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3 Irresistible Reasons to Get Away with Anything

Let’s be honest. I really like to do what I want, when I want, the way I want. I don’t like to be told no. And I certainly don’t like someone to call my choices sinful. So I’ve developed these three irresistible reasons to help me get away with anything. Just read the headings and you’ll get the idea. But don’t stop there.

Read the explanation to discover why there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Irresistible Reason #1 | Don’t Judge Me

You can’t judge me. The Bible says so. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1).

But that’s not all it says, and there’s a reason for it. You can’t live a healthy, happy life without good judgment. The principle being taught isn’t, “don’t judge”. It’s way better than that.

There’s a difference between being judgemental and practicing good judgment. 

For example, when I tell my son not to touch a hot stove because he’ll get burned, I’m teaching him to practice good judgment. When I tell him how stupid and moronic he is for even thinking about touching a hot stove, or when I tell him how much better I am than him because I would never touch a hot stove, that’s being judgmental. One is helpful, constructive, protective and teaches wisdom. The other is condemning, destructive and causes the kind of resentment that leads people to ignore legitimate warning signs.

We all need help learning good judgment. Sometimes others see the danger ahead before we do. No one needs the arrogance of self-righteousness thrown in their face.

Irresistible Reason #2 | Don’t Throw the First Stone

My sin isn’t any worse than yours. The Bible says so. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7).

This is a pretty effective trump card. Someone takes a stand to identify something sinful. Someone else is quick to remind them, “But you sin too. Your sin is no worse than mine.” And then follows the silence.

Like the crowd that condemned the woman caught in adultery, when confronted by the truth of their own sin the crowd is silenced and one-by-one slips off into history. It’s true. We all sin. And your sin is no better than mine. But the principle being taught is so much better than that.

There’s a difference between being condemned for your sin and confronted because of your sin.

This crowd wasn’t confronting sin. They were condemning the woman. Like the difference between being judgmental and practicing good judgment, Jesus confronts their sin. But the crowd didn’t stick around long enough to hear the rest of the story. Instead, they left. They left alone, reminded of their failure, without hope of redemption.

We all sin. It’s true. But there is hope beyond condemnation. It’s a hope we’ll never know until someone confronts our sin.

Irresistible Reason #3 | Jesus Loves Everybody

Jesus loves me and accepts me as I am. You should too. The Bible says so. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19).

Jesus does love you. He taught, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He went further than that. He said, “Love your enemy.” But what does love do? If we finish the story of the woman caught in adultery we see what love does. After the crowd is silenced and slips off alone Jesus turns to the woman to ask a question, “Who condemns you?” She answers, “No one.” He responds, “Neither do I.”

Love wins.

Jesus, the only one truly worthy of being judgmental and casting condemnation, makes a loving choice. He chooses not to condemn. He gives her the very thing she needs. It’s the same thing the crowd needs. It’s the same thing you and I need.

Jesus forgives.

But it’s so much better than that.

Forgiveness isn’t the end of the thing. It’s the beginning. After forgiving, Jesus lovingly confronts the woman, without being judgmental he encourages her to practice good judgment. He says, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

The grace Jesus gives to forgive also empowers me to overcome sin.

All of this can be said a bit more plainly.

  • God loves people.
  • Sin hurts people.
  • Jesus died for my sin and rose from the dead.
  • Jesus forgives my sin.
  • The grace Jesus gives to forgive also empowers me to overcome sin.
  • It is my intention, out of gratitude for the sacrifice made for me and the knowledge that sin hurts me, to confess and overcome sin in my life.
  • The love of God compels me to share these truths with others. What truth?
  • God loves people. Sin hurts people. Jesus died for your sin and rose from the dead. Now you can be forgiven and overcome sin.

Next time you need a reason to do something sinful, remember these three, and remember the deeper truth behind them all.

Do You Follow?

Jesus was so secure with who He was that He had no anxiety being around the dysfunction of others. He was never concerned that being around “those people” would somehow rub off on Him.

He would comfortably interact with rich & poor, sinners & self-righteous. His comfort would extend beyond Himself to make those trapped in their own dysfunction believe they could follow Him and find something more.

They followed Him.

Following led to belief. Belief led to obedience. Today, no matter what you believe or how you behave, regardless of doubts, denial or dysfunction…

Follow Him.

