This scripture has run through my mind for three days. The word that strikes me more than any is “amid”. Amid…in the midst of, while the war is raging, during the trial, not after…AMID, ALL these things we are MORE than conquerors….
As I pondered this scripture, I thought of the author of Romans and what had to be happening to him as he wrote it. Paul was not imprisoned at this time but had been imprisoned earlier for the cause of Christ. I don’t know of anyone who went through more persecution than Jesus other than Paul!
Paul suffered so many things. Paul suffered shipwreck, snake bite, stoning, being beaten, locked in stocks where his legs were held out straight and his back was bent and his hands locked into place at his feet for hours, possibly days at a time! Yet, Paul could write when he wasn’t in stocks, in the midst of it all, he and the church were more than conquerors! Amazing!
The prison systems we have today are no picnic but they are governed and have set regulations so they are not considered inhumane, but still carry a definite punishment. In Paul’s day there were no regulations. Prisons were a horror. You can imagine the living conditions. No formal plumbing, stench and bacteria surrounded the prisoners. There was no health department to make sure the bacteria didn’t make it into the food they were served. Disease and death were all around because the conditions were so deplorable. If the absolute filth didn’t get you, the prisoners would. During the time of Nero when arenas were filled with people excited to see Christians slaughtered and literally eaten alive by lions while Nero played his fiddle and as the crowds cheered, can you only imagine what they thought should be punishable by imprisonment. It had to be horrendous.
Romans was not written while Paul was in prison but at the end of his third missionary journey. Paul had known persecution and prison before he wrote this letter to the Romans, and as we know, would face death for teaching and proclaiming the gospel. Yet Paul still wrote “amid all these things….” Many of us get upset over such small and trivial things such as when we get home and realize we forgot a grocery item and have to turn around and go back and get it! Or when someone says something we don’t like or care to hear.
As I thought of this scripture and all that Paul had gone through with such a good attitude, I was headed to the city. This particular day had been a hard one for me. I began to compare my “hard day” with Paul’s life of “hard days”. Still, nonetheless, it was a day I was ready to put behind me!
I was crossing a bridge that brings me to another town before I get to the city and something caught my eye. I looked up and the sky was particularly cloudy. A cold front was heading our way and rain clouds had rolled in, but in the MIDST of those clouds there was a hole in the middle of the clouds. It was ever so slight but through that hole came literal beams of light!! God spoke to my heart and said, “No matter how dark it seems, the sun is still shining just as brightly as ever behind the darkness and there will be a break in the clouds!”
I went about another ten miles and looked up again. In the midst of all the storm clouds, in one place, they had totally broken and the sun was visible with all of its light! In that particular spot, instead of dreariness there was utter radiance as though it were spring instead of fall.
That is how it is in our lives. When our health seems to be faltering, when a loved one leaves and our world seems to be crashing all around us, when Christmas is fast approaching and the company hands out pink slips, when you feel as though you are facing the world alone and have no idea where help will come from this time, the SON is still shining and a break will come in the clouds of your life! You and I are MORE than conquerors in the great big middle of it all! How? Through Christ Jesus Who gives us a SURPASSING victory! We don’t barely make it through! We make it through and gain ground because of Jesus and what HE has done!
The fight is not ours, but the rest from battling is. The victory is not ours to be won, but to be taken hold of and received! How do we do this? By resting in faith in God’s word and His integrity to keep it! By knowing what HE says about our situations and the promise He has made to ALWAYS deliver us out of them to a higher and blessed place! Just as it says in our scripture, we are “conquerors THROUGH” Christ Jesus who loves us!
Love always wins…always! No matter what the situation you are facing, this time is no different! God has made a covenant (a binding contract) with us that cannot be broken by Him. He tells us in His Word, when the sun fails to shine and the moon fails to appear, when night no longer turns to day and day to night, only then can that covenant be broken. That is a stout and remaining promise! Did the sun shine today? Did night come? If the answer is yes, and we know it is, then the promise holds! You hold to the promise, too!
Blessings to you, precious reader! I will see you soon!
