February 26 | New Habits

Text: Colossians 3.9-14

The new identity Christ gives us requires giving up old habits that defy God and then developing new habits in accord with Christ. This is especially true in the way we relate to others.

In Colossians 3.9-14 Paul uses the phrases “taken off” and “put on” regarding behavior. Just like taking off and putting aside the stinky clothes you wore to clean the barn, you’re to put aside behaviors that disobey God.  And just like putting on clean and lovely garments, you’re to groom your new self by behaving in the ways described in verses 10 and 12-14.

Your new identity requires loving others the way God does. One example is choosing forgiveness. When Jesus said to forgive a person seventy times seven, he meant to keep forgiving every time resentment returns (Mathew 18.21-22).

Today as you spend time with God, ask him to help you love the way he does, by forgiving—and continuing to forgive—someone he brings to mind.

February 25 | New Choices

Text: Colossians 3.5-9

When you’re new in Christ, you have a new identity which leads to new choices. Paul, the author of Colossians, makes it clear this is especially true in the areas of sexual purity and honesty. Modern believers sometimes like to overlook passages like Colossians 3.5, claiming they probably allude to ancient cultural issues such as Gentile temple prostitution and public bath houses.

But issues of immorality, impurity, passion, and evil desire are also prevalent today. In this era of lower TV/movie standards and the Internet, never have these temptations been so accessible.

Paul is adamant that our new way of life requires new choices: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3.5). Putting your immoral desires to death is a drastic word picture, but a corpse can’t engage in immoral thoughts and activities!

We must choose to put the old life to death and renew our minds with the true knowledge of Christ (God’s Word).

Today, as you lift your hands to God and welcome him into your day, ask him to help you identify an old pattern with which you struggle. Ask for his help to turn away and to replace any immoral thoughts with his Word.

February 24 | New Identity

Text: Colossians 3.1-4

The Prince and the Pauper, a classic by Mark Twain, is the story of two boys who look exactly alike and decide to trade their identities for a day. The prince, heir to the throne, has lived in a palace his whole life. The pauper is an uneducated street urchin.

Both bring their old identity to their new situation, causing difficulty: the pauper doesn’t know palace protocol and the prince has difficulty navigating survival on the streets.

Both of them struggle with the failures of a changed identity.

Accepting Christ as your Savior means you now have a new identity, too. But like the prince and the pauper, you may struggle with what you bring from your old identity. You might look at yourself, see flaws and failures, and feel like you haven’t changed at all.

The spiritual reality for Christians is that we’re made new by Christ’s saving grace. But the day-to-day reality is we must learn to “set [our] hearts on things above” (Colossians 3.1) and not live controlled by our “old self” habits. Remember, although you have a new identity in Christ, you’re a work in progress!

Today, thank God that Jesus continues to forgive, change, and mature you, as you listen to “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.

February 23 | New You

Text: John 3.1-16

Many of us have times in our life when we want a “do over,” to erase from our life a bad choice or decision that follows us wherever we go. Jesus offers us the greatest “do over” we’ll ever get: accepting his death on the cross for your sin problem, he raises you with himself into a new life, free of sin and its effects.

He changes you into a new person, with a new identity, where there’s no longer condemnation for bad choices and actions.

Being a “new you” is what Jesus means in John 3 when he tells Nicodemus he must be “born again”: into a new life, with a new identity, and citizenship in God’s eternal Kingdom. But once you become the “new you,” God doesn’t take away your ability to make choices. Your new identity means you now must choose to follow Christ’s example in what you think, say, and do.

Therefore, if you’re raised with Christ there has to be a change in you. If you’re alive in Christ, then you don’t have to live like you are still “dead.”

As you welcome God into your week, consider this week’s Big Idea . . . I am not the “me” I used to be. Then, prayerfully consider how you can demonstrate that this week.

February 20 | Restoration

Text: Revelation 22.1-17

One day Jesus will return and make everything right, just like he intended in Genesis 1. The work of bringing God and humans together will, finally, be complete. That’s what the Apostle John is looking forward to when he records two “invitations” in Revelation 22.17.

The first invitation is a prayer to Jesus, “The Spirit and the bride (those of all ages who believe) say, ‘Come!’” Not only is the Holy Spirit pleading with Jesus to return and make everything right, so are God’s people. The second invitation, “And let the one who hears say, ‘Come,’” invites unbelievers to come to saving faith in Jesus. Those who hear with faith and believe will not only be saved, but will have their spiritual thirst completely satisfied as they “take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22.17).

What a glorious day when Jesus returns! Listen to “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe as you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22.20) and look forward to a day unimaginable!

February 19 | Resolution

Text: 1 Timothy 2.1-5

It appeared to be a completely irreconcilable problem: a perfect, holy, and righteous God desiring to live in relationship with the sin-cursed humans he’d created. Because of their rebellion and God’s hatred of sin, there appeared to be no way for the two to enjoy the fellowship that existed in the beginning. A mediator was needed.

This mediator needed to perfectly represent both sides: God and man. If God was to be righteous, and still save people from their sin, he had to send someone to pay the penalty sin required. As the God-man (both fully God and fully human) Jesus did just that (1 Timothy 2.5). Jesus willingly stepped into the pain and abandonment to, once and for all, resolve a seemingly irreconcilable problem.

Today, as a reminder of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and the resolution he provides, memorize 1 Timothy 2.5. To make the verse more personal, insert your name in place of “mankind.” Use this verse in thanksgiving for God’s great salvation.

February 18 | Ugliness

Text: Psalm 12

In rejecting dependence on God (though in no way escaping from it) people choose a far more costly dependency—on themselves and their own resources. In seeking autonomy, freedom, and power, they only forge new chains. John H. Walton, Genesis, p.217.

Rippling through the ages with the force of a tsunami, Adam and Eve’s choice to reject God (Genesis 3) impacts every moment of our lives. There’s no situation, relationship, or thought that doesn’t reflect—in some twisted way—the effects of their decision to disobey their Creator. The ugliness we see and experience, the “chains” we all wear, results from their choice to say “No” to God.

Observing the ugliness around us—and in us (Romans 3.23)—we identify with a lamenting King David, “Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race” (Psalm 12.1).

Today, as you quiet your heart, use Psalm 12 as a preface to a time of confession. Confess (agree with God) those parts of your life that fall short of God’s righteous standard. Claim his forgiveness as you open your hands and say, “Yes” to God.

February 17 | Goodness

Text: Genesis 1

The world wasn’t always like it is today. When God created the world, five times in Genesis 1 he described it as “good.” After creating man and woman in his image, he called all he created “very good” (Genesis 1.31).

We can only imagine what Adam and Eve must have seen as they viewed an unspoiled creation before the entrance of sin into the world: animals living in harmony, an abundance of fruit and vegetables ready for harvest, radiant colors, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Experiencing God’s goodness everywhere they turned must have taken their breath away!

As we quickly learn, it didn’t stay this way for long. But even though what we experience today is marred because of sin, it still is good. We see, in creation, God bringing his goodness to us even in the middle of our disappointments and challenges.

Today, watch again this video and remind yourself of God’s goodness as seen in winter’s creation. As you do, ask yourself this week’s One Big Question . . . How has the Bible spoken beauty into your difficult situations?

February 16 | Longing

Text: Revelation 21.1-5

Since the fall of man there has not been a day, an hour, a moment, in which this has not been a sorrowful world…How different would this world be if it were announced that henceforward there would be no more sorrow! How different, therefore, will heaven be when we shall have the assurance that grief shall be at an end! Albert Barnes, Revelation, pp.444-445.

We’re reminded every day: We are not yet home. In every tear we shed, every loss we experience, each time we mourn—in our pain—we’re reminded of what we desperately long for: the glory and joy of heaven as we dwell in God’s perfect presence.

This is what the Apostle John described when he wrote, “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21.3b-4).

But that is then and this is now. A scan of Internet headlines sharpens this contrast: terrorist killings, embezzlement, domestic violence, and cheating. Not a day goes by without this contrast—a world with so much wrong versus one made new and right—where we don’t sigh, yearn, and long for what we’ll one day experience.

What John describes in Revelation 21 is what’s awaiting every follower of Jesus. While “we’re not yet home,” we have a good idea as to what “home” will be like: no tears, death, pain, or suffering. John tells us this to give us hope, a hope God uses to carry us through difficult days and challenging situations.

Today, as you welcome God into your week, identify one “longing” in your life and then thank God for his promised future.

February 13 | Identity

Text: Ephesians 1.4-10

The ancient Greek and Roman world was marked by a culture of abandonment: when a child was born, it was placed at the feet of the new father who then chose whether to accept the child by picking him up or reject him by simply walking away. The father could reject his offspring for any number of reasons: wrong gender, birth defects, or even an incident the father perceived as a bad omen.

Amid this culture of abandonment, the Apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus that God, because of his great love for us, “predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1.5).

Our most central identity is as a child of God—nothing else defines you more. If you’ve given your life to Christ, you are a son or a daughter of God! It’s as if God picked you out, picked you up, and brought you home.

A powerful practice of quiet time in The Chair is reminding ourselves of our true identity: a child of God.  All other relationships are influenced by this reality, which allows us to freely love and bless others, knowing our true identity is secure in Christ as a child of God.

Take a moment to thank God for making you his child. Reread Ephesians 1.4-10 and meditate on all the blessings God gives his children.