A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Romans 12:2 "Transformed Minds"

--> Romans 12:2
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

I probably don’t have to explain why we need our minds to be transformed, but I’m going to anyway. It’s because we believe lies. We believe lies and just coming to Jesus and being saved doesn’t dispel the lies –or not all of them. And just knowing what the Bible says doesn’t dispel the lies. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. I wish that all we had to do is memorize some Scripture and all of the lies and all of the hurtful effects of those lies would vanish, but that’s not the way it works. We continue to live here in this fallen, broken, sinful world, and we continue to believe the lies of the one who caused it to be fallen and broken and sinful in the first place. Can we all agree with Jesus on something?

If you are alone, go ahead and read this out loud. “The devil is a liar and the Father of lies. When he lies, he is speaking his native language.” That’s what Jesus said. Read it again in agreement with Jesus. “The devil is a liar and the Father of lies. When he lies, he is speaking his native language.”

Not only is the devil a liar, but he is a very good liar. He has been around since the beginning of this world. He has been practicing and perfecting his craft for eons. He is smart. He is a schemer. He is deceptive. And we are deceived.

The worst part is that because of the nature of deception, we don’t even know where we are deceived. If we knew that what we were believing was a lie, we would quit believing it, but we can’t just quit believing what we believe –so there you go –we are deceived. We need for our minds to be renewed and transformed by the healing, freeing truth of Jesus.

Let me tell you some incredible news that the world can’t understand but that is, nevertheless, life transforming, hope giving, spirit filling, mind renewing reality if we are willing to open our hearts and let it penetrate. Are you ready? Listen –this is Good News, indeed!

You are of infinite worth in God’s eyes. Your value isn’t based upon what you do or don’t do –or what you know or don’t know. Your value isn’t even based upon how good you are or how bad you’ve been. God loves you with an everlasting love that is not dependent upon what you bring to the table. I wish there was a way that I could help you understand this with your spirit and not just your mind –this is critical.

This is truth that sets us free. If we even start to get this we can quit playing by the world’s lie-based rules that keep us competing with one-another in order to achieve value, and we can step up into lives of significance, lives of grace, lives of meaning –the lives that Jesus promised.

Friday, November 1, 2013

2 Corinthians 5:21 "Me and Sin and a Right Relationship with God"

--> 2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

           This tells us that Jesus, who never sinned actually became sin on the cross –he became our sin. Stop for a minute and think of the worst thing you’ve ever done. Don’t actually blurt it out loud because you're probably worse than anyone that might overhear thinks you are. We likely all are worse than everybody else thinks we are. As a group, wonderful, kind, good-hearted people like those of us reading have cumulatively done a bunch of really bad stuff. 

           Chances are at some point in time every one of us has spent at least one night in our lives tossing and turning because we felt guilty about something. I’m guessing that we’ve all done a few things in our lives that we wish we hadn’t –things we are ashamed of –things we wish we could do over –things we don’t really want to talk about. If you take all of the guilt and all of the shame –every wrong choice and every disobedient action, every evil thought, every mean thing that has been said by any of us -every kind of lust and greed, every nasty thing that all of us have ever done combined –and you add into it all of that same stuff from all of humanity, that’s what Jesus took into himself on the cross. He became sin. 

           He became the murderer, the rapist, the child molester, the thief, the liar, the drug addict and the drug pusher. He became the pimp and the pornographer. He became the con artist and the greedy land developer. He who had no sin, became sin. That’s what Jesus did on the cross. The one person who never did anything of which to be ashamed –the one person who never had any cause to feel guilt –experienced all of the guilt and all of the shame of every sin we have ever committed so that we could be forgiven. 

           The physical suffering Jesus went through –the actual physical pain of being whipped until His bones were exposed through the flesh –the pain of having a crown of thorns pushed down unto his head, the pain of being beaten with rods and hit with fists, the pain of having his beard plucked from his face, the pain of having nails driven through his hands and ankles –as awful as all of that was –that pain was nothing compared to the spiritual torture Jesus endured as He assumed into himself all of our guilt and all of our shame. It is unimaginable what Jesus endured for us. But He did endure it. 

           Obviously, there is a reason Jesus endured the unfathomable physical and spiritual and emotional pain of the cross. I think we really need to get this right. This is something we need to understand because what He endured for our sake demands that we not take it lightly or misunderstand. 

           Jesus did not assume our guilt and shame and endure the physical torture and death just so that our sins could be forgiven. Don’t get me wrong here –it is because of Jesus death and resurrection that our sins are forgiven –but forgiveness was the means to an end –it was the result, not the reason. Jesus went through what He went through –He endured all of that so that we could be made right with the Father –the reason Jesus died was to restore the relationship. Our sins had broken the relationship, so they had to be dealt with –but forgiveness was not the reason Jesus died –relationship was.

           Can you see why this is important to understand? If we don’t get this –if we think everything is only about being forgiven, then sinning is not really that big of a deal –now that Jesus has died and rose again, our sins can be forgiven. So what if I make the choice to indulge the flesh and deny the Spirit once in a while? No big deal, I’m forgiven anyway. 

           But, if forgiveness is the byproduct of what Jesus did, not the reason, if relationship is the reason, sin is still a huge deal because sin still breaks the relationship. Every time I choose to sin, my intimacy with the Father is cut off. Every time I indulge the sinful nature, the relationship that Jesus paid so dearly to establish is broken.

Dear Jesus, Thank You for going through all that You went through so that I could have a right relationship with the Father. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank You for the Holy Spirit and the choice I now have. I choose You, Jesus. I choose to walk with You. I choose to let go of my sin and be free. I am now making the conscious choice to walk in the Spirit instead of the Flesh. Help me, Jesus, to make this choice moment by moment and day by day. Amen.