Welcome To Daily In Christ Devotionals

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

There Are Two Kinds Of People

We have all heard the phrase 'There are two kinds of people in life.' I was pondering this thought as I was running through the streets of the Seattle area this afternoon and it begged me to ask the question as to what are the two kinds of people this statement originally referred to? Coke or Pepsi, those who give and those who take, those who say my will and those who say thy will? It really has many different applications but there was one specifically that came to my mind this humid afternoon. Those who are going to Heaven and those who are going to Hell.

The more I applied this statement to those two choices the more sobering the meaning of it became to me. I was compelled to think about all of the people in my life who are unaware of their eternal destination and what steps I have actively taken to help them answer this question one day for themselves.

1Jn 5:11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1Jn 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1Jn 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (esv)

First John differentiates the two kinds of people that I was thinking about on my run. Those who have the Son and those who don't have Him. Those who have eternal life and those who don't. Those people who are going to spend eternity in Hell and those who have Jesus as their Savior and will spend all of eternity in Heaven. God has given us eternal life through Jesus Christ and if we have the Son, verse 13 tells us that we are to know that we have eternal life. To KNOW. Assurance that we have life abundantly forever.

What kind of person are you today? There truly are only two kinds of people. Whether or not you prefer Coke over Pepsi, comedy rather than drama, or you think life is about those who have and those who have not, the real comparison of the two kinds of people that has any significance at all is those who are saved and those who aren't.

Romans 10:13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Who I Am In Christ

I believe one of the biggest struggles we face as human beings is finding our identity in something. Many of us find our identity in our work. Such as, I am a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher. Others find their identity in pop culture by emulating what they see on television and hear in the music they listen to. And still others of us base our identity in our religion. I am a youth leader, or a preacher, or I am an elder.

Having these positions in life is great and we are called to do the work the Lord has provided for us. But my question I ask myself is, "do I identify myself in my work or in Christ?" I find it difficult sometimes to be free from identifying myself with the things of the world. I want to be know for something and I often strive to have acceptance from people I encounter. I am pretty certain that I am not alone in this on either... I was reading through some of my past writings this morning and I encountered this list that I wrote to keep me focused on who I am in Christ. I compiled it over a year ago and wanted to read it once a week so I could remember and memorize the scriptures that would take me back to identifying myself with Him rather than the things of the world.

Well, the reading the list once a week thing faded off and today I am compelled to re-read it again and look closely at each scripture. Not just browse over it as a nice list, but to meditate on the verses and pray for God to reveal himself through me to others. With the culture pressing on us to "be like Mike" and to wear this or that to be beautiful and handsome, I am reminded of who I am in Christ. Being grounded in Christ, we can resist the temptation to get caught up in the next fad that comes our way. He will never change. When we find our identity in Him we will always be satisfied in who we are.
  • I am a child of God. (John 1:12)
  • I have been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
  • I am saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • God sacrificed his one and only Son for me. (John 3:16)
  • I am a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in me. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • I am completely forgiven. (Colossians 1:14)
  • I am tenderly loved by God. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • I am a branch on Christ's vine. (John 15:1,5)
  • I am united to the Lord, one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  • I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12)
  • I have been adopted as God's child. (Ephesians 1:5)
  • I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:31f)
  • I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35f)
  • I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession and created to sing His praises. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
  • I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18)
  • I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • I may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
  • I have been rescued from Satan's domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. (Colossians 1:13)
  • I have been given great and precious promises by God. (2 Peter 1:4)
  • My needs are met by God. (Philippians 4:19)
  • I have been bought with a price, and I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)
  • I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength I need. (Philippians 4:13)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jesus Is Our Righteousness

Deu 6:4-13 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you--with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant--and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (esv)

I was reading through Deuteronomy yesterday and came across this familiar passage. Lori and I have been reading through the Gospels again and it sounded quite familiar. Jesus, in Matthew 22, tells the Pharisees and Sadducees that the greatest commandment is to love your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. Just as God told Israel after they came out of Egypt, He again reminds them what their number one priority needs to be. Isn't it amazing how God needs to remind generation after generation the same things over and over again? Sounds like parenting to me...

