The wait

Do you ever wonder what this world would be like if Adam had never sinned? If no one had ever fallen prey to the enemy’s lies? Would we even have four seasons? Would leaves ever fall off trees? Would fruit ever spoil? And what about us? Would we still be wandering in paradise blissfully unaware of our nakedness? Taking strolls through the forest with God?

I wonder, like humanity, how much the rest of creation is aware of its fallen state. Romans 8:19 says that all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. It’s not only humans who wait for Jesus’ glorious return, but all of creation. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:20-21).

In Revelation 5, we see a progression of praise. First it’s just the elders around the throne. Then they are joined by thousands and millions of angels. And, finally, the rest of the chorus joins in a culmination of the entirety of God’s creation.

And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever”

Revelation 5:13 (NLT)

I love the sound of a large choir, but can you imaging the entire universe singing God’s praise? For millennia, creation has been waiting, anticipating the time when we can all sing out. Like a bubble waiting to burst or a bud waiting to bloom, but only infinitely more powerful, beautiful, and wonderful. All of creation—animate and inanimate—longs for the day when we can all bow before the throne and join with the elders and the angels to sing:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty—
the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.

Revelation 4:8b (NLT)

Just the thought of that kind of praise and worship stirs my heart. An eternal, universally worship service will surely be worth the wait.

Daily Bible reading: Amos 1-3, Revelation 5

The walking dead

There is far more to the Christian life than a simple confession. If you’ve been reading along, by now you know that. But not all those who call themselves Christians do. Churches around the world are filled with the walking dead—those who profess faith, but display no proof of it at all.

So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.

James 2:17 (NLT)

How do you know someone is alive? This seems like a pretty stupid question, but go along with me for a minute. You know someone is alive because something is happening. A heart is beating. Lungs are drawing in breath. The brain is active. There are indicators of life—all of which are measureable.

I recently spent a day in the emergency room with my younger sister. Her doctor’s office called her in a near panic because some measurements in her blood were alarmingly low. All day long, hospital staff were coming and going taking measurement after measurement of an assortment of different things. Temperature. Blood pressure. And, before we could leave, they had to draw blood (which seemed a little counterintuitive since we were there because she needed blood) so that more measurements could be taken. All of the things that prove whether a person is healthy or unfit, alive or dead can be measured.

How can your faith be measured?

[Abraham’s] faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions.

James 2:22b (NLT)

Because Abraham did what God told him to do, when He told him to do it, and how he was told, God declared Abraham to be righteous. He was even called a friend of God (verse 23).

Life, in any form is tangible. It can be measured in various ways—faith included.

Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone.

James 2:14 (NLT)

We can be the walking dead—saying we have faith, but doing nothing to prove it. Or we can have living faith—proving it by our actions and obedience.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 22-23, James 2

Control freak

Nobody likes to hear the S word. Sin isn’t something anyone wants to or enjoys talking about. Even sinners don’t like their actions to be referred to as sin. It’s a dirty word. And so it should be. But just because sin is dirty, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it or even talk about it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. So how do we deal with it?

We don’t.

He [Jesus] died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God.

Romans 6:10 (NLT)

Jesus already dealt with sin. He defeated it. There is no maybe about it. There were no little stragglers that escaped. Jesus got it all. He didn’t just win the battle, he won the war.

What does this mean for us?

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Romans 6:6 (NLT)

There are days where sin feels mighty powerful in my life. I struggle with the temptation to give in—and often do. But if it’s lost its power, why is the struggle still there?

Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)

Perhaps our struggle isn’t so much with sin as it is with control. Until the day we leave this earth, sin will always be an option. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean we have to allow it to control us. We should aim for the exact opposite.

So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 (NLT)

Romans 6 goes on to talk about how we should be using our bodies as tools to bring glory to God. A tool is something to be used, controlled by the one using it. Our bodies should not control us, but we rather, should control our bodies. When we give ourselves over to sin, we give up control. Likewise, when we give ourselves over to God, we give Him control. The less control we hold for ourselves—the more we give to God, the less likely we are to give it up to sin. In a culture where control is everything, this is a difficult thing to comprehend or even accept. Yet the benefits in giving all control to God far outweigh the disadvantages (because there are no disadvantages).

