We Are New Creations in Christ


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Corinthians 3-6

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

 

When I was a kid, I was really into baseball cards.  I would collect them and put them into protective sleeves, and I can still remember the joy and excitement that came with opening a new package of cards to see what was inside.  The best part was trading the cards with my friends.  We would gather around with our cards and try to come up with trades, each giving up something in order to get what we really wanted.  While the details of every trade were different, there was one similarity – in each trade, both parties were giving up something of value.  No one would trade a priceless card for a worthless one.  This system of trade is common in most things in this world.

The trade that Jesus Christ made for us on the cross was entirely different.  He traded something priceless for something worthless.  He traded his righteousness for our sins.  He gave us eternal life, while bearing the weight of all of our baggage and sinfulness.  This was more than just an exchange or a trade – this was a gift.

When we become believers in Christ, we also make a trade.  We trade in our old lives for new ones.  At conversion, we are not fixed, repaired, or rehabilitated.  We are made entirely new creations.  Think about that for a second – WE ARE ENTIRELY NEW CREATIONS.  All of the old things that we used to be are dead – we are reborn in Christ.  What does this mean?  Does this mean we should continue to do the things we always did?  No.  Does it mean we will find pleasure and peace in the things that used to bring us pleasure and peace?  No.  We are entirely new.  When the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us, He changes things around.  He does a complete overhaul.  All of a sudden, the things we used to enjoy now cause us pain.  The shows and movies we used to watch now become unwatchable.  The activities we used to engage in now become unacceptable.  Some people see this as “rules” or as God limiting us, but that is not the case.  We are not changed to try to take anything away from us.  The Holy Spirit changes us to help us understand what real pleasure and peace are.  We die to our old selves daily not because we are forced to by a set of rules, but because we want to.  The Holy Spirit makes us want to.  Furthermore, not only does the Holy Spirit convict us into wanting to change our behaviors, He gives us the power to do it.

How have you changed since asking Jesus to come into your life?  Can you quantify it?  Is it tangible?  Do you see huge differences in how you were vs. how you are today?  More importantly, do others see differences in how you were vs. how you are today?  If the answer is no, then it might be time to reevaluate if you have truly accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life.  Are you still living for things outside of Him?  Are you a new creation or are you still your old self that has just been fixed a little bit here and there?  Die to your old self and your old ways, and be reborn in Christ Jesus.  The day of salvation is today.  The time is now.  Let tomorrow be the first day living as a new creation in Jesus Christ.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Correcting Other Christians


Daily Bible Reading – Job 41, 42; 2 Corinthians 1, 2

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 2:1-11

 

Living a Christian life does not happen in a vacuum.  We know from the Bible that God intends for us to live together in community with other Christians.  This fellowship not only helps us grow as followers of Jesus Christ, it also helps us reach others.  Unfortunately, in doing this we are sometimes faced with circumstances where one of the other believers we are “doing life with” starts to stray from the path.

The idea of having to confront another believer terrifies me.  Like most people, I do not really like confrontation, and I try to avoid it whenever possible.  For a long time, I believed that when I saw another Christian sinning I should not say anything.  After all, I figured it was not my job to confront him, and I was afraid that I would come off as judgmental, but there is a fundamental difference in judging someone and correcting them in love.  This revelation came to me when another believer confronted me for something I was doing.  At first, I was angry at being “called out”, but I soon came to realize that this man was coming to me out of his love for me.  He saw an error I was making, and cared enough about me to bring it to my attention.  Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”  When Paul had to correct the Corinthians in today’s key passage, he did it out of love.  Even though he had “great distress and anguish of heart“, he knew that if he truly loved them and cared about them he had to correct them.

In his book, Who You Are When No One’s Looking, Pastor Bill Hybels discusses the “tough love” required to be a follower of Christ.  He lays out a four-point plan to dealing with confrontation.  Step one is clarifying the issue to really understand the problem.  Step two is cleansing your spirit to ensure we do not feel critical, angry, or judgmental before we confront someone.  In Matthew 7:3, Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”.  Cleansing the spirit allows us to avoid pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye if we have a plank in our own eye.  Step three is carefully selecting the time and place to talk with the believer.  Step four, probably the most important, is to pray to God for help.

