Day One: See To It

Colossians 2:6-8 – So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

“Moving from this Christocentric principle, Paul then emphasizes the reality in which the believers already find themselves: they are filled in Christ, they have died and been raised with him, and they share in the victory over all competing moral and cosmic forces. This affirmation of the supremacy of Christ and of the finality of His salvific work is, therefore, not simply an abstract truth; it affects the very self-understanding of believers, who find their true identities in what Christ has done for us.” [David W. Pao, Colossians, Philemon, ECNT, p. 151]

In verse 8, being ‘taken captive’ can be understood as becoming a ‘victim of fraud.’  In this age of email scams, we feel there is no way we would fall for such lies and deception. Yet, when we live victory-less, hopeless, lifeless, we have been defrauded. Let’s “see to it” that we live in the victory of Christ alone.

Let’s pray that God alone would take us captive, that we would live in his cosmic victory. Worship with the song “This We Know” (Click here).

– AK

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Day Five: On Brand

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NIV) – All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

A “brand ambassador” is someone sent to communicate the priorities of their “brand” to anyone who will pay attention. Likewise, this verse tells us that we are ambassadors committed with a message of reconciliation to an unreconciled world, “Be reconciled to God!” The Bible is always clear that reconciliation is an act initiated by God, and presented as an invitation to anyone who desires to accept his terms of peace. This is so completely unexpected and unfathomable from a normal human perspective – what amazing Good News we carry! Through Jesus’ love displayed on the cross, our lives display the possibility of reconciliation with God – that people like us have been brought near to God through the work of Jesus on the cross.

Let’s pray according to God’s Word, that he would send us as ambassadors of his reconciling love, and close in singing, “Power to Redeem” (Click here).

– NB

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Day Four: New Creation POV

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NIV) – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

“When a new world is born, a new way of living goes with it… It is true when a couple have their first baby; a whole new chapter has opened in their lives, and nothing will be the same again. They have new responsibilities; everywhere they go, they see things with new eyes.” [NT Wright, Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians]
I understand what NT Wright means when he says that having a baby gives you “new eyes.” As our lives changed in a moment, so our perspectives changed on many things, whether consciously or unconsciously – beginning with our names changing to “mommy” and “daddy.”
After w2 on Sunday, I overheard someone greet someone else, “Hey there, New Creation!” Though silly, it was an “OF COURSE!” moment for me. This IS how we should see one another always, automatically – because this is the truth. Each of us is a new creation, and we together as a community are the new creation of God. God is at work creating among us, through the power of the Holy Spirit – in our families, in our ministries, on our campuses and in our churches.

Let’s pray and worship according to the song “Resurrection Power” (Click here).

– NB

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Day Three: Vertical Axis

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV) – For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Christ’s love is the compelling power, the motivation, the engine that makes our Christian lives tick. The Greek word used for “compel” is also translated as “seized” or “controlled”. God demonstrated his love for us through Jesus’ death on the cross. When we believed in him, trusting Jesus with our life, we also participated in Jesus’ death. This means that God gave us a new life with a new mission: we no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us. The cross enables us to see ourselves – and God’s love for us – with supernatural clarity. When this is how we see ourselves and see God, Christ’s love becomes the compelling force in our lives, replacing fear, anxiety, doubt, insecurity, anger, bitterness, greed, and all other ways that used to motivate us.

Today, let’s see clearly, allowing God’s word to purify our hearts and minds, until Christ’s love begins to seize our hearts – compelling us upward to worship the Lord, and outward with his love. As we reflect on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, let’s close in celebration in thanksgiving and worship, singing “Your Cross Changes Everything”. (Click here).

– NB

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Day Two: Remember

Ephesians 2:12-13 (NIV) – Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

“Remarkably, a situation of enmity, both ‘horizontal’ (humans to humans) and ‘vertical’ (humans to God), has been resolved through the shedding of blood that is not the blood of the enemy. Shedding one’s own blood is not the normal Roman, or human, way of treating enemies—or of creating peace… The outcome is the glorious privilege of shared access to the triune God—in Christ, through the Spirit, to the Father.” [Michael Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord]

I love how Paul writes here: Remember… Do you remember a time when you were far away? Do you remember that time when you had no idea who God was? Do you remember that time when you were without the hope that you now have? But now in Christ Jesus, you have been brought near by his blood. This is biblical reconciliation. Note that in all passages about reconciliation, it is about God bringing us near to him. He rescued us as he initiated this process. We had no idea what was going on, until we saw Jesus. God reconciled us to himself.

Let’s sing and pray according to the song “Overcome” (Click here), trusting in our sure victory through the blood of Christ.

– NB

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Day One: Demonstration of Love

Romans 5:8, 10 (NIV) – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

“Many are confounded by the relationship Steve has with Mincaye. He says that a USA Today reporter commented that if he were in Steve’s shoes, he could ‘forgive Mincaye, maybe. But love him, that’s morbid.’ Steve says that their relationship doesn’t make sense unless you put God in the equation. Even though his dad’s death was painful, Steve says Mincaye would not have adopted him and he would not have been part of the mysterious, stoneage Waodani world.” [“Steve Saint: Legacy of the Martyrs” – cbn.com]

As we are reminded of the wonderful story of the gospel bearing fruit in Mincaye and the Waodani, we are reminded of the great love of God demonstrated in Jesus’ death on the cross. This is the legacy of reconciliation that is alive in each of us. Even though we are not in the same place and situation as Steve Saint and the Waodani, we are called to testify to God’s reconciling love no matter where we are.

