People find it difficult to accept something so free, so willingly given, so available to anyone. We want to feel as though we did something, that we somehow earned our salvation by our merit. Paul’s words are unmistakable: if salvation is by God’s grace and is accepted through faith, then it is “not a reward.” If salvation could be earned by good works, then people would, by nature, “boast” about their good works, compare the goodness of their works to others’ good works, and do good only to boast about it. Then, what would be “good enough” for salvation? But no one could ever be good enough to please a holy God. He casts aside all human effort and pride by offering salvation for free to all people by simple acceptance. People are given salvation on the grounds of God’s grace alone. But wait, there’s more. We are God’s masterpiece. Salvation is something only God can do—it is his powerful, creative work in us. People are re-created into new people, and those new people form a new creation—the church. I did not earn my salvation and living for Christ is not about me. We make it about us though when we beat ourselves up when we fail. We are human – we will fail. But we are His children and all He ask of Him is to live in Him in obedience to Him. Thank you Lord!
PRAYER – Jesus I am in You and You are in me. As a believer in You, You have given me the free gift of salvation. You don’t expect me to now earn that same salvation. Help me to forgive myself when I do fail because You have already forgiven me. In Jesus name,Amen.
Paul explains in these verses that he had evaluated his own motives and actions in light of the sobering fact that everyone will appear before Christ’s judgement seat. He knew and reminded himself of the fact that God saw his motivations. His life was an open book to God. Paul didn’t have to prove to God that he was sincere, for God already knew it. Like Paul, we are given a title and a ministry: “Ambassadors of Christ” with the “Ministry of Reconciliation.” An ambassador does not represent themselves but represents another. And we should do a self-examination and make sure the our motives and reasons are to bring glory and honor to the Lord rather than to us. Our mission is to preach this message to the world. Am I living an Ambassador of Christ life today?
PRAYER – Lord help me to see the world as You see them. Help me to see Your church as You see them. You love us so much that You were willing to sacrifice Your Son for us. Thank You, Father. Amen.
Jesus most likely gave these teachings primarily to the twelve disciples, but the crowds were present and listening. Much of what Jesus said referred to the ideas that had been promoted by the religious leaders of the day. The disciples, the closest associates of this popular Man, might easily have been tempted to feel important, proud, and possessive. However, Jesus told them that instead of fame and fortune, they could expect mourning, hunger, and persecution. Jesus also assured His disciples that they would receive rewards, but perhaps not in this life. The Beatitudes describe how Christ’s followers should live. Each beatitude tells how to be blessed. To be blessed means more than happiness – it means to be favored and approved by God. According to worldly standards, the types of people whom Jesus described don’t seem to be particularly blessed by God. But God’s way of living usually contradicts the world’s. Am I creating my reality & feelings with the world or with Christ?
PRAYER – Jesus, the world has taught me repeatedly to fight for my rights and privileges. But You continue to remind me – my reward in life, I may never see this side of Heaven. Help me to be content in wherever You have me and in doing whatever You would have of me for Your glory. In Your precious name, Amen.
At the end of chapter 7, Paul assures all believers of having power to overcome sin and the assurance of final deliverance from this evil world. But he includes the reminder that during this lifetime, there will be constant tension because in the sinful nature, even a believer is “a slave to sin” (Romans 7:25). The question then arises, are we to spend our entire lives defeated by sin? The answer is a resounding no! In Ch. 8, Paul answers this question by addressing the life of victory and hope that every believer has because of Christ Jesus. We feel condemned because Satan uses past guilt and present failures to make us question what Christ has done for us. Our assurance must be focused on Christ, not our performances. No matter how we may feel, the fact is there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. Because we have been rescued by Christ (Romans 7:24-25), we are not condemned. To belong to Jesus means to have put our faith in Him, becoming a member of His body of believers. Jesus said, “I assure you, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24). Are you beating yourself up for past mistakes? If God has forgiven you already, why are you still holding on to the shame and quilt? Resurrender to Jesus today for everything and all in your life.
PRAYER – Jesus, in this situation I have nothing to offer of my own ingenuity or strength; I need your wisdom and power as badly as I need the air that I breathe. As I move forward may I do so in desperate dependence on You every second. I joyfully and unreservedly confess that I am inadequate to answer Your call, in fact, I can do absolutely nothing without You. I’m not able to handle this situation on my own and any good that results must come solely through You. I simply ask You right now to flow through me, Lord Jesus, and cause me to stay out of Your way. In Your name, Amen
As with the previous parable, this situation would have been familiar to Jesus’ audience. When the owner of a house went on a long journey, he would give his servants the responsibility of caring for his property. So, too, Jesus has gone away to heaven to prepare a place for us. In the meantime, He has given us talents—money, energy, and abilities. It’s interesting to me that the fellow who didn’t show responsibility was the one with only one talent. That’s often where the danger lies with us as well. The person who says, “I can’t sing. I can’t preach. I can’t do miracles, I can’t (add giftedness here),” often buries his one talent, whatever it might be. We all have been given at least one talent. “Not me,” you say. “I have no talents and no abilities. I can’t do anything.” Can you change a diaper? Sign up to help in the nursery. Can you listen? Call on people at the rest home. Can you cook? Seek to serve. Can you pray? Lift up others. You can do so much. The problem is the one-talent person has a tendency to bury it. Here, Jesus is telling us that we will give an account for that which has been entrusted to us. If you are one who doesn’t think you have been given much, you are one who needs to be especially careful that you don’t bury that which you do have. All of us make up the church and all of us have been given an opportunity to serve the most High God for His honor and His glory. How can you serve Him today?
PRAYER – I hereby surrender everything that I am, and have, and ever will be. I take my hands off of my life and release every relationship to You: every habit, every goal, my health, my wealth, and everything that means anything. I surrender it ALL to You. By faith I take my place at the Cross, believing that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, according to Your Word, I was crucified with Him; when He was buried, I was buried; when He was raised from the dead, I was raised with Him. I deny myself the right to rule and reign in my own life and I take up the Cross believing that You are in my and I in You. I thank You for saving me from my sins and myself. From this moment on I am trusting You to live Your life in me and through me, instead of me, to do what I can’t do, quit what I can’t quit, start what I can’t start, and–most of all–to be what I can’t be. I am trusting you to renew my mind and heal damaged emotions in Your time. I thank You now by faith for accepting me in the Lord Jesus, for giving me Your grace, Your freedom, Your joy, Your victory and Your righteousness as my inheritance. Even if I don’t feel anything, I know that Your Word is true; I am counting on Your Spirit to do what Your Word says– to set me free from myself, that Your resurrection life may be lived out through me, and that You may receive all the glory. I thank You and praise You for victory right now in Jesus’ name, Amen.