Saturday, January 01, 2011
January 1, 2011 – A Prisoner of Christ
Blogger’s note: Well, I just finished reading through the Bible in 2010, using The Daily Bible in Chronological Order; and for 2011 I needed to decide what devotional tool I would use to keep going deeper and deeper into my relationship with Christ through His word.
In the year 2003 I began using a daily devotional authored by John MacArthur in 1997 entitled Strength For Today. For the next five years, I used this same devotional book to take me deeper and deeper into my relationship with Christ, journaling where God’s Spirit led me, writing those things I was convicted and led to write for my own growth in Christ; but also so that anyone else who might read along with me might glean for themselves as followers of God’s truth, possibly influenced by what I wrote. That old paperback book is pretty tattered and torn now; but Dr. MacArthur’s writing each day in that book certainly influenced me deeply. Therefore, this year, in 2011, I’m going to revisit my old friend, Strength For Today, though I’ll be using the online publication @ gty.org.
My friends, having used MacArthur’s devotional book repeatedly in the past, I have confidence that this powerful devotional tool will bring me deeper insights to help me know God more intimately; and that would be my prayer for any who might read/study/meditate along with me.
I’ll be looking back and using my 2008 writings, editing and using them as my structure for what I’ll bring to this place where I’ll blog my journal entries daily. And I pray this day that God will drive me (and you) deeper into the most intimate relationship with Him, through His Spirit, that we’ve ever experienced as Christians … Bill Berry
Passage of the Day: Ephesians 4: 1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
My Journal for Today: New Year’s Day is a day when many will be contemplating and/or launching into resolutions for the year, … making commitments for personal betterment; and there’s certainly nothing wrong with making commitments or recommitments to worthwhile goals. Today’s passage, taken from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the churches at or near Ephesus, is his personal commitment and his exhortation to Christians to live in total surrender to their walk with Christ, which would certainly be a worthwhile New Year’s resolution for any Christian, would it not? Paul even called himself a “prisoner for the Lord,” which means that Paul was totally sold out to living in a way that was worthy of the calling of being a “Christian.” And it’s interesting to note that Paul actually wrote this letting to the Christians in Asia-Minor while he was a prisoner in Rome.
We all know that there are standards in this world, some written and some which are cultural traditions, each demanding that we live in certain ways. There are codified laws which demand we behave in this world in certain prescribed ways. There are also moral or cultural traditions that set up social expectations for us. And when we don’t behave according to these social morays and we are detected breeching these standards, we can expect that the world will exact some social or legal penalty for our choices where their standards or laws have been broken.
Paul is trying to get believers to see that God, The Father, exacts His demands that we, as Christians, walk in a manner that is worthy of His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants us to walk in “Christlikeness;” and that is Paul’s exhortation today, one which I’ll be exploring in more depth along with John MacArthur this month. Reading ahead in Eph. 4: 1- 6 [linked here] will allow anyone to see that God demands that His children walk in a behavioral manner that is worthy of our Lord. If you read elsewhere in the Pauline epistles (such as in 1st Cor. 5: 9 -12 and 2nd Thes. 3: 6), God, through Paul, even commanded believers to refrain from associating, on a regular basis, with those who ignore or reject God’s standards or walk in unworthiness to Christ.
But God is not a cosmic killjoy. He simply wants the best for His children; and His word shows us that we can only expect His best, i.e., His blessings, if we are willing to walk, as best we can, in surrender and obedience to the standards set by Christ as He walked and taught while he was with us. And His standards are best delineated in His word; and in this next month … and this year … I will be writing about what I (we) must do to be “prisoners of/for Christ.”
I hope (and pray) that you will be joining me in this surrender of commitment and Christlikeness.
My Prayer Today: Lord, shine a light on Your way through Your word so brightly that my steps will be easy to see as I follow You. Amen