Immeasurable Riches

Journal Entry // August 28, 2022

so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

Ephesians 2:7

It is a far too easy process to forget the reason and motivation for God extending his rich mercy and kindness upon the “children of wrath” that once lived only in the passions of the flesh and carried out the desires of the body and mind. We are quick to lose sight of this basic understanding of who we were before the love of God took hold of us and lavished upon us the richness of God’s mercy and grace through Christ. That in his rich mercy, God made us alive together with Christ. He took what was dead and breathed the life of the Spirit into our bodies and made us alive. Awakening our hearts to the beauty and magnificence of Christ alone. Why did he do this? God extended his abundance of riches in mercy to us so that we should be a display of his immeasurable riches of grace and kindness in Christ. For all eternity, those who have received this rich and free gift of mercy will be a living testimony to the greatness, kindness, and love of Christ for us. His grace will be the ultimate picture displaying the character of God to a world filled with the “children of wrath,” which we were once considered.

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Presentation Errors

Journal Entry // August 26, 2022

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. (ESV)

Galatians 6:12

We are all tempted at various points in our life to “make a good showing” with how we present ourselves to everyone around us. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that we will default to this heart attitude if we are not intentionally seeking to daily examine ourselves by the word of Christ through the Spirit that dwells within us. The error we so easily slip into is that we would much rather be accepted than ridiculed. We would much rather be praised than persecuted. We would much rather be seen as modern and enlightened than holy and full of the Spirit. We would never say it that way and we would surely present it as a form of holiness, but nevertheless, we find that it is easier to swim along with the current of modernity than to swim in the current of righteousness. We want to be well thought of and have our name lifted up in the different spheres of influence in our lives and we sacrifice the one thing that can bring us satisfaction and joy. Only Christ knows us and values us. Only Christ loves us and rescues us. Only Christ can bring true acceptance and joy in this life. Is he not worth the struggle against the deception and lies of this world?

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Heart Full of Wisdom

Journal Entry // May 12, 2021

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV

There is an inherent danger in seeking knowledge without wisdom. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself will lead to a heart puffed up with pride and self-reliance. This knowledge seeking is highly valued by the world and is seen as a mark of success. It’s a knowledge that is demonstrated and performed for the world around in order to bring praise and honor to the self. Breeding pride and arrogance in a person’s heart. Teaching them to rely only on their own understanding.

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The Spirit’s Deep Work

Journal Entry // August 24, 2022

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (ESV)

Galatians 5:9

Whenever I come across this verse in Galatians, I typically view the leaven as sin that in only a small amount can affect everything in my life. This is true and rightly teaches about the pervasiveness of unchecked sin in my heart. This morning, as I was reading this passage my mind focused on the leaven representing the Spirit and the pervasiveness of the Holy Spirit to work and act in every area of life. That I only need to be aware of even a hint of the Spirit within me to see the work of righteousness and holiness being spread throughout the whole of me. This is not a passive action though. The leaven does not just disperse itself throughout the lump of dough. You must massage the dough and work at it to move the leaven around and spread it evenly throughout the whole dough. So too with the Spirit within me. The Spirit does the work, but I work in tandem through the power of Christ to see the fruit of the Spirit come alive in my heart.

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Walk As You Were Taught

Journal Entry // August 23, 2022

Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ (ESV)

1 Kings 8:25

I have always found comfort in the life of David because of passages like this one in 1 Kings where Solomon is praying to the Lord at the dedication of the temple. This promise that the Lord made to David is filled with many points of interest to meditate on, but I find the last portion to be so intriguing and challenging. The example that the sons of David should follow was the life of David. As I have just finished reading through the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel, I find this promise interesting as David did not live a perfect life. By no means did he live a perfect life. Yet, the thing that David did well was humility and repentance. David’s steadfast trust in the Lord and the understanding of his weakness and dependence upon the Lord is the model his sons should emulate. Not only them but me as well.