As I read on in Deuteronomy I couldn't help but sit for a couple of minutes on verses 7-9. Teach these words diligently, bind them on your hands, post them on your gates, etc... I started to feel quite convicted regarding these verses. How diligently have I been over the past 20 years teaching, instructing, and modeling the Word of God to my children? There are a lot of things I have spend many hours teaching my children. How to pitch a baseball, how to ride a bike, or even how to figure out a complex math problem. But have I done my due diligence in teaching them the Bible? I must honestly confess... No I haven't done as well as I could have. Oh sure, we have spent time reading devotions and we pray with the kids every night, (at least the ones who are still around) but being diligent to teach them consistently over the years has been a downfall for me.

DILIGENTLY, adv. With steady application and care; with industry or assiduity; not carelessly; not negligently.

Thankfully we serve a good God. One who forgives and allows us to learn from our mistakes and try again. Even if we fall short in a certain area of our life, God will always be there to help us pick up the pieces and begin anew. The Bible is packed full of instructions for how we should live our lives and unless we open it up and read it on a daily basis we will all fall short.

I receive new insight to the character of God each time I open His Word. It is as if the pages have new life and God is wanting to reveal not only something about His character, but my character as well. As I continue on in the book of Deuteronomy I come to the end of chapter 6 where Isaiah tells the people of Israel "Deu 6:24-25 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.' "

It will be righteousness for us if we do all that He has commanded us. I am seeking God's righteousness in my life but when I read this I think to myself, "How am I to keep ALL of His commands to be righteous?" I am but a sinful man who struggles with a sinful nature. There is no possible way for me to be righteous. Thankfully, this is where Jesus comes in. "Only Christ could keep all the commandments of God, and his obedience is our righteousness; and he only is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes, and to him we must seek for it." (John Gill's Exposition)

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. This is the message of the Gospel. And Jesus adds to this in Matthew when he tells us to also love our neighbor as ourselves. There are many times I fall short, but Jesus is my propitiation. Because of Him I am righteous before the Almighty Creator of the universe. When my diligence falls short in instructing my kids, or loving my neighbor the way I should, or even messing up with my walk with Him, I am assured that He will forgive me when I turn to Him and Jesus will make me righteous before God.

Thank you Lord for showing me something new about my character every time I open your Word. Thank you for forgiving me of my shortcomings and allowing me to be renewed in you each day. Please help me to keep your commands as I seek to follow you more closely. I know you aren't looking for me to work my way into Heaven by being good or doing all the right things, but because I am in you and you are in me I desire to be like you. Help me to be like You every day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth.

My lovely wife and I were talking this evening regarding the topic of salvation. One of the main subjects of our conversation was our children and whether or not they will finish the race strong or if any of them have and/or will choose not to follow the call of Christ.

All five of our kids have made a public profession of faith and been baptized. If you asked each one of them they would claim to be a Christian. But as we continued in our conversation together we really struggled with what the future has for our children living in this American culture and we pray daily for their walk with the Lord.

The day I answered the call of salvation I knew one thing, I was a sinner and I needed a Savior. I didn't grow up in the church and finally, after several attempts, I realized God had a purpose and a plan for my life. My initial draw to my new found faith was the hope of eternal life. You know, streets lined with gold, a mansion with many rooms, angels rejoicing... But as I matured in the faith and began to understand my sinful nature even more fully, I realized that being saved isn't fully about eternal life but is primarily my freedom from God's judgment. Just as we have the hope of eternal life, a life free from Jesus has the judgment of God upon it and the sentence of eternal punishment.

Mat 13:40-43 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (esv)

I was listening to a sermon a few days back and a point was made that even though Jesus willfully bore all of our sin on Calvary, it doesn't compare to the horror of hell and eternal punishment. There was hope for Christ, and, after making his appeal to the Father to have the cup removed from Him, (Luk 22:42) He knew that after the third day He would be properly place at the right hand of God. Jesus had assurance that the Father would restore Him as had been written by the prophets. He could see an end and the end was good.

