His Banner Over Us

His Banner Over Us
Hey all!  I know it’s been a little while since I’ve written anything on here.  Well, I’m back, and don’t worry I had a reason why I haven’t been able to post much.  I finally got the dreaded Covid virus and let me just say, it is quite the virus.  I was sick and tired and basically not able to do anything but rest.  It took about a full two weeks for the virus to run its course and I’m still not yet back to 100%.  I’m definitely on the mend now, but wow, it’s been crazy.
Anyway, since I’ve finally been feeling better I am ready to get back into writing on here.  Today I wanted to simply share with you a verse that I read about a few weeks ago during my morning devotions (before Covid hit).  I’ll try to keep this simple and short 😉
“You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. 
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!”
Psalm 60:4-5
After reading this verse one of my favorite songs from my childhood came to my mind.  Maybe you know what song I’m thinking of.  It’s the song that says: “His banner over me is love”.  I used to love singing that song when I was a little girl.  This verse is such a beautiful reminder that if we are God’s children he has a banner over us.  What is this banner though?

The Banner is the Jesus Christ

I did a little research of my own to try and understand this verse a little bit better.  This research simply means finding a commentary online to read that offers some insight into the verses meaning.  Well, the commentary brought out the fact that this banner God has set up over us is pointing to Jesus Christ.  This banner is supposed to be a safe place for us to run to, a place where we can find refuge.  Jesus Christ came to be that for us!  Oh, what a wonderful truth and comfort this is.  The banner God has set up for us is Jesus Christ his son and it is forever out safe place!

The Banner is also the Gospel and the Cross

But this banner over us is not just Jesus Christ, it’s also the gospel.  It’s the fact that Jesus came to earth to die in our place.  Because of Jesus’ work on the cross we have victory over sin and evil.  This banner over us to show the world of our victory through Jesus. God has given us His Word and the gospel to be a banner we can wave in this world.  When temptations and trials come we can take this banner (the gospel) and let it speak truth into our lives.
Isn’t it such a comforting thought knowing we have victory because we know The Victorious One.  We have a banner that we can wave over our life that points to the beautiful truth of the gospel.  I don’t know about you all, but I just want to embrace this truth.  I want to fly God’s banner over my life and let my life be defined by the truths of the gospel.  I want to run and take cover in the shelter of this banner when the trials of this world seem to be too much.  This banner God has given us is a beautiful thing!
I hope you can find encouragement from this verse as well.

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

What is the gospel?

The question was asked.  An awkward silence reigned in the room.  My eyes nervously scanned the quiet room.  Everyone at the Bible study was deep in thought. It was as if I could feel all the thoughts going through everyone’s mind; What is the gospel?  Yes, we know what it is.  But when the opportunity arises, do we know how to put it into words? 
After the short silence, the leader of the study proceeded to share his explanation of the gospel.  Then he challenged every one of us to write up our own explanation of the gospel to share during the next study.  So here I am sitting down at my computer ready to type up, in my own words, what I believe the gospel is.  And I thought, why not share here on my blog as well.

Why understanding the Gospel is important

First of all, I want to highlight the reason why it is important for us to know what the gospel is.  We never know when we may have the opportunity to share the truth of God’s word with people.  Maybe today or tomorrow God will put someone in your life and the topic of the Gospel will come up.  Are you ready to share it with them?  If you know what the gospel is in your heart but don’t know how to verbalize it to someone else then you might fight yourself stuck.  The opportunity may come, but all you have is a sinking feeling in the gut as you can’t find your words.
Have you ever tried to tell someone about a new product or idea but you have no information or research to back it up.  Rather than persuade your friend that this new product is worth investing in, they leave thinking they are better of without it because you obviously don’t have a good enough argument.  Taking the time to think about what the Gospel is going to help us when that time comes for us to share it with someone who needs it.  It’s so much easier to tell someone about something if you understand it and can put it into words.

My understanding of the Gospel

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I believe that the gospel begins with the fact that we are all sinners, unable to save ourselves.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden they brought sin into the world and all of mankind is born into sin.  But God was not surprised when they sinned.  God had a plan for redeeming His people from the start.  His plan was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son God, humbled himself and came into the world as a human.  Jesus lived the perfect sinless life that we could never live and then died the horrible death that we deserve.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
Jesus took all our sin upon himself when he died on the cross. And when Jesus cried out to God on the cross; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, He was experiencing true separation from God for sin.  For three days Jesus lay dead in the grave and on the third day He rose again to life.  His resurrection means that He has conquered death and paid the penalty for sin (our sin).  Through the blood of Jesus, we too are able to conquer death and be set free from sin.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us..” (Romans 5:8)
I believe that even though Jesus died on the cross for all the world, there are some who will not come to know Him.  We are trapped in our sin and flesh and unable to be saved until the Holy Spirit does a work in our hearts and opens our eyes to the truth.  God gets all the glory in salvation and it is through faith and God’s amazing grace that we are saved.  
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:5-6)
I believe that God is constantly at work and sovereign over all things.  He uses us, His chosen children, to spread his truth, but He ultimately is the one who saves.  And Jesus will return one day and all those who are His will live forever with Him because we have been washed clean through the blood of Jesus.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
This is what I believe the gospel is.

