Archive for May, 2010

Throw off everything that hinders

May 31, 2010

The indented text below is an excerpt from an article written by Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.  link

Jennifer Garr has much in common with many of the runners who will rise early July 4 for the AJC Peachtree Road Race.  Like many, she’s run in it so many times she’s lost count. She still gets goose bumps when she crosses the start line. She enjoyed seeing the Crawford sisters, the elderly twins who traditionally greeted runners in front of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. She got into running in her late 40’s, she said, “when I woke up one morning and thought, ‘Oh, my god. I’m middle-aged.'”

But this July, she’ll be a little different than most of the 55,000 runners and so will her motivations. She is fighting multiple myeloma, a relatively rare cancer with no known cure.

As Mrs. Garr steps to the starting line of the road race, I am sure that all of us realize that she is running two races or fighting two battles.  While not as imminent, those who have surrendered their lives to Christ as Lord and Savior are running a different race too.  The only difference is, that in the race of Christ, the finisher will get the “crown of life” instead of the much admired t-shirt.

With the stakes so high, the writer of Hebrews encourages us in chapter 12.  Listen to how the chapter starts off, “1Therefore, 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.”  As with Mr. Sugiura, the author of Hebrews had just finished giving us a whose who of people who demonstrated great faith in chapter 11 (good reading; you should check it out).  They are to serve as motivations for us.  The witnesses are those who are referenced in the verse above.  What is the admonition submitted here?

We are given the point of references to “wake us up”, so we can realize the fight of our life or the race of our life. That fight/race or cancer that we are fighting is of greater consequence than that which could take your life.  The cancer in which we are fighting can take our soul.  The cancer to which I am referring is
                                                                                         sin
If you have ever participated in a road race or even witnessed runners running, you are well aware that they are not weighed down with heavy clothes or any other incumbrances.  This is what God is telling us in Hebrews 12:1: “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.” 

What does this really mean?  It means that whatever is pulling us away from who God wants us to be and what God wants us to do should be thrown off.  Imagine a weight jacket that impedes a runner.  God is saying throw off those weights.   What are some of the weights? In the context of the chapter, first and foremost, doubt or unbelief.  Truly, this is the only weight.  It manifest itself in many other situations.  For example, I just had lunch with one of my former students Saturday past.  Her weights are the series of unfortunate circumstances of her life over the past 14 years.  Yes, I said 14.  No doubt, she has dealt with more than the average person could bear, but it is weighing her down.  In fact, she stated that she was tired of fighting the fight.  She was down right tired.  I am sure that if you looked at your life, you too may have had a series of circumstances that are weighing on you.  The remedy is the same for her, you, me and everyone else: faith in the triune God. 

Faith in the person of God, and the power of Jehovah God.  God is holy and righteous; therefore, He only does what is right and good.  God has all power; therefore, He can do anything.  God is faithful and true; therefore, He fulfills His promise to his children.  As a result, whatever event or series of events, God is the answer.  He will either walk with you through them giving you peace as you have faith in Him, or He will deliver you from the circumstances.  Most often, God chooses the former rather than the latter.  The former develops faith and character which is His ultimate goal.

God offers us an admonition in Hebrews 12:1 “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.”  Now, listen to what God says in James 1:12 about the person who takes heed to that admonition: 12″Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

We all have a battle to fight, a race to run.  God has given us Himself to fight it or run it.  He has shown us the result if we follow Him.  The question is, will we follow Him or be mired in our self-pity?

Throw it off!!!

Built Up and Prayed Up

May 30, 2010

In the first paragraph below, I was reminded of a yearning that I had when I was a little boy.  Like the writer below suggests, I used to want the “Great Gazoo” to be with me because I was always challenged by trying to do right.  Since surrendering my life to Christ, God has placed His Holy Spirit inside me to guide my thoughts, words and actions.  Hallelujah!!!  I need all the help I can get to deal with all the wickedness in me. 
 
From Today in the Word website
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. – Jude 20

TODAY IN THE WORD
Cartoon characters like Pinocchio or Fred Flintstone are sometimes pictured with an imaginary friend hovering over their shoulder. In many episodes, Jiminy Cricket or the Great Gazoo would scold Pinocchio or Fred, warning them against making the wrong choice, or urging them to take a particular action.

Sometimes we might wish that we had a little conscience sitting on our shoulder, reminding us to stay on our diet or be honest on our taxes or hold our tongue. We don’t have Jiminy Cricket, but we have something even better—we have the Holy Spirit living within us and we have the Word of God to instruct us. Today’s passage is from the book of Jude, which is a single chapter filled with both caution and encouragement to those living in the faith at a time when others have abandoned it. Jude cautions that believers should “remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold” (v. 17).

As in Jude’s day, “scoffers” and others will live out their “ungodly desires” (v. 18). We are not to follow these types of people. The way to combat these negative, blasphemous voices is to “build yourselves up” (v. 20). Note that this is not a by-your-bootstraps spirituality. This is not about personal positive mantras or giving ourselves an ego boost. We are to become deeply rooted in our “holy faith” (v. 20). The more the scoffers increase around us, the more earnestly we must pursue the truth of God’s Word.

Verse 22 tells us practical ways to do this. We are to be “merciful” and to “snatch others from the fire”—to be rescuers of the perishing. Finally, Jude ends with a beautiful doxology that is a wonderful way to culminate this study. Only God is able to “keep us from falling.” Through God’s power, we will be presented before Him “without fault and with great joy” (v. 24). What an amazing promise. By persevering in this present time of conflict, we will be made perfect in the end!


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
We began this study looking at our identity as it is found in Christ. We have found that our focus needs to be not on ourselves but upon Christ. Make a list today of the attributes of Christ that you would most like to see reflected in your own life. At the top of the list write these words: “MORE HIM; LESS ME.” Pray today that God will help to change your focus, and that day by day you would begin to look more like your Savior.

Spiritual Flim-Flam

May 28, 2010

Burlington police are trying to crack a decades-old scam that people continue to fall victim to.

The latest cases of the scam have been happening at the Burlington Mall where a man dressed as a Sears employee promises to deliver to the victims a deal on plasma TVs, telling them that the store has an overflow of the expensive merchandise.

The scam artist tells the people to meet him outside the Sears store where the victims then hand over cash and watch the man disappear inside the store, supposedly to get the merchandise. But the man makes a run for it and disappears with the money.

This scam has happened at least seven times since March 27, Burlington police said, and has been happening off and on throughout New England for decades.

As I read today’s passage, 2 Timothy 2:1-13, spiritual flim-flam came to mind after reading the last few verses.  As we all know, flim-flam is a term used when some one is cheated or swindled out of something.  On the surface, it appears that Christ, the friend that sticks closer than a brother, is being spiritually flim-flammed.   Why do I say this?  For what Christ gave me and all of the elect, the return He gets is no where near equal.  Listen to what Paul says in the next few verses:

11Here is a trustworthy saying:
   If we died with him,
      we will also live with him;
 12if we endure,
      we will also reign with him.
   If we disown him,
      he will also disown us;
 13if we are faithless,
      he will remain faithful,
      for he cannot disown himself.

I am awe-struck at the grace and generosity of God.  In verses 11 and 12, an axiom that an older gentleman shared with me years ago was in effect: “An even swap, ain’t no swindle; a fair exchange, ain’t no robbery.”  Delving deeper, we realize that the exchange is no where equal.  How could any person think that his life for the life of the King of King and Lord of Lords is equal?  How could any person think that his suffering is tantamount to what Christ endured not only on the cross, but in life being betrayed by those who were supposed to love you, by forfeiting His place along side the Father where he was worshipped, by becoming man?

Thirteen is often seen as an unlucky number, if you believe in that.  Here, verse thirteen, connotes more than luck but sheer grace.  If we are faithless, he remains faithful.  God will always be true to the essence of His character regardless of our response.  Unlike us, we like to break deals, promises, or agreements.  God says that He will be faithful even when we are not. 

