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.
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 3:19 “To know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Idaho was once called my home. Orofino small town just big enough to have two grocery stores and one stop light. It was not the end of the world but if you looked hard enough, you could see it from there. It was once a place of prosperity and zest. Timber was the primary resource of commerce. But the trees were harder and harder to extract because the easy stuff was gone.
Our spiritual journeys may well be described in the same manner. Our earthly Christian life begins with forgiveness and a new life and will end when we move out of our earthly world. Boom and eventually an end. A rich and full life is available to all who believe. Forgiveness for that which has gone behind provides for a Godly life. God desires to give us a marvelous beginning with forgiveness and salvation and a great ending in Glory. And for now, in this new life, I am discovering a new abundant life in between the two signposts.
Colossians 1:13-14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I cannot change the past. It is a stone that is simply too large to move. It is the immovable object trailing along behind held by ropes to my inner well-being. It constrains my self-image. It impedes whatever progress I think I am making in all my relationships. I scratch and pull and yank and sometimes I simply try to ignore the weight constantly restricting me. I get so tired of the strain, I stop and think, “my place, my current position good enough”. But the weight continually increases until the shadow of that immense rock shades everything I do. I toil in a tethered country of struggle. The stone becomes the hallmark of the dominion in which I live. But there is a solution to the darkness, to the weight that so easily restrains my progress. A solution that does not include darkness, struggle, or immobility. The solution is forgiveness and the severing of the bonds that would impede my headway. The solution which opens to me a new kingdom. Bliss and progress are now my paths.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Occasionally I receive remarks and comments on my writing. Not too long ago, I was called up short by a comment on the harshness of God’s view of man. God does see his creation as flawed and corrupted, and this willfulness on our part separates us from Him. Further, I understand how God has interacted with and often tested his people. The result of this testing has been mostly repeated failures. It is terrible to fall into an angry God’s hands. It is a terrible state of mind to only think of yourself as constantly unworthy. Conviction of my state is the first step to understanding my need to be forgiven. A need to experience God’s mercy and grace. Everyone, including me, has corrupted the image of God in which we were created. This feeling of being less than expected or even unworthy should point to something more than dwelling in the slough of self-loathing.
I am saved by grace. I am forgiven of my multitude of flaws. I have felt the mercy of God upon my face. I walk boldly in the calm, sweet, renewed path set before me, and I don’t look back.
Thought for January 23– Day 23 of the new year
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Our times seem to be becoming ever more difficult. Cancel culture, perceived racism, homeless in the streets, and the destruction of past norms, all seem to point to a need for mercy and grace. We hear from all sides this is the “new normal.” Nevertheless, if this new way of seeing the world leaves out our dependence upon God, I want no part of it. Instead in our times of need, my reach must be much further than my grasp and my vision must be more than what I perceive. God is here and He is willing to hand out both lavishly and perfectly the love of mercy and grace. Today I am in need, so please forgive, and pour out your mercy and grace, as I do so for you. Renew in my heart the desire to seek God before any other solution.
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.