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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Chosen


What defines you? What is your identity? Is it your career or what you do such as being a parent a student or an athlete? Is it where you live? Is it some great accomplishment; or something shameful that you did? Is it a physical trait like the shape of your body or how attractive you are?

Whatever it is, one thing is for sure; your identity sets the course of your life. It gives direction to your attitudes, your beliefs, and your decisions.

In Peter’s letter, he wrote to believers that were living in a precarious time. Followers of Christ were being persecuted daily, sometimes at the cost of their lives. Peter speaks to the core of their condition… their identity. Their identity will define them because it will determine how they respond and live their lives of faith.


9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. NIV

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. MSG

These two translations of the same verses give you insights into who you are as a believer; into what, or who defines you.
You have been chosen by God to tell others about the difference that God has made in your life.

You have been chosen not because you are holy, but to be holy through God’s mercy.

You have been chosen to be a part of the people of God; not a lone ranger. You have been chosen because God has a plan and a purpose for your life. You are a child of God, chosen by Him to serve and to love Him. That is your identity. That is what defines you.

Friday, January 18, 2019

FROM SLAVE TO HEIR

Bible Passage: Titus 3: 3-7

Most of us living in the suburbs or “nicer” areas of Columbus know little of the slavery that brought about the Civil War in our country. We’ve only read stories of those times. And today, though our awareness is being raised to the fact that modern-day slavery is still alive and well in many parts of the world, we don’t have first-hand understanding.

To be a slave means one is property of another and is forced to obey them. A slave is completely subservient to a dominating influence. Paul, in his letter to Titus, likens our lives to that of slaves when we lived apart from God:

            “For we ourselves have known what it is to be ignorant, disobedient, and
            deceived, the slaves of various desires and pleasant feelings, while our lives
            were spent in malice and jealousy – we were hateful and we hated each
            other.”                         (Titus 3: 3, J.B. Phillips New Testament Translation)

We were owned, as it were, by Satan and under his power, subservient to his influence. We were without hope of ever getting out from under his domination – no matter what we would do, we were powerless to either escape or gain our freedom. In this slavery, we do have first-hand knowledge!

God, came as a buyer at the slave market and saw us on the sale block, available to be sold to yet another sin taskmaster. He purchased us, and then, because of His kindness and love, did a strange thing – He gave us our freedom! But it wasn’t because of any moral achievements on our part (Remember, as slaves, we were hopeless and helpless to secure our escape from moral depravity). He bought our freedom through Christ, declaring us no longer slaves but His children, and therefore, heirs of all Heaven has to offer – so much more than we can think or imagine: His grace, His mercy, eternal life. (see Romans 8:15-17)

Thank you, Father, that we no longer need to be slaves of sin, but because of your mercy and grace, we can be called your children and gain the inheritance you have for your heirs. Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Rise and Shine!

We all have morning routines, those things we do as we begin our day. Some of us get up slowly, hitting the snooze numerous times. Others, don't even need/use and alarm clock, but we are programmed to wake around the same time each day. Some of us will head to the kitchen to press the button which will brew the coffee before even letting the dog outside for a moment.

Those of us who have waited at the bedside of a loved one, knowing time was short, recognize just how miraculous it is just to great each morning by opening our eyes. Waking up each day is a big thing!  But it is one of those happenings we take for granted…until the routine changes. 

Every morning, when my eyes open for the first time, and I breathe in the first breath of the day I have an opportunity to wake up Spiritually as well. I know of some folks who immediately thank God for their new day, the fresh chance to do good, to change bad habits for loving practices; to make right, yesterday’s wrongs. We have a moment when the day is alive with opportunity to do the 'next best thing.'

I was baptized as an infant, just a couple weeks after my birth. I never considered that event, my baptism, as an awakening. But truly, that is just what it is. No matter what age you are when baptized, it is the day the Holy Spirit is awakened in us. The day the Spirit of God begins His work in us and through us.



John 3:5-8

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

His Purposes and Our Priorities


What goes through your mind in the morning before your feet hit the floor? Is it a mental listing of all that awaits you this day? Is it a lingering rehash of the today that ended as you fell asleep last night? Perhaps it is a stir-pot of emotions, whether they synergize into empowering optimism, conspire toward debilitating fear, or blend in some measure of both. Personally, a fresh to-do list and an urgency to conquer its demands greet me anew each morning as the alarm falls silent. Eager to accomplish, it is easy to bound out of bed and beeline toward first-things-first, pursuing my passions in my strength. Some such days end with the satisfaction of completion, while others draw to a close with too few checkmarks on the checklist, yet in all self-directed days, these two most vital things I carelessly leave behind—God’s purposes and His power.

To a people stirred to faith by the fresh news of the gospel and imploring, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”1 This Holy Spirit, this gift from God, elevates our perspectives and straightens our priorities. He guides us in all truth, for instance, making known to us the words and ways of Christ,2 so we can live our days effectively in newfound wisdom. When we open ourselves to the Spirit, He puts God’s desires in our heart3 and in our mind4, then His purposes become our purposes, and our life has meaning. He blesses each one of us individually with Spiritual gifts5—wisdom, knowledge, faith, discernment and others—and we go forth collectively in His power.6 Through the Spirit, God pours out his love into our soul7, and throughout a lifetime of todays He steadily transforms us into the likeness of Christ8 with ever-increasing glory9. Our days change, for we ourselves are changed, and our lives bear fruit that lasts for eternity10. In the Spirit, God’s purposes become our purposes, and before our feet hit the floor, our days become His.

Father, slow me down today and redirect me, that your purposes would supersede my purposes and my plans be subjected to yours. Grace me to see your Spirit at work all around me and deep within me, that I would join Him and bring you glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is wisdom.

1 Acts 2:37, 38
2 John 16:13-15
3 Ezekiel 36:26, 27
4 Romans 8:5
5 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
6 Acts 1:8
7 Romans 5:5
8 2 Thessalonians 2:13
9 2 Corinthians 3:18
10 John 15:16