Tag Archives: thoughts

Residual Strongholds

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power.
Acts 8:18, NLT*

Simon had been a magician and a man of great influence before Philip showed up and began teaching about Jesus and doing miracles. Along with many others, “Simon himself believed and was baptized” (Acts 8:13, NLT).

Old ways of life die hard, and his request here shows that he still doesn’t understand the power of God. Peter’s stern response points out that Simon’s motives aren’t right, either. He’s not wanting to be able to do this for God’s glory. Peter sees evil thoughts, bitter jealousy, and captivity to sin (Acts 9:22, 23).

Simon had been using evil power before his conversion. Naturally there would be residual strongholds to tear down.

Whatever our backgrounds, the world around us and our own selfish sin-nature have formed mindsets, attitudes, habits we likely don’t even notice, that keep us from all God has for us.

But God is committed to completing His work in us. When He brings one of these hidden issues to light, it’s never to condemn us or to somehow revoke our salvation. It’s to call us to repentance and into cooperation with Him in changing us to be more like His Son.

Merciful, gracious God who is so kind to us, thank You for Your gift of salvation. You give us spiritual rebirth, and You grow us in maturity as Your children. Give us sensitivity to Your work in our hearts, and help us work with You in clearing out the garbage so Your good can replace it.

I love this song from Vertical Church Band: “Restore My Soul.”

*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.


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.

Testing our Thoughts

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7, NLT*

Chances are, if you haven’t actually memorized this verse, you recognize it when you hear it. I’ve always understood it in the context of not allowing fear to keep us from serving or obeying God.

Paul is writing to Timothy, a young leader who seems to be struggling with this. As such, I’ve taken it as an admonishment to be brave and not give in. I’m sure it’s that, but now I see something else as well.

It’s a partial description of our two natures: the natural self and the Holy Spirit-led self.

With that perspective, the verse can be used to test our responses. Am I feeling fearful, timid, anxious? That’s my old nature, not God. I don’t have to accept/ obey/ believe it. I can ask the Holy Spirit to be power, love, and self-discipline in me.

Then, of course, I have to choose to accept/ obey/ believe what He gives. Building up the spiritual muscles of our new nature takes consistent effort.

In decision-making, sometimes God will hold us back. We can never quote this verse blindly and forge ahead over our fears into obvious trouble. But God’s way of reining us in is more like a check in our spirit, or a knowing. It won’t be that timidity or anxiety that besets us too often.

For me, using this test makes me stop and think. I know the anxious feeling isn’t God, but somehow if I don’t take time to evaluate it, I automatically believe it must be true.

Because of what Paul’s trying to say to Timothy, this verse focuses on what this anxious young man needed. If you face different areas of weakness, you could easily use it as a template. Just fill in those natural weaknesses in the “not” category, and in the Bible, find the Spirit’s corresponding strengths for the “yes” side.

Our God, we thank You that You have given us Your Holy Spirit to live in us and guide and grow us. Help us learn to distinguish between our old ways and Your ways, and align us with  Your Spirit so we can become all You have for us to be.

Here’s a song from Big Daddy Weave: “Jesus, I Believe.” It doesn’t talk about today’s verse specifically, but it looks at the choice to set our minds on what Jesus says instead of what we may feel.

*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.

Guest Post: Can You See the Positive in the Negative?

Can You See the Positive in the Negative?

by R.A. Giggie

Whenever I go through hard times, even if it seems it can’t get any worse, I try to look at the good things I have. Nine times out of ten, it helps and lifts my spirits up. For example, if I see rain instead of the sun, I thank God for the food I eat, the cozy home that keeps me warm and dry, the clothes on my back, and the comfy bed I sleep in. This said, it doesn’t mean I don’t have trials and tribulations.

I’m blessed beyond belief to have good health, even with osteoarthritis which isn’t as severe as that of others. My pain is minimal compared to some who take pain killers on a daily basis in order to function properly. Many people live with different pains and burdens, like emotional, mental, and spiritual.

