The public proclamation of God’s word is important—and it’s important that we are faithful to proclaim God’s word. You might not have the opportunity to preach the Gospel to a stadium full of people, but we have all been given the same commission by the Lord Jesus Christ: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We have all been commanded to go and audibly communicate the Good News of what Jesus has done to everyone.
The best opportunity for this to happen is if we develop the discipline of seeking the Lord before and above anything else, talking to Him in prayer, and having Him talk to us through His word. And then, with hearts full of love for the Lord and His people, the watching world would see that love in us and be drawn to Jesus.
Try this—capture whatever comes out of the overflow of your heart during your time with the Lord. Maybe it’s a single verse. Write it down, carry it around, and dare the Lord to bring somebody to you that needs to hear that verse that spoke to you that day. Then watch what He does–you and the person you share it with might be surprised!
We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness. We are all in the same position relative to the Lord. No amount of effort will ever make up the difference.
And yet, we try so hard to be a good person, to follow the rules, to honor the rituals, to obey the regulations—hoping that will be enough to garner God’s favor. But after all of that effort, we are still uncertain of our salvation. All of that trying and striving—though zealous and well-intentioned—will never be enough to earn salvation. Any attempt to attain self-righteousness by trying to follow the law is futile.
This reality can lead to discouragement…or to the realization that we can’t earn or deserve salvation. If we could, then Christ had no reason to come to earth to live a perfect life, to be crucified, to die, and to rise from the dead. But He did—and since He did, Jesus is the end of the unnecessary pursuit of self righteousness.
This is the good news! Once we realize that we can’t earn our own righteousness, then we don’t have to climb some spiritual mountain or plumb some unattainable spiritual depth. We can simply believe that Jesus was raised from the dead to give us His righteousness.
If you believe this, but haven’t declared it, simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life.
Way too often we take God’s mercy for granted. But when we realize that God chooses to be merciful, we cherish the many ways we have been blessed by His mercy. Aren’t you thankful for all the merciful choices that God has made in order to bless us, to serve us, to love us, and to make us righteous in His sight? He didn’t have to—He has the choice to be merciful!
You have a choice too. If you choose to harden your heart after you clearly hear from the Holy Spirit, God is not bound to be merciful to you if you are not in Jesus. God may sovereignly choose at any moment to strengthen your resolve to fortify your own decision and allow you to reap the temporal and eternal repercussions of your decision.
So don’t dismiss the bad news about your sinful condition—or the good news of God’s grace and mercy! He has every right and reason not to show mercy. And that should terrify us and incentivize us to figure out why and when and with whom God make these choices. We should want to learn how we can be in His good graces and how we can be in the middle of His merciful choices.
God is sovereign in His decisions AND we are responsible for our decisions. God sovereignly has the ability to make a choice on who He will have mercy upon. But He tells us plainly that He chooses to have mercy eternally upon whosoever chooses Him. Throughout scripture, we hear that invitation to the whosoevers:
“…whosoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 9:33).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“And whosoever lives and believes in [Jesus] shall never die.” (John 11:26)
“…whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
“…whosoever believes in [Jesus] will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
“For whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
“Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” (1 John 5:1)
“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whosoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. He has made an invitation to you—choose Him today. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Call upon Him now. Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. And trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life.
“As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.””
– Romans 9:13
In Romans 9:13, Paul quotes a verse from Malachi as an illustration of the futility of working for God’s favor rather than simply receiving God’s favor. You might have an intense difficultly with what God says—“Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” But if we were to think through this statement in light of all that we have gone through in Romans so far—in light of the holiness of God and His standard of absolute perfection—our difficulty would not be with the fact that God said, “Esau I have hated,” but rather with the fact that God said, “Jacob I have loved.”
The gift of God’s favor has nothing to do with earning or deserving. It has everything to do with God’s merciful choice. Since we cannot merit God’s love and since we have all fallen short of God’s holy standard, it should be logical that God would be in opposition to Esau. It seems entirely illogical that God would love Jacob…that God would love us. But that is God’s merciful choice! He mercifully chooses and calls those who don’t deserve His favor.