Follow Me: FLIPPED, Upside-Down Living

Most of us get it backwards. We think the key to the life we’ve always wanted is to believe the right things and behave the right way. Just take a look at social media. Facebook Philosophers regularly post one-liners, pics and quotes intended to inspire, challenge, convict and guilt people into changing what they believe and how they behave. We see this in politics as well. We pass laws based on our beliefs designed to manage someone’s behavior with words on a page.

It makes sense that we would think the key to success in life is belief and behavior. They’re both measurable. One by what we say. The other by what we do. But when it comes to discovering and living spiritual truth there is a far more important practice than belief and behavior. It’s the way Jesus did it and it’s far less complicated than we want to make it.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

When Jesus approached Peter, James and John, three fishermen on the shore of the sea of Galilee, he didn’t give them a list of qualifications. He never asked for their résumé. He simply said, “Follow me.” Later Jesus goes to Matthew. He’s working in the tax office. Jesus doesn’t look at Matthew and say, “Believe this, obey that.” Instead, he looks at Matthew and says, “Follow me.”

We see this pattern in the Old Testament too. God goes to Noah and later Abraham and essentially says, “Follow me.” And they do. Most people think of religion as a list of rules and regulations. When I say Old Testament I’m guessing one of the first things that comes to mind is the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were first given to Moses. Moses lived about 600 years after Abraham. For 600 years there was no list, only one explicit request, “Follow me.”

When asked what made Jesus tick he responded simply, “I do the things I see my Father do. I say the things I hear my Father say.” In other words Jesus said, “I follow him.”

We get it backwards. We try to convince ourselves and everyone else that if we will believe the right things and behave the right way only then we can follow Jesus. But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “Follow me.”

Follow him long enough and belief will come. We see that in the Disciples. Following leads to belief. Belief leads to changed behavior.

We understand this. We do it everyday on Facebook and Twitter. We click “like”. We press “follow”.  And suddenly we receive regular updates about the thoughts and actions of the people we find interesting. We may agree or disagree. But either way, the people we follow influence the thoughts we have.

I don’t know what you think about Jesus or Christianity. Maybe you don’t put a lot stock in anything spiritual or religion related. Maybe you grew up in church. Maybe you’ve been burned. Maybe you’re doing all the right things, all the right way. No matter where you are, you’re in a good place to start. My challenge for you today isn’t that you would change your beliefs or behavior, but that you would, for a season try one simple thing.

“Follow him.”

Let me be clear. I don’t mean follow his followers. I mean follow him. Go to Biblegateway.com or YouVersion.com. Search for the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John in the New Living Translation and start reading. Read a little every day. Let’s say, one chapter each day. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. I read things online or in the newspaper everyday I don’t believe. Just like checking Facebook or Twitter get in the habit of reading a chapter from the Bible each day. Follow him.

These thoughts inspired by Andy Stanley.

Passion Week: Celebrate the Cruelty


1 John 4

This week my church hosted an event called the Passion Week Experience. It’s a fresh look at an ancient practice. People experience eight stations of the cross and interact with the elements and events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. The experience is deeply personal, emotional and meaningful.

As a Believer it’s a story with which I’m very familiar. But that’s not the case for everyone. Wednesday night we have a group of English Language Learners classes for people who want to learn to better speak, read and understand English. In the class are people of about 8 different nationalities. A few of them are Chinese. This past Wednesday night our ELL leaders took their students through the Passion Week Experience. Their reaction was interesting.

As they walked through each station they said, “I thought Easter was about the bunny. I thought it was a celebration of spring.” Our leaders were able to explain that Easter is a time when we remember the betrayal, torture, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were shocked. Their next question was significant.

“But why would you celebrate such cruelty?”

It does seem strange to honor instruments of torture, to reflect on the last meal of a man doomed to death, to approach with reverence and wonder the oils and spices used to embalm a decaying corpse. But it’s only strange if you consider one side of the story. It’s the rest of the Passion Week story that gives us cause to celebrate. These were the tools God used to provide for your salvation and mine. This was the method he chose to deliver you from your sin. This was the act that would allow someone else to receive in our place the punishment we deserved. That punishment was poured out on God’s son, Jesus.

And that’s where the Passion Story gets even better. Jesus died, but he rose again. He lives today and offers forgiveness to all who believe. He wants to forgive you. Will you receive it?

