Historian Stephen Ambrose says that during World War II, “The Allied bombers bristled with machine guns, in the nose, under the belly, on top, in the rear.”
He reports the workhorse of the air war was the B-17 bomber, known as the “Flying Fortress” because it carried thirteen .50 caliber machine guns.
Surprisingly, scientific testing suggested the B-17 would be safer without the guns. Without the weight of the guns and the crew members required to shoot them, the planes could fly faster and higher, increasing the chance of survival during daylight missions.
But the pilots said there was no way they were going on a mission without guns mounted on the plane. They wanted to be able to shoot back.
We make the same choice when it comes to our own battles. God tells us we don’t need the guns; we can soar higher and faster with him. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does” (2 Corinthians 10:3 NIV).
God says the weapons he will give us “have divine power to demolish strongholds,” and we no longer need to use the “weapons of the world” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV).
But we say, “No thanks. We have to shoot back!” and defend ourselves with an arsenal of angry words, demanding attitudes, manipulative maneuvers, excessive excuses, and bombs of blame.
It takes faith to stop using these weapons of the flesh and instead “take up the shield of faith” and arm ourselves with the weapons of God, starting with the bomb of love (Ephesians 6:16 NIV).
It’s the kind of faith David showed when he approached Goliath, saying, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV).
Could God’s spiritual arsenal defend you as well? “He is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5 NIV).
Proverbs 18:10 (NASB) “The name of the LORD is a strong tower;The righteous runs into it and is safe.”
Self-consciousness can kill faith and rob us of our God-given destiny. It is a manifestation of what the Bible calls living in the ‘old self’, because it concentrates more on me and my weaknesses, strengths or needs, than it does on the Lord. Self-consciousness can take on a number of faces. For some people it takes the form of egoism. Whatever our purpose in life, we need big hearts not big heads. I’ve come across people — I’m sure you have, too — who, because of their talent, think they’re God’s gift to planet earth. I feel like packing them off marked ‘return to sender’. Talented people have a responsibility to use their gift for service. When God gives you a lot, he expects a lot… Luke 12:48
For other people, self-consciousness expresses itself in a strong inferiority complex. One of Satan’s favourite ploys is to accuse us of hypocrisy. ‘You’re not qualified to do anything for God,’ he riles. We must remember that success in God’s eyes is not measured by our talent, our qualifications or even our self-esteem. It is measured by our obedience. As we simply obey God, doing all that he tells us to do, we can shrug off the enemy’s jibes, stand tall in faith, and overcome any crippling self-consciousness.
Colossians 3:9-10 ‘…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.'(NIV)
Prayer: Father, I humble myself again before you today. I thank you that my worth as a person doesn’t come from my own achievements; it comes from the fact that you love me, that Jesus died for me, and that I can walk in obedience to your purpose for my life.’
Fear takes a hike when love comes to town! Faith, which the Bible says is based on love, always supplants fear. Now, that doesn’t mean that people of faith never face problems without fear showing up. Coming to spiritual faith is just the first step in overcoming our deepest fears – but it’s also the biggest and the most liberating. Through a growing understanding of God’s plan for their lives, a new intimacy with God through prayer, and a spirit of joy and courage even in life’s toughest moments, people of faith are able to gradually face up to the issues that have caused them anxiety. What begins as a spiritual experience, grows out into every other aspect of their being – soul, mind, and body. That’s what the Bible means when it says that we can be totally transformed by the renewal of our minds. To put it another way, as you daily learn to line up our emotions and thoughts with what God is doing deep in your spirit, you will begin to experience freedom and release from anxiety. Of course, if you have suffered from serious or debilitating phobias, therapy may be necessary and helpful, particularly if it helps you to identify the hidden causes of some specific fear. Counseling, combined with personal support, can be very helpful in the process of healing. But, in the end, it’s the new life of Christ within you, the nature, character and power of Jesus working out through you, that really sets you free. So, don’t give in to your fears – they’re not part of God’s plan for your life. Claim the promise of his word, that your life can be totally transformed. Learn to line up your thinking with what the word of God says about you and watch fear take a walk…
Prayer: ‘Father, please help me to be filled with your special brand of love, so that faith is mobilized in my heart, and fear is evicted. I want your strong love to fill every part of my existence today.’
