Monday, March 27, 2006

Christ Jesus

I Timothy 2:5-6 states, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all many…”

A mediator helps two parties in disagreement or conflict to resolve their differences.

Why do we need a mediator between us and God? Because God is perfectly holy and we are naturally sinful, there is a huge divide between us and God. He is the righteous judge who must punish sinners, and we are the sinners with a natural inclination towards sin. He can have nothing to do with us, except punish our sin. We desperately need a mediator between us and God.

Amazingly God sent his son to die on the cross and serve as our mediator. When God sees our sin, he sees the punishment for it that Christ endured. When he looks at us he sees the righteousness of his son, which he has credited to us. The divide is gone, the conflict resolved, the difference disappeared—all due to the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.

How should we respond? Stunned, amazed, grateful, committed to tell others of this good news. Let’s resolve today to look at the finished work of Jesus Christ as the loving work of God for us. Let’s live life aware of the amazing grace and mercy shown to us. Let’s live all out for him and his kingdom. Let’s praise God for our mediator and our ransom paid.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Maturing Through Trials

James 1:2-4 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

If you are like me, you find it hard to consider trials as pure joy. How can a broken arm be considered good? How can being cut from the softball team be joyful? How can a sickness be a happy event?

Trials are difficult circumstances or events in our life that are hard to endure. They often take us by surprise and stretch us beyond our normal capacities. And as we look in detail at this truth from James, we can learn to look at trials as God working for good in our lives.

First, trials test our faith. They provide a perfect opportunity for us to gauge our ability to trust God, to believe he is fully in control, and to look to him for strength to endure. How would you evaluate your faith in the midst of trials?

Second, trials develop perseverance in us. They stretch us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. As we learn to trust God more and more and trust God to help us and as we see him meet us and assist us through the trial, we will develop perseverance.

Third, trials are part of our maturing as Christians. It is amazing that we can become stronger Christians as the results of trials. As we see God meet us in a particular trial, we will be better prepared for the future trials that are sure to come. As we recognize our weaknesses and limitations, we will be humble and turn to God, Scripture, and others for help. As we come to know trials, we will be better equipped to serve others in need.

Don’t we all want to grow in faith, perseverance, and maturity? Don’t we all want to be complete Christians, lacking nothing? When we think of the present, we will not like trials at all, but when we think of the future, we can, with faith, consider them pure joy.

Let’s keep our eyes on Christ and the future work he will accomplish in our present trial.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Lot on My Mind

Last night I went to bed with a lot on my mind. Thoughts of projects I need to finish, people I need to call, and tasks I need to be complete filled my mind as I tossed and turned in my attempt to fall asleep.

This morning I woke up with a lot on my mind. The same unfinished work immediately popped into my mind when I opened my eyes. Fighting to get back to sleep, I began to review my to-do list, which seemed to only get longer and longer. I gave up, and I jumped out of bed early, with a lot on my mind.

What do you do when you have a lot to do and a lot on your mind? What do you do when your to-do list is extremely long and overwhelming?

If you are like me, you are tempted to be anxious and worry. That’s why today and every day like today, I need to live in Ephesians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In this passage God directs us to not be anxious but instead to turn to him in prayer, lifting up our requests to him with thanksgiving. This means we can and must battle our worry and fears by turning from ourselves and our situation and to the Lord of all. We need to pause from our thoughts of the day ahead and focus our thoughts on Christ, who is interceding on our behalf at the right hand of the Father.

The promise is amazing – the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. Instead of fretting and losing sleep, we can experience peace from God. Instead of anxiety and worry, we can experience calm from our heavenly Father. This is what we need guarding our hearts and minds!

So today join me in living in Ephesians 4:6-7. I need to take my eyes off of my situation and look to the Lord over my situation. I need to take my eyes off of my power and look to the One who is all powerful. I need to take my eyes off of my solutions and look to Him who knows all. In the end I will experience the peace of God which transcends all understanding to guard my heart and mind.