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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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

I have noticed as I walk along my way as a Christian there are a lot of different kind of people I encounter each day. Good people, bad people, and ugly people... metaphorically speaking of course. As I think about all the kinds of people God has created in this world I can't help to be grateful for Him allowing me to come before the cross, fall on my knees, and receive His forgiveness. Regardless of how successful I may or may not be. Regardless of how attractive or ugly I may be. And regardless of whether or not I have committed ridiculously horrible sin in my life...he will accept me!

Good, bad, or ugly! Once we are washed in the blood of Jesus we areclean and righteous before God. Isn't that awesome?

1Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (nasb)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just Say "Yes"

"Just Say No"

We live in a "Just Say No" culture. We teach it in our schools, we teach it on television, and many of us have said it numerous times to our own kids. The more I look into the effects of this negative approach to making decisions, I am beginning to think that just say yes might be a better approach. I am not sure if the studies have come out on this yet, but I have my suspicions that the "Just Say No" campaign is really a complete failure.

"Just Say No" to teen sex... The US has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. There are 750,000 teen pregnancies annually. Eight in ten of these pregnancies are unintended and 81 percent are to unmarried teens. The United States’ teen pregnancy rate is over six times that of the Netherlands, almost four times that of Germany, and almost three times that of France. In addition to pregnancy, the abortion rate in this country is back on the increase again. In the United States, the teen abortion rate is more than twice that of Germany and of the Netherlands.

"Just Say No" to drugs... By the time the average kid hits the twelfth grade, 47% of them will have used an illicit drug of some kind. Marijuana, Oxycontin, Vicodin, and other prescription narcotics use is on an increase and some experts say that pills are the new gateway drug amongst teenagers. In spite of our efforts as a nation, we are in a time when "Just Say No" seems much like meaningless rhetoric.

"Just Say Yes."

We, as human beings, make our decisions and choices based on the things that we desire. When we desire the things of the flesh then our bodies can be used against us and destroy us at any moment. Unwanted pregnancy, abortion, drug use, and violence are all ways for the devil to get hold of our lives and control us. And this isn't just a problem amongst our teenagers. When sin reigns in our body, we are subject to it and will always give in.

Rom 6:12-14 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

There is a much better way. By giving our lives to Jesus Christ. When we give over our heart to the Lord we are a new creature. 2Co 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. New things have come... A new way of thinking, a new way of relating to others, and a new way of living. When we accept Jesus to lead us then we are filled with the spirit of God and not the spirit of this world.

Rom 6:12-14 tells us to not obey the lusts of sin but to present our bodies to God as one who is alive from the dead. And that sin shall not master over us because we are under grace. We have been made alive in Christ and our desires should reflect that. When we desire purity over sexual promiscuity the unwanted pregnancy rate will drop. When we value human life at the moment of conception and desire to see the unborn protected then the abortion rate will decrease. And when we desire to be like Christ and right minded our use of illegal drugs and alcohol will no longer have a grip on our life. We need Him to help us break the bondage of sin.

God will grant us the desires of our heart. When our desires line up with His desires then it is a beautiful thing. Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Where are your desires today? Lust, greed, sexual promiscuity, gossip, slander... the list goes on and on.

I pray that you will desire Jesus more today than ever before. That you will desire purity, holiness, righteousness, and godliness. That the ways of Christ will flow out of you and spill over onto the people you encounter. Just say YES to Jesus today and may the desires of your heart be in unison with Him. Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Finding Your Purpose In Christ

I used to think that life was like an abstract painting and I was just some small, insignificant splotch of color thrown onto it. A little green there, some blue splattered over here and now maybe a spot of purple... Nothing really needs to be in any particular place to make the painting work, just a little here and there and voila, there becomes a piece of art.

The more I learn of who I am in Christ the more I discover that life is not this way at all. It is more like a puzzle and I am a puzzle piece. Every piece has its place and if you are missing one you can't complete the work of the puzzle.

We are all members of one body. The body of Christ. We fit together perfectly because God has placed each one of us into a position that not only fits our own needs, but the needs of the greater whole as well. What is your place in God's magnificent puzzle called the body of Christ?

