Encouragement For Today 12-31-03

December 31, 2003

Encouragement for Today


Hope for Tomorrow

Mary Southerland


Key Verse:


God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7





A cloud of terror hung over the Valley of Elah as snarling threats and vile promises spewed from his mouth. The intimidator strutted along grassy slopes swinging an enormous club, his mammoth, ironclad feet pawing the ground like an irate bull, ready to attack. The huge, ugly monster was Goliath, a nine foot giant, the pride of Philistia. He wore massive armor; a bronze coat weighing 200 pounds, a solid iron spear, a heavy bronze helmet. The target of his ranting and raving was a frightened, helpless group of Israelites, cowering in their tents. For forty agonizing days, Goliath had come, taunting them, promising certain destruction and doom. The Israelites, paralyzed with fear, had given up all hope of escape, resigned to their tortured fate at the hand of this Philistine monster.


Then came day forty-one! I am certain that as the sun inched its way over the mountains that morning neither Goliath nor the Israelites had any idea that this day would be different. A young handsome teenager stepped into the valley of fear, fresh from the presence of God. David, the youngest in a family of eight boys could not believe the scene before him. Tossing the giant’s threats and obvious advantage aside, David refused to accept what he saw. Instead he chose to believe what he knew in his heart; this giant was going down! With simple but certain faith and unreserved confidence in God, David stepped through the fear, ushering in the mighty presence and power of God. Goliath not only met David that day, He met the Lord of Heaven and Earth. And the giant fell! Giants always fall in the presence of God!


We stand on the threshold of a new year – a new beginning! If you are like me you face 2004 with mixed emotions. Personally, I am thrilled that I survived 2003! There were certainly moments when I wondered if I would. I am so excited about a fresh start, a brand new set of days overflowing with new dreams and unmarked possibilities. But I also know that this year is crammed full of the unknown as well as a giant or two. And if I am brutally honest, I have to admit that the unknown fashions a pocket of fear in my heart where questions and doubts thrive.


The good news is that what lies ahead is no surprise to God. As a matter of fact, He has already been where we are going. That reason alone empowers us to face every tomorrow with hope, knowing that whatever touches us passes through His hands, with His permission. It is not God’s plan for us to dwell in fear or for fear to rule our lives. He has already set in motion the defeat and fall of every giant we will ever face. Our responsibility is to step through our fear, facing every giant in God’s power and with His promises. The Holy Spirit will guide the path of His truth to its destined mark, taking down the giants lurking in each tomorrow.


He is the same yesterday, today and forever! The days ahead are saturated with the memory of Goliath’s fall and trust in Almighty God, the Giant Killer! So then, my friend, I ask you, what is there to fear? Happy New Year!



My prayer for today:


Today, Lord, I trust you for whatever this year holds. I know that you are mighty and powerful. I rest in that power, knowing that your love for me will be my shield. I choose to believe your Word. I acknowledge you as Lord of my life and praise you in advance for the days ahead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Application steps:


Take time to review the past year. What giants have you faced? Was your response to these giants right or wrong? What changes do you need to make as you approach a new year?



Reflection points:


How do I typically handle fear?


What giants are facing me today?


What has been my natural response to giants of the past?


How does the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ affect those responses?


Read Luke 2:8-14. Examine your life in light of this passage.



Power verses:


Deuteronomy 32:4 He is like a rock; what he does is perfect, and he is always fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong, who is right and fair. (NCV)


Psalm 69:32 The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God's help live in joy. (NLT)


Psalm 95:6-7 Come, let's worship him and bow down. Let's kneel before the LORD who made us, because he is our God and we are the people he takes care of and the sheep that he tends. (NCV)


James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. (NLT)


1 Peter 1:7 These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold; your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor. (NLT)



Additional resources:


At Home With God by Sharon Jaynes



Who Holds the Key to Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst



A Woman for the New Millennium by Mary Southerland



P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries



Originally published Wednesday, 31 December 2003.