Tag Archives: confidence in God

Confident in God

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16, NIV*

We’re encouraged to approach God’s very throne. With confidence.

In what circumstances? When we’re at the peak of our success and have it all together?

No. Believers in Christ are to come to the All-Powerful Ruler of all creation when we most need grace and mercy.

Asking for help from others is hard for many of us, in part because we feel diminished if we have to admit weakness, lack or other needs. We can feel as if this puts the other person in a position of power over us, and we may fear their response – or their future demands of payback.

When we truly trust the other person it’s much easier. We may still fear they’ll be disappointed in us, hurt, or angry over what we reveal, especially when it’s the sort of issue that has us requiring grace and mercy.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling in need of grace and mercy it’s because I’ve blown it. Or I’m feeling inadequate or in some other way unworthy. I’m the very opposite of confident.

Yet we’re to come to God with confidence, at our lowest point. Not with a brash, in-your-face boldness that thinks He’s somehow obligated to us.

A confidence based on God’s character and on His promises. They do obligate Him to receive us, but only because He committed to do so because of His goodness and Jesus’ finished work on the Cross. It has nothing to do with our merit.

Because we know Who He is, we know we’ll find the mercy and grace we need. Thinking in these terms, the confidence we express is faith. We’re choosing to believe Him and to stake our needs on Him.

This reminds me of James 1:5-6, which encourages us to ask God for wisdom and warns that, when we ask, we need to believe He will answer. The attached warning is that unbelief will hinder our prayer. (The good news is, we can always pray “Lord, help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24)

God our King, awesome in majesty and holiness, we are perpetually in need of Your grace and mercy. Thank You for making a way for us to receive what we could never earn or supply on our own. Even faith is a gift from You, so please give us the faith – the confidence in You – that will bring us into Your presence to receive what You long to give. Thank You for loving us enough for this.

I loved this song from the first time I heard it: “Come as You Are,” by Crowder. At first it sounds like an invitation to those who haven’t yet surrendered to Jesus, but I think it applies to Christians, too, any time we’re at that place of needing grace and mercy.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Showing God’s Glory

 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honour the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”
Daniel 4:37, NLT*

What I like about the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and return to power (see Daniel 4) is that it not only shows God’s power, it shows His mercy on someone He knew would eventually be able to come to Him in worship.

King Herod had a similar moment of self-exaltation, but he received only judgement and death (see Acts 12:20-23). God saw in Nebuchadnezzar the potential to repent and be restored.

The taking down of the world’s most powerful man at the time, and then his restoration, demonstrated God’s power to grant authority and to take it away. Nebuchadnezzar told the world, once he was restored.

I’m sure many didn’t believe, but those with open ears heard. And he knew the truth.

The Bible shows that God works in our lives for our own good but also for His glory, that those watching can see His character and come to Him as well. He really doesn’t want anyone to go into eternity without Him.

May we who know Him keep close, so He doesn’t need to do anything dramatic to bring us back. May we keep our spirits lined up with His, and be open to recognize – and to share – what He does in and around us, for the glory of His name and for the sake of those who need to hear.

God Most High, You are worthy of all praise, for Your power, Your mercy, and for all that You are. Help us to remember Your character and to live in confidence in Your care. Help us trust You even when all we see in the world is trouble and disaster. You are supreme, and Your kingdom will come.

This week’s song is a classic from the band Petra: “Show Your Power.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Terrified and Amazed. In a Good Way.

The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”
Luke 8:25b, NLT*

When was the last time you were terrified and amazed by God?

Not fearing He would nail you with a lightning bolt. Overwhelmed by awareness of how much power is His. Of what He does. How much He loves us.

Paul tells us to “come boldly” into His presence because God is so much more than we can conceive. This is the same God who thundered on the mountain in the Old Testament, whose presence terrified the high priests. He is no less by giving us a way back into His presence. (He is, after all, the same God who walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.)

We don’t often see “big” proof of His power, but He is working in and around each one of His children right now. It’s easy to miss, if we don’t keep our eyes open. Even then, it’s easy to see His touch as evidence of love and care but to miss the power behind it.

Awareness of His power increases our confidence in Him. It reminds us that obedience is not negotiable. And it stirs our faith in worship.

Holy and majestic God, all power and authority are Yours. Forgive us for forgetting, for settling for less than full worship of all You are. Help us take time to reflect on all of Your attributes, so we can grow in faith.

A good reminder song is “God Undefeatable,” sung here by Austin Stone Worship.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


God’s Reputation

You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his officials, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors. You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.
Nehemiah 9:10, NLT* (emphasis mine)

Many North American Christians are walking closely with God and growing in our faith. But to the watching world, even to many in (or leaving) the church, God’s glorious reputation has been forgotten, replaced by one that’s distorted. (Click to tweet.)

