1 Corinthians 6

Yes, Lord! My life is in YOUR hands.
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“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims…
“Since the Master honors you with a body, honor Him with your body! … remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body …
“…OR didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. GOD OWNS THE WHOLE WORKS. So let people see God in and through your body.” (v 12-15, 19-20 MSG)

Several years ago, Lord, You helped me learn to sing a song that said, “I am not my own. I belong to You … I can’t explain how belonging to You can make me truly free. But I’ll remain in the joy that I knew when I first came to see Your love for me … There’s still one truth that I can know: I am not my own. I belong to You.”*

Some might look at the verses in this portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and see chains which bind a person and hold her back. But that’s not what it means for YOU to own all of me. When YOU are the Lord and Master of my life, You set me free from all other masters. You supply security, assurance, and peace to me simply because I’m Yours.

Thank You for calling me Your own, for paying the price to redeem me from being a slave to sin. Make all of me a reflection of the You in me, Jesus. Amen.

* from “I Belong to You” as sung by Kathy Troccoli on Heart and Soul, (c) 1984 Reunion Records

1 Corinthians 5

Yes, Lord! My life is in YOUR hands.
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“The LORD reigns, …Great is the LORD in Zion;
He is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name–He is HOLY…
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at His footstool; He is HOLY…
You were to Israel a forgiving God, though You punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the LORD our God and worship at His holy mountain,
for the LORD our God is HOLY.” (from Psalm 99 NIV)

In Your holiness, Lord, You can have nothing to do with sin. Sin is not part of Your nature, nor do You condone it in Your creation. Because of Your holy love for me, a sinner, You chose to make a way to free me of that sin in me that keeps me from You. Through Your sacrifice of Jesus, I am made clean, holy and pure, as You desire for my life to be.

Thank You, too, that You made provision for my frail humanity: Knowing that I’d falter, You offer Your grace, mercy and forgiveness when I confess my sin to You, admitting that what I sometimes do is not in obedience to You. When I confess it, You promise to forgive me and purify me.

You have knit Your people together into one tapestry that You hold up for the world to see the woven image of Your Son, Jesus. Yet, when some of those threads, belonging to You, begin to unravel, become discolored or frayed, the image of Jesus cannot be seen clearly by this world. That’s when You call on one of Your people to gently, lovingly correct me or fellow sisters and brothers.

You desire purity … and that can’t happen when lives are cluttered with compromise, rebellion, and outright wickedness without remorse. Sin in the Body left without being confronted can damage the entire body, just by one person’s example and influence.

Paul wrote, “…you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as an acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders [unchurched] do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house” (v 10-11 MSG).

Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for being a holy God. I’m grateful for the way You blend both aspects into the way You handle us, Your children. Teach me Your ways. Give me YOUR eyes to see others as You do, so that when I encounter such brothers or sisters, You will make me a reflection of Your holiness AND mercy in their lives. Make me just like Jesus whatever it takes. Amen.

Romans 15

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“…God wants the combination of His steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next.  May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all” (v 4-5 MSG).

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus” (v 4-5 NIV).

ENDURANCE – God’s “steady, constant calling” (Peterson, The Message)*

ENCOURAGEMENT – God’s “warm, personal counsel” (Peterson)

HOPE  – “alert for whatever He will do next” (Peterson)

The purpose of Your Word unfolds here: to teach me, to instill Your character in me.  Intrinsic to You are endurance and encouragement–these are part of Your character.  From the riches of who You are, You reach out to me with gifts of the same.  You are “dependably steady,” enduring through everything. In Your Word, You are steadily, constantly calling me to follow you always.  You are “warmly personal,” full of encouragement, as You set forth “warm, personal counsel” in Your Word, that’s applicable to EVERYthing I have or will ever face, as You keep me “alert for whatever You’ll do next.”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (v 13 NIV)

“God of hope” –that’s YOU, Papa!  Not that You’re the Subject of hope, but You’re the AUTHOR of it.  “Hope…finds its expression in endurance under trial,” (Vines, p. 563).**  “It is ‘an anchor of the soul’ (Hebrews 6:18-19), staying in place amidst the storms of this life. It is a purifying power (1 John 3:3).

