A Slave to Righteousness

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S (Scripture): Romans 7:5 When we were self-centered, the sinful passions aroused through the Law were at work in all the parts of our body, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law. We have died with respect to the thing that controlled us, so that we can be slaves in the new life under the Spirit, not in the old life under the written Law.

O (Observation): Paul is still riffing about about the Law. Is one under the Law if also under Christ? No! How is this? The Law is for the living. In Christ, especially in baptism, we die and are re-born. Thus, we are released from the Law, and at the same time, are now slaves to righteousness, under the Spirit.

The Spirit’s calling compels us to respond…not just an obligation to pass or fail…but as an opening for doing God’s ministry.

A (Application): I see us constantly using the new Spirit in us as a new Law. We set up markers to see who is “really” doing God’s work. We measure public appearances, an abundance or a lack of social media presence, or popularity to decide who is being “faithful.”

The time that I spend in personal devotion and prayer helps me to remember that God is with me day in and day out, regardless of the standards I mentioned above. When I get away from this practice, I get out of focus.

The time I spend “digging daily” is a way of “mining for God’s presence.” I do this practice with several other folks. Something life-giving comes from doing this work with others. Is this devotion a new Law? Absolutely not! The practice of digging into God’s word daily is a great way to see the Spirit alive and well in my life and all around me…especially in troublesome times.

P (Prayer): Lord, sustain me in my journey as a space to righteousness. Amen.

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God’s Effort, Not Mine or Yours

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S (Scripture): Acts 23:10 When the argument became so great the commanding officer feared that they would tear Paul to pieces, he ordered the detachment to go down, take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.
23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

O (Observation): Paul has been upsetting the apple cart. People are very upset with him, even with no real argument against him. The mob mentality is in full swing. He is claiming to have been in direct contact with The Lord…and they don’t like it all.

And Paul’s next step seems to be a trial in Rome. Paul will be facing the powers of the time, the worldly power: Caesar. In death or life, Jesus gives Paul strength.

A (Application): This is a pretty intense scene. I don’t know how I’d stand in the midst of that chaos. Of course, this is not so much about what Paul is doing, but about what God is doing through Paul.

I forget that ALL OF THE TIME!!!! I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think I have to face the powers of this world, my own struggles..alone. Yet I am not alone. God speaks words of hope and peace to me, on the mountaintop, in the pit, and everyday.

The power of these devotions lies not in my intellect or will power to get up early. Sure, part of this is brute force: waking up early, slurping coffee to wake me up, reading words through sleepy eyes. But it’s all about that grace.

God encounters me and interprets me through the Scriptures. The reading of the texts is my effort. The transformation is God’s.

I’m reminded in the daily digging into Scripture, that you and I are not alone. God is with us every step of the way. Get into the bible daily…not to impress anyone, but to have God leave an impression on your heart.

So grab a shovel…and start digging into Scripture daily! I’ll join ya!

P (Prayer): Lord, remind us that you are with us. In our times of trouble, you carry us through. Amen.