12/31/16 We Press On Because Of Our Hope

“And we, who have already been given new life in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, though also in agony, are filled with hope in the knowledge of what is to come – our official entry into the glorious family of God and the redemption of all creation.  It is with this hope that we have been reborn, and this hope lives within our hearts, giving us the strength to endure all.  We hope for something that we cannot see with our eyes, but that we know with our hearts is true.  If we could already see it with our human eyes, we would no longer need to hope, because we would already have what we hoped for.  Instead, we hope for what we cannot yet see, and press on with all that we have in us to reach that goal.”

 

Romans 8:23-25

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12/30/16 The Agony Of Labor Leads To The Joy Of New Life

“Why should we be so willing to suffer for Jesus?  Aside from knowing that He suffered and died for us, consider that even the worst suffering here in this world is nothing compared to the eternal joy that is awaiting us.  All of creation is eagerly anticipating that day when God’s children will be freed from this world of sorrow.  Creation has been laboring under the curse introduced to the world through the sin of Adam and Eve, but always secure in the hope of the deliverance to come in the day when God recreates everything the way it was meant to be.  All of creation is like a woman in labor, waiting in agony for the expected joy of birth.”

 

Romans 8:18-22

12/29/16 God Is Our Loving Daddy

“My brothers and sisters, we owe a debt, not to the Law or to sin, which would cause us to live as those who have no hope.  If we continued to live in this way, we would be giving ourselves over to death.  No, our debt is one of gratitude, owed to God for the gracious gift He gives to us in Jesus.  We have His Holy Spirit within us, and now we must show this in the way that we live, resisting sin’s temptation so that we can embrace life instead of death.  We know that Jesus has not simply paid the penalty for our sins and saved us, but that because He gives us the Holy Spirit when we accept His gift, we become as He is – true sons and daughters of God by adoption through the Holy Spirit, and co-heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus.  It is through the prompting of the Holy Spirit that our hearts cry out to God, calling Him Daddy.  We are no longer living in fear of the consequences of not keeping the Law of Moses, no longer enslaved to sin, but instead we are loved as adopted children of the King of the Universe.  And if you are unsure of this, look to your heart.  The Holy Spirit will be a witness to you of this truth, that we are God’s children, and because of it also His heirs along with Jesus, if we are willing to suffer alongside Him so that we might also share in His glory.”

 

Romans 8:12-17

12/28/16 With The Holy Spirit, The Future Is Our Hope

“But if you do have the Holy Spirit in your heart, you are no longer living as an enemy of God.  All those who belong to Jesus have the Holy Spirit within them, but if the Spirit is not in your heart, you do not belong to Him.  When you belong to Jesus, your sinful human nature is dead, having been crucified with Him.  So it is as if your body is dead because that is where your sinfulness stems from, but your spirit is given new life free from the slavery of sin, because of the Holy Spirit living within you.  This is the same Holy Spirit who brought Jesus back to new life after He died on the cross.  If this same spirit lives within you. He will not only give your spirit new life, reconciling you to God through Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but will also bring new life to your body as well.  We are all still human, and living in this world that is cursed with death, and so we will all die.  But if the Holy Spirit lives within your heart, you will be given a new body after this one has died, and your new body will be all that it was originally meant to be, and will live forever.”

 

Romans 8:9-11

12/27/16 Without The Holy Spirit, There Is No Hope For The Future

“The people of this world, at least those who do not belong to Jesus, see only this world and what it has to offer.  They don’t think about Heavenly things, because they are too caught up in thinking of what will make them happy here and now.  But we, who belong to Jesus and know that this life is only a brief period of time spent away from our true home in Heaven, set our minds on the things of Heaven.  Because we know that we will live for eternity in Heaven with God, and that there will be no more sin there, and therefore nothing bad, we can have joy and peace in our hearts even in the worst circumstances in this life.  But for those who don’t know Jesus and the amazing life He offers those who will trust in Him to pay the penalty for their sins, this life only leads to death.  If there is only the life we have now and then death for all eternity, there is nothing to stop people from sinning to get what they desire, because they have nothing else to put their hope in.  And even if they want to stop sinning and draw closer to God, without the Holy Spirit, this cannot happen, as I have illustrated previously.  Any sin separates us from God, and makes us His enemies.  So if we are ruled by our sinful human nature, as we all are before the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, we can’t possibly be reconciled to God.”

 

Romans 8:5-8

12/26/16 Jesus Did What The Law Of Moses Could Not Do

“When we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit brings God’s Law into our hearts.  Where once the Law was external, written on stone tablets, now it is within us, written on our hearts.  The Law working with the Holy Spirit within our hearts brings us that life that God intended the Law to bring when He gave it to Moses, and brings us the promise of life forever in Heaven with God.  Now, I am free from the sin and death that enslaved me and caused me to be disobedient to God’s Law when it was external.  The Law, though good and just and holy, was unable to save us from the power of sin’s enslavement over us.  But what the Law couldn’t do, God sent Jesus to do – to live in a body like ours, but unable to be enslaved by sin.  He conquered sin for us so that it could no longer enslave us as long as we are willing to accept the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.  The Law requires punishment for sin, and that punishment is death, so any sin committed by any person carries a death penalty.  But for those who belong to Jesus, that penalty is paid in full once and for all, and we are set free from sin in order to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Romans 8:2-4

