Abundant Grace

The battle between the spirit and flesh baffles the mind. How can I be so in love with Christ, yet fall into old patterns of sin in the midst of it? It seems the sins I overcome, come back to haunt me over and over again. Just when I think I've triumphed over them, they pop their ugly heads and the battle rages once again.

In the past, I've allowed guilt to ride me so hard that I erect a wall between myself and God. But that is exactly what the enemy is after. He wants to come between my God and me. But, God says that if we confess are sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9) What an amazing and comforting verse! He will not only forgive me, but He will make me clean.

I don't have to hide from him the way Adam and Eve did in the garden. No. Because of Christ, God will forgive and cleanse me when I come to Him, confessing what I've done. While Adam and Eve pointed the finger elsewhere when God confronted their sin, I can come boldly to God's throne of grace because I have a beautiful Savior who died to set me free from my sins.

Yes, I fall into the same sins over and over again. My flesh is frail and I will be susceptible to sin until this body is fully redeemed. But, God is faithful. His grace more than covers me for His grace is abundant.

The Great I Am

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace..." Hebrews 13:8-9a (esv)

Being human, I tend to always look for something new, different, more exciting. I become tired of the same old thing over and over again. I am discontent, coveting what I think I do not have. How ironic it is that I find comfort in knowing Jesus doesn't change! Yet, knowing this truly strengthens my heart. Even when I'm fickle and so often discontent with my lot in life, knowing He is the Great I Am anchors me.

I'm remembering the day I realized the significance of the name "I Am." I never understood the fuss people made over that particular name of God until He opened my heart and mind, filling it with a sense of knowing. I could see God stretching from infinity and beyond - no pun intended. I could see that He IS. State of being verbs like was and were can never be applied to God for there is no beginning and there is no ending to God. There is no past and no future...He always IS and will always BE. And not only IS He, but He is forever unchanging. God always IS and is always the same. He fills eternity - stretching beyond what I can see.

I anchor myself in the fact that He IS, knowing that He will always be who He is even when I'm not who I should be. This is what is so awesome about God being the great I Am.

Slaves to Righteousness...Avoiding the "Slow Fade"

Reading in Romans 6:15-23 this morning, I realized afresh the context of the well know verse, Romans 6:23. God through Paul tells us in verse 16 that we are slaves to whomever we present out bodies. It doesn't say "if" we present our bodies, but "to whom" we present our bodies. We will present our bodies, our minds, our whole being to someone. This is a fact we cannot escape. Without Christ, we are slaves to the master of sin - Satan. And all we have to do is take a look at our society to know that sin only breeds more sin and more lawlessness. (vs 19)

This makes me think of the Mark Hall song (Casting Crowns), "Slow Fade." This is exactly what Mark is talking about in this song. Even as Christains, we can experience a fade into sin. We think one little sin, one little thought, one little peek, one slip of the tongue, just one...but it never stays there. Does it? It's the beginning of the slow fade...the beginning of an end we would have never dreamed of before the fade began. Unless we cry out for God to rescue us, our trip down one-little-sin lane will end in tragedy.

Thanks be to God, as Paul is known for saying, that we have a way of escape. We can become slaves of righteousness, goodness - slaves of God. What is so appealing about "being good?" Verse 22-23 tells us, "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NKJV - emphasis added)

This is an amazing passage and Paul is so straight-forward and thorough on this subject. I can't believe I've never seen these things so clearly before. I pray I will take it to heart and remind myself of it often.

Made Clean

When attending First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, SC, Dr. Sinclair B Ferguson made a statement that shook me and has stuck with me. "In order to clean something, something that is clean must become dirty." When you dust your furniture or wash your car, the rag or the water you use becomes dirty. In the same way, Jesus had to become dirty in order for me to become clean. My sin poluted Jesus, the Son of God who was absolutely polution free. I imagine a clean white rag becoming stained with dust. I imagine clean, clear water becoming muddy. What was once inviting to touch or to drink and pour over my body is now repulsive. This is how it was with Jesus. What the Father once held dear to Himself became repulsive to the point of turning away from His only Son, Jesus (until Jesus' resurrection, of course, when He defeated death and sin). This is a startling thought and should make me think twice about giving myself to sinful desires. Jesus took my dirt and made me clean. Why do I so often want to take it back?