“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."- John 8:32
I do not know if you are like me in that you have a list of your favorite worship songs that you play on a walk, at work, in your morning devotions, or just in your mind over and over again, but I definitely have a set of what I call my "go to" praise times. One of the worship songs that caught my attention in recent years is called GREAT I AM. The song begins with a triumphant truth, "I want to be close, close to Your side. So heaven is real and death is a lie." As I meditate on this statement of faith, of hope, and of victory, I am reminded of something I have believed for quite some time: That the strength of my outward declaration must be matched by the strength of my inward conviction.
I want the depths of my heart to be filled with such a faith in and worship to God that it shapes the way I speak, the way I think, the way I act, the way I prioritize, and the way I treat people. I want to grow closer to the Lord and stronger in the Lord in such a way that I would not be shaken by all that is happening around me: that I would be like Peter, who chose to get out of the boat and walk on water; that I would be like Paul, who does not fear death when in a storm; that I would be like David, when facing a giant; that I would be like Daniel, when threatened and trapped in a lion's den; that I would be like Esther, who is willing to be used by God to help others; and that I would be like Abraham, who believed in God's promise despite the insurmountable odds and passing years without any evidence of the miracle. In fact, Abraham is often the model given of what it means to fully trust God and to be counted righteous through faith. In Romans 4:20-21 Abraham is given a pretty remarkable commendation, "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised."
Of course, this life of faith (not focused on what is seen) and of following Jesus (not focused on self) is much easier said than done. There is so much that seeks to tempt us, to get our eyes off Jesus, and to oppose us. We can be doing so well, feeling such peace, walking with such purpose, and focused on God's truth and promise, and in a moment we can be entertaining a thought, a lie, and a desire that causes us to shrink back from being the "conqueror" and "overcomer" that God has made us in Christ. Let me share a personal story to illustrate this. I was on my way to the gym after work. During the drive I was in prayer, humbly confessing areas of surrender and boldly declaring that God alone is my strength. That 15 minute prayer drive had me feeling rejuvenated in my faith. Yet, as I walked in the gym my eyes glanced at a news story on the television. The report was about studies released as it relates to health issues. In a matter of a moment, I went from being at peace to worry, being focused on the Lord to focused on the temporal, and from being hopeful to running for cover. In fact, the enemy began to use that news report to cause me to be anxious and worried to the degree that it was difficult to even work out. I stepped off the treadmill, took some time to pray, and made a choice to stand in the Lord's truth, strength, and promise, rather than what I was feeling. That afternoon was an important reminder of how quickly and easily we can fall back into wrong patterns of thinking. I walked away from that challenge with a lesson that needs to be daily applied: I will choose to focus on what is REAL and not how I FEEL.
Dear friend, let me bring a word of encouragement today. Allow the truth of God to penetrate every fiber of your being and powerfully work in every area of your life. Let's choose God's truth to be our focus when we are confronted with thoughts that are meant to make us fearful; when we are met with a need that we have no idea how it will be provided for; when we are dealing with a relationship that is toxic and tension filled; and when the devil seeks to remind us of our past failures and sin marred condition. The wonderful news for us to believe and declare is that TRUTH WORKS and TRUTH NEVER CHANGES. May our Savior's words bring clarity, may our Savior's touch bring victory, and may our Savior's presence bring liberty! Jesus is still declaring His transformative truth today, as he proclaims in John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."