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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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part Two

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

In part one of I have been crucified with Christ I discussed what it means to be crucified with Christ. I was able to see that being crucified with Christ meant that I am to die to myself. That I am to die to the desires of my flesh and the bondage of sin. That Jesus paid for it on the cross and that in doing so I was there on his mind with him.
In this post I want to see what Paul means when he says “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Just as Jesus was resurrected from the dead, I too am resurrected and now live a new life. Paul tells us in this verse that it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. We were designed to be a dwelling-place of the spirit of God. God didn't create man to live on his own. We were created to be in fellowship with him. However, sin has broken that fellowship and caused man to live separate from God. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation, our old life has passed away and our new life has come.
So what is this new life in Christ that Paul is telling us to live? I think if we look at Colossians chapter three we might see a little bit more clearly what he is saying. Col 3:1-2 says that if we have been raised with Christ, then we will seek the things above. He says we are to set our mind on things above.
The key for us to “set our mind on the things above” is to come to an understanding of who lives in us. Paul says it is no longer I who live. So what does that mean? I am sure we can understand that Paul is not talking about his natural being. Rather, he is speaking of our spiritual being, the life we live in faith in Jesus Christ.
Christ living in us can seem quite mysterious. When we have found our new life in Christ, and He dwells in our heart, we begin to live different than those who don't know Christ. The way we think, the way we believe, and the way we act, begins to look more and more like Him.
So, when Paul says it is no longer I who live, I believe he is saying that the life he lives conforms to the life of Christ because of who he has now become, a new creation.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. When we begin to grasp the magnitude of that statement we must change the way we live. 1John 1:6 says that if we have fellowship with God but go on living in darkness that we are liars and we do not practice the truth. We are liars... We claim to be something we are not. We pretend to be a Christian all the while living in darkness and living to satisfy our own desires. That is what John is saying if we do not practice the truth.
Who lives in you today? Have you been crucified with Christ? Do you claim to have fellowship with God but still live like the rest of the world? Are you seeking after the things that bring simple pleasure rather than seeking after the things that bring pleasure to Christ?
Eph 4:22-24 tell us to put off our old self which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
“It is no longer I who lives” means that I now live with Christ in me as a renewed person in the likeness of God, pursuing righteousness and holiness.
Does Christ live in you today? If he does, do your desires conform with his?
Lord Jesus, help me to understand what it means to have you living inside of me. Help me not to live my old ways but to live in such a way that brings Glory and honor and praise to you alone. Lord, I know you live in me and the life that I live now I want to live in you.
May the Lord bless you today as you live in Him.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part One

