Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Don’t Ignore the Warnings (Continuing Romans 6)

Photo by floeshie (Flickr)
The emergency alert signal blared, interrupting my busy agenda.

“This is Guard Yourself News Network reporting! Due to compromising conditions, we have issued a sin warning! Weaknesses have been sighted in your thoughts, which could lead to further lawlessness. Please abandon all temptation and seek immediate protection in God’s Word.”
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Although I never actually heard any such audible warning, I have often heard one in my spirit.

As we continue memorizing and/or meditating on Romans 6, verses 19-20 addresses the progressive nature of sin:

Romans 6:19-20 (NASB) 
:19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented   your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. 

:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Once we compromise our convictions, it’s easier to give into temptation the next time, and soon we’re doing things we never dreamed we were capable of.

What is the worst thing you’re involved in that you regret? Do you remember how you got there? One wrong choice, led to that lie, which led to more wrong choices and more lies, and so on.

If you could go back, what sin alert would you respond to differently? What sin alert are you ignoring today? Are you willing to address it this week by doing whatever necessary (confessing your sin, reading your Bible, being accountable to someone, fellowshipping with believers, etc.)?

One of the most sobering passages in the Bible is James 1:14-16:  
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (NKJV).

I think that says it all, don’t you?

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I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Putting Our Sins in the Past (Cont. Romans 6)

Photo by Kim MyoungSung
Do any of these scenarios describe you or your situation?

You thought gambling was fun, until the day you were unable to stop. You know it’s wrong to cheat on your school work, but you believe you have no choice. Every Friday night before your date, you beg God to give you the strength to not sleep with your boyfriend. You struggle with your temper, and vow that this morning is the last time you will take it out on your children or your wife.

Don’t give up. As you spend time memorizing and/or meditating on this week’s verses, notice the past tense used in the verses.

Romans 6:17-18 (NASB)
:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
:18  and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 

My paraphrase:
Thanks be to God that though I was a slave to gambling, cheating, sexual immorality, or a bad temper, I now choose (from my heart) to follow God’s Word, and since committing myself to God’s truth, I have been set free from my bad and sinful habit so that I can serve God, instead.

May I be candid? We have no hope of changing if we don’t change who or what we’re listening to. Whether we’re listening to peer pressure, fear of failure or rejection – or to the devil, himself, we’ve got to do whatever is necessary to start going in a different direction.

Begin by spending time with God every day. Develop a closeness with Him – a closeness others will envy! Because the deeper our love for God runs, the greater we will desire to obey Him. Furthermore, the more we trust His love for us, the more we will trust His directions for us.

Are you ready to let God help you put your sins in your past? What do you need from God right now? Talk to Him. He’s listening.
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Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Toward Remarkably More Satisfying Days (Continuing Romans 6)

Photo by Deborah Austin (Flickr)
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.” (Author unknown)

The gravity of our poor choices is huge!

But what if we think beyond the obvious scenarios that immediately pop into our minds after reading the opening paragraph, and also consider the way we respond to the “smaller” sins and choices we struggle with every day.

For instance, when we constantly give into procrastination, we miss important deadlines, and the opportunities expire. Or when we allow ourselves to be critical and judgmental, relationships suffer, and sometimes end. Or when we consistently eat more than we should, the extra pounds stay “longer than we want them to stay!”

Yet, when we steadily yield to God’s grace, we are able to discipline ourselves to meet deadlines, choose to be supportive in our relationships and stick to a healthier eating plan, more often. Thus, our sleep will be sweeter because our days are remarkably more satisfying.

To help us understand the serious consequences of every immoral (bad) choice we make on a consistent basis, read and think about this week’s verses as you memorize and/or meditate on them this week:

Romans 6:15-16 NASB
:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 
:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you    are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

Photo by Jennifer (Flickr)

So, instead of allowing sin (and bad choices) to take us farther than we want to go, let’s allow righteousness (and good choices) take us even farther than we ever hoped, but in a better more magnificent direction!




Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Is It Time to Hit the Delete Button? (Continuing Romans 6)

Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis (Flickr)
Okay, I’ll click on “Select All,” then hit “Delete.” There! All my bad and sinful habits no longer
exist.

I wish it were that easy to delete my shameful behavior. But since that is not the way it works, it behooves me to consider what direction I want my life to go.

You may have noticed by now, the sixth chapter of Romans consistently urges us to choose a different way of living, including this week’s verses:

Romans 6:13-14 (NASB)
13 And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of       righteousness to God. 

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Why are we constantly compelled to present or hand over ourselves (physically or mentally) to behavior that will reap negative consequences? Let’s ask God to help us remember what our bad choices cost us the last time we offered “members of our bodies to sin.”

We can decide now how the next moment of temptation will go down. Will we end up kicking ourselves, hoping the self-loathing won’t hang around as long as it did last time, or will we come through the temptation filled with relief and a true sense of victory?

Each time we obey God, our confidence in His ability to keep us from future sin increases.

God’s grace is available to us. What would our lives be like if we were to tap into His grace and give ourselves over to Him, completely?

As we continue to spend time in God’s Word (including meditating on and memorizing), pray for His strength, and place ourselves under accountability (when needed), we will experience God’s power, even in – rather especially in our weakest moments.

Incredible!


Would you like to discuss this further? If so leave a comment or email me (see About tab for my email address).

I will send you the weekly verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. You must be subscribed to the blog, via email. Leave a comment to let me know what translation you prefer.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

If Only I Was Allowed to Eat! (Cont. Romans 6)

Photo by David Blackwell (Flickr)
Wishing I was “allowed” to eat was a longing desire that plagued me for years. Whose rules kept me
so hungry? It certainly wasn’t God’s.

For years, I felt powerless to say no to the behavior associated with anorexia nervosa and bulimia, such as eating no more than 400 calories or less, most days. While I acknowledge eating disorders are considered a mental health issue, I also believe that for some, it eventually becomes a sin issue, too. It did for me.

However, as my relationship with God grew, I became aware that I had choices. I could continue to choose to be oppressed by the destructive behavior, or I could yield to God’s grace. I realized that each time I resisted God’s help, I was choosing to disobey Him.

Thankfully, I received counsel to meditate on God’s Word, especially whenever I felt tempted to starve myself or purge. Eventually, I noticed my love for God was growing stronger than my “need” to lose weight. In time, by God’s grace, I was able to break free from Satan’s clutches and my thoughts no longer centered on how to lose another pound.

Romans 6:11-12 continues the theme of not letting sin control us:
11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts (NASB).

Admittedly, I’ve suffered setbacks, but I can now testify that eating disorders no longer reign in my life. I have been completely free from anorexia and bulimia for over twelve years.

This week we’re celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I can feel my throat tighten as I imagine how much Jesus suffered, and then died, over 2,000 years ago, so that today I can live – and eat – free from oppression. Yay, God!

What sin or bad habit is controlling you? If you haven’t totally surrendered it (or your life) to Christ, what better day to do so than on Good Friday?



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