Category Archives: Dan’s Blog

God Sees Relationship Like We Do

Deciding whether or not to pursue intimacy with God has its rewards—and its consequences. Ask any parent. Ask them what they value most: an adult child who desires to be close for the sake of relationship itself, or one who relates to them either from obligation or from selfishness, motivated by the fear of losing some future benefit. They’ll tell you! The parents love both children the same. But which do you think will receive more of their attention? Which deserves their undivided companionship and support?

God is like that. How could He be pleased with those who pursue Him merely from self-interest or a sense of obligation? God sees it the same way we do. Though He doesn’t reject His children when they don’t show much interest in Him, just imagine how thrilled He must be with those whose motives are pure—who want Him just because He’s Dad.

Behaving Like Dead Men

“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death,” Paul tells us in Romans 8:1-4. It’s a spiritual law. We are no longer found guilty for sin. Jesus took that role upon Himself, making sin itself the culprit worthy of condemnation. When we were steeped in sin, we freely received God’s gift of grace.

Now that we are saved, we need not try to appease Him by attempting to keep the law, but to daily walk in the grace He has so abundantly provided. Colossians 2:6 says: “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” We need to start behaving like dead men—dead to law, that is, and as a result, dead to sin. Our life as believers is all about faith in what Jesus has done, regardless of the weakness of our flesh.

Do You Sense God Speaking?

We talk about the need for a personal devotional life. Interaction is what’s important. Both prayer and time in God’s word are most effective when it’s a two-way street. We must listen as well as speak. Only then do our devotions become the cornerstone for vibrant spiritual growth. God still speaks to His people, and learning to walk in intimacy with Him as a daily discipline increases the likelihood of hearing His voice.

Our life is never the same once we’ve heard God speak, especially when He does so in a way that addresses our personal circumstances. It changes us like nothing else can. And what’s great is that God wants to speak to us time and again as a natural part of a life built on closeness with Him. Have you sensed God speaking to you? If not, set yourself squarely in His path. You’ll hear Him!

Benefitting from our Failures

Can we benefit from our failures? Sure! Disgust over failure helps prod us toward the goal of resisting sin. Obviously we’ll never be sinless, but that mustn’t keep us from fleeing from temptation. God is here to help, and things will get better each time you make the right choice.  You must never allow sin to become an excuse for retreating from God. Let your sin drive you to Jesus rather than away from Him. Run to Him with it!

God knows and understands you. And He’s more than willing to work with a repentant heart. Satan leads you to believe that you can’t come back to God until you’ve cleaned up your act. But the cross has stripped him of any power to separate you from God. So you must never allow him to fool you into thinking that sin somehow puts up a barrier between you and Jesus.

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Slaves of Righteousness

Something totally different makes us tick now that we are God’s children. Having become alive to God, we are now actually driven to serve Him—we have become “slaves of righteousness.” “The law of sin,” on the other hand, also remains an active force in our nature. This is why Paul calls himself a “wretched man,” needing to be “set free from the body of this death.”

But this isn’t a recipe for failure. Rather, it’s the foundation for victory, because now we’ve been given the ability to choose good through the power of the Spirit. So even though in my flesh I am doomed to serve the law of sin, my inner man is more than capable of serving the law of God. Paul says it well: “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

 

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Building Solid Character

As we submit our life to God, He has the opportunity to build solid character in us. But this takes time. Don’t be disheartened by your sin as it inevitably comes. Let your failures drive you to God, and He will use them to strengthen your resolve to live for Him. Each time you say no to sin, it makes it a little easier to say no the next time.

It’s like a cup of coffee. If you refill your cup with a shot of espresso each time you drink a little, it keeps getting stronger. But if instead you add some water each time the coffee will become completely diluted. So it is with sin. As we resist sin, we set the stage for future victory. Still, even that in itself is not enough. Sin is primarily a heart issue. Real freedom comes only by pursuing intimacy with Jesus.

He’s the God of the Now!

Near the end of his life, Paul was still “reaching forward to what lies ahead” in Christ. (Phil 3:13) Do you suppose that he may have looked at life this way all throughout his ministry? How productive might we become if we were to pursue God’s will with such an attitude? I think Paul knew something most of us haven’t even thought about. What is it? God is the God of the now!

He sees our future, and He knows our past. But for Him it’s always now. When we enter the now of life in Jesus, we touch eternity. So just think how life might change by living in the present, rather than putting our hope in the future, or being hobbled by the past. Wouldn’t life take on more meaning? Not only that, but wouldn’t we experience a greater sense of joy in serving God with that goal always in mind?

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Forgetting What Lies Behind

Toward the end of his life, Paul was imprisoned in Rome. In the midst of this ordeal, he made this remarkable statement: “one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” “Forgetting what lies behind?” (Philippians 3:13-14)  Just think about that!

Imagine the richness he experienced throughout his ministry. Few have ever rivaled such a life. And yet here he was with confident expectation about the future, refusing to place any hope in past victories. Right then and there Paul was determined to reach forward, making a fresh start toward God’s purpose. Why is that so remarkable? Shouldn’t pressing on in such a manner be the goal of every believer? Well, try it—whatever stage of life you’re at. You might be amazed!

Could God Use Me?

How could God use me? How can He possibly use somebody with so many weaknesses? God doesn’t look at it like that. He has a place for us, and has gifted each of us accordingly. So bloom where you’re planted, no matter who you are or what insecurities you may have.

Even a guy like Paul had his problems. It appears that somewhere along the line God needed to reduce him to a point of utter helplessness. Why would He do that? Because in order to be effective, Paul had to be a vessel capable of radiating God’s power.

Since it’s impossible for God to work through a prideful vessel, human weakness seems to be necessary. Apparently God wants us in a state of total dependence on Him, rather than on our own abilities. Jesus puts it this way: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

What God Values Most

Think about what a woman values most. The husband often believes it’s what he gives her: his time, gifts, treating her with love and respect, and providing for the family. But none of that matters much if she feels that he does not desire emotional intimacy with her. First on her list is sensing that he wants to be with her. She needs to know that he wants her above all else. If she feels like he’s merely trying to fulfill some sort of obligation, she won’t respond like she would if his motivation was desire for her alone.

            So it is with God. Like many husbands, we busy ourselves with lots of things in our attempt to please God. But are those things really all that valuable if our motivation stems from an attempt to satisfy some requirement, rather than from a sincere desire for intimacy with Him?

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself