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The belief that God is with me has led to key changes in my life.
It provides certainty that, regardless of what we face, with God victory is ahead.
 Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love.
What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers, and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love,  Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!Romans 8:35,37 TPT
When we believe God is with us, we become “more than conquerors.” This means we are able to win life battles that we were not expected or supposed to win.
We gain greater confidence in the future regardless of the improbabilities or adversity we are facing in the moment.
In the summer of 1997, my brother and I were taking a three-hour car ride to the airport. We were highly stressed because we wondered if we would be selected in that year’s NFL draft.
In between calls from our agent and mother, my brother received a call from the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers mentioned to my brother that they had two picks in the seventh round and might take him with one of those picks. In that call, they never mentioned me.
Despite the clear uncertainty, my brother hung up the phone and said to me, “Sam, God is working it out of our control. The Niners have two picks in the seventh round, and they are going to take me with the first and you with the second.”
Roughly two hours later we were both selected by the 49ers in the seventh round.
My brother believed God was with us, and this belief gave him the certainty that we would not only get drafted but to the same team (even though, based on all past NFL draft history, this was improbable).
Let’s talk about eight changes that happen when we see God is with us:
A change in focus
When we believe God is with us, we stop focusing on ourselves and other people and start focusing on God.
 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:1 NIV
Naturally, we have a tendency to conform to the expectations of what we see around us, whether it’s on television, at work, on social media, or with family.
We are under constant pressure from the world around us to conform to it’s patterns of who we are supposed to be – how we should look, how we should talk, what success is, and what we should have.
We end up judging ourselves and others based on these transient and biased patterns that fail to bring freeing or lasting change to our lives because they are focused more on outward appearance and performance than on our hearts, where true change is possible.
When we change our focus by seeing ourselves and others through the lens of God’s mercy, then we start seeing the value that God has placed on our lives, evidenced through God’s sacrifice of his son on the Cross. We are secure with God, and so we are no longer controlled by the need to prove ourselves to people.
When we change our focus from the world’s patterns to God’s mercy, God renews our minds and hearts with His word so that we see our true worth and fulfill our incredible potential for doing good.
Pause and reflect
- Read John 5:44 (Voice) and Romans 8:5-8 (MSG)
- Q: What are you currently measuring your worth by – God’s mercy or worldly standards?
A change in attitude
When we see life through the lens of God’s mercy, our attitude becomes one of gratitude because we acknowledge all God is doing for us.
 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you.
Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you.
The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.Romans 12:3 MSG
God is with us and working on our behalf even though we bring weaknesses and sins into our relationship with him (Romans 5:6-8). This truth should produce an attitude of gratitude inside of us.
How does it change us? We stop relying on our efforts to be right with God, and we start looking for and trusting the ways God is working in our lives.
God is always working for our good. Faith in this truth makes us grateful and leads us to happily and willingly obeying His scriptures with the hopeful anticipation of fulfilling His plan and purpose for our lives.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”John F. Kennedy
Pause and reflect
- Read Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
- Q: What are the top 10 things you are currently grateful for?
“Reflect upon your present blessings, for which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”Charles Dickens
A change in friendships
When we are grateful for God and the unique talents he has blessed us with, we stop competing or comparing ourselves to others. We are secure with our role in His family.
[4-5] …Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?
So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.Romans 12:4-5 MSG
God gifted each of us with unique talents and the ability to make a very special contribution to the world. We have an essential role to fulfill in God’s family. How does this change our friendships?
First, we stop enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves to one another, which will lead us to constantly feeling either inferior or superior to others. Second, we stop trying to be something we’re not, and we start appreciating who God made us.
Third, we become people capable of acknowledging the importance and purpose of each person in our life.
Pause and reflect
- Read Psalm chapter 73 and I Corinthians 12
- Q: What talents has God given you?
- Q: How can you use your talents to build up your friends and God’s church?
A change in pursuits
Knowing that God has a special role for us in His family should free us from insecurity to pursue the type of friendships God and the scriptures call us to have.
 Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it.Romans 12:9 Voice
Scripture calls us to despise evil so we can pursue what is good. We not only feel indignation about sin, but we take action and pursue the good we can do for others.
Too often, when we feel sinned against, we may resist doing evil back to the offender, but we don’t necessarily pursue the good we should do for them. The scripture is clear that we should pursue the good we should do in every relationship.
A timeless example of this is Charlie from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He chose to pursue what was best for Willy Wonka’s even after Willy had been deceitful and unfair with him.
Pause and reflect
- Read II Corinthians 7 and II Timothy 2:22
- Q: Are you completely honest in your friendships?
- Q: What good do you need to pursue doing in your relationships?
A change in priorities
When we pursue the kind of relationships the Bible calls us to have, we start prioritizing our relationships in the family of God.
 Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first.Romans 12:10 Voice
When we believe God is with us, we learn to prioritize spiritual friendships. This means more than just a couple of times a month together for an hour or so at church services or events.
Instead, it involves building daily friendships (Hebrews 3:12) with caring, thoughtfulness about each other, and that brings the best out of one another.
A character whose example captures this kind of devotion is Captain America of the Avengers, a fictional character that is part of the Marvel Universe. He models incredible devotion and loyalty to his friends throughout both his Captain America and Avenger movies.
This video captures some brief clips of his devotion to his relationships.
- Q: Are your closest relationships to others in the family of God?
- Q: How can you start prioritizing your friendships in God’s family?
A change in purpose
When we change by prioritizing spiritual friendships that practice love, then we naturally want to serve and build new relationships.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.Romans 12:11-13 MSG
This passage teaches us that we should be inventive in hospitality. What is hospitality? It is the willingness to show love to strangers. It is extending love to people we are just meeting or getting to know.
We should be inventive and come up with ways to love strangers. This is important as this article is being written during a pandemic and on a day when the state has issued a “stay at home” order. Still we are called to find ways to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives and love new friends who need our help or are seeking a relationship with God.
An inspiring example of this is a relationship formed by Marcus Latrell, a Navy Seal who was featured in the movie Lone Survivor, and the local man that saved his life by bringing a badly wounded Marcus into his home and under his protection at the risk of his own life.
Here is part of that story:
Pause and reflect
- Q: What are creative ways you can come up with to serve new friends and pull them into your current friendships?
A change in peace
When we are certain God is with us and that he has a special purpose for our lives, we are willing to work at living in peace with others.
 If someone does you wrong, don’t try to pay them back by hurting them. Try to do what everyone thinks is right.  Do the best you can to live in peace with everyone.  My friends, don’t try to punish anyone who does wrong to you. Wait for God to punish them with his anger. In the Scriptures the Lord says, “I am the one who punishes; I will pay people back.”Romans 12:17-19 ERV
When we allow people into our lives and hearts, eventually we are going to be hurt and sinned against. It is going to happen numerous times, simply because we are human and imperfect in our love.
Peace comes when we have the right perspective – that we have no control over other people. The only thing we can control is our response to how other people treat us. This is why we are called to do the best we can to live in peace with everyone.
This means a willingness to suffer for others, not retaliating but rather seeking reconciliation or resolution.
Pause and reflect
- Read Philippians chapter 4
- Q: Are there any relationships you have stopped seeking to live in peace with?
- Q: How will you find resolution or reconciliation in those relationships?
A change in power
When we believe God is with us, and we choose to be at peace with others, we can tap into God’s transformative power to do good.
 But consider this bit of wisdom: “If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink; because if you treat him kindly, it will be like heaping hot coals on top of his head.”  Never let evil get the best of you; instead, overpower evil with the good.Romans 12:20-21 Voice
Good overcomes evil. Jesus exemplified this enduring truth as he faced unimaginable brutality while never retaliating in violence. Because of his loving restraint, he achieved an enduring victory that we benefit from today.
Few modern stories capture the good vs. evil struggle quite like Star Wars. In the climactic battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (in the movie Return of the Jedi), Luke is allowed by the Emperor to take revenge on his father for all his atrocities. Luke spent the entire trilogy wrestling with his feelings of anger about loss and injustice, and at that moment would likely be justified in putting an end to a war criminal like Vader.
He chose the path of love instead, forgiving his father and ultimately ending the story with a satisfying redemption. He chose good, and it led to victory for the forces of light (however short-lived).
The Bible gives us many ways we can choose good over evil and make a positive impact on people:
- Forgive from your heart (Matthew 18:21-35) – Jesus calls us not to put on limits on how often we should forgive others for their wrongs.
- Be like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) – Jesus teaches us to help those in need even when we’re mistreated ourselves.
- Don’t throw stones (John 8:1-11) – Jesus instructs us not to condemn others before first examining ourselves.
In each of these examples, God shows us that there is always a path we can take when we are wronged instead of rushing to anger, self-righteousness, or spite. To tap into God’s power is to develop the inner strength necessary to look evil in the face and choose not to succumb to it.
Take time to review the eight ways your life will change when you believe God is with you. After reflecting on how each point resonates with you, ask yourself these questions:
- Which of these eight changes do you see as strengths (changes you feel confident making)?
- Which of these eight changes do you see as weaknesses (changes you feel will be challenging to implement?
- How will you share your strengths and work on your weaknesses with others?
I want to encourage you to look for ways to put these changes into place in your relationships. When you believe God is real and active in your life, these changes should start feeling more natural and not forced. If you’re doing it right, you’ll become a conquerer before you know it.