Wednesday, July 31, 2013

fragrance or stench

Let's not be deceived - here's what the world really think of us...

2 Corinthians 2

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession.

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.

But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

And who is adequate for such a task as this?

  17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit.

We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

a question

Mark 2
13 Then Jesus went out to the lake shore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him.

14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector's booth.

         "Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

So Levi got up and followed him.

  15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners.

           (There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)

16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples,

         "Why does he eat with such scum?*"

  17 When Jesus heard this, he told them,

          "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do.

           I have come to call those who know they are sinners, not those who think they are already good enough."

The question is, are we the kind of people that "notorious sinners" wanna hang with?

Or is the real question more like, do our Christ-like-ness so definite & strong in us that we want to hang with "notorious sinner"?

Monday, July 29, 2013

to be & do

1 Corinthians 16

13 Be on guard.

Stand true to what you believe.

Be courageous.

Be strong. 

14 And everything you do must be done with love.

The apostle, Paul, was writing a letter to the church at Corinth, a coastal city in Greece that was one of the major seats of commerce, very wealthy, very sophisticated, very sexual, very jaded.

Iow, a city like any in America today!

These two verses come at the end of his letter to the church. And you know how it is - when we're finishing up a letter,we try to cram a lot of last minute stuff in an effort to not forget anything.

And Paul was doing that here.

"Be on guard."

     There was all of kinds of evil going on in Corinth. Paul just was maybe reminding them to watch out.

     Maybe us too?

"Stand true to what you believe."

     Any Christ follower in Corinth had values, a lifestyle, & a way of thinking that was antithetical, the very direct opposite of the cultural& moral norms of the city. Paul was prolly reminding them to stay the course. And not give into the to present day Corinthian way of thinking about life.

     Maybe we should read & heed this, too?

"Be courageous."

     I would think it would be tough to live a holy life in such a place as Corinth, where pretty much anything was considered okay.

     Kinda like today, huh?

     Perhaps Paul was saying to not shrink from the world, but to embrace it & engage it with the truth in Jesus."

"Be strong."

     Maybe Paul was calling the Corinthians to call on strength from the Holy Spirit to be & do who God wanted them to be & do in a pretty crazy, sinful, overwhelming place.

     Hmmmmmm... maybe we should do the same?

"And everything you do must be done with love."

     Remember that being loving was not the default setting back then. It was just the opposite. It was all about looking out for # 1, stepping on & over people to get what they wanted, & little care & thought was given to anyone or anything that didn't directly affect their individual lives.

     To be & do things in a spirit of love, kindness, mercy, & care was looked upon as a sign of weakness, not of strength. But that what I believe Paul is indicating here - to be the essence of Jesus in a difficult place.

     And that's what God is calling us to be today, no matter where we are or what our circumstances.

Let's just think about this today as we move about our own Corinthian places.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


1 Corinthians 15:58c ...nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

(that verse stood out this morning while I was reading. It's good to be reminded of that when sometimes it seems like our lives aren't making any kind of a dent in the people & situations around us.


We have a verse on the front of our refrigerator. It's been there a few years now. It's a promise God gave me about someone. And Lynn & I hold on to that promise for that person.

When I saw it yesterday I got the feeling I should share it this morning because someone may need to read it this today.

It's a promise God gives us all. Read it slowly & absorb it...

Galatians 6:9

So don't get tired of doing what is good.

     Don't get discouraged & give up,

for we will reap a harvest of blessing

   at the appropriate time.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Proverbs 6
20 My son, obey your father's commands,

  and don't neglect your mother's instruction.

21 Keep their words always in your heart.

  Tie them around your neck.

22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you.

  When you sleep, they will protect you.

  When you wake up, they will advise you.

23 For their command is a lamp

  and their instruction a light;

their corrective discipline

  is the way to life.

24 It will keep you from the immoral woman,

  from the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman.

25 Don't lust for her beauty.

  Don't let her coy glances seduce you.

26 For a prostitute will bring you to poverty,

  but sleeping with another man's wife will cost you your life.

27 Can a man scoop a flame into his lap

  and not have his clothes catch on fire?

28 Can he walk on hot coals

  and not blister his feet?

29 So it is with the man who sleeps with another man's wife.

  He who embraces her will not go unpunished.

30 Excuses might be found for a thief

  who steals because he is starving.

31 But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole,

  even if he has to sell everything in his house.

32 But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool,

  for he destroys himself.

33 He will be wounded and disgraced.

  His shame will never be erased.

34 For the woman's jealous husband will be furious,

  and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

35 He will accept no compensation,

  nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

straight ahead

This could be for you, too - it was for me, today

Proverbs 4:25 Look straight ahead,

  and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;

  stay on the safe path.