I don’t know who said, “There’s always somebody worse off than you are,” but I believe it. If we look at the positive things in our lives, we’ll see the hope, the light at the end of the tunnel.

Years ago, our six-year-old son was viciously attacked by a jealous dog who wanted undivided attention from her master. As a result, Terrence now bears a huge scar in the shape of an upside down L on his cheek. He nearly lost his eye. The way the dog shook him like a rag doll, he could easily have been killed. Yes, it could have been worse. One day, in his late teens, he came home upset because people made fun of his scar. It broke my heart all over again that others would point the finger or give him “the look.” I reminded him that the owner had told us his dog was very possessive. His wife was pregnant when the attack took place, and the dog was put down. To this day, I believe had it not attacked Terrence, more than likely it would have attacked, and killed, their newborn infant.Emma's Prayer, by R.A. Giggie

There are so many other hurts in the world. That’s why when I write, I ask God to give me words of hope to reach people who are suffering, and those who are lost. I want to help them see things could be worse.

Stella’s Plea is about the disappearance of a three-year-old deaf child from the local playground and her mom’s struggle to find her. While her husband’s serving in the military overseas, Stella faces this all alone. Will she turn to God in her time of need?

Emma’s Prayer deals with a teen mom who put her son up for adoption but soon regrets it. Has he been placed with adoptive parents yet? Is it too late for her to get him back?

My novels are fiction, but the events they depict CAN happen in real life.

Have you been down lately? Can you see the light at the end of this road called LIFE? Look around you and remind yourself. It could be worse.

R.A. GiggieRenee-Ann Giggie’s desire to write came to her at a very young age. Her vivid imagination won her first place in her schools’ second grade composition contest. Later, the poetry she wrote as a teen found its way among the articles and columns of Le Progrès, the local newspaper where her mother worked as a reporter. The desire to write, however, remained nothing more than a hobby until just a few years ago when she wrote her first novel, Stella’s Plea, (2012) and her second, Emma’s Prayer, (2016). She is now working on her third, Charlie’s Plight.

She was also published in OakTara’s anthology, Falling in Love With You (October 2012), a compilation of true love stories.

She’s a member of, and very active in, several writing groups, and no stranger to Christian writers’ conferences where she thrives on learning everything she can about the craft, puts her newfound knowledge into practice, and then looks forward to the next conference.

She and her husband live in New Brunswick, Canada.

Connect with Renee-Ann online:

Facebook: facebook.com/ragiggie

Twitter: twitter.com/ragiggie

Website: reneeanngiggie.com


Some of my online friends have chosen (or discovered) their “word for the year.” Others seek out a Bible verse of the year. I knew one lady who spent the closing months of each year praying for a verse for each of her loved ones for the year to come.

Me, I’m usually scrambling to keep up with the close of a year, with no time to think about the one to come until it’s been here for a week or so. As I’ve been going through my “learning journal” from 2015, summing up what I need to take forward into the days ahead, I surprised myself by discovering one word that applied to each thing:

Intentional: worship, communication, behaviour, praise, submission, learning, attitude, availability, thinking, expectancy

These attributes would take lifetimes to develop, but they’re things I’ve felt nudged to be more intentional about. Not in a rigid or formulaic manner, but through paying attention, being present to what’s going on around me. Through anchoring my spirit first in worship, and surrendering to God’s leading in each day. What I really want is to grow in the practice of His presence: worship that affects all I do.

Clearly, this isn’t a measurable goal or one I’ll ever “master”. But we’re each invited to grow nearer to God, and I’d like to be more intentional about it.

What about you? Do you choose a word, phrase or verse for the year? For the month? Do you look back, look ahead, or just press on?

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.

What Idols Obsess Us?

Then I said to them, ‘Each of you, get rid of the vile images you are so obsessed with. Do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt, for I am the Lord your God.’
Ezekiel 20:7, NLT*

Context: the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God displayed His power through plagues and miraculous signs. He proved His existence—and His supremacy.

