by Laurie Aker

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanks- giving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9)

Do you find rejoicing in your circumstances hard to comprehend—even harder to put into practice, maybe even utterly impossible? Paul says to rejoice! We know the trial, difficulty, or tribulation is for our benefit, protection, and God’s glory, but Paul even says we can be thankful for it! He is echoing James’ words to “count it all joy.” Can you do that? Take a moment in your prayer journal to praise God for the trials and tribulations you are experiencing lately and count them all joy. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us if we know the truth, believe the truth, and walk in the truth. Praise be to God Most High. That is truly being victorious! God is glorified, and the enemy is defeated again!


This blog post is an excerpt from the Thistlebend Discipleship Study Falling in Love Again with Your Lord available here.

Thistlebend Quiet eMoment

by Laurie Aker

Focus Scripture: Luke 9:23-27 ESV

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
24 For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
25 For what does it profit a man
if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words,
of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory
and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not
taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”


I have a dear friend who says that she loves
Jesus but every time she is presented with the choice of
choosing to trust Jesus or holding on to her bad habit
she chooses her bad habit.
She wants what she wants when she wants it.
After all, it is her life.
It’s her day.
It’s her time.
She can do with it what she wants.
Can’t she?

It seems very difficult and traumatic for her.
Day after day, week after week, she lives in inward misery
because she is convinced she will be unhappy
if she has to give up what she enjoys.

Let me make this clear.
Her bad habit isn’t even bad,
except that it represents her unwillingness to deny herself
in order to follow Jesus.

She can’t seem to deny herself
except when she wants to.
Which, as you can see, isn’t denying herself.
She seems controlled by her needs, her wants,
her feelings, and her desires.
At the center of all of this is self.

She continues to serve herself even though
serving herself is hurting her.
The enemy is so deceptive.
And the sinful self is so easily deceived,
like bribing a child with candy.
He makes the thing you need to give up seem
so attractive,
so alluring,
so inflated.

And he rewards you with temporal sweets…
immediate gratification,
the satisfaction,
the comfort,
the ease,
the fix.


What is holding you back?

Is it your “love” for food?
Is it your “desire” for control?
Is it your “need” to look a certain way?
Is it the “way” you do things?

We are commanded to
love the Lord our God with all our heart,
desire Him and Him alone,
and find all of our needs met in Him.

Our selfish idolatrous ways are exactly that — idolatry.
When we choose to continue to put Jesus second to anything,
He will not be first in everything.

When He is not first in everything,
He is not Lord of all.

How do we repent?
How do we let go of the old way?
Confess our unbelief.
Confess our selfishness.
Confess our unwillingness to give up our way of doing things.
Confess our reluctance to give up our self, our life.

Do not be deceived.
Going to church on Sunday,
reading your Bible in the morning,
and saying your prayers
doesn’t really “mess” with your life
or your will or your way all that much.
You can even volunteer several hours a week and still
hold on to your life.

But truly following Jesus does.

Luke 9:24
For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.


Choose one truth from today and apply it to your heart.
Take it with you throughout the day.


Lord, we can’t do this without you.
We need you.
Have mercy.

In His hands for His glory,


by Laurie Aker

David writes about the Lord’s faithfulness: “…I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy” (Ps. 63:6-7). Can you say the same? Do you sing in the shadow of His wings? Is God your hiding place? Do you run to Him for protection? Will you be ready when the attack comes your way? What do you do when you get hit broadside with something unexpected? Are you poised and ready to run to what you know to be true of God, regardless of the circumstances? Is God your God? Do you know Him? Do you love Him? Do you really believe what you think you believe? Do you hold fast to that belief, or do you give into the pressures and doubts? Sometimes unbelief can be very subtle and hard to recognize. This is when seeking after the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength really pays off. It is in these times that our faith is tested and strengthened. We need to know where to run. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).

David gives us a powerful and beautiful image of the hope and safety we can have in the Lord. He knows His Lord. He is his strength and his shield. He chooses to hide himself in the shadow of the Almighty. By faith he believes that under God’s wing he will find safety. In times of deep difficulty, in the pit of despair, in the midst of confusion, we, too, can remember God’s past deliverance, His mighty hand, and His tender love towards us.

At the time David is writing these words, he was fleeing from his wicked son, Absalom. What is David’s response? Do we see him wrestling with a myriad of escape scenarios, fretting, or pacing nervously? No, David is focusing his thoughts and his heart on his God. He remembers Him and how He has been his help. David shelters himself in the rich memories of the Lord’s past provision and protection, and strength- ens himself with songs of joy. He knows God is sovereign, he believes that God is in control, and he acts on that belief, despite what he may be feeling. In other words, David walked by faith. Charles Spurgeon, the author of the Christian classic Morning and Evening, gives us a helpful reminder about faith: “Christian, take good care of thy faith; for recollect faith is the only way whereby thou canst obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith.”

In believing faith, we can hide ourselves in the shadow of His wings and sing—yes sing—songs of praise to our God, knowing that He is good, all the time. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The joy of the Lord shall be our strength; it shall be the very song we sing amidst the whirlpool of tribulation. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7).


This blog post is an excerpt from the Thistlebend Discipleship Study Falling in Love Again with Your Lord available here.