By following these points, we can ensure that when we are forced to confront another believer, we do it correctly.  Obviously, the easiest thing to do it is to say nothing at all, but as we know, the easy thing is very rarely the right thing.  If you really love others more than yourself, sometimes it is necessary to correct another Christian.  When this time comes, remember to do it in love.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians 15, 16

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

 

We are all surrounded by unbelief.  We all have people in our lives that are unbelievers.  We might also have people in our lives who claim to be followers of Christ but then unapologetically act contrary to the Gospel.  Television shows and movies are abound with non-Christian values and morals.  Books, newspapers, magazines, and blog posts attack Christianity and teach false Gospels.  For followers of Christ, there is no getting around it – we are all going to be faced with “bad company” from time to time.

Jesus and the disciples were also faced with bad company.  They spent much of their time surrounded by unbelievers, because Jesus knew that the sinners were the ones who needed to be saved.  We too must be in contact with unbelievers if we plan to fulfill the Great Commission and preach the Gospel to those who do not know it.  None of us can live in a protective bubble of only coming in contact with other believers if we intend to reach people for Christ.  This is why Paul’s words in today’s key passage are so important to us.

Even though we are surrounded by unbelief, we must not be misled.  We all have to guard our hearts from allowing bad company to corrupt good character.  When someone we know attacks our beliefs, we must stand firm.  We cannot waiver in our faith even for a second if we want to be effective witnesses for Christ.  We must let the Holy Spirit overflow from us, as He gives us the power to be surrounded by bad company without being corrupted.  In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul gives the church in Corinth instructions while they wait for him to return to them.  He says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  These were good instructions to the Corinthians waiting for Paul’s return and they are good instructions for all of us today as we await the return of Jesus Christ.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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God is Love


Daily Bible Reading – Job 39, 40; 1 Corinthians 13, 14

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

 

Most of us know today’s key passage quite well.  It is often read at weddings as it describes all of the best qualities of a perfect love.  I also believe this passage describes all of the best qualities of our perfect God.  1 John 4: 7-11 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  From this passage, we learn that God is love.

Since God is love, when we read the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, we can also read it this way – “God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.”  Great freedom comes from understanding the true heart of God.  Praise Him today for His great love for us.  Be blessed knowing that God’s perfect love for you will never fail.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Questioning God


Daily Bible Reading – Job 37,38; 1 Corinthians 12

Today’s Key Passage – Job 38:1-18

 

In much of the Book of Job, Job discussed what had happened to him with his friends.  Job spent most of his time wondering why he was made to suffer.  Job’s friends spent most of their time putting words in God’s mouth, and most of those words were wrong.  In chapter 38, God finally spoke to Job.  Instead of simply answering Job’s questions, God decided to ask Job a series of questions of his own.  Job (or any other human) could not possibly answer the questions God asked, and that was the point.  God was making the point to Job and his friends that He was completely sovereign and all-powerful.  God created the heavens and the earth without any help from anyone.  The earth and everything in it belongs to God.  Job could not understand all of the inner workings of God’s creation, because he was not there when God created the world.  If Job was unable to understand the creation itself, how could Job possibly understand God’s motives or what He was thinking?

We are all tempted to question God.  There are many times when we simply cannot understand why things are happening as they are.  In these times, we as humans tend to do one of two things.  Either we question God by asking Him why He is allowing this to happen, or we put words in God’s mouth by trying to explain His motives.  Sometimes, we try to do both.  God, however, does not need our help.  God does not need or want us to try to run the world.  God’s moral purposes are so complex that they are beyond human understanding.  How can we question God when we cannot understand things like His creation or the forces of nature?