Write on the pages of my heart, the narrative of Your hope as it infiltrates my being.  When the trials come, may You pen how hope spurs me onward, enduring the trying circumstances.  When the storms rage, Your prose can convey how Your hope anchors my life and assists me in riding out the storm.  With “confident expectation” (Vines, p. 562)** set on You, I watch You unfold each chapter of my life and desire for You to purify my heart and mind, just like Jesus’ (1 John 3:3) … until You pen THE END of this life, and begin the sequel set in eternity.  Amen.

*The Message, contemporary paraphrase of the New Testament by Eugene Peterson

**An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by  W.E. Vine

Romans 9

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by Him who calls–“ (v 11-12 NIV)

“What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that His purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by His decision, flowing steadily from His initiative… God has the first word, initiating the action, in which we play our part for good or ill” (v 11-12, 18 MSG)

It all boils down to two facts:  (1) There is a God; and (2) I am NOT Him.  You are Sovereign Lord — there is NONE like You.  You are above all things.  You are the Potter who shapes each piece of clay into a vessel or utensil that will carry out the purpose You have for it.

Here I am as a piece of clay.  You’re kneading, pulling, stretching, molding as You work on transforming me to be just like Jesus.  Help me to be continually pliable in Your hands, Lord.  Amen.

Romans 7

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“…The law [of God] started out as an excellent piece of work.  What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of ‘forbidden fruit’ out of it.  The law…instead of being used to guide me, was used [by my enemy] to seduce me… the very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong… Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: Using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me.” (v 9-13 MSG)

How true, Father!  When I know what I’m not supposed to do, it’s then that that activity becomes more appealing.  I may have been totally oblivious to it before, but when You say, “No, don’t do that,” I get to thinking I WANT to do that.

“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.  So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary… I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” (v 19-24 MSG)

Sometimes, Lord, no matter how deeply I love You and desire to do Your will, there seem to be moments when my old nature of sin rears its head and strikes.  It’s more like a small prick that releases a tendency toward rebellion within me.  As the toxin works its way through me, what I don’t want to do, becomes what I just did.  How desperately I need You and Your antidote for this poison in my being!

“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (v 24-25 MSG)

Thank You, Father, for Your antidote of grace through Jesus!  Thank You for the victory over sin that can be mine through my faith in Him and my acceptance of His sacrifice from my sin.

Thank You for Your Spirit that convicts me of sin and strengthens me to avoid it and to remain faithful to You instead (1 Cor 10:13)

Thank You for Your Word that tells me how to obey Your will.

Thank You for Your work in my life as You fashion me to be just like Jesus.  Amen.

Romans 5:12-21

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? …Sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace.  When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.” (v 17, 20-21 MSG)

“Aggressive forgiveness” = “grace.”  There You are on the field, Lord, suited up in Your uniform that’s alive with grace.  The snap… the runner acquires that ball of sin and You head directly for her.  Before she can reach that dead-end zone, You aggressively tackle her with Your grace.

Thanks, Father, for Your grace–Your grace that knew me and reached for me even before I knew You or reached out to You… Your grace that sacrificed Your Son in my place to take away my sins… Your grace that carries me through this life of growing and changing, so that one day I’ll be just like Jesus.  Amen.

Romans 5:1-11

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“…God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (v 5 NIV)

“…we throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise” (v 2 MSG)

Thank You, Papa, for Your wondrous grace!  Before I ever think to take a step toward You, You’re already running toward me; You’re already dousing me with Your grace.  What a wonder You are!

“There’s more to come:  We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop PASSIONATE PATIENCE in us, and how that patience in turn forges the TEMPERED STEEL OF VIRTUE, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In ALERT EXPECTANCY such as this, we’re NEVER LEFT FEELING SHORTCHANGED.  Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (v 3-5 MSG)

Over and over You give and give!  You soak me in Your grace as I dance in the freedom that Your mercy and forgiveness bring!  Thank You for the ways You transform who I am into the person You desire me to be.  I long to be just like Jesus, and I surrender myself into Your hands.  Amen.