Crucified with Christ

Jesus lives in me!

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“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Christ’s death

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to experience a crucifixion like that of Jesus. A Roman crucifixion, after all, was one of the most horrific forms of suffering devised by men. Only death could relieve such anguish caused by this form of punishment, yet death was strategically delayed in crucifixion so that the “criminal” could receive the full effect of their sentence.

It seems strange, then, that the Apostle Paul would identify with, and even glory in, Jesus’ suffering. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20, NIV). Perhaps, part of what Paul is saying is that his life is no longer his own. Paul’s entire identity is now hidden in Christ. His sin is embodied and forgiven in Jesus’ suffering and death, nailed to the cross and buried in the grave.

My life

May I, too, be crucified with Christ., that others would look beyond my exterior and see the inner workings of Jesus. Might the ugliness of my sin disappear, so that the glory of Christ can shine through me. May all that I am be covered up in the completeness of Jesus.

I thank Jesus for his crucifixion, whereby my sin was forgiven. I also pray that I might be crucified to self, that Jesus might fully live in me.


Dear God, when others look at me, please let them see Jesus. I pray that everyday I may be more like him. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.

Extravagant Love

We are the children of God!

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“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are…” (1 John 3:1, NIV)

God’s love

The Greek word for “lavished” is “perisseuo”, which means abundant and overflowing. It’s the type of terminology one might use to describe an extravagant gift, one that is bought at a great price. What a great description this is concerning God’s love for us!

God’s love is given in abundance. There is no greater love than God’s love for you and for me. In fact, God will never love us any more or any less than He does at this very moment! Similarly, God’s love is overflowing, covering all of our sin completely. Finally, God’s love was purchased for us at a great cost. Jesus lost His life, after all, to save us from our sins.

God’s children

Yes, God’s love is great! In fact, it is so great that we are even considered God’s very own children. As children, we are loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father. And, perhaps even more importantly, we are given an inheritance that awaits us in heaven.

Let God’s love wash over you today. Claim your status as a child of God. And then, of course, live it out! May God bless you abundantly as you live and serve in his amazing love!


Thank you, God, for loving me with a father’s love. Help me to always remember that I am your beloved child. Thank you for Jesus and His death on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins. It’s in His name I pray, Amen.


The unfailing love of God

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“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2, NIV)

King David’s sin

It’s been said that grace is getting what you don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what you do deserve.

Certainly, the author of Psalm 51, King David, needed both grace and mercy. He wrote Psalm 51, after all, following an affair with a woman named Bathsheba and the subsequent murder cover-up of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. Only when confronted by the Prophet Nathan, in regard to David’s sin, did David fully realize the extent to which he had fallen.

In a strange mix of desperation and hope, David confessed his sin to God. He exhibited the humility of admitting his wrongs and experienced the joy of turning his hope toward God and His forgiveness. And God forgave David of all of his sin.

Our sin

We may think that our sins pale in comparison to those of King David. Or we may see our sins as greater than David’s, deserving of even more dire consequences. In either case, we have a God who is merciful. And when we humble ourselves and get honest with Him about our sin, we find forgiveness that knows no bounds.

I want to encourage you today to confess your sins to God. Take every mistake and misstep to Him. God doesn’t forgive you based on your confession or because of who you are. He forgives you because of who He is, our merciful God.

Pray the prayer that David prayed and hear God’s word for you. You are forgiven and you are free. All thanks and glory be to God.


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Thank you for my forgiveness, won at the cross, secured by Jesus. It’s in His holy name I pray, Amen.

Sin and Grace

An age-old question of faith

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“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2, NIV)

A distorted view

Someone once said, “God and I have a great arrangement. I like to sin, and He likes to forgive!”

The Apostle Paul knew that the early Christians in Rome followed the same line of reasoning, So, before they could even ask the question concerning the relationship between sin and grace, he addressed their confusion.

Paul shared with the Romans concerning the free gift of abounding grace found in Christ – grace that covers all sin in the life of the individual believer. I suppose it’s understandable, then, for them, and us, to push a little at the boundaries of right and wrong, for grace seems such a convenient loophole to the dilemma of sin.

“Is it okay to keep sinning?” we all ask ourselves. Paul emphatically answers, “By no means!” (Romans 6:1, NIV).

A better understanding

Paul quickly reminded the Romans, “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2, NIV). One who has been brought back to spiritual life by grace, could, I suppose, choose to die again a spiritual death through sin. But why would anyone make that choice?

More0ver, it would be foolishly bold to try to manipulate the bounds of God’s grace. Our sin, after all, cost Jesus His very life. Sin truly is a big deal, and it always has a price – in this case, the shed blood of our Savior.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. We are saved purely by the grace of God offered to us through faith in Jesus. We will, at times, sin. Still, sin, in the life of the believer, should be more of an exception than a rule. Sin must never define us. Instead, we are defined by the life-giving grace of our Savior Jesus!


Dear God, thank you for the grace you have given me through faith in the shed blood of Jesus. May I never take it for granted. Help me not to sin, but if I do, help me to fully rely on my Savior. It’s in His precious name I pray, Amen.

Out of Tune

Offering a new song to the Lord

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“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” (Psalm 96:1-3, NIV)

Holy contentment

I believe that, far too often, we become content in our relationship with God, settling for far less than He desires for our lives. We may feel like God is confined to ancient history and that He has little impact on our lives today. We may sense that God is distant from the lives we live and that He cares little about the concerns of our hearts. In all actuality, God is nearer to us than our very next breath. He is a living God, who is just as active today as He was thousands of years ago.

Start singing

The Psalmist implores us to “Sing to the LORD a new song…”, to “…proclaim his salvation day after day…” (Psalm 96:1-2, NIV). Certainly, God is worthy of our very best singing, but I believe He also finds delight even in our out-of-tune attempts.

The problem is not that we aren’t singing, nor even that it’s slightly off-key, but that, so often, we are singing the wrong song. Our lyrics may be outdated and aimed at a God perceived to be out-of-touch with current culture. Our tunes are often based on an understanding of a God who is rules-based and law-oriented, not on a God who is loving and merciful. We sing songs of despair, even though God has given us a living hope. Our melodies are melancholy, even when God gives us “‘…life to the full'” (John 10:10, NIV).

So, I say, and I think the Psalmist would agree, “Get singing!” Live out the music God has placed in your heart. Sing it at the top of your lungs, so that everyone can hear. There’s a message in your melody. Don’t be afraid to share it with the world!


Dear God, I pray that the songs I offer to you would be pleasing to your ear. Help me to live out the life you have called me into. Thank you for Jesus, my Savior. In His name I pray, Amen.

The Fullness of God

Jesus and the reconciliation of man

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“…God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in (Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20, NIV)

The pleasure of God

“…God was pleased…” are the telling words of the Apostle Paul as he writes to the Church at Colosse. God would choose Jesus as the instrument through which He would reach the world with the saving truth of the gospel. It would not be easy nor convenient. God would have to become a man in order to save men from their sins. So, God literally gave a piece of Himself, indeed all of Himself, in the fleshly form of Christ, to reconcile mankind.

God’s pronouncement of delight concerning His Son, is perhaps most evident at the baptism of Jesus. “‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased'” (Matthew 3:17, NIV). This is the voice heard from heaven, Divinity approving of humanity. All of who God is – His justice and mercy – is revealed in Jesus. If one would ever want to know what God is truly like, he must look no further than Christ.

The reconciliation of man

Paul continues by writing that, through Jesus, God reconciled all things to Himself and that peace between God and man was now evident through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. No other peace offering would be sufficient for the salvation of mankind, for only the perfection of God, in Christ, could appease the justice of God.

God’s fullness in Christ makes possible the fullness of redemption for mankind. God came to earth in the incarnate flesh of Jesus, who lived a life worthy of the holiness of God, and died in the place of man. Heaven came to earth so that earth could attain heaven. This is the good news of the gospel of God.


Dear God, thank you for becoming one of us in Christ in order to save us from our sins. I believe in the forgiveness won for me through Jesus’ death on the cross. I am heaven-bound and forever grateful. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

The Enemies of God

They may be closer than you think.

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“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel…” (Colossians 1:21-23, NIV)

The enemy within

The Holy Scriptures hold some pretty difficult truths. Such is the case with the above passage from the Bible. Paul writes to the Church at Colossae, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21, NIV). I recognize that I don’t always live up to God’s perfect standards, but for Paul to say that I am, or at least was, an enemy of God cuts me to my very core. Chief of sinners though I be, someone else is surely worse than me!

God has set the bar of righteousness pretty high, and, when compared to His perfection, I fall desperately short. I cannot fully keep His commands to love Him with my entire heart and to love others just as I love myself. So, just how do I, filled with all of my flaws and failures, enter into a relationship with a God who is pure, holy, and just?

I have a friend in Jesus

“…now (God) has reconciled (me) by Christ’s physical body through death to present (me) holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…” (Colossians 1:22, NIV). I have a friend who resides in high places. What I couldn’t do on my own in keeping God’s commands, Christ did perfectly for me. He even went so far as to die on a Roman cross to win for me the forgiveness of all of my sins.

I am, therefore, holy before God my Father. This is the gospel message of God’s love for me in Christ Jesus. May I share this good news with everyone I know!


Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for me so that I can live forever in heaven with you. Thank you for being my friend. In you holy name I pray, Amen.

Intercessory Prayer

The aid and comfort of the Holy Spirit

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“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26, NIV)

The limitations of human language

There are times when words fall short in expressing our thoughts and emotions. Few words seem appropriate in times of intense suffering – the sudden death of a loved one or a dire health diagnosis – when depression and anxiety rob us of the ability to express the depths of our despair. Conversely, we may find it nearly impossible to come up with words to match the intense highs of life. We might find ourselves speechless at the birth of a child or in being reunited with a long-lost friend.

Our prayer lives are not much different. How does one express the extreme joy of experiencing love for the very first time? What does an individual pray when they are contemplating suicide? For any number of reasons, words can evade us, often when we need them the most.

The help of the Holy Spirit

In Romans Chapter 8, the Apostle Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit’s divine intervention in our prayer lives. Paul writes to the Church at Rome, “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26, NIV). I find it quite likely that the language of the Holy Spirit is far different from any language spoken by people. In any regard, it is a language that is understood by our Heavenly Father even though it may be imperseptible to us.

What comfort we have in knowing that God is so intimately connected to and concerned for us that He would speak through His Spirit on our behalf! May we lean into the life giving work the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in us.


Holy Spirit, pray in me. Thank you for interceding on my behalf. Help me to stay in-step with what you are accomplishing through me. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Abide in Jesus

Cultivating the spiritual connection with Christ

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“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4, RSV)

I’ve found that one of the most important things I can do to sustain and grow in my relationship with Christ is simply to abide in Him. The word “abide” means to remain. When I remain connected to Jesus, He produces in me good works that are beneficial to the world around me. By contrast, when I remove myself from Jesus, who is the source of my sustenance and strength, I falter in doing the good things He has designed for me to do.

The activity of abiding

The command and promise of Jesus states that we must abide in Him. While Jesus’ metaphor of a vine and its branches may seem a bit foreign to us, it made perfect sense to those in the agricultural society of Jesus’ day. Jesus’ listeners could easily grasp the importance of each branch of a plant being an offshoot of its connecting vine.

Jesus reminds his hearers that He is the proverbial vine, and we, the branches, must stay connected to Him. When we do that, the fruits of good works are produced naturally, or perhaps I should say, supernaturally, in and through us.

Furthermore, the fact that Jesus commands us to abide must mean that there are some practical things that we can do to cultivate this life-giving relationship. Here’s where the Word of God and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion come into play. These things are the lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus. They nourish us and help us to grow.

The passivity of abiding

While we can and should participate in the things God is doing in our lives, abiding in Christ is largely a passive act. Jesus, after all, as the vine, is the source of our strength and vitality as branches. Apart from Him, we can do no good thing. We must never see ourselves as the fruit-producers in our relationship with Christ, only the bearers of the good fruit produced in us.

Abide in Jesus. Find your source for all good things in and through Him. Rest in His love and grace. Flourish in His presence and strength. Abide in Him and see what He can do.


Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and grace. Thank you, too, that I have a part to play in the good things you are doing. May I always abide in you. In your holy name I pray, Amen.

Jesus Christ, the Advocate

The One who pleads on my behalf

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“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1, NIV)

The sinfulness of man

With the loving care and heart-felt concern of a father, John, the once-disciple of Jesus, implores his spiritual flock to live lives without sin. John knows that sin alienates the heart of man from the heart of God and that sin prevents the Christian from living into the life that God desires. More0ver, sin cost Jesus dearly, demanding that He suffer and die even though He, Himself, did not know sin.

Yet, despite his prompting, and even their best efforts, John knows that sin, for man, is inevitable. It’s part of who we are, after all, our DNA, if you will, as sinful human beings. Sinners do one thing quite well – they sin. This is not meant to be an excuse, but a fact as it pertains to our fallen selves.

The sinlessness of Christ

One man, however, never sinned – never a lustful glance, nor an errant word, never a judgmental gaze, nor a selfish thought. Jesus lived a life of perfection and stands righteous before our Heavenly Father. And, because Jesus died for us, we can live eternally through Him.

John rightly identifies Jesus as our advocate. He is our go-between, our intercessor, the One who speaks for us. Jesus pleads on our behalf, and He bleeds in our defense. And our Father sees Him, when He looks at us. Jesus has become our righteousness, and we are, therefore, right with God.

Believe this day, that you share Christ’s righteousness, not because you are holy on your own, but because you have the Holy One who is your advocate – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.


Holy God, thank you for sending Jesus to live a life I could not live and to die a death I could not endure. Thank you for my forgiveness, won for me by Jesus’ death on the cross. In His holy name I pray, Amen.