Monday, November 19, 2012

Freedom from Guilt

Today’s Passage: Romans 4:24-25

 “God Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification—our acquittal, making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God.”

Words of Devotion

The business leader had been caught and arrested. He was guilty of misusing millions of dollars in customer funds. As details emerged, the man attempted to take his own life, but his efforts failed. The note he had written revealed poignant insights into the life he had been living.

He was not the model citizen he had pretended to be, but had been misusing funds for nearly 20 years. In his note, he confessed, "I am ready to die. I guess this is the only way out of a business I hate so much."

In particular, he was bothered to have deceived his son. He never wanted him "to know the kind of guy I really was...your mistake was that you trusted your father."

These words reveal just how deeply we can be weighed down by sin. It was this same burden that weighed down Adam and Eve after they had sinned, causing them to hide from God's presence. Guilt can haunt our minds and hearts. Even Christians can have a hard time overcoming guilt.

Paul wrote that, without Jesus, we are all sinners who are guilty in God's sight. But Jesus was raised from the dead to "secure our justification." He provided "our acquittal." He made "our account balance, absolving us from all guilt before God." As the Bible tells us… "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Today, are you carrying any burdens, any guilt? Confess your sins to God. Then accept His forgiveness and Jesus' finished work. He died and rose again so that you could be free!

Today's Prayer: Father, thank You that Jesus death and resurrection has absolved me from all guilt in Your sight. Thank You for removing my sins and setting me free. In Jesus' name Amen

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Good Minister

Today’s Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:6-10

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. (Vs 6)

 Words of Devotion

It is necessary that we clearly understand the phrase Paul uses about Timothy. When he calls him a good minister of Christ Jesus, he is not thinking of him as a member of the clergy, like we would think of the pastor of a church standing up in front of a congregation. The word that is used here is actually the word deacon rather than minister--a good deacon of Jesus Christ. Even then the word is not referring to Timothy as an officer of the church; rather, it is the word that is commonly translated many places in Scripture as a servant. That is what a deacon is--one who serves. Here Paul is using the word in the widest sense possible--a good servant of Jesus Christ. Of course, in that sense servant includes everyone. All of us are called to be servants of the Lord Jesus.

In order to be a good servant of Jesus Christ, the apostle says you need certain things; and the first admonition Paul gives Timothy is, Watch what you are feeding on! Be nourished on the words of the faith and the good doctrine that you have followed.

What are you nourished by? That is the question this passage raises before us. What do you feed on daily? What do you put in your mind? What is your habitual input in your life? The sports pages, perhaps soap operas, the Dow Jones Averages, TV, the movies, best-seller novels? If any of those things are your daily diet, then I can guarantee you will be a spiritually undernourished servant of Jesus Christ, because the apostle makes clear that what you feed on is what is going to determine how effective you become.

I do not want anyone to eliminate any of those things as though they are wrong. Not one of them is wrong in itself. We are not to eliminate them, but we are to regulate them. That is the point Paul makes. Regulate them as things that can be very dangerously distracting to us and often too easily controlling of our thoughts.

The apostle urges Timothy to give himself instead to what really feeds his spiritual life. What do you essentially need? Paul tells us: the truths of the faith and of the good teaching [doctrine]. Do not be afraid of the word doctrine; it means teaching--the teaching of the truth, the reality of life. That is what Christians need.

Notice how Paul combines two important elements: knowledge and decision. He says you need the good, sound words of the faith and good, sound teaching, and you are to follow them. First you learn, and then you do what it says. That is the formula for a good servant of Jesus Christ--giving yourself to nourishing yourself on the Word of God, feeding upon these things and then following them.

Today, we gravitate to titles that seem to elevate our importance or prestige. Are we learning the true dignity of fulfilling our call to have a servant's heart, whatever our role?

Prayer: Lord, teach me to be a person of faith today; give me a faith that acts, a faith that rises up and obeys what You tell me to do. Amen

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chief of Sinners

Today’s Bible Reading: 1Timothy 1:12-17

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”(V 15)

Words of Devotion

That sounds simple to us, yet it is very profound. All of us were mixed up, confused, bewildered, darkened in our understanding, and alienated from the life of God. Read Paul's descriptions in Ephesians about what we were like before we came to Christ. Everybody--those with brilliant minds, highly educated people--everybody is in the same boat. Christ Jesus came to take away the darkness, unveil the mysteries, remove the illusions, reveal reality, and awaken love, compassion, mercy, and ministry to others. This is the purpose of Christianity.

Then Paul says the most astonishing thing of all in this passage: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. If he had said, I was the chief; we would all understand that, because certainly he was in the forefront of the ranks. But now, looking back as he comes near to the end of his life, he says, I am the chief of sinners.

That causes many people a lot of trouble. They read those words and say, has he forgotten the words he wrote in Galatians 2:20, 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God'? Has he forgotten what he said in 2 Corinthians 5:17: 'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!'? Surely he can't forget that he has been redeemed; he has been made righteous. He cannot call himself the chief of sinners. But he does.

Some say that this is a kind of humble exaggeration, like we sometimes say; I'm not all that good, really. I do not think it is false humility. Paul means every word of this. He has not forgotten what he has written. What he is thinking of is not what he is in Christ (because in Him he was made righteous and delivered, the power of sin was broken), but he is thinking about himself as a total man living in a world of evil; he is thinking of himself as we have to think of ourselves, made whole in Christ and yet with the flesh still active in our lives. We still struggle against it. It is no longer us but an alien invader still able to exercise its deceiving power over us.

There is hidden here a very important principle that all of us will have to learn sometime or other. Whatever the flesh once manifested itself to be in our lives--some extreme form of evil, whatever we have done that is now, in our own sight, bad, ugly, and something we are ashamed of--we have to remember that that is an area of weakness that needs to be guarded very carefully, because we can return to that in an instant, no matter how long we have been Christians. That is what Paul is talking about.

Today: We must realize that the enemy is out to destroy us and he is in us! The wonder is that Christ died for His enemies. Confession makes us eligible for His redeeming grace and forgiveness.

Prayer: Father, once I was blind; I could not see myself for what I was. Yet I thank you that you came and invaded my life and began to take away the veil and to help me to see what I was like. Amen