Tag Archives: Chris Tomlin

Our Victory Comes from God

I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
Psalm 62:1, NLT*

Where do you need victory today? In an external conflict? A health issue? Inside your own thoughts or fears?

This psalm describes David’s enemies, sandwiching his plight between two declarations of his choice to wait quietly before God. God is his hope, his source of victory, and his fortress.

Since the psalm ends by affirming God’s ultimate judgement, likely this victory David’s counting on is a literal triumph over those plotting against him. But there’s another victory he could also be sure of – the same one we need today.

With God as his – and our – fortress, we have the security and salvation we need. By faith we can keep our eyes on the Lord and declare with David, “I will not be shaken.” (verse 6)

What if the threat is intense, and we’re trembling in our boots? David may have been quaking, too. If not this time, then earlier in his life. He can wait quietly and stand firm in faith because he has practiced – over and over – every time danger threatened. He had nowhere to go but God, and he learned that God was enough.

We can’t even quiet our souls without God, but that’s a prayer He will love to answer. David’s method was to concentrate on God’s might and character until he had a true perspective of where the real power lay – and then he could trust in God’s care.

We can learn to do the same. The battle we see, that threatens to swallow us whole – may not work out as we want. But the deeper battle is the spiritual one – will we stand secure in God, or will we fall?

Here’s where we can discover the assurance of victory. Whatever happens, Jesus will be with us. He will sustain us. He will be enough.

If we choose, by His strength, to quiet ourselves before Him and trust His deliverance, others will see His goodness.

We may or may not see the external victory we long for, but we can experience daily victory over our thoughts, attitudes, and fears by choosing to dwell each moment in God’s fortress.

Father, fear shouts so loudly that victory seems impossible. Have mercy on Your fragile children and give us the faith and strength to choose Your security. Quiet our flailing spirits so we can rest in You. Give us confidence in Your care, because You are indeed good.

Chris Tomlin’s song, “Good, Good Father,” helps us retrain our thoughts into trust.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Wholesome Thinking

This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory.
2 Peter 3:1, NLT*

This is a key part of why we need to read (and take in) the Bible, prayerfully and on a daily basis.

We’re living in just as much a culture of ungodliness as the early church. The difference is, in North America people think they’ve “been there, heard that” and have no need of our truth. In Peter’s day, it was new information, and some were eager to receive it.

With all that the entertainment industry offers us as “normal” and “realistic,” we can forget as Christians that it’s not supposed to be normal for us. Maybe the fiction can give us empathy for the ones caught in the real-life futility, but we’re to offer them Christ’s way out – not to join them or to decide what they’re into is okay.

“Wholesome” doesn’t have to be “boring.” Look back over Peter’s letters. He’s been calling us to a vibrant life of obedience, holiness, joy, love and trust. And more. That’s a challenge, and it’ll take more than we can give on our own. We’ll need the Lord’s help.

Peter also calls us to “remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles. (2 Peter 3:2, NLT*)” Don’t forget God’s word and His ways. Don’t accept the lie that because times have changed, so has God’s definition of right and wrong.

There will be a day of judgement, and God is waiting (2 Peter 3:9) out of mercy, because He wants more of us to turn to Him.

We need to be vigilant, to guard our thoughts and behaviours. Love the people around us without being absorbed by popular culture. Show there’s a more satisfying way, and that everyone is welcome to try it. Renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Live obedient to Him who saved us, so that others can see the difference He makes and can find Him too.

Holy, righteous and merciful God, You’ve shown us the way that’s best for us. Forgive us for allowing sin to so easily entangle us. Clean us again, and renew our commitment to You. Through Your Holy Spirit within us, enable and motivate us to live clean lives that are pleasing to You. Help us love those around us who don’t know You, without falling into their ways of living. Instead, shine through us to draw them to Yourself.

A good prayer is Chris Tomlin‘s song, “Give Us Clean Hands.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Growing and Building

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7, NLT*

If we truly accept Jesus as Lord and Messiah (Christ), it’s more than a head thing. By definition, Lord is someone in authority. And Messiah is our Saviour, rescuing us from the destructive power of sin.

That makes belonging to Jesus different than belonging to a club we may never attend or to an ethnic group that may not influence how we live.

We’ve escaped sin’s domination by coming into His kingdom and putting ourselves into His care. We’re under His authority, and we need to live His way. As Paul says in today’s verse, we accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour of our lives, and now we need to follow Him.

Following Him means obeying what He says. It also means following His example of living surrendered to God the Father.

Deep roots and a strong foundation are images of strength, and our strength is found in Jesus. The deeper we root, the more securely we’re built on His foundation, the stronger we’ll be.

Our faith will mature. And our gratitude will abound. This is the rich and satisfying life Jesus promised. (John 10:10, NLT*) And it has nothing to do with our circumstances. It’s available to all believers, even if it’ll take a lifetime of practice to grow into it. The investment is worthwhile. It’s what we were made for.

God, thank You for saving us from sin – and from ourselves. Please help us to stay close to You and to cooperate as You grow us to be more like Your Son Jesus. Thank You for this new chance at life.