The next time you feel tempted to question God or to try to explain His actions, remember this passage.  Remember that we were not there for creation.  Remember that we cannot explain the intricacies of this world.  Remember that we cannot explain how the wind blows or how storms move.  Most importantly, remember to trust God.  He has a plan.  He is in control.  He loves you and will always do what is best for you.  When we submit to God’s authority in our lives, we can rest in the knowledge that He will care for us completely.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Resisting Temptation


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 122; 1 Corinthians 9-11

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

 

Temptation is everywhere in this world.  As followers of Christ, we are constantly tempted to diverge from the path that is good and right – the path to God.  It is important to note a few things about temptation.  First and foremost, temptation alone is not sin.  Everyone is tempted to sin, but it is how we react to that temptation that determines whether or not we are sinning against God.  Jesus himself was tempted by the evil one in the desert.  When Jesus was tempted, he used the Word of God to resist that temptation which is a perfect example of what we must also do.  When temptations arise, if we have God’s Word in our hearts and in our minds, we can overcome that temptation through Christ who lives in us.

Another important point about temptation is its origin.  In James 1:13 we read, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone”.  Temptation does not come directly from God – it comes from the enemy.  Keep in mind, though, that God is the supreme authority in the entire universe.  He is in control of everything and everyone – including demons and Satan himself.  We see examples time and time again when demons are subjected to Christ’s authority in the Gospels, and we see in the story of Job that Satan himself must be given permission by God to bring temptation to Job.  Paul says in our key passage today that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.  This statement, like everything else in the Bible, is absolutely true – and there is a great amount of power in that.

If we truly believe God’s Word, and if we truly believe that everything He says is perfect and good, then we have all the tools we need to resist temptation.  We know that God loves us and that while he does not tempt us, he does allow us to be tempted.  We know that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  We know that the Holy Spirit living inside us gives us the power to resist any and all temptations.  Resisting temptation, then, comes down to a simple choice we must make – do we love God more than the thing that is tempting us?  If the answer is yes, then we can use God’s Word and power through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to resist temptation and keep from intentionally sinning.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Life is Short


Daily Bible Reading – Job 35, 36; 1 Corinthians 7, 8

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

 

Life is short.  We have all heard that phrase a million times.  In fact, the phrase is used so often, that it is easy to hear it and not even think about what it means.  As I was reading God’s Word, today’s key passage seemed to jump off the page.  When I first read it, my initial thought was that this idea was so overused that I shouldn’t bother to write about it, but then I really started to think about the idea of life being short.  In terms of eternity, the 80 or so years most people spend on this earth are tiny in comparison.  The average human lifespan in the U.S. is 78.1 years or roughly 28,500 days.  That sounds like a lot, but compared to eternity it is nothing.  The Bible says that God has guaranteed us eternal life with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.  We will literally live forever with Him because of His gift to us.  Yet, we spend a ton of time on earth worrying about the brief 78.1 years we spend here.  The car we really want, the house we think we need, or the new gadget that just came out mean nothing in terms of eternity.  The paycheck we really want to make today will mean absolutely nothing tomorrow.  In today’s passage, Paul is urging believers not to make marriage, possessions, or financial security the ultimate goal in life.  He is urging them to keep Christ first, because everything of this world is passing away.  When we are able to surrender everything to Jesus Christ, all of the worries of this world seem insignificant.  When we are able to think in terms of eternity, a single bad day means nothing.

I once heard it said that we can live for the line or we can live for the dash.  The line refers to God’s line – his timetable.  God’s line is infinitely long.  There is a point on this line where we are born and a point where we die.  We affect the line during our lives, but the line does not begin or end with us.  The dash refers to the hyphen they place on tombstones between the date of birth and the date of death.  The dash on the tombstone represents all of our actions while on earth.  If we live for the dash, we will never be truly fulfilled because we will never be able to squeeze it all in.  If we live for the line, we can find true fulfillment and happiness knowing that we are serving God during our limited time here, and that we will be rewarded when we begin our eternity with Him.  Let us all choose today to live for the line.  Let us all choose today to think in terms of eternity, and to put God first in all that we do.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Judgmental Christian


Daily Bible Reading – Job 34; 1 Corinthians 4-6

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 4

 