This is, seemingly, the spiritual flim-flam.  It appears that God gets cheated.  He offered Christ’s life for our life.  From the onset, the values are not equal.  God knew that, in comparison to Christ, we were worthless, but God deemed us more valuable than we would ever determine.  Romans 8:32 says,” He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all(the elect)—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”    He (God), gave him (Christ) up for us.  In any other scenario where something that is invaluable is given for something that is worthless, we would declare that a scam of epic proportions – a flim-flam if you will.  God, true to His character, has ways that are higher than our ways; thoughts higher than our thoughts.  It’s not a flim-flam but an offering of His grace to a doomed people. 

I wish that I would give God more of what He deserved.  Join me in trying to live a life worthy of Christ and the Father. 

Be blessed.

If you could, can be realized through the Word.

May 27, 2010

Yesterday, I submitted that we are frequently identifying the ideal, and proposing if certain circumstances were there, we would have a different outcome or experience.  This will be short and sweet.  I will give you the answers from the Word.  Specifically, the solutions here come from Psalm 119.  The corresponding verses are listed.  First, let me remind you of those circumstances:

If you could be wiser than my enemies 

97Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. 
 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.

If you could have more insight than all my teachers
 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.

If you could have more understanding than the elders 
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

If you could keep your feet from every evil path
 101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.

If you could not depart from what is right
102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.

If what is right could always be most appealing to you
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

 If you could hate every wrong path
104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

If you could abhor and abstain from unstable and untrue people
 113 I hate double-minded men, but I love your law.

If you could have a refuge and a shield from the troubles and worries of life
114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

If you could abstain from those who do wrong
115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!

 If you could be sustained to never have your hopes dashed 
116 Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.

 If you could be supported, defended and kept from sinking
 117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.

God has the answers for all of our issues; Himself.  We just need to search where He has revealed the most about Himself: the Word. For the written Word, the bible, contains truths about the Living Word, Jesus, too.  God has provided the solutions for us, Jesus and the written Word.  We just simply need to commit to making a regular ingestion of the Word a daily habit.  Read all of Psalm 119 to see other benefits.   God is true and faithful. 

Be blessed.

If you could …

May 26, 2010

We have a penchant to speculate about a more grandiose reality only if…  Our minds are always gravitating to a better situation because we seemingly want better.  We all have played the game “What if”.  My reading today challenges the authenticity of this proposition.  Take a moment to ask yourself  “If I could …, then I would …”  Stop!  Really think about those circumstances. 

See if the proposed circumstances appeal to you.

If you could be wiser than my enemies 

If you could have more insight than all my teachers

If you could have more understanding than the elders 

If you could keep your feet from every evil path 

If you could not depart from what is right

If what is right could always be most appealing to you

 If you could hate every wrong path

If you could abhor and abstain from unstable and untrue people

If you could have a refuge and a shield from the troubles and worries of life

If you could abstain from those who do wrong

 If you could be sustained to never have your hopes dashed 

 If you could be supported, defended and kept from sinking

Now,  please take the poll for each question.

Tomorrow, I will share with you a way for all those if’s to become realities in your life.

Estate Battles

May 20, 2010

What does Michael Jackson, Tom Carvel and Ike Turner all have in common?  You may not know Carvel.  Tom Carvel was the creator of soft serve ice cream and one of the founding fathers of the franchise system.  I am sure that you recognize Michael and Ike.  You are probably thinking well those two are singers who have recently passed on.  Yes, all have died, but the commonality that I am referencing is the fight of the heirs over their estates. 

Just as there are battles over who will receive the financial rewards from those men, there is a battle raging over the souls of men.  For those who surrender their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they become children of God – sons and daughters if you will.  An heir is one who receives by lot or one who receives his allotted possession by right of sonship.  We have discussed what it means to be a child of God.  Once a person becomes a child of God, that person, by God’s declaration, is entitled to the estate of God through Jesus Christ.  Romans 8:17 says, Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

What is exactly the estate of Christ?  We all like life when everything is good, but what about when life is not seen as good, fair, right or just down right horrible.  I believe the estate is to live this life experiencing trials and sufferings with the power of God at our disposal to respond in a manner in which we can experience victory.  What is victory?  We need not look too far.  Jesus is the personification of godly victory.  Jesus did not allow circumstance to determine His perspective on any situation.  He experienced joy and unity with God in the midst of sufferings.  Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  He was not pouting or exclaiming that life or God was not fair.  He knew His Father’s character, power and purpose.  He lived in light of that.  Knowing who God is enables us to rise above our circumstances.

