Tag Archives: life

Ministers of a new covenant

2 Corinthians 3:6  who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Trying to keep up with every rule and restriction can be tiresome and in the end doesn’t bring about perfection anyway.  We’re unable to keep the whole law and that’s why we have it.  The law shows us that we are imperfect and in need of a savior.  In Christ we have that Savior and a new covenant, one not dependent on rule-keeping, but on grace.

Trying to reconcile with God based on following the rules and doing good will still result in death.  We cant’ reach God in this way.  Only through the grace of Christ do we have a chance at a right relationship with God.  Now He’s made us ministers of that new covenant.  He’s shown us grace and now we’re to show grace on His behalf.

The Holy Spirit works in us to show the life-giving grace of God to others through our lives.  Because we’ve been forgiven, we are empowered to forgive.  Because we’ve been shown love, we are able to show love.  Only with the help of the Holy Spirit are we competent to minister to others in this way.

An aroma

2 Corinthians 2:15-16  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

As followers of Christ, we represent the Lord whether for good or for bad.  What we say and do can have an impact on the faith of other people because we’re agents of God, and for some, the only thing they’ll know of the gospel.  But truth be told, sometimes when we’re at our best, that is, most rightly representing Jesus, people will hate us.  Some people will hate us, not because of something we did wrong, but because of something right in us.  Some people are repelled by the aroma of Christ.

Some will experience the gospel message through us and turn to God, others will sense the gospel message in us and turn away.  The thing is, it’s not our job to make sure that every person gets just the right scent, it’s our job to represent Christ in all we say and do.  Some people will be turned off from this, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  We do none of this on our own.  The responsibility of being a representation of Christ is huge and we just aren’t sufficient in our own strength to carry that out.  The Holy Spirit works in us to make sure that those who will turn to Him see what they need to see.

 

Resolved: To live with all my might

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I’m guilty of forgetting. I’m guilty of forgetting that if God is by my side I have nothing to be afraid of. I’m guilty of being afraid when I know better. I fail to step out in obedience when things seem scary because I forget that I have nothing to fear.

Living in fear isn’t really living life. It’s certainly not living the life God has called me to. Where in His Word can we ever find the Lord telling us to be afraid of anything in this world? There’s lots of places that we find encouragement to trust in Him and to not be afraid, but no, no instructions to be timid and hold back because something is scary.

Is there any area of your life where you’re dealing with this? Are you really living life as its meant to be lived and carrying out the calling God has on your life? Or are you waiting for things to settle down before making a move? There’s a time to wait. There are specific times when we’re meant to slow down and wait on God’s timing. I’m not talking about those times, though. I’m talking about times when you know exactly what He wants you to do and you’re afraid to do it.

I’m resolving this year to listen to the voice of God and follow Him, even when it may be hard to do so because of fear. We have a limited time on this earth. It’s time to start living.

Seeing salvation

Luke 2:30-31 for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples

What must it have been like to wait for years and years with the promise of a Messiah to come, never knowing quite when He would arrive?  Oh the faith of Simeon, to keep believing even into old age that God would keep His promise.  Simeon is a good example of faith rewarded.  He waited and he waited for the Promised One and then a day came when God allowed him to see Him with his own eyes.  What a day that must have been for Simeon.

We know that he rejoiced and gave praise to God over the joyous occasion, but he also revealed that at this moment his life was complete.  He had been promised that he would not see death until the Lord’s Christ had been born and there He was in front of Simeon, being presented at the temple.  Simeon could die in peace.  Are you so content with encountering Christ that you’d say you can die in peace right now because you’ve seen Him?

It’s a great occasion any time we get a taste of the Lord’s goodness.  His salvation is a free gift that we can never earn and it comes only from Jesus Christ, and to experience this is something to sing about, to make a fuss over.  But do we look at this as enough?  Is your life complete now that you’ve seen the Lord’s salvation?  For Simeon it was enough.  There was nothing more that the world had to offer him that could even come close to meeting Jesus face to face.  Somehow for us there is still a lot competing for our affections in this world, but the reality is that Jesus is enough and we should be content with Him.  He’s all that we need.

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Sometimes I take on projects that I know are well beyond my capacity, that are well beyond my own ability. Sometimes I just sit here in this chair and I’ll stare, my look perhaps a little hazy but my mind intensely focused, wondering how I’m going to go about doing this, tracing and retracing my thoughts even as I find I am unable to think about anything else.

There are moments when I just sort of let out this half laugh. You know the one? It almost sounds like a sigh but there is this chuckle that tries to find humor in it as you find yourself a little bit on the frustrated side. When I do, the prevalent thought that runs through my head seems to be I have no business pushing myself like this, testing the limits of what I can and can’t do, knowing full well just how far it is beyond my skill, talent and ability.

