A Morning Meditation

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

brokenchainsThis is an amazing passage, especially in light of the fact that Paul has just concluded chapter 7 by talking of the war that wages within us; of the struggle, as Christ-followers, to do what we want to do, all the while finding ourselves doing what we don’t want to do as it relates to sin.  His conclusion is that of wretchedness as he declares his imperfection before a holy God…but then immediately follows with an answer to the question of who will deliver him from this body of death with spontaneous praise to God through Christ!  Why?  Because he knows it is not based upon his own righteousness, which does not exist (Isaiah 64:6), but upon that of Christ.  Paul admits the continual struggle between serving Christ in his mind and with his will, desiring to always be faithful, but wrestling with the law of the flesh (sin) that is always close at hand.

That is a struggle with which I am familiar.  That is something that I can identify with.  I desire to follow Christ closely; desire to obey with my whole heart, but I find that I am often found horribly lacking.  I have wrestled with fear and doubt and depression over the condition of my life…why can’t I be a better dad or husband or pastor…a better follower of Jesus?  The enemy is always close at hand, seeking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8), to destroy me (John 10:10), to accuse me before the Father (Revelation 12:10).

What do I do?  I keep reading!  Because of what Christ has done in me, redeeming me from the penalty of the Law of sin and death, there is no condemnation!  NONE!  The Father does not look at me as the failure that I am, but the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), the child of the King that Christ has made me (Romans 8:15-17).  The Father looks at me and sees the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to me (2 Corinthians 5:21); credited to my account to such an extent that I shine righteously in the Father’s presence, the only way He can look upon me with pleasure…and He does!

I still struggle with sin and I am to always be at war with my sin nature, but I am not defeated by it.  I can never be defeated because the law of sin and death was destroyed by the means of a Roman cross (Colossians 2:13-15), never to have victory over me because in Christ, I stand redeemed!

Milestones

Everybody knows “how time flies.” It’s the inevitable part of life and, the older you get, the faster it goes. On the eve of my 45th birthday, I’m struck again with that fact. Yes, time does fly and it does, indeed, go faster every single year.

wpid-Photo-May-8-2013-1219-PM.jpg

I was reflecting on this yesterday while Jacob was getting his braces put on. Afterward, as we were at Steak n Shake drinking the first of many milkshakes in his future, I pointed out to him how that was one of those milestones. He thought about it for half a second and gave a cursory shrug of the shoulders. No big deal right now. Oh, how that will change.

To me, Jacob getting braces was a big deal (and not just because of the big price tag). It was a big deal because it was just another little punch to the gut that my boy is growing up. Of course, there are many of you who have not only crossed this milestone but many more that I will, by God’s grace, cross as well with both of my children, but none of them are easy and all are mixed with incredible joy.

Time goes fast, but never so fast that the moments can’t be enjoyed. Though they pass in an instant, God’s grace gives us the ability to thoroughly enjoy them if we focus on them, give them the time and attention that we deserve and are fully present in the moments. Make sure you are investing in the moments that count. If you do, they will be the vivid memories that define a life well-lived, giving you years of enjoyment as you reflect back on all that God has done and will build a legacy for those who follow you to build their own lives upon and enjoy their own milestones.

Walking in the Shadow of the Resurrection

Life's enjoymentEaster’s over, the crowds have dispersed, eggs found, rabbits eaten, services conducted, Monday came and went…now what?

Maybe the answer lies in how Monday went.  Did it seem like Easter to you?  Were you walking in the shadow of the Resurrection?  Was it filled with hope and grace, forgiveness and joy?

It’s so easy to forget that Easter is not a one time a year thing, but for those who have been transformed by the power of the Spirit of God because of the satisfaction of the Father’s righteous wrath towards sin, every day is Easter!  Everyday is marked by the forgiveness of Christ so that today I can take a deep breath and, with hope rather than dread, embrace the adventure that is “today”.

Whatever you’re dealing with today, if you’ve trusted in the One who overcame death, deal with it with the resurrection power that is able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Death couldn’t defeat Christ and, because of that, you and I “are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, with context)

The Lord Will Fight For You

Reflex Hammer

What do you do when you feel absolutely overwhelmed by life?  When you are trying to live a life of integrity, like I talked about yesterday, but attacks come from every side?  What do you do when, like David talks about in the Psalms, there are “those who speak evil against my life.”  How do you respond?

I know for me, the first thought is to strike back! Been there?  Yeah, I think it’s just our nature.  The question is whether or not that is the right thing, the noble thing, the godly thing…even the helpful thing.  I know that the times I have reacted have been the times that things have been the most chaotic and destructive.  Most of the time, I have to go back and apologize and hope for a mulligan.  The key, then, is not to react, but to respond.

A reaction is like being tapped below the knee cap, causing an involuntary, thoughtless jerk.  “Jerk” is probably a good word to describe us when we simply give a “knee-jerk” reaction to attacks and circumstances, isn’t it?

A response, on the other hand, implies calculation, thought, intentionality.  At least it does to me.  When I react, I lash out.  When I respond, I take the time to think it through and then conduct myself according to those plans.  It’s harder, but most definitely better.  In the end, it takes less time because I don’t have to go through all of the pain of fixing what I just made worse.

There are certainly times when a response may call for firmness and directness.  There are times when confrontation (even sometimes heated) is required.  However, this kind of exchange as a thoughtless reaction will hardly ever (if ever) provide satisfying results.

There are other times, though, when the best response is no response. Sometimes, people act in ways that are so ludicrous that it doesn’t even justify a response.  Attacks that are based on and built upon lies will not, in the end, stand.  Sure, they will hurt for a while and there may be some people who believe them, but fighting back just plays right into the hands of the Enemy.  Sometimes, the very best approach is to just sit still, place it in the hands of God and let Him deal with it as He wants to.  He’s big enough to do that, you know.

I was exploring this subject more in depth this morning and came across the following excerpt from a post by John Piper from way back in 1981.  It was an incredible encouragement to me.  Hopefully, it will be to you.  Let me know what you think on the subject.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. So Hezekiah gathered the people and the commanders together in the square at the gate. If you memorize what he said to them you will know the power of God in a new way. He said:

Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with them; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.

Then the writer adds, “And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7, 8).

I want it to be said of me, “The people took confidence from the words of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” That’s my goal: “the advancement and joy of your faith.” What is the “King of Assyria” in your life? Whatever it is, remember: “there is one greater with you than with him!” If you trust him, the LORD almighty is on your side and will fight your battles! “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:13, 14). (emphasis added)

%d bloggers like this: