Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been made complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10 “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” My understanding of this is that all God’s purposes for our lives are made complete in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 “ For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” Knowing that we can be who God wants us to be because of Christ’s work on the cross, we can consider ourselves complete in His power. We have assurances from God’s Word that our completeness in Christ is made possible by His Holy Spirit within us and through the leading of His Spirit we will be made more and more like Jesus.
Here are some verses to encourage you as you walk with Jesus each day and seek be to complete in Him: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” God’s Word teaches, corrects and trains us so we can do His good works. Seeking completeness? Stay in God’s Word so He can equip you!
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. God wants us to face trials with joy as they will hone and perfect our character to be more like Jesus. Do you feel your character is sagging or you are growing apathetic? Endeavor to see your trials and tests as opportunities to build your character and allowed by God to grow you up in Christ.
1 John 1:3-4 “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” John wanted us, as believers, to rejoice in Christ as fellow-shipping with the Father and Son brings complete joy to us and our fellow believers! Do you consider yourself a joyful Christian? If not, seek to know Christ better and fellowship with positive spirit-filled Christians. Their joy for Christ will be contagious!
Suggestion: Choose one of God’s completeness strengtheners from scripture and praise God for the completeness you feel!
- Choose a portion of God’s Word to read each day this week. (Psalm 31, 37 or 103 are my personal favorites)
- If you have a particular trial coming up this week, endeavor to count it joy and praise God for the opportunity.
- Seek out a fellow Christian(s) and praise God together in song or prayer.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus speaks of His family of faith and calls us His brothers, sisters and mother in Matthew 12:48-50. ” 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus’ earthly family had come looking for Him and this was His reply. Those who believe in Jesus and strive to follow God’s Word are considered family by Jesus. What a privileged position this is! Not only are we linked to Jesus but we share a family position with all believers who know Him as Lord and seek to follow His ways.
This family bond is something very special. I have sisters in Christ that I see infrequently as our paths in life have taken different directions. It is amazing to me that when we meet it is as if we were never apart. That instant bond is there and we see love, trust and hope in being with each other. When a brother or sister leaves, it is always with the hope of seeing them again either here on earth or in heaven. The constancy of the bond of fellowship is always present and binds us in love.
Here are a few scriptures about brothers and sisters in Christ and how we are to work together: Romans 15:30 “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,” We are to pray and strive together to do God’s will. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” We are to stand together firmly as we work for the Lord with hope. Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” We have a shared love in Christ and a desire to stand firmly for Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 “As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” We are to work together to do good in the name of Christ.
What a great comfort and encouragement it is that we have brothers and sisters in faith that we can stand with in our shared love for Christ and work together to accomplish His purposes.
Suggestion: Tell one of your brothers or sisters in Christ how you appreciate their prayers on your behalf or how you love standing and working with them or how much you love and appreciate them or how much it means to you to have someone to share in the good work of Jesus or all of the above! A kind work of appreciation brings glory to God as He works within us.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a place in heaven. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my eternal home in heaven because I’m usually so preoccupied with life in the here and now that it seems distant. However, the older I get the more I have pondered what this home will be like and who will be there with me. I realize now the urgency for telling others about Jesus and His saving power, so that they will not be left behind.
Today’s scripture comes from John 14. It is a familiar passage about the home Jesus is preparing for us and gives us great hope. I like the extra meaning the Amplified version gives John 14:1-4 ““Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe[confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.4 And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way.” We are not to be afraid because through faith in Jesus we know that He is preparing our eternal home and that He will come get us when the time is right.
Another passage in Ephesians reassures us that through faith in Jesus and because of God’s great love for us, we will be seated with Christ. It is truly by God’s grace, His unmerited favor, that He made such a place for us, as we did nothing to earn the riches we will receive. Ephesians 2:4-7 “ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
In our eternal home will have a place of honor that is prepared for us by Christ himself, and we will be with Him for eternity. My finite mind can only try to imagine such provision, but I know I only need to believe in Jesus and His saving work on the cross for it to be mine.
Suggestion: Give some thought to heaven today and make a list of at least 5 things you know about it. Need some help- read Revelation 21 or go back and reread today’s passages. They are filled with promises about our heavenly home. Hint- one of my favorites is Revelation 21:4
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have Christ’s righteousness. Christ was a man while on earth, pure, holy, without sin, filled with integrity, virtuous in behavior, humble and the list could continue. Most importantly He was sinless and therefore in right standing with God the Father. God cannot look upon sin so unless we are pure and holy we cannot be in a relationship with Him. By saying, “I have Christ’s righteousness” I am proclaiming that I am in right standing with God. I can know and communicate with Holy God. Romans 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 explain how this happened for us through Christ’s work on the cross. Romans 5:19 “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners (that was Adam), so also through the obedience of the one man (Christ) the many will be made righteous.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through faith in Christ, I can have His Righteousness and come into a relationship with Almighty God. Without Christ, we have no way get rid of our sin. We can never do enough good works. We can never clean ourselves up enough to come before God. Ephesians 2:8-9 puts it this way,“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” What a precious gift Christ’s righteousness is to me!
How do we process this for Lent? Recognizing that our position before God is totally dependent upon Jesus and His redeeming work on the cross and resurrection from the dead should give us pause and create in us a sense of gratitude and humility.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus that through faith in your work on the cross I am able to come before You in prayer, study Your word with understanding and be indwelt by your Holy Spirit. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice on my behalf. Amen.