Your Turn

When you think about the gospel, does your understanding ring true to mine or is it different?  It’s okay if you tell it a little differently than I tell it.  You may use different verses than I used or use different words than I used.  But the main truth of the gospel (that Jesus Christ came to save sinners and is the only way to be saved) doesn’t change.  If you are sharing the gospel it should still be the same message and the truths I shared above should be true of your understanding as well.
Understanding the gospel is essential to be effective lights for Him in this world. Now it’s your turn to take on this challenge.  How would you put your understanding of the gospel into words?  Write it out in your journal, or type it up on the computer.  Let us always be ready to give an account of how amazing our God is and how he Has given us new life in Jesus Christ!

 

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Rejoicing in Suffering

Rejoicing in Suffering

~ Blog post by Autumn Cockrell ~

If you could have planned your life, what would it have looked like? I’ll go first.

I would have met a good man when I was 17, started college but then get engaged by the time I was 18. I would have published a book before getting married and be pregnant at 19, or at least by 20 years old. Now,  at 23, I would have at least two children and possibly be pregnant with another. My husband and I would have a nice house, good health, and I would be writing my second book.
Needless to say, my life looks nothing like that fantasy! I started college at 17, but I went through four years of crippling depression and anxiety and considered taking my own life. I also chased after two boys that didn’t love Jesus and that resulted in heartbreak. At 20, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that would not only affect every aspect of my life, but it would greatly impact my ability to have children. I attempted to get my book published only to have 17 rejections thrown back at me over the course of five months. At 21, I met and married my now husband but was unable to get pregnant right away. When I was 22, my husband had not one, but three surgeries back to back to fix a broken collarbone. He then had to be on IV antibiotics for three months to fight the bone infection that had developed during the three surgeries. He didn’t work for six months and we lived off of my salary. Now, at 23, I’ve been walking through fertility treatments for seven months to try and have a baby with no success. I don’t write this in hopes someone will take pity on me. I write this to point something out to you.
Look at how I would have had my life: easy, short, sweet, to the point, and simple. Now look at the life God gave me: complicated, joyful, emotionally draining, long, sweet, painful, depressing, straining, difficult. Yet, it is so beautiful and I will take this life over the simple one I would have written for myself! Why? Because while the life God has given me has been hard, it has taught me so much about God, His character, His love, and what He wants for me. Throughout the rollercoaster that has been the past 6 years, one thing has stayed the same: God! For He is the same today, tomorrow, and always! (Hebrews 13:8)

In your life, do you find yourself celebrating God and the life He’s given you?

When recounting our lives, we often focus on the negative and what God hasn’t given us. Maybe he hasn’t given us the job we wanted, the relationship we wanted, the number of children we wanted, the house we wanted, and the list goes on and on. We focus on how we suffer and ask God why He doesn’t ease up on us, give us some good news, a better relationship, relief from depression, and so on it goes.
Let me direct your attention to Romans 5:3-5:
“Not only that,  but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
God wants us to rejoice in our sufferings because, well, look at all the good suffering produces for the Christian life. We all want endurance, good character, and we all want hope! But, if we can only gain these through suffering, shouldn’t we welcome suffering with open arms?
Looking back on what has happened in the life God has given me, I did not welcome the suffering He gave me. However, I can see now how it was good for me. Through depression, He taught me of His love. Through mistakes and sins committed, He showed me His grace. Through financial uncertainty, He taught me how peace and stability are found only through Him. Through infertility, He brought me so close to Him and I feel like my faith is on fire for the first time in years.

Let’s be real here, do we always rejoice in suffering?

No, we don’t. But as Christians, we should strive to practice rejoicing in our pain and know that it will teach us more of God, His love, mercy, and grace. In suffering, we learn that the life God has for us is so much better than what we wanted for ourselves. In suffering, we will learn endurance, character, and hope. In suffering, we learn more about God than we thought possible.
~ Blog post by Autumn Cockrell 

10 Bible Verses to Remind You That You are Loved!

10 Bible Verses to Remind You That You are Loved!

Did you know that you are loved!  Infinitely loved far beyond what you can even imagine!  Who is it that loves you so much?  Why, God of course!  God loves you relentlessly and He pursues with abandon.  There is no mistake you could ever make that will keep Him from loving you.
I thought for this week’s post I’d share some encouragement from the Bible about God’s love.

Here are 10 bible verses that tell you about God’s love!

  1. You are precious to God. “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” Isaiah 43:4
  2. God quiets you with His love. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, He will rejoice over you with singing, He will quiet you by His love.” Zephaniah 3:17
  3. You are the apple of God’s eye. “Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8
  4. You are engraved on the palm of God’s hand. “Behold I have engraved you on the palm of my hands, your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:16
  5. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
  6. God’s love for you is beyond measure. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
  7. God loved you first. “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
  8. God lavishes His love on you. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
  9. God’s love is everlasting. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3
  10. God’s love is steadfast and unchanging. “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

And I could go on and on with many more verses in the Bible that tell you how much God loves you.  God’s love is written all over the Bible!  I hope and pray that these verses will help you see how loved and cherished you are!  You, my dear friend, are so very loved, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.