There’s another passion station. It’s a representation of the Holy of Holies with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. I’m grateful for the artist who built this Ark. It’s so well done we told people we found it in a crate in a government warehouse somewhere in Nevada! (lame movie reference).

In the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant was in the Temple and separated from the people. It sat in the Holy of Holies and represented the place that was filled with the holy presence of God. No on could enter but the High Priest and he could only enter once per year after making atonement for his sins so that he could make atonement for the sins of a nation. Because sin can’t live in the presence of the holiness of God there are stories in the Old Testament of people who died simply because they touched the Ark of the Covenant!

It’s led to lots of speculation about what might happen if someone touched our replica. But that answer is simple. Nothing. Not because it’s a replica, but because the veil is torn. Jesus paid the price for your sin and mine. On the day he died on the cross the veil that separated man from God was torn in half from top to bottom. God opened the Holy of Holies and said, “Come in, you’re welcome here because of Jesus work on the cross.” There’s even a verse that tells us, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter the Holy of Holies because of the blood of Jesus.” That’s the real meaning of Passion Week.

Passion Week is a celebration of cruelty. The worst form of capital punishment ever conceived was used on Jesus, the blameless son of God. He willingly received it and gave up his life so that we might be forgiven of our sin. Jesus proved his passion for us. Today, through Jesus, we can have peace with God and a deep and intimate relationship with him. We can boldly enter his presence and experience his grace, love, peace, kindness and favor.

How will you celebrate this Passion Week? Will you celebrate the cruelty? Will you reflect on the sacrifice? Will you remember the end of the story? Jesus is alive! He is risen! Will you place your faith in him and trust Jesus for the forgiveness of sin?

1 John 4:9-10 say, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

Celebrate the cruelty that brought grace. Experience his passion for you. Give your life to Jesus.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for going through the cruelty of the betrayal, torture and cross for me. Thank you that you loved me even before I loved you. Thank you for the life you have given me through your son, Jesus. Thank you that today I can boldly enter your presence, not because of my goodness, but because of your righteousness in me. I want to walk with you today. Don’t let me run ahead of your will or lag behind. But help me stay right with you where you are. Give me boldness and courage to share your story with others and allow me the privilege of seeing people come to faith in you. This Easter, let people remember, let them experience this story in a way that is deep, intimate, meaningful, personal and powerful. Thank you, Father.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Generosity: How Jesus Will Make Much of You


Malachi 3

Malachi 3 is a big chapter. If you’ve been in church for any length of time you’ll be familiar with the passage that says, “Would a man rob God?” The rest of that passage challenges us to test God’s faithfulness by giving our tithes and offerings. Those are important principles to learn. We don’t give to receive. We don’t give out of compulsion or coercion. The truth is, we don’t even give because the church needs our money. We give because we need to learn to give. One of God’s goals for his people is that we would learn to be generous. Generosity is quality of character that can be developed. Systematic, percentage giving is the discipline that strengthens that quality of character much like running strengthens your cardiovascular system. If you’re not systematically giving away a percentage of your income to some good godly purpose on a regular basis I want to challenge you to begin. Generosity reveals a depth of love you’ll never fully grasp until you do.

But that’s not what I want us to focus on today. Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross…”

Malachi 3 begins with a prophecy about John the Baptist. It says that someone will come to prepare the way for the Savior. It then says the Savior will come and begin to refine his people into a worthy offering to God. With this in mind it reshapes our conversation about giving money to the church. God, through Jesus is refining you into an incredible offering to God. Did you catch that? Jesus, practicing the discipline of generosity, is creating an offering to give to his father. Here’s the best part, you are the gift Jesus intends to give.

Malachi 3 says that he is refining you like a refiner of silver. He puts you through the fire to remove the dross. The dross is all the useless parts of the metal, those parts that will never add value to anyone or anything. So often when we go through the fire we get distracted and discouraged by the dross in our lives. But here’s what’s important to remember, the purpose of the fire isn’t the dross. The purpose of the fire is the silver. The dross is discarded.  What remains will be worth more than you can imagine.

I don’t know what fire you face today, but Jesus is refining you into an offering whose value is immeasurable. It’s not about the fire. It’s not about the dross. Truth be told, it’s not really even about the silver, but about the one who gives the gift and the one to whom the gift is given.

