I did not post last Wednesday as I felt I needed another week with my verses. Probably I needed the extra time because instead of choosing two verses I chose one verse and one longer passage. I’ve enjoyed committing these verses to memory, though.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
–Romans 8:1 (ESV)
This verse has been used generously in the book Thin Within, which I just finished going through. I’ll have to write a post about TW later. For now I’ll just comment on how wonderful it is that this verse has come “alive” to me. I knew that I was not condemned for my sins, Jesus paid the price, yadda yadda. But the verse had no personal meaning to me until TW brought it alive, and now I’ve memorized it along with its reference so I’ll always have it close to me! No condemnation. God is not angry with or disappointed in me. His grace, along with his forgiveness, flows unceasingly over me, even while I’m in the midst of doing wrong. He forgives and forgives, often the same offenses over and over and over. With an awareness of that kind of strength of love, it’s hard to continue in sin. It makes me want to change, to do better. It also takes away my need to beat myself up for mistakes. The price is paid, I’m already forgiven, and all God wants is for me to turn from my sins and press ever more into him instead.
“…He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
–Hebrews 13:5b-8 (ESV)
The truth about the Lord is that he is unchanging. He isn’t here one day and gone the next, willing to help you and then leaving you high and dry at another time. He is forever faithful, and he always has been, and he always will be. So for me this means I can trust him and have utter confidence in him. I’ve learned a lot recently about relying on God and his strength to get me through tough times (moments, weeks, or years). How do I know whether I’m acting on my own strength or on his? Well, have I asked him to strengthen me? Has he promised he’s there, never to abandon me? Then I can know he’s there, empowering me. I can know I’m not going at it all alone, and I can be sure that if I falter, he will hold me up.
What can anyone else do to me in light of that? I used the only associate this verse with physical things – such as the persecution Christ-followers faced a lot in Biblical times. I didn’t see how that applied to me because, seriously, who is trying to beat me up or put me in jail? These past two weeks, however, I’ve been thinking about this in terms to other kinds of affects people can have on me. Emotionally? Sometimes people cause me such pain that I lose heart, I feel like I can’t go on, and I want to run and hide in my bed and not have to face the day ahead of me.
But what can man do to me? How can their painful interactions even compare to the goodness of my God? No matter how hurt I am, he is with me! He never forsakes me. He is there, willing to help me through each trial, and this includes my emotional pain as well as any physical calamity that may come. People can’t crush my joy (maybe my happiness, but not my joy) when I’m standing firm in my God and his promises.
Who has spoken the Word of God to me? My mom, Grampa, pastors, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, some friends… Thos who have taught me from the Bible – when I look at their lives, I see people who have confidence in God. Strong faith. I see them taking things to God in prayer rather than fretting. I see joy. I see patience and other fruits of the Spirit of God. I see contentment. So, the outcome of their way of life, their faith? I want that! Yes, I’m definitely ready and willing to try imitating THEIR faith if I can get that kind of abundant life from it. Bring it on!