Archives For Romans

I heard Pastor Craig Groeschel say in a recent message, “When emotions are high, wisdom is low.” How true. When we let our emotions rule the day, we are destined to say or do something we will regret. Nowhere is this more evident than in our conversations with other people. Too often we find ourselves being criticized for something or we are the ones doing the criticizing. Criticism is a cancer that should be eradicated from the life of every follower of Jesus. Our default interaction with anyone should be that of encouragement (Ephesians 4:29-32).

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Humans, as a rule, love to criticize. Whether from a place of pride or as an act of defense, criticism spills from our lips easily and without warning. Scripture contains many warnings against using criticism, but we have either forgotten or perhaps choose to ignore those parts of God’s Word.

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I believe we too often forget what a privilege it is to pray. At some point, we began to take it for granted. When was the last time you considered what was actually taking place when you began to pray? Prayer is our opportunity to talk to the one and only almighty God of the Universe. We are conversing with the One who designed and created not just ourselves, but everything on this planet and every other planet.

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Truth be told, we should all be far too intimidated and awestruck to even utter a word in His presence. In His grace, He has adopted us as sons and daughters into His family (Romans 8:14-17), which means we not only have a right to be in His presence, we have the intimacy of a familial relationship to be able to speak to Him with ease.

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We are as close to God as we want to be. Or, as A.W. Tozer put it, “Every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be.” There’s no wiggle room. You can try and rationalize, look for the gray area, or the loophole. It isn’t there. We are as close to God as we want to be. Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39 it is impossible for anything to separate us from God: not death, angels, demons, rulers, authorities, height, depth… nothing!

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There’s one thing he doesn’t cover though: ourselves. We are the “X” factor. We are the only thing that can separate us from God. We can choose to walk away. We can choose to keep Him out of our lives. Only us.

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I read a great quote from Louis Giglio: “Jesus doesn’t give you what you need; Jesus is what you need.” I think we often miss this point in our self-sufficient society. We don’t necessarily tend to think about the help we need, we only think of the stuff we need. There’s always something more we think we need to make us happy. We’re always one step away from being fulfilled.

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The common thread is we have this seemingly insatiable hole inside. We can’t seem to ever figure out what will fill it. Nothing makes the ache go away for good, so we settle for temporary substitutes hoping someday one of them will last. If you are tired of chasing after what you think you need and want, you can relax. The answer is simple and immediately available: you need Jesus.

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Over the past couple of posts (see “In the Presence of God” and “Bible Study”), I’ve been looking at some foundational aspects of following Christ. We’ve discussed prayer and Bible study, which are the linchpins in getting to know God. Today I want to wrap it up by focusing on what I see as the third, and perhaps most important, tenet in living a life wholly devoted to God: practicing obedience.

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The reason I feel this might be the most important aspect of developing your relationship with Jesus is because the other two concern learning who He is and what He’d have you to do. Practicing obedience is all about taking what you’ve learned and putting it into action.

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People are always looking to find out what God’s will is for their life. We’ve covered this in several posts before (see these posts), and the inevitable next question is, “What do I do to live out His will in my life?”. We confuse vocation with God’s will. His will is for you to look like His Son. Walk like Jesus walked, talk like Jesus talked, and love like Jesus loved; this is God’s will for your life.

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No matter what you do, if you want to be living the life you were meant to live, you’ve got to become wholly devoted to God. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. Until you are ready to give everything over to God, you will never fulfill your potential.

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On your journey to discipleship, it’s important to remember following Jesus is always about the next step. We aren’t concerned with where He’s leading us, we’re simply content to follow. A hallmark of discipleship is never looking back. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. The blood, grace, and love of Jesus makes all which has come before irrelevant. We are who He says we are, and He sees only who we are becoming.

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As far as God is concerned, the past doesn’t matter. He’s not interested in what you’ve done, only in what you will do for His Kingdom.  He holds no grudges. Jesus never looks at what you’ve messed up in the past as an indicator of what you might accomplish in the future.

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Are you available to be used by God? Before you answer, understand when God looks for an available person, He is looking for 100% availability.  Being half-committed isn’t committed at all. God is constantly seeking those who have left everything behind, taken up their cross, and declared their availability for the sake of the Kingdom.

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It’s easy to say we’re available for His service. It’s much harder to actually live an available life. A disciple of Jesus is available for anything at any time. Disciples don’t weigh the cost or try to see all the angles before answering the call. They simply proclaim their availability, and move the moment they are called.

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Jesus is love. For many of us, this goes without saying. But do we really know what it means? Recently I was reading the famous “love” passage in I Corinthians 13, and it struck me I was reading about Jesus. For years, I’ve read this passage through the lens of how to better love my wife and others. As I read this time, it suddenly occurred to me this was more than a description of what love looks like in action. It was a description of Jesus Himself.

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As the embodiment of love, I Corinthians offers us a perfect description of who Jesus is. I’m confident I’m not the first to have this revelation, but even if you’ve heard this before, take a moment to re-read the passage, substituting the word, “Jesus” every time you see the word, “love”.

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Devoted followers of Christ hate when they sin. It’s maddening. We don’t understand why we continue to do things we know are not honoring to God (Romans 7:15). If you’re like me, you may have often pondered why we sin in the first place. It seems logical our love and devotion to God would keep us close to Him and far away from sin. It would be that simple if we did not have an enemy who was constantly seeking to trip us up and eventually destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).

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While we can’t blame Satan for our failures, we can blame him for planting the seeds of those failures. Ultimately though, the reason why we sin is because we choose to take our eyes off Jesus.

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