Wednesday, November 26, 2008


"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"" John 11:25-26

(By the way, that double quote sign at the end bothers me. It always bothers me when I see it, but since I do see it quite often in books or articles, I suppose it is correct. I could probably leave off my quote marks altogether and anyone would still get the idea that I'm quoting something here, but for now I'll just leave it as it is. It still bothers me, though.)

And yes. The answer is yes. I know he wasn't speaking directly to me, but I'm answering anyway. Yes.

It is an odd thing to say, though, or at least an odd way to say it. And it seems to be a bit of a paradox. First, whoever believes, though he die, shall live. Then, whoever lives and believes will never die. A little confusing, isn't it?

I guess maybe the last part of the verse relates to his first statement, claiming that he is both "the resurrection and the life." The resurrection in that, through him, through faith in him, through a trusting relationship with him, we have new life. Our old self dies and he gives us new life. We die, yet we shall live. Yes? Make sense? There's probably more to it than that, but for me, that's enough for now.

But then, as he claims, he is not only the resurrection, but he is life itself. Through belief in him, faith in him, a trusting relationship with him, we will not die.

This part seems harder to me - harder to formulate, to explain in terms that make it perfectly clear to me. It's the "never die" part that trips me up, you know? We all die, after all - he just said so, sort of. But I think I have to try to understand what he means by dying.

My body will die, no doubt about it. Everyone I know will die...their bodies, anyway. So I don't think Jesus was talking about our physical death. No, I guess maybe he's talking about the death of our old sin nature in the first part of the verse (which has happened and yet I live), and then true death, the death of our spiritual nature (which cannot happen in Christ), in the last part.

My old sin nature is dead, but my spirit has been raised...resurrected with Christ and will never die. In fact, my true nature, the real me, isn't really even tied to this old dying body anymore, which is so often infected by my old dead sin nature. No, the real me is with Christ in heaven right now.

Hey, I am already in heaven!

Don't believe me? Check this out:

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

Father God, help me to remember that this world is no longer my home, but that I am with you in heaven. This old sinful nature is dead and the life you've given me to live here now in this body is yours and yours alone. Be with me today, moment by moment, to live my life for you, through you, and to worship you and serve you with everything I have. I love you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20

Anger has never been one of my problems. Or, at least that's what I've always thought. If I'm truly honest with myself, though, anger has been a problem for me, but not in the way it is for some people.

Most people who know me (except maybe for my kids) would say that I never get angry, and that's what I've always said about myself, too. But let's face it, everyone gets angry. Don't you? Yes, you do. I get angry, but my problem with it is that I don't express it, never let it out, never let anyone know that I'm angry. I suppose that's no more healthy than someone who goes around exploding in anger all the time - oh, I might be somewhat more pleasant to be around than that sort of fellow, but still, it probably isn't particularly healthy.

The verse says to be slow to anger, it doesn't say never to get angry. It doesn't say it's a sin to be angry, it just says that you need to listen carefully first to be sure you understand before you get angry. There are some things that are worth getting angry about, but probably not many. If we listen carefully and try to see things from the other guy's point of view, it becomes easier to see the difference.

But still, the verse says that the "anger of man" does not produce the "righteousness of God," so even if we express our anger over something that is worthy of it, the best we can hope for is a cathartic release of our pent up emotions. It does not make us a better person when we get angry, even in appropriate situations, but it might make us a healthier person, a generally happier person, a person who chews fewer Tums.

I have a really big bottle of Tums in my nightstand drawer, and that really makes me angry.

Not really.

Father, help me to get over my silly fear of expressing my anger. But at the same time, help me to maintain my God-given, normally unruffled nature and express my anger only in appropriate, productive ways - never ever with the intention of hurting anyone. I don't really want to change, Father. I like the way you made me and I certainly don't want to be an angry person at all. I only want to be honest and healthy about it and to stop holding my anger inside of me where it does no good at all. But somehow I just can't do it. I just can't seem to honestly express my anger, so as always, I need to rely on you, my Lord. Be there with me, Father, when I need to express my anger and speak through me. Help me to speak the truth in love.

Monday, November 24, 2008


"For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." 2 Corinthians 4:11

I'm not exactly sure what this verse is referring to in context (and I don't want to take the time right now to find out), but this difference between our dead old sinful nature and our living spirit in Christ is something I've been thinking about lately. The fact is that our old nature is dead in Christ, having been crucified with him and "the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God."

But the thing I appreciate about this verse is that it says that it is a continuing process, not just a one-time deal.

You know, sometimes I feel like the "real me" is something nobody else ever sees - it's that secret part of me that is controlled by sin, the part of me that I never show to anyone else. But the fact is that that is not the real me at all! No, that part of me is dead...or at least dying. The real me is in Christ, with Christ: the life of Jesus manifest in my mortal flesh - that is the really real me, and not that silly sinful guy who's constantly urging me to do things I don't want to do anymore.

God help me to always realize and remember who I really am: the life of Jesus manifest in my mortal flesh. I am not that sinful self that sneaks up on me and messes with my mind, telling me I'm no good and wanting me to do things you wouldn't want me doing. But I can only do it through your spirit in me, the same spirit that gives me this life. Fill me with your spirit, Father, and give me strength to consider my old nature dead - to give it over to death for Jesus' sake every single day, every single moment of my life, and to truly and constantly live my life by faith in you, Lord. Help me to fully and completely give myself over to you every single day, Father.


"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

I continually struggle with my sinful nature and often find myself doing things I know I ought not - much more often than I'd like to admit, in fact, and in stupid, silly ways that are thoroughly embarrassing to me. And in the midst of my struggles, I have often wondered how I can overcome, how I stop being so stupid, be the person I want to be and avoid falling into those sins.

It feels absolutely impossible.

I've heard it said many times that the trick is not to try harder but to trust more. In other words, rather than focusing on the sin and trying to overcome it, to focus on God and his grace and mercy, trusting him to carry me through. I do believe that, but this verse seems to be telling me that there's more to it than just focusing my thoughts. It seems to say that focusing my thoughts ought to translate into action - doing good, not just thinking about good. And how true! If I focus my energy into doing something good, whether it's doing my best to be a good and faithful husband, concentrating on my work and doing my very best as an act of worship, volunteering at church, helping the needy, or even just being a good friend, my energy won't drift toward those other silly things that drag me down.

At least it ought to make it more difficult.

Help me, Father, to do good today in order to overcome the evil that lurks in my old sinful self, and wants me to do all those things of which I am so ashamed. I'm sitting here working today, so since that's what I'm doing, help me to do it as an act of worship to you and do my very best rather than filling my mind with unproductive trash. Everything I do, Lord, I give to you, everything I am I give to you. I am yours and not my own. Help me, Father. Help me to give up myself, to let go and let you take over - I cannot do it apart from you because it truly is impossible without your grace. This is my deepest desire, to honor you in everything I do. I love you, Lord Jesus.


"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:9

It does seem like it's easy to grow weary of doing good, doesn't it? Especially if it's never recognized or acknowleged. But this verse promises that sowing good will reap due season. That "good season" might not be until later, much later, maybe not until after our time on this earth is finished. But it will come, no doubt about it, and we can trust God for the harvest - a plentiful harvest when we keep on sowing and don't give up.

Lord, give me strength today to do good, whether or not anyone even notices. You notice, Lord, and that's enough for me. Help me to sow good. And not just so I can reap a harvest of good, but just because that's my job for as long as I'm here, the job you have given me to do, and I want to honor you in everything I do - every single step I take, every breath I take, I want to praise you, my Lord and my God. I love you!!


"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Psalm 42:11

Whenever we wonder why everything seems to be against us, when we're discouraged because life isn't what we had hoped for, when we feel rejected or anxious or depressed, when we disappoint ourselves and don't live up to who we know we ought to be, the problem truly is that we have lost our focus. If we keep our focus on God and remember that he is in control and that he loves us more than we can ever understand, then the "things of earth will grow strangely dim," and we can regain our joy in life.

It reminds me of this:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace."

Lord, help me today, moment by moment, to keep my eyes upon you, my thoughts focused on working for you in whatever I'm doing, my heart full of your love, remembering the fullness of your love for me and that the plans you have for me are for good and not for my destruction...even when I can't see that for myself, help me, Lord, to remember that it's true.

Thank you, Lord, for your grace.


"For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17

I find this concept to be just a little difficult to grasp, but basically I believe it's saying that Adam's sin introduced death which has reigned ever since, but God's grace through the victory of the cross introduced life, and through this grace, life can reign in us.

I do not, however, think that this verse is saying that we are somehow guilty of Adams offence - I, for one, know that I have more than enough offense of my own, and the penalty I face is due to my own sin, I'm sure, and not poor old Adam's, who as far as I can tell, only slipped up once. However, Adam's offence was the first among many, and as such, introduced sin into the world, sin of which we have all been guilty, each in our own way, and only through God's precious grace can we be free from the deadly consequenses of that sin and live a life in relationship with God - the kind of life we were designed to live with him...the kind of life where righteousness reigns through grace...the only kind of life that truly is life.

That's the life I want, Father. I give up all I am to you, my Lord, and my life is yours. Help me to live that life. Grant me your daily mercies and fill me with your grace. Give me your righteousness...not based on the law, but based on your love and grace through Jesus. I love you, Lord.

Daily Mercies

This, my first post here, will just be a short explanation of what in the world I'm doing here.

Well, first of all, I'll just be posting my own short devotional-type things which are responses to the daily bible verse widget thing I have on my desktop. Each day a different verse pops up and I usually write a short article/essay/blurb about what I think it means to me, and follow it up with a prayer inspired by the verse.

Second, I may occasionally post my thoughts about particular issues that come up, either in my personal life or in life in general as a struggling Christian in America these days. Although I've known Jesus as my Lord now for over 45 years, I call myself a struggling Christian. But it isn't because I am struggling with my faith, not in the least, but I struggle because I believe that, in reality, all true Christians struggle. It's the life to which we've been called here for as long as we inhabit this mortality, this tenuous thing we call life here on God's green earth. We struggle with our flesh, our sin nature, and we struggle to understand how God can love us the way he does, and how we can ever live up to that. And we struggle to understand that we can't live up to that except by grace and remembering that God's mercies are new every morning.

Hence the title, Daily Mercies.

God, help me to seek your mercies every day, moment by moment, and to remember that they are new every morning. No matter how much I've screwed up, you are there for me as soon as I turn to you. Help me to live in that knowledge - that you are always right here next to me, always loving me and always wanting the very best for me.

I love you, Lord.