Defined By God

When we are secure in our identity in Christ, we are free to have relationships that are not defined by comparing ourselves with others, but by caring for others.  If our sense of personal worth comes from how God feels about us, treats us, and remakes us as His children, then we don’t have to prove ourselves in categories of better and worse, more and less, or ahead and behind in how we measure up against the people in our lives.  Instead of ranking ourselves as better off than others or resenting others who we think are better off than ourselves, we can joyfully love and serve them as equal image-bearers of God.

He Has Kept All Of His Promises To Me

Great is MY faithfulness is not part of a proverb or hymn.  Nobody would ever celebrate my ability to do what I should do or do what I say I will do.  I’m both a promise-maker and a promise-breaker.  A thousand times I have failed to follow-through on my intentions in keeping God’s expectations as I have followed Jesus.  And a thousand times I have received in return… Grace.  Mercy.  Forgiveness.  Encouragement.  Renewal. Correction. Power.  Motivation. Reassurance.  Acceptance.  Instruction.  Hope. Love.  I cannot say that I have kept all of my promises to God. But I can say that He has kept all of His promises to me.

Not To Us, But To God Be The Glory

Christians should talk more about what God does than about what we do.  Even when we speak of what we do, it should be as a platform to talk about the enabling power, provision and presence of God in our lives.  We don’t have it all together.  We won’t get it all together.  We can’t keep it all together.  None of us wear capes as if we are super Christians; we wear the righteousness of Jesus.  None of us have magical powers that enable us to do things; we have the power of the Holy Spirit.  None of us belong on the throne of worship; we belong to a Heavenly Father Who does.  Not to us, but to God be the glory!

His Help

While grace is available to us all the time, we do not experience its every benefit all the time. We often miss blessings that could be ours.  Why?  Because of sin-created barriers.  We don’t think we need God’s help, don’t remember to ask for God’s help, don’t believe God will send help, and/or refuse the help that He sends.  But here is good news: Jesus is our great Barrier-Remover!  Therefore, let us… Acknowledge our need for His help, ask for His help, anticipate His help, accept His help, act by His help, and adore Him for His help.  When we do, we can be sure of this:  Jesus will not push us away; He will make us a way.

Conviction And Celebration

Christians should know two feelings better than anyone else:  conviction and celebration. We must never lose sight of this:  our sin is great.  We must never lose hope in this:  our Savior is greater.  A right response to our unfolding transformation as we follow Jesus in faith is the ongoing rhythm of repenting of our sin and rejoicing in our salvation.  We were guilty, yet acquitted.  We were undeserving, yet rewarded. We were trapped, yet freed.  May we know the humbling, exalting experience of knowing both our sinfulness and our Savior.  Let us be glad in this: Our sin may have begun our story, but the grace of God will end it.

If It’s Good, It’s From God

Pride includes thinking and acting and speaking as if self is the source of everything good about who you are, what you have and what you do.  Humility includes the opposite.  It recognizes that we would be nothing good, have nothing good and do nothing good apart from the grace of God.  We can know whether we are prideful or humble by whether we take credit ourselves or give it to God, take charge ourselves or trust in God, and take care of ourselves or rely on God.  Today, let us humbly and joyfully praise Him for all that is good about ourselves and our lives, remembering this:  If it’s good, it’s from God.

I Understand

There are two words that Christians ought to use regularly to encourage believers and engage with non-believers:  I understand.  We get it that perfection isn’t possible.  We get it that mistakes will be made.  We get it that flaws will come forth. We are all sinners who struggle with being the people we were made to be and doing the things we were made to do, even if we have been following Jesus for decades.  We never outgrow our need for His forgiveness and help.    Others need to hear us honestly acknowledge that we are fellow-sojourners who fail and fall too. And that we know where to go for grace when we do.

Instead Of Condemning Others

When we remember and rejoice in Jesus’ removal of our own condemnation, we will stop condemning the people around us.   For those of us who have received His priceless gift of salvation, there is no condemnation for our sins, though we were rightly deserving of that condemnation.  By the lavish grace of God, we are pardoned.  Guilty, yet set free.  Flawed, yet forgiven.  Outsiders, yet welcomed in.  Enemies, yet made family. Deserving of hell, yet shown mercy.  Wages of death earned, yet eternal life freely given.  Instead of condemning others, let us point them to the fountain of grace we ourselves are drinking from.

Empty Of Self, Full Of Jesus

The world says you can get what you want in life if you believe and behave the right way. You just need to be full of… Self-confidence.  Self-value.  Self-motivation.  Self-effort.  Self-interest.  Self-reliance. In order words, you need to be full of self.  But that simply doesn’t work for long, if at all.  The Bible says something radically different:  that we need to be empty of self and full of Jesus.  So, let us ask God to drain us of all that would get in the way of our more fully enjoying all that He has for us.  Looking to Jesus to evaluate, encourage, empower and exhilarate us, we will find the happy life we’ve been looking for elsewhere.