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nChrist
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« Reply #285 on: March 28, 2004, 03:49:11 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - March 26

The Resurrection: Reality, Not Dead Religion:

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  (Act_4:1-2)

The resurrection of Christ is the difference between a dead religion and a personal relationship. Living by resurrection power is the difference between earthly striving and heavenly reality. These differences can be seen in the contrast between the religious authorities of Israel and the disciples of Jesus.

The disciples were proclaiming to the people the wondrous message of the risen Lord Jesus. "They taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." Such a message infuriated the religious leaders. "The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed." Today, many religious leaders reflect a similar response. In the popular religious world, universalism and skepticism prevail. Each religion is viewed as one more road leading to God. Anything miraculous is unacceptable, as human reasoning reigns supreme. In many religious circles, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either an object of scoffing or an area of hypocritical compromise.

The Sadducees of old were like this. They would talk about the resurrection, even asking Jesus questions that seemed to affirm that God could raise people from the dead. "Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her" (Mat_22:28). This question followed their scenario in which seven brothers would become the husband of the same woman, through seven death and marriage sequences. What a mockery this question represented. First, it was given in hypocrisy. "The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him" (Mat_22:23). Second, they were unaware of what the scriptures said about such a heavenly matter. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mat_22:30). Jesus explained that these religious rationalists made two great errors in their approach. "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Mat_22:29).

We who have been born again by faith in the risen Lord Jesus can err in a similar fashion in our day by day living. We can talk about the resurrection of Jesus, but behave as though it were not an actual reality for Christian living. We can be mistaken, "not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God."

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your patience when I profess belief in the resurrection, but live by my inadequate human resources. Help me to understand what the scriptures say about living daily in the power of the resurrection of Christ, Amen.
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« Reply #286 on: March 28, 2004, 03:51:17 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - March 27

The New Covenant of Grace: A Covenant of Relationship:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Eph_1:7; Eph_2:13)

The ultimate blessing of the new covenant of grace is that it allows people to develop an intimate relationship with the true and living God. We began our personal history greatly separated from God: "you who once were far off." How could we ever comprehend the "vast relational distance" that our sins brought between us and the Lord? We could not relate to God. We could not talk to Him or enjoy His presence. We were "without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph_2:12). Therefore, we were "alienated from the life of God" (Eph_4:18). Then, "according to the riches of His grace," we found "forgiveness of sins," as Jesus shed His blood unto death to pay the redemption price. "In Him we have redemption through His blood."

Now, the entire picture is drastically changed. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We are no longer alienated from God. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph_2:19). We are now members of God's family. We are His beloved children. "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Gal_4:6). By the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we cry out intimately to the Lord God as our "Heavenly Papa!" "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom_8:15-16). As we cry out "Abba," the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, gives us a deep internal, spiritual confirmation that we truly are God's children.

Our heavenly Father wants to build a close relationship with us, His children. He wants us to know His love. "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom_5:5). Also, God wants us to respond in love to Him. "

We love Him because He first loved us" (1Jo_4:19). He wants us to call upon Him, that He might respond to us. "Call to Me, and I will answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3). He wants us to empty our heart unto Him. "Pour out your heart before Him" (Psa_62:Cool. By God's grace, the way for intimacy is now open to us.

Dear Abba, Father, I thank You for washing away my sins. I praise You for bringing me close to You. I desire to grow in intimacy with You. Help me to see Your love  more clearly, that I might respond in stronger love to You. Remind me to cry out to You consistently and to pour out my heart honestly, all by the blood of Christ, Amen.
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« Reply #287 on: March 28, 2004, 03:53:08 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - March 28

Intimacy of Relationship in Christ:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Eph_2:13)

We have begun to see that the new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. The simple phrase "in Christ" indicates the extent of the intimacy that is available by grace. "In Christ" is where we live spiritually. It is also how we live. As sure as a fish is in the ocean and lives on the resources of the ocean, we are "in Christ" and live on the resources of Christ. As sure as a unborn child is in the mother and lives on the life of the mother, we are "in Christ" and live on the life of Christ.

We who believe in Jesus are not only "brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph_2:13), we are joined to Him in a "united closeness," like a body is to its head. "He is the head of the body, the church" (Col_1:18). We can relate to the Lord Jesus more closely than the members of our physical body relate to our physical head. We can look to Jesus for direction and coordination. We can depend upon Him for planning, guiding, and timing in our entire lives. We can anticipate that He will monitor, maintain, and adjust our situations.

This union of intimacy is also like a vine and its branches. "I am the vine, you are the branches" (Joh_15:5). We can look to Christ for our very life source. We don't have to produce a life on our own. We can concentrate on abiding (depending) on Him. He makes our lives fruitful and effective.