I am amazed at how in 2009 that so many young people are fans of The Beatles. Perhaps the fact that The Beatles who wrote their hit song ‘Eleanor Rigby’ back in the 60s, could have been writing about people today. Especially the chorus: ‘All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?’ It’s ironic that in the so-called age of communication so many people are struggling with intense feelings of loneliness and alienation.
Luke 19:5-6 explains how He reached out to a ‘lonely’. “When Jesus reached the spot [where Zacchaeus was sitting in a tree], he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.’ ”
If you’re a Christian believer, you have within you the same Holy Spirit that empowered the life of Jesus, the most magnetic personality in history. That’s not to say that you’ll never feel alone – in fact, being a person of strong faith can sometimes make you very unpopular. However, learning to live like Jesus will also produce qualities that make you more interesting to other people. One key to building friendships is to elevate other people, just as Jesus did. The Bible says a great deal about honouring our fellow man. To honour people means to elevate them in your own eyes, to look upon them with respect. When you can show other people that you feel you can learn from them, you will have a better chance of winning their friendship. This is not manipulation. As a Christian you can make the other person feel important because you know that they are! They’re important to God. Avoid flattery, but pursue sincere appreciation and look for ways to offer positive words of encouragement. It will break down walls and make friendship easier.
Prayer: Lord, help me today to take a genuine interest in the needs and concerns of other people.’
Boldness is Beautiful!
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness is beautiful, there is power in it. There is a time to wait, the time of soul searching and heavy prayer. But there is also a time for action — for bold, courageous and determined steps into the unknown.
Acts 4:29 ‘Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.’
Boldness unlocks the power of God in our lives like nothing else, because boldness works to release the true power of our inner faith. Without faith we cannot find the favour of God; but without boldness we can never exercise our faith. Without boldness, favour is like a muscle that is never flexed. Without boldness, nobody will ever see the depth and the power of our faith in God — not even us. Faith demands more than giving mental assent to a course of action — it means more than simply saying, ‘Yes God, that seems like a good idea to me…’ Faith must have an outlet in action. Eventually, my faith in a word from God requires that I seize the opportunity he has put before me, without delay.
Sometimes, doors of opportunity are open for only a short space of time. If we fail to make use of them at the right time, they disappear. God is a gracious God and will often give us a second or even a third chance, but he wants us to learn the power of grasping God-given opportunities when they are first given. He wants us to learn the power of decisiveness, because it strips away all insecurity and double-mindedness. The boldness of faith breeds a mind of single focus, and a heart of gritty determination to succeed.
Prayer: ‘Lord, help me to learn how to act at the right time, with boldness. Help me not to delay when you have prepared a path before me.
Hebrews 11:7 ‘By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.’ (NIV)
“When you live by Faith, you are living on the edge of insecurity”
Faith heroes always challenge the the status quo. In one way or another, they are not ‘normal’ by most people’s standards.
God told Noah to build a boat. ‘Great,’ said Noah, ‘what’s a boat?’ ‘You know,’ came the reply, ‘one of those things you use when it rains a lot.’ Noah was excited, but perplexed. ‘Great,’ he said, ‘what’s rain?’ (Genesis says there had never been rain to the point in time.) When God told Noah to build a boat, it wasn’t a balsa-wood boat-in-a-bottle constructed out in the garden shed. Noah built a supermarket-sized boat in his driveway — and several other people’s driveways. It was huge! Tourists came from miles around to take photographs of ‘the fool and his boat’. Noah found favour with God — and saved his family — because he refused to be ruled by popular opinion. God declared a flood to world that had never seen rain — and only Noah was prepared to believe him. Were their moments when Noah felt doubt? Of course. Were there times when Noah wished someone else had received the call? Sure. Nevertheless, Noah was prepared to live with the insecurity and that was what made him a world changer.
Prayer: ‘Dear Father, thank you for the example of people like Noah who are obeyed your call even in the face of ridicule. I want to pursue your call on my life whatever the cost, so please, I pray, trust me, call me afresh even today.’