2 I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!
The Message (MSG)
15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
In Christian circles we hear a great deal about dying to self, living unto Christ, counting the cost (as in giving our lives up, even mortally, if God sees fit to martyr us), YET if you make a “Christian” mad you can see just how alive THEY are! Suddenly we hear words like, “I had every right to the way I felt, I had a right to be mad, I had every right to be offended”! But the truth is, no you don’t if you are truly born again.
You gave up the natural for the supernatural when you got saved. In the natural, you deserved hell, you deserved to live a life of penance for your sins, you deserved to be sentenced for every wrong you ever thought of doing, for to think it is the same as doing it! When we heard the message of grace, forgiveness, no longer being under the curse but under the blessing, we were all to eager to leave our natural lives behind and step into the supernatural things of God…until someone ruffled our feathers, so to speak! Suddenly we are all to eager to grab hold of the natural things, the very things we wanted and knew we needed to be saved from. Suddenly the words “count the cost, die to self” are words of yesterday…today is TODAY!
I am amazed at people who are all too quick to pull out the scriptures about blessings and living in health and healing, protection, victory, but are so quick to live a life that is not much different from those who have little to nothing to do with God. They have RIGHTS, and you better not violate them!! They have no concept that when they reached back into “fallen living” they placed themselves in a place where God CANNOT bless them, no matter how badly He wants to do just that!
When God says, “Keep your lips from speaking guile and long life will be yours”, we grab “long life will be yours, but forget there is a condition to that long life! Let us take a good, hard look at Psalm 34!
12 What man is he who desires life and longs for many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry.
Suddenly, when we have been made “rightfully” mad or “offended” we forget the Bible says to seek peace, not vengeance! We want to see them get theirs and then we don’t want to see them at all! They deserve to be “unfriended” from Facebook, they deserve to not be spoken to, they deserve the cold shoulder, they deserve for others to know what was done by them, they deserve to PAY for upsetting us! Oh, yeah we know Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” right down to an undeserved crucifixion and slow agonizing death, but He was deity! God certainly cannot expect that of a “Christ Ambassador” or a “Christian” or someone who stepped down to an altar and said, “Use me God!! I’ll count the cost! Unless, it isn’t comfortable…then the cost may be just a little too much. I mean we are only human! We live in the natural, but God don’t disappointment me by not giving me the supernatural moves and blessings You promised! We don’t want YOU to look bad!”
We are quick to forget the part where He says, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the UNCOMPROMISINGLY righteous and His ears are open to their cry.” What is ‘compromising’? It is where one gives a little and the other gives a little, but neither fully have their way. Compromising with God instead of being uncompromising will get you “little”. You will have little grace, little blessings, and little power. It is not worth it to live to ourselves! In the end, the short-term pleasure of flesh unleashed is incomprehensible to all we could and would have gained by choosing to live (as hard as the choice was, it was still a choice) unto Christ and His way of doing and being!
“Choose ye this day whom you will serve” doesn’t just mean decide if you are going to choose salvation over hell. It means are you going to choose to do things God’s way as His Word commands (not suggest!) or live as seems good to you. Leaders, you are judged at a higher standard, so choose wisely and cautiously what realm you want to live and function in! (James 3:1)
Have I fallen short of the glory of God? Yes, I have and for that I ask forgiveness of my Father and of others. Will I remember next time I am tempted to exercise the ‘rights’ I gave up when I asked Jesus to live in me and through me so that I no longer live for myself, but for Him…I certainly will, because the One Who truly lives (Jesus) in me doesn’t forget, either!
I have had this recipe for years and it has become a tradition for New Year’s Day at our house! Our celebration would not be complete without it. It is so easy and it is always the hit of any party! You can’t eat just one piece, so watch out! It is yummy and you will definitely be asked for the recipe. Thank goodness it has few ingredients so it is economically friendly, as well as easy, peasy to make!! Enjoy!
35 unsalted soda crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Cover cookie sheet with foil. Spray foil with cooking oil spray. Place crackers on foil in 5 x 7 inch rows. Microwave butter on high for 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and stir. Microwave on high for 2 more minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour over crackers. Bake 17 – 20 minutes (should bubble but not burn). Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot crackers. Spread after 2 minutes (chips have softened). Sprinkle nuts on top. Refrigerate 1 hour. Break into pieces. Can be frozen.
She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.