You Are YOU, Because of God's Grace

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10a NIV)

The music blared from the cassette player.

I'm sure the lyrics brought tears to Jesus’ eyes. Not the good kind, either. In fact these band members spoke openly against faith. I knew that. I also knew they promoted a careless, disrespectful lifestyle.

But in my independent teenage mind, none of that mattered.

Looking back now, I realize the damage I was causing. I sometimes reminisce about the past and cringe at some of the choices I made.

I’m sure many of us have memories from the past that bring a heaping load of regret.

Sometimes when those shame-filled times pop into our minds, we quickly pray them away. We dig into God's Word to remind us who we are in Christ today. Because if we don’t, the enemy may try to grab onto those thoughts and consume us with feelings of defeat and discouragement.

Being able to take those thoughts captive is an important part of growing closer to God.

There are also times when the memories of past mistakes serve an important role in our lives.

Paul points this out in 1 Corinthians 15. Those sins of the past reveal God’s power and define our purpose.

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10a NIV)

Because of where I was and who God is, I am what I am. (Tweet this.)

Paul points out he is not even worthy to be associated with the apostles. Even so, he realizes it is God’s plan to use him, and God is able to do more than Paul can imagine.

Matthew Henry’s commentary puts it this way, “When sinners are, by Divine Grace, turned into saints, God causes the remembrance of former sins to make them humble, diligent, and faithful.”

Have moments of your past been burdening you?

Are you haunted by thoughts of a lifestyle you’d honestly rather forget?

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can take those thoughts captive. Then we can see them for what they are – a triumph for God’s goodness and grace.

Dear Lord, I am thankful to be rescued and renewed, yet still growing and learning with you each day. Help us today to see our past the way You see it, as a testimony of a life transformed. Allow our focus to be on the journey we are taking with You, and may others be changed by seeing the change in us. Amen.

Blessings,

Kristine

(This post originally appeared on morethanyourself.com February 28, 2015.)

5 Scriptures to Keep in Your Battle Shout Arsenal

Last week's devotion explored a battle between Judah and Israel, at a time when King Jeroboam led the people of Israel away from God's ways.

Even though Judah was outnumbered, King Abijah didn't back down. The enemy had him surrounded from the front and back. But with God on His side, he marched boldly into war.

God defeated Jeroboam when Judah raised their battle shout. (Click here if you didn't get a chance to read last week's lesson.)

Sometimes I can get so blindsided by the unexpected that I forget to cry out for God's help. By having key verses from God's Word in my mind and heart, I can be ready when challenges happen.

Let's develop a battle shout arsenal filled with powerful proclamations today. I've shared a few here to get us started.

Below are 5 Scriptures we can call out when we feel surrounded, just like Abijah. These words represent different times in the Bible when men faced insurmountable odds. The words held power then, and they still do today.

 

1. "But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him." 2 Chronicles 13:10 ESV

(Spoken by the king of Judah in the battle against King Jeroboam.)

2. "Help us, O Lord, our God, for we rely on you..." 2 Chronicles 14:11 

(Spoken by Asa, king of Judah, in war against Ethiopia.)

3. "Do not be afraid...for the battle is not yours but God's." 2 Chronicles 20:15

(Spoken by Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, when Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir came against Judah.)

4. "Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed." 2 Chronicles 20:20

(Spoken to the people of Judah by King Jehoshaphat before going to battle against Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir.)

5. "Shout, for the Lord has given you this city." Joshua 6:16

(Spoken by Joshua at the battle of Jericho, before the walls came down.)

 

Do you have any other power-packed verses you like to call out when facing challenges in your own life? I'd love to hear about them. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.

Kristine