Those at the cross mocked Jesus exclaiming that if He was God that He could save himself.  Just because Jesus did not respond by coming down off that cross, they assumed that Jesus was not God.  They assumed that Jesus could not save himself.  They, like us many times, had the wrong perspective or view.  They did not know the Father’s character, power and purpose.  What demonstrated greater power – to get off the cross and walk around or to suffer the agony of having your joints stretched and pulled  apart while suffocating because you could not breathe with the weight of your body pulling down on your lungs, or the weight of the sins of others on you because you had not sinned, or the fact that you were separated from the Father, or to be pronounced dead, to be buried in a tomb only to come out of the tomb without rolling the rock away to be seen by more than 500 people illustrating that you fulfilled your words of you raising the temple in three days after it being destroyed

Jesus has always fulfilled his Words.  He did raise the temple in three days.  He is alive.  As such, he offers us the same opportunity – to live after we die with God.  Again, this evidences the character, power and purpose of God. Every person will live eternally.  The question is whether we will live eternally with God or live eternally without God.  Those who have surrendered their lives to following Christ as Lord and Savior will live eternally with God; those who have not surrendered will live eternally away from God.  Hell does not capture that.  It is the absence of good.  Experiencing every imaginable act, not to mention what we can’t imagine, in a hot environment may not be something that you can mentally grasp, but I know you can imagine all the things that you consider horrible or things you hate.  That’s it!  There would be no good.

God wants everyone to have eternal life rather than eternal death.  John 17:3 defines eternal life:  Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  You see, those who know Christ as Lord have already begun living eternally.  Our physical death only brings us into closer unadulterated relationship with God. 

Now that is an estate worth battling for.  I hope you are fighting the good fight of faith in Jehovah God and Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  If not, you would have fought for nothing.

Who is with you?

May 19, 2010

When I was a little boy, I loved to ride my bike all over the neighborhood and surrounding areas.  Many times, I rode with my neighborhood buddies and my brother.  There were times when danger encroached me, but there is one distinct day that I will never forget.  One day, as we were on a boyish excursion, some boys, whom we did not know, tried to take our bikes.  In fact, one of the boys with us had a bike that everyone envied.  It was completely silver.  Actually, it was chrome, but we did not know what chrome was back then.  We just called it silver.  Any way, it was the envy of us all.  Those boys took his bike.  My brother tried to help him, but when they started in on me, my brother came to my rescue.  He gave me his bike and told me to ride down the street.  For a brief second, I expressed my concern to him.  He retorted,”I have my bike.”  I took his bike and rode down the street.  Minutes later and much to my amazement, he appeared riding my bike, but our friend’s coveted bike was gone. 

What was the difference that day between our friend and me?  It was who was with me.  My brother was with me and did not allow those boys to take my bike.  I am sure that as you read this you can reflect over circumstances in your life when someone of power, popularity or promise was with you and aided you.  As much as I am getting teary-eyed thinking of my brother, I am getting excited, hyped if you will, over the fact that God is with me. 

Listen to what Solomon said in Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  As much as I know my brother loves me, God said that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  That friend is Jesus – God himself.  God says that He is with me.   Again, listen to what God said of Joseph in Acts 7, ” 9“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.”  Did you see that?  People tried and did things that were not right and unfair to Joseph, but God was with him.  As it was when my brother was with me, Joseph triumphed because the friend who sticks closer than a brother, literally, was with him.  We can stand on the fact that God stated that He will be with us.  Listen again,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.”  Deuteronomy 31:7

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Joshua 1:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
   “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

In those old testament passages in Deuteronomy and Joshua, God was reminding His chosen men, His children, that  I will be with you as you are pursuing matters of my will.  For that reason and that reason alone, go and do what I promised.  It will happen because I promised.  In Hebrews, God was encouraging the people to pursue Him and not other things, specifically money, and He would be with them. 

