Daily Discipline #114
By Colleen Donahue
Over the 32 years that I have been a Christian I have found myself baffled by others that also proclaim they are Christians. Let me describe a few scenarios and you'll soon see what I mean. (The names and situations are fictitious). Curt and I worked at the same place. He was a nice guy but always late, somewhat lazy and generally undependable. He said he was a Christian.
Ron was also a co-worker. He was moody and uncommunicative. Customers thought he was downright unfriendly. He said he was a Christian.
Mary would make a commitment to go somewhere with me but at the appointed time would back out with an excuse. She just wouldn't feel up to it. She said she was a Christian.
Sarah made life very miserable for many. She was hard and demanding. A woman of principle but without mercy. She said she was a Christian.
Eileen talked about the faults and failures of others without hesitation. She spoke disrespectfully of ones in leadership with whom she didn't agree. She said she was a Christian.
Larry was selfish - always thinking of himself and his needs first. He would help others but only if asked. There was never a voluntary giving of time or money. He said he was a Christian.
Carla was out of control. She could not quit eating and gluttony seemed to be swallowing up her life. She said she was a Christian.
And what about me? How many times did I weep over words that should not have been spoken or actions that I regretted? Yes, I was a Christian. I knew that Jesus had forgiven my sins and that His Holy Spirit lived within me -- but what about all these un-Christlike behaviors that I was seeing in others and myself?
All this confused me and caused me to ask the question......
If Salvation Is So Life Changing, Why Are There So Many Miserable Christians?
Day 1- Many Christians are "saved" people still living under the power of sin. They have forgiveness of their past and they know they have eternal life in the future but TODAY is often like hell on earth. The Apostle Paul expressed for all of us this unhappy state.
Day 2- We see that Jesus Christ is adequate to deal with our past and the future but we don't know God's answer for the present and therefore we do the only things we can: we try to handle the present on our own. We substitute a consecrated, dedicated "self" (instead of Christ) to handle the awful present. Therefore the "world" sees religious people who proclaim themselves to be something they aren't. They see people who are trying hard, doing all kinds of "good" activities but without the love, joy and peace that are to characterize the lives of Christians.
Romans 3:20 / Galatians 2:16 / Ephesians 2:8-9 / Titus 3:4-5
Day 3- The Apostle Paul faced this problem in his own life (see Day #1) but came to see that God has a complete answer. This is found in our "union with Christ". He writes about this as a "mystery revealed".
Day 4-What is this mystery? It is that Jesus Christ dwells in each believer. This is the key to Christian maturity and being "more than conquerors". It is the key to living in the present.
Colossians 1:25-27 / Colossians 2:2-3
Day 5- Most of us have only the first part of the gospel presented to us.
Ephesians 1:7 / John 3:15
Notice this first part covers our past and the future. We don't have trouble trusting Jesus Christ for the past and the future because we can't do anything about it anyway. But when it comes to living TODAY, we think we must battle it in our own strength. We are told we must try harder and do more. What we don't realize is that our efforts to "live for God" get in the way of Christ living through us.
Day 6- The second part of the gospel is almost totally overlooked today - i.e. the fact that Christ dwells within us. We need to stand solidly on this truth:
It is no longer just Christ IN me but Christ AS me.
Day 7- Paul, in this prayer for the church, knew the answer he had received was the missing key to the victorious life.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Day 8- Many believers do not realize that their inheritance in the Kingdom of God begins today. The reign of God is in their lives today and this changes their whole perspective. We can live victoriously and fully NOW.
Revelations 11:17 / Revelations 12:10
Day 9- The Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the lives of men. It is an eternal and not a temporal kingdom.
2 Corinthians 4:18
Day 10- The Kingdom of God can't be seen by human beings. You enter it by becoming a spiritual person.
John 3:3 / Romans 8:9,17
Day 11- Scripture therefore places our being in Heaven firmly in the NOW. We are citizens of God's kingdom. It is all around us and though invisible it is totally real. We enter into the heavenly places in Jesus.
THE FAILURE OF RELIGION
Religions are based on the philosophy of someone who once lived a relatively praiseworthy life. We copy someone's philosophy, and live by his rules. It's following a set of principles or imitating an example.
Day 12- By being religious we attempt to imitate godly living and thus try to be something that we aren't. Man tries to solve problems from the outside. But here is what Jesus Christ says is man's fundamental problem.
Day 13- The root of all evil is within a man's heart. What man DOES is the result of what man IS. Therefore no religion, philosophy or set of principles can deal with it. We have inherited a fallen nature from Adam and Eve and therefore we have a natural hostility toward the ways of God.
Ephesians 2:3 / Romans 8:7-8
Day 14- History is a record of man's groping around in separated alienation from God. We stumble like the blind with darkened minds. With all of man's scientific skill and ingenuity we have not been able to cure the human heart. Man's condition remains the same.
Jeremiah 17:9 / Isaiah 59: 9-13
Day 15- This doesn't mean that God's creation is evil. Man is still in the image of God. But, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, Satan's spirit of disobedience entered them and suddenly their viewpoint was altered.
Genesis 3: 7-9
Their lives left the spiritual realm and became physical. They functioned from self-interest and man became the center of his own universe.
Day 16- Sin is living as independent, separated people. Satan is an indwelling master and his nature is "self-centeredness". Sometimes it manifests itself in something bad but quite often it will be good and benevolent. This is why there is much good in the world even though it is under Satan's rule. Satan is always consistent in promoting self -- whatever that means. Until we are converted he is our god and we manifest him.
John 8: 44 / 1 John 3:10
Satan is very pleased with religion because religion is based on the improvement of self. Striving to be better is just the manifestation of self. If religion isn't the path of righteousness, then what is?
A NEW HEART
Day 17- While it is impossible to live as Jesus did while we have a heart centered on self, there is a solution. Our old nature must be removed and then a new one implanted. Ezekiel spoke of it long before Jesus came to implement it.
Ezekiel 36: 26-27
Day 18- Jeremiah in looking forward to the New Covenant spoke of it as the internal rule of the king within his subjects.
Jeremiah 31: 33-34 (Hebrews 8:10-12)
Day 19- How does God remove our old nature and implant a new one? It is through death (Jesus' death) that we enter into life.
1 Corinthians 15:22 / Romans 5: 18-19
Day 20- When Adam sinned all of us were reckoned to have sinned. Because of his sin he became joined in spirit to Satan and from then on people have been born as natural citizens of the kingdom of darkness. But with Jesus Christ's death, the penalty for sin was dealt with on our behalf and we can now be identified with Christ (or the last Adam). We died with Him.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 / Romans 6: 3-6
Day 21- It isn't after a life of trying that we finally succeed in dying to self. The Apostle Paul says, "we were crucified." We are dead and buried. The old life came to an abrupt end. But Jesus Christ didn't stay dead. He rose and took us with Him. We are born again into the Kingdom of Heaven. We are now under the rule of Christ.
Romans 6:4 / Colossians 1: 13-14
Day 22- We no longer have two natures warring within us. We now have only Jesus Christ as our master.
Romans 6: 17-18 / Romans 8:2
Day 23- We have trouble believing such a radical change has taken place because it is all internal and invisible. We don't look different on the outside but we are different. (The old heart has been completely removed by death and a new heart implanted.)
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 / Galatians 2:20
Day 24- To be "in Christ" is to enter into union with God through Christ. We have died as a sinner and been born all over again as a saint. When we "reckon" ourselves as dead then we accept as true what God says is true - i.e. that we died when Christ died.
Romans 8:11 / Colossians 3:3 / 1 Peter 2:24
When we begin by acknowledging what is a spiritual reality (despite appearance) then we will finally come through into knowing spiritual reality, and outward change will follow.
HOW DO WE EXPRESS OUR NEW NATURE TO THE WORLD?
Day 24- Jesus did not act independently as a human. He was a container to express His Father. He didn't get a list of rules and instructions and start to imitate Him. Rather, he lived spontaneously and simply manifested the Father.
John 5: 19, 30 / John 12: 49 / John 14:9-10
Day 25- In the same way that Jesus Christ manifested the Father; we are to manifest Christ.
John 14:20,23 / John 17: 21-23 / Galatians 2:20 / 1 John 3:24
When people see us they are seeing a manifestation of Christ through us. We are the visible expression of an invisible Christ.
Day 26- God is no longer "up there". He is "in us". We are in the Holy of Holies. We are at the Father's right hand. Our sins are dealt with in full and God no longer takes note of them. Nothing can now affect our relationship with God.
Romans 8: 31-39
Day 27- If we do sin we must acknowledge our foolishness and thank God for His love and grace to us.
1 John 2:1
Day 28- Under the Old Covenant men and women tried to keep external laws. But the New Covenant is the life of Jesus springing up from within us like rivers of living water. It comes naturally without any effort on our part.
John 4:14/ John 7: 37-38
Day 29 - God wants us to live by faith -- a moment by moment walking in His will. All of our trying can never fulfill the law of love. It only happens when we let God live in us.
John 15: 4-5 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 3:16-17a, 20
Day 30- We do not have an improved vessel or container. We now have the glory of Jesus Christ within us giving light to a dark world. This is the mystery of Christ within us.
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