Now, you might be wondering if God has chosen you. It’s a good question, but one that shouldn’t lead you to analysis paralysis. Simply choose Him—and you’ll find out that He has chosen you! God sovereignly saves by election, choosing according to foreknowledge from before the very foundations of the world. AND we have the free will—invitation and responsibility—to choose Him. He gives salvation as a free gift to whosoever will come to Him, believing and receiving by faith what His one and only Son has done.
Have you chosen God? Have you accepted the free gift of salvation that’s offered through Jesus? Today is the day of salvation—simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life.
The entirety of the Scriptures—from Genesis to Revelation—are the revelation, the revealing, the proclaiming of Jesus of Nazareth as The Messiah that all of creation was waiting for for all of time.
In Genesis, Jesus is present in creation. He is the seed of the woman who is promised to not only defeat sin and death, but also the sacrifice who will be given in our place.
In Exodus, He is the Passover lamb.
In Leviticus, He is our High Priest.
In Numbers, He is the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
In Deuteronomy, He is the promised prophet who is greater than Moses and will teach us how to love God with all our other, mind, and strength.
In Joshua, He is the captain of the Lord’s army who brings us salvation and calls us to go and take His name with us.
In Judges, He is the perfect judge and lawgiver.
In Ruth, He is our kinsman redeemer.
In 1st and 2nd Samuel, He is the One about whom every future prophet will speak of, and the covenant promise from the line of David.
In Kings and Chronicles, He is our reigning King who will inherit the throne of David forever.
In Ezra and Nehemiah, He is the rebuilder and restorer of His people and the true temple of God’s Spirit.
In Esther, He is our advocate in the face of destruction.
In Job, He is our ever-living Redeemer who walks on the waves of the sea.
In Psalms, He is the True Shepherd and the One who was forsaken for our sins.
In Proverbs, He is the Word, the true Wisdom of God.
In Ecclesiastes, He is our only hope for resurrection in the face of judgment.
In Song of Solomon, He is the lover of our souls.
In Isaiah, He is the Suffering Servant and the Prince of Peace.
In Jeremiah, He is the righteous branch who is treated wrongly.
In Lamentations, He is the prophet who weeps over the sins of His people.
In Ezekiel, He is the Lord who makes atonement for all who have done wrong.
In Daniel, He is the Son of Man who is sent by the Ancient of Days and who is with us in the fires of life.
In Hosea, He is a forgiving husband who never stops loving His bride.
In Joel, He is the giver of the Holy Spirit.
In Amos, He is the builder of the city of God.
In Obadiah, He is our deliverer on Mt. Zion.
In Jonah, He is the good news that we can be saved from death.
In Micah, He is the ruler of all ages from Bethlehem.
In Nahum, He is our stronghold in the day of trouble.
In Habakkuk, He is the God of our salvation
In Zephaniah, He is mighty to save.
In Haggai, He is the restorer of the kingdom.
In Zechariah, He is our humble king riding on a colt.
In Malachi, Jesus is the Lord who will come in His temple, the Sun of righteousness, with healing in His rays.
And these are just some of the ways that we see Jesus, The Messiah, in the backstory to the greatest story ever told.
But is He a part of your story? In your life, is Jesus Lord? Don’t be mistaken—knowledge alone about Jesus won’t save you. You can have a knowledge of Christ without the reality of a genuine relationship with Him. But we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life. Then, tell others of the love and hope that Jesus freely offers!
The love of Christ compelled Paul to not only be willing to be bound, but to die for Jesus (Acts 21:13). In his letter to the Romans, he goes even further to say that he wished he could be accursed from Christ so his fellow countrymen could be saved (Romans 9:3).
This passion came out of the overflow of his awareness of the mountaintop of Romans 8 (nothing can separate us from the love of God) and the valley of Romans 9 (the realization of the future that awaits those who refuse to receive God’s gift of salvation in Christ). This is how the love of Christ looked as it work its way out of the overflow of the heart of Paul.
Here’s a question for us to consider: what does the love of Christ look like as it overflows in your life? Remember: there is no shame or condemnation for those who are in Christ, but there might be conviction—when we finally say what the Holy Spirit has been saying.