Yet He accuses the people of being obsessed with idols.

The NLT footnote for the word “idol” in this verse says “The Hebrew term (literally round things) probably alludes to dung.” So these idols are not just worthless and powerless, but defiling to an Israelite. They don’t just distract from God, they separate from Him.

We wonder why the Israelites would bother. Yet don’t we do the same?

What might we have brought “out of Egypt” when Jesus saved us? Performance, people pleasing, possessions?

As I take inventory, the worst one I see is an ugly clay idol called self.

It’s not very big or powerful, but I give it a lot more attention than I should. That attention rightly belongs to Him who rescued me—who is still rescuing me.

If it were a physical idol I could smash it, sweep up the pieces and throw it away. But it’s in my mind, like most of the other “round things” we cling to.

God our Redeemer, our Rescuer, how can we still be obsessed with such futile and defiling things when You have brought us out of slavery to sin and into Your kingdom of life? Continue Your saving work in us, and keep us in Your grace. Help us recognize when we look away from You to the idols in our lives. Help us control our thoughts and spirits and turn back to You, the true, life-giving God.

Give Us Clean Hands” – let this be our prayer. (Sung here by Kutless)

*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.

Sometimes a sign says it all…

Sign: It's not the load that breaks you down. It's the way you carry it.

Photo credit: Janet Sketchley

God’s timing… I saw this sign shortly after noticing His cues to write the devotional post, Accept the Gift.

Accept the Gift

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].
Proverbs 15:15, AMP*

I’m reading Brenda Wood’s evocative book, The Pregnant Pause of Grief: the First Trimester of Widowhood, and most of her scripture quotes come from the Amplified Bible. This one hit me in a new way that I hadn’t seen in the versions I usually read.

It echoed what my husband had said only hours earlier: “You have the choice to enjoy each step of what you’re doing, or to let it make you miserable.” (Okay, I didn’t take notes… this is my paraphrase. But he’s a wise man.)

That, in turn, followed something God helped me see a few days earlier. I’m stepping into a writing opportunity that has me a bit scared. It’s also really exciting for me, but that day anxiety was following me around like the proverbial rain cloud. In the middle of the grocery store, I realized I had more choices than just the vegetables.

I could choose my attitude.

I was the only one choosing the anxiety-cloud heaviness. I could just as easily choose anticipation and a bit of glee. So I did. I let myself accept the good thing He wanted to give me, instead of letting fear turn it into a burden.

I guess for some of us, troubles aren’t the only things that test our faith and build endurance—gifts are, too.

This learning to take every thought captive and to let God renew our minds is one hard lesson. We’ll be still working on it when He calls us Home, but let’s encourage one another on the journey.

God our Creator and our loving Parent, every good gift comes from You, and You are not the author of fear. Help us learn to bring our thoughts under Your rule and to cultivate joy and contentment whatever our circumstances. And when You give us a good gift, help us not be afraid to open it.

What more appropriate song than “Seize the Day,” by Carolyn Arends?

*Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation


There’s something about a new year that can get us thinking. Here are six good posts that helped me start with a healthy perspective:

At Life So Aware, Jon Rouse encourages us to keep a positive outlook. (Read Perception)

At Beech Croft Tales, Mary Waind points out that our attitudes and expectations have a lot to do with the way we respond or react to others. (Read No Offence Intended)

At Under the Cover of Prayer, Cherry Warrick asks, What is the Size of Our Prayers?

At Other Food: daily devos, Violet Nesdoly  gives three practical tips on how to embrace the new year “with a Caleb-like faith.” (Read A Caleb Spirit)

Bobbi Junior asks “When stuff happens in my life, do I let it take precedence, or do I weigh it in light of all the other things going on…” (Read Top of the Priority List)

And at Captured by God, Jenny shares an example of how to choose to believe God’s perspective instead of our own natural feelings. (Read Spirit of Joy)

Heart-shaped puddle

Will we see the scarred pavement, muddy marks and old leaves, or will we see the heart?