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have taken on the joyful task of spending a few blog posts on Gal 2:20. I feel this will be a benefit to me (and you) for several reasons. First, it will give me a clear understanding of what Paul is speaking to the Galatians regarding their position in Christ and what it truly means to be "crucified." Second, I will begin to grasp in a deeper way what it means to live for Christ. Third, I believe this verse exhorts us to truly live by faith. And fourth, I see where it gives me a reason for my faith... because He loved me.
So, today I begin with the first part of the verse. "I have been crucified with Christ."
The way Paul begins this verse has significance. The word "I" seems fairly important. He states, "I have been crucified" rather than "we." This gives me the assurance that I am known by God personally. Not just collectively as in a large group of people, but as an individual. My mind tries often to comprehend what that means. Sometimes I visualize God as a King or an Emperor. I see Him looking out over a huge city filled with lots of people. Each one is unnamed. This perception is so not how God is. He is intimate with all of us. Visualize if you will the same King sitting on His throne looking out over the people, and at the same time, like a wind blowing amongst them, knowing each one by name.
Christ didn't die on the cross for a group of people. He died for individuals. You and me. He knows each one of us by name. He knows the color of our hair and how many we have. He designed our minds to operate in a certain way. He chose the color of our skin, who our parents would be, and why we may dislike lima beans. God knows each one of us intimately and He was crucified not for a group of unnamed people, but for individuals. For you and for me.
Having been crucified with Christ causes me to ask a few questions. What does it mean for me to be crucified? What did I put to death when I was crucified with Christ? And what is meant by "have been?"
Let me first ponder the "have been" part. I think of a couple of things pertaining to this. First, it could mean that when I made a decision to fully follow Christ I was crucified with Him. Or maybe it means that when He was on the cross taking the punishment for my sin, I was crucified there with Him.
I am inclined to go with the latter. Paul tells us in Ephesians that He knew us before the foundation of the world. God chose us before the foundation of the world, so I am thinking that "have been" means that I was crucified with Christ the day He gave His life for me on the tree. I was on His mind that day. He didn't die in hopes that maybe one day I would accept His free gift. He died knowing I was already His. What a comfort that is.
What does it mean for you and me to be crucified? We know that Paul didn't hang on the tree with Christ. The only two people on Biblical record who were crucified with Christ were the thieves on the cross. So what is Paul explaining to us when he says “I was crucified with Christ?” I think if we look at Romans chapter six we get a little bit more understanding of what the true meaning of us being crucified is. Rom 6:6 tells us that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Being crucified with Christ means that we're dead to sin and we're dead to the law. Our old man has died. Sin no longer has dominion over us. Just as Christ defeated the power of sin, we too no longer allow sin power over us.
So when I read the beginning of Gal 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ," I realize that Christ didn't die for a group of unnamed people, but he died for me as an individual. I was on his mind while he was on the cross. And that my victory over sin and the law occurred before I was ever born. Paul tells us in Gal 5:24 that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Therefore we are to work daily at destroying the power and influence of sin and our life. If we are to live by the spirit, let us also walk by the spirit.
So my prayer for you and me today is that we will become dead to the law and to sin, and begin walking in the grace that God has given us through Christ Jesus. Jesus tells us in Luke chapter nine that anyone who would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Are you willing to be crucified? Are you willing to be dead to the desires of your flesh? Are you willing to live for Christ and offer yourself a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God? Picking up your cross daily needs to be an intentional act of our will. It doesn't happen simply by accident. In order to make your life a living sacrifice, you need to desire the things of God and not the things of the world. One must fall in love with Jesus and desire Him more than anything else. To do that you must get to know Him by reading His word, praying, and spending time with Him. Are you willing to do that?
Lord Jesus I pray that you'll help me understand what it truly means to be crucified with you. To give up my fleshly desires. To live for you alone. You took my sin on the cross so that I didn't have to, and I know that I could never repay you. So, today I offer up my life to you.
May the Lord bless you today as you offer your life to him.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What Are You Willing To Trade?

I saw this video at church last week. I hope it speaks to where you are at today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I have been reading this verse often over the past couple of weeks. The more I contemplate my relationship with Christ the more I keep coming back to this verse. Over the next several blog posts I am going to break this verse down and write about what I believe God is speaking to me through it.

Often I read a verse in the Bible and trample over it so quickly I miss the weightiness of it. This is one of those verses. Please join me as we study this verse together.

I would love for you to share your thoughts with me as well. Leave me a comment and tell me what this verse means to you.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Can Never Mess Up Too Bad For God...

I spent about an hour tonight talking to a young man about his addictions. He is a college student and his major is theology and Biblical studies. For almost five years he was addicted to numerous substances and late last year he achieved victory over his addiction. Since that time he has enjoyed great fellowship with Jesus and the love and grace of God like never before. Until tonight...

You see, my friend used again today. He walked back into a life that he thought he had control over but unfortunately, it still has control over him. Addiction is a funny thing. Not funny - ha, ha. Funny strange. One moment you feel like a victor, the next you become a slave. (2Pet 2:19)

One major result he discovered today from using again was the absence of peace. He truly felt that God had abandoned him and that he lost his faith. I prayed with my friend, encouraged him to make a plan, and tried to show him that God will never abandon us. Even when we mess up!

How are you doing today? Do you feel like you have messed up so bad that God has abandoned you? Have you lost your sense of peace? Do you need to be reminded that Jesus loves you even in your mess ups?

I know I feel this way sometimes and it is great to go to the Word and be reminded of who we are in Christ.
  • God chose me from the beginning. Even before the foundation I was secure in Him as an adopted child: Eph 1:4-6
  • Even in my sinful state He loved me: Eph 2:4-5; Rom 5:8
  • I am His sheep. I hear His voice and I will never perish. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. Not even my own sin: John 10:27-30; Rom 8:35-39
  • My justification comes by faith and not by works of the law. Even when I sin I am still saved and will not be lost: Eph 2:8-9; Rom 5:16-17
  • Even in my struggles God has intended it for my good and His glory. There is no scheme the devil can bring into my path that God has not meant for good: Gen 50:20; Rom 8:27-28
After much prayer, scripture reading, and asking of forgiveness my friend began to feel the peace and presence of God again. He was able to realize that God is the God of second chances. That this slip up was not going to keep him out of the Kingdom of Light and that he was able to feel the forgiveness of the Lord.