1Co 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
1Co 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
1Co 12:14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
1Co 12:15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
1Co 12:16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
1Co 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
1Co 12:18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
1Co 12:19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?
1Co 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1Co 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
1Co 12:22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
1Co 12:23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
1Co 12:24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,
1Co 12:25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
1Co 12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1Co 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

We all play a perfect part in His body. Whether you have discovered your place in His kingdom or not, it is encouraging to know that we all were made for a purpose.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eternal Life Is A Free Gift From God

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (nasb)

When we commit sin before God our Father, we are bound to receive the due payment for that sin in our lives. Death! So often we commit sin but are deceived by the evil one that the benefit we receive is our "payment" for that sin. When we choose sexual sin and lust we are to benefit in the good feelings that may come from that. When we choose greed we benefit from gaining more. And when we choose to sin in other ways we receive from Satan a false understanding that it will be ok and the sin is basically just fulfilling something in our life that we desire.

Eve was tempted to sin in the garden by being deceived that the payment, or reward for the sin would be that she would be like God and come to understand good and evil. (Gen 3:4-5) How quickly we can fall into that trap in our own lives. Tell a little lie on our taxes and we will receive more money. You get the point. So what are the wages of sin? According to Paul in the sixth chapter of Romans, the payment for sin is death. We are all subject to this death because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Matthew writes the words of Jesus in this way in Mat 10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

God is the one who pays us our wages for our sin. He is the one who sentences the unrighteous ones to eternal death in hell. But thankfully there is a way to avoid the consequences for our sin that we deserve. By receiving the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Paul doesn't just leave it at the wages of sin is death, he goes on to show us that there is hope! Hope for a reconciliation with God. Hope for being right and holy before God. And hope for eternity in heaven with God.

Jesus is the payment for our wages that are owing to us. He paid the price for eternal death so we can be blameless before the Almighty Creator of the universe. And not only did He die in our place, but He fulfilled Old Testament prophesy and was resurrected to the Father just as was foretold in the scriptures.

The wages of our sin is death and God sentences those who don't believe this to hell. But there is a hope that is found in the Savior Jesus Christ that God offers to us as a free gift. We can't earn it, we can't buy it, and we can't pay it back. It is free for the taking.

Are you looking for this free gift today? I implore you to step out in faith and seek Him out and ask Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior today. You will be rewarded in ways that you can't even imagine yet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Our God Is Perfect And Can Do Anything

A few months back I was riding my mountain bike around a huge nature park in my neighborhood. While riding back from the park I encountered a tattered cardboard box sitting on the parking strip in front of a huge house. The side of the box displayed the words "free stuff." Since it seemed like taking a break from my strenuous hill climb was a good idea, I decided to see if there were any gems to be found in this mystery box I discovered.

Well, the usual it seemed... a couple of happy meal toys, some cassette tapes of some pianist I have never heard of, and a few old paperback books. Being one who loves to read I went straight for the books and discovered that the original owner of this box was probably someone who was a bit philosophical based on the titles of the books. After purging through the ones I cared less about I grabbed a few and put them in my saddle bags. (I always ride prepared... you never know when a good estate sale may appear)

Just a couple of weeks ago I discovered these free books once again and decided to read one solely based on the title. "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." Now I am in no way endorsing this book and actually discovered early on that the author's view of God differed significantly to mine. For example, there is a chapter titled "God can't do everything, but he can do some important things." ... Really?

What I understood the entire premise of this book to be saying is that bad stuff happens and there is not a thing we can do about it. So realize it, accept it, and don't blame God because he isn't perfect you know... In fact there is one sentence that reads, "Are you capable of forgiving and loving God even when you found out that He is not perfect, even when He has let you down and disappointed you by permitting bad luck and sickness and cruelty in His world, and permitting some of those things to happen to you?" Are you serious... and this book made the national bestseller list?

Our God is perfect, He is sovereign over sin and death, and He understands and is aware of what is going on down here. It isn't like one day He woke up and said, "Darn, Satan sure does a lot of horrible things down there, I certainly wish I could do something about it."

Psa 147:4-5 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. (nasb)

Isa 40:27-29 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. (nasb)

Jer 32:17-20 'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day. (nasb)

Rom 11:32-36 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (nasb)

Now, in this post I am not trying to understand suffering and why it may occur. That subject we can share another time. I am here to declare that God is perfect, He is all knowing, and He is able to do all things. Nothing is too difficult for God nor does anything pass Him by. And I believe that the scriptures point that out quite clearly. So if God can handle all things, then I know that He can heal me from the pain of abuse, from the heartbreak of losing a loved one, and from the sin I cause in my own life. God wasn't surprised about Katrina, Haiti, and Chile. And God can most definitely deal justly with Satan and his minions. I find great comfort just knowing that the God who created the heavens and the earth also cares about the intricate details of my life.

Praise be to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come, amen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Have You Been Reconciled?

Do you ever come across a part of the Bible and the more you read it the more complex it becomes? Romans has a lot of verses that do this to me. Some things I can read over and say to myself, "got it!" But then there are others I just sit and stare at for quite some time with my brain feeling quite perplexed.

Rom 5:9-11 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (10)For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (11)More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (esv)

Now on the surface I read over a scripture like this one in Romans and say, ok... He justified me by His blood, I am saved from His wrath, I was an enemy of God... got it, and then I get to the "I am reconciled to God by the blood of his Son. Now that I am reconciled I will be saved by his life."

The first place for me to start dissecting this verse is to have an understanding of the word reconciled. What does it mean to me and what does it mean in this text. I understand reconciled in a very basic way. Just like many of you, I have to reconcile my checkbook every month to make sure I still know how to do fifth grade math. Sometimes it works and other times I spend hours combing over the numbers to find a discrepancy of 3 cents. To me reconciled means to be in balance. To have two things come together and be equal.

Webster defines reconciled this way: Brought into friendship from a state of disagreement or enmity. To be reconciled to God by the blood of his Son means to be a friend of God. That makes sense since the words right before this say that "while we were enemies" he reconciled us. God sent his Son to shed his blood so we could become His friend. In order for us to be reconciled with God, He had to remove the strife, enmity, and disobedience from us and balance that out with the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of our transgressions. Being a friend of God is His work in us not our work toward him.

There is so much more packed into this verse, but the piece I got out of it today was that God has given me a way to be reconciled to Him by believing in and accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. To be friends with God through Jesus is the most amazing experience a person can receive.

Lord God, thank you for making a plan before the beginning of time to allow your sinful creation to be able to be reconciled to you. I know that it cost you more than I can ever repay. Jesus says that no greater love is this than one who lays his life down for his friend. You Lord laid down your life so we could be friends. Thank you, thank you, and Amen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God Created The Heavens And The Earth

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. There is a lot of information packed into this first verse of the Bible. First of all it assumes one very important thing that is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. There is a God.

In the beginning... God. I have had many conversations about the creation of the universe with atheists and agnostics over the years and if this first point is missed then the rest of the conversation becomes mute. I heard a teacher say one time, "I would rather be an evolutionist and lead someone to Jesus than argue over the existence of a Creator." I had to think about that for a little while. But, when I finally understood his point I realized that arguing over the way this earth came into existence is far less important than leading a person to Jesus Christ.

In the beginning... God. This statement also affirms another critical point. That there is one God. If there was a god of the sun or a god of the stars or a god of the earth then the Bible would have told us so. I am pretty certain that there wasn't a brainstorm session in the outer cosmos one day where all of the deities came together and appointed certain tasks to each other... "Hey I've got it, you create the sun, you create the earth, and you create the stars..." Probably not. God almighty created the heavens and the earth. One God, one universe.

And another important point to this first verse in the Bible is that not only is there one true God, but He is quite powerful. Any being that can create the universe in a week can probably deal just fine with the difficulties in my life. If there is a Creator and He made what we know as this universe, it is safe to assume that it was made for a purpose and that He is involved with sustaining it every day. Therefore, there is great comfort in knowing that He is involved in my life as well.

God created the heavens and the earth. God also created each one of us and has done so with a purpose. Grab hold of your purpose that God created you for today. Just as much as he is involved in holding together every molecule of the universe, He is involved in your life and mine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Case For Jesus!

Where do you stand? Is Jesus who He says He is or was he just a good man and a good moral teacher? There are still millions of people today who have no idea who Jesus is and many, who if they have heard of Him, don't subscribe to His claims of being the Son of God.

When you have an hour to investigate the claims of Jesus for yourself I encourage you to watch this movie by Lee Strobel.

Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism degree, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law degree, 1979). He was a professional journalist for 14 years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois' top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.

After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Lee received Christ as his forgiver and leader in 1981.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who Built This Thing Anyway?

I had a lengthy conversation a few days back with a co-worker while we were traveling to Eugene regarding the existence of God and whether or not we are created beings or that Darwin was correct in his theories of adaptation, evolution, and the "tree of life."

He asked me how on earth (no pun intended) I could believe that the world came into being by a Creator. So to make a several hour conversation short, I will try to share my thoughts about it here briefly. It began with the word faith... and moved on from there.

I used the example of the locomotive we were riding in. The reason I know that the locomotive was real and created by someone was because there were tangible things I could see and understand that made be believe that the locomotive was built by a creator.

The first tangible item I said was the fact the locomotive had a set of plans. Documentation that explained how it was built... kind of like the Bible in regards to creation. The second reason I knew it was created was the fact that, yes there were many different elements that were involved in the building process, there is no way it could have assembled itself. Even if over time all of the parts were in a warehouse and the winds picked up, I can assure you that it would never put itself together. And thirdly I informed him I can experience the locomotive. I touch its cold hard steel frame, I can see the colors of yellow and red and black and so on, and I hear and smell it. The loud rumble when the huge 4000 horsepower diesel engine turns on and the exhaust fumes spewing from the top.

I explained that creation is exactly the same for me. I have a book that documents the entire creation account from day one to day seven. It tells me how and when all that is created came into existence. I can see creation with my own eyes and hear it with my ears. I see how all the glory of it points to an intelligent designer who must have created it all for a purpose. And lastly, I experience God for myself. I experience Him in my heart and in my mind and in my spirit.

When you look at all the intricacies of the human body and the cells and other parts that make it up, it is impossible to see how we could have ever come from some primordial soup 15 billion years ago. There is absolutely no way that all of the amino acids that form protiens could have ever accumulated in such a way as to even make a protein... let alone the hundreds required to keep one cell going. I am no scientist and I don't play one on tv so I won't try to get into the whole science part, but, just after looking around and understanding the science piece, everything tells me that God created the universe and that I suppose it just takes faith.

So after we went back and forth for a few hours... he responded back, "I guess I am too analytical to have that kind of faith. Faith has always been a problem for me..."

I tried Lord! Now I guess the rest is in your hands.

Faith is a funny thing sometimes. Paul tells us in Galatians that we live by faith in the Son of God.

Gal 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (nasb)

So what exactly is faith? How does it work and can I get more of it? The New Believer's Bible Glossary defines it this way: FAITH; A firm conviction that produces a full acknowledgment of God's truth; a belief and hope in God and his Word in response to the message of salvation (see John 1:12). Having a certainty in what you hope for even though you may not be able to see it (see Hebrews 11:1-40).

Faith is not just a decision we make with our minds to believe something but a conviction in our entire being that something is true. It starts out small and as time goes on our faith grows because we see the consistencies of God being revealed to us over and over again. And as it grows we just acquire more and more faith in the things of God.

If our knowledge of God is simply head knowledge and analysis then we will not be able to sustain our faith when we encounter various trials that may question whether or not God cares for us or whether or not He was even around during this particular difficulty.

Faith can be a challenge sometimes as well. When we spend our lives daily in His Word getting to know God, our faith will be increased and we can live more fully the way He intended for us to live. As far as those around us... it is hard sometimes to explain this faith to them and all we can do is pray that God turns their heart of stone into a heart of clay one day.

Psa 19:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (nasb)

Psa 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; (nasb)

Col 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. (nasb)

Make Disciples of All The Nations

Mat 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (nasb)

Go and make disciples of all the nations... Jesus makes this command to His disciples at the end of the book of Matthew. He instructs them in many things throughout the entire Gospel of Matthew and He ends on this one note... to make disciples of every nation baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Now I know it is quite impractical for each one of us to go all about like the disciples did to evangelize the nations, but I do believe we all can play a part in reaching the unreached people throughout the world. There are many ways we can be a part of this great commandment from Jesus and not have to become a missionary ourselves.

