Highways To Zion
Highways to Zion is a weekly devotional message on WVMC FM designed to encourage you in your daily walk with Christ through lessons from everyday life. Here are the archive's of past devotional messages.
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See what Judy has to encourage you this week...
Week of January 25th
Sometimes I look at people, politicians with whom I disagree, in particular, and think, "What universe do you live in that you think that could possibly work?" I think they are either deceived in their thinking, trying to deceive others or they’re completely divorced from reality. This world is what it is; human nature is and always has been (at least since the fall) what it is. And the laws that govern the physical universe are immutable.
There is only one alternate universe to the one we live in, and that is the spiritual realm where God dwells and reigns. There, from what the Scripture tells us, all is peace, worship, and brilliant with God’s glory. There is no disease or death, no crying or pain, and no sin to hinder perfect fellowship with God.
It is amazing to me that at a point in history, God chose to cause His realm to intersect with ours. At the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the real alternate universe converged with this physical, created one. And the result is that those who belong to God get to live in the governance of God’s realm. Of course, this is not always easy, as the principles that govern each are at odds with the other. And we are caught in the tension.
What is normal for every human since the fall is that we live under the dominion of sin. We have a sinful nature and it controls our actions in large measure. Moving into this alternate universe, while exhilarating and freeing, presents us with challenges. We sometimes find it nigh unto impossible to accommodate ourselves to the new reality, especially considering that the old sinful nature is still present in us, warring continually against our new-found freedom.
In this alternate universe, everything is fundamentally different. We are not required to behave under penalty of punishment, but are motivated to love and good deeds out of gratitude for all God’s grace has granted to us. Our responsibility is not to fulfill the letter of the law in every detail but to believe what God says is true and trust that acting upon it will bless God, others, and ourselves.
What spurred these thoughts was Romans 6:14. "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." This is not a command that we win every battle with sin. Sadly, experience tells us we lose more often than we like to admit. Rather, it is a statement of fact, a principle of the alternate universe. Sin has been made powerless (Rom. 6:6). We now live in an alternate universe, one characterized by grace. In fact, we can view it as a promise that sin will not ultimately triumph in our lives. Victory is assured. "Thanks be to God who always causes us to walk in triumph in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:14).
© Judy Nichols 2015
Week of January 18th
I have a dear friend, an early riser, who takes a walk every morning before sunrise, no matter the weather, to give thanks to God. That is her way of keeping God’s presence at the forefront of her consciousness. She knows that giving thanks is a sacrifice that pleases God (see Psalm 50:23, Heb. 13:15). And in giving thanks daily, she is also reminding herself of all God has done for and in her. She is entering the realm of transforming grace that Paul spoke of in Romans 12:1-2. "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God . . . Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." She prepares herself every morning to remember and be ready to act upon the truth as she goes about her day.
Paul also spoke much about presenting ourselves, either to God or to sin, in the sixth chapter of Romans. He looks at it from two different viewpoints. First, from a theological perspective, he tells us that we are not to present ourselves to sin because our sinful human nature was crucified along with Christ (6:6). We are dead to sin. We don’t have to sin any more. We don’t have to respond to temptation or offense out of our sinful nature. That is not to say sin’s passions will be gone or even diminished, but we are to know by faith and act in faith that we don’t have to succumb to them.
From a practical standpoint, Paul says we should not present ourselves to sin because doing so leads us back into that slavery from which Christ set us free. We become enslaved to whatever we obey, whether our flesh or God (6:16). He reminds us to think back to our lives before Christ and asks, "what fruit were you then receiving from the things of which you are now ashamed?" (6:21). Remembering the poverty and emptiness of our lives before we were saved never fails to produce gratitude for God’s gift of grace. It reminds us of the depth of the Savior’s love, that He would take upon Himself all the sin, guilt, and shame that was rightfully ours.
When my children were small, I taught them that every choice they made would bend their "choosers" in one direction or the other. When they would choose disobedience, it would make it easier to choose it again and again. When they would choose obedience, the same would happen; it would be easier to obey the next time and the next. This, I believe, is the essence of presenting ourselves. If we choose to ignore God and live our lives under the authority of our sinful nature, we will progress down that path to its ultimate end – death. If we choose to acknowledge God and present ourselves to Him, our minds will be transformed into His likeness and our members will be useful to Him as He demonstrates His character to the world through us, for His glory. We travel a path of sanctification, and the ultimate result, His free gift of eternal life, will be ours.
© Judy Nichols 2015