Today you may hurt because of the fire. You may feel like you’re swimming in dross. But hold on. Jesus is remaking you into a remarkable offering of inestimable value to be given to his father. As he presents you to God the windows of heaven will be open and the blessings of God will overflow. Let Jesus make much of you today. Practice the discipline of generosity. Recognize that you are being refined into Christ’s generous gift to his father and for that, you are worth more than you can possibly imagine.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sending your son. Thank you for the fire you put me through to remove the dross from my life. I don’t like the fire. I regret the dross. But I look forward to the day you will present me to our father as a perfect offering. May each day I become shaped more closely to the image you have in mind for me. May I give to you and to others out of the abundance of what you have given me. May I learn generosity. May I give more than I think I can afford and trust you to provide. May I add value to your kingdom and to everyone I encounter today.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Complain or Convince | The Squeal Heard Round the World

Philippians 2

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 2:14-16, “ Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (NKJV)

OBSERVATION

It happens with my kids all the time. Specifically, my three-year-old. Everything’s smiles and rainbows until he doesn’t get his way. What happens next is a strange mixture of PeeWee Herman and the Incredible Hulk. This once sweet-natured little momma’s boy transforms into a wrecking ball of sheer will. Combine this with a high-pitched squeal and the severity of his complaint can be heard all over the neighborhood and by dogs miles away!

A little whining is to be expected. He’s three and the youngest of four siblings. He’s learning the right way to get his way. At this point his complaints and disputes revolve around simple things like video games and basketballs. But he will grow older and his complaints will one day become something you and I are more familiar with as adults. My prayer for him as he matures is that he would internalize these verses. I pray that he would learn to do all things without complaining or disputing.

I don’t expect him to be passive. I don’t expect him to just shut up and take it. God doesn’t call us to be anyone’s door mat. In moments when things aren’t going our way God does for you and me what I hope I can do for my kids. He trains us to find a better way.

Life is full of moments where you don’t get your way. Your job will come with people and circumstances that aren’t fair and tasks no one wants to do. Sometimes you’ll get what you deserve. Sometimes you won’t. Philippians 2:14-16 are clear. How we respond when we don’t get our way reflects the influence our Father has on us.

I encourage my three-year-old to find a better way. Hitting, biting, pushing, screaming, wailing – these tactics virtually guarantee he won’t get what he wants. We may be adults, but when we don’t get what we want we still struggle with our own inner three-year-old.

Philippians 2:14-16 tell us the reason we should we respond without complaints or disputes. It’s because it will set us apart. It takes little effort and even less thought to complain. To find a solution takes something more.

Earlier in Philippians 2 we see Jesus lifted up as a remarkable example of humility. He was treated unfairly and punished for a crime he didn’t commit. He gave up his position in heaven. He gave up his authority as God. He gave up his rights as a man. He gave up his life on the cross. Yet he never complained. He never argued. He gave up without giving in and got exactly what he wanted.

I’m going to say that again. Jesus gave up without giving in and got exactly what he wanted. Without dispute. Without complaint. Jesus found a better way. It led to salvation for you and me.

APPLICATION

We need to learn how to do all things without complaining or disputing. It’s not about giving in. It’s about giving up. Giving up what we think are our ‘rights’ or what we ‘deserve’. Like Jesus, we need to learn to give up without giving in. We need to find a better way.

I’m trying to train my three-year-old. Here’s what I tell him.

  • USE YOUR WORDS – squealing may get my attention, but it’s not going to convince your six-year-old brother to play with you. The right thing said at the right time in the right way can make miracles happen. Sometimes brothers like to hear you squeal. Don’t give them the pleasure. Use your words. 
  • MAKE A DEAL – The art of deal making is about relationships. I want something from you. In order to get it I need to know you. I need to understand what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Armed with that knowledge I don’t complain. I convince. Yes, there’s a problem that needs solved. I could complain about it or I could convince you that I have the solution and that solution is good for you and me both.

Both of these are tough enough for me – imagine how difficult they are for a three-year-old. So I always fall back to the most important principle of the training.

  • TRUST YOUR FATHER – When words don’t work, when I’m in no position to convince I can bring my complaints to my Father and trust that he will rightly judge. He will give what I need. He will provide. He will open doors no one can close and close doors no one can open. I can trust him to do what’s right and what’s best for me. I may not always get my way, but I can trust that what I get will be what’s best.

