May 3 – Walking In Newness

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” –  Romans 6:4 (NASB)

In a very real sense spiritually, all who have truly  believed in Jesus Christ have been united with Christ by faith.  His death and burial become ours and we are saved from ever experiencing our own spiritual death. Even physical death becomes for us a temporary stay until the resurrection of believers. God our Father chose us for this by his mercy. What the Son of God, made real He did out of His own love and will. By God’s grace we walk in newness of life because in Christ we died and were buried with Him, and we have also become one with Him in His resurrection. Paul uses the word “baptized” in a figurative sense; in the same way we might say someone was immersed in his work or when someone experiences a hard test of their character, we might say they underwent a baptism of trials. We experience a new quality and character to our lives, and live according to a new principle of life. As Christ’s burial shows that He actually died, a Christians’ “burial with Christ” shows that they in fact died with Him to their former sinful ways of living.

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February 16 – The Bankruptcy of Worry

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:27 (ESV)

“Don’t worry about it!” “I’m not worried, just anxious.” It seems we’re in for the worst of times and the best of times are gone forever. We know this isn’t true for we believe and trust Jesus for all outcomes. He promises we’ll have all we need. To worry is like withdrawing money from a bankrupt account⸺we get nothing. Worry, anxiety are the same. We really can’t get away with “we’re only anxious, not really worried.” Honesty will bring out the truth that anxiety is a cloak word. We might sometimes use “care” when we’re really anxious for something to happen or be over with. “When I ‘care’ over some concern” Or “When I’m eager for my child’s safe arrival home might I also worry?” We might say ‘I care’ when we mean ‘I have some worry’. The Greek uses the same word for ‘care’, ‘worry’, and ‘anxiety’. Trusting God is better than caring, worrying, or being anxious. Trust the outcome to God and it’ll be what it’ll be according to His will. We won’t live an hour more by worrying over unknown outcomes. Today, when we sense worry building, let’s trust in God’s promises.

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 February 15 – Anxious or Worried?

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” – Matthew 6:25 (NASB)

“These are the days of worry and fretting.” Is this true? Perhaps for many it is days of anxiety. If attention is given to “news” there is little reason to have confidence that all is well in our lives. We can’t begin to list all the “warnings” and “breaking news” flooding our broadcasts, newspapers, and online sources. Some translations use “anxious” as an alternative for “worry.” Our verse is much better understood in its larger context. “For this reason” indicates the connection with the preceding verses (Matthew 6:16-24). The connection between the preceding and the following passages, likely has this meaning: Since earthly treasures fail to satisfy, and setting the heart on them indicates forfeiting the enduring pleasures of heaven, the yearning for such earthly riches distorts our mental and moral vision,  And, because a choice must be made between God and Worldly wealth, we are warned to not continue setting our hearts on mundane earthly things, such as food and drink to live, or on clothes to be dressed. Our promise is that life and the value of life in God is greater than what is needed to sustain our life which God provides.

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 February 5 – Diligent Heart Care

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)

We have in this passage a warning, advice, and blessing all part of the promise that is in our selected verse. The author King Solomon is teaching his son the importance of heart care. These verses and promises are good for all and a father or mother would do well to teach them to their daughters as well. Many verses from the book of Proverbs stand alone. That is not the case with today’s verse. Verse 23 is best understood in the context of verses 20-27. The words of wisdom are important enough to not let them out of our sight. In fact they should be hidden in our heart. They bring us life and health. Our heart needs guarding for out of it’s a wellspring of how we live. The word “heart” means more than mental or emotional capacity; it also incorporates one’s values. The “heart” may commonly refer to our mind as the center of thinking and reason, but also includes our emotions, our will, and our whole inner being. The heart is the depository of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects speech (v. 24), sight (v. 25), and conduct (vv. 26, 27).

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December 23 – The Only Way

“ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (ESV)

If we know a verse really well and have heard it and seen it posted many times, it becomes easy to let its power and meaning fade a bit. Let’s not do this with this verse. This is the sixth of seven occasion that John records Jesus using the “I AM” in his proclamations regarding who He is and what He has to give to all who believe. Thomas asks what all thought, “Where are you going? How do we follow you there?” One of the 12, Thomas and all the others had a ways to go to understand fully the mission and purpose that brought Jesus to earth. Jesus declared that He is the way to God because He is the truth of God* and the life of God*. In this verse, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach, the only door, the only way to the Father is emphatic. Jesus emphasized that salvation, contrary to what many people think, is not obtainable through many ways. Only one Way exists*. Jesus is the only access to the Father because He is the only One from the Father.

*(cf. John 1:14; John 3:15; 11:25; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy. 2:5)

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December 22 – Even Dying, Not Ever Dead

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11:25-26 (NASB)

Of the seven significant and purposeful uses of the phrase “I AM” by Jesus that John recorded, this is the fifth one. It’s context is very important. Lazarus had died. Along with his sisters Martha and Mary, Lazarus was a dear friend of Jesus. Martha had an abstract belief in the resurrection that will happen “on the last day.” But Jesus wants Martha to know Him as the only one who can bring the dead back to life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life which a dead person is resurrected to. Jesus abides in us and He has, because who He is, life to give for He created all life in the first place. Jesus asked Martha, “Do you Believe this?” Martha confesses her belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God incarnate. Dwelling in all who believe, He is the resurrection and life to all who also dwell in Him. We live, we die, but since we have been born again by God’s Spirit we have the Son of God, who is our life and we will never die. Our life is Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life eternally living in us.

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December 18 – Expelling the Darkness

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” –  John 8:12 (NASB)

The story we remember and celebrate at this time of the year is the birth of Jesus on Earth when he emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. He did so in order to offer redemption and salvation to all who believed in Him. Today’s promise comes from another of Jesus’ “I AM” statements recorded by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of the Apostle John. Those who do like darkness do so to hide their actions. True darkness is the absence of light. Remove the light and what remains is darkness. We all understand this. If we want to expel the darkness from a room, we turn on the light switch that we have faith will cause energy to flow to a light source. In the same way Jesus says to us to follow Him because He is eternal light. In Him there is no darkness and from Him we have the Light of life, eternal life. Following is an act of faith and the Light is an act of Grace and the ability to do so, it a gift promised from God.

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 November 9 – Here, There, Everywhere.

“If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.” – Psalm 139:9-10 (NASB)

Just as it is impossible to hide any thought or deed from our omniscience God, it is impossible to find a place to hide ourselves from Him. There is nowhere our omnipresent God is not. We wish to be totally alone sometimes and we can do that for a season but not from God. Even those who live a self-sufficient life eventually have contact with others. But, if our desire is to be apart from God, that will not happen. Wherever we go, God is there, His presence is in every place we can possibly go. The highest heavens above or the depths of the realm of the dead below, are used as extreme contrasts of locations from one another in this psalm. If we could ride the ‘chariot of the breaking light of dawn,’ which comes rabidly from the utmost reaches of the seas’ eastern horizons, even then we will cannot escape the presence of our Lord God Almighty. Perhaps, it’s good to know that those who reject the work of Christ for salvation through their life and death will live in total darkness and separation from all others and without God for God will accommodate them afterlife.

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 October 27 – A Different Life-Giving Bread

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.” – John 6:47-48 (NASB)

When the Apostle John wrote the Gospel bearing his name, it had been nearly 30 years since the last Gospel According to Luke had been written and circulated among the towns and cities through the established churches. “Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” (ego eimi, Gr.) in the Greek text of this gospel*. He joins His “I AM” with seven tremendous metaphors which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world.**” Let’s take notice of Christ’s use of this metaphor “I am the Bread of Life” follows immediately His statement that those who believe already have eternal life. Jesus says “I most solemnly assure you…” As the Bread of Life Jesus is telling those listening, and now reading, that this bread does what no other bread does. It is more than even the daily manna God sent from heaven when they were wandering in the wilderness. It imparts and sustains spiritual life; it banishes spiritual death. However, it even affects the body, raising it up in the last day so that it may be conformed to the glorious body of him who is the bread of life (cf. Phil. 3:21).

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*(4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8)

**John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Jn 6:35.

 October 23 – Testimonies of His Mouth

“In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.” – Psalm 119:88 (ESV)

Is your world pressing in on you and keeping from you the peace that surpasses all comprehension? It happens. We may wish for our lives to be easy all the time – if it ever is at all. Everything in our lives may, for a season, seem to be rolling along in a positive direction and then BLAM! From out of nowhere comes something we do not expect and would never choose. Sometimes it is a loss from a natural disaster – we’re thinking of the many who lose their homes in hurricanes, tornados, flooding and fires. Or is it a sudden illness, a diagnosis we can’t bear hear? But there it is, and we’re just not ready. And the most difficult might be the unthinkable loss of someone dear and near; a husband, a wife, a child, a close friend. The sudden loss of a life partner way too soon certainly is a really difficult circumstance to cope with. Look at the verse now. God’s love for us is steadfast, even when our loss is greater than ever imagined. His lovingkindness will give us hope and his testimonies from His word are good to keep in mind and heart. 

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