That makes me sad. No wonder people aren’t drawn to follow Him, when they don’t know who He is.

In context here, the returned Israelites have heard the Law read aloud, have confessed their corporate and individual sins and vowed to live God-honouring lives. Even when they’d forgotten the nuances of holy living, they remembered God’s mighty acts.

We don’t tell God’s stories: miracles in the Bible and our own personal encounters, large and small.

We don’t live in clear trust, in joy or peace. We’re bogged down by the cares of this world (some of which are heavy indeed). Respect for diversity (or fear of offending) keeps our faith low-key, personal and private.

But even Israel’s enemies knew God’s reputation. We can tell the stories without insisting others embrace them, and trust God to do what He will with our words.

We’ve given the wrong impression of God. Instead of a glorious reputation, He’s perceived as judgmental, carrying a big stick and waiting for an excuse to swing it. Or people think He’s helpless, because flashy miracles aren’t happening much in North America and the quieter miracles aren’t recognized or aren’t shared. Others think He’s confusing, because we can’t answer the deep pain questions and yet we’ve felt we had to be able to explain Him.

Holy and majestic God, God of power and tenderness, judgment and love, we don’t understand how Your character traits mesh together. Still, we know we can trust You. Forgive us for the part we’ve played in the damage to Your reputation. Remind us of who You are, of what You’ve done. Help us to live confident in You, to see and share what You do. Restore Your glorious reputation in the eyes of all the world, and in Your grace give us a part to play in that restoration. Not because we’re worthy, but because You are good.

A good song to focus our faith is “Our Great God,” by Todd Agnew and Rebecca St. James.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Abundant Life

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
John 10:9-10, NLT* (emphasis mine)

This is part of Jesus’ “I am the Good Shepherd” message, and it warms my spirit. The King James Version translates the last line as “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, KJV)

Abundant life. Don’t we all want it?

I used to think “abundant life” meant energy, enthusiasm, cheer and a lot of other things. And I used to wonder where mine was, as a Christian.

But those are personality traits—great if they come naturally, but not the fruit of the Spirit.

These past few weeks, I’m beginning to see more clearly that it’s all about our loyal trust in God, and about living, moving, acting and speaking in His strength and not our own.

This is not new material to anyone who’s been a Christian for very long. It’s one of those layered truths, though, where we get it but we don’t really get it all, at least not all at once. The more we apply it, the more we understand and experience it.

In those moments when I live in God’s strength instead of taking all the responsibility on myself, there’s a peace and a freedom from striving and stress. There’s a hint of a rich and satisfying life.

It’s about relying on Jesus, coming and going freely and finding good pastures: pastures He leads us to. Something about knowing this—knowing I really am receiving a rich, satisfying, abundant life—gives me quiet joy.

And hope. Maybe even a bit of what passes for exuberance etc. in my particular personality.

Our God, You are good, and in Your care we are well-Shepherded. Help us to grow in our faith-life, to intentionally rely on Your strength instead of our own. Open our eyes to see Your care and to recognize Your abundant, rich, full-to-overflowing life springing up in our spirits. Make it visible to others, so they’ll want it too.

This week’s song, “Don’t You Think,” by one of my favourite artists, Todd Agnew, is not new to me but I heard something new in it this time. Note the examples of God-followers trying life in their own strength and then trying it God’s way.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Is Your Loyalty Divided?

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you … But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty … should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:5-8, NLT* (emphasis mine)

Reading these verses in other translations, I always thought “do not waver” meant “don’t doubt” and it always left me a bit uncertain. Despite our best efforts, doubt can flicker in our prayers.

God knows that. Remember the father with the demon-possessed son? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NLT*)

The KJV uses “wavering” but the NIV actually says “you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave…” Both call the person “double minded.”

But this translation makes the real issue clear. Are we asking God for wisdom, leading, direction, but still holding onto worldly wisdom as a backup? No wonder it doesn’t work. If our loyalty is divided between God and the world, we’re sunk. (Click to tweet.)

That’s not to say God doesn’t want us to use our common sense, any more than He doesn’t want us to avail ourselves of doctors or other resources. But He does want us to look first to Him, to His power and His ways, and to go “all in” with what He says even if it’s counter-intuitive from a natural human perspective.

Remember His instruction for the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho? God’s way works, because He works.

The context in today’s verses is wisdom, but I think the loyalty—which worldview we espouse and obey, where we look for our strength and encouragement—underpins everything we do.

In this light, I can understand “double-minded” to be like the man serving two masters. Of course it won’t succeed. We need to trust. And to commit.

Holy and all-powerful God, help us to fully embrace You as our source of all help and resources. Grow our faith so we can trust and obey You—fully and completely.

