Re:Verse passage – Romans 8:1-4 (day seven)
“Therefore there is now no condemnation”
When I talk with our young people about reading scripture, I tell them anytime there is a “therefore” in scripture, we must ask “what is the ‘therefore’ there for?” This will help us understand the context surrounding this verse, and therefore, understand the passage at hand more clearly.
What is this “therefore” there for? Paul is pointing us back to three things that he has covered thus far in Romans. One, the passage immediately prior to this in 7:23-25 where there is an exclamation of victory “through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Which also connects us secondly to 7:6 where Paul first outlines for us that we are released from the old law to “serve in newness of the Spirit.” Lastly and more broadly, it points us back to chapters 3-5 where Paul in detail explains salvation in Christ.
Therefore, entering into chapter 8, we can read the next several verses with a foreknowledge of the argument to be laid out. We are free in Christ Jesus because of the work He has done on the cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Re:Verse passage – Acts 1:8 (day six)
“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9
What a miraculous moment this must have been! Imagine all the emotions flowing through the disciples’ minds: Astonishment at the ascension. Confusion as to when the Messianic Kingdom will be established. Fear of the unknown. Excitement of the promise Jesus has given them. Frustration that Jesus has left them again. Peace that this was what Jesus said would happen all along.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7
Jesus’ ascension wasn’t the end of this story. It was only just beginning.
Re:Verse passage – John 1:29-34 (day six)
“John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.’” Vs 32
The Holy Spirit was not a new concept to the first century Christians. A glance through the Old Testament will show us that the Holy Spirit was active from creation onward. All through the Old Testament, men and women of God would be filled with the Spirit to complete extraordinary tasks. Many judges, kings, and prophets had encounters with the Spirit of the Lord, but it was always temporary. Here John tells us that the Spirit remained on Jesus. This is a game changer. The unity of the Godhead and humanity in this instant insinuates a constant variable that will become the driving force for our Christian faith; the Omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ righteousness allows the Spirit to abide in Him, and through the cross and resurrection, we are covered in the same righteousness allowing the Spirit to abide in us as well.
Re:Verse passage – Mark 11:11-19 (day seven)
Let’s do a crash course of post-exilic Israel; Persians conquer Babylon (remember Daniel?) and they allow a remnant of Israel to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The work is impressive, but the new temple does not live up to the expectations set by the previous temple. Something is missing. The people of Israel believe that it is the ornateness of the temple (see Ezra and Haggai). The people begin weeping and mourning over the temple, but God sends encouragement, “My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!” (Haggai 2:5). It was not the architecture or grandiose of the building that made it beautiful. It was the presence of the Spirit of the Lord.
Fast forward 500+ years. Jesus stands and looks around at the same temple. Something is missing again. The Spirit had been neglected for monetary profit. The Incarnate presence of the Lord has come to turn the tables, both literally and metaphorically, and return the focus of the temple back to the presence of the Spirit of the Lord.
Re:Verse passage – Mark 1:1-8 (day seven)
” I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
When I am explaining baptism to our young people who have expressed interest in taking that next step, I often show them my wedding ring. I ask them some simple questions, “What does this ring mean?” Usually that question is answered correctly, “It means you are married!” Then I proceed to take my ring off and ask a set up question that usually gets mixed answers, “What does it mean if I am not wearing my ring?” Sometimes they answer in confusion and say I am not married anymore. Sometimes they get it right. Either way they answer, I lead them down the same trail of thought: The ring is an outward profession of an inward commitment to my wife. If I take that ring off, I am still very much married to my wife. I made that commitment to her and nothing can take that away. I want the world to know my love for her, so that is why I wear my ring!
Baptism is the same way, it is an outward profession of an inward commitment to the Lord. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit inwardly, and we proclaim our decision to follow Jesus outwardly through water baptism. I pray that we have many of these conversations and we fill our baptistries with public proclamations of the work of the Holy Spirit in the coming days!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 12:1-13 (day seven)
“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3
“You are the light of the world […] Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14a, 16
This prophecy of Daniel, perfected by Jesus, puts an enormous task on the people of God: to become the light. It is nothing of our own doing though. This prophecy becomes true when we willingly hand over our life into the hands of The Light and His Holy Spirit fills us. Our light is not produced by us but by an overflow of His glory in us. So how can this little light of mine shine into the darkest parts of the world? Light becomes brighter when it is surrounded by other lights. Let us shine a bright light in downtown San Antonio!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 11:1-45 (day seven)
“Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time.” vs 35
Daniel was given a word that would shape the future of God’s people. It wasn’t a word of fear but of hope. It was a word that would influence the events surrounding the Maccabean Revolt. Those who remain faithful to God may fall, but their persecution will make them stronger. This word would influence first century Christians as they encouraged the early church, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3) These words would shape millions of Christians in the next 2,000 years, many of whom did fall, but God’s people always came out stronger. From the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result.” From the beginning of time, God has taken what others meant for evil and refines, purges, and purifies it for His good. That is hope!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 10:1-21 (day seven)
Do you feel the tension here? Daniel starts out nervous and afraid, “And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.” (vs 11b) Then he is touched by “one that resembled a human” (vs 16), and Daniel is strengthened and encouraged (vs 19). This tension reminds me of one of my favorite childhood (and adult) stories…
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
You cannot see the true beauty of His goodness until you rightly fear Him. In fear, you realize the greatness of the chasm between you and God, but this fear doesn’t push you away, it draws you in. In drawing near to God, you see Him bridge the chasm to meet you where you are at. In fear, you are drawn to His goodness.
He isn’t safe. He’s Good. He’s the King!
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:23-27 (day seven)
“to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness” vs 24.
There was no Plan B.
From the beginning of time, God had a plan: to end sin and bring righteousness. We get glimpses of this plan throughout the Old Testament. God would forgive the sins of His people, they would be restored to righteousness, but the righteousness would not last. The people would always turn back into their sinful ways. This was not the solution, but it pointed us towards the problem. Man cannot make an end of sin. Man cannot bring righteousness. Only God can, so God became man and ended sin, atoned iniquity, and brought an everlasting righteousness, but He wasn’t done yet! He gave us His Spirit that we might be emissaries for Him. He has equipped man to bring everlasting righteousness to other men through the Spirit living in us.
Repent, Witness, Disciple. This is the church. This was His plan from the very beginning. This is Plan A. There is no Plan B.
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:1-23 (day seven)
“for you are highly esteemed” 9:23 NASB
or In the ESV, “for you are greatly loved.”
Isn’t that what we all want to know and feel? That we are greatly loved? We desire that! We desire to hear that from family. We desire to hear that from friends. We desire to hear those words in a similar capacity from employers and peers. We desire to hear that from God. We may look at Daniel in admiration and say, “God could never say that about me.” But there is nothing further from the truth!
God says that to all of us. We are His creation and He has created us perfectly. We are greatly loved. The reason we don’t believe that is because this sinful broken world has infiltrated our mind and convinced us we aren’t perfect and are incapable of being loved, but the truth is the closer you get to God, the more time you spend dwelling in Him, the more clearly you will hear the words of our Lord saying, “You are greatly loved!”