No condemnation! Not now. Not ever.

Re:Verse reading–Romans 8:1-17 (day one) 

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”–v 1.

Condemnation normally referred to a future event.  “We must all stand before the judgement seat of Christ”–2 Corinthians 5:10.  It (condemnation) literally meant “guilty verdict” or “negative judgement”.  (A compound word formed from “down” and “decision”).  It WILL NOT HAPPEN to those who have joined life to Christ by faith.  NO thumbs down sign from God.  NO condemnation for us.  We will be WELCOMED as forgiven children of the Most High!

God’s decision on this matter is already made.  “There is therefore (pointing to previous truths of Romans 1-7 ) NOW no condemnation.”  Not something that will be decided later.  It is decided now.  Like the prodigal, If I am in His Son,  I will be welcomed home no matter what my years in the far country have done to my soul.

For those in Christ, no condemnation.  Not now.  Not ever.

From sheep to sons

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17-18 (day one)

” He gave. . . some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints. . .until we all attain to the unity of the faith. . .to a mature man. . .the measure. . .which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”–Ephesians 4:11-13.

It begins low, but ends high.  God’s vision for the human race.  First we are sheep.  Helpless/foolish.  Then, in salvation, we become saints. Eventually, by His grace, we attain unity, maturity as sons of the Most High!  “Conformed to the image of His Son” shouts the scripture!  No longer infants.  Stable. Strong.  Loving. God’s provision toward this miraculous transformation is to send shepherds.  (Pastor means shepherd in the original language).  Pastors protect/feed sheep, but they also equip/lead lead them toward maturity.  At the end of life, it won’t matter who your Pastor was.  It WILL matter whether you gained strength from him/her to get forward on the road from being a sheep to a son.

Submission to Authority

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33 (day four) Our culture does not teach or encourage submission.  We prize independence.  Nobody can tell me what to do!  We even demonize discipline or competition with our children for fear of scratching their psyche.  In reality, society must be built on discipline, self-control, and submission.  The populace must willingly submit to civil authority or there will be anarchy.  The military must exist on discipline and submission to authority or they will dissolve into uselessness.  In the marriage relationship, God has given us a model to follow…wives should submit to their husbands, husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church.  This relationship paints a picture of the heavenly relationship between Christ and His Church.  When we distort the relationship from God’s design, we give an inaccurate picture of God’s eternal plan.  We are choosing to forego submission to God in favor of our own independent choices.  Why should we submit to God?  He is our Creator…He paid our price for sin with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  What does your relationship look like at home and in heaven?

Blood, Sweat, and Grace

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 15:22-27; 16:1-18 (day six)

Exodus 15:25
The Exodus is an expose’ on the human condition. From the beginning it casts the Hebrews as a desperate and sinful people; it makes no effort to paint a romantic or rosy picture. Save the brief moment of worship after crossing the Red Sea, they grumble and complain at every turn, and when given the opportunity they disobey God. Their condition looks bleak.

If you are like me, there is the slightest temptation to pass judgement, but the truth is the Exodus exposes our own frail condition. Try as we might, we are simply unable to faithfully follow God. We are desperate and sinful, and broken and self-absorbed. We don’t need a savior because we struggle getting our act together some of the time, we need a savior because we are unable to do anything at all. Given the test we will fail it time and time again.

“But God being rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4-8),” and full of grace, not only makes provision for them in their most desperate moments but also reveals his glory to them(Exodus 16:10). When we would have long washed our hands of them, God graciously reveals his glory to them. What grace! Ultimately the greatest display of the glory of God is in the resurrection of His Son, which both afforded His grace to His people in the dessert thousands of years ago, and to us today!

What a grand story of blood, sweat, and grace!

Sunday is coming!

Oh and don’t forget about the Unbroken Marriage event on April 10th!
Check the website for more details.


Re: Verse reading–John 11:17-44 (day six)
“The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings”–v 44.  Lazarus was RESUSCITATED.  Jesus would later be RESURRECTED.  Huge difference.  Lazarus was restored to his old body, returned to a life of limitation and restraint. Witness the grave clothes.  He would die again later. Jesus was later raised to a new body with new powers.  He would walk through doors, appear and then be gone (John 20).  God’s promise to us is RESURRECTION!  A miracle of such scope and power only God could do it.   The complete destruction of death.  Near-death stories that we hear (as miraculous as they seem) are more like what happened to Lazarus.  No comparison to what is ahead.  New bodies! Death and all of its sad history erased for good.  Now and someday.  In Christ.  “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life”–1 John 5:11-12.


Twenty-fifth Day of Advent

Luke 2:1 – 7 NIV

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

It sounds so . . . well, ordinary. A young woman gives birth to a boy baby. Perhaps a little unusual, even for the first century, in that the birth took place in a stable because all the town’s hotel rooms were booked. All the elements of a normal physical birth process were there . . . and yet this birth was anything but ordinary. The greatest miracle in the history of the world – the eternal Son of God taking on human flesh. . . the launch of God’s plan to provide redemption . . . the cure for mankind’s sin problem . . the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “. . . and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger . . .” At the close of this day, Mary “pondered these things and treasured them in her heart” (v.19). Take time today to follow Mary’s example and praise God for His Son’s very extra-ordinary human birth.

Jean Nystrand

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47

The GREATNESS of Thy compassion

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 51:1-19; 1 John 1:9 (day six) 
“According to the GREATNESS of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.”  (v 1)  When I feel guilty, my focus usually goes to the wrong place.  All I see is my failure.  All I feel is shame, a lonely separation from God. I fear the consequences to come.  Recovery requires a new place to look.  When David knelt to pray out his confession in Psalm 51, he focused on God’s character.  Slowly, powerfully his vision cleared to see the GREATNESS (size) of God’s compassion.  Ultimately, the only reason that sinners can be forgiven is that God wills it.  Only the GREAT mercy of God, His eternal purpose that sinners be rescued and restored can assure our troubled hearts. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for us sins.”–1 John 4:10.  This is our hope.  Our only hope.  God’s mercy is great!

New day. No victims.

Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 18:1-18 (day one)
” ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge’. . . you are not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore.”  (v 2-3)  It was radical thinking!  After Jerusalem was destroyed, the people of Judah began to drift into despondent “national fatalism”.  They felt helpless and hopeless because God was judging them for the sins of their parents.  There was no way out!  Very similar to a modern mistake.  Many feel trapped by the mistakes their parents made, wounded,  helpless to do anything about it.  Ezekiel saw a different day coming.  (He saw the day we live in now.)  He saw a day when people could know the empowering presence of God through a personal relationship with Him by faith in His Son.  We are not victims now!  What our parents did or didn’t do, what our circumstances gave or didn’t give does not limit who we can be in Christ.