Time with God: Buried with Christ, Raised in New Life


You were created to pursue an authentic relationship with your Creator.
This is a tool to help you do that.

Monday
Read: Acts 8:34-39
Think: If you haven't been baptized, what's stopping you?
Pray: Ask God for the courage to go public with your faith.
Live: Get baptized.

Tuesday
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Think: How is the body of Christ (the church) like a human body?
Pray: Ask God to bring unity to your church and to your relationships.
Live: Remember that everyone is important and equal.

Wednesday
Read: Colossians 2:12-14
Think: How does God make us alive with Christ?
Pray: Thank God for forgiving your sins, and raising you to new life.
Live: The old you has been buried; the new you has come alive.

Thursday
Read: Romans 6:1-6
Think: Should you keep on sinning?
Pray: Ask God to help you live your new life in a way that pleases him.
Live: Remember who you are now: you are dead to sin and alive to God.

Friday
Read: Matthew 28:18-20
Think: Why does Jesus say to baptize people who become disciples?
Pray: Ask God to help you share the Good News about Jesus.
Live: Tell someone about God's goodness and faithfulness today.

Time with God: Forgiven and Free


You were created to pursue an authentic relationship with your Creator.
This is a tool to help you do that.

Monday
Read: Romans 5:6-11
Think: Does God wait for people to straighten up before he loves them?
Pray: Thank God for his great love and forgiveness.
Live: Be happy (rejoice) that you're not an enemy of God; you're his friend.

Tuesday
Read: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Think: Why do some people see the cross as foolish?
Pray: Ask God to show his strength through your weakness.
Live: Be confident that God knows what he's doing.

Wednesday
Read: 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Think: Have you ever thought of forgiveness as God's gift to the world?
Pray: Thank God that he offers forgiveness, freedom, and reconciliation.
Live: Remember that God wants the best for you.

Thursday
Read: Romans 8:1-4
Think: Why was the Law of Moses unable to save us?
Pray: Thank God for making his power and presence available to you.
Live: Follow the leading of God's Holy Spirit rather than your sinful nature.

Friday
Read: Psalm 40:1-5
Think: What do you wish God would do right now in your life?
Pray: Ask God to help you, to lift you up, to give you strength.
Live: Tell someone about God's goodness and faithfulness today.

Forgiven & Free

God loves you.
He wants the best for you.
He wants you to do great things with your life.

I believe those things are true about every single person. It doesn't matter whether you are young, old, black, white, rich, or poor. Those 3 things are true.

God loves you. He wants the best for you.
He wants you to do great things with your life.

But here's something I've observed:
We have a problem.

The problem is that we've gotten off track.
We've all had times when we forget about God's love for us.
We've all had times when we choose to do what God says don't do.
We've all had times when choose not to do what God says to do.

That's a problem because when those things are happening, they cut off the flow of God's love and power and presence in our lives.

The Bible has a word for that. It's called sin.

We were created to receive God's love and goodness and glory in our lives, and then to reflect it into the world around us. But we've chosen things, said things, and done things that are out of line with that. All of us have.

So the Bible describes our condition:
"Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23 NLT).

We're all in the same boat.
The flow of God's love and power and presence to us has been blocked.

God could've pulled away at any point along the way. He could've said, "Good grief. You messed up. Again. And again. We're done. It's over. You're out."

But he does something else instead:
"But God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous" (Romans 3:24a).

He doesn't leave us; he pursues us. It's called grace.
He declares that we are righteous, accepted and united with him.
He clears the blockage and gets the flow going again.

How does he do it?
"He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins" (Romans 3:24b).

Jesus set us free from the penalty for our sins.

I like how this video explains it. The video is called, "Falling Plates."




Sin (all the times we get it wrong) requires justice to be done.
People can't just do whatever they want without consequences. If you're playing baseball in the street and you break your neighbor's window, she might forgive you, but someone has to pay to fix the window.

