Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Daily Choosing

Reading: Romans 6: 12-23

Verse 14: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace”.

Paul is writing to the church in Rome because they are struggling with living righteous lives. Sin is present. Some people have even adopted the belief that they can do whatever they want because grace will cover all sin. This passage remains very applicable today – maybe even moreso than the day it was written.

Paul begins by encouraging the followers of Jesus to not let sin reign in their “mortal bodies”. As followers today we understand why this encouragement is so necessary. Sin is ever present in our lives. The world and culture around us promotes sinful choices and indulgent living. When we are younger or just new to the faith the lures of the flesh and the desires of the world draw us towards sin. These things do lose some of their allure as we mature, but other struggles arise. Pride and ego grow and the need to be in control can become struggles. Our tongues remain something we must keep tightly bridled. Things like worry and fear, doubt and anger, jealousy and envy are lifelong battles for many of us who follow Jesus.

Paul reminds those in the Roman church and all of us today that sin should not be our master because “you are not under the law, but under grace”. The law points out our wrongs or sins and it condemns unrighteous behaviors and choices. But under the law our sin remains. The shame and the guilt become co-masters with sin when we allow sin to take root in our lives. Paul reminds us that we are living under grace. As such, sin is not in control. When we confess and repent of our sin, we are freed by grace from the sin and from the shame and guilt. We are made new again.

It is a wonderful and beautiful thing, this grace. One may even ask or think, then why not just choose grace? If it were that easy how good life would be! But sin is a near constant presence, the battle is always just right there. Daily, even moment by moment at times, we must “offer ourselves to God”, choosing to walk in his righteousness. May it be so today.

Prayer: Lord God, in the flesh the struggle with sin is so real, so regular, so present. Thank you that your Spirit is right here within me, reminding, guarding, encouraging… Strengthen my faith, O God, that I may walk in the light. Amen.

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How today’s scripture passage conflicts with tomorrow’s candle lighting!  In almost all of our churches we will light the pink candle on what was traditionally called Gaudete Sunday.   In Latin, this word means ‘rejoice.’  We do rejoice often in the Christmas season because we have much to celebrate.  So John’s message of judgment and repentance makes us stop and say, “What?!”

Yet John’s message is very relevant and applicable for us  today, just as it was for the ‘brood of vipers’ that John was addressing.  For us to truly see God in the birth of Jesus, we have to not only repent of our sins, but we must also bear fruit that reveals our changed hearts.  To repent does not mean to simply say “I’m sorry” to God.  It requires us to look deep within ourselves and to ask the hard question: what do I need to change to totally orient myself towards God?  This process of reorientation away from self can be one that is hard, takes work, and requires sacrifice.  Sounds a lot like what John’s cousin did for us!

Once we orient ourselves towards God, then we can truly rejoice because His holy light and love begin to dwell in us and to shine out for all to see.  As we continue to walk in His light and love, Christ joy becomes ever more complete in us and we begin to share it with all we meet.  Then the fruit of the Spirit – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity – are made known in and through our lives.  This day may we look deep within, repent of all that we find that keeps us turned away from God, and draw closer to God so that His light and love may shine ever brighter.

Scripture reference: Luke 3: 7-9