Renewed Day by Day

Thankful Thursday

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Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. —2 Corinthians 4:16

“Coffee Break: Recharge Your Brain” read an Internet headline awhile back and could I ever relate to that! I am definitely a coffee drinker and very thankful that its pick-me-up properties help ease me into my day. I awaken foggy brained most days but after an hour or two of java sipping I usually feel better able to face whatever the day holds.

After reading that headline, it occurred to me that if coffee can boost our energy levels, how much more we could be recharged by diving into the Word of God!

coffee and Bible

In this particular Scripture passage, Paul is urging us to not dwell on our present circumstances and  trials, but instead focus on God’s grace in our lives. I am always impressed by how often Paul—who continually praised God in the midst of the many trials, persecutions and imprisonments he endured —encourages us to look outward to God rather than inwardly focusing on our daily concerns.

What an example Paul is! He never lost heart over his dire circumstances. In fact, he urged his followers to use these situations to draw closer to God in order to be spiritually and emotionally renewed. Paul’s close relationship with the Lord gave him the confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength when things were toughest for him.

And so can we do the same thing, Beloved. During those times when we feel we absolutely cannot go on, let’s not let fatigue or pain keep us from drawing closer to God and renewing ourselves with His refreshing spiritual nourishment.

coffee

AnnaSmile

Suffering Well

--SweetSat

It may be strange to have a post about suffering on a Sweet Saturday, but if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ this special message will be sweet to you in its truest sense.

I follow the Desiring God blog, and last week this particular post by Jonathan Parnell greatly spoke to me. This is the Philippians 3:7-8 passage to which Mr. Parnell refers:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… —Philippians 3:7-8

Beloved, I pray you are edified by Mr. Parnell’s words too.

How Christians Prepare for Suffering

By Jonathan Parnell | Mar 07, 2013 12:00 am

Original

The apostle Paul suffered. Did he ever.

He was imprisoned. He was beaten, often near death. He took 195 total lashes from his Jewish kinsmen on five occasions. He took three pummels with rods. He was once stoned — and then also shipwrecked three times. Then there are the endless dangers of travel in the first century, plus countless other experiences mentioned and unmentioned in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:21–33).

It doesn’t take long until we wonder how in the world he did it. How did he take so much pain? So much loss? How did he prepare for suffering?

The answer is in Philippians 3:7–8.

Counting Everything As Loss

In the 1992 sermon “Called to Suffer and Rejoice: That We Might Gain Christ,” John Piper unfolds the significance of Paul counting his gain as loss. Basically, the apostle took a long look at his life apart from Christ. All the things that he valued — his Jewish pedigree, his place in the upper echelon of religious society, his law-keeping — he took a long look at this list and wrote “LOSS” over it with a giant Sharpie.

And then we went a step further.

It wasn’t just the past values of his personal life. It wasn’t just “whatever gain he had.” Paul looks out into the future and declares everything as loss. Everything out there that could pass as positive. Everything good that he has yet to experience and everything which he will never experience. Compared to Jesus, everything is loss.

This Is Normal Christianity

And lest we think this puts Paul on a pious pedestal, that he is at a spiritual level we’d never reach, Piper reminds us that this sort of reckoning is normal Christianity (Matthew 13:44; Luke 14:33). To consider Jesus better than everything else in the world is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

It may be worth reading that last sentence a couple more times, until it feels uncomfortable. Many of us are so quick to console our hearts when the least bit of unsettling winds blow through. But what about conviction? It’s a good thing not to be comfortable with a watered-down Christianity foreign to the Bible. It’s not works-righteousness to say that saving faith in Jesus means we have to really love him. It’s works-righteousness to think that our really loving him is the reason we’re saved. Paul said that everything is loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus. Paul said that and so should we.

Jesus Is Better

And that’s how Paul prepared for suffering. He saw Jesus as superior to everything else. Piper lays it out this way:

Suffering is nothing more than the taking away of bad things or good things that the world offers for our enjoyment — reputation, esteem among peers, job, money, spouse, sexual life, children, friends, health, strength, sight, hearing, success, etc. When these things are taken away (by force or by circumstance or by choice), we suffer. But if we have followed Paul and the teaching of Jesus and have already counted them as loss for the surpassing value of gaining Christ, then we are prepared to suffer.

This means that if we treasure Jesus, then every aspect of suffering in our lives is losing something we have already declared as loss.

If when you become a Christian you write a big red “LOSS” across all the things in the world except Christ, then when Christ calls you to forfeit some of those things, it is not strange or unexpected. The pain and the sorrow may be great. The tears may be many, as they were for Jesus in Gethsemane. But we will be prepared. We will know that the value of Christ surpasses all the things the world can offer and that in losing them we gain more of Christ.

Loving Him Today

None of us knows the sorrows that may meet us tomorrow and are sure to meet us if Jesus tarries. We don’t know what hardships God will call us to walk through. But even though we don’t know them, we can prepare for them. And the way we prepare for afflictions then is by gaining Jesus now.

It will not minimize the pain. Not at all. But we will know, even in the darkest night, that Jesus is our God and all, that he is our Rock and treasure, that he is enough.

The way we suit up for our sufferings tomorrow is by cultivating our love for Jesus today.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-christians-prepare-for-suffering

Thankful for God’s Grace

ThankfulThursdayRetro

Back in 2006, a few of my devotionals were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis is one of those devotionals.

When I want to thank God for His grace . . .

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. —John 1:16-17, NRSV

Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. —2 Corinthians 4:16, MSG

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you. —2 Corinthians 13:15, MSG

If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely. —2 Thessalonians 1:12, MSG

. . . I will pray.

Most Compassionate God,

Where would I be without Your grace—full and free and wonderful? It picks up in the very spot where I leave off, tucker out, and finishes the job for me. When I’m too frail to do the right thing, Your grace gives me the boost I need to finish in the winner’s circle. When I find it impossible to forgive, to believe, to go on, Your grace shows me a way where there is no way. Your grace is more than amazing—it’s astonishing!

Lord, I want to thank You for Your grace. I heard somewhere that it stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I’ll never understand it, giving me so much when I’m so completely undeserving. I guess it’s pretty hard to explain.

Help me, Father, to find ways to pass along the message of Your grace to my friends and family. Some of them don’t know how much You love them. They’ve never experienced Your grace—even though it has always been there, poured out for them just as it was for me. Don’t let me miss even one opportunity, Lord, to pass on to others Your riches, purchased by Your precious Son.

Amen.

Grace comes into the soul, as the morning son into the world; first a dawning, then a light; and at last the sun in his full and excellent brightness. —Thomas Adams

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

AnnaSmile

Road Trip!

Tidbit Tuesday

I know this is supposed to be a tidbit of information you may not know about me but if you don’t know this yet, I seem to need a lot of words to describe certain things. So please excuse this slightly l-o-n-g way to share a little tidbit about me. pink_smiley_face_large

Years ago I needed to get away for awhile so I decided that a road trip was in order. I started out in Phoenix and drove north through Las Vegas and up to Lake Tahoe, then decided to drive down California Highway 1—also known as PCH (Pacific Coast Highway)—on my trek homeward. I did not take any photos of that trip for some reason, but I found a couple of images online to give you an idea of my trip.

northern Pacific Coast Highway

The switchbacks in northern California were amazing and probably the second favorite part of my trip (the ocean being the best). I actually wore out a complete set of tires during this drive because that zigzaggy portion of PCH were too tempting for me to drive at a sensible rate of speed!

CA Hwy 1

This was the only time in my life when I took a solo trip. I needed some space and time away from my “normal” life to pray and contemplate several tough things I had gone through the previous year.

When I got to Monterey, I decided to stay a few days to really think things through and spent lots of time on the beach. There is just something about the waves and tide, and the ever-present birds, that instill such a calm and peace.

monterey-beach

And that’s my little tidbit for this Tuesday. Oh, let me just add that in spite of the solitude of my journey, it was a very refreshing time for me. God filled back up the empty and hurting places in my heart, and although I don’t think I’d ever care to do this again, it was exactly enough for me at that time.

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert. —Isaiah 43:18-19

Beloved, have you ever had the opportunity to get away for a time of refreshment?

AnnaSmile

Tulip Mishmash

mish mash

Since it is almost officially Spring, my mind has been on tulips, my favorite flower. And since I am a pink girl, most of these mishmash photos are of pink tulips! A couple of these images are of tulip bouquets I have enjoyed in my own home. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!