Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
The worst thing Imperial Rome could do to punish anyone was to nail him to a wooden cross. Hour after hour of extreme pain would be the far beyond the limit of cruel and inhuman punishment. So why, in the grand plan of God did Jesus have to endure it? It is an ugly picture of man’s worst. Jesus on the cross, why? Why did God’s perfect plan include a crown of thorns? Why would a blameless and perfectly loving person have to die?
That body slain for things He had not done was for a reason. It was for me! It was so I can have my own personal shortcomings and willful disobediences separated from me. All that would weigh me down and slow me are rolled away. It is only at the cross that I can see the light of forgiveness and assurance.
Lord, I am no longer living in my willful disobedience because I am living in you. I thank you and release my past for the best future.
Titus 3:4-7 “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
I know well that time drips by at a singular and regular pace. Yet my perception of time changes from moment to moment. April has been a month of seemingly long duration punctuated with bursts of insane headlong manic. All the while, I have steadied myself with a revelation of the importance of assurance in my life. How anyone can survive the ebbs and flows of life without assurance in something more baffles me. For me, I must be well-grounded in the Word of God, accept God’s promises, and walk in the light as He is in the light. Not because of anything I have done or even deserve. I live in the assurance of God loving me. God dwelling within me, His very presence, and the absolute knowledge of whom I belong, are what sustain me. Together are two hopes, salvation and the assurance with comes with it.
Lord, please remind me again in my hectic sameness to focus on you. Only You can keep me moment by moment.
Colossians 3:2-3 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
The world has drilled into our minds from early childhood a need for conformity. There is a “norm” to which we must conform. Our culture tells us that success and happiness depend upon how well we adjust to it. And once we have God in our lives, this religious experience can become an add-on.
We must recognize one of the great problems in our modern Christianity: Those who come to Christ probably have their minds made up that to stay sane they must remain “adjusted” to the society around them. We will add Jesus to our lives to the edge of our culture, but not an inch over.
But the world does not have any idea where it is going. Our society has never found its highest and best. It is a life groping in the darkness dragging Jesus along the way. All the while we are filled with puzzlement, fear, and frustration.
Thankfully, it was to this kind of world Jesus came. He died for its sin and now lives for the salvation of all who will trust and not adjust.
Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Discovering and doing the will of God is the “only” way to have a consistent experience of His abundant life. I have but one simple decision every morning as I shake the sleep from my eyes. That decision is how I shall live my life today. Either I will let the world affect me or I will affect the world for God. There are thousands of alternative paths to follow if the world is my choice. But to choose Jesus there is only one. Today I will seek. Today I will find. Today I will call upon Him. Today God will have mercy. Today God will be God in my life. Today God will freely pardon. Today I will choose to glorify Him. Today I will be the person God has intended me to be. I will seek Him while He may be found. I will call upon Him while I still have breath. It may sound trite, but I say it again: today is the first day of the rest of my life.
I Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice since you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
From these words from Peter spring two emotions. One of fear of an impending trial of my faith, and second hope. These words tell me there is little to shadow my current joy. Yes, things happen. Yes, there will be events in my future that could well rock my belief in my fellow man. Peter tells me don’t be surprised at the inhumanity of man. He tells me there will be events that could well steal away my personal peace and personal comfort. “It rains on the just and the unjust.” The manner in which I have become accustomed, can and will be disturbed. It will happen. It may cause strange and disturbing thoughts and even actions. Nevertheless, when the skies seem to be falling and the enemy presses hard and heavily, I am called to reflect on the hope that never fails. I have an “inheritance incorruptible and is undefiled and will never fade.” That is my peace.
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in my heart. I have learned to live in the question.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
This prayer of Paul reminds me of the feeding of the 5,000 by Jesus. The people had listened intently to Jesus’ teaching. But the mind can comprehend only as long as the body can endure. The dinner stomach rumble had begun. The faithful leadership wanted to send them away. However, Jesus had something else in mind and He did it with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Many times, we look around at our meager resources and wonder how we are going to make it. Yet our Lord will meet every one of our needs according to His miraculous abilities even using our puny provisions. Look into your cupboards they are full. Full of miracles waiting to happen.
February 17: Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
It was a family decision to take the old 4WD International Scout up the mountain to cut a fresh Christmas tree. Up with seemingly hundreds of others, we pushed through the snow-covered roads to the designated place. We cut the tree and tied it to the roof and set off home. Then the right front wheel fell off! It seems all the nuts holding it on had become loose and finally, the last one gave up and we came to an abrupt stop. I needed help, I needed abundant mercy, and I needed at least four undamaged lug nuts. I tried to solicit other travelers on that road to give up one of these valuable restraining nuts. Finally, a mechanic stopped and simply encouraged me to take one nut off each of my other tires. What a concept!
In the early church, the saved encouraged others to show compassion, to daily inspire others to love one another and to forgive one another. By the way, if you have a spare lug nut, share it with one who needs it.
Thought for January 21 – Day 21 of the new year
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The Christian race is ongoing. All those who have gone before are our observers. We are required to run without the baggage of a thousand regrets. The past of our lives is always the greatest hindrance to our progress. Regret, shame, and guilt slow our progress. We must just let it go and run. It is extremely easy to think and say the race is about the final checkered flag. Yet it seems so far away. I need to just concentrate on the next step, the next few feet. It is about perseverance. It is about focused continual action. The accomplishment of one step is an encouragement to make it to the next after that.
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” ——————————————
It is recorded that as Sir Walter Raleigh placed his neck on the chopping block of his execution, the executioner asked, “Does your head lie easy, Sir Walter?” Answering the man holding the double-edged ax, “It matters not, my friend, how my head lies, provided my heart is right.”
The state of my heart is my decision. My soul can be a stone with an associated hardness and lifelessness, or it can be a thing of hope, caring, forgiveness, and love. I cannot allow ideology to supplant God’s will. I cannot let my wants, needs, desires, and my own personal demand for control, take the place of God’s will. My alliance with God’s perfect will, my decision, makes me who I am. It is an act of God’s renewal of me.
Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”
The sun is out this morning. It seems like there has been rain or a threat of rain for almost a month. There are showers of refreshing for all those who are willing to stand out in them without fear of getting soaked. A sign on my wall so aptly states, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.”
God’s favor is for those who have been made clean, made into new creatures, being made in His image. Similar to the hymn we used to sing in church:
There shall be showers of blessing,
This is the promise of love
There shall be seasons, refreshing
Sent from the Savior above.
Showers of blessing we need
Mercy drops ‘round us are falling
But for the showers, we plead.
Refresh me again Oh God.