Devotions for August 14-20, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
Psalm 84:1-12; Romans 6:1-11
Monday, August 14, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts” (Psalm 84:1)!
Cheryl unlocked the door, stepped into the foyer and set down her suitcase. It was good to be home. She had spent two weeks touring some of the greatest palaces, chateaus, mansions and castles in Europe. She had seen riches beyond her imagination and was both amazed and impressed. Still, her modest house was special to Cheryl—as the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.”
The temple on Mt. Zion was a splendor to behold. Built of white marble, gold and bronze it could be seen miles away. More important than its dazzling looks was that fact that it was the place where the Israelites went to encounter God. That relationship with God made the temple on Mt. Zion the heart of the nation of Israel.
The destruction of the temple in 70 BCE eliminated one of God’s lovely dwelling places, but there are others. We are God’s dwelling place (1 Corinthians 1:9). The world is God’s home (Psalm 19:1). Our place for prayer and meditation is as marvelous as Mt. Zion. Like Cheryl’s home, it isn’t how spectacular it is, but rather it is where God and our hearts are.
Lord, thank you for your presence in our lives. Amen.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs” (Psalm 84:6).
In a recent special on Princess Diana, one of Diana’s close friends said, “Whenever she entered a room she would light it up.” There are people that can brighten any gathering that they are in. They do it with their smile, their laughter or their sweeping interest in the people around them.
The Psalmist proclaims that those people, who have been in God’s presence, have that effect on the world in which they live and the people around them. We don’t know where the Valley of Baca was, but we can imagine that it was a dry, arid place. When God’s people went through the valley, though, it was transformed into a place of springs. As followers of Jesus, we have water that the world needs—the good news of Jesus Christ, the love and grace of God, and words of comfort and hope. We are streams that bring refreshment and renewal.
Remove the obstacles in our lives, Lord, so that you can flow through us like a mighty river. Amen.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my god than live in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).
It is so easy to go with the flow—and to live in the tents of wickedness. Today it is popular to put down Muslims. We may join in when our friends or co-workers begin to affirm rumors about how all Muslims hate Christians and all Muslims want to establish Sharia law. Or we may remain quiet and not share the good experiences that we have had with our Muslim acquaintances. It’s common to bash transgender people because they are different and we know so little about them. At times we find it difficult to talk about loving all people, even those who are different from us, and to affirm the truth that every one is a person of God. The tents of wickedness are all around us.
We may pay a price for speaking the truth, and for defending minorities and the marginalized. Yet, sharing God’s grace, speaking words of love and standing up for justice are immeasurable blessings. Being where God wants us to and doing what the Lord wants us to do is what an abundant and free life, as a follower of Jesus, is all about.
Lord, give us the courage to love rather than to hate, to help rather than to hinder and to praise rather than put down. Amen.
Thursday, August 18, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“How can we who died to sin go on living in it” (Roman 6:1).
Miguel’s parents were afraid. Miguel was headed off to camp and his parents were concerned that he would get into all sorts of trouble. After all, they wouldn’t be at camp to monitor all of Miguel’s activities. Miguel might make friends with the wrong kids and be a leader rather than a follower. It was a pleasant surprise for Miguel’s parents when, at the end of camp, they learned that he had been an exemplary camper.
St. Paul preached a gospel of grace. People didn’t need to do anything in order to be loved by God and escape eternal damnation. God’s love and salvation were gifts. If this were true, some staunchly religious people reasoned, then there would be nothing to keep people from sin. People would want to do everything that the law forbade them to do. Paul disagreed and argued that those who had been baptized had died to sin.
God’s grace is sufficient–We are free to do absolutely nothing. We can live for ourselves—God’s love for us will not change. We are new people, though, who have begun new lives. The old is not as attractive and not as exciting as the lives that lie before us. We step away from sin and into faith.
Lord, in you all things are new. Grant us the faith to live in the new and reject the old. Amen.
Friday, August 18, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“So that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Often people, who are baptized as adults, share about how different their lives have become because of their relationship with God. They talk about previous lives controlled by materialism, addiction, hatred and ego. Their family and friends bear witness to the dramatic changes that have taken place in their lives. Clearly, they walk in a newness of life.
Other Christians who have been baptized as infants can become a little envious of these salvation stories. They look at their lives and don’t see much difference; they wonder where the newness of life is in their lives. The Holy Spirit moves in each of our lives in a different manner. Sometimes the Spirit moves slowly and sometimes the Spirit moves quickly. The important point is not how much we have changed, but that all of us, who are followers of Jesus and been baptized, have begun a journey in the newness of life. The adventure has started!
O Master, let us walk with you. In lowly paths of service true; Tell us your secret; help us bear The strain of toil, the fret of care. Amen. (LBW 492)
Saturday, August 19, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“For whoever has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7).
Latoya struggled with alcohol abuse. The biggest problem that she faced was that she didn’t think she had a problem. She knew that she drank, but she kept telling herself that she could stop any time. It wasn’t until her family, friends and co-workers arranged an intervention where they confronted Latoya with what alcohol was doing to her, that Latoya understood the power that alcohol had on her life. It took a recovery program to set Latoya free from alcohol and regular meetings to help her enjoy her new freedom.
There are times when sin reigns in our lives because we do not believe that it is that powerful. We think sin is a choice and that we can stop anytime. We convince ourselves that we really don’t need to be saved. In order to experience fully God’s “Sin Recovery Program” called the
Cross of Christ, we need to confess the power that sin has over us. Yielding the control of our lives to the Lord, we are able to experience the freedom from sin that is ours and begin to live in the reality of God’s kingdom. The old has passed away, the new has come.
Lord, move within us that we may turn away from the old and live in the new. Amen.
Sunday, August 20, 2017–Dead to Sin Alive in Christ
“But the life he lives he lives to God” (Romans 6:10).
We are free! So, what now? We are confronted with the questions, “How do we use our freedom? What is the purpose of our lives?” The apostle Paul was concerned about how the Christians in Galatia were answering these questions. He writes, “For you were called to freedom brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another” (Galatians 5:13).
We are free–free to love and free to serve. No longer do we need to concentrate on earning our salvation. We no longer need to focus on working hard so that we can experience the “good life.” We are free to look beyond ourselves and see the needs of others. Seeing the injustice some people experience, we are able to stand with them against it. Because we are free, we are able to live our lives in faithful obedience to God.
Lord, empower us so that we live for you alone. Amen.