dead


Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace. [Ephesians 2:5 NCV]

I recently had coffee with an old friend and we discussed the idea of being dead in sin and whether such a person could be immortal. My thinking is that such a person has nothing in them that can survive death. Yet some think that everyone is born immortal and not really spiritually dead.

On the flipside, I love how this verse speaks of a new life with Christ. It reminds me of the day that Jesus came into my life. In a tangible way he made me a different person. He gave me a new heart and a new perspective. This is the gospel. Those who were spiritually dead become alive in God.

All that I can say Lord is thanks. For a life that does not end when I die.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.

election


But if it is by grace [God’s unmerited favor], it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace [it would not be a gift but a reward for works]. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking [that is, God’s favor by obedience to the Law], but the elect [those chosen few] obtained it, while the rest of them became hardened and callously indifferent; [Romans 11:6-7 AMP]

The subject of election is a weighty theological subject. I will not try to cover it in much detail here. The two sides of the debate involves the idea of choice or free will in election. Some think that God chooses some and rejects others. Others think humans choose to accept or reject God's gift.

Neither side talks much about the spiritual aspect of what it means to be elect. I liken election to the incarnation. God came to Mary before something divine was conceived in her. God already knew that she would say yes to him. But he came to her before Jesus was conceived in her.

I think that it is similar with us. God comes to us wanting to birth something divine in us. Because he is God, he knows that we will say yes. Yet he wants our willing participation in this divine conception. This seems consistent with the way that God has always worked in the world.

Help me Lord to keep my heart soft and open to what you want to birth in me.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.

forgiveness


He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:13-14 NRSV]


The contrasts in this verse from Colossians is stark. Darkness. Light. Slavery. Redemption. Punishment. Forgiveness. Earthly kingdom. Heavenly kingdom. We were born into darkness. Born anew into beautiful light. Light that causes us to love as we are loved. Forgive as we are forgiven. Letting go and moving on.

There are many facets to forgiveness. Yet at the heart of it is the idea that one person releases another of something. Sometimes it is in the form of a financial debt. Other times it is the letting go of bitterness.

In a very real sense forgiveness is letting go of the things that we cannot control and embracing gracious mercy. I find this idea to be so liberating. For the one forgiven and for one forgiving. It puts forgiveness in a healthy perspective. Instead of one of emotional weakness it presents an image of a tremendously powerful person. One willing to let go of the bad things that control them.

As you have taught us Lord. We forgive those who have hurt us. We release them to you.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.

grace


Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. [Hebrews 4:16 NIV]


I love that God's throne is called grace and not judgment. Surely such a place is one that I can approach with confidence. Yet many in the world, religious and non-religious, believe God to be a deity that seeks to judge us. Thoughts of mercy and grace seem far from their image of God.

Recently I have been thinking that grace is simply another word for help. Or compassion. When I think about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace, I am convinced that He has been called to come along side of me to help me. This is the God in whom I trust and believe in.

So you see, grace is something real to me. Not an abstract belief that I have unmerited favor but an expression of God's willingness to help me. Grace is a throne that I can come to when I am at my worst. Grace embodies a friend who will never reject me. A Lord that I can always trust.

Dear Spirit of Grace. Cultivate more grace in me. Help me to reflect the grace that I see in you.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.

holy


He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. [2 Timothy 1:9 NIV]

Holy Spirit. Holy servant. Holy scriptures. Holy people. Holy kiss. Holy life. Holy faith. This word, holy, is sprinkled throughout the New Testament telling us that there is a different way. A sacred way. A divine path. A journey of the heart that transcends heaven and earth.

So what does it mean to be holy? Or to live holy? The Greek word hágios, translated here as holy, can mean "likeness of nature with the Lord". That is such a great descriptor. When we are holy when we are like God. We walk in holiness when we are loving, merciful and compassionate.

I so want my life to be a holy one. I want to live like Jesus. And, as this verse about teaches us, it is God who has purposed us to be holy. When He came into our lives he created us holy on the inside. By his grace we walk out his nature and his character. Holiness is why we are here.

Remind me today Lord that I have been created to live holy.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.

Immanuel


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” [Matthew I:23 NKJV]

On the surface, the doctrine of the virgin birth is somewhat ludicrous. The idea that something invisible would become visible is the essence of science fiction. Therefore many have rejected the idea that God came to us in the form of a baby born of a chaste virgin girl.

Yet some understand the uniqueness of the incarnation and why God became human. For millennia God sent prophets. Many had spiritual gifts. Many had the Holy Spirit. Yet many of these had an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the nature of God himself.

Many missed their Immanuel because they believed he would be like the God that they imagined. They believed that he would be a warrior deliverer like King David. These most needed to see Immanuel. Yet they stood against him because he was not like the God they envisioned.

I love the way that Jesus revealed God to be Immanuel. Not just God with the religious folks. Not only with the (so called) righteous. Jesus revealed God to be a friend of sinners. A compassionate healer. A loving teacher. A suffering son. Immanuel showed God to us in that way.

Immanuel. You are with us still Lord. Help us to know how near you are.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.

judge


Do not judge, or you too will be judged. … Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? [Matthew 7:1,3 NIV]


When it comes to judgement we all suffer from impaired vision. Biases blind us. Egos limit our line of sight. We each struggle to see clearly. We each have a proverbial plank in our eye. Yet we choose to gossip. To criticize. To judge the worthiness of a person to enter heaven.

It is that last judgement that I find so troubling. Christians are sadly known for judging sins that they do not struggle with. Sadly these days, in some theological circles, more sermons seem to be preached on homosexuality than all of the deadly sins combined. Tragic.

That said, what I find most troubling is the way that judgment alienates people and leaves them feeling rejected and unloved. In a very real sense, one cannot love while they are judging. When we judge our focus is not on rehabilitation but on condemnation. And that is heartbreaking.

In contrast, the scriptures teach us that love covers sins. The way to restore a person who has fallen is not to judge them. That only keeps them down. Love causes us to us to lift the one who has fallen. To forgive them. To mend their wounds. To see them with the eyes of heaven.

Cause us to make your heart glad Lord. Help us to love and not judge.


... this devotion is part of the z2a bible words series.