope that stands up under fire, is Christ Jesus. Paul fastened his identity and his hope to Jesus.  It’s clear he knew his destiny and calling as an apostle by the command of God. But beyond that, he knew Christ Jesus as his “hope.”

This is day 20 of 30 Days of Hopeful. Hope is just one dimension of our life as believers. The Bible lists hope, along with faith and love, as the three attributes which remain with us into eternity (1 Corinthians 13:13). I can’t quite get my head around that one just yet.

For now, let’s simply ponder the thought that hope is a person. We have hope as we reflect upon Jesus; talk with Him; dwell in Him; meditate on His Word; get to know Him better.

So Pray. Listen. Worship. Serve. Give. Spend time in solitude with Jesus. Look for Him in the faces of the least and the lost. You’ll increase the fires of your hope because you’ll get to know true hope—His name is Jesus.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 15

Some of your personal hopes and dreams may be big ones.  Enormous, in fact.  A baby. A spouse. The healing of a life threatening disease. God often says a quick “yes” to our prayers. But sometimes, He says “wait.”  Perhaps we have some growing to do before the answer comes.

The reality of life on earth is that we are always waiting for something. Always hoping.   Always dreaming. The challenge is to keep our hope alive in the middle of circumstances we don’t like so much.

We can learn to wait for our answers with joyful expectation. What we don’t want to do is give up. Accept the status quo. Lower our expectations, or worse, find ways to numb out. Too much social media, shopping, work, wine. There are plenty of pain killers out there. Problem is, they often kill our hopes, too.

Here are a few practical ways to kindle your fires of hope—even in the middle of a storm:

  1. First take care of your house–your physical house, that is. You can’t control when your dream comes true, but you can take steps to clean up your act. Be sure to eat well and get enough exercise. Get rid of known sin. Bad habits. Be ruthless. Hunt them down. Hebrews 12:1 challenges us to “throw off whatever hinders and the sin that so easily besets…and run our race with perseverance.”
  2. Take care of your actual house—your home. While you are waiting is a great time to declutter your surroundings.   It can be healing to clear out what you don’t need. Give it away. Simplify. Create structure. Order. Peace.
  3. Explore and develop your spiritual gifts. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).  You’ll find your life as you give it away.
  4. Rest more. Go to the Lord often. Soak in the promises of His Word. “Come to me you who are heavy laden,” said Jesus, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). It takes energy to fight the fight of faith. To hold onto your hope while you wait for your dream.
  5. Don’t travel alone. Find your teammates. God gives you endurance and encouragement through His Word to help you keep hope alive (Hebrews 15:4-6). He also gives us unity in spirit. Fellow believers. Prayer partners. The body of Christ.