We can’t do this life on our own – but we were never intended to! I love this adaptation of the classic hymn, “I Need The Every Hour” – “Lord, I Need You,” sung here by Chris Tomlin.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In Stress, Remember God

God’s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124:8, MSG*

This psalm is a celebration of God rescuing Israel from their enemies. They had no other hope, no chance. Without God, they’d have been destroyed.

We have life-or-death crises too. More often, we have lesser struggles that can still overwhelm us. This verse offers two strategies to help us hold onto God by faith.

Remember God’s strong name. His name reveals His character. It’s who He is. Healer. Provider. Ruler. Deliverer.

Remember God’s acts. He made heaven and earth. He parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River. He sent His Son to die for us and break the power of sin and death.

God is, and has done, so much more than this. And He hasn’t aged or gotten tired. He’s the same now, and He’ll be the same tomorrow.

Our God, we find confidence in Your unchanging nature. We praise You for who You are and what You’ve done, and for what You will do. Please strengthen our faith and help us to rely on Your unfailing love.

Listen to Chris Tomlin sing “Our God” and be encouraged today.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Is God Enough?

“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”

1 Samuel 1:8, NLT* 

In a culture that measured a woman’s worth by her fertility, Hannah was barren—and her husband’s other wife twisted that knife as often as possible.

This verse always made me want to smack Elkanah. He loved Hannah, but how could he be so clueless? How could he not understand the pain of Hannah’s longing? Not pick up on her rival’s smugness?

Last week’s post made me see this passage differently. If we’re trusting in God’s unfailing love instead of in self-pity, anger, anxiety, whatever—if we can grasp just a bit of God’s love, won’t we say it’s enough?

What if Elkanah and Hannah are a picture of God and us? Don’t we often hold onto other desires—real, deep and painful—instead of being satisfied by all that God is? The irony is, we can’t discover His depths while we’re focused on what we don’t have.

I’m not trying to minimize our longings. Love, employment, children, publication, whatever it is that’s the empty place in our hearts, these things matter. Some longings, like Hannah’s, are God-planted. He’ll fulfil those. Others, equally strong, He won’t. And we won’t know why. Or which are which, until some come to fruition.

The lesson for me is this: we need to trust His unfailing love. We need to let God be enough for us in the now.

God our Provider, our Sustainer and Redeemer, forgive us for letting unmet longings take our hearts away from You. Teach us to trust Your unfailing love, and open our spirits to realize that You are enough. Please fill what’s empty in us and help us trust You with the desires of our hearts.

Let Chris Tomlin remind us of these truths with his song, “Enough“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


God and Time Management

My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Psalm 31:15, NIV*

The most important thing I learned in university had nothing to do with my field of study. I learned, through experience, that when the deadlines loomed and there was more to do than time to do it, I could ask God to help.

Our God is outside of time. He made time. We live in it, and He gives us enough to do what He has for us to do. I remember one specific time in university, praying that somehow He would stretch time to allow us to finish a hefty assignment.

We didn’t get a flashy miracle like the Old Testament king who saw the sun’s shadow move backward, but we got the peace and the enabling to do the work. And somehow, we had the time as well.

I told this story to one of my sons on the weekend, hoping to encourage his own stress load. Then I stopped and looked at him. “I learned this. But I haven’t been applying it.”

My husband, on my other side, was valiantly not saying a word. But I saw agreement in his eyes. He knows how heavy my to-do list has grown, and how I’ve been stressing about how to meet my responsibilities.

Knowledge not applied isn’t much use. Remember to pray. (Click to tweet)

God our Maker and our Sustainer, You never asked us to do life on our own. You ask us to let Your Holy Spirit indwell and empower us. Of course when we look at our responsibilities, they seem too much for us. You’ve designed us to rely on You. Forgive us for those many times when we’ve tried to carry the load in our own strength. Thank You for the opportunities in our lives. Please give us wisdom in our choices and faith to rely on You. What You give us to do, You will equip us to do. Help us not add in other things to weigh us down, and help us stay close to You.  

Chris Tomlin’s song, “How Great is Our God” includes a reference to this week’s verse, and it’s a good anchoring one for us to sing.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Putting our Faith in Jesus

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
Romans 3:22, NLT*

I like the NLT’s use of “made right with God”. The NIV equivalent is “righteousness,” which we can sometimes misconstrue. They really both mean the same, but this way it’s easier to see the focus on relationship with God rather than focusing on ourselves.

What caught me about this verse, though, is “placing our faith in Jesus Christ”.

This is more than intellectual belief, more than a casual agreement.

It’s an active trust, the same as we would sit in a chair or step onto a bridge. We place our faith in Jesus Christ. This suggests a few things to me:

  • following His way instead of living for ourselves
  • walking with Him each day and in each situation
  • relying on His leading, equipping, presence and protection
  • trusting Him to work things out as He chooses
  • trusting the goodness of His character
  • living to bring glory to God the Father

Holy and majestic God, there is none like You. Thank You for making a way for us to be right with You through faith in Jesus. Thank You for His death and resurrection, the most costly gift we’ve ever been offered. Thank You for the faith to believe. Help us to embrace this faith actively and fully and to let faith in Jesus change the way we live each moment, to Your glory.

