The Law and The Gospel – Devotional for December 1, 2010

Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all —James 2:10

There is a strong tendency for Christians to seek to revert to a life under the law. It’s pride.  we are to understand and honor both Gospel and Law. Somehow we can’t get over the idea that we can satisfy the law, that we can be “good” by our own effort. Yet the law demands that we be absolutely moral, an impossible task. But the Gospel provides the answer: Jesus. When Christ works a change in us and we leave behind some sin or sins, we compare ourselves with others and swell up with pride that somehow we are responsible. But if we are living the spirit-filled life, as we leave some sin behind, He will point us to some other way in which we are falling short of perfect compliance with the law. 
This is not to say that we should abandon yielding ourselves to Christ for His molding and changing. All we need to abandon is the pride that comes with change for which we can claim no credit.  I, a guilty sinner, can never work to get right with God— it is impossible. There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!
We only begin to realize the power of the moral law once we see that it comes with a condition and a promise. But God never coerces us. Sometimes we wish He would make us be obedient, and at other times we wish He would leave us alone. Whenever God’s will is in complete control, He removes all pressure. And when we deliberately choose to obey Him, He will reach to the remotest star and to the ends of the earth to assist us with all of His almighty power.
Scripture includes both the Law and the Gospel which must be properly “dispensed.” It is NOT properly dispensed when the Gospel is preached before the Law, when sanctification is preached before justification; when faith is preached before repentance; when good works are preached before Grace; when anything is preached before Jesus and Him crucified.
Nick

By the Grace of God, I am What I am – Devotional for Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain . . . —1 Corinthians 15:10
 
I still remember from childhood Popeye’s refrain, “I am what I am and that’s all what I am. I’m Popeye the Sailor man… toot toot.” It’s a good thing to know what we are. I was watching a movie last night and was saddened by the words of one character, “Who am I?” It’s crucial to know who we are. In doing so precision is crucial. It’s prideful to think we are more than we are and an insult to our Creator to be falsely humble. 
Some like to say they are just “a sinner saved by grace.” True enough that we WERE sinners, but through the miracle of salvation and sanctification we are SAINTS. That doesn’t mean we are perfect; but He has sanctified us enough to allow us to be in His presence.

Conversely, the things that sound humble before God may sound exactly the opposite to people. To say, “Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,” is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility. It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true. Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not. But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all. As Kerry told us Sunday, we worry too much about what others think.
There is only one relationship that really matters, and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life. 
Is there any greater blessing that that?
Nick

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ – Devotional for Monday, November 29, 2010

He will glorify Me . . . —John 16:14

There are so many “expressions” of Christianity today. Visit a few churches. Spend some time watching “Christian” TV or surfing the internet. You will wonder what this “Christianity” thing is all about. How could so many exercise Christianity in such a variety of ways?
The New Testament example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration— no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that He is our pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is the Savior long before He is the pattern. Today He is being portrayed as the figurehead of a religion— a mere example. He is that, but He is infinitely more. He is salvation itself; He is the gospel of God!
Jesus said, “. . . when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, . . . He will glorify Me . . .” (John 16:13-14). When I commit myself to the revealed truth of the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, who then begins interpreting to me what Jesus did. The Spirit of God does in me internally all that Jesus Christ did for me externally.
Don’t try to shop around for the expression of Christianity that feels the best or fits you the best or even seems the most genuine. Go to Jesus. He, through the Spirit, will work out in your life what He will.
And if we will do that, we will be blessed beyond our imaginings. But most importantly, we will be His, a Christian.
Nick

Riches of the Destitute – Devotional for Sunday, November 28, 2010

. . . being justified freely by His grace . . . —Romans 3:24

We have decided in our family to give only to the children for Christmas. We know that it is more blessed to give than to receive and, sometimes, I think it is easier for us to give than to receive. To accept the generosity of another we must admit that we need something. There is a certain pride in people that causes them to give and give, but to come and accept a gift is another thing. I will give my life to martyrdom; I will dedicate my life to service— I will do anything. But do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are “rich,” particularly in the area of pride or independence, God can do nothing for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. 
Maybe we need to practice our gift-receiving and be blessed.
Nick

The Consecration of Spiritual Power – Devotional for Saturday, November 27, 2010

. . . by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world —Galatians 6:14

A bit late for today’s devotional. Chalk it up to a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.
How do we accomplish being IN the world and not OF the world. Our Lord was not a recluse nor a fanatical holy man practicing self-denial. He did not physically cut Himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in another world. In fact, He was so much in the common everyday world that the religious people of His day accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard. Yet our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual power.
We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual power. Consecration (being dedicated to God’s service) is our part; sanctification (being set apart from sin and being made holy) is God’s part. We must make a deliberate determination to be interested only in what God is interested. The way to make that determination, when faced with a perplexing problem, is to ask yourself, “Is this the kind of thing in which Jesus Christ is interested, or is it something in which the spirit that is diametrically opposed to Jesus is interested?”
What is clamoring for your attention today? What would Jesus be interested in?
Be blessed.
Nick

The Focal Point of Spiritual Power – Devotional for Friday, November 26, 2010

. . . except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . —Galatians 6:14

Isn’t it strange that we move from Thanksgiving Day to Black Friday. We transition from a spirit of thanksgiving to the biggest shopping day of the year. If we have so much to be thankful for, why the need to go shopping? Oh I understand that much of the shopping is for others, but not all. And isn’t that still a dramatic change of focus?  Isn’t most of our gift giving totally expected? Doesn’t our shopping list consist of people we “need” to buy gifts for? 
Maybe it would be better if we focused on Good Friday instead of Black Friday. If we want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in our human flesh, we must dwell on the tragedy of God. “Look to Me. . .” (Isaiah 45:22). 
We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives. It’s fine to give gifts, but our best buys on Black Friday won’t change lives.
Let’s keep our focus and be blessed and spread blessing.
Nick

Thank You – Devotional for Thursday, November 25, 2010

My God Thank You.
For Your Son, whose love for me is still beyond my understanding.
For Rosemary, whose love for me for over 40 years is also beyond my understanding.
For Allison, whose beauty, growth and energy, make me want to demand that she take a blood test to assure myself that I am her father.
For Jason, whose time with me was limited and whom I miss.
For Jessica, whose life is still new and whose potential is great.
For Martha, whose view of life makes me look at things from new prespectives.
For Nicholas, whose enthusiasm energizes me.
For Samantha, who still thinks crawling on PawPaw’s lap is okay.
For Kaydence, who is still young enough to think I’m pretty great.
For Donna, who is old enough to know I’m really not.
For brothers and sisters who I don’t see enough, but who, when I do,  still remind me of the wonderful years of my youth.
For my church and its leaders who encourage, bless and strengthen me.
For Kairos, for allowing me a place to minister where I can’t mess it up.
For America, for reminding me if you want to be great you can’t rely on your past, you better work today to ensure your tomorrow.
For a world so beautiful, that I can never forget there’s a awesome God.

For all the blessings too numerous to mention, but too good to ever forget.

Thank you.

Nick