“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Romans 8:34 (NLT)
Did you pray for yourself today? You should have. But if you didn’t, the Bible says that Jesus did. In fact, consider the intensity of His prayer for you in this verse. It jumped off the page at me when I first read it. Paul said that Christ is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. If you read the passage in the context of Romans 6 – 8, you get a better understanding of why Jesus prays for us with such passion. These three chapters describe the dilemma every child of God lives with in a fallen world with an accuser that constantly bombards us with condemnation. When you feel condemned and defeated, Jesus is pleading for you to understand that God has acquitted you and has removed your sin and guilt. Satan, not God, is the one who accuses us! When he does, Jesus, who sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand, is our advocate to represent our case. Because He died for us and was raised to life for us, we no longer have to live under condemnation and guilt! He has set us free, and He is pleading for us to accept His grace and live in the liberty for which He has set us free! Only then will we experience the abundant life He came to offer us! Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” When Peter denied Christ, Jesus forgave and restored him to fellowship and service because He prayed for him knowing what would happen! Jesus told him, “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has asked permission to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed especially for you that your own faith may not utterly fail.” (Luke 22:31-32 WMS) Just as He did for Peter, Jesus is pleading for you and me! “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NLT) When Satan stands before God to accuse you, thank God that Jesus is pleading for you!
“The Good News is about His Son … He is Jesus Christ our Lord. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight.”
Romans 1:3a; 4b; 17a (NLT)
Good news! Who’s not interested in some good news for a change? In his book, How to Give Away Your Faith, author Paul Little says, “More flies are attracted by honey than vinegar.” His point was that how we present our faith has a lot to do with the response we receive. It’s important to remember that the word “gospel” means good news. Before the Apostle Paul speaks about the bad news of man’s sinful condition before God, he begins with the good news. Seven times in the first seventeen verses of Romans 1, he uses that phrase good news. (Vs. 1, 2, 3, 9, 15, 16, 17) “This Good News is about His Son … He is Jesus Christ our Lord. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight.” Now that is good news! How can I be right in God’s sight when I feel so wrong in my own? This is why it’s such good news! In verse 17, Paul says, “This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.” The gospel doesn’t deny nor ignore our sinfulness. It just doesn’t begin there. Two chapters later, in Romans 3, the Bible says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. … He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-25a; 26b NLT) The good news is that God makes us right in His sight when by faith we believe in Jesus. It’s not a matter of achieving but believing! Isn’t that good news?
“It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.”
Hebrews 2:1 (MSG)
I had to laugh when my good friend, Dr. Charles Lowery, recalled the story of when he was about 10 years old and his parents took his brother and him to the beach. He said that his parents set their towels and umbrella on the shore and let the boys go out in the water by themselves. In a short while, he said that he and his brother looked up from the water and couldn’t find their parents. As they scanned the beach, he said they spotted them, but for some reason they had moved about 20 yards from where they had entered the water. They thought at first that their parents were trying to lose them! Then they noticed that the hotel had moved about the same space! Only then did it dawn on them that they were the ones that had moved. They had drifted from the spot where they entered the water and didn’t even realize it. If you’ve ever been to the beach you’ve probably experienced the same thing. The current of the water and the tide have a way of shifting your location and before long you drift without even recognizing how far you’ve gone until you look up. That can happen in life as well. You can drift in your relationship with God, with your spouse and family. We are all prone to drifting. Pressures and distractions cause us to drift. The truth is we will either live by our priorities or pressures, by direction or distraction. Which one are you living by today?
Jesus said, “You will have the Light only a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light [keep on living by it], so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes [he is drifting].”John 12:35 (AMP) God offers us clear direction in His Word if we will follow it. That’s why the writer of Hebrews said, “It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.” Hebrews 2:1 (MSG) Most of us don’t even realize how far we’ve drifted until we look up. Today is a good day to look up. Look up to God in prayer. See if you’ve drifted away. If you feel farther away from God, guess who moved? Move back. God promises us that if we return to Him, He would return to us! We get to determine how close to God we want to be! God says, “If you draw near to Me, I will draw near to you!” (James 4:8; Malachi 3:7) Then look at your relationships with those closest to you. Have you drifted away? The same principle holds true.
“… boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God ….”
Acts 28:31a (NLT)
Have you ever noticed how abruptly the Book of Acts ends? Unlike most of the 66 books that make up the Bible today, the Book of Acts seems like there should be more written. There is! It continues to be written in the lives of each Christ follower throughout history! It’s being written in your life and mine as we live the adventure of the saving life of the Lord Jesus and His Spirit’s work in and through us to reach a hurting world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Book of Acts is about the spreading of the Good News. It records the acts of the Holy Spirit through the lives of those early believers that made up the New Testament church. It deals with the history of the Christian church and its exponential growth from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and the remotest parts of the earth! As the Holy Spirit continues His work to make Christ known through His followers, we are living in the sequel to the book! Heaven will one day record the continued acts of the Spirit through ordinary, common people like you and me! God is the same yesterday, today and forever! Live the adventure as you read about His activity in the lives of these early followers! We have greater opportunity today than they did! Avail yourself to the acts of the Holy Spirit in your sphere of influence. Listen for His voice prompting you with greater challenge than you could possibly do on your own! Venture out of your comfort zone and follow His lead wherever it takes you. These guys in Acts didn’t have a script to follow. They followed the Spirit of Jesus that dwelled within them. They faced dangers and uncertainties with faith, knowing that Jesus would never leave them or forsake them. They lived the adventure. Let’s live it out today, boldly proclaiming the kingdom of God just as they did then! The sequel begins! What will it record about His acts in your life?
“Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy.”
Psalm 100:2 (NLT)
Do you worship with gladness? It’s not the style of worship that matters but the heart of the worshiper. The psalmist said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” Psalm 122:1 (NLT) Are you glad? This weekend you and I have the opportunity to gather with fellow Christ followers to magnify the Lord in glad, joyful worship at our local church. It begins with an attitude of anticipation before you get to church. One of the occupational hazards of pastors, as well as those who regularly attend or volunteer at church, is to lose the wonder and joy of worship in the routine of attending a worship service. Resist that! Jesus told the woman at the well who was steeped in her own tradition of worship that, “The time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:23-24 (MSG) Let this prime your pump for worship this weekend. “One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.” Psalm 84:10 (MSG) Let’s worship with gladness this weekend!