The intimate relationship the Lord wants to develop with us is also likened to the joining of a husband and a wife. "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Rom_7:4). We can count upon Jesus to love us faithfully and sacrificially. We can rest in His constant companionship, never leaving us for any reason throughout our pilgrimage here on earth.

What blessings are ours for time and eternity "in Christ."   Joined intimately to Christ, nothing can separate us from the love and kindness that He has for us: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Rom_8:38-39 and Eph_2:7).

Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed by the intimacy that is available to me, now that I am united to You. Lord, I want to depend upon You as my Vine, follow You as my head, and love You as my bridegroom. Lord, please continue to reveal to me the implications of being joined to You for all time and eternity, in Your holy name I pray, Amen.
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« Reply #288 on: April 01, 2004, 05:54:59 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - March 29

Death In Adam or Life In Christ:

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  (1Co_15:21-22)

The new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. Spiritual death through Adam made this covenant of grace necessary. Spiritual life through Christ makes intimacy with God possible. Every human who has ever existed inherited a sinful, fallen, earthly life from Adam: "by man came death." Every person who has ever put their faith in Christ has received from Him a righteous, risen, heavenly life: "by Man [i.e., Jesus] also came the resurrection of the dead."

Adam began with a measure of intimacy with His Creator. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being . . . Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (Gen_2:7, Gen_2:15). In the garden, Adam served the Lord and had fellowship with Him, when He would walk "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen_3:Cool.

Adam could partake freely of all that was in the garden, except for one tree. "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen_2:17). For Adam, as for all of his race, "the wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). The day that Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate of the forbidden fruit, they died spiritually. "And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Gen_3:Cool. Whereas they had enjoyed a degree intimacy with Lord, they now fled from His presence. Ever after, the natural children of Adam would begin there existence "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph_2:1).

The only remedy for the spiritually dead human family would be through a relationship to a new "family head." "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many" (Rom_5:12, Rom_5:15). There are only two families to which humanity can belong: Adam's or Christ's. There are only two family head's to which anyone can be related: Adam or Christ. Adam passed along spiritual death to his offspring. Christ gives to his own life eternal, life abundant all by His glorious grace.

Creator God, my Father, I confess that I was born in Adam's sinful line. I have demonstrated my sinfulness on a multitude of occasions. I praise You for sending Your Son to rescue me from Adam's race and to place me in Christ, my new Head, Amen.
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« Reply #289 on: April 01, 2004, 05:57:56 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - March 30

Reigning in Life through Christ:

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Rom_5:17)

The Lord wants us to grow in the magnificent blessing of living victoriously through Him. Having a triumphant Christian walk can only be realized from a developing acquaintanceship with the Lord, because we are only able to "reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Significant spiritual issues are set against a victorious life: "By the one man's offense death reigned through the one." Because of Adam's sin, spiritual deadness ruled over the family of man. The enemy of men's souls uses this deadness to dominate and destroy lives. Elsewhere, Jesus likened him to a thief. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (Joh_10:10). This is why lives, households, and nations experience such deadly defeats and crushing failure. A tyrant dictator, "death," dominates all lives that are only born once in Adam. They can only draw upon Adam's fallen, sinful, inadequate life source.

A new and greater resource is needed and is found in Christ. "Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." These heavenly provisions are "much more" than is needed to replace the defeats of Adam with the victories of Christ. The resources are two-fold: "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness."
One of these two is possessed by every believer in Christ: "the gift of righteousness." This is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, given to us by faith. That allows us to stand accepted before a holy God: "found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Phi_3:9). Every believer has this gift, but not every believer is victorious.

Thus, the key variable is to be receiving "abundance of grace." Every Christian has been the recipient of grace. Yet, many of God's people do not live day by day by grace. They walk according to the flesh, thereby drawing upon Adam's natural bankrupt resources. Remember, living by grace involves humility and faith. God "gives grace to the humble" (Jam_4:6). Likewise, through Jesus," we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2).

Lord God of grace, the reign of death has certainly assailed my life, bringing defeat and failure. Teach me to draw upon the abundant measures of Your grace, that I might reign in life, living victoriously, through Your Son, Christ Jesus, Amen.
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« Reply #290 on: April 01, 2004, 05:59:44 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - March 31

In Christ, a New Creation:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  (Gal_6:15)

In the relationship we have with the Lord through the new covenant of grace, there is intimacy, fullness of life, spiritual victory, and so much more. These blessings (that are not available to those who are related to Adam) are aspects of the new life that comes to new creatures "in Christ."