If you are struggling with sin in your life and have lost His peace I encourage you to read through the verses above and pray. Ask the Lord to forgive you for your mess ups and I assure you by His Word He will.

If you are feeling peace in your heart and are strong in the Lord then encourage a brother or sister in the Lord who is struggling. Pray and ask God to place on your heart someone close to you that you can call or visit and encourage them today.

God isn't surprised when we mess up. He loves us and will always be there to cleanse us from our sin and purify us in His righteousness.


Love You Neighbor... Lend A Hand

I was in a hurry. Like many days, I was limited on the amount of time I had available to me for the day and my tasks exceeded my hours. Make a list of to do's... check! Map out course...check! Start movin...check!

Well, I got running around in my truck going from place to place and I had about 15 minutes to get to an appointment. "Right on time," I thought to myself as I walked to my truck sipping on a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee. When I got in the vehicle and turned the key the dreaded sound occurred right before my eyes... click! Click - click - click!

Oh my goodness, a dead battery. This isn't supposed to happen. Today is supposed to go as planned. I have many items on my task list and being stranded in a parking lot was not one of them. I raised the hood and inspected the battery. July 2005... oh my, it is old. Thankfully I was next to a store that sells batteries so I walked over to the automotive section and dropped 134 big ones. OUCH!

Problem solved. I just need to go out, install the new battery and off I will go. A few minutes and one bloody knuckle is all it took. Presto. I put the key in the ignition and... you guessed it, click - click - click!

As I stood there perplexed I was greeted by a very kind 5 year old being pushed in a stroller.

"What is wrong?" he asked.
"My truck wont start," I answered.
Then came the proverbial question from every 5 year old. "Why not?"

I informed him that I didn't know why but I was going to figure it out. As the stroller continued to pass me by, the pusher, a man in his late 50's, made it quite clear that he was going to have nothing to do with me.

"If you can't get it fixed we can help you," said the child.
And out of the blue came the response from the stroller motor... "No we can't!"

Well, if we could all be like this 5 year old child. "If you can't make it, I will help you" was the message I took from this situation. How often do we reach out to others who are stranded and without Christ in their life? Do I take the time to encourage a struggling brother or sister or am I like the guy pushing the stroller? A dead battery may delay you for a few hours, but a dead soul will cause you to face eternity outside of the presence of the God of the universe. And eternity is a very long time.

I finally got the truck running after 2 1/2 hours and in that time two people offered me assistance. I decided that God was showing me something. He allowed me to discover at least three things in this event.
  1. God places people in our path at the right time to help us out.
  2. If the Lord wills it, today I will do this thing or that. (Jam 4:14-15)
  3. There is always time to help others in need.
I hope when you encounter a stranded soul you rise to the challenge. Whether it be a dead battery, a marriage crisis, or a lost soul. There is always time to lend a hand.


The Hope Of The World - Jesus!

Often I read the Old Testament and just skim over many of the pages. It feels like an arduous task to read who beget who and so and so is the son of this guy etc... The black words just seem to blend into their vanilla canvas and I become distracted as I read. However, in the book of Isaiah there is so much to try to understand it is difficult to just skim the pages.

This morning I read through my verses in chapters 52 and 53. As I was reading I was encouraged to stop and go through some of the notes and key themes of this awesome book.

Here is just one of the key themes from the book of Isaiah. It is well worth your reading of each verse and see how it points to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

The only hope of the world is bound up in one man—the promised Davidic king:
  • Isa 4:2
  • Isa 7:14
  • Isa 9:2-7
  • Isa 11:1-10
The servant of the Lord
  • Isa 42:1-9
  • Isa 49:1-13
  • Isa 50: 4-9
  • Isa 52:13-53:12
The anointed preacher of the gospel
  • Isa 61:1-3
And the lone victor over all evil
  • Isa 63:1-6

Isaiah 53 1-11

Isa 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Isa 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Isa 53:9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (ESV)

* All notes and references come from the ESV Study Bible

To study the Bible online go to: http://www.esvbible.org/devotions/esv-study-bible/

Have a blessed day as you draw closer to Christ.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Have Been Raised Up With Christ

Col 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (nasb)

Do you ever just read over a verse in the Bible and as you read it you have the desire to continue to pour more and more time into it? This occurred for me this evening. Spending a couple of hours with a group of men can have its challenges and blessings. Especially when the time spent is to expound on the scriptures. That is what we did tonight. Chewing on the conclusion of chapter two and the beginning of chapter three in this amazing writing of the apostle Paul.