For my three-year-old this is tough. It’s tough for me too. Sometimes he gets the ball. Sometimes he doesn’t. Either way, as his father, I protect him from things that would harm him and provide him with things that will help. He’s learning to trust me.

It’s fun to see these principles at work in my older children. As they’ve grown, I find myself the arbitrator of fewer and fewer sibling battles. They’re learning to work things out. I hear them practice these things with their friends. They come to me now with fewer complaints and spend more time trying to convince me their solution is right. We’re far from perfect, but the squeals heard round the world are gradually becoming less and less.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

I’m thankful that I can trust you. When life seems unfair, when I don’t get my way, I’m confident you’re the one guiding and protecting me. Build Philippians 2:14-16 into my heart, mind and choices. Help me find solutions. Teach me to use my words, to convince instead of complain and to trust you. Help me to do all things without complaining or disputing so that I will be found a blameless and harmless child of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation where I can shine as a light to the world. Like Jesus, help me to give up without giving in and still get exactly what you intend for me to have.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Establishing a State Religion

firstHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 13

SCRIPTURE

Romans 13:1, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”

OBSERVATION

An ancient Chinese proverb – some call it a curse – says, “May you live in interesting times.” For those who are Believers we certainly live in interesting times. History books have called America a Christian nation. Without an official edict or government mandate the history of the U.S.A. is filled with stories of people who have placed their faith in God and called on Jesus as their Savior. Our Ivy League institutions were founded as centers for higher learning. Many were focused on teaching people and preachers the depths of theology in preparation for ministry. Higher learning in these days meant not only the advancement of traditional sciences but a recognition that there is more to this world than science can explain. God is on high and any truly higher learning must include a study of him.

But we’ve gotten away from this as a nation. Our Ivy League schools are more interested in business, law, science and engineering. Our government still doesn’t have an officially established religion, but it would seem we do have a State sponsored set of doctrine.

  • Prayer in schools and government institutions is acceptable, just don’t mention Jesus.
  • Talk about sin is okay, just don’t be so specific as to include sexual immorality in your discussion.
  • Conversations about how faith influences politics are just fine as long as you land on the liberal side of the aisle. If faith talk leads you to a conservative answer your words are not ‘sanctioned’.
  • Diversity of opinion is okay, encouraged even, as long as you agree with the current administration.

There’s more to the unofficial doctrine of the U.S. Government, but I won’t list it here.

Romans 13 is a challenging chapter in light of our current social and political climate. It seems this nation, once open to Christianity, is slowly rejecting the most basic principles of our faith. Our government is becoming increasingly combative toward and exclusive of people of faith. How should we respond?

APPLICATION

I won’t go into a full response here. This is post is intended to be a more devotional space. Let me point out a few things. When Paul wrote these words there was nothing ‘Christian’ about the government. Political leaders in the Romans Empire were pagan. Caesar worship was common – meaning the man at the top of the government was considered a god. The government of Rome was not inclined to assist people of any faith. They saw religion as a tool to keep the masses under control. When religion stepped out of the bounds the Roman response was quick and severe. They would identify the religion and wipe it out.

They tried this with Christianity. They didn’t like it. They didn’t understand it. They saw it as a threat. So Christians became the stuff of sport, entertainment in the Colosseum, dinner for hungry lions. During Paul’s time Christianity was so young the Roman government didn’t really know what to think about Christianity, but things were headed this direction.

Still, Paul writes Romans 13.

America, as a whole, has an established religion. We may sometimes hear the traditional language of Christianity used to describe this faith, but the heart of our established religion isn’t Jesus or the Bible. It’s secular humanism. This established religion is defended by law and slowly eating away at our religious liberties.

Yet Paul’s response is still the same. Give honor to those in authority. Paul’s example is a good one. He used his citizenship as an opportunity to spread his faith. He used the law of the day as a platform for ministry. His goal wasn’t to establish a state religion. His goal was to establish faith in Jesus Christ in the hearts of people.

His method worked. We’re still talking about his faith today.

Regardless of what our government does. Even if living your faith means facing the same persecution Paul did, respect the authority of those in office. Express your faith. Share your opinion. Use your influence, position and the laws of the day to establish faith in Jesus Christ in the hearts of people. In the end, that’s so much more valuable than trying to legally establish a state religion.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for our President, Congressional leaders and the Justices of our Courts. Bless them with your favor today. They may or may not believe they serve you. Whatever the case, surround them with people who will help establish faith in Jesus Christ in their hearts. Let them know your favor in every position, law, argument and issue that lines up with your will and your way. Resist them in every plan that is contrary to you. Teach them to lead well.

Since we are a government of, by and for the people – convict the people of our nation, grant us the gift of repentance and the capacity for forgiveness. I ask you to bless America, but not simply with prosperity and peace. Bless us with your presence and the courage and strength to follow you.

Show me how I can use my influence, position, citizenship and the laws of our day to establish faith in Jesus Christ in the hearts of people.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Good is Not Enough

be goodHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 10

SCRIPTURE

Romans 10:1-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Paul expresses the same heart for the people of his nation that I have for the people of mine. I wish they would ‘get it’. I’m surrounded by passionate, committed and capable people. Our nation is filled with smart people, many who try daily to live a good life. They actively try to create more value than they consume. They are enthusiastic but with misdirected zeal. They misunderstand God’s way of making people right with himself. They refuse to accept God’s way. They cling to their own good and reject the work Christ has already accomplished for them.

APPLICATION

What do people see of the work of Christ in me? Do the people around me hear my good intentions, see my good works, experience my good deeds and assume all this happens because I’m a good guy? Or do they understand there’s more to me than meets the eye? How will they know. It’s good to be good. Everyone wants to be liked and feel good about the choices they make. Good is good.

Through the power of Christ we can be so much more. We can be godly.

Good is not enough. Good is average. It’s normal. It’s mundane. Is that what you really want? It’s really worse than that. Good is satisfying. It’s anesthetizing. It makes you feel like you’re all right. Until things get so bad you realize things aren’t really all right. Then you’re left wondering what went wrong. We were good. It was good. But it never moved beyond that.

Good is not enough.

God wants to do something in you and through you that can’t be explained because of you. It’s bigger than that – God want’s to do something in you and through you that you will NEVER be able to accomplish on your own. He wants to move you past good to make you godly.

Sincerity won’t get you there. Practice won’t help you overcome. All the education, information and inspiration in the world could double every second and still we’ll never go beyond good on our own. That takes something more. It takes the power of Christ in us.

This statement affects our life and our afterlife. It’s not just about heaven. It’s about the hear and now. Stop trying so hard to be good. Don’t settle for average. Trust Christ, follow him and discover the grace, mercy and power of life the way God intended.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thanks for surrounding me with good people. Thanks for allowing me to do good things. But I pray that we would go beyond that. Show us what it means to be godly. Give me the wisdom, courage, and strength to trust and obey you. I pray that my life would be unexplainable apart from you. I pray that my life would encourage others to be dissatisfied with good. Give me and those I influence a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Help me show people the value and reality of faith in Jesus Christ. Deepen the faith of our nation. Thank you for already completing, through Jesus, everything we need for life and godliness. Do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Free

freeHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 7

SCRIPTURE

Romans 7:14-23, “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Whether you believe the Bible or not this is a passage on which we all agree. There are times we all do things we know we shouldn’t. We know what’s right, but we choose what’s wrong. We know it’s bad for us, but we choose to do it anyway. Paul puts this in the context of the Hebrew Law. You may not. But you still know it’s true. Maybe your standard is what’s legal in our nation. Maybe you live by some kind of personal moral code. Perhaps for you it’s simply your built in sense of obligation, I ought to do this, not that. Whatever the case, we’ve all been there. We know within us what’s right and willfully choose to do the other thing.

Paul offers a reason for this. Sin lives in us. Not ‘sin’ the verb. ‘Sin’ the noun. Like ‘cancer’ the noun causes all kinds of problems in our physical body ‘sin’ the noun causes all kinds of problems in our relationship with God, one another and within our soul.

Overcoming this sin isn’t as simple as turning over a new leaf. When we do that we just find old dirt. It’s more involved than making right choices. Again like cancer, diet and exercise won’t make the cancer go away. Simply ‘choosing’ a healthy lifestyle won’t fix the broken cells. It takes something radical to remove cancer from the body. And it takes something radical for sin to be removed from our life.