This week’s song is a hymn I love: “Be Thou My Vision.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Our Source of Strength

May [the God of peace] equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Hebrews 13:21, NLT*

The Christian life is about learning what it means to walk by faith, to let the Holy Spirit’s power in us be our source of strength.

This has become my quest in the past few weeks. I’ve realized part of the reason there’s been an invisible cloud over my head is that I’ve felt overwhelmed by the “stuff” of life. I’ve been trying to handle it on my own again.

The more I commit each day to God’s leading, including what goes or doesn’t go on the agenda, the more I pray “Lord, You direct me, strengthen and keep me focused,” the better it is.

I’ve been praying daily for protection from fearful and negative thoughts, and reminding myself in Whom I put my confidence.

Check out the credentials ascribed to God in the verse before our focus verse:

Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— Hebrews 13:20, NLT*

This God, we can trust.

I don’t need to be anxious or to overcompensate. If there’s potential for something to go wrong, either God will help me do it right, or He’ll work within the fallout. If someone else is angry with me about it, God will still be with me.

And I don’t need to think ahead and try to hold everything together. My times are in His hands.

I’ve seen a few changes to my default reactions—all good! And my spirit, lined up with His Spirit, has more peace.

God of peace, You are so good to us. You rescue us when we can’t help ourselves, You prepare good works for us to do and give us people to love… and You provide the power to do it because on our own we can’t do much of value. Forgive us for the times we try life in our own strength, and help us learn to rely on Yours. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Here’s one of my favourite Cliff Richard songs, a worship song I remember singing many years ago to help me focus: “Be in My Heart.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Knowing Who We Are

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2, NLT* (emphasis mine)

“When you know who you are in Christ, there is less room for the spirit of rejection to take root.”

I heard this recently, and it got me thinking. Some people are self-aware. They have a healthy view of who they are, and are secure in their own identities.

Others, myself included, are self-conscious. We have too sharp a view of our failings or weaknesses, and a clouded understanding of our good points.

Reject a self-aware person and they’ll know it’s really your problem. Reject a self-conscious person and they’ll take it personally. And agree with you.

Better than either of these is to be God-conscious. The Bible tells us who we are in God’s eyes: loved but condemned without Him, loved and accepted with Him. If God accepts us, knowing and redeeming the very worst of who we are, why is it often so hard to accept ourselves?

God says we are: loved, saved, accepted, adopted, delightful, clean, equipped. And more. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

God who formed and redeemed us, when we feel or think or fear we are less than You say we are, help us take control of those thoughts. Help us reject them with the sword of the Spirit: Your Word. And help us raise the shield of faith by choosing to believe Your Word.

The David Crowder*Band‘s song, “Shadows,” reminds us to keep our confidence firmly in God.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Choosing to Believe God

The people refused to enter the pleasant land,
for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.
Psalm 106:24, NLT*

The Psalmist is recapping Israel’s history, and this verse refers to the first time God brought them to the edge of the Promised Land, when they believed a frightening report of the dangers ahead instead of remembering how God had kept them safe thus far.

“They wouldn’t believe His promise to care for them.” I’m sure that’s not how they saw it. They’d probably say they were being realistic, facing facts. After all, the scouts reported giants in the land. What chance did they have?

They forgot they had God on their side. The same God who’d broken Pharaoh with plagues and destroyed his army after parting the Red Sea. The same God who’d given them water in the desert and daily bread from heaven.

The same God who disciplined them when they disobeyed or got too demanding.

They forgot. We do, too.

All-powerful and holy God, Your promises are true and Your hand is mighty to defend us. Forgive us for the times we trust our own eyes and ears instead of trusting Your word. Help us remember what You’ve revealed about Yourself, and  help us choose to believe You.

Jeremy Camp’s song, “Walk By Faith,” is a good reminder for us.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Transplanted to Flourish

For [the godly] are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
They will declare, “The Lord is just!
He is my rock!
There is no evil in him!”
Psalm 92:13-15, NLT*

Transplanted trees… usually they come from the nursery (or forest) with their roots in a ball of dirt. Scrawny ones may be pulled out of poor soil with bare roots, or their roots may even need washing before being plunged into good ground.

It’s amazing that God would take humans in all our messiness, clean us and label us “godly,” and transplant us into His own house — into His presence. May we not stand there, roots clenched tight into the clot of dirt they came with. May we consciously poke our roots into the wide, deep, nourishing ground of God’s presence. May we flourish. May we thrive.

God of grace and mercy, what can we say but “Thank You”? Help us grow into all You’ve designed us to be, with our confidence fully rooted in You.

With the thought of flourishing in the courts of the Lord, here’s Kutless with “Better is One Day.” This is a new version to me, and I like what they’ve done with it.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.