Don’t you want God to be with you?  As I sat here this morning reflecting on the care of my brother, I must admit; I became emotional.  However, when I thought about the care of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, I became jubilant.  That is rare for me, but as I contemplated what that really means,  I was full.  I don’t want  to paint the picture that victory and rescue is dripping like honey from a comb.  It’s not always painless.  Joseph suffered by having his brothers turn on him as well as being lied on and put in jail, but I do want to convey that victory is mine through Christ Jesus.  If we remain patient and humble, God delivers every time whether in the here and now or in the after-life.  God is faithful.  Hallelujah.

Is God with you?  God is only with those who have surrendered their lives to Christ as Lord and Savior.  If you have not done that, God may help you by His grace, but you do not have full access to the promise of Him being with you like it was conveyed in the verses above.  Again, when I was a little boy, it was stated (in the vernacular I might add) on the play ground, football field or for a fight, “who you wit?”  I will ask you today, who are you with?  More importantly, is God with you?

Be blessed.

Benefits II – Rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God

May 9, 2010

For the past several days, I have been on the west coast.  I came out to celebrate with my brother for his college graduation.  After 22 1/2 years in the military, some schooling along the way, he realized a dream that he had a long time ago.  Nearly thirty years have elapsed since my brother chose to go into the military.  While thousands of graduating seniors enter the military, there is something that is symbolic of Christ.  You see, one of the reasons that my brother chose to go into the military was so that I would have the hope of going to college. 

He told me that mom would not be able to afford to send both of us to college.  Our birth years are close enough that both of us would have been in school at the same time.  While there were certainly other factors that influenced his decision, he still made a decision that was par for the course for him.  As he had for all my life, my brother sacrificed for me.  That is the symbolism of Christ. 

My brother would not be beholden to that thought as he saw it a the thing to do for someone whom he dearly loved.  You might not see it that way either.  Despite that one may not have ever made a genuine commitment to follow Christ, I want to share with you that there are many decisions that one may make that is reflective of the character of Christ. 

When he left for basic training, it was a poignant moment.  He had actually gone through with it.  As I finished school, he would try to drive back to catch a game or two.  One of the most memorable games I ever had was when he returned home.  I wanted to dedicate that game to him as one who loved me dearly and showed it.  I delivered my wish to him.  It’s something we still talk about to this day, but I digress.  He went on to serve on an overseas tour.  I graduated and realized the dream we discussed.  I was going to college, and I had a chance to play football.  It did not matter that it was not a Division IA school.  It was the hope of playing after high school as well as doing it for my brother.

Well, hope continued to constrain me.  When my brother had left for the military, my mother and I were able to bond in a way that we never had.  One of the things that made an impact on me was the hope that I represented for her and my grandmother.  They were hopeful that I would realize their dream of having a college graduate from their direct bloodline.  That thought, along with the promise I had made in my heart to my brother, motivated me to forge forward regardless of the challenges I faced. 

I did graduate to the elation of my brother, mother, grandmother, father, sister and step-parents who were like biological parents.  What’s the point I am making?  As I sat there yesterday listening to “Pomp and Circumstance”, the speakers and relatives around me, hope was the primary topic.  There was the hope of graduating from college being recognized; there was the hope of a grandfather sitting next to me as his grandson was the first to graduate from college especially after they boys mother had died his freshman year; there was the hope of the new graduates as to the new opportunities that would be available to them; there was the hope I had for my two nieces who sat there watching their father walk across that stage for all the long nights that they had witnessed him going to school.

The passage today talks about the greatest of hopes.  It is the hope of the glory of God.  In an earlier post, I took a stab at identifying some benefits from having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ as Lord.  I submit that hope in Jehovah through Jesus Christ is the greatest of all hopes.

Romans 5:
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I am not sure if you see the cycle that I believe God showed me this morning.  It is the “Hope Cycle”.  For those who surrender their lives to Christ as Lord and Savior, they have access to God.  It is this access the subsequent ramifications that I have termed/coined the “Hope Cycle”.

It is not simple, but I was state it in simple terms.  Because I know God through Christ, I have access to God whether in times of suffering or times of relative ease.  Whether in ease or through tough times, the result is the same.  “…We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  It is the fact that we can call on God to help us navigate our circumstances.  He may strengthen us to deal with the circumstance or God may change our circumstance.  Again, the result is the same.  We see the glory of God through His working on our behalf, and we have hope.  