Suggestion for today: Pray David’s prayer from Psalm 51: 10,12 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Sometime today, instead of taking credit for something good you are doing or did – give the praise to God. Have a willing spirit that desires to please Him. Acknowledge Him with your thoughts- He knows your heart and spirit.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a spirit of power, love and self-discipline in my life. When you begin something new it takes time for your mind, body and spirit to accept your new commitment. You often doubt you have the resolve to see it through. However, God’s Word tell us that when we accept Jesus as our Savior and His Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and minds, we have a new type of power living within us. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
Today thank God for the spirit of power He has put within you, for the love you have for yourself and others and the self-discipline to see things through. We are not to be timid and shy away from difficult commitments but bold and filled with His Holy Spirit to contend with the world and the challenges it presents to us each day. Take heart from Revelation 21:7 “He who overcomes [the world by adhering faithfully to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
Suggestion: work on your self-discipline today as you continue with the self-denial you chose on Ash Wednesday. Today will be easier than yesterday. Watch your self-discipline grow daily as we journey through Lent.
Lent is a time of reflection, fasting, praise, worship and thanksgiving as we walk daily towards the cross. The number 40 is used in the Bible to signify a time of testing and trial. During your Lenten journey which is from today, Ash Wednesday, to Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross, we are to think about the price Jesus paid for our sins through His own death. How we do that can take many forms. Daily devotions with prayer and scripture, fasting for a meal or even a whole day can bring your focus on Jesus to a greater height. Or you can choose to let go of something you really like to do, say or eat as a form of penance or identification with Christ’s suffering for you and your sin. Last year, I found this quote from Pope Francis and it brought a new perspective to fasting during Lent. It isn’t just denying myself chocolate or alcohol, it is denying myself in other ways. I love his suggestions to fast from stress and pressure by being intentionally more prayerful, or letting go of bitterness and focusing on love.
Today as you think about Christ and His suffering and the price He paid for your sins- think about ways you can honor Him in the next 40 days. Each day at the end of my devotion I will have a suggestion of what you might do that day to honor Christ by doing for others in love as Christ did for you at the cross. My daily blogs will focus on what we have in Christ because Jesus died on the cross and rose again. I pray that my blogs and suggestions will help you to gain greater love and appreciation for your Lord and Savior and be prepared in your heart, mind and soul when Good Friday and Easter arrive.
Let the journey begin today in your heart as you set your mind towards the cross.
Suggestion: attend an Ash Wednesday service or spend some time reflecting on your own sins. Take a piece of paper and write them down. Then take that paper place it before you as you pray and ask God to take those sins away and fill you anew with His love and devotion. Symbolically placing your sins on the cross of Christ helps us to see that He died for me and my sins. Romans 5:8 “But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death was the darkest day that brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they rushed to get Jesus down from the cross, hastily buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest of Friday bringing death to Jesus and a hasty burial brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him as you do.
In Colossians Paul talks about specific areas in our lives that should create thankfulness within us. “15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:15-17 NLT
Paul teaches that we are to be thankful always for the peaceful living that is possible for us as brothers and sisters in Christ as we work together for the cause of Christ. Next, he reminds us that our worship should reflect our thankfulness to God. Lastly, Paul explains that we need to be thankful to God as we are able to speak as a representative of Christ because of His sacrifice for us.
One of the key elements in our thankfulness is the peaceful living in Christ we experience towards one another causing us to be thankful always. Singing praises to God creates in us a state of worshipful living in the presence of God causing us to have grateful hearts and because of Christ we can be His representatives living in and with Him causing us to give thanks through Him.
May the peace you experience this season of Thanksgiving with your brothers and sisters in Christ make you always thankful. May your times of worship be rich and fill your heart with gratefulness and may your times of sharing about Christ remind you that you speak for Him to others and cause you to give thanks though Him.
Thankful always for you -my brothers and sisters in Christ,
I want to wish each of you a Happy 4th. The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with family BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks. But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us. America and the freedom it represents and holds for each of us was bought with a price- sacrifice, hope and struggle by those that went before us and those that labored to secure our freedom. Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure,defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children. We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society. Is this possible? Actually I believe it is not possible without Christ. He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.
Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1. Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own: you have been bought at price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christ died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him. The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He bought us with a price, his life. He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death. My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.
I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity. Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone. He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.
Today as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.
Because I believe Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, I am one of God’s living stones. The concept of believers being living stones, which God is building into a spiritual temple, is found in several places in scripture. 1 Peter 2:4-5 “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Here we are told that Christ is the living stone that was rejected by men. The next verse, 6, refers to Christ as the cornerstone, the solid foundation upon which our faith is built. We are part of a living community of faith built upon Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul uses the term temple (a spiritual house) in referring to our bodies. “ Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Since the Holy Spirit lives within us, our body is a house where God dwells- a spiritual house. God desires that we live ‘holy lives’ that are honoring to Him and reflect the love of Jesus. In Romans 12:1 Paul refers to being living sacrifices, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, our lives should be like living sacrifices seeking to please God and reflect His glory to the world. This is a big job that is only possible through His power. God chose to use us so that we can know and experience His grace. We can demonstrate the sufficiency of God’s grace. One of my favorite promises is in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Only through Christ can we be living stones that reflect His glory in our lives.
What about you? Do you feel like a living stone? Do you consider yourself a temple where His Holy Spirit resides? Since Lent is a time of prayer and reflection, think about your witness to others. If you find yourself lacking, offer it to God and ask for His help. Only through Jesus can we be the pure, living temples that God will find acceptable. Then through His merciful grace and power, He will use us to effect change on the world around us.
Living for Jesus,