Are you afraid to be bold? Do you find yourself living in fear? Are you having a hard time understanding what God is doing? Do you want to take a next step but find yourself fearful or intimidated? Are you growing weary and tired of waiting? Do you wonder how God could use you?
I have found myself in every one of those areas; these questions come from my own personal experiences and struggles :) It’s not easy to step out and do what God is calling you to do. Fear can overwhelm us. Anxiety can grip us. Our past can come swirling in to remind us of all the ways we are not enough. The weight of our responsibilities can all come tumbling down on us. We want to step out, but we don’t understand what God is doing, or why he is calling us to do a particular step.
This past year has been this way for me. Ebbs and flows of faith and fear. A lot of fear and anxiety. I don’t understand what God is doing. I find myself waiting for things to make sense before I act in faith. I want to have answers. I want to trust what He is doing. I guess you could say I am a control freak. I grow weary and impatient. I’m sure you can relate in some way.
We question. We doubt. We remain in indecision. We get stuck. We are human.
I was reading Luke 23 the other day and want to share the encouragement the Lord revealed to me.
I want to focus on the people who were present at the crucifixion of Jesus. On the day of His brutal death on the cross. Try to imagine being in their shoes. Let’s go there together.
The day had come. The day for our Lord Jesus to take on the sins of the world. As Jesus is hanging in excruciating pain on the cross, the Roman officers and crowd are scoffing, ridiculing, and mocking Jesus. They are throwing dice for his clothing and yelling, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37)
There were also two criminals on crosses next to Jesus. One was scoffing and yelling to Jesus: “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”” (Luke 23:38)
But, this is where I want to zero in on the other criminal. Let’s put ourselves in their situation. Amidst all the mocking and scoffing that is being done to Jesus, this criminal’s humble response is one to take note of.
“But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43)
This is incredible. This other criminal is declaring in front of everyone that Jesus is Lord, that He is God, and that He is the Way to Heaven! He is unashamed. He isn’t afraid. He is trusting Jesus at His Word, even when faced with terrible, painful circumstances: death on a cross. In all the shame of his past, he humbly steps out boldly in front of everyone. Wow.
Now, I want to zero in on the Roman officer in charge of the execution of Jesus. Let’s step into his shoes for a moment. He is the one in charge of this execution. He is doing what he is told. He is surrounded by leaders and officers who are mocking Jesus, and he may even be doing the same thing…
But, complete darkness falls over the entire land. The curtain in the sanctuary tears down the middle and Jesus breathed his last words on the cross, “Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.”
“When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” (Luke 23:44-47)
The Roman officer declares in front of everyone that Jesus was innocent and is the Son of God (Luke 23:47 and Matthew 27:54) He even worships Him! This is a miracle!
Now, I want to zero in on, Joseph. It says that Joseph was a member of the Jewish high council and did not agree with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. Joseph was potentially a Christian in hiding. He did not outwardly show or tell the others that he believed. He kept it to himself. Let’s put ourselves in his shoes. The pressures and stakes were high to do what Joseph is about to do. He was not supposed to do this…
“He (Joseph) went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then he (Joseph) took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock.” (Luke 23:52-54)
This is a big deal. Joseph wanted Jesus to receive the proper burial. For whatever reason, Joseph was led to do this for Jesus. We don’t know for sure what he believed about Jesus, but we do know that He was led to be bold and put his name and reputation on the line. He was stepping out, even if he didn’t fully understand the whole picture.
Now, let’s zero in on the last group of people, The Women. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. In this time period, women were often “behind-the-scenes” and they were not encouraged to step out. But, Jesus showed them incredible mercy and grace. He was kind and uplifting to women. This was not something men did - they were not supposed to speak with women in public, especially the teachers of God. With this in mind, let’s see through the women’s eye:
The women followed Jesus through it all. When most of the disciples and followers of Jesus fled in the confusion, these women stayed and continued to follow Jesus. Even when things didn’t make sense. Even when things seemed dark and hopeless. Even when everyone around them was doing the opposite. Even when the stakes were high to believe. Even when society said they couldn’t do “big” things for God.
As we stepped into the shoes of these four groups of people, there was a common theme.
Now, what person or group can you relate to most? In what ways are you different? How can you step out in boldness when you don’t understand?
Together, let’s spend time with Jesus and let the Holy Spirit make us bold. Let’s step out when we don’t understand. Let’s do what God is calling us to do and trust Him with the outcome. One. step. At. a. Time. Let us be people who shine the light of Jesus wherever we go. What’s your bold next step?
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Lord Jesus, we love you. Thank you for what you have done for us. You paid the ultimate price for us to be forgiven and to live with you forever. Thank you for loving us and calling us to you. We pray for boldness. We pray we would be changed by your presence and power. We pray we would step out, even when we don’t understand. We pray you would show us the blessings in the pain and hardship. We pray for you to be glorified. May your name be lifted high. Make us bold and strong through the power of the Holy Spirit. Help us be your witnesses telling people about you everywhere we go. Thank you for being with us every step of the way and never leaving us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Bold in Christ,
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