Category Archives: Christianity

December 8; New Life, New Hope

Romans 15-16; Acts 20:7-38

Our family grew by one yesterday. My niece in California gave birth to a daughter. Isn’t the birth of a child a precious, hopeful event? That tiny, totally dependent human entrusted to her parents to nurture, instruct, mold into the person she will become. Those tiny fingers and toes, that little body houses an eternal soul. What a responsibility! What a blessing!

Some people think this world is too evil, and think we shouldn’t be having children. I am not one of them. I rejoice at the birth of my newest great-niece. I see hope in her arrival.

As I read these chapters this morning I thought of baby Keaton. I pray that she will give her heart to Jesus at an early age and be the servant of the Lord Paul talks about. I pray her life will be a testament to the goodness of God, and will inspire others to want Jesus in their lives, too.

I know life won’t always be easy for her. But I pray that she will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture and know the strength that comes from a relationship with God Himself. So, using Paul’s words, let me say to our precious Keaton…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Your Aunt Connie is praying for you, sweetheart.

December 7; It Couldn’t Hurt

Romans 11:11-14:23

You know, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Romans 12 read aloud at the start of every day in our public schools. It certainly couldn’t hurt to have it read before every political meeting, or at the beginning of impeachment hearing testimony. And I think it would benefit us all if each of us began our day reminding ourselves what God said through Paul:

  1. Be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
  2. Don’t conform to the world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
  3. Use your gifts and abilities for the good of others.
  4. Love sincerely.
  5. Hate sin – not the sinner.
  6. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
  7. Learn to share.
  8. Don’t be conceited.
  9. Don’t seek revenge.
  10. Do what is right; live in peace
  11. Be kind to people who aren’t kind to you.
  12. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I think we need to read this chapter often, and learn to do what it says. It couldn’t hurt!

December 6; Giving the Most Precious Gift

Romans 8:18-11:10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…foe “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

I hope you remember that experience in your own life, the day you confessed and believed that Jesus is the risen Savior, the day you became a child of God as you called on the name of the Lord. I hope you think about that day often, and celebrate the truth that your sins are forgiven, and eternity with God is ahead.

We are in the midst of getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Most of us have our shopping lists, the names of loved ones written next to the ideal gift we plan to give them. But Christmas is more than that, isn’t it? It is about Jesus.

If you have not called on the name of the Lord, and allowed Him to forgive your sins, to rescue you from eternity without Him, let me encourage you to do that today. In the hustle and bustle of the season, take a minute, and picture that baby lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds, kings, and angels. And understand there is only one gift He wants. He wants you.

You are the most precious gift you could ever give to Jesus, the one who loves you more than you know.

December 5; Delivered

Romans 5:1-8:17

Can a Christian sin? Paul certainly sounds like he struggled with sin. I John 1:8 tells us we deceive ourselves if we say we don’t sin. Galatians 5:17 says there is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. Plus, I don’t have to look farther than my nose to know Christians can sin.

But believers in Christ have something non-believers don’t have. We have victory. We have the Holy Spirit right there inside us, eager to help us resist temptation. We have the very power of God to fight our enemy, and the grace of God who forgives us when we ask.

“What a wretched man I am!” Paul exclaimed. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (from 8:24)

The sin of a Christian is no less serious than the sin of an atheist. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is death. Your sin. And mine.

The answer to Paul’s question, “who will deliver me,” is found in verse 25:

Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God will deliver you, too, if you ask. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He is faithful and just to forgive us all when we confess our sin. Thanks be to God!

 

December 4; Double Paying A Debt

Romans 2-4

God, through Paul, tells us all  have sinned. No one reaches God’s glory, His holiness. We can’t come close.

God’s holiness is the plumb line, and all of us have deviated from that line of perfection. If you believe you haven’t, you are delusional. That deviation is called sin. And we will find out in chapter 6 of Romans that the penalty for sin is death.

It is therefore impossible to make up for sin by doing good things. Doing good things is not death. And sin demands death.

Now, think through this with me. If all have sinned, then you and I are sinners. If the consequence for sin is death, the only way you or I can pay for our sin debt is by dying, which would mean going to hell.

Paul tells us Jesus paid what it is impossible for us to pay in this lifetime. You cannot die to pay for your own sin, then live again. But Jesus can – and did!

You can’t die, spend some time in hell to satisfy your sin debt, then wake up one day and continue life on Earth debt-free. But Jesus did exactly that for you!

The only thing you or I have to do in this lifetime is to take what Jesus died to give us. He paid the price for our sin, yours and mine. He’s standing there holding a “Paid in Full” receipt. Yet some will ignore what is right in front of them, and pay their debt themselves. They would rather face judgment on their own, instead of wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

That’s like double paying a debt. I’m six months from paying off my car loan. That would be like me writing that last check, then going to the bank and saying, “I’d like to pay for my car again.” That would be crazy.

