abide


Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. … If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [John 15:4,7 ESV]

At first glance this passage seems to give the one asking a blank check. A binary interpretation of the verse may indicate that there is a quid pro quo aspect at work. I abide. I pray. He provides what I want. Most of us know however that this is not how life or prayer works at all.

The presence of two abides in this verse gives us a clue as to the relational aspect of prayer. When I read about the words of Christ abiding in me I think about transformation and maturity. We ask for what we want. What we want is God. The heart transformed wants him and his will.

There is a transforming maturity that comes only from abiding in Christ. The older I get, the more that I realize that all I really want is God. He can give me what I really need. He can bring friends to my side and laughter to my heart. Our task is to simply trust in him as we abide.

Teach us Lord. What it means to abide. And what it means to pray.


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

blessings


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Mathew 5:3 NRSV]


In the passage described as the beatitudes Jesus lists eight things that invoke a blessing. He mentions meekness, mourning, mercifulness, purity of heart and peacemaking. He mentions blessings of kingdom inheritance, comfort, mercy, adoption and divine vision. Nowhere to be found in this list of blessings is wealth or any other earthly thing. The focus of Christ's words are spiritual not material.

This list of blessings is so counterintuitive. It goes against the grain of what many consider to be blessings. Perhaps it is because the word 'poor' (πτωχός) used in this verse means 'reduced to being a beggar'. That convicts me. I cannot really relate to being a beggar. Even so, in this upside down divine kingdom, spiritual pride is vanquished and spiritual beggars are blessed.

I am proud. I repent. Forgive me Lord. Create a beggar heart in me.


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

christ


When Jesus arrived … he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” … He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” [Matthew 16:13,15-16 MSG]

Xristós, the word translated here as Christ, communicates the idea of a person that has been anointed. In the context of this passage, many translate the word as Messiah, the long awaited deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Old Testament by the prophets. I love the layering of the dialog that Jesus had with his friends. So interesting how fast his questions became personal.

In a world where many think that Christ is the last name of Jesus, it is a small wonder that many are ignorant of what it means to be anointed. Surely many have anointed others to rule over them seeing charismatic people as messianic individuals. Jesus was different than those. When I think of what it means to be anointed as Jesus was my mind sees an image of a servant.

Jesus is often thought of as a servant king. So when I consider the anointing of the Holy Spirit on my life, I remember that I am anointed to be a servant, loving God and others with all that I am. So different than the messianic imagery that has permeated some religions these days. Even so, it is important to remember that Jesus spoke of a kingdom where the greatest among us would be servants.

Anoint me afresh dear Spirit of the living God. That I may embody Christ in the world.


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

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.