My Calm, My Safety, My Courage

What I love about being a Christian is that it calls out the best in me. It encourages me to make the kinds of changes in my life that will make me a better man. It spurs me to the kinds of changes that will bring my heart, my mind, my words and actions in line with the kind of person God wants me to be.

But my Christian faith does not leave me with mere encouragement. It follows up the encouragement with the very real power to make the changes God wants me to make. That power is the gospel. That power is Jesus Christ, my Savior, who died for me and lives in me.

That gospel message assures me that Jesus came because of his great love for me. I am a sinner in need of his deliverance. And Jesus came to win that deliverance for me. He, the righteous one, came to offer his own life in exchange for mine. He came to take my sins, and offer me his righteousness.

John, the apostle, puts it this way: “Christ’s forgiveness is the most amazing motivation to not sin again. Christ’s forgiveness is also the guarantee that when you do sin again — and you will sin again — then that sin too has been forgiven.

The gospel is the most highly-motivating “carrot” to lead us on to more fully experience our freedom from sin. And even more importantly, the gospel is the most secure safety net in which to land when we do fall into sin.

The gospel points us to Jesus Christ, the one who, as our advocate with the Father, offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins — the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. He offered his life up on the cross to atone for our sins, and reconcile us fully to God the Father.

It’s just like Van Gogh once said, “I feel a certain calm. There is safety in the midst of danger. What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Jesus is my calm. He is my safety in the midst of danger — especially the danger to myself that’s created when I sin against God. He is my courage to attempt to become a man who brings glory to God in everything I do.

“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. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2, NIV). 

Jesus, thank you for being the perfect sacrifice, the atoning sacrifice, for all my sins. Thank you for sacrificing your life so that I could be reconciled to the Father, and enjoy everlasting life in heaven with you. Give me courage to become the person you want me to be, bringing glory to you in all I do.

Our Bible reading for Monday, November 30, is Daniel 5:17 – 6:28, 1 John 1:1 – 2:11 and Psalm 136:1-12.

Header image based on "Vincent Van Gogh I feel a certain calm..." by BK, CC By-SA 2.0

The Great Exchange

There are two answers to a question Solomon poses in chapter twenty of the book of Proverbs. Solomon inquires,

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (Proverbs 20:9, NIV).

The first response is: No one. No one can claim that they have kept their heart pure. There’s not a single human being that can say that they are spiritually pure. Not a one of us can crow, “I am without sin!”

By nature, each of us is a lost and condemned sinner.

And the second answer is: Anyone. Anyone, that is, who trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. A believer has kept their heart pure because they have had a heart “transplant.”

In the sight of God, Jesus’ heart has been substituted for their heart. A Christ-follower can claim that they are clean and without any sin, because Jesus’ purity and Jesus’ righteousness have been transferred to their account by God, the Father.

By faith, each of us is a holy and sinless child of God, perfect in his sight.

This transformation of status before God is what Jesus’ perfect life and his innocent death on the cross accomplished for us. This is what Jesus’ resurrection perfectly guarantees us. It’s the “Great Exchange!” He took all our sins on himself. And he gave us all his purity and holiness.

This is going to be exceptionally helpful and valuable to us one day, as Solomon indicates one verse previous to his question.

“When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes” (Proverbs 20:8, NIV).

When God “winnows” from his throne on Judgment Day, we will not be separated from God forever. He will not judge us and throw us out of his presence. Because we, by Jesus’ blood and righteousness, are no longer evil, but good.

I hope that’s a confidence builder for you, starting right now!

Our Bible reading for Sunday, August 16, is 2 Chronicles 5:2 – 7:10, 1 Corinthians 10:14 – 11:1 and Proverbs 20:5-14.

There is no greater blessing than the Great Exchange! Thank you, Jesus, for making this valuable exchange for us. Help me, by your Spirit’s power, to trust you always as my Savior and my Lord.

P.S. You might wonder, “What is winnowing?” Well, after the grains have been removed from the stalks by threshing (in this case, by oxen), the grain is collected in a basket, the basket is raised, say, to shoulder height and tilted, and the grain is allowed to fall to the ground.

Winnowing separates the grain from the chaff. As the mixed grain and chaff fall from the basket, wind carries away the lighter chaff while the grain, which is heavier, falls into a pile on the ground.

Chaff, in case you’re wondering, is “the inedible, dry, scaly protective casings of the seeds of cereal grain . . .”

Header image based on "Winnowing the Grain, Axum, Ethiopia" by Alan, CC By 2.0

Being Justified By Faith Has Major Benefits!

In yesterday’s reading from the book of Romans, Paul made the point that Abraham — the “spiritual father” of all believers — never had to earn his way into heaven. It was God’s gift to him. Paul even quotes a passage from Genesis to show that this was nothing new or shocking: “What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:3, NIV).

As Paul continues to teach the Romans in the next chapter of his letter, he returns to the theme of being declared righteous by faith. In this section he wants to teach the Romans (and us!) about the tremendous benefits of being justified by faith.

First, he tells us, those who have been justified by faith already have the kind of supernatural, inner peace that everyone else is still seeking. We no longer have to keep stressing and striving to find peace. Peace with God is the root and the trunk from which every other kind of peace is merely a branch — be it emotional peace, financial peace, marital peace, or any other kind of peace we might be looking to find.

Second, those who have been justified by faith have been given protective “grace boots” to wear. When we stand in these “grace boots” the mud and muck of sin can no longer touch us. The guilt and shame of the wrong things we still do — even as Christ-followers who sincerely and deeply want to quit sinning — are unable to cause us to slip or fall. Jesus has taken that guilt and shame on his own shoulders. That is the very reason he was crucified for us!

And finally, those who have been justified by faith have an unassailable hope that carries us through all our pain and suffering. We know that the glory of God — the glory of heaven! — awaits us one day. So when we go through tough times here on earth, we become tougher. For the believer, sufferings only serve to produce a more positive person filled with perseverance and character.

Peace. Grace. Hope.

This is what most people are constantly seeking — and often fail to find.

But Jesus has them for us. And they all come together with his gift of justification by faith. And that makes justification by faith the gift that keeps on giving!

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Saturday, July 18, is Amos 6:1 – 7:17, Romans 4:16 – 5:11 and Psalm 86:11-17.

Lord, thank you for giving me such beautiful gifts. You have declared me innocent of all sin. You have given me the Holy Spirit and his power to cling to you in faith. And by faith in Jesus, you also give me peace, grace and hope. What more could I ever ask for? What more could I ever need?

Header image based on "Muddy Shoes" by Andy Wright, CC By 2.0


ˈvindəˌkāt/ verb
  1. clear (someone) of blame or suspicion.
  2. show or prove to be right, reasonable, or justified.

David had powerful enemies. Among them was the king of Israel, Saul. Saul was constantly trying to hunt David down and put him to death because he was jealous of David. David was a threat to his power.

David was a hunted man. But David knew what to do when there are no other allies. He knew there is one ally who never deceives and never leaves.

This is what we need to know too, especially when we feel we’re under attack. The attack might come from a neighbor. The attack might come from someone in authority (as it was with David). The attack may even be spiritual and come from Satan, or our own sinful flesh.

Betrayal is bad enough. Self-betrayal is horribly difficult.

But there will always be One to whom we can appeal. Our God will make sure that we are vindicated. He will be constant in his love. He will steadily remind us that he is always powerfully present — faithful to the end!

In fact, he has already made sure we are vindicated. Because he sent his Son, Jesus, to be the perfect payment for our sins. He delivered his own Son over to death to insure that we are cleared of all blame and suspicion. He has justified us — declared us recipients of Christ’s righteousness and proclaimed us to be “just as if” we had never sinned!

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness” (Psalm 57:2-3, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, May 6, is Judges 4:1 – 5:31, John 4:43 – 5:15, and Psalm 57:1-6.

God, thank you for vindicating me, and declaring me innocent of all my sins. This is the greatest gift anyone could ever give me. And it’s all possible because you, in love, sent your one and only Son, to die in my place and offer the perfect sacrifice for my sins. You have loved me with the greatest possible love. And I love you, Lord.

Header image based on "Justice Gavel" by Tori Rector, CC By-SA 2.0