How many times have you heard Christians described as judgmental?  How many times have you felt judged by other believers?  How many times have you judged another?  Being judgmental is really easy to do.  It is easy to look at others situations and start to judge them, even if that is not necessarily our intention.  It is also easy to judge ourselves.  Being judgmental, however, is not our job.  Our role as followers of Christ is to lift others up, not drag them down by judging them.  People tend to look down at others who have less wealth, less education, or less talent.  In addition, people tend to look down on others who do not do as much to serve the church, who do not give as much to the church, or who do not help the needy.  While all of this may be easy to do, it is also all sin.  Looking down on others for any reason is sin in God’s eyes.  He is the only just and right judge.  He is the only one who is perfect enough to judge other people.  Do not get me wrong, as followers of Christ it is our duty to confront another Christian if they are committing sin and refuse to repent, but even in those situations, we are to confront them with love and condemn their actions instead of their person.  When we start to condemn them as people, we cross over from being a helpful brother or sister in Christ to being judgmental and to sinning ourselves.

Paul says it best when he says, “Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (4:7)  The next time the urge comes to judge another person, just remember that everything you have – all of your wealth, power, education, talents, treasures, qualities, and characteristics – were given to you by God.  You did not earn them.  God gave them to you by His grace.  When we think of things in this way, it becomes much less tempting to judge others.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

What God Has Prepared For Us


Daily Bible Reading – Job 33; 1 Corinthians 1-3

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

 

A while back, I was driving my daughter to one of her after school activities, and we began talking about Heaven.  My daughter, being just 7 years old at the time, had many questions about what Heaven would be like.  She wanted to know if she would have stuffed animals there.  She wanted to know if she would be the age she was now, or would she be an adult.  She wanted to know about the food.  It was fun listening to the innocence of a child’s heart as she tried to understand things that are beyond our understanding.  For most of her questions, my answer was, “I don’t know”, much to her dismay.  She wanted to know the answers to her questions about what God had in store for her in Heaven.

I think we all want to know about what God has in store for us – both in Heaven and in our time here on Earth.  What are his plans for us?  What will he have us do?  Sometimes when I am trying to fall asleep, I try to imagine what my life will be like in 20 years or what Heaven will be like.  When thinking about Heaven, I usually get stuck when I try to think about what eternity looks like…for me, that is simply a concept that my human mind cannot seem to grasp.  I think one of the best answers to all of these questions comes in today’s key passage – “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”. (2:9)  God’s plan for each of us is greater than we can possibly imagine.  God knows each one of us personally and intimately.  He knows more about us than any person alive.  He had our entire lives mapped out and our entire beings planned before we were even born.  Try as we might, we will never be able to fully conceive in our minds the depth and beauty of His plans for us.  All we have to do is have faith in Him, and know that His plans for us will be greater than we can imagine, and then enjoy the ride.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Living by the Spirit


Daily Bible Reading – Job 31, 32; Galatians 5, 6

Today’s Key Passage – Galatians 5:16-26

 

Most of us know that one of the goals of Christianity is to live a Christ-like life.  For followers of Christ, this should be on our minds and in our hearts every single day as we attempt to live a life the way God wants us to live.  The problem is that as humans, we are constantly bombarded with sinful desires.  These evil thoughts skew our perceptions and try to lead us down the wrong path.

Today’s key passage discusses the two distinct ways we can choose to live our lives.  We can live our lives by the flesh, or we can live by the Spirit.  When we live by the flesh, we choose to put the things of this world above the things of God, and we become enslaved by sinful things.  True freedom as a follower of Christ comes in living by the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit inside of us gives us the power to overcome the sinfulness of human beings.  It gives us the power to walk in step with God and to glorify Him through our witnesses.  On our own, we do not have the power or the strength to rid ourselves of all evil desires.  It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome the things of the flesh and truly live a Christ-like life.  To do this, we must be decisive when it comes to sin – we must crucify it.

In yesterday’s reading, we discussed justification.  We learned that we are justified or saved by God not through our works but by His grace.  Today, we are talking about sanctification.  Sanctification is the ongoing process of the Holy Spirit living within us to help us live our lives as God intended.  This progressive work gives us more and more freedom from the sinful desires of the flesh.  When we learn to live by the Spirit, we become more like Christ.  When we crucify sinful things and die to our sinful desires, we can start to live for Christ.  Seek out the fruits of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control“.  When these characteristics reign in our lives, we will know why we are here and can fulfill our purpose in the Kingdom of God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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