Shielded Through Suffering

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans‬ ‭8:31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ 
IMG_1452This is one of those verses that can be very confusing when you read it “out of context.” At first glance it sounds as if this is a guarantee against defeat. 

Jesus said the world would hate us, because it hated Him. I have seen more animosity toward Christianity in the last ten years than my entire lifetime. While this may be a new concern in America, Christians around the world have suffered persecution for centuries. 

When we read this verse in context we find that this chapter speaks to the glory in suffering. We aren’t promised to be shielded from suffering, but rather through suffering. In comparison to the reward of eternity with the Lord our suffering seems trivial. In fact, suffering strengthens and purifies us. Psalms describes it as being refined by fire. 

We see in Roman 8 that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ, and even in death we are more than conquerors.

My take on this verse is this: If God be for me who cares who is against me! My life is His. I live for an audience of ONE. God alone is my judge, and Jesus is interceding FOR me.

Lord, I am so thankful that nothing can separate me from Your love. I am thankful for the promise of Your continual presence. Knowing You will never leave me or forsake me gives me the courage to face this life. Thank You Lord for suffering in my place. You left the comfort of Heaven to purchase my redemption.

When life gets tough, remind me it’s temporary. Help me to be spiritually minded, which brings life and peace. Help me to have an attitude like Paul who considered suffering as unworthy to be compared to the glory that awaits us.

Jesus, thank You that You are interceding on my behalf before God. I know You will work all things together for my good. Thank You for making me a conqueror!

Thankful Everyday

“I will give thanks and praise the LORD, with all my heart; I will tell aloud all Your wonders and marvelous deeds.” PSALM‬ ‭9:1‬ ‭AMP‬‬

IMG_1447Tomorrow is “Thankgiving” here in the USA. It’s the one day a year set aside for Americans to reflect on the goodness of God.

As I read Psalm 9:1, I am reminded that everyday is Thanksgiving. One day a year would never be enough to acknowledge Him.

As you gather around the table tomorrow take a moment and share one thing God did in your life this year that was the undeniable work of His hands.

What does it look like to give thanks and praise God – “with ALL my heart?”

  • Do I thank Him as fervently as I petition Him?
  • Do I consider the need to acknowledge Him in the things I take for granted … waking up each day, my health, my friends/family, my finances? 
  • Do I only reserve my praise for the WOW moments when He does something EXTRAordinary?

God deserves my praise for every breath. When I focus on His love, mercy and goodness my perspective changes. The glass becomes full and overflowing rather than ‘half empty’.

I have a roof over my head, a car to drive, food, clothes, my health, friends and family who love me and bring joy to my life. I have a church family who inspire and motivate me to be all God has called me to be. I have abundance beyond my needs. I AM TRULY BLESSED!  

Brag on God!  Something else stood out in this verse. David not only recognized the need to praise the Lord and walk in a heart of gratitude, but to tell others about the things God had done in his life. How can we NOT talk about the wonders and marvelous deeds of our God? People need HOPE. They need LOVE. They need GRACE. We have the ANSWER! He’s too good to keep to ourselves.

  • He’s ALIVE! Because He lives I can face my tomorrows. The grave couldn’t hold Him and it won’t hold me.
  • He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He doesn’t change. I can trust Him. I can rely on Him. 
  • He did not come to condemn, but to save. (John 3:17) He delights in mercy. He is moved with compassion. 

Lord, I thank You and praise You because You alone are worthy of my praise. When I keep my eyes on You the trials of this life grow dim in comparison to Your glory and majesty. In Your presence there is fullness of JOY and the joy of the Lord is my strength.

Lord, I pray that the light of Your glory will shine through me as a beacon drawing others to You. Give me the opportunity to share Your goodness with others. Let my life and my words be a witness. 

Thank You for loving me. Thank You for giving Your life for my sins and taking my place on the cross. Thank You for the hope of eternal life with You. Worthy is the Lamb! I long for the day I will join the hosts of Heaven in Your presence and cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty…who was, as is and is to come.”

How’s Your Thought Life?

At some point we’ve all had someone ask us, “What are you thinking about?” I for one am thankful people cannot read my mind. While I’d love to be able to say my thoughts are always pure and reflective of Christ, the truth is a war is often going waging within me.  

You know what I mean, right? How many times have you held internal conversations with yourself? How many tongue lashings have you rehearsed in your mind? 

What’s in my heart comes out in my thoughts. While people may not be able to read my thoughts, God can. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 51:10:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 

IMG_1438When my heart is clean, my words and thoughts will be clean. When my thoughts are unclean and do not line up with the “new” creation God has birthed in me I have a choice. I can choose to “capture” my thoughts or I can allow them to capture me. But how do we capture our thoughts? 

We must start by being attentive to our thought life. People often argue, “I can’t help how I feel,” which usually translates into, “I can’t control what I am thinking.” But we can! Start thinking about what you think about. When a troubling thought comes into your mind, ask yourself: (1) Where is this thought coming come? (2) Is this thought pleasing to God? (3) Is this thought healthy for my spiritual well being?

Replace Your Thoughts When you are having thoughts that you know are not from God, are not pleasing to Him or healthy for you replace them with what God says in His Word. Psalm 119:11 portrays the importance of meditating on the Word. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” This requires research. You know the areas you struggle with in your thought life. If you struggle with fear, find and memorize scriptures that combat fear. If you struggle with anger, find and memorize scriptures on overcoming anger. Whatever the issue, God’s Word IS the answer.  

Journal If you really want to see the progression of learning to take your thoughts captive, journal. (1) Write down the thought you need to replace. (2) Write out the scriptures that address the issue. (3) Write out a prayer for God to cleanse your heart and renew your mind.  

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” That includes changing our thought life.  

Pray: Father, I thank You that when I am weak, You are strong! Help me in my weakness Lord. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Lord, quicken my spirit when my thoughts get off track. Guide me back to the path of purity. I commit to hid Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Help me to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. AMEN