Paul spends the first couple of chapters in Colossians speaking of the mystery of Christ. Reminding the people that ceremonial law does not put us into relationship with Christ, and defines His place of prominence in relationship to the Father. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus tells the pharisees in the book of John that if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.

As Paul moves into the third chapter he tells us that if we have been raised up in Christ, we shall keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Paul could have said to simply seek after good things. He could have illustrated some of the things Christ did and said to do them likewise. But instead, he said to seek after the things where Christ is, seated at God Almighty's right hand.

The right hand of God is a place of honor and authority and Paul wants us to see that what we are seeking is no small thing. We are looking heavenward and seeking after the things that are solely from God. Before we can be raised with Christ, one must die to the things of the world. We all know that we can not serve two masters. So, if our eyes are gazed toward heaven, then they can not even glance at the objects of the world that vie for our affection.

So why did this verse capture my attention? I think what stands out in this verse is twofold. First, that we have been raised up with Christ. That is quite significant to me. Paul tells the church at Ephesus that God raised Christ up to His right hand and placed Him over all power, rulers, authority, dominions, and names to be named. He shows us that we are in Christ as well. We are in communion with the One who is over and above all. We are adopted children of God and we have obtained an eternal inheritance. We are made righteous by Him. And as God has raised up Christ, He will also raise us up as well.

Second, I am encouraged to seek after the things above. Paul lays out a practical list in the next few verses as to what those things look like. But for me, just knowing my position in Christ, understanding the significance of His position next to the Father, and being overwhelmed by His goodness makes me want to naturally look heavenward. When a person grasps the enormity of what it truly means to be in Christ, looking away from the things of the the world that cause sin becomes the norm. And I, by no means, have achieved perfection in this area.

Col 3:1 has spoken volumes to me today. It gives me hope that I have been raised up and am hidden in Him. It reminds me that I have died to the things of this world. And it spurs me on to continue earnestly seeking the things of Christ.

I pray that you will seek Jesus with all of your heart today. Therefore, the things of this world will become strangely dim.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts On My Heart... Today's Young People

One of the things I enjoy about talking to young people about God is that they are generally eager to listen. They all seem to have one concept or another about God and it is a joy to see hearts transform. Once the Spirit of God cracks through the exterior shell that has been formed around their heart, the discussions go from "Why" to "How."

Why does God allow people to die in natural disasters? Why do I need to read my Bible, what difference is it going to make? Why should I stop sleeping with my girlfriend? Why does it even matter?

These are all legitimate questions and we could spend a lot of time discussing and debating them. Often when I get questions like these I find myself trying to figure out an answer. Then, after I stop trying to convince a person to live righteously and it fails, I pray. As the questions come I find myself less trying to answer and more trying to just show the Love of God.

As I see the Spirit of God working in their heart, I begin to discover the questions change. They go from "why" to "how." The person I am sharing with begins to not worry so much about the once coveted answers to the "why question" and changes gears. It is as if they realize the questions are really a sophisticated stall tactic to avoid the real question... How do I serve Him well?

Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an amazing thing. I remember listening to a conference a few years back from D. A. Carson. In the message he made a statement that goes something like this. "Twenty years ago we were witnessing to college age students and sharing the Gospel. They would debate that Jesus was the only path to God. Now, today's college students have not the same concept of God. Today we are trying to share that there actually is a God."

Times change, but the Gospel stays the same. Though we see different generations all carrying around the most acceptable world view of their day, one thing remains the same. We all need Jesus. No matter how it is packaged, sin is sin and we are all guilty of it.

This week I am encouraged to stand firm in the faith. To reach out to young people and share the love of God with them. It is easy to go about our merry way and ignore the fact that today's youth are leaving the church in droves. Kids who have claimed to have a relationship with Jesus are now living as atheists and agnostics. Seeking their own path of independence away from their parents religion.

If you are involved with the lives of youth I encourage you to spend time learning about them. Ask questions that get to their heart and help them see that you really love them. We can teach the Bible all day long, but from my experience, what they truly need is relationships. If you are not involved with the youth in your community, I encourage you to pray for those who are. We are raising the next generation of God's people and it is our responsibility to do it well.

Today's young people are bombarded with so many distractions. Internet, activities, opposing world views, unhealthy relationships, drugs and alcohol, etc... The world is pulling them away from God and I encourage you today to ask the Lord if He would have you participate in one way or another in bringing them back.