According to a theologian named John Stackhouse, "The Bible speaks of sin this way: not just as a rupture in a relationship, but as an objective state of affairs that requires reparation. There is a debt still to be paid..." (Can God Be Trusted?, 136).

Someone has to make things right. We can't do it ourselves. So Jesus gave his life; he paid the price for us to forgive our sin and make us right with God. On that basis, when we believe, God declares that we are righteous:
"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" (Romans 3:25a).

Jesus died to forgive you and set you free.
He's offering you that gift, but you have to receive it and accept it for yourself.
The flow of God's love and power and presence can flow into your life again.


Related Posts:
Jesus +
Abba, Father

Time with God: How To Make a Difference


You were created to pursue an authentic relationship with your Creator.
This is a tool to help you do that.

Monday
Read: Matthew 5:33-37
Think: Are you a truthful person?
Pray: Ask God to help you live as a person of integrity.
Live: Do what you say you'll do.

Tuesday
Read: Matthew 7:1-5
Think: Is there something in your life that needs to change?
Pray: Ask God to help you so you can help others.
Live: Don't be a hypocrite.

Wednesday
Read: Matthew 7:17-20
Think: Are your actions producing good fruit or bad fruit?
Pray: Ask God to help you live his way.
Live: Do good.

Thursday
Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:7-13
Think: Does your life point people to God or away from God?
Pray: Ask God to increase your influence with the people around you.
Live; Act with integrity. That's the key to influence.

Friday
Read: 1 Timothy 4:12
Think: Do you think that you're too young to make a difference?
Pray: Ask God to help you lead the way with love, faith, and purity.
Live: Be a positive example to the people around you.

Integrity, Influence, and Impact

When I first heard about Jesus and became a Christian, I wanted everyone I knew to know about Jesus.

I didn't grow up going to church, so when I heard about who Jesus is and what Jesus did, I believed it, and my life and my eternity was changed.

It just made sense to me, then, that other people needed to hear that same message about Jesus, and I wanted to help them hear it.

Basically, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make an impact.
I didn't just want to exist; I wanted my life to count.
I wanted to make a difference for something that was bigger than me.

Maybe you know the feeling. I hope you know the feeling.

I believe that God wants you to help other people believe in him.
God wants you to make a difference. He wants you to make an impact.

But making an impact can be hard.
You can't just walk up to people and be like, "Hi. You need to believe in Jesus." That probably won't make the kind of impact you're hoping for. Instead, it would be better to try some advice that Peter gives in the Bible:
"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors" (1 Peter 2:12a).

You're around people - friends, classmates, teammates - who don't believe in God. Or maybe they believe in God, but they don't have much to with Jesus or church. Peter says, "Be careful how you live." Your choices about what you do and don't do, about what you say and don't say, those choices don't just affect you...they affect those people too.

They're judging whether this whole faith things is good or not, and whether it works or not based on how you live and what kind of difference it makes in your life. So, live properly, with honesty and integrity.

Then he goes on:
"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world" (1 Peter 2:12).

When you live properly, with honesty and integrity, among people who don't believe in God, the verse says they'll do 2 things:
1) They will see your honorable behavior.
2) They will give honor to God.

That's impact!

To make that kind of impact, we need influence: the power to affect someone's thoughts and actions. In your group of friends, you know who has influence and who doesn't. With influence, when you say something, people listen and respond. With influence, people pay attention to you.

The best way to gain influence is to have integrity: being consistent, honest, authentic, and whole. It's the word we use for someone who does they say they'll do.

The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy will make you lose influence.
Integrity will make you gain influence.
It's that simple.

So here's how it works: Integrity --> Influence --> Impact.

In the words of Peter, here's how it works:
"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors." (That's integrity.)
"They will see your honorable behavior." (That's influence.)
"They will give honor to God when he judges the world." (That's impact.)

And the biggest impact you can make is to help someone discover that God is real, and he has a real love for them. That's the kind of impact that makes an eternal kind of difference.


Related Posts:
Are Leaders Born or Made?
What Should I Do? (1 of 2)
What Should I Do? (2 of 2)