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  • Romans 3:9-20 - Hurts So Good

    Sometimes the truth hurts, but God's truth hurts in order to heal. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 3 Q. How do you come to know your misery? A. The law of God tells me. Summary One of our human tendencies is to lay blame on others while claiming yourself as blameless. These actions are common in children, yet adults are not immune to this either. It is this type of situation to which Paul steps in to give clarification. In these passages Paul argues that the Jewish believers were not in a superior position to the non-Jewish followers of Christ. The crux of his argument is the fact that both are under sin. Paul quotes a series of Old Testament passages from the Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah which together show the sinfulness of all mankind. Following this reminder of the sinfulness of all people, Paul points out in v19 that the law, in what we today call the Old Testament, was written to the Jewish people. The words so that every mouth may be stopped come as a reference to court customs of the Jewish people. When someone was done with their defense, they would put their hand over their mouth to signify they were finished speaking in their own defense. Since the law was given to the Jewish people, their mouths are silenced, for there is nothing else they can say in their defense. They were given the law, and Paul was certain to point out that they did not keep the law. In v20, Paul gives the clarification the Jewish people needed to hear: no one can be justified by upkeeping the law. Yes, they had the law, but they were unable to keep it. Instead, the function of the law is the agent through which we come to know our sin. Dig Deeper Learning is a life-long process. Regardless of what kind of diploma one might go on to earn, there is always more to know. Some of this is based upon our own limitations to learn, our inclination to forget, or more information being discovered. There are different ways that we learn, through life experience, a class, or reading a book. When it comes to our sin, which is the source of our misery, the Bible is where we learn the depth of our sinfulness. While it is unpleasant to be confronted with your own sinfulness, this serves an important role in your life. It is through this confrontation with our sin that we come to know the depth of our misery and our need for a savior. Truly, if you had no awareness of your debt of sin, how then could you come to know your need for the grace of Jesus? Praise God for all that He does on our behalf, including giving us the Word of God which makes us aware of our sinful state and need for redemption. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father in heaven, your name is holy, and your law demands perfect righteousness. ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Keep me close to your law, so that I continually recognize my own sinfulness and cling even tighter to the cross of Christ. ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 6

  • 2 Timothy 1:6-9 - Elegant Simplicity

    The message of the Bible is complex, but it's not complicated. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 2 Q. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort? A. Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Summary The Bible certainly has implications for every facet of life, and over the millenia, tens of thousands of pages of deep and complicated theology have been written unpacking the rich truth contained in scripture. But the primary message of the Bible is elegant in its simplicity. You only need to know three things. Paul explains this to young Pastor Timothy in today's passage. First, know that God has saved you... not because of anything you have done, but because of his own purpose and grace (v9a). The fact that you need salvation in the first place presupposes that you have something that you need salvation from. This is why the Bible goes to such great lengths to show you 'how great [massive] your sin & misery are.' Second, having recognized your need for salvation, you can trust in Christ alone, who who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (v10). Finally, knowing that you have been saved from your overwhelming sin problem must result in gratitude that changes the way you live. Not only did Jesus save you, but He called you to a holy life (v9a). Dig Deeper Notice the aggressive language Paul exhorts you with in this passage: fan into flame the gift of God (v6) Christians aren't timid, rather they're full of power, love & self discipline (v7) Don't be ashamed... suffer for the gospel by the power of God (v8) Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you (v14) As you begin a new year, pray that you will understand these three basic facts: that you'll come to recognize the depth of your sin (your Guilt), the magnitude of what Christ did to save you (Grace), and that in response you'll aggressively demonstrate your Gratitude by living a holy life. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father who by His power saved you and called you to a holy life (v9) ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Repent of your sin, thank God for His salvation through Christ, and ask for strength to live a holy life. ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 5

  • 2 Peter 1:3-11 - Comfortable Tension

    To fully enjoy the comfort & assurance of your fully accomplished salvation, you must make every effort! Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Summary Maybe you've heard the trite little Christian saying that "Jesus + nothing = everything." Peter would have loved it! It nicely summarizes the opening statement of his second letter: Christ's power: has given us everything we need; through our knowledge of Him; since: He called us by His own glory and goodness and He has given us His promises. It's truths like this that provide you with the 'assurance of eternal life' that the Catechism mentions. Your certainty comes from the fact that Christ has fully accomplished your salvation, and there's nothing you need to add to it. Yet Peter prescribes more addition! In v5 he writes, make every effort to add... not to your salvation, because that's complete in Christ, but add to your faith. He repeats this command to make every effort again in v10, and this time he explains why: to confirm your calling and election. So certainly be assured of your salvation, but at the same time make every effort to live a godly life. The good works that result from these efforts will bolster the assurance and confidence you've already been given. Dig Deeper This famous first question and answer of the Catechism is like a warm blanket in a cold world, reminding you that your future is fully secured in Christ. But notice that even these words of comfort end with a call to action to 'wholeheartedly live for Him.' This is one of the great tensions of Christianity. Certainly rest in the thought that Christ is 'your only comfort in life and in death,' but in order to fully enjoy this rest you must continually make every effort to gratefully respond to the gift you've been given. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father who has set His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ over His eternal kingdom (v11); ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength to make every effort to live wholeheartedly for Christ. ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 4