Yet I still try, pushing myself a little harder day by day. Maybe, in a sense, there are the times when I know that I am going to wind up disappointed. It doesn’t quite turn out the way that I wanted to. It could be that every step of the way I am going to end up frustrated, silently cursing what I am doing for turning out so bad, and myself for letting it. Invariably I know those moments may come and that, for as much as you warn yourself about it, telling yourself not to be disappointed if they do, nothing really prepares you for the reality of them if and when they do actually hit, do they?

But then, during these times, during these moments, we have to remind ourselves that though a wise man knows their limitations, it is a great man who not only knows them but does everything that he can do to push himself past them. Life is about understanding the boundaries that our limits have put up, and pushing ourselves past them with strength, vigor and courage in a hope, faith and trust that all things will work out as they must.

Faith is about a journey to the borderland of our boundaries, testing the limits of who we are and what we can do. Consider the words of the Lord to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) This is a testimony of a God who does not believe in limitations, a God who, looks to us, and, in the knowledge that all things are possible through Him (Matthew 19:26) sets us apart in the wondrous and boundless nature of His love that all things may be made possible through Him who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Without a doubt there will be frustrations, there are going to be challenges that meet us along the way. There are going to be moments in our lives when we feel like throwing up our hands, thinking to ourselves why do we even bother trying? Why do we even bother when it all seems to slip away from us, and it just seems so hard? What we have to remember, during those times, is that we are created in a divine and holy image, in the glorious image of a God who loves us and sets us apart to be more than conquerors in Christ. (Romans 8:37) What we may believe is too hard for us, that we may believe is too difficult for us God has other ideas for. We just need to cast our cares, our worries, our frustrations, our self-doubt aside and look to a wondrous future, and a hope filled plan for our lives.

I have no illusions that I am a great man. Maybe someday I might be better than I am today in the belief that today I am better than I was yesterday. What I know is that if I keep pushing my boundaries, if I keep trying harder to do make what seems like it would be impossible for me to do possible then the best is yet to come for my life in the trust that God will always be there to help me along the way, to help me become more than what I am, perfecting me in His grace and love.

Look to your own life, consider your journey, and the borders it takes you to of your own perceptions of your capacity to grow and to be, to think and to do. God is ready with a divine design for your life to take you beyond. Trust in Him and He will carry you to new heights beyond anything you ever dreamed of before.

Romans: Life to your mortal bodies

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Let’s recap: Every single one of us has sinned.  We’re all guilty before a perfect God and have no chance at perfection. But there’s a hero to this story.  There’s a Redeemer who sets us free from the condemnation that’s owed to us.  We have been forgiven if we’ve put our trust in Christ Jesus.

The work of Jesus Christ on the cross accomplished what you and I could never achieved for ourselves.  Under the Law, we could never reach the expectations of a holy God who requires perfection.  The Law is restrictive, Christ is freeing. We’ve been freed from sin and empowered to obey, but we’ll still never make it to the perfection the Law requires.  We’re still human.  God knew we would never live up to the Law.  It’s why He sent His Son to fulfill the Law that we might be freed from it’s bondage.  Now it serves as a reminder that we need Him every single day.

We all have that choice to make.  Just because we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we live effective lives.  We have to choose each day to listen to God’s voice as He directs us. The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do. Love.  You want to please God? Love.  You want to do what’s right? Love.  Freedom from the Law is freedom to walk in love, and in doing so to fulfill the Law.

Submission to God means seeking first what He wants. The truth that isn’t always communicated in the church environment is that following Jesus is hard.  It’s not all about how you can get what you want and live like there’s not a care in the world.  There are struggles and battles to be faced.  The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway.

God’s children live differently than the rest of the world.  We’re not concerned with the things that burden the lost.  We’re able to walk in a godly confidence because we know that the Lord is all-powerful and He is good.  When you surrender your life over to Jesus Christ.  God takes what was once dead and makes it alive (Ephesians 2:5). If you are His, He’s brought you to life because now it’s no longer you who live, but Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).

In case it hasn’t been clear: It’s only God who gives life to our mortal bodies.  We’re incapable of living on our own.  Without Him we’re the walking dead, going through the motions but not really living.  With Him there’s no end to the possibilities.

Romans: Christ in you is life

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 There is a stark difference between those who have Christ living in them and those who do not.  There is only life in those who are in the Spirit.  While it may seem that people are alive because they’re walking around and doing things people do, inside those who don’t have Christ are dead.  They’re the walking dead.

Something spectacular happens when you surrender your life over to Jesus Christ.  God takes what was once dead and makes it alive (Ephesians 2:5). If you are His, He’s brought you to life because now it’s no longer you who live, but Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).  Your body is just a vessel to hold the Spirit that lives in you and through you (2 Corinthians 4:7).  It’s not your power or mine that do great things; it’s the power of God working.

You see, we can’t live holy and sinless lives that would enable us to have such power.  That’s why it’s evident that it’s the righteousness of Christ that makes it possible.  It’s Him that lived a perfect life, and He is the one who purchased our ransom.  He is able to do far more than we could ever even think or begin to imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and He does it through us, the living.