Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dead people don't sin

Romans 6:7
For he who has died has been freed from sin.

There are two ways to stop sinning; die and die to self.
If I continue to sin, I must not be dead, either in the flesh or in my self.

To live for myself is to live for sin.
To die in Christ is to be forgiven of my sin.
To die to myself is to not sin.
To live for Christ is to listen to His Holy Spirit and obey Him alone.

Lord, teach me to die to myself daily and live only for You. Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hope and the great pumpkin

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Do you remember the old Charles Schultz, Peanuts Halloween special where Linus and Sally sit in a pumpkin patch on Halloween, missing out on "tricks-or-treats" just to wait up for the Great Pumpkin to arise? In their waiting, the entire Peanuts gang laughs at them and ridicules them and eventually, even Sally turns on Linus for tricking her again.

This is not the Christian experience. The suffering we endure does not lead to humiliation for a false hope that in unrealized. Our hope is well placed because our suffering and trials conform us to the image of Christ, they unite us with Him in suffering (Phil. 3:10). Throughout the journey, we are made Christ-like. Furthermore, throughout the journey, we have already been given the Holy Spirit and the vary love of God has been poured out in our hearts. These alone make it worth the journey but they also provide us strength for the journey and assurance of what is to come. We can endure the scorn of people because we have the love of God. We can stand out and stand alone because we stand with the Holy Spirit as our comfort. We can invite others to join us with confidence to know that the same love and the same spirit will be poured out in them immediately as they believe in Jesus Christ. While we wait for His return, we receive so much now that makes our hope secure and our waiting worth while.

Father - fill me with hope and let me experience Your Holy Spirit and Love each day as I wait for You. Develop in me a Christ-like character and may it draw others to You. Amen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

no wavering

Romans 4:20-21
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Abraham did not waver in his faith even in the face of the difficult, the improbable or the impossible. He reasoned that God was fully capable and willing to do what He had promised to do. He believed that God was able to take him to a promised land, able to give him a son in his old age, able to make him a great nation, able to establish him as a blessing to all nations. All of this was promised before any of it came to be (Gen. 12:1-2). This faith was accredited to Abraham as righteousness (Rom. 4:3). This faith placed Abraham in right standing before God and made way for the blessings and promises of God to be granted.
So how is my faith? Do I waver when things get difficult or seem improbable or impossible? Do I let these struggles change my attitude or take my eyes off of Christ? Would my response put in in position for God to bless me?
Far too often I focus on the temporal and terrestrial rather than the eternal and the heavenly. Too often I let the stuff of earth rob me of the stuff of heaven. My faith, while constant theologically, is far to fragile in a practical sense. Yet if I truly believe the promises of God, my faith will not be theological alone, but practical as well. It will lead me to action and resolution. Like Abraham, it will cause me to move, to commit and to respond to what is not yet reality.

Father - strengthen my faith. Let my faith translate into action. Move me according to Your reality and let me respond to what is promised and not only to what I see. Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Romans 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Strange as it seems, this truth ought to make me grateful for the law. So often, especially as a young believer, I resented the law and appreciated only Christian liberty. I celebrated the freedom in Christ and ignored the Law of God. Yet, as I grow in faith and years, I have realized just how valuable the law really is. For by the law, my unrighteousness and God's righteousness are revealed. By the law I see my sin, my need for salvation and the Savior who has provided it. By the law I reminded to strive for perfection that my Lord may be pleased. By the law I am reminded of the power and immensity of God's grace. By the law, the holiness of God is illustrated.
The law is nothing to be worship or invested in for salvation sake, nor ignored or minimized. Instead, we are to observe the law of the Lord and let it daily teach us the lessons of salvation, depravity, holiness and grace. The right perspective on God's law will make a big difference in our I live my life and celebrate my faith.

Father -
Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
You, through Your commandments,
make me wiser than my (struggles);
For they are ever with me.
(Psalm 119:97-98)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

not easy... but good.

Romans 2:4
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

When my conscience is pricked and I become aware of my sin through conviction, guilt, accusation or some other means, how do I respond? Do I react as if this awareness is a bad thing to be avoided, denied and suppressed? I know that it is not an easy experience to encounter my own sin, privately or publicly, however it is a good thing. Without such awareness I will never come to repentance and right-standing with God. It is His goodness, patience and grace that allows me to continue in my own way until I respond to this awareness, until I confront my sin and my sin nature. Furthermore, I should not take such an awareness lightly. Such conviction is not to be dismissed or tucked away for later contemplation. When I am convicted of sin, I should immediately repent, seek Christian support, take steps to avoid such sin in the future and respond with gratitude to God for opening my eyes and graciously guiding me to be changed. This process is not easy... but it is good.

Lord, open my eyes to my sin and let me be one to responds appropriately to conviction. Let me not take my sin lightly. Teach me to take decisive action against the sin in my life and fill me with gratitude when I do. Amen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

As much as is in me...

Romans 1:15
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

How much eagerness exists in me to share the Truth of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Am I someone who waits for an external prompting, a question or a request... or is there enough in me that I am always eager to share, always looking for a way to connect my conversation to the good news of Jesus? I'll rarely be used by God until this eagerness exists in me.

Lord, make me eager to share You and Your Truth with others. Fill me with a desire and a passion to speak Your Gospel. Amen.