Category Archives: Wednesday

Second Chance: Ephesians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Ephesians 2:4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. [NLT]

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Ephesians 2 reminded me of The Four Spiritual Laws written by the founder of Campus Crusade, William [Bill] Bright.  They are God-inspired simple truths that mesh with Paul’s truth about how renewal begins.

§ Ephesians 2:4 “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much…”

1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16; 10:10).

Renewal begins with realizing the laser focus of God’s love is…you!  That’s the basis of the plan He has for your life.  

§ Ephesians 2:5 …”that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”

2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

Sin is like a dark tunnel but God’s grace opens our eyes to the light at the end of our separation from Him with the promise of new life and renewal.

§ Ephesians 2:6 “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3 – 6; John 14:6).

The reality of your renewal and honoring God is your relationship to Jesus…period!   New Life is your blessing but there’s an even greater purpose –

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives (John 1:12; 3:1 – 8; Eph. 2:8 – 9; Rev. 3:20). 

§ Ephesians 2:7 “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.”

Second Chance: II Corinthians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

¶ Being a “captive in Christ’s triumphal procession” is a picture that includes the main themes of renewal: punishment, forgiveness and comfort. The “captive” idea is familiar to me.  I have been guilty, forgiven and comforted.  I am included in that triumphal procession because of that.

That’s a different image than one might expect at first glance.  Inclusion is not an indicator of status but an indicator of punishment deferred.  Christ has eliminated the contrast between himself and the captive.  He has included himself all aspects of captivity; the punishment, the forgiveness, the comfort and thanks be to God, the triumph.

I read Paul’s phrase “we do not peddle the word of God for profit” and was reminded that my words are the words of a captive.  I do not “pedal” my words FOR Jesus but BEFORE him and before you other “captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.”  Thanks be to God!

Second Chance: Romans 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Romans 2 [NIV]
13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous…15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.
18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? 

• What “if you know his will and approve of what is superior BECAUSE you are instructed by the law” written on your heart, not a list of do’s and don’ts.
• What if the “requirements of the law” include internal instruction about judgment and renewal for those who are “righteous in God’s sight?”

• Then the accusation of judgment becomes the instruction of the law within us that bears witness to our conscience and the needs of our heart.
• Then our renewal becomes the evidence within us of God’s own defense of our heart as He directs our thoughts toward His righteousness.

“If you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth.“  God is “bearing witness’ to your thoughts through those requirements of judgement and renewal.  What is written on your heart is His best option for the renewal of your mind and His best defense of your righteousness.  “You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?

Second Chance: John 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

John 2 NIV
• 2:9…and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

• 2:14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

• 2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

The Wedding was people coming together to celebrate an important event and an important time in an ordinary village.  The very happy circumstances of a village wedding became unique and even more memorable because Jesus stepped in.

The scene at the Temple is also about people coming together to celebrate an important purpose at an important time but this time in a very important place.  Chaos, animals and noise were a different set of circumstances that became unique and even more memorable when Jesus stepped in.

Those two stories couldn’t be any more different in their circumstances but there is a common thread; Jesus stepped in to effect change in the people involved.   Thankfully Jesus doesn’t entrust himself to the polar opposites of human thoughts and behaviors.  He has entrusted himself and his heart, instead, to our need for renewal whatever the circumstances look like.

Second Chance: Mark 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Cliff notes characters from Mark 2
• A paralyzed man, Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth, the teachers of the law who were Pharisees and John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees who were fasting.

• Focus: Mark 2:25 He [Jesus] answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2 is a rich resource of who, what, where, when and why Jesus brings about the renewal of the worn out, run-down, or broken.  All that information was the key to why I distilled my focus to the last four verses of the chapter where Jesus reveals his own Sabbath identity“…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus is Lord of the seven-day-a-week rhythm we call Sabbath.  His Sabbath identity is the encouragement of all the “renewals” I saw in this chapter.  Jesus’s Sabbath identity was made for us too. His Sabbath identity is the bridge of encouragement that connects our human need to our renewal.

After Easter What’s Next?

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

The Firsts are done.  The Easter celebration is over.  What’s next?  Now comes the hard part; continuing the renewal we just celebrated.  Renewal will take you beyond what you already know to the recognition of all you still need to know to sustain you. This prayer is both our plea and our evidence of renewal happening in our life. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” 

The Last of the Firsts: Revelation 1 – Big Truth

Revelation 1:1 This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must soon happen. And Jesus sent his angel to show it to his servant John, 2 who has told everything he has seen. It is the word of God; it is the message from Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of God’s message, and blessed are the people who hear this message and do what is written in it. The time is near when all of this will happen. [NCV]

I began The Firsts on January 6, 2019 with a big idea from Matthew’s genealogy list.  That list was God’s reminder of lives that were sometimes divine and sometimes way too human but they were part of His Story.  For that reason that list has become part of my own revelation.  The Firsts have all confirmed God works His Story THROUGH people…not BECAUSE of them.  

God’s genealogy is still a reminder of faithful and imperfect lives and now it includes their descendants too.  That’s us, and we fit right into my description of that list, sometimes divine and sometimes way too human.  Revelation confirms God is still determined to make plain the consequences of what man in his own spirit is willing to ignore at the same time His Word is revealing the reality of the power his Son has to change lives and here’s the big truth of Revelation; Jesus wins!  

The last of The Firsts – Revelation 1 has coincided with Easter Week.  I’m grateful for that because the one part of the many mysteries of John’s prophecy I understand with some clarity is “the revelation of Jesus Christ” has happened in me.  The miracle of His Story is that God continues “to show His servants what must soon happen” THROUGH His sovereignty, not because he’s had to work around the faithful but imperfect people in His genealogy.  “Blessed are the people who hear this message and do what is written in it.”