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1 John 2:1-6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Sin. Repentance. Forgiveness. Freedom from sin or freedom to sin again?

Jesus’ redemption on the cross is the greatest gift ever given. We ask for forgiveness and Jesus forgives us. It’s free. It’s a gift.

Read the passage above from 1 John 2:1-6.  According to verse one, the apostle John wrote this so that we wouldn’t sin. His goal was to help us to rise above sin. Then John added that IF we sinned, that Jesus would come to our defense speaking to God on our behalf.

We live in a time when sin is flaunted in public everywhere we turn. I quit watching TV years ago because it sickened me to see virtuous living ridiculed and sin exalted on a regular basis. Sadly, Americans have allowed the media to deaden our senses to sin so that tolerance of sin is now virtuous while standing up for morality is portrayed as bigoted and an affront to the world. Of course virtuous living is an affront to Satan, but now we have allowed Satan to cloud our vision.

We have been given a standard to live by. God has given us his word in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. Most homes have at least one copy of the Bible somewhere. People who identify themselves as Christian are likely to have several Bibles in various translations. But the percent of people, even Christians, who spend time daily, or even weekly or monthly reading God’s Word, is very low. We make great claims about how we believe in the Bible, but we don’t take time to read it for ourselves. We have allowed the self-serving elite of Hollywood redefine our values while we make our own assumptions about what the Bible probably says, or what it would say if God decided to re-write it today (as if even God had changed his mind).

Verses 5-6 in the above passage say “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” How can we obey his word if we don’t read it? How can we walk as Jesus did if we don’t take the time to learn how he walked?

All the spiritual praise in the world cannot cover up our blatant willful sin. God is merciful, but he is also just. He knows our hearts. We may have praise on our lips even while our hearts are far from him.

Yes, God forgives our sins, and he keeps forgiving. But repentance is agreeing with God that our sins are sinful. If we are not trying to overcome sin, we are making a farce of our repentance. God is not mocked. He knows our hearts.

Father God, thank you for your gift of salvation. Thank you that you were willing to make the sacrifice for us while we were yet sinners. In you mercy, enable us to come to You with our whole hearts. May our praise be sincere. Help us to trust You, the one who created us, to know what is best for our lives. Help us to accept Your commands and to walk in them. Help us to live by Your Spirit and to be empowered by it. And never let us accept any counterfit spirit or way of life as Your will. Give us Your discernment that we will always know Your voice. May our love for You be pure. Help us to order our steps in Your Word that we may please You in everything we do.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4

Whenever I read this passage I think of those Christians who have led me to a relationship with Jesus Christ. This list includes a variety of people, but among the most influential of these was a small group of Christian women who began a Bible study group in which I participated for many years. These women knew Jesus in such a personal way and were able to relate to him in any and all circumstances. They ministered to me through a very painful marriage and gave me the courage to go on.

As I re-read these scriptures I recognized the reason they were able to minister to me so well. It was because the grace of Jesus was so visible in their daily lives. They put their full trust in Him. They spent time with Him daily in prayer and Bible study. And they lifted one another up in prayer on a daily basis. God blessed us all with a fullness of His Spirit that we never could have manufactured on our own.

Re-read the entire passage and you will find that it isn’t about how wonderful the Corinthians were. It is about how wonderfully faithful God was to enrich them in every way. In my Bible study group, it wasn’t how wonderful the women were (although they truly were wonderful to me). But the full picture is about how wonderfully God worked in and through their lives and enriched and blessed us all.

Father God, help us to seek You with all our hearts. And keep us from getting big heads over our own spirituality. May we always remember that is is not about us, but all about You.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Chronicles 16:7-36 (Click on this link to read the passage. It is too long for me to copy into this post without breaking the Copyright law that governs its use.)

This passage is a psalm of David’s even though it is not in the book of Psalms. It is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God for all he has done for his people. The cause of this celebration of praise was the restoration of the arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

In this psalm David is thanking God for all of the wonder acts he performed on behalf of the Israelites. He is calling for the Israelites to rejoice and to glory in the name of God. He calls on them to remember the wonders and miracles God has performed as well as his righteous judgments against those who rebelled against him.

David remembers God’s faithfulness to his covenant even when the people were not faithful. He remembers God’s faithfulness to give the Promised Land to his people as an inheritance.

David recalls how God protected the Israelite nation as they wondered in the desert with no place to call home – yet. He then calls on the Israelites to sing God’s praises and to declare his glory to all nations.

David declares God’s sovereignty over all other gods. He challenges the Israelites to give God the glory and honor he is due. He calls on the earth to tremble before the Almighty God.

My feeble re-telling of this great psalm leaves much to be desired. One needs to read this Psalm over and over. Try to imagine King David’s uncontainable excitement as he sings his heart out to the Israelites through these words.

As I have written these words today I have wondered how we could bring this psalm closer home. Those of us who live in the United States have a history that, at least at the beginning of our nation, had very close ties with God. His name is embedded in our national documents, and his people were at work making our nation great. It is grievous to see how far away from God we have moved in the past 100 years.

I would like to see this psalm re-written to fit our nation’s history and to challenge our own citizens to “Cry out, ‘Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise.’ Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” (1 Chronicles 16:35-36 NIV) 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:1-11 (NIV)

This passage starts out with the words “For this reason…” This tells me we need to look at the previous verses to learn what reason and to get the whole picture of what Paul, the writer, is trying to say. The previous verses had expounded on how the crucifiction and resurrection of Christ welcomed the Gentiles into the family of God giving them new hope. The walls of separation between the Jews and Gentiles had been broken down. At the time of this writing, Paul was in house arrest awaiting trial in Rome.

Today’s passage is quite long, so I will focus on Paul’s humility. As those who have followed this week’s writings may have noticed, humility has been the underlying theme this week.

Paul refers to his conversion with a sense of awe. It is clear that he is continually overwhelmed that God should choose him, one who had previously persecuted Christians unto death, to preach the Gospel, and not only to preach the Gospel, but to present it to the Gentiles – people who had previously been considered forever outside of God’s grace. Paul declares that he is “less than the least of all God’s people.” These are not words of pride. He refers to himself as a servant, not some high priest. He speaks of his ministry as God’s grace given to him for the Gentiles, and he speaks of his strength to do so as God’s power. He speaks of the message he brings as the “unsearchable riches of Christ” and the mystery that God made plain through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul has taken credit for nothing, yet Paul was an Apostle known throughout the known world, a preacher who brought hundreds to Christ everywhere he went. Paul wasn’t keeping count. He wasn’t counting feathers in his cap or hits on his web page. He was simply and faithfully spreading the message God had entrusted him to preach to the Gentiles.

Lord, help us to follow Paul’s example, to humbly reach out to others with your message of hope, and when we have seen success, may we give all the praise to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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