Archive

Archive for January, 2012

Standing in Christ

January 31st, 2012

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
Galatians 6:14-15

In much of the world it is generally considered inconsiderate to go to visit someone in their home without bringing some gift - flowers, chocolates, or something. When we come to Christ, must we bring something in our hand? Must we bring also our good intentions or good deeds?

This is not a minor issue, for not only does our salvation depend on Christ and Christ alone, our assurance of salvation and our fruitfulness in the Christian life also depend on Him. Through Christ we are redeemed, saved from sin and saved for a new life. We cannot boast in our goodness or in our promises or in anything other than the Lord and in His grace.

None of this removes the need for courage and determination on our part, but it must always remain the courage that says, “Not I but Christ.” It need not come out of our mouth upon every occasion, but it needs to be in our heart at all times that we are what we are by the grace of God.

“What counts is a new creation” is the NIV translation of verse fifteen. The original was given in this order: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has power, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Even though the word carries some idea of validating, the word “counts” downplays the importance of power that this verse is intending to communicate. The word was used in James 5:16, for example, where we read “the prayer of a righteous man avails much.” And the emphasis here is what overcomes, wins, prevails, sustains, gains the victory against sin, against temptation, against the world, the devil, and the flesh. The answer is not our religious rites, whether we opt in or opt out, but the fact that we have become new creations in Christ.

We will either stand in our own righteousness or in the righteousness of Christ. If we constantly stand in Christ, then we have the power of God at work in us to redeem us and cleanse us and strengthen us.

Prayer:

Lord, we stand in You and in Your grace and power. Let our confidence be always in You. Though we have reasons to be discouraged in ourselves, let us see how powerful and great You are. Let us walk in You daily. Amen.

Evening Devotionals , ,

Sowing and Reaping

January 30th, 2012

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:7-10

All ministry and service to Christ is to come from His Spirit’s work within us. We are to sow or plant “from the Spirit,” literally “out of the Spirit.”

Someone may ask, “Does he mean how we live our lives or how we serve Christ?” The answer is, “Both!” God does not separate the two, rather He looks at our lives as a single whole. What we do in the privacy of our rooms, or what we even think in the privacy of our hearts, is as well known to heaven as if we announced it from the rooftops.

Yet even service in the Spirit can become tiresome; though it happens more rarely than in the lives of those who are two-faced, who try to serve God with hidden sins and compromised morals, we can still become “weary in doing good” even when we are serving in the Spirit. God will bring the results of sincere ministry and sincere living for Him at the right time and in the right way.

The other alternative is to live a secret life of hidden sins, perhaps hidden addictions. We can rarely fool anyone along these lines. Eventually our character will show itself. Eventually disease, physical problems, and a general negative or cynical nature will show itself to all. A “closet alcoholic” will still have to deal with the harm being done to his body and his mind. This act of “mocking God,” imagining that He does not see or will not act, has genuine spiritual dangers. When we sin in secret the natural laws of physics, the natural laws of biology, and the principles that govern the spiritual world are not suspended.

It seems one of the most common way that this is done today is through internet pornography addiction, but with every click of the mouse on a pornographic website something inside is being destroyed. To take pleasure in the moral and physical destruction of another - which is what pornography is - is a serious offense before God and a real defilement of our hearts. But this is not the only sin in the world. Any wrong behavior or thought that we try to hide from God and from others fits into this idea of sowing in the flesh.

Whatever is impure in our lives we should repent from, and sin no more. We should leave it at the cross and seek to establish a healthy habit in its place. There is so much joy in the Holy Spirit, so much life in God, and so much goodness and love to be experienced in life! We are fools if we throw away the goodness of God to go off in a corner and indulge in worldliness. And we only fool ourselves if we imagine that this sin will not be revealed some day, and perhaps sooner than we think.

“The eyes of the Lord run to and from throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Prayer:

Lord, we are each involved in spiritual fight a worldly-world every day. Show us our true spiritual condition so that we will not live a lie. Leads us in Your paths of righteousness in our thoughts and in our acts, and give us true joy along the way. And wherever we need to repent and seek forgiveness, lead us to do it sincerely and to by faith receive the grace You have promised. Amen.

Evening Devotionals