There might be conviction that we haven’t been under the spout where God’s love pours out. Maybe there’s conviction that we haven’t allowed our cup to overflow, let alone be filled up. Maybe there’s conviction that we think more about the things of the world rather than the promises of God.
If we would simply turn from that meaningless nonsense and invest time thinking through and meditating upon the truths of God’s word, then we would find ourselves compelled by the same love that Paul was compelled by. Maybe not to die or be accursed from Christ, but to make an effort to die to ourselves and to serve Christ and others.
That’s what investing time with Jesus in His word will do—it will cause you to care. It will change you from the inside out. It will compel you to live counter-culturally by sacrificially putting other’s interests above your own.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
God is for us and no one can be against us. Even if our greatest enemy intends the greatest evil against us, God can allow this for our good. For we know that all things work for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
And what is His purpose? That we would be conformed to the image of His Son—a glorious process, but not one that is without pain. And when the pain clouds our vision and tempts us to question His love for us, the cross remains to remind us that He does love us and He is always good.
He is for us. He is with us. He will freely give us anything that would be of eternal benefit to us. And if He doesn’t, that means that He has a better plan and a better purpose for us. What He is allowing to happen is working out that plan and that purpose in our lives.
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.”
The original word that’s translated ‘weaknesses’ literally means “frailty of the soul.” The definition goes on to say, “a soul without the strength and capacity requisite to understand a thing, to do things great and glorious, to restrain corrupt desires, to bear trials and trouble.”
These are the weaknesses that the Holy Spirit helps us with when waiting and enduring has been so draining that is seems like we just can’t understand a thing. He brings us His aid when we can’t do anything—let along great and glorious things. And He offers us His help when we can’t restrain corrupt desires and we just can’t bear any more trials and troubles.
Praise God that we have a Helper to help us in our weaknesses! He is here to help us when our soul lacks strength to understand, to do what we need to do, to navigate temptation, and to endure pain.
God’s purpose conforming us to the image of His son can be a painful process. But one day, that process will be complete. The weaknesses and frailty of our souls will come to an end. Until then, our Helper will be present to help us—even when we are so weak that we don’t even know what to pray for.
One day, we will finally be with the person we were made for, Jesus, in the place we were made for, Heaven. But we are not there yet! So we find ourselves wavering between eagerly anticipating on tiptoes what’s coming, and inwardly groaning because the waiting is excruciating.
Yes, this in-between time, this meantime, certainly is a mean time. The suffering and agony we experience here and now seems tortuous as we long for what’s to come. And yet, no matter the suffering we’re enduring—whether it be spiritual, emotional, or physical, it cannot compare to the glory of what will be revealed in us.
In fact, the sufferings of this life (as intense as they may be) are not even worthy to be compared to the glory of what will be. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this promise: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him…” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
It’s true! God is preparing a place for us which will include a body that will not only be able to endure eternity, but also able to enjoy eternity. One day, there will be no more decay, no more rust, and no more dust. Everything will be living in glorious liberty, no longer bound to breaking down. But until then, the breakdown is pretty much all we see all around us in just about every category.
That frustration is on purpose by God in hope that we might search for Him and find Him—then look forward to being with Him forever in the place that He has prepared for us—where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
So until then, may the Lord lift up your head and keep you on your toes as you eagerly await who and what is to come—Jesus and the place He is preparing to be with you…forever!
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we read about God’s amazing grace and His salvation that’s available to all through faith. There is nothing we can do to earn it. And yet, Romans 8:17 makes it sound like there is something we must do to maintain it. However, this ‘suffering’ speaks to our identity in Him—a mark of genuine salvation when we begin to become like Him.
When we are a part of God’s family, we begin to experience the same emotion, the same passion as Christ. We suffer with Him as we begin to see things the way He sees things. We begin to see people the way He sees people. We begin to love the way He loves. We’re compelled to live self-sacrificially because of His great love shed abroad in our hearts.