This week’s song is Chris Tomlin‘s “Jesus Messiah“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

[Linked with Wednesday’s Word]

Mending the Chasm

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:14-15, NIV*

You know what it’s like when you start getting dissatisfied with any group of people: you start noticing everything they do wrong. And of course what they do wrong often means what they don’t do your way.

That’s where I’ve been for a while now in one of the groups where God has placed me. It’s become “me vs. them” with a deep chasm in the middle. I’ve asked Him to move me, and He’s said no.

Good thing, too. If I’d moved on, I’d have carried the same seeds of disconnection with me and started the process over again.

The other Sunday in morning worship I was asking Him to mend the chasm, while at the same time thinking it was too deep to fill, that I was too damaged to restore. Knowing I’d done the damage myself.

These verses from Hebrews were part of our morning reading, and the “live in peace” and “bitter root” parts echoed the need in my prayer. But I’d been praying a long time for this and saw no sign of change.

As the congregation sang Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God,” the word “our” told me “me vs. them” had to become “us”.

I’ve long felt that I didn’t fit into this particular group. Our differences were perhaps part of the trouble, although my imagination had enlarged them.

This Sunday, in the middle of worship, God did something neat. He reminded me about the verses in 1 Corinthians 12 about the body: the eye and the ear, complaining about their differences. And I understood:

I do belong and am intended to be my own specific part.

I’ve been guilty of saying the same thing as the ear: you don’t do it my way, so I don’t want to belong.

The congregation was still singing away, and I was singing too, but inside I was processing this revelation. “How Great is Our God.” The title repeats throughout the song, and now something clicked in my spirit.

God is great. Great enough to mend the chasm. I began to believe. To confess, and to cautiously hope.

He wasn’t done yet. Our next song declared that God has forgiven our sin. It’s past tense, a done deal. Even for this one I was still praying about.

My spirit believed it.

The chasm is mended. The chasm is being mended. The chasm will be mended.

I belong, although I’m different from the others. I’m responsible to do my part, released and intentional, not watching for others’ reactions.

What is my part? It might be fun finding out.

Father, thank You! I’m humbled and grateful to be restored. To be free to serve You as a functioning part of this and other groups where You’ve placed me. Open my eyes and my heart to discover and to fulfill the role You’ve designed me to fit. Show me my part.

What else can I sing but “How Great is Our God” from Chris Tomlin?

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Where Else Could We Go?

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’”
John 6:66-69, NIV*

Jesus has been teaching, proving His authority with miraculous signs, and has attracted a large group of followers and hangers-on. Now, perhaps partly to weed out the crowd, His words aren’t so easy to understand. They’re even a bit disquieting.

“I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:41, NIV*)

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54, NIV*)

John 6:60 says, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (NIV*)

And no wonder. Even on this side of the Cross, the literal-minded of us struggle a bit.

But the disciples couldn’t leave. Neither can we.

If you’ve followed Jesus very far, you’ve probably hit a wall of some kind: circumstances; a relationship; even, like these disciples, something He said. Maybe it doesn’t make sense. Maybe you just plain don’t want to do it.

I’ve had my share of times like that. Given the choice, sometimes I’d like to walk away. But where? I agree wholeheartedly with Peter. Where could I go? Who else is there?

There’s only God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Wise beyond my knowing. And He’s proven Himself trustworthy many times over.

A recent post on the Captured by God blog expresses the struggle more honestly than most, and I’m so encouraged to read how Jenny, like Peter, chose to tough it out with God rather than to turn away. (Take time to read “Don’t Turn Away” and be blessed.)

Father, Your thoughts and ways are past my comprehension, but this I know: You are faithful and true, and You love me. In that I will rest. You understand my weakness. Help me rely on Your strength.

Chris Tomlin’s song, “Jesus Messiah,” says it all. Who else could we possibly go to?

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Praying in the Dark

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
Isaiah 50:10, NIV*

The past few weeks have weighed a bit heavily on me. Prayers, alone and in groups, dwell on a mountain of needs: sickness, death, emotional suffering.

In one of my prayer groups, a member spoke of having a hard time “seeing God’s plan” in a heartbreaking need. Not that God caused the problem, but why isn’t He intervening with the miracle we’re praying to see?

I thought of this on Good Friday. Nobody could see God’s plan when it included Jesus dying on the Cross.

But He had a plan.

And it shook the universe.

If we know God’s character, we know we can trust Him. Even when He’s silent and everything is going all wrong.

So I choose to keep bringing the sick and wounded to Him, bringing my lack of vision too.

Father, prayer isn’t meant to dwell on the problems, but to dwell on You. Forgive us when we get it wrong. Thank You that we can bring these needs to You. Help us find our rest in who You are, in Your character and Your promises. When we can’t see Your plan, let us see You – caring, moving, sustaining.

To focus us on God, this week’s song is Chris Tomlin‘s “You Do All Things Well“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.