Grateful for Y’all

Re: Verse reading–Romans 1:1–17 (day two)

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. vs. 8

This is the NASB translation, but may provide some evidence that Paul was also writing to the church in Texas. This is as close to y’all as we will see in scripture.

The write of Hebrews says this: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (10:24). If we are in the business of helping, serving, and loving others then it stands to reason that we ought to let others know when we see them serving well. In the midst of a society that was intolerant toward the gospel, Paul went out of his way to give thanks to those in the field who were serving well. He acknowledged their struggle and declared that he was “not ashamed” of the good news that he and they were declaring. I can imagine what a boon to the Roman believer’s spirits to read these words from Paul. May they encourage you also as you serve a world that is increasingly intolerant of God’s love. Serve well.

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Not ashamed

Re: Verse reading–Romans 1:1–17 (day one)

“I am not ashamed of the gospel.”–v 16.

Do you know what shame feels like?  I do.  Hesitant to say what you think or feel.  Worried what people will think. Anxious. Inhibited.

The Bible says that a new sense of self, a new confidence comes to people who are in Christ!  On the day of Pentecost, as an effect of being filled with the Holy Ghost, the disciples experienced a confidence they had never dreamed of. (Acts 3:13) God intends this same boldness for us.

In Romans 1, Paul uses a powerful word.  Aischuno meant deformed.  Epi-aischuno (literally “upon the deformed”)  referred to feelings common to people with handicaps, feelings of being inadequate or incapable.

I DON’T feel that, says Paul.  Not any more.  I am competent in Christ!  God loves me and has given me His powerful message.  I am NOT ASHAMED!

Do you know this Christ-confidence, this release from fear?  You can.

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Something > fear

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day seven)

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something is more important than fear.”–Franklin Roosevelt.

It is a virtue ignored in the modern world.  Dismissed.  Sometimes, even by believers.  The fear of God!  A holy self-suspicion. A fear of God’s unbending and coming and holy judgement on our lives and choices.  A fear of offending Him, or making (and believing) excuses.  Not alarm and anxiety, but assurance of mercy offered to those who serve Him with sincerity.  Our Re: Verse passage this week says, “Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.”–2 Corinthians 5:11.  Do we?  Do we know this fear as a real and motivating experience?  Does it MOVE our hearts and DISLODGE our silence?  Does it cause us to face our fear of rejection because we fear something ever worse?  Is Paul alone here or do we also know the fear of the Lord?

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Salt

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day six)

What will you say? Will your words be full of grace? Will they bring life to the listener? Will they encourage, inspire, and illuminate? Will they be preceded with intention and readiness? Will they be thoughtful? And will they make the listener stop and think? Or raise a few eye brows? Or maybe even waken a heart or two? Will they be fresh, different, and hopeful? Will your words make much of Jesus, or much of yourself? Will they draw attention to what He has done? Your words, will they be beautiful? Will they be true? What will you say when they ask of you, “why so hopeful? What’s got into you?”

Will your words be like salt?

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Litmus

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day five) 

Every year we take our children to the doctor for their annual physical check-up/exam. Some visits bring pain and agony, while others are relatively pain free. But, it is necessary to track our children’s health and well-being.

It’s a similar practice for me. Every January I read the same book, “Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health” by Donald Whitney. It’s a way to help evaluate my spiritual health. Some “visits” are painful and others are encouraging. One of the “Litmus Tests” Whitney administers, is to check the way we see, feel, and express concern for others (primarily non-Christians).

He writes, “No one who is indwelled by the Spirit of Jesus can remain unfeeling toward the temporal or spiritual needs of others made plain. Growth in Christlikeness involves perceiving those needs sooner than before, and not just when they become obvious to everyone… There is no Christlikeness in throwing money at a physical need or in dutifully reading a few Bible verses to an unbeliever and apathetically sending him on his way to hell”

Read Colossians 4:5-6   Say “Amen” or “Ouch”!!

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Purchased Life

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day four)  It is for love of Christ…He died for us…He brought forgiveness and life through His resurrection.  Because of His work, we are new.  Everything in our lives is new as a result of His work of reconciliation.  By faith, we trust Him…receive forgiveness…and become ambassadors for Christ.  Ambassadors are sent by one sovereign to represent him in another country.  Christ has sent us to tell of his work of reconciliation here on earth.  Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  Out of reverence to Christ, we walk in a manner worthy of Him.  As His ambassador, we must represent Him accurately to the world.  Are you living a crucified life?

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Impending

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day three) 

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.” The clock tower of a church in Dallas reads “Night Cometh”. Wow. What a killjoy for a church’s image. Well, it’s not culturally attractive, but it sure is scripturally sound. These are in fact the very words of Jesus in John 9:4. If we were to consider with greater seriousness the reality of the impending judgment of God on this world, we might worry less about image and soften our hearts more towards people we encounter on a daily basis. We could make a practice of speaking these words as part of our morning devotion each day: Night cometh. How would these words begin to shape the way we live with others?

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Ambassadors

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day two) 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ 2 Corinth. 5:20                                               But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you 1 Peter 3:15

One of the best jobs I had as an undergraduate was to be a Student Ambassador for my university. It was a way to welcome incoming and interested students and families to the school. We would take them on tours of the campus, set up meetings with professors, and answer questions about campus life and the university in general. As a result we were required to know quite a bit about the school. This knowledge was very helpful when you were asked about a subject usually unfamiliar to you. The reward came the next fall when you saw those individuals now on campus as students.

We are all called to be ambassadors for Christ. It is our job to be ready in season or out to give an account of our love for Jesus. By God’s spirit and our love of the Word we can be ready to help others have that same kind of love.

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New life, new logic

Re: Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 1 Peter 3:15-16; Colossians 4:2-6 (day one)

With new life comes new logic.  Christianity is a new way to think!  The Apostles, who recorded the truths revealed in Christ, were bold to declare a revolutionary equation that came to the world after the cross and resurrection.   1)  He died for all.  2)  We should live for Him.  3)  Therefore, we should live for all, including and especially lost people. (2 Corinthians 5:15) It’s missionary logic!  Those who receive grace from God, are obligated to give it away. (Romans 1:14)  “Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Corinthians 5:11) How can we do otherwise?   Did the first followers repeat this logic over and over?  Did they write this new equation in their journals in an disciplined effort to “be transformed by the renewing of the mind”.  Probably. Want to try it? Want to love Him with your mind?  Say the words to yourself!  Write them down!  Repeat them every day! New life. . .new logic.

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Self-excluded

Re: Verse reading– Acts 4:32-37; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Galatians 6:9-10; Hebrews 10:24-25 (day seven)

“I don’t even remember the season.  I just remember walking. . . and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.”–Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.   Remember when you were a kid?  You wanted to be ON a team, IN a group?  You wanted to belong.  Some adults try to forget this longing.  God wants us to remember it.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul describes a miracle.  When we are reconciled to God, we are placed on a team.  God’s team.  We become members of a body.  The body of Christ.

Sometimes we fall short of this lofty truth because we self exclude.  “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong”, says v 15.  Sad.  You DO belong, you just don’t experience the encouragement of it.

What could you do this week to discover and embrace this idea?  Say it!  Say it loudly ! “If I am in Christ, I belong!”

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