In our last devotion, we discussed the verse in Deuteronomy 31:6 that says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I think this idea needs more discussion because it can change you if you let it. Fear is an instinct that is intended to keep you safe. But when it comes to God and your walk with Christ, “safe” is not always where the sidewalk takes you. Satan knows it is an instinct, and he uses it to keep you from the things that grow you in Christ.
A couple of months after my first singing incident, I told myself, “Never again. Not doing that again. All done!” Then one day I was in my ASB class in high school and I was asked if I would be interested in being the Rally Commissioner. I didn’t know what a Rally Commissioner was at the time. They told me that you get to pick the games and all the stuff that we do at the pep rallies. That sounded fun to me. So I said, “Sure, I’ll pick the games. That sounds awesome! I’ll do that for sure.” Then I found out after I had been elected into the position, and after I had signed up for it, that not only did I have to organize and pick the games for every rally, but I also had to speak in front of the entire High School. I had to be the ‘emcee’ for the rallies, and this was in front of all four classes. This wasn’t a small school, but a class of nearly 800 people. I certainly didn’t sign up for that. I decided right then that I’d quit. I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I was certainly justified in quitting!
Even though this wasn’t a church event, I felt that ‘conviction’ again. “Don’t quit. I’m doing something.” None of it made sense to me but I knew the promise “the Lord your God goes with you.” At my first rally, I had to hold my mic with both hands because I was shaking so hard. The first time I ever spoke in front of a large group of people wasn’t in a church, it was at my high school. In front of the entire school. I stood there and I did the only thing I could do — I pretended like I was brave. As I walked up for my first rally, I began to hear those voices in my head saying, “You’re nothing but a scaredy-cat. You’re always afraid. You are not brave.” That was the phrase in my head. But I went through with it, and God honored it.
That was one of my early lessons in trusting God. Later, I traveled to Africa and preached in front of thousands. I’d still hear the voice say, “You’re not brave, Oscar.” I moved from one state to the next following the Lord’s call. I’d hear that quiet voice, “Oscar, you’re not brave.” I would look at other people and they would do simple things, and I’d say to myself, “They’re so brave, I wish I could be like them.” And here I was traveling the world, working for God, taking risks, and still thinking, “I’m such a scaredy-cat.” Finally, it dawned on me, “Oscar, you’re not scared. That’s just something that someone said to you, and it got stuck in your head. Get over it. The past is gone, you’re a new creation, and God will never forsake you.
When you were a kid you might have been labeled for whatever reason, but ‘in Christ’ you’re not that anymore. I want to tell every one of you that you are a new creation in Christ, and whatever it is that someone spoke over your early life, it doesn’t define you. Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe something bad happened, but whatever the past is, you need to embrace that you are ‘a new creation’ and God is doing something new inside of you. That starts with His desire to make you into what He wants you to be. Because when you’re in Christ, you have every victory. Even when you are called ‘defeated,’ God’s actually pushing you to a new victory. And everything works in your favor; everything works ‘together for the good of them that love God.’ [Romans 8:28] When you begin to realize this and recognize that you are a ‘new creation,’ then that feeling of fear or defeat is gone.
Your prayer should be, “God, make me into who you need me to be, and who you created me to be. Not who the world says I am, or even what I believe I am, but Lord what you need me to be. God, do the work that needs to be done in me. God, I will trust in you, and I will lean on you. My old ways are gone. Amen.”
Now be assured in God’s willingness to meet you where you are and complete the work in you as the ‘new creature.’ Many times I’ve seen people walk through the church doors addicted to whatever sins that they were struggling with. Then God got ahold of their heart and totally flipped their world upside down. I was one of them. Not on drugs, but I was one of the ones that got totally flipped upside down. And that’s what God is still doing. You can be in church for 20 years and God is still going to completely flip your world upside down.
The key verse in this devotion found in Deuteronomy 31:6 builds on the idea of being ‘a new creature’. One of the things that can hold you back is fear. Fear of who you have been. Fear of what you can or cannot do. But God’s encouragement is “be strong” and don’t “be afraid” because He will “never leave nor forsake you.” This devotion gives three (3) important lessons for you. (1) Be strong and courageous. This means to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Embrace the ‘convictions’ you might feel. Step-up and live-up to God’s potential for you. (2) Fear is the tool of the devil. It can keep you from God’s intention in your life. Don’t think you know what God is trying to accomplish, or you will talk yourself out of whatever it might be. Whether that fear is about your sense of worthiness or your sense of capability; don’t let it stop you. (3) God “will never leave nor forsake you.” If you are obedient to His calling, and you pursue Him, He will be with you. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Embrace His purpose for your life!
God bless you and keep you. ~OS