Re:Verse reading–1 Samuel 15 (day seven)
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” (v. 20-21)
Everything Saul achieved was exactly what a nation wants in battle: incredible spoils and the opposing king imprisoned. The campaign was a flawless military endeavor, a flawless military endeavor that ruined his career. There are times in this life that play out perfectly by every discernable measure, but they separate us from God. As perfect as the scenario looks, if it separates you from God it is ruinous. Do not let worldly measures of success define you, rather seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all those other things will be added to you.
Jesus’ death and resurrection carry no weight apart from his righteous life; always faithful, always trusting in the promises of God. Verses like Romans 8:29 make little sense without it,“For those whom God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
Those 40 days in the dessert without food, facing temptation from the devil, are a microcosm of Jesus’ entire life, for it is not as if these were the only times he faced temptation as a man, much less directly from the devil, or that somehow the rest of his life was a cakewalk. They are also a microcosm of the righteous life that would be given to us so that we could conform to the image of the Son. We have no righteousness of our own apart from the righteous life of Jesus.
Israel was rebellious and faithless for 40 years in the desert; Jesus was faithful and righteous for 40 days (a true picture of His righteousness)! We rejoice in His righteousness for in it we not only are afforded forgiveness(by way of the cross) but also His holiness.
Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (day six)
“…that we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
This is startling. This is the work of Jesus; he became “as if” he were our sin, so that we could become His righteousness. We have never known righteousness of our own, in the same way that Jesus never knew unrighteousness of His own. This is precisely what captivated Paul; he called it treasure. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” Jesus, the righteousness of God.
Does that good news startle you? Is it your treasure? What a worthwhile daily prayer:
Father, may I be totally and completely captivated by your Son, my righteousness.
Now pray it with me!
Re:Verse reading–Romans 8:1-17 (day two) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…vs. 1
When I was a high school choir director I taught hundreds of students. I was a teacher many of their lives that saw them every day from their first day on campus as a freshmen to their graduation. It was very rewarding. Watching these young people grow was often challenging and always awkward. Students would routinely come into my office with much fear and trembling. I would often make them leave and come back in with a renewed sense of purpose. If they were to talk to me, I expected eye contact, manners, and a sense of self-worth. That wasn’t always easy. We weren’t equals, but I also wanted them to understand how to appropriately communicate with an adult.
Our faith journey isn’t too dissimilar. When we come before the lord, we are no longer defeated, empty, and without hope. We are filled with the power of Jesus, and he has covered us with his blood. The fourth verse of the hymn And Can It Be expresses this hope beautifully.
No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him is mine! Alive in Him, my living head, And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach the eternal throne, And claim the crown, thro’ Christ my own. Amazing love! How can it be That Thou, my God, should die for me!
Boldly approach, have no fear. The Lord has paid our ransom.
Re:Verse reading–Romans 6 (day six)
I think it is very important to note this is not a “fire and brimstone” text. Paul is not trying to intimidate sinners into being righteous out of fear that they may not “be saved.” (You can go to Hebrews 10:26 for that.) Paul is in fact answering critics who argued that this “faith” business would only lead to more sin, not less. So, Paul is not trying to scare anyone, but is actually writing matter-of-factly about the nature of God’s grace at work in the Christian’s life.
He began his argument in chapter five when he wrote, “how much more shall we be saved by his[Christ’s] life.” He makes the case that in the same way sin and corruption struck like a virus in humanity through Adam, so shall the life of Jesus spread into the life of those who believe in the Gospel by faith. If this is true, Paul believed that the resulting life is one given to more and more righteousness, or fruits of the Spirit. By God’s grace, the Christian is freed for the first time to fight the fight of faith, or to increasingly give themselves to the righteousness of Christ. It is a given reality, not just a possibility.
Re:Verse reading–Romans 6 (day four)
Verse 19 says, “…For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Sin is never a static or unchanging action. It always results in more sin. If we submit our lives to lawlessness, things will only get worse. In our culture, there is no tolerance for those who practice righteousness. Lawlessness is never content to just do its own thing…there must be increased acceptance and practice by all. To practice righteousness results in sanctification…in other words, you become more and more like Christ. Instead of a deterioration of character, there is a growth in character. Romans 1 taught us that…when man rejected God and choose deception and untruth, God gave them over to the depravity of their minds. It is a picture we see around us every day. Lawlessness brings death, righteousness brings life…choose wisely!
Re:Verse reading–Romans 4:1-25 (day seven)
“Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”–v 3 (quoting Genesis 15:6)
They will check it when you want to buy a car or a house. Your credit score. How have you managed your financial life in the past? Paid your bills on time? Are you a good risk?
In arguably the MOST IMPORTANT VERSE IN THE BIBLE, God uses a similar idea. A financial word. From the world of accounting. The Hebrew word is chasab–“to count, compute, or reckon.” Like a teacher who gives you “extra credit” for another project, God counts faith as righteousness.
He is not pretending. Not cooking the books. Faith really is the essential core of being right with God. It is the source and seed of all other virtues. Let God be God. Believe Him. Trust what He says. Do what He commands.
Nothing will substitute. Not religion. Not perfect performance. How IS your credit?
Re:Verse reading–Romans 4:1-25 (day five)
Romans 4:3- For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” In a culture where there are SO many different views and interpretations of the scripture, Paul gives us the best example for a starting place in our approach to understanding the Bible. Seems like lots of people these days “interpret” the scripture to mean whatever they want or whatever will endorse existing beliefs and behaviors. That approach often starts with “What does the scripture mean?” But the better starting point is, “What does the scripture say?” The Bible is crystal clear about SO many doctrines, principles, and prescriptions for living in relationship and fellowship with God. We need not hurriedly apply our own preferences and presumptions in interpreting the Bible. We need to start by asking the simple question, “What does the Scripture say?”
Re:Verse reading–Romans 4:1-25 (day four)
It was by faith that Abraham received the righteousness of God. We receive the righteousness of Christ the same way…by faith. Is it by Abraham’s faith that we are saved? If we know and understand that it was faith, not works, that brought salvation to Abraham, is that enough for us? If we are raised in a Christian home with Christian parents who teach us about faith, is that enough for us to be saved? No…we cannot be saved by Abraham’s faith or the faith of our parents. We must exercise our own faith. It is by faith…our faith…that we are justified. When we place our faith in Jesus, our sin is credited to Jesus’ account. When we stand before God in judgment someday, Christ himself will testify on our behalf that He has paid the penalty for our sin. Just as for Abraham, we have the promise of God for the forgiveness of our sin through our faith. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Re:Verse reading–Romans 4:1-25 (day two) ..yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. vs. 20-21
Stories and an unbelievable promise. These are the things that Abraham had available to him. Stories that he had heard of creation, the corruption of men and the flood. Nothing written, no law, no system of religion, and now came this far-fetched promise that God would bless the offspring of a centenarian! What did in Abraham’s world gave him the courage to follow this absurd promise?
Something in those stories he had heard as a child resonated in him when he was issued this promise. Something in the presentation of the messengers gave him a taste of the authority of God, but it was his faith that was credited to him as righteousness. We have so much more of a broad picture than Abraham could have ever imagined, but all that is truly necessary is trusting in the Almighty to deliver on his promise. Can we throw away all that would hinder us from seeing with Abraham’s eyes. Trust and believe.