But I think refusing what Jesus died to give you is crazy, too. You can live a debt-free life right now, forgiven of sin, with an unimaginably fabulous eternity ahead. Or you can plant your feet and take on the challenge of paying your own debt.

Just understand, you’ll have to die to do it.

December 3; Struggles and Saints

2 Corinthians 11:16-13:14; Romans 1

Sometimes I think we look at people like the late Billy Graham, or Ravi Zacharias, or Charles Stanley and believe they are super-Christians, immune to Satan’s attacks. We see them as godly, put-together, strong men in the Lord, and we forget they are (or were) as human as we.

Paul listed, rather embarrassingly, his achievements and the many ways God demonstrated His Presence in Paul’s life over the years. A person could look at that and think, “Wow! Paul is really special!”

Including Paul, evidently. The apostle admitted he struggled with pride, so God allowed Paul to carry a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. Paul freely talked about his weaknesses. He was human.

But I love that Paul used even his failures and struggles to learn something about God. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” he heard God say. (12:9)

Then in verse 10:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s strength wasn’t within himself. Paul’s strength was from God. And Paul learned that truth through the struggles.

Even saints struggle. That’s why we need to keep praying for each other. Have you prayed for your pastor today? He struggles. Have you prayed for your Sunday School teacher? What about the music minister, the nursery worker, the sweet elderly lady who makes the best banana pudding in the world?

A person can stand before thousands and preach the Word of God with power, and still struggle. A person can sit quietly in a pew week after week, smile and shake your hand, while battling Satan in her heart.

Let’s determine to pray for each other, even if the outside appearance is put together. If you struggle, so do they. That’s why today, I have prayed that God will do a work in the hearts and lives of any who read this post, especially those of us who are struggling.

Dear God, I pray that You will wrap Your arms around your people today and give strength to those of us who are struggling. I pray for victory over Satan’s attacks, joy over sorrow, wisdom over foolishness. And I pray that because of whatever it is we are going through, our relationship with You will grow sweeter and stronger. Thank you for your Presence, and your strength for struggling saints,

 

 

December 2; An Outpouring of Thanks

2 Corinthians 7-11

God’s timing makes me smile sometimes.

Paul is writing to the Corinthians about financial giving, especially toward missionary endeavors. Now these chapters have been in the Bible for centuries, I have read them multiple of times myself, and even taught a Bible study from them. But today, God directed Paul’s words specifically toward me.

Because yesterday, our pastor introduced the Southern Baptist Mission Board’s annual Lottie Moon offering for the month of December. See what I mean about God’s timing? Our pastor, a former missionary, is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the whole world. His enthusiasm is contagious.

During his sermon he asked us to pray that God would give us each a number, an amount God would have us contribute toward our church’s goal, which by the way, seems a staggering goal compared to what we’ve given in the past. Like I said, his enthusiasm is contagious.

Anyway, as I was reading this morning and realized Paul was talking about financial support of missions, I stopped and asked God to put a dollar amount on my heart. As I read, a number kept coming to mind. “I can do that,” I answered.

I kept reading, and another, larger amount came to mind. “Really? Well, ok. I can do that,” I said. As I continued to read, another, even larger amount came to mind.

I quit reading.

Just kidding. In fact, I find it thrilling that God and I had that personal conversation this morning. Don’t you love reading His Word?

Paul said the poverty in the Macedonian churches “welled up in rich generosity.” Why shouldn’t I express rich generosity, too? I am not in poverty. He challenged me to “excel in this grace of giving.” I think I need to take that challenge.

Then Paul said, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously, will also reap generously.” That was like a dagger to my heart.

I have to ask myself what kind of harvest I am expecting from my financial support of missions. Do I want just a tiny harvest of souls introduced to Jesus through my tiny contribution? Or do I want an extravagant number of souls saved through my extravagant gift?

I wonder how big a check any of us would write if we knew that $1=one eternal soul. Would $10 be sufficient? Is that what we are sowing, hoping for 10 people to come to the Lord?

I believe God has laid a number on my heart, and I will continue to pray and read His Word to be sure that number is truly from Him. I want to write a check equal to what God is asking of me, not because I want to please our new pastor, or to help our church reach it’s goal.

I want to give what God has laid on my heart because, like Paul said in 9:12, it is an “outpouring of thanks to God.”

And, friend, I have lots of reasons to give thanks to God. Lots of reasons! And I am learning that supporting missions is one way I can express my thanks to my generous Lord.