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:7 (NLT)

Sin doesn’t have to control us. We don’t have to try to control sin. We must simply give all control over to God. Easy in words, not so much in action. But I believe that the more we strive to give God complete control and ask for His grace in doing so, the more freedom we will find.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 75-77, Romans 6

Identify

One of the greatest struggles of our culture today is identity. We all want—need—to know who we are and who everyone else is. There are infinite ways to identify ourselves, but we make our greatest mistake when we determine our identity by what we do rather than who we are.

One mistake or misstep can change the course of your life when you become identified by that one action. In a negative context, if a person kills someone, that person is forever known as a murderer. That person could become the world’s greatest philanthropist, yet that single action determines how they are perceived for the rest of their life. In a less drastic context, if a singer has one hit song, they are forever known as the person who sang that particular song. It may not matter that they’ve sung a hundred other songs, that one song becomes their identity.

There is so much more to us than what we do. By making a determination of who we are based on just one portion of our lives, we reject our true identity.

You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6 (NLT)

What better way to discover your identity than looking toward the One who created you? My true identity, your true identity, is in Christ. You don’t need to go find yourself if you know Christ because who we are is found in him. The trouble comes when we reject our Creator.

From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools.

Romans 1:20-22 (NLT)

When we reject our true identity—as belonging to Jesus—darkness and confusion set it. It is no wonder that, in a culture who has rejected the very idea of God, people have so much difficulty finding their identity. With no light to guide their way, their path can only lead to darkness and death.

Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to live.”

John 8:12 (NLT)

Our journey of self-discovery should only ever lead us to one place—Jesus. We have all we need to know how we should identify ourselves in the Word of God. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ. When you identify as a child of God, you need look no further.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

1 John 3:1a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 62-64, Romans 1

Fulfilled

When I make a promise, to the best of my ability, I try to keep it. When someone else makes a promise for me, depending on what it is, I try to keep that, too. If a complete stranger says I’m going to do something, I’m not likely to do it—unless I want to or already planned on doing so.

Jesus came to earth and fulfilled every promise made about him—whether he’d met the person who made it or not. Some things just happened the way they’d been foretold centuries before.

So they said, “Let’s not tear it but throw dice to see who gets it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my clothes among themselves and threw dice for my robe.” So that is what they did.

John 19:24 (NLT)

Others made sure to record fulfilled prophecies so that we would know and recognise what had taken place.

This report is from and eye-witness giving and accurate account; it is presented so that you can also believe.

John 19:35 (NLT)

And yet others, Jesus made sure he fulfilled. Even on the cross after being whipped and beaten and nailed to a tree, Jesus knew there were a few things he still had to do so that things strangers had said about him would come to pass.

Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures, he said, “I am thirsty.”

John 19:28 (NLT)

That is the Jesus we know. The Jesus we serve. The Jesus we love. The man who, while hanging on the cross near the point of death, would make a request in order to fulfill words that had been spoken centuries before. All so that we would know who he truly was.

There was no benefit to Jesus in stating his thirst. All he got for it was a taste of vinegar. But what we get is one more prophecy fulfilled amongst hundreds of others that only Jesus could fulfill. We get to see the impossibility of one man fulfilling all those words become possible. Jesus not only fulfilled prophecy in his words and action, he is the fulfillment of promise.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 1-2, John 19:23-42

Big, fat liar

But if I do his work, believe in what I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will realize that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.

John 10:38 (NLT)

There are a lot of people who believe that Jesus was a prophet and a great man yet they do not believe that he is the Son of God. These people accept that he had an incredible ministry for several years, gathered many followers and then, at the height of his fame, was put to death. They believe that Jesus was a good teacher and charismatic enough to amass disciples, but he was nothing more than that.

This raises one big question: if you believe that Jesus was a great man and that his teachings hold great truth and wisdom, but all that stuff about being the Son of God was just a bunch of crazy talk, doesn’t that make Jesus a big, fat liar? And if Jesus was a big, fat liar about the one thing that he based his entire ministry on, how can you possibly believe anything else he had to say?

Jesus said it himself, if you don’t believe in him, believe in what he did. But if you believe in what he did, you would have to admit that he truly is the Son of God.

Either Jesus really is the Son of God, brought to earth, lived, died, and was raised to life or he was one heck of a con man.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 20-22, John 10:22-42