Here are just a few ideas:
  • Prayerfully support the missionaries in your church.
  • Send love offerings to them and give them gifts from your resources that they are requesting to build their churches and community.
  • Offer to translate portions of text if you have a native language that has no written Scripture.
  • Write letters and encourage them during their time away.
  • When they get home give them a place to stay and offer to help them get back into the swing of things by working with them through some of the day to day events. Depending on how long a missionary is gone, things may be quite different when they get back.
Let's all make reaching the unreached people of this world a priority for Jesus sake. We all need Him and His love regardless of our culture, economic status, or location of which we were born. And remember one last thing, He is with you always, even to the end of the age!

Lord give me a heart to do more for the unreached people groups around the world. Especially for those in the 10/40 window. You are an amazing God who works His ways through your people. Let us today be those people. In Jesus name!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

May Our Words Be Acceptable!

Psa 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Today I am reminded to keep my mouth and my heart acceptable in the sight of the Lord. James chapter 3 tells us that our tongue is a small member of the body capable of great destruction.

Jas 3:5-6 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (nasb)

So today, let us keep our heart focused on Him and our mouth will not only be acceptable in His sight, but a blessing to others as well. Remember that James goes on to tell us in verse 8 that "no one can tame the tongue." Well, at least not without the grace of God... no matter how hard we try to keep from it, the tongue can perform such great destruction.

Lord, we ask today for your spirit to fill our hearts so we will speak words of encouragement and blessing to others and give you the praise you so much deserve.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Be Filled With The Spirit, Not Drunk With Wine

Eph 5:15-20 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (nasb)

I had a really good conversation with my oldest son yesterday. After swimming with the current in the river of worldliness, he was called back to the Lord about 14 months ago. He has really been asking provocative questions regarding his faith lately and yesterday was no exception. As with many of us, he is concerned that his attitudes and feelings towards others and his sinful behavior will negate his Christian faith and keep him from eternal living. I believe it is a problem of equating good works with sanctification.

In our conversation he asked whether or not he was saved if he found himself being critical of some people he encounters and when he sins. He was also not completely clear what we mean when Lori and I tell him that the fruit of the Christian walk comes from being in Christ and not by simply trying to be a good person.

As I listened to Lori discuss this with Him I was compelled to share what it meant to be in Christ in a way he might understand more easily, so she handed me the telephone. Here is how I described it to him... Now keep in mind, he is almost twenty one so I thought this analogy might be of some use...

Think of a time in your life where you were at a party and people were consuming alcohol. There were those who drank a small amount and the effects of the alcohol were minimal to the way they acted. There were those who drank moderately and the effects were even greater, and those who drank so much that it was obvious that they were under the influence and all they did and said was affected by their filling up on the alcohol. He said he got that part... ok, next I told him to visualize the ones who pretended to be drinking. They may act like they have similar characteristics as the ones who are drunk, but everyone knows it is an act and eventually they can't pretend any longer. He got it...

I said to now equate that to being filled with Christ rather than being filled with alcohol. There are those who dabble a little in the Word or moderately read and apply the Bible and their life sort of reflects it. There are those who act like they know God and attempt good deeds because they want to look like a good Christian, and then there are those who are so consumed by the Word of God that everything they do is a reflection of them being bathed in the Word...

"Now," he said, "I think I really get it."

So I said to him, "Spend your energy and effort falling in love with God and your actions and attitudes towards others will come from there, not the other way around."

Often we try so hard to be good that we miss out on spending time filling ourselves with Christ and allowing the goodness of God to just naturally flow out of us. As I encouraged Nick yesterday, I too was encouraged by the Word of God. Fill yourselves with the Spirit of God and do not get drunk with wine...

Lord, please help me to put aside the many distractions in my day and make more time to fill myself with your Spirit. I want to bless others and I know that if I do it out of my own strength it is simply works, but if I do it through your spirit it is the fruit of my salvation. Paul tells us in Romans that we are justified by our faith and not by our works lest we boast and suffer the judgment of God. Help me Lord to focus my attention on my faith and let you do a good work through me.