Jesus, living His life through us, compels us with His love to live self-sacrificially for God’s glory and for the benefit of those that we love so much. This is His passion—His emotion. When we suffer with Him, we care deeply about the things and the people that we never cared about before. That can be agonizing at times, but it is the passion of Christ that He is sharing with us and that we share with Him. As we live and love in the same manner as Christ, we are no longer bound by the fear of losing anything because we know we have the greatest thing in knowing Him!
Who are you in Christ? Are you a carnal creature at odds with and in enmity against God? No! That’s who you were before you yielded to Him. In Christ, you are a new creation—old things have passed away, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You have been set free from your old nature and you have been given a new spiritual nature. You have been born again by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God LIVES and DWELLS within you. You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit—if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
That’s why your identity in Christ is so important. You have been given the Spirit of adoption. You can call God “Abba Father Daddy” because you are one of His children. So don’t permit the world, the devil, or your old nature to convince you that you are still a slave to sin, bound to the muck and bound to the mire. They trick you into sowing to the flesh, bringing serious harm to yourself and others.
If the Spirit of God dwells in you, sow to the Spirit. Keep in step with the Spirit. Cultivate a relationship with Him—beginning with acknowledging that He is here, leading us home, available questions and full of answers. He would love to tell you who you are and who Jesus is. He would love to unfold for you what it means to be a child of God and what it means to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. He would love to show you how you can be more than victorious through Him who loves us.
Talk with Him. Spend time with Him. Consume what cultivates an unhindered relationship with Him. Continually set your mind on the things of the Spirit.
In Acts 8, the preaching of the word of God is mentioned seven times. The man at the center of most of those mentions was a man named Philip. He was one of seven men chosen by the apostles to serve physical food so that the apostles could continue to serve spiritual food as the church began to grow.
While Philip was serving, God was teaching, training, and forming Philip for what was next. Philip had no way of knowing where or when he would serve God, but God did. He was preparing Philip not only to be the first great missionary in the church, but also the first great evangelist!
Whether he was serving physical food or spiritual food, the work meant the same for Philip because it was all unto the Lord. Everything was little compared to what His Lord had already done for him. It was his continually formed heart that allowed him to be continually trained for what was next.
What is next for you? Do you know? You may not know now, but the God you serve does. If you have surrendered to serving Him, then you are in a perfect place for Him to form in you the internal integrity and spiritual sensitivity that is ready for any thing at any time. Any opportunity to give God glory—whether that be serving physical or serving spiritual food.
What’s going on in your mind is important. It’s a constant conflict between the flesh and the Spirit for control of your mind. So what you allow to enter our minds is of the utmost importance in determining whether the flesh or the Spirit wins control. You have influence in this battle for our mind!
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny.”
The Apostle Paul understood the struggle that occurs in our minds and the strategy for victory. He also used the metaphor of sowing and reaping to help us pay attention to what we let sink into our minds: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:7-10)
That last line is so important in light of the small battles and the long war that continues for our mind: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
We mistakenly think that five minutes of Bible reading is an adequate amount of spiritual content for an instant transformation of our character. But that’s not how sowing and reaping works. There is a delay between sowing and reaping. It takes time for what we sow to take root and grow before it can be enjoyed. And that’s why we shouldn’t grow weary while doing good. In due season we will reap what we sow—either the works of the flesh as a result of feeing the flesh, or the fruit of the Spirit as a result of feeding our spirit.
Pause and consider…what are you sowing right now? What content are you consuming in your mind? What will you be reaping in due season? Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, that he will also reap.
If anyone has the authority to give us an honest assessment that we can believe, receive, and enjoy, it is God. He is the only ultimate authority that can accurately appraise our value and worth.
And yet when we hear His honest assessment of us, we too often disbelieve its accuracy, reject its honesty, or redirect its sincerity—and intentionally or not, we question His authority in our lives.
Instead, we must repent, believe, receive, and enjoy His true and accurate view of us. God has so many more wonderful and honest assessments of our current condition in Christ that have to do with His character and His grace. As a loving, life-giving authority in our lives, He really wants us to believe Him and receive what He says is true—without disbelieve, false humility, or rejection.