12/25/16 Jesus, Born On This Day To Live & Die For Our Redemption

“Jesus was born, lived, and died as a human being, while remaining fully God at the same time, in order to do what no one could ever do on their own.  He was born as a man, yes, but because He was still fully God, He was not born as a sinner like the rest of us.  And because He was not born as a sinner, He was the only one ever who could, and did, live a completely sin-free life.  And then, He willingly gave Himself up to be killed on our behalf, taking upon Himself the sins of the entire world and all of history, and subjecting Himself to complete separation from God in His death.  Because of this, anyone who trusts in Jesus to save them from the penalty – eternal death, eternal separation from God – for their sins, will receive exactly that.  Our slate is wiped clean, our sins, past, present, and future, forgiven, and God looks at us in the same way that He looks at His Son.  We no longer stand condemned for the evil in our hearts, because now the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts.  We no longer live by the sinful nature of our flesh, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.”

 

Romans 8:1

12/24/16 Jesus Frees Us From Sin

“This is the same for all humans – we want to do that which is good, but the evil within us prevents us from doing it.  In my heart, I agree with God’s Law.  I love His Commandments, because I know that they are good and holy and just.  But in my sinful human nature, I am at war with my heart and mind, that part of me that loves God’s Law, and that sinful nature has enslaved me, forcing me to disregard the good I want to do and to keep pursuing the evil desires of my sinful nature.  In desperation, I fall to my knees and proclaim that I am a despicable man!  Is there anyone or anything that can save me from the death I keep pursuing?  And I praise God because He has sent His only Son, Jesus, who is the only one who can save me, and He has done so already.  It is only through the saving grace given to us through Jesus that our hearts and minds, the parts of us that love God and His Law, are freed to do so, and to overpower the sinful nature of our flesh.”

 

Romans 7:21-25

12/23/16 The War Between Good & Evil In Our Hearts

“Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying that the Law that was supposed to be good instead brings death.  It is not the Law that brings death, but sin taking advantage of the Law to ensnare people and bring them away from God.  Sin was all but hidden before the Law was given to Moses, but the Law illuminated sin and its penalty, death.  God’s Law is meant to be kept wholly by His Spirit, which lives within us only when we surrender ourselves to Jesus.  But we, apart from Jesus, are part spirit and part body, and both of those parts are enslaved to sin.  In that state, we cannot possibly keep God’s Law as He intended.  Even the best of the Pharisees have not been able to keep the whole Law; although they often excel at keeping the letter of the Law, they tend to completely miss the spirit of the Law.  And here is the power of sin within us:  I doggedly pursue those things that are sinful, those things that in my conscience I know are wrong and don’t want to pursue.  And those things that I know are good, that I want to focus all my energy and attention on, are the things that I don’t do, because I am doggedly focused on pursuing what I hate.  But the simple fact that I know I want to do what is good proves that the Law is good, because the Law commands me to do what is good.  My disobedience to the Law doesn’t make the Law evil, it just means that my sinful nature is stronger than the part of me that desires to be obedient to the Law.  And really, I am not the one who is disobeying the Law, but it is the sin that lives in my heart.  I know that there is no good within myself, or within any human being.  All of creation is sinful by nature, so that to do evil comes naturally and to do good requires a struggle that we rarely have the strength to win.  I want to do what is good, but in and of myself, I don’t have the power to carry it out.  So I don’t do the good that I want to do, but instead I keep on doing the evil that I don’t want to do.  If I don’t want to do something, but I do it anyway, it’s the sin that lives within me that is carrying it out, not I myself.”

 

Romans 7:13-20

12/22/16 Sinful Law?

“Is the Law of Moses sin, then?  No, because the Law comes from God, and God is incapable of sin.  No, the Law itself is not sin, but it acts like a mirror to us, showing us our true nature.  It shows us how we sin.  If God hadn’t given us the Law, I would not have known what was sinful.  For example, if God hadn’t commanded, ‘You shall not lustfully desire that which is not yours to possess,’ I would never have known that such a desire was sinful.  Before God gave Moses the Law, it was as if sin was almost dormant.  It was there, always, present in everyone and everything in the world, introduced to all creation by Adam and Eve.  But we didn’t know that we were sinning.  We felt like we were doing alright in our lives.  Then, when God gave Moses His Commandments, it’s as if sin came roaring back to life again.  The Law is meant to show us how to live the way God wants us to live.  It is Holy, because it comes from a Holy God.  But it creates opportunities in us for sin that wouldn’t be there without the Law, simply because our human nature is to want to do what we cannot or should not do.    So, what God intended for our good actually caused us to do ourselves greater harm.  Satan took advantage of God’s Commandments.  He whispered in our ears that we could never live up to such perfection.  He used sin to deceive us, enticing us away from God through the very Commandments that God gave us to bring us closer to Himself.  God’s Laws and Commandments are as God is – Holy, and just, and good.  But Satan loves to take what is good and twist it to make it evil, and in this way, the Law of Moses brought death where God intended life.”

 

Romans 7:7-12