James 3:2 NIV
When you sin, God’s Spirit will convict you of your need to repent and change your ways. But until you get your glorified body in heaven, you’re always going to deal with sin. The apostle James wrote, “We all stumble in many ways.” But falling down isn’t what makes you a failure – it’s staying down! Get back up, dust yourself off, receive God’s grace, learn from the experience, and move on. The Bible says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV). God is not condemning you, so stop condemning yourself. A few decades ago, people used to wear a little badge with the letters GNFWMY. It meant, “God’s not finished with me yet.” And He’s not finished with you either. Sometimes we’re guilty of doing the wrong thing with the right motive. For example, in 1957 Ford Motors described the new Edsel as “the car of the decade.” Try telling that to all those drivers whose doors wouldn’t close, whose horns stuck, and whose transmissions failed! And remember the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, where the architect designed a 10-foot-deep foundation for a 179-foot-tall building? How’d you like to have that on your résumé? The fact is, the most talented people often make the biggest mistakes. Solomon wrote, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV). And Paul added, “I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize” (Philippians 3:12 CEV). So stop beating yourself up.
Soul food: 2 Chr 16-18; Mark 6:30-44; Ps 119:113-120; Prov 22:1-3
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
The Bible says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” What’s slowing you down, or tripping you up? In life you only get to run once, so run to win. To avoid stumbling and losing your place in the race, don’t look back. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it. Don’t be anxious about the next lap, just focus on the next step. If you miss that, you may fall and not get up again. Keep going, and before you know it you’ll have more laps behind you than ahead of you. Make every one count. Many of us carry the weight and worry of burdens. But older and wiser people have come to understand their burdens are of no real importance. We waste our strength extinguishing fires that if left alone would burn out on their own. Time is your most valuable resource. Save it, and you’ve increased your assets and decreased your liabilities. Travel light. Ditch the baggage of self-sabotaging habits and pointless fears. There are enough painful trials in life; why endure the ones you can “strip off”? When blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was within reach, he threw off his coat so it wouldn’t trip him up, and ran toward Him. And his faith paid off: “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus” (Mark 10:52 NKJV). You’ll never know how successful you can be until you get rid of the things that slow you down and trip you up.
Soul food: Ezek 43-45; Mat 18:21-35; Ps 139:7-12; Prov 15:28-30
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
We all have things in our lives that we hold onto. Things that slow us down and, sometimes, prevent us from moving forward at all. Whether it’s fear, insecurity, perfectionism, past hurts or something else, if we never let them go, then we start to have so much baggage that we can’t carry it all. The baggage can even become something we use to justify why we can’t do what God’s calling us to do. When Saul was to be proclaimed as king, the people couldn’t find him. ‘So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage”‘ (1 Samuel 10:22 ESV). We can hide ourselves among our baggage too. But Jesus came so that we ‘may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10:10 NIV). And we can’t experience this fullness of life if we’re dragging around all our baggage and using it to hide from things God’s calling us to do. So how can we get rid of the baggage we’re holding onto? Well sometimes it might mean that we need to spend some time handing things over to God, other times we might need to work through the process of forgiveness and sometimes we need other people to help us out. When Saul was hiding, it took other people to bring him out from behind the baggage. And when they had, ‘he took his place before everyone, standing tall – head and shoulders above them’ (1 Samuel 10:23 MSG). When we leave our baggage behind, we can step into all that God has for us, and we’re able to ‘run with endurance the race God has set before us.’
Ezek 43-45; Mat 18:21-35; Ps 139:7-12; Prov 15:28-30
1 Peter 2:7 NIV
The High Priest’s breastplate shows us that we’re precious to God, that we’re close to Him and that He doesn’t forget about us. So how does this impact our lives? It doesn’t mean we can go around thinking it’s okay to live any way we want, because God will accept and forgive us no matter what. Knowing these truths about who we are to Him, and His promises about who He is to us, can actually shape how we choose to live. When we truly know Jesus, we understand how precious He is. ‘Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.’ The Bible says that Jesus is ‘chosen by God and precious to him’ (1 Peter 2:4 NIV). And this can be seen right back in Isaiah 28 when it says, ‘a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation’ (v.16 NIV). Of all the stones, the cornerstone is the most important. It’s the first to be laid, and the positioning of all the other stones is dependent on this one stone. Knowing how precious He is, means we should value our relationship with Him even more and want to protect this relationship and put it above everything else. We’ll want to please Him and live His way. We’ll want Him to be the cornerstone that sets the direction for our lives. Knowing our true, righteous, and precious-to-God identity in Christ lifts us above the desire to give in to sin. Holy living is the result of seeing ourselves as God sees us – ‘in Christ’. Instead of giving into temptation, we ask: ‘What would Jesus do in this situation?’ Basically, a true understanding of God’s grace doesn’t prevent holiness, it produces it.
Gen 1:1-2:3; John 1:1-18
1 Peter 2:7 NKJV
We learn from looking at the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest that: (a) we are precious to God; (b) we are close to His heart; (c) He will never turn His back on us. You say, “If God will never turn His back on us, does that mean we can live any way we please?” No, and here’s why. As a redeemed child of God, not only are you precious in His eyes, He is also precious in your eyes. So you will value your relationship with Him above all else and protect it from anything that threatens it. Question: When you realize how valuable and precious you are in God’s eyes, does that make you want to go out and sin, or continue living in sin? Of course not! On the contrary, your thoughts will run more along the lines of: “This is not how a believer who is precious to the Lord behaves.” A precious diamond doesn’t belong in the mud, grime, and filth of sin. Its rightful place is close to the heart of God where it sparkles and shines. Knowing your true, righteous, and precious-to-God identity in Christ elevates you above the desire to give in to sin. It makes you want to walk and live as a child of the King. Indeed, holy living is the result of seeing yourself as God sees you – “in Christ.” Instead of giving in to temptation, you’ll ask yourself, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” Then you’ll draw on His strength and do the right thing. A true understanding of God’s grace doesn’t prevent holiness, it produces it.
Soul food: Gen 1:1-2:3; John 1:1-18