"In Christ," everything is so different from how it was "in Adam." The family of man, having only natural life from Adam, puts great significance in human heritage or personal inclinations. Whether a person is a Jew or a Gentile can be of enormous consequence to many among the unredeemed community. Whether a person is religiously inclined or secularly motivated avails much with many unsaved people. On the other hand, those who have been brought into union with Christ can learn that God's perspective on such matters is vastly different. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything."

In the kingdom of heaven, these distinctives among the sons of Adam mean nothing. Human differences do not cause the work of God or the will of God to be advanced or prevented. They avail nothing. What matters for all who are "in Christ Jesus" is not a "human category," "but a new creation."

When we come to know Christ by grace through faith, He gives us new birth. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again" (1Pe_1:3). We are created anew. We become a new spiritual being before the Lord. We have "put on the new man" (Col_3:10). In this heavenly kingdom of new men and women, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Col_3:11). All that ultimately matters is that the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in all of His people, and He is wants to be all that they will ever need. All that matters is the Spirit of Christ is the living water that we have begun to partake of and that He makes us one. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1Co_12:13). Any person in any human category who will cry out to the Lord in faith can experience this richness. "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him" (Rom_10:12).

Dear Lord, giver of new life, my heart celebrates the wondrous fact that I am a new creation in Christ. I am delighted that my old human categories could not prevent Your work of grace from being offered to me. I praise You for Your glorious grace, Amen.
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« Reply #291 on: April 01, 2004, 06:01:29 AM »

Hoekstra Devotion - April 1

New Creatures in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (2Co_5:17)

Everyone who is "in Christ," through faith in His name, is a "new creation." We are new people. We are no longer who we were before we put our trust in the Lord Jesus. We are not the old person reformed or improved; we are a "new creation." Yes, we have the same body, but that is a mere tent in which we dwell. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2Co_5:1). Some day in glory, we will trade this temporal, earthly tent for an eternal heavenly one. Meanwhile, though we live in the same old tent we had in Adam, we are new tenants, a "new creation." We may have the same old physical brain, but we are learning to think an entirely new way. "We have the mind of Christ... be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom_12:2 and 1Co_2:16). Christ lives in us, and His Spirit also dwells in us. His Spirit takes the word of God and unfolds the thinking of our Lord for us. As we embrace God's way of thinking more and more, we are transformed to walk in the newness that is ours in "in Christ."

In all the ways that matter before God, "old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The old guilt is replaced by new forgiveness. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... in whom we have... the forgiveness of sins" (Rom_8:1 and Col_1:14).
The old foolishness is replaced by new wisdom. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God... But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God" (1Co_3:19 and 1Co_1:30). The old unrighteousness is replaced with new righteousness. "All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags... For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (Isa_64:6 and 2Co_5:21). The old hope of changing (self-help) is replaced by new hope of changing (sanctification, God changing us). "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength... You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us... sanctification" (Jer_17:5 and 1Co_1:30). This is grace upon grace.

O Lord, my hope, I thank You for making me a new person in Christ. Please strengthen my heart to spend time in Your word that I might hear more of these grand truths. Lord, I yearn to walk in more of this rich newness of life, in Jesus name, Amen.
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« Reply #292 on: April 02, 2004, 08:11:24 PM »

Hoekstra Devotion - April 2

Every Spiritual Blessing Ours in Christ:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  (Eph_1:3)

Living day by day by grace is essentially about developing an intimate relationship with the Lord. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We have considered some of the radical extent of that intimacy through the intriguing phrase "in Christ." "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Rom_7:4). Through this profound uniting with Christ, astounding spiritual riches are now ours.

This is why Paul offered grateful praise to the Lord: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul's thanksgiving was for what the Father has given to us: "who has blessed us." Notice, the verb is in the past tense this has already happened. What is it that has already been given to us? It is "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." Think of it. This truth is staggering in its implications. Every grace resource that heaven has to offer is already ours here on earth. This does not mean that we are fully aware of all that has been given to us. Certainly, it does not mean that we are experiencing all of these blessings. Yet, it does mean that they are all ours to draw upon for fullness of life here on earth!

The reason these rich blessings are ours is that they all reside in Christ. In Christ is forgiveness, righteousness, and wisdom. Also, love, joy, and peace are found in Him. In Christ dwell victory, discernment, and courage. Moreover, compassion, strength, and perseverance are part of who He is. All this and far more is found in Christ. "For it pleased the Father that in Him [in Christ] all the fullness should dwell" (Col_1:19). Now, we dwell in the place ("in Christ") where all of this richness resides: "who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." All these spiritual resources of the kingdom of heaven are now ours "in Christ." "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16).

Dear Father, I too want to bless You for bestowing all of this richness upon me. Lord, forgive me for the spiritual poverty that I too often experience. Teach me to draw upon these limitless treasures of Your grace. I want to honor You with an abundant walk in Christ's fullness, Amen.
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