Paul gives us this answer too. Romans 7:24-25, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

Jesus Christ is the antidote. He removes the sin in our life and replaces with his righteousness. Once sin is removed we have the power to make choices that aren’t sin-induced. The good things we want to do can become the good things we actually do and the bad things we want to avoid we actually successfully avoid.

It’s not about my will power, but about the power of Christ in me.

APPLICATION

The sin in my life has been dealt with by Jesus Christ. I am forgiven. I don’t have to live by the worlds rules anymore. Today, I will choose right. I will overcome temptation. I will do the right thing. I will avoid the wrong thing. I will look for opportunities to encourage others. I will forgive those who have wronged me. I will ask forgiveness from those I have wronged. I can do all these things, not because of my own will power, but because of the work of Christ in me. I’m free, so I can. Like a cancer survivor I can live my life to the fullest. Jesus has removed my sin and given me life.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for removing sin from my life and replacing it with your righteousness. Thank you that you have made me just as if I had never sinned. Today, remove me from temptation. Give me the wisdom to recognize the right path, the discernment to recognize the wrong path and the judgement and courage to choose wisely.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad


There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?

One Right Thing

Here’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 5

SCRIPTURE

RomansRomans 5:18-19, “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (NLT)”

OBSERVATION

For the past 4 chapters Paul has shown us the history of salvation. He’s made it clear that we all have a problem. That problem is sin. Sin is our disobedience to God.

  • We are sinners by nature – which means sin is built in. It’s like our DNA. We’re born with a condition that ultimately leads to our physical and spiritual death. From birth our relationship with God is broken. What caused this condition? It started with Adam. He made one wrong choice. He and Eve chose to ignore God’s Word and eat from the one tree in all the world they were told to leave alone. One wrong choice and everyone throughout history is infected with a fatal condition. But let’s not place all the blame on Adam. You would have taken a bite yourself.
  • We are sinners by choice – We don’t simply sin because of a pre-existing condition. Be honest. We sin because we like it. We like doing things our own way. We don’t like being told what to do. We enjoy getting rowdy every now and then. It’s fun to see how far we can push things before they get ‘really’ bad. We’re not looking to hurt ourselves or anyone else. We’re just looking for a good time or the freedom to do what we want, when we want, the way we want.

It’s often the word ‘JUST’ that takes us the wrong way. It’s ‘just’ one drink. It’s ‘just’ one look. I ‘just’ flirted a little. It’s ‘just’ one bill I can’t really afford. I ‘just’ lost my temper once or twice with my kids. ‘JUST’ is a little word that gets us in BIG trouble. We ‘just’ take one step that leads to another and then another. Adam ‘just’ took one bite. We ‘just’ take one step and one day turn around to find we’ve cheated on our spouse, become overwhelmed with debt, ruined our relationship with our kids or wrecked our relationships with friends.

How can we break this cycle of sin?

We can’t.

But God can. That’s what Romans 5 is all about. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (NLT)”

Jesus Christ gave his life to overcome the infection that’s killing us all. He came to restore our relationship with God. He made one right choice, one right choice after another. Adam’s bad choice, your bad choices, can be forgiven because of what Jesus did for you and me. The question is whether or not you will believe.

APPLICATION

This passage is so rich in truth, the depth of God’s love so clearly expressed. His gift is too great, his work too wonderful for me to fully appreciate. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude for the life he has given me. It’s a life that has come with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. I am blessed and it all began with one right choice. Not my choice, the choice of Jesus, the choice of Jesus to live his life God’s way and trade his life for mine.

Today, out of gratitude for the life he’s given, I will try to make one right choice, one right choice after another. I won’t try to make right choices in order to earn his favor, but because I already have it. Every time I’m tempted to say, “It’s ‘just’ one…”, I will pause to consider where this one wrong choice will lead and remember the one right choice Christ made for me.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sending your son, Jesus. Thank you for loving me in spite of me. Thank you for making a way for our relationship to be restored. Thank you for overcoming the sin nature in me and replacing it with your Spirit. Thank you for giving me the strength and courage to overcome temptation. Today, out of gratitude to you, help me make one right choice after another. Fill me with your Spirit and the fruit of your Spirit. Remove my appetite for sin and replace it with a hunger and thirst for righteousness.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad


There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?