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Embrace the Spirit

Journal Entry // August 22, 2022

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (ESV)

Galatians 3:3

Having come to this promised salvation through faith in Christ alone, why is it so natural and easy to move away from the Spirit and faith and back into a life of pursuing holiness through the law? Life in Christ is lived through faith and the Spirit that dwells inside my heart and depends on humility and weakness. A life lived through the law is more about my own best efforts done in my own strength and wisdom. Even after receiving a new heart and coming to faith through Christ, I find it so tempting to “do something” for Jesus. This isn’t necessarily bad in itself as I mostly just want to please him and give obedience to him as an act of love. Yet oftentimes I will make these efforts of obedience the center of my walk with Christ. I will point back to all I have done for the Kingdom to justify and rationalize some deeply hidden area of pride and give me cause to celebrate my own strength and ingenuity instead of celebrating the power and glory of Christ alone. I still want to control the details and circumstances of my life, so I continue to lean more on my pride and strength as opposed to my humility and weakness. What I need is to continue in the path of faith. Trusting my Savior not only for the forgiveness of my sins, but the moment-by-moment guidance and direction that only he can provide.

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Rejecting Hypocrisy

Journal Entry // August 19, 2022

And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (ESV)

Galatians 2:13

It is vital that our convictions line up with our actions and that they do not falter and waffle depending on who is in our immediate presence or whoever we may be trying to impress. Paul confronts Peter for his hypocrisy with this same line of reasoning. Peter knew there was freedom in Christ and exercised this freedom as he associated and had fellowship with Gentiles. Peter’s conviction was that there is freedom in Christ, but when a certain group of men arrived, Peter withdrew from associating with Gentiles. Instead of standing firm in his convictions and exercising his freedom in Christ, he bowed to social pressure and compromised the truth of the gospel. He set his convictions aside to please the important and influential to the detriment of the gospel. Even to the point where not only did the other believers see his actions and take note, but the leadership that look to Peter was then led astray by his actions. Peter’s lack of commitment to his gospel convictions caused him to not only fall into sin, but then also led many others to reproduce this error in their life as well.

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Canvas for God’s Glory

Journal Entry // August 18, 2022

Galatians 1:24

And they glorified God because of me. (ESV)

A changed life is what Paul is speaking about in this passage. A life that he once thought was dedicated to serving God but was actually persecuting the Son of God. A life that was full of zeal and passion for the things of God but was so full of pride and self-righteousness that then led him to work against the gospel and the Kingdom of Christ. It was not until Paul encountered the risen Jesus and was given a new heart and had become a new creation that Paul was then able to see Jesus as his true and only Savior. His life changed instantly and completely. The man who once sought to destroy the church of Christ was now not only a part of the congregation, but one of its leading advocates. This complete life change, that was only by the hand and appointment of God himself, is the canvas that was used to demonstrate the power and grace and mercy of Christ. And it was this godly life changing picture that encouraged and motivated the people to glorify God because of Paul. Not because of what he had done, but because of what God had done.

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Qualities of Humility

Journal Entry // August 17, 2022

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 13:11

The manner of loving your neighbor is summed up well in this verse Paul uses to close out 2 Corinthians. There are four objectives we should keep in mind as we live in this world among so many varying people and cultures and personalities and spiritual awareness: restoration, comfort, agreement, and peace. We would do well to keep this at the forefront of our mind as we engage with people on a daily basis. This not only includes the people we see and are face-to-face with regularly, but also the people we may never meet and only hear about through the news, books, or sharing of stories. How we love people demonstrates our understanding of the love of Christ in and for us. How can we profess to be followers of Christ and have the Spirit dwelling and at work within us, when these four principles are not evident and on display. We should demonstrate our love for Christ by aiming for restoration, comforting one another, agreeing with one another, and living in peace.

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Truly Content

Journal Entry // August 16, 2022

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 12:10

For the sake of Christ… It is always great to find special moments in God’s Word where small pieces of the mystery come together in my mind. This is one of the moments for me. Granted I know that I have understood that the motivation behind all of my actions should be for the sake of Christ. I know that my every step, word, and deed should be focused completely on Christ alone. I find it disconcerting that I can so easily veer off track and begin to make even my good actions and intentions more about me than about Jesus. I have been thinking a lot about contentment and humility as the Lord continues to bring these opportunities into my life. What I am realizing this morning is that I have drifted a bit from the centrality of Christ in my humble contentment. I can see where I have allowed myself to let some pride and self-focus take hold even of my humility and contentment. I make my contentment about me as I focus on myself instead of Jesus. Paul is telling me that even my contentment is for the sake of Christ. I am to be truly content and not just put on a face of happiness or joy before everyone and myself, but I am to be content for the sake of Christ. This is my motivation. That is where I will find peace and joy. Not in the contentment itself, but in the person and work of Jesus.

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