Those who reject the Son have no hope for their souls. The Bible tells us that in hell there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I think of this as a complete and total wailing. Groans of pain and agony that can not be quenched. Imagine for a moment if you will the worst of the worst times in your life being played over and over again. Day in and day out feelings of hopelessness, despair, agony, torment, frustration, depression, horror, guilt, lust... The list goes on.

Matthew 13:40-43 is sour and sweet. Those who are the sinful and the lawbreakers will be gathered up and thrown into the fiery furnace. Regardless of what a person believes about Heaven and Hell, one thing is crystal clear to me... unrepentant sinners will have a really bad existence for all of eternity. Yet, in verse 43 Jesus tells His elect that the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Not because we are so good and worthy of it. On the contrary. Jesus is our righteousness before God. 2Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Where are you going today, tomorrow, the next day? Where are your children going when they move from this life to the next? These are difficult questions for us to ponder, but sooner than later they will be answered. Abidance in Christ is essential to our walk with Him. We show we are His disciples by our fruit and for many of us it is time to see what kind of fruit is springing forth from our trees.

Joh 15:5-7 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Jesus offers the free gift of eternal life and freedom from the Father's justice. Do you hear His call today? If not, I encourage you to listen for it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finding My Hope In Him

I was watching the movie "The Visitor" this evening. It is about a young man from Syria who gets caught in the immigration system of the United States and the futile efforts of his friend and mother trying to do everything in their power to get him released. The longer he was incarcerated the more hopeless he became in his situation. He put all of his hope into his mother and friend and relied on their strength to see him through. It was a very good movie but it left me empty inside because the ending was far more real than I had thought it was going to be. When we watch movies we are generally looking for the ending to be fulfilling and this ending was far from fulfilling. As with real life, sometimes the ending doesn't leave us smiling as we walk out of the theater.

After I finished watching the movie I opened up God's Word to do some study, but I couldn't shake the reality of the movie and the truth it spoke about people in our country who are living daily in fear of losing everything they have come to know here. Whether it be through deportation, loss of a job or loved one, or through a tragic accident, we have difficulties around us on a daily basis that leave us hopeless. It really solidified my understanding of where my hope comes from. Not in the things of this world, but in Christ himself. It also started me thinking about those around the world who are being persecuted every day for their faith. And those who are living in turmoil just because they were unlucky enough to be born amongst the perils of their society. Not to mention those who go hungry and their daily struggle to get a speck food for the table. Sometimes things in life just aren't fair!

We are a blessed people living in this country and many a day goes by that I grumble over the little things in life. How selfish of me. I am in a land of plenty while my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are starving and going without. I was rolling through a community around Seattle this morning on my train and I couldn't help but notice there was a fast food chain on each corner of a particular intersection of a busy highway. And each drive through was full of cars. I chuckled to myself at the time and thought how crazy it is that half way around the world there are families sharing a two cent bowl of rice for a week and we are able to drive up to a building and receive as much food as we can cram into our faces for about 5 bucks.

I asked the Lord "why is this the way it is?" Well, as of this moment I don't think He has answered me yet. But as I read in His Word this evening I came across this passage from Isaiah.

Isa 41:17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
Isa 41:18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
Isa 41:19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together,
Isa 41:20 that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.(esv)

It is comforting to know that even when there is nothing to eat or drink, God will not forsake us. Jesus tells Satan in Matthew chapter 4 ... "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" God, in the midst of our famine, nakedness, and troubles, will always be there to strengthen our faith in Him and give us our portion as He sees fit.

As I reflect on my life and the choices that have placed me where I am at today, I thank God that even though I haven't always relied on Him, He has always been there to strengthen me. My hope lies in Him and Him alone. The economy will fail us. Our government will fail us. Our friends and families will fail us. God will never fail us and when we put our hope in Him we will be renewed every day.

I encourage you today to place your hope in Jesus. Lay down at His feet the burdens of the day and He will give you strength.

Psa 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (esv)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Think About These Things.

Php 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (esv)

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. It is filled with so much for us to hold on to. Rejoice in the Lord always... Not sometimes, not only when things are going well, but in all situations. And then to let your reasonableness be known to everyone. Be anxious about nothing, make your requests be known to God and His peace will guard my heart.

And then the things that Paul instructs the Philippians to set their minds on. Purity, loveliness, excellence, honor, etc... These aren't a list of do's but a way to be. When I meditate on these things then the ways of the devil have no place in my heart.

I encourage you today to listen to this passage of scripture and read it over several times and meditate on it. Ask God to reveal anything in your heart that might not be a way for to be. Being in Christ is about being and not doing. May we draw closer to Him today by being more like Him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Where Is Your Treasure?

Mat 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I heard it said once that if you look at a man's checkbook you will also see his heart. During this current economic crisis, many people I have come into contact with share with me the struggles they are having because they have lost so much money. The stock market has taken a huge downturn, retirement accounts have lost substantial money, and people's lives have been turned upside down. Not to mention the fact that we can no longer buy everything we want to satisfy all of our desires.

I encountered a gentleman a couple of days ago who is 74 years old. He owned a funeral home for forty years and sold it ten years ago and retired. He and his wife have been living a comfortable life... until recently. He shared with me that due to the changes in the economy his retirement income has dropped 70% over the past two years and he is an on call crew driver with a company that shuttles around railroaders. He's 74 years old and working an on call schedule all hours of the day and night for minimum wage. How discouraging I thought... but I noticed that there was something about him that was different. He wasn't grumbling about it, he wasn't all ticked off, he was content and happy. He knows where his real treasure is stored and he understands that this temporary setback is nothing compared to the glory he will see in Heaven.

As I was driving home I began to think about where my heart is regarding this matter. I have never been very materialistic, and neither has my wife, so it is easy to convince myself that my heart is in the right place because I don't have a lot of material possessions. But the more I prayed and thought about it the easier it was for me to see that my belongings are really only a part of the issue. The main theme that I get from Matthew 6:19-21 is "Where is my devotion?"

Am I using my limited time and resources solely to please myself or am I giving all that I am to the Lord and making deposits into my eternal bank account? The Lord knows I need food and clothing and shelter. Matthew 6:31-33 tells me that if I seek His kingdom first all of the things will be added to me.

Material things will come and go in my life and as long as my security, pleasure, and treasure are stored up in heaven, then no economic downturn, thief in the night, or even prosperity will cause my heart to stumble.

Thank you Lord for providing for all of my needs. Whether times are good or times are tough I choose to store up my treasure in Heaven rather than here on earth. Help me to remember that where my treasure is, there my heart will be also...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Casting All on Him


1Pe 5:6-11 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Sower and the Seed...

A message from Jesus in the book of Mark.

The Sower and the Seed. Though we may sow seed everywhere we go, only some of it will spring forth and bear fruit. Sometimes, we think all people should receive God's word and be excited and accept it. This parable is a reminder to the sower and to the one who receives the message.

As a sower I am instructed to spread my message to all types of people along my path. Some will receive it and be fruitful and other's will appear to be fruitful for a little while. And still other's won't respond at all. Regardless of the outcome of my sowing, my job as a Christian is to just keep spreading the good news and let Jesus bring in His bounty crop.

As one who hears the Word I am also warned in this parable to not allow Satan or other earthly desires to choke out God from my life. The scorching sun, thorns and thistles, and Satan himself will be stumbling blocks in my walk with Jesus. I must cultivate my soil and bear good fruit.

Here is the parable from Mark 4:2-20.

Mar 4:2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,
Mar 4:3 "Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow;
Mar 4:4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.
Mar 4:5 "Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil.
Mar 4:6 "And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mar 4:7 "Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
Mar 4:8 "Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
Mar 4:9 And He was saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Mar 4:10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables.
Mar 4:11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,
Mar 4:13 And He *said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?
Mar 4:14 "The sower sows the word.
Mar 4:15 "These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.
Mar 4:16 "In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
Mar 4:17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.
Mar 4:18 "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,
Mar 4:19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Mar 4:20 "And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."