27 Don't get sidetracked;

  keep your feet from following evil.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Obviously, I needed to hear what these two verses have to say.

But who else needed it today, besides me, & why?

Proverbs 3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take. (NLT)

5-6 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know.

Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. (Good News)

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Amplified)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths. (NRSV)

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely;
    never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.
Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish,
    and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead. (The Voice)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Another example of Jesus hanging out with a notorious sinner.

And look what happened to him!

I wonder what would happen if we weren't afraid to hang out with "notorious sinners"?

Btw, what or who would you say is a "notorious sinner" in today's American culture & world? Comment back & let me know, will ya?

Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town.

2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus.
       He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.

3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd.

4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.

  5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name.

"Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today."

  6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

7 But the people were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled.

  8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said,

             "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord,

              and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"

  9 Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today,

        for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."

Monday, July 22, 2013

what should I do

Luke 18

18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: "Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?"

  19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "Only God is truly good. 20 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: 'You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.'"

  21 The man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young."

  22 When Jesus heard his answer, he said, "There is still one thing you haven't done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

  23 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.

  24 When Jesus saw this, he said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"

  26 Those who heard this said, "Then who in the world can be saved?"

  27 He replied, "What is impossible for people is possible with God."

  28 Peter said, "We've left our homes to follow you."

  29 "Yes," Jesus replied, "and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come."

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Luke 17

7 "When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, 'Come in and eat with me'?

8 No,

he says, 'Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat.

     Then you can eat later.'

9 And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do?

Of course not.

10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say,

        'We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.'"

Well, that kinda undercuts any success orientation of our servanthood.

Anyone we hear saying frequently & glibly, "All I want is to be servant of the Lord", has never been one.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the temple

1 Corinthians 6:18 Run from sexual sin!

No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.

For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

19 Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,

        who lives in you and was given to you by God?

You do not belong to yourself,

     20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Friday, July 19, 2013

hang time

Luke 15:1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.

2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people...

     ...even eating with them!

So, Jesus hung out with "notorious sinners"?

Things were pretty rank back then (as they are now).

Makes ya wonder what ya had to be & do back then to be a "notorious sinner" !

Anyway, Jesus would hang out with them.

Evening eating with them - iow, this was a complete connection that He had with them. They trusted Him enough to eat with Him, & be seen in public doing so.


So, we're supposed to be like Jesus...

How many of us hang out with "notorious sinners"... the point that our super holy friends, acquaintances, & authenticators get all wound around the axle about it?

Iow, how many of us do for others what was done for us, resulting in us becoming Christ followers?

And where would you & I be if those Christ followers who hung out with us when we were not Christ followers had the same attitude of "reputation protecting" you & I sometimes have about building strong relationships with "notorious sinners"?

Yeah, we'd still be goin' slam to hell.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

believing or following

There is a difference between believing in Jesus, & following Him.

I've heard it said it like the difference between dating someone, & marrying them.

Iow, following means a total, lifelong commitment.

So many of us want Jesus to be a part of our life,

     when allowing Him to change us to radically that we begin to look & act like Him is really what He's after.

Here's something of what Jesus had to say about all this...

Luke 14
25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,

26 "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life.

     Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.

27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

  28 "But don't begin until you count the cost.

For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?

     29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

     30 They would say, 'There's the person who started that building and couldn't afford to finish it!'

  31 "Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?

32 And if he can't, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away.

33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

I don't know who this is for, but if it's you, all I can say is if you're weighing believing or following Jesus, follow Him.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

worry & fear

worry & fear - 2 crippling emotions, especially for a Christ follower.

Here's what Jesus had to say about that...

Luke 12:22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said,

     " don't worry about everyday life,

           whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.

23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.

24 Look at the ravens.

     They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

        for God feeds them.

And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!

25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

26 And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things?

  27 "Look at the lilies and how they grow.

           They don't work or make their clothing,

              yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

          he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  29 "And don't be concerned about what to eat and what to drink.

           Don't worry about such things.

30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world,

         but your Father already knows your needs.

31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,

          and he will give you everything you need.

  32 "So don't be afraid, little flock.

            For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

  33 "Sell your possessions and give to those in need.

            This will store up treasure for you in heaven!

         And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes.

Your treasure will be safe;

     no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.

34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Monday, July 15, 2013

keep on

When I read these two verses this morning, the words that stood out we "keep on..."

I needed to hear that this morning. I needed to hear God say something about my direction.

He just seemed to say to keep moving forward, to move on.

What are you asking for?

What are you looking for?

What door do you long to have swing open?

Maybe you need to hear that this morning, too?

Let me know if you did.

And let's keep on, together...

Luke 11:9 so I (Jesus) tell you,

     Keep on asking,

        & you will be given what you ask for.

     Keep on looking,

        & you will find.

