Monday, February 25, 2013

From the darkness to the kingdom...

Week 9:

Colossians 1:13-14  13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Before salvation, we were living in darkness. I believe until we meet Jesus, we really do not realize that we were in darkness. I knew in that time for me that something was not right but I had not realized I was in darkness. How could I? It is what I knew, how I lived.

To be rescued from darkness, we must first realize we are in the darkness. For me, it came by being influenced by children of the kingdom of light (vs. 12). The people in my life who were Christ-followers were living a life of hope, peace, and joy that I realized I did not have. Now, their lives were and are not perfect. However, amidst any turmoil or darkness, these people would still have peace, hope, and a sense of joy in their lives.

Since moving, through Jesus, into the kingdom of light, I now have a different life. First of all, I have the same hope, peace and joy in my life. No matter how dark the storm has gotten, in the recesses of my heart and soul I have always known that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was there and God’s greater purpose would prevail. I did not have that before my rescue.

Secondly, having the light of Jesus shine into my darkness allows me to discern better between darkness and light. I am assisted in this through the Law or the Word of God. To those living in darkness, the Bible has little to no meaning. There is no reference point for them to anchor their life. In fact, for some in the darkness, the Bible and its principles seem oppressive. I am also able to discern between darkness and light through the Holy Spirit living in me. My conscience and spirit that God weaved into my soul is now connected with His divine Holy Spirit. His Spirit nudges and prompts me when needed.

Thirdly, I have an audience with the king of the Kingdom of light…Jesus himself. Not only did he as king rescue me, I have access to him, his power, his love, and his forgiveness. In our world today, many of the CEOs and others who are in the position of authority and power are quite unapproachable and inaccessible. Many of these people in the powerful positions do not remember what it was like to be the regular employee or follower. Not so with Jesus. He is there, and he remembers being human before becoming king.  

Remember then, that you now are a child of the light. You are a subject in the kingdom of light and you have access to the king of that kingdom…Jesus. Now, show that light to others so that they too can have that access and can be rescued from their darkness.


1. How does this passage land with you? Explain
2. Before Jesus, what were some of the clues for you that you were in the darkness?
3. How were you shown Jesus and by whom?
4. At what point in your life did you know or realize you were in darkness? What was the situation?
5. This week, reflect back on when you were in darkness and were rescued and brought into the kingdom of light. Notice how far you have come. Spend time in thankfulness for this rescue.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Love and commands...

Week 8:

I John 5:1-5 1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.  2This is how we know that we love the children of God:  by loving God and carrying out his commands.  3This is love for God:  to obey his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God has overcome the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  5 Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 
 2John 6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

John 14:15, 21, 23-24 15”If you love me, you will obey what I command”.  21”Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” 23…”If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.  These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

For the devotional thought this week, work through the following questions about this set of passages. 

1. Summarizing, what do these passages mean?

2. Based on the passages, is Jesus' love based upon merit? Why or why not?

3. Explain in your words how obedience ties to love.

4. Based on your observations of Christ-like people you know, what commands do you see these people obeying regularly?

5. What other passages come to mind as you read through these? List them.

6. How do those passages relate to this set of passages?

7. What is the relationship between loving Jesus and loving the Father?

8. How do we overcome the world?

9. How does this overcoming the world relate to love and obedience?

10. What does it mean that God and Jesus “will come to him and make our home with him?”  

11. In what ways will you tie love and commands together in your daily life this week?

I would love to hear your comments on how this passage struck you this week. Please comment and create some discussion around this devotional thought.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Now or later...

Week 7:

Philippians 2:9-11 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

These verses end a passage that emphasizes Christ’s humility. Paul writes about Christ giving up his place in heaven in order to become the servant he was…a servant who died for our sins. These verses however, point out that through that humility, Christ has been exalted again.

The last three verses pointing out Jesus’ sovereignty has often prompted me to think in terms of “now or later”. We can either declare Jesus as Lord of all now, by choice, or later (in the end) because it will be obvious. As I have read this over and over through the years, the language has had such an edge for me.  

First, Jesus is given the name above all names. There is no one placed in a higher position than Jesus. He is king. Second, every knee should bow. All of the universe will bow to Him. Third, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. To me this means we can choose now to believe and follow or we can find out the hard way in the end.

Right now, God gives us a choice. He reveals himself to us through the Bible, His Son, the Holy Spirit, through prayer, speaking through others, and circumstances. Humankind has drifted away from God and Jesus is the redemption needed to bring us back. If we choose not to believe that now, there will come a time when Jesus returns and all eyes will be open and all will see Jesus’ sovereignty. And we know by other scripture that those who have not believed will have a rude awakening.

There has always just been something that is powerful to me about how Jesus will come again. And in this passage he is giving us a peek into how some of that might look. Jesus will be exalted over all. So, we have a choice to believe…either now or later.

I think I will choose now.

1. In what ways has this passage challenged you?
2. In what ways has this passage given you comfort?
3. In what ways has this passage given you a hope?
4. In what ways has this passage given you a since of victory?
5. This week, really think about these last three verses. Who in your life needs to know that following Jesus requires urgency? Have a talk with him/her/them this week.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

No hiding place...

Week 6:

I Timothy 5:24-25 24The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.  25In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.

We as Christians (and many times as a church) tend to talk a lot about the theme of verse 24. So many times it is easy to lean on the negative and focus on the sins of others and the “just consequence” for those sins; or our wish on those “sinners” that “they will get theirs”. There is truth in the fact that “your sins will find you out eventually”. It is also comforting to know that God will administer justice. However, I want to focus less on the judgment/consequences for sins and look more at the reward for good deeds. As I do this, I do not want to take lightly the fact that all believers need to be called into account for their actions. Living in truth creates such freedom that being called into account (though painful at times) is such a gift as it releases us from the bondage of being out of integrity.  

What I really like in this passage is verse 25. Our world is so focused on the negative. Satan continually suggests the negative. It is hard to look past sin to see the light. Verse 25 encourages us to see that there is a reward for good deeds as well. I love how it points out that good deeds are “obvious”. Good deeds make all involved feel happier. This includes the giver, the receiver, and the observer. There is just something about a good deed that makes light shine brighter.

I also love that those deeds not so obvious are also noticed somewhere. The verse says that these deeds “cannot be hidden”. Even if the person you or I intended to notice does not, the deeds are not hidden. If nothing else, both you/I and God notice. Just the knowledge of God alone noticing should be enough for me. This verse reminds me of that notion. Why should my mindset be that I should do my deeds so not to draw attention to myself? Maybe it is to live in such a way that my motivation is based on the knowledge that all goodness comes from God; even that goodness that was created in me as God knit me together in my mother’s womb. Furthermore, when I do good deeds just to gain glory for myself, I find that the good feelings are short-lived and shallow. The need for affirmation becomes addictive and hard to keep up. When I do my good deeds to satisfy only God and the goodness within me, I find truer satisfaction and deeper, meaningful reward.  

Accountability has its place. It should be practiced with good intention…the betterment of the receiver. Good deeds and the recognizing of such should be practiced all the more. Let’s swing the balance more toward the positive starting today!


1. What are the areas of your life where you need to be called into account?
2. The challenge here is to reveal those areas somewhere to someone in order to be free to do good deeds.
3. List some of your good deeds from this past week.
4. What gifts from God did you receive from these good deeds?
5. This week, challenge yourself to do something good in secret where only you can give yourself a “high five” and God can reward. Pay attention to your heart and the blessing that come from this act.

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