  • Matthew 6:24-34 - No Worries

    Most people are drowning in stress & worries. Trade them for the peace of Christ. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Summary In this passage Jesus doesn't just suggest that you not worry about things, He commands you not to worry about things! The key to being able to follow Jesus' command comes in the verse that precedes this passage: Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. In other words, the more you run after the [shallow] things the pagans go after (v32) , the less you're going to be able to trust in God's providence, and the more you're going to worry. Jesus points to the simple trust in their creator that the birds and wildflowers have. They don't worry or stress, yet they exhibit a beauty that far exceeds anything our efforts can produce. Jesus reminds you that since you're worth so much more than sparrows and grass, you can be certain that your Father will provide. Today Jesus' reminds you that your Father knows what you need (v32). Align yourself with His kingdom and righteousness and he will give you immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Dig Deeper Remember that the primary source of your comfort is that you are not your own, but belong to your faithful Savior. If you want to experience this comfort, then you need to live in this truth. The more you realize that you belong to your Savior, and seek His Kingdom and righteousness rather than stubbornly chasing material desires, the more anxiety and worry will be replaced with the comfort and peace of God. Give your life a quick check up: during the few quiet times you get each day (by the way, you need more of those) what are you thinking about? Things of this world or things of God? Chances are there's a direct correlation between these thoughts and the amount of worry in your life. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father in heaven, you know what I need and you will provide for me. ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: I pray that I will seek first the Kingdom and righteousness of God. ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 3

  • Hebrews 9:11-15 - The Price of Redemption

    You've been set free, but that freedom comes at a high price. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Summary Yesterday we were reminded of the tremendous comfort that comes from belonging in life & death to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. Today it becomes clear that we belong to Christ because a price was paid. New Testament theology is really hard to understand without the context that the Old Testament provides. So often it can be difficult to keep reading through books like Leviticus because all of the rules, regulations and temple ceremonies seem irrelevant for those of us who know our salvation comes from grace alone because of Christ alone. But passages like Hebrews 9 help connect the dots and demonstrate that all of the bloody rituals and sacrifices present in Old Testament worship painted a picture of the price that needed to be paid for your sin. As v22 says, Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Dig Deeper Once a year, the Hebrew high priest would enter into God's presence and sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial lamb to make atonement (payment) for the sins of the people, but this only visualized the shedding of blood that's necessary to forgive sins. For you to be actually forgiven and made right with God, a far higher price needed to be paid. That's why v12 say that Jesus entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. It's because you've been eternally redeemed that you've been "set free from the tyranny of the devil." You know how carefully you handle super expensive things. Make sure the way you live reflects the infinitely high price Christ paid for your redemption. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father in heaven, your name is and must always remain holy. ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: I pray that I will live for the one who paid such a high price for me ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 2

  • Romans 14:7-9 - You Belong

    You are not your own. Do you find this comforting, or constricting? Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Summary Most people would classify life and death as mutually exclusive opposites. You can't be both: you're either dead or alive. Christianity breaks down this division. Certainly there's still a big distinction between being dead and alive, but what the Catechism and the Bible want you to know is that while there's much that will change after you take your last breath, there are some significant things that won't change. First of all, your core identity won't change: So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s (v8b) Just as you belong in body and soul to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ while living, you will belong to Him in death just as you do in life. Second, your primary purpose remains the same as well: if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord (v8a). In other words, you were created and given life so that you could live to/for the Lord by using the gifts and talents you've been given to glorify Him. Although sin has marred God's image and purpose in your life, the gospel proclaims that death - the ultimate result of sin - no longer can keep you from fulfilling your primary purpose. In fact, it's through death that Christians are finally set free from sin and can begin truly living for Jesus. Dig Deeper Human beings are weird. We're full of paradoxes. On one hand, our sinful natures crave independence - especially from God. But on the other, we hate to be alone. Even the most introverted of us needs other people in our lives. That's why the opening words to the Catechism are so comforting: That you are not your own, but you belong. Certainly these words bring comfort to the part of you that needs community, but they also stand as a solemn reminder to your sinful nature that yearns for independence from God's ways, reminding you that you belong to the Lord. As you begin a new year, remember to not just live to yourself (v7), but to live for Christ. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father in heaven, you are the Lord of life and you have conquered death ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: I pray that in all things, I would live to the Lord (v8) ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 1

  • Coming January 2, 2023!

    Here's a sneak preview of what each day's post will include each post will begin with an excerpt from the Heidelberg Catechism Heidelberg Catechism Q&A Q. What is the Heidelberg Catechism? A. The Catechism is a learning tool that summarizes what the Bible says about life's most important matters. You can read the passage either in your own Bible (a printed Bible is always the best option!) or read the passage right in the daily post. You can also listen to both the Bible passage & the Dig Deeper post. Read / Listen Listen to passage & devotional: Summary Each day's post will have a short summary to help you understand what the passage means. Dig Deeper The Dig Deeper section will give practical application of the passage to your life. AAA Prayer (About) ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father in heaven, your name is holy. ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: May I do your will and may I long for your kingdom to come. Please lead me away from temptation. ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: I pray that you give me my daily bread, and that you forgive my sins as I have forgiven others. Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - The daily chapter will be listed here.

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