     Keep on knocking,

        & the door will be opened.

10 For everyone who asks,


Everyone who seeks,


And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

for you

When I read this psalm this morning, I got the impression someone out there needed to read it today.

So, this one's for you - lemme know if it was particularly for you...

Psalm 143
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;

  listen to my plea!

  Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.

2 Don't put your servant on trial,

  for no one is innocent before you.

3 My enemy has chased me.

  He has knocked me to the ground

  and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.

4 I am losing all hope;

  I am paralyzed with fear.

5 I remember the days of old.

  I ponder all your great works

  and think about what you have done.

6 I lift my hands to you in prayer.

  I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.    Interlude

7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me,

  for my depression deepens.

Don't turn away from me,

  or I will die.

8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,

  for I am trusting you.

Show me where to walk,

  for I give myself to you.

9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD;

  I run to you to hide me.

10 Teach me to do your will,

  for you are my God.

May your gracious Spirit lead me forward

  on a firm footing.

11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life.

  Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.

12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies

  and destroy all my foes,

  for I am your servant.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

if..., then.

 Luke 9:23 Then Jesus said to the crowd,

"If any of you wants to be my follower,

     you must give up your selfish ambition,

(dan note: "selfish ambition" - I wonder how much of what I think & do is "selfish ambition?)

     take up your cross daily,

     and follow me.

24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.

        But if you give up your life for my sake,

     you will save it.

25 And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?

(dan note: when I read that verse, I always think of people like Michael Jackson or Steve Jobs - what would they say to us now if they could?)

26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message,

         the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory

         and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.

Friday, July 12, 2013

listen up

In Matthew 9, Mark 5, & Luke 8, the writers tell about Jairus & his sick daughter.

Jairus' daughter finally dies of her illness,& this news is brought to Jairus while he & Jesus are walking to Jairus' house.

Each of the writers has noted that when this news came to Jairus, Jesus basically said something along the lines of, "Don't be afraid. Just trust Me."

It is interesting that all 3 of the writers mention that.

It must have been important.

Especially since soon after saying that, Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead!

Jesus has whispered that to me, more than once, especially lately.

Does that mean I'm never afraid?

Does that mean I'm just filled to the brim with trust?

Well, we both know the answer to that.

But I do know that when I am after, & when I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel, to hear this voice inside my head remind me, "Don't be afraid. Just trust Me" helps me to take one step back from just losing my mind.

If those words of Jesus apply to me, they apply to all of us.

Today, as you move through your life,remember those words of Jesus...

Don't worry. Just trust Me.

What if we all REALLY did that - as much as we're able?

What would our lives look like?

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Yesterday, I put up Psalm 139 for y'all to absorb. It was in the New Living Translation.

Here it is in The Message, which is a paraphrase -iow, it's not a word for word translation, but a compilation of the essence of the text.

I like it sometimes because is offers scripture in another stance, a different viewpoint.

Take a look at it & tell me what you think...

Psalm 139
1-6 God, investigate my life;

    get all the facts firsthand.

I’m an open book to you; Yesterday

    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.

You know when I leave and when I get back;

    I’m never out of your sight.

You know everything I’m going to say

    before I start the first sentence.

I look behind me and you’re there,

    then up ahead and you’re there, too—

    your reassuring presence, coming and going.

This is too much, too wonderful—

    I can’t take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?

    to be out of your sight?

If I climb to the sky, you’re there!

    If I go underground, you’re there!

If I flew on morning’s wings

    to the far western horizon,

You’d find me in a minute—

    you’re already there waiting!

Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!

    At night I’m immersed in the light!”

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;

    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

    you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

    I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,

    you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!

    God, I’ll never comprehend them!

I couldn’t even begin to count them—

    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,

    find out everything about me;

Cross-examine and test me,

    get a clear picture of what I’m about;

See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—

    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Sometimes it's amazing how much incredible truth is encapsulated in one psalm.

Read this one slowly, especially the first 6 verses.

Psalm 139
1 O LORD, you have examined my heart

  and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

  You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.

3 You see me when I travel

  and when I rest at home.

  You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

  even before I say it, LORD.

5 You both precede and follow me.

  You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

  too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

  I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

  if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

  if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

  and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

  and the light around me to become night—

12   but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

  Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

  and knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

  as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

  before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

  They cannot be numbered!

18 I can't even count them;

  they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

  you are still with me!

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

  test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you,

  and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

workin' it out

Psalm 138:8a The Lord will work out His plans for my life...

No disclaimers, no pre-conditions,

the psalmists just said, straightforwardly that God's gonna work out His plans for my life.

What kind of encouragement should this bring to us?

Is it that simple?

Do we realistically need to add "yes... but..."?

Or can we really rest in this statement?

And if we can, how then should we live our lives?