Because we struggle with this, we need a helper—someone who could not only bring back to remembrance of all that God has said to us, but also someone would could help us to actually believe, receive, and enjoy all that He has said to us.
We have such a helper—the Holy Spirit! He is our teacher and guide through the scriptures. The Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s honest assessment of our current condition in Christ and helps us to act as more than a conquerer through Him who loves us. We simply need to co-operate and give Him the opportunity to do so. That is walking and serving in the newness of the Spirit.
In Romans 7, we read about the ongoing war for control of your mind. It’s the war between the flesh and the spirit battling for that part of you that makes decisions.
If it seems like the war has intensified since you surrendered to Jesus, it has. Your flesh has been continually corrupted by its deceitful desires since your were saved and set free to follow your flesh or the Spirit.
It’s so important the know that this war for control of your mind will persist until you arrive in Heaven. Which is why it is so important to starve what feeds the flesh and reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, and consume what feeds the spirit to be alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Romans 8, we discover where victory in this war is found—walking according to the Spirit. In the Spirit is freedom from the flesh—freedom they tyranny of thinking that God’s favor must be earned through legalism.
We don’t have to earn His favor—Jesus did this for us! We’re no longer under the law of God—we are free to simply fellowship with Him. That is what He has saved us for—fellowship with Him. So enjoy the freedom you have in Christ to live in free fellowship with Him today!
With our minds, we are limited to just wanting to serve the law of God. But our flesh (our body) wants to serve another law—the law of sin. So we struggle as we look for a solution, which is only found in Christ. Through Him we are able to live in the newness of the Spirit because we have been made alive spiritually.
Think this through—we are made up of an inferior trinity: body, mind, and spirit. Before Christ, we are spiritually dead in our sins and transgressions. So without Christ, the order is upside down:
Our flesh, our bodily appetites, rules over us—telling our mind what to do. That’s the struggle we read about in Romans 7 as Paul describes the tension between knowing what’s wrong, but doing it anyway.
But when we are born again of the Spirit, we’re made alive spiritually and the right order is restored:
Now, our spirit communes with the Holy Spirit and renews our mind so our mind communicates to our body what to do!
The problem is that even when we are born again, we can neglect the fact that we have been made alive spiritually—that we have been called to serve in the newness of the Spirit. If we neglect this life in the Spirit, we’ll be stuck in Romans 7. But if we walk according to the Spirit, there is no condemnation and we joyfully live in the promises found in Romans 8.
Have you neglected this reality or have yet to be born again in the Spirit? Jesus Christ wants to deliver you from a body of death! Call out to Him and ask Him to revive or resurrect you spiritually so that you can walk with no condemnation, no separation from Him, and in the newness of the Spirit.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
There’s a mistake in seeking the gift rather than the Gift Giver. When we become focused on the thing we think we want rather than the One that’s wanting us, we lose out on a deeper relationship with Him.
Author Oswald Chambers understood this. For four long years, he was constantly seeking the gift of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. But he became increasingly frustrated because he didn’t receive the kind of confirmation he thought he should receive. It was only after he read Luke 11:13 that he understood that he was looking for the gift rather than the Gift Giver.
So he simply said, “God, please baptize me with your Holy Spirit. God, thank you for baptizing me with your Holy Spirit.”
He believed. He received. It’s as simple as that.
So how should we respond to all that we’ve learned about the person and the help and the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Just believe and receive. If you are looking for a more complicated answer, there isn’t one. Believe God when He says that He wants to give you a gift. And then thank Him for the gift He has given you.
There are many gifts the Holy Spirit gives. To better understand these gifts and their uses, we looked at 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 14, and 13 in that order and on purpose.
1 Corinthians 12 introduces us to many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and begins by saying, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…” It’s important that we know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14 teaches us about their proper use within the gathering of believers—“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40). It’s also important that we know how to use the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us.
But using God’s gifts outside of God’s way is frustrating and annoying. Thankfully, God has “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). It’s the way we discover in 1 Corinthians 13—love!
Love must always be in the middle of receiving and using the gifts that God gives by His Holy Spirit. You see, these gifts aren’t really given for you. They are given to you to help to love others. Love for God and love for others must be in the middle of all that we do, especially in this area of spiritual gifts.
Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans. He didn’t leave us comfortless or helpless. He sent the Comforter, the Helper—the Holy Spirit who comforts, helps, and teaches us. But these are just a few of the things the Holy Spirit does.
The Holy Spirit also reminds us of God’s word. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and a certain scripture pops into your head? That’s the Holy Spirit at work, who helps you by teaching and reminding you.
But wait! There’s more—so much more!
The Holy Spirit empowers us (Acts 1:8); leads us (Romans 8:14); guides us into all truth (John 16:13); strengthens us (Ephesians 3:16); seals us (Ephesians 1:13); teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26-27).
And if you don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit yet, the Spirit walks alongside you to convict you of your sin, shows you Jesus’ righteousness, and warns you of the coming judgment (John 16:8) so that you can know Him and He can live in you and you can live forever!
You can walk in the Spirit right now! We can’t earn salvation—no amount of self-help will ever be enough help! We are saved by God’s grace when we have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. All you have to do is realize that you (like everyone else) are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask Him for forgiveness. Then turn from your sins and begin your daily relationship with Him. And with each passing day, your reliance upon Him will grow and grow.
Imagine what physically walking with Jesus would be like. Following in His footsteps day after day. Talking with Him by the Sea of Galilee or in Jerusalem. Watching Him performing amazing miracles. Listening to His parables and teachings. Imagine how reliant on Him you’d become—when difficult situations would come up, Jesus would respond.
Just as we would become reliant on Jesus to provide for us daily while walking with Him, Jesus wants us to have an even deeper reliance on the Person, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. He said that our relationship with the Holy Spirit would be even more real, tangible, and helpful than having Him physically walk by our side (see John 16).
So how do we develop this daily reliance on the Holy Spirit? Just like the disciples developed a reliance on Jesus—by walking with Him daily. Which really takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? You don’t need to solve some spiritual puzzle or attain a certain level of holiness. You just have to practice the presence of God—start walking and talking with Him as you develop a personal relationship with Him. Like any relationship, it will take time as you walk and talk with the Holy Spirit every day. And it can start right now!
You see, reliance comes from relationships—and relationships start with, “hello.” So if you haven’t said, “hello” to the Holy Spirit, why not say “hello” right now? And if you have, continue to speak to Him throughout the day, every day—and you’ll find that as your relationship with Him grows, your reliance upon Him will deepen.
What does it mean to “serve in the newness of the Spirit”(Romans 7:6)? This is one of the most important questions a believer in Jesus can ask because the answer is the only way to get off of the swing from license to legalism. Unfortunately as believers, we swing back and forth between these two extremes for much of our walk with the Lord.
We start our walk with Jesus so thankful for grace and grateful that the thimble of our sin was fully overwhelmed by the ocean of God’s grace. As we understand this unmerited favor, there comes a season where we take it for granted. If we’re not careful, we start to justify sinful choices on the basis that we have God’s forgiveness and use God’s amazing grace as a license to sin.
Convicted of this, we overreact and feel as though discipline and devotion and rules and regulations are what we need to prevent falling into temptation so we can re-earn God’s favor. We continue for a time until it gets exhausting and wonder why we even try—after all, God is going to forgive us anyway.
So we swing back to license…then back to legalism…and back and forth, again and again. But there is a new way to serve God that get’s us off of this awful and exhausting pendulum.
On that pendulum, the law is the pivot point and sin is the power that makes it swing. What an awful abusive relationship as we are battered between two extremes! The only way out of this awful and abusive relationship is for us to die. But how? How could we somehow die to the law and to sin and then be born again to newness of life and live in and serve in the newness of the Spirit?
The answer is found at the end of Romans 7—“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
When we died with Christ, we died to the law and to sin. When we rose with Christ, we rose to newness of life—we have been born again to newness of life! And now, we no longer desire to find a balance in the tension between license and legalism, but our desire is to live in and to serve in the newness of the Spirit.
In Christ, we have a new nature—a godly nature that loves righteousness and wants to walk away from wickedness. It is unnatural now for us to sin. Not only has Christ set us free from having to live in sin habitually, He has also set us free from having to fall for sin episodically as well.