Today, let’s reflect and pray to pursue God’s reconciling love in our lives afresh, as we see Steve Saint and Mincaye share their full testimony. (Click here).

– NB

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Day Five: I’ve Been Redeemed. So, Thank You

Ruth 4:18-22 – This, then, is the family line of Perez :

Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.

“This book and this genealogy demonstrate that in the dark days of the judges the chosen line is preserved not by heroic exploits by deliverers or kings but by the good hand of God, who rewards good people with a fulness beyond all imagination. These characters could not know what long-range fruit their compassionate and loyal conduct toward each other would bear. But the narrator knows…

But the narrator could not know what implications the piety of these characters would have on generations of his own people that would come after him. If only he could have known that in the glorious providence of God the hesed of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi would have laid the groundwork for the history of salvation that extends far beyond his own time… For as the genealogy of Matthew 1 indicates, one greater than David comes from the loins of Boaz. In the dark days of the judges the foundation is laid for the line that would produce the Savior, the Messiah, the Redeemer of a lost and destitute humanity.” (Daniel Block, Judges, Ruth, NAC)

Take in the scope and extent of God’s far-reaching plan of salvation… Let’s thank Him for all He’s done… and all that is to come! Let’s sing and worship with this song – “Thank You Song + In Every Season” (Click here) by Upperroom.

– JP

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Day Four: Will You Do What Others Won’t Do?

Ruth 4:9-10 – Then Boaz announced… “I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek… I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear… Today you are witnesses!”

“The role of the gōʾēl [guardian-redeemer], in one sense, is foreign to our culture. But in another sense, the examples of Boaz and Jesus certainly give us illustrations and models that we can emulate. There are many around us, whether in our families, extended families, or in the church, who desperately need a gōʾēl, that is, someone who can redeem them and restore them to wholeness. This is true in many physical contexts but also in numerous spiritual contexts.

At the root, however, there must be ḥesed. This rich term enables us to act with loyalty, love, and compassion. It provides the basis and proper motives for the action of the gōʾēl. As clearly illustrated in Boaz and Jesus, ḥesed sees the world in a different way. It is selfless, not like the nearer gōʾēl, who is apparently dominated by self-interest.” [K.L. Younger, Judges, Ruth, NIVAC]

We are conditioned to put ourselves first, but when we empty ourselves for God and for others, the Lord fills us in unexpected and abundant ways. Do you believe you are called to live a life of selfless loyalty and compassion, endeavoring to restore wholeness to broken lives? Pray for the Lord to guide you to people in need.

– JP

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Day Three: Is God Recruiting You?

Ruth 4:16-17 – Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

The ancient Israelite culture was “a brutal environment for the disconnected woman. Widows were discarded as though they didn’t exist… Instead of losing interest in these two useless widows, [God] makes them the center of attention… These were the dark days when the judges governed. God’s chosen people were losing their way. God’s strategy involves recruiting two women to carry his redemptive purposes forward into the future…

They represent his interests in this world and a lot is riding on what they do at this crucial juncture in Israel’s history. What looks from their vantage point as simple acts of loving and caring for one another will actually take on cosmic proportions. They labor and sacrifice to bring blessing to each other, and simultaneously bring blessing to the world…

The birth of Obed is a picture of the gospel—suffering and sacrifice, the joy of renewed life, and hope for the future all mingled together. This is the Gospel of Ruth.” [Carolyn C. James, The Gospel of Ruth]

Loving someone with God’s love is significant because it matters to God. Pray and ask God how you are to love those around you in specific, intentional ways. Let us be filled with the Spirit and sing of His love with this song, “Open Heaven” (Click here).

– JP

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Day Two: Mr. So-And-So

Ruth 4:6 – At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

“As they gathered at the gate, Boaz called out to a man who remained noticeably unnamed… In a story where the author uses names to teach theological lessons, the irony can sometimes be humorous. This is especially the case when the reader learns that this nameless relative was afraid of jeopardizing his name. [The author] uses a phrase that has baffled many scholars. Its origin and use is not known… almost all agree that it was some kind of a colloquial phrase that could be translated as ‘so and so’ [Ruth 4:1]. We could humorously call him Mr. ‘So-and-so’…

Here the nameless character is known to us only as a man who refused to act as redeemer in order to preserve his name. What an irony! The man said, essentially ‘I can’t do this because I will jeopardize my name, my inheritance!’ He desperately wanted to do everything he could do to preserve his name, and in so doing, he lost the opportunity to have his name preserved… Is this not the paradox of which our Savior spoke in his own ministry? The man who seeks his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for Christ’s sake will gain it.” [L. Charles Jackson, “The Ultimate Philanthropist”]

May we fearlessly give our lives to love God and others. Let’s worship Jesus, whose name is the only one that saves! Let’s sing His name with this song, “Tremble” (Click here).

– JP

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