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More than just a nice feeling

Winston Churchill once said, "Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning." C.S. Lewis echoed his words when he penned, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." I used to have a pastor who always said you needed to stand for something or you'd stand for nothing. Some refer to this as 'steel-strong' convictions. Steel in your convictions - what does this mean?

It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. (I Thessalonians 1:3-5)

God's hand is on us for something special. We serve a God who is not only supernatural, but he actually influences us to move beyond the natural into the abundance of all he is! Our holy and mighty God wants us to live in the abundance he knows! It is this very encouragement which gives us transforming power to live with courage in times of uncertainty. When God begins to pour into our lives, he is "pouring" into us the "right stuff" - not just stuff that will 'make do'. "When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words." The Word of God NEVER returns to God void - spoken over and into our lives means what our lives produce will not be 'void' of value, either. When it is spoken, believed, and stood upon, it carries such a degree of transforming power that one cannot resist the transformation that is occurring.

C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head - God gives us courage - not the regular stuff, but the ability to stand even when every one of our other virtues is being put to the test, stretched beyond belief, and seemingly pulling us inside out. Something happens when our virtues are put to the test - we come away stronger! This is not in our natural ability, but in the supernatural strength and grace of our holy God. Since the 1600's, the meaning of "convictions" has come to stand for any belief we stand convinced of in our lives. It is something we "hang our hat on" when the tough stuff begins to happen. I don't know about you, but there are times when my convictions don't actually match my behavior. Congruence (agreement) between my convictions and my behaviors is something which comes when I submit my convictions to God, allowing him to mold them to be conformed to the basis of truth.

Hardly a day passes which does not present us with some opportunity to have our convictions put to the test. We face uncertainties galore - putting to test our trust in the one who makes all things good. We come close to losing our hold on reality - almost choosing to believe the taunting lies of our enemy instead of the wholly proven Word of God. We refuse to "chance" love again - because someone who is hurt finds it almost impossible to reach out again in transparent abandon to another.
In these moments, God stands at the ready to put "steel in our convictions". When these convictions are solidly based on the Word of God - the truth - we can stand strong, head held high, and heart open to those who walk this pathway with us. God's hand is indeed upon us for something special - in his touch comes the "steel" to make it through - not just by the skin of our teeth, but with deep-seated assurance in the one we put our trust in. The next time you feel your "courage" waning - look up! It is in choosing to see God in the moment that we feel the infilling of his strength to face the unknown. Just sayin!

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