Monday, July 8, 2013


Romans 11

22 God is both kind & severe.

     He is severe to those who disobey Him,

     but kind to you as you continue to trust His kindness.

But if you stop trusting Him,

     you will also be cut off.

vs 29 God's gifts & His call can never be withdrawn.

So, there you have it...

If we obey Him, He will be kind to us.

But if we disobey Him... there WILL be consequences - not good ones.

Contrary to popular, smorgasbord middle class Christianity, obedience is not optional.

Not at all.

Think about that today.

An one more thing...

Once God gifts us & call us, He doesn't change His mind.

We are gift & called to be & do what He dreamed us to be & do.


Think about THAT today, too!

I know I will be.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Romans 10

9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord

        and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,

     you will be saved.

10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God,

       and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?

And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?

And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?

That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"

The operative word I get out of all of that for me, and for you, is...


The who, what, where, when, & how if that "go" is a very specific & singular dream that God dreamed for each & every one of us a gajillion years ago.

So, go!

Friday, July 5, 2013

a wow chapter

Sometimes a chapter is just too full of stuff. Romans 8 is one of those kinds of chapters. I've tried to make it easier to read. It's just 39 verses - get over it!

Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.

So God did what the law could not do.

     He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have.

     And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

  5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things,

        but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God.

     It never did obey God's laws, and it never will.

8 That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

  9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature.

You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.

     (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life* because you have been made right with God.

11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

  12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die.

But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

  15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.

Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.

      Now we call him, "Abba, Father."

16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children.

17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs.

        In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory.

But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.

But with eager hope,21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

24 We were given this hope when we were saved.

        (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it.25 But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

  26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

          For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for.

But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

29 For God knew his people in advance,

        and he chose them to become like his Son,

        so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him.

And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself.

And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?

        If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own?

        No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

34 Who then will condemn us?

        No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

  35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?

Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

36 (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.")

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

  38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.

        Neither death nor life,

        neither angels nor demons,

        neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow,

        not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.

        39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below;

indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

u & me

Romans 7:14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good.

    The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.

15 I don't really understand myself,

        for I want to do what is right,

        but I don't do it.

     Instead, I do what I hate.

16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.

17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

  18 And I know that nothing good lives in me,

            that is, in my sinful nature.

I want to do what is right, but I can't.

19 I want to do what is good, but I don't.

I don't want to do what is wrong,

    but I do it anyway.

20 But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong;

        it is sin living in me that does it.

  21 I have discovered this principle of life...

            that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.

22 I love God's law with all my heart.

23 But there is another power* within me that is at war with my mind.

This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am!

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

sowing / reaping

We live in a time where anything goes.
     If it feels good, do it.
     Do your own thing.
     There are no absolutes except there are no absolutes.

The apostle, Paul, wrote to the church in Rome something about how we should live our lives.

     Remember as you read this that Rome was the capital of an empire & a crossroads of the world, where there were very few rules & lots of wild & crazy behavior - behavior very similar to today.

I look around me & see so many people - Christ followers - who are letting sin, & various sins, control their lives.

I see many of them using their bodies in much of the same way that people who aren't Christ followers use their bodies.

I guess I've lived too long, & seen too much - I know what's going to happen to them, eventually.

We really to reap what we so - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year. But eventually, what we sow into our lives comes to fruition.

Romans 6

12 Do not let sin control the way you live;

       do not give in to sinful desires.

13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin.

        Instead, give yourselves completely to God,

           for you were dead, but now you have new life.

So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.

         Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

what we have

The Message is not a word by word translation of the Bible. It is a paraphrase. Iow, the essence of a passage is expressed.

Read slowly through this section of faith & belief from the beginning of Romans 5...

Romans 5 1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

9-11 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Monday, July 1, 2013

who's greater?

2 Kings 6:8 When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, "We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place."

  9 But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, "Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there." 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.

  11 The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, "Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?"

  12 "It's not us, my lord the king," one of the officers replied. "Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!"

  13 "Go and find out where he is," the king commanded, "so I can send troops to seize him."

  And the report came back: "Elisha is at Dothan." 14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

  15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. "Oh, sir, what will we do now?" the young man cried to Elisha.

  16 "Don't be afraid!" Elisha told him. "For there are more on our side than on theirs!" 17 Then Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!" The LORD opened the young man's eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

  18 As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, "O LORD, please make them blind." So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.

  19 Then Elisha went out and told them, "You have come the wrong way! This isn't the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for." And he led them to the city of Samaria.

  20 As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, "O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see." So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

  21 When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, "My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?"

  22 "Of course not!" Elisha replied. "Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master."

  23 So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.

How would our lives be different if we simply believe as Elisha believed - that there are far more of the hosts of heaven protecting us than anything or anyone the devil can throw at us?