How? There are three ways:
It might look and sound something like this:
“Lord, you have set me free. You have made me into Your righteousness. I want my everything to be an instrument of who You have made me to be. Lord, I offer you my eyes, my mind, my hands. Let them be a continuation of who You have made me to be. Let them be instruments of righteousness.”
This isn’t just a one-and-done prayer. Look for opportunities to offer yourself up throughout your day until it becomes a habit. “Lord, I offer up my work to You. I offer up the physical strength you have given me to You. I offer up the ability that you have given me back to You. I want the whole of me to be used as instrument for Your glory.”
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.
In Romans 6, Paul speaks to our identity—our spiritual DNA—of who we are in Christ. The reality of our identity in Christ is so important to keep in the forefront of our minds. Why? Because our flesh, the world, and the devil continually try to trick us and convince us that we are still slaves of sin and slaves to sin.
But Paul shouts the truth to our souls and says, "The Son HAS set you free, so now go BE free!" You are no longer a subject of the reign of sin and death that came as a result of Adam's disobedience. If you are in Christ, you are now a citizen of the reign of righteousness, the reign of grace, the reign of life that came as a result of the obedience of Jesus. You are now made into the very righteousness of God in Christ. You died with Christ on the cross to the reign of sin and death and disobedience. You rose with Christ from the grave to live in the fullness of the newness of this life in Him—full of life and love and righteousness.
So now go and BE who you already ARE! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't be fooled to think that you still are who you were. That person died with Christ and sin no longer has any hold over you now that you have been raised with Christ. Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God!
God thinks about you…a lot. How do we know this is true?
Just look up, then look down.
We now know that there are at least 2 trillion galaxies without our known universe, each with an average of 200-400 billion stars. And you are just one of almost 8 billion people on a little rock rotating around a spark that is just one of those 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy.
This information might make you feel small and insignificant IF you had no hope in God or knowledge of His word. And yet, here is what God’s word says about those 2 trillion times 200-400 billion stars:
“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” (Psalm 147:7)
Now, look down and consider the number of grains of sand you could hold in your hand. Then think of how many handfuls of sand there are at a beach. Then think of the number of beaches on earth. Then think of what God’s word says about those grains of sand:
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…” (Psalm 139:17-18)
Why is what God’s word says about stars and sand significant? Because the number of grains of sand on earth is similar to the number of stars in our observable universe! And yet, God thinks about YOU more than the number of grains of sand on earth, more than the number of stars in our universe, even more than all the aspects of all creation combined—and His thoughts towards you are good!
He loves you! He can take you from a small, insignificant speck of dust to a co-heir with Christ—no matter who you are or what you’ve done. God loves YOU so much that He died on a Roman cross to rescue you—to pay your price for you—so that you can be elevated from a slave to sin to a saved, sealed, redeemed, and reconciled co-heir with Christ. Call out to Him today—He is willing and wanting to save!!
Consider the great lengths God went to in order to express His love for humanity. He showed this love in a tangible way—“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In 2 Corinthians, we read that “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin so that in Him we might become the very righteousness of God.” (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)
That’s an important reality to realize. Jesus didn’t just pay the debt of your sin and zeroed out your balance. He didn’t just credit your account His righteousness. No, He went even further—He made you INTO the very righteousness of God itself.
So if you are in Christ—be who you are!
In Christ, you are no longer a daughter or a son of Adam—you are now daughter or a son of God.
In Christ, you are no longer a sister or a brother of Cain and Abel—you are now a sister or a brother of Jesus.
In Christ, you are no longer a subject of the reign of sin and death through sin that came as a result of Adam’s disobedience—you are now a citizen of the reign of grace through righteousness to eternal life through Him.
In Christ, you are made into the very righteousness of God in Him!
Be who you are—in all places and at all times. And should you forget who you are—should you drift back to being a son or daughter of Adam and revisit the reign of sin and death—remember that God’s grace is greater than your sin. All of your sin collected and contained would only fill a thimble compared to the ocean of God’s grace.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends