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.
Matthew 6:7-8 “And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Most of the time the shortest prayers have the most prayer in them. They are to the point. They are not filled with repetitious addressees to whom the prayer is made. “I thank you Lord, because Lord, you are Lord of all and Lord can you, Lord, help me out…. Lord?” Quality of prayer is much more honest than vast quantities of platitudes, clichés, and highly evolved formulas. Truth, not length is the message here. God is not deaf or forgetful, and neither does he delight in the number of words spoken. It is sheer deceit to go on and on and on and on. When you pray, be simple, and make your request known not because God needs to know but because you need to ask.
Prayer is a spiritual and intellectual approach of the mind of man to the mind of God. We are not here to add to God’s knowledge or even dictate divine will. Prayer follows a simple formula: confession, praise and petition. Nothing else is needed.
When you pray, pray and let it just be that.
Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It was no easy time in Philippi when Paul wrote these words. In hard times it is very difficult to “rejoice”. Even more to “rejoice in the Lord, all the time”, without ceasing, continually, without interruption. It is simply crazy talk. How can I rejoice when the car needs tires, or my children are being overwhelmed by their own trials and health situations? When I get close to anyone in any meaningful conversation, I keep feeling their pain, their struggles and, it robs me of my joy. How can I be full of peace and joy in a world that is all about division, and selfishness? Then Paul piles on with “don’t worry about anything.”
Then when life seems so frustrating and less than meaningful, we find the solution: “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” God’s guarding peace is promised to those who pray, with thanksgiving, about everything. No matter how bad or troubling is our situation, we are to pray and give thanks for it all. Then we will have peace in our situation. And this peace will transcend our ability to understand it.
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.”
King David of the Old Testament was a piece of work. Despite being a great ruler, he was a fornicator an adulterer, and a streaker. He is not alone in the pages of the Bible. Plenty of other bible characters have done something terrible at some point in their lives. Saul was a disbeliever, Moses was a doubter, Jacob was a liar and Peter a betrayer, and Paul a persecutor. Yet, God made them his witness and used them to accomplish His purpose. Not only did He forgive them (MERCY), but He also endowed them with unmerited favor (GRACE). The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance from his father. The father’s grace gave him a party.
Lord, as you have shown me mercy and grace, I will show mercy and grace to everyone today.
PINOGAM: Person in need of Grace and Mercy!
Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The 23rd Psalm has been called the Psalm of faith, and certainly with great reason. Each line captures a sense of serene and happy confidence undisturbed by a single doubt. Included in these words of King David, are pictures of punishing rods and staffs, enemies, and foreboding valleys. Yet, each is coupled with mercy. Every possible fear is covered over by a faithful prospect of mercy and grace.
Dear Lord, my prayer this morning for those who are struggling, those who would simply give up, will be strengthened with a new resolve to find the true, sure, and available in every situation. Please, Lord, help us keep our eyes on you and not our problems.
Romans 8:1-3 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Discouragement is that palpable thing that seems to sour all that it touches. Discouragement so easily comes to us in a whisper or even in a small task. There are times I raise my hands in surrender and shout to all that would hear, “It is simply too much.” “Forgiveness of my enemies is more than I can do.” “I cannot write one more line.” All my efforts frustrate me. Each morning I rise to a haunting thought of my words making no difference. Discouragement comes in so many flavors. Yet there is only one solution. There is now no condemnation, no discouragement, no reduction, no ill, no sin, no sliding back for me. The Spirit gives me life. And that is good enough for now.
LORD, today is a new day for a reflection of your grace. I will not stop. Help me to see the right reason for doing it. I will keep on keeping on.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus, The Prince of Peace, at the end of his disciplining of his disciples. He knew there were terrible times ahead. He knew that He could not keep them by his protecting, loving, caring, gentile, patient arm. He had to go. And if he had to go, Jesus would impart something to them and to me: Peace.
I am a believer in Jesus. I put my full confidence in a loving God. I am thankful in every circumstance because of a gift presented to me in love. I have an inner calm that dominates my soul. Only a believer will ever experience this inner peace. Despite all the cares, woes, and raging tempests around me, I have peace. No one outside of Christ will ever be able to fathom this peace. To most, it will remain a mystery. They will look and marvel at the peace that passes understanding. I pray that those who don’t have it, will come and partake of it.
The more I study His word the more I realize my own self-worth is not worth at all. I see all mankind in one of two groups. You may well think these groups may be categorized as the Good and the bad. But I don’t see it that way. Let me explain
Group one includes those who think they are righteous and the second are those who know they are sinners. Matthew 9:13. One group pretends there is no need for God and the other simply acknowledges a need for God.
The common denominator is that we all need help. The catch is that we don’t all admit it. Rather than realizing everyone is in this together, that we are all in need of help, we often prop up our self-esteem by looking at people who do supposedly worse things than ourselves.
We create a scale and somewhere there is a line between good and bad. In our scale we work diligently to stay above the line. We live our lives in a two-story home on a quiet cul-de-sac, we keep our lawn well-manicured and our cars washed, we stay faithful to our spouse, we work hard at our chosen vocations, we pay our bills, and never cheats on taxes. We compare our goodness to others’ badness and think, “I’m a morally sound person. I’m doing pretty well. I don’t need help.”
All have sinned and fallen short of God’s ideal. We are all PINOGAMS (People In Need of Grace and Mercy). One group pretends there is no need for God and the other simply acknowledges a need.
Our superficial labeling system guarantees that we will never find freedom ourselves. It takes courage and humility to recognize we are as messed up as the drug addict next door. Few ever get that honest with ourselves. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, we’ll never be honest with God. We will continue to whitewash our dark sides and flaunt our good deeds, and nothing will ever change.
I guess we are really all in one category after all. We all need.