It is that hope that we can persevere through the darkest hour and the fiercest storm.  This was the hope from which my commitment to my brother that got me started.  I just did not realize it at the time that God used that situation as a symbol of what He would become in my life.  What He had always been in my life.  I just did not see it.  Now that I know Christ, I know the benefit of having the hope of the glory of God

My brother will tell you that God has enabled him to realize his dream nearly thirty years later.  I am hoping in the glory of God that my brother as well as the rest of my family will also enjoy the benefits of knowing Christ as Savior and Lord.  If you don’t know Him, please give yourself fully to Him.  If you are not sure, just let me know.  You have my email.  I will pray for you, talk with you and walk with you. 

Be blessed.

Gospel Love

May 9, 2010

Again, I will allow the folks from Today in the Word to say what they have said.  I will follow this entry with commentary that is not of the same mindset.

But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

TODAY IN THE WORD
The Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. The white marble structure in India was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife and queen Mumtz Mahal. She died during childbirth at age 39. Some say her dying request was for her husband to build a beautiful mausoleum in honor of their love. The Taj Mahal took 22 years and 20,000 workers to construct at a cost of 32 million rupees. But for a gift of love, no time, labor, or cost was too much.

Remarkable love often results in remarkable sacrifice. The emperor loved his dying wife so much and grieved so greatly after her death that he wanted to pay tribute to her with something tangible. In an even more magnificent way, God did the same for you. Today’s passage outlines the gospel story that you may have heard many times before. As you read, focus on this expression of divine love.

Let’s look at the context of our verse for today. The beginning of Romans 5 describes the result of our justification. Because we are justified, we have “peace” (v. 1) with God. Because we are justified, we have “gained access” to God and have the “hope of the glory of God” (v. 2). Because we are justified, we can “rejoice in our sufferings” (v. 3).

The last part may give us pause. Why does our justification allow us to rejoice even when we are suffering? The passage continues to answer that question. Suffering allows us to become more conformed to the image of Christ. Suffering has by-products; it produces perseverance, character, and hope.

We have hope. Why? Because our justification before God was a supreme act of love. It shows how valuable we are to God, even in our sinful and corrupt state. God’s gift for us was not earned. He loves us unconditionally. His love was proven by the sacrifice of His Son, a gift to justify us. The evidence of His love is not a marble structure, but it is seen in the way our lives reflect His character.


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
Love impacts our hearts, minds and bodies. For some, it may be difficult to accept that God could love us in this way. We think we have to prove ourselves or do something worthy. The truth is, nothing we do could possibly be impressive enough. God demonstrated His love to us while were still sinners. Thank God for His indescribable gift, and if you have not yet accepted His love by trusting in the gift of His Son Jesus to justify you and save you from your sins, will you do so today?

Finding Your Image In God

May 3, 2010

I can’t say this any better than the people from Today in the Word.  The devotions from their site this month revolve around image.  Take a look.

Finding Our Image In God

Department stores have been accused of using “skinny” mirrors in their dressing rooms to make shoppers feel better about how they look in their prospective new clothes. With this altered view, customers aren’t buying the truth, just an image of who they hope to be.

We don’t act all that differently when we’re done shopping, do we? Everyone knows about their faults on some level, but we tend to search out the most flattering reflections—those friends, entertainment venues, news outlets, and even churches that make us feel the best about who we are. The bad news: that isn’t an honest approach. The good news: we can find an even better image if we look to God’s Word. The Bible reveals before our eyes the sin that permeates our hearts. But if we look deeper, we’ll find that we are created and redeemed in the image of God.

This month in Today in the Word, we will see how we are valued, loved, and perfected in the Lord. On our own, we aren’t much to look at. But in Christ, we share in His eternal glory. As individuals, we are dead. In Christ, we have eternal life. Thank you for being a part of this study and a supporter of Today in the Word.

I think this is a very important issue.  Looking at ourselves through the lense of God is the proper and sober way to view ourselves.  It keeps us humble yet hopeful.  I am not sure what I will be told, but I am looking forward to this.   I do know I wish I had one of those skinny mirrors – LOL.