Friday, April 29, 2016

Without Faith


[Photo of a key in a lock with words superimposed]

“And without faith it is impossible to please God…”
—Hebrews 11:6a

The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament contains the most thorough exploration of what “faith” means to a Christian. In this letter from an unidentified author, we learn of the qualities of faith, the persistence of faith, and the importance of faith.

We learn that faith is not a leap in the dark, as many suppose. Rather, true faith is based on thoughtful, logical conclusions drawn from a thorough study of all the available factual evidence.

Probably no passage of Scripture sums up the importance of fact-based belief better than Hebrews 11:6:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As we continue our walk with God this day through the life-transforming relationship with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, let us cling tightly to the faith we have apprehended by means of the Holy Spirit. We belong to God because He chose us to belong to Himself.

Let us rejoice when we see God's hand at work in our lives. And, let us be humbly thankful that we do not have to live our lives without faith.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

God Hears and Answers


[Photo of snow-covered trees with words superimposed]

“This is the confidence we have
in approaching God: that if
we ask anything according
to his will, he hears us.”
—1 John 5:14

Does God hear the prayers of His dearly loved children? Of course He does. Does He always answer our prayers? Yes, He always does.

But, we sometimes don’t like the answer. Sometimes His answer is to trust Him. We ask for things to return to what they once were. He responds that He has a new plan for us.

We need a job. He gives us time to get to know Him better. We counter that knowing Him better doesn’t pay our bills. He responds that we must trust Him. Isn't He meeting our every real need?

We want to feel as important as we once did. He says we are important enough to Him and that should be enough. We say that it’s not. He smiles and tells us that’s one of the lessons He wants us to learn.

We threaten to abandon our faith or to radically depart from what we once believed. He says to go ahead, but we’ll be even less content than we are in trusting Him.

We want to reconcile with those who have hurt us so deeply. But, God has hardened their hearts. Their sin has separated them from Him and part of their pain is the bitterness that keeps them from the pathway of confession, repentance, restitution, and reconciliation. We want to reconcile, but they won't take the first three steps.

The hardest lesson we will ever learn is to fall back into God’s loving arms and always, always, always trust Him for what lies ahead. We must learn to fully accept our present reality and allow God to show us the answer He has for our earnest prayers.

Believe me, I know whereof I speak. I once moved with great ease. Now, when I am outside of my home, I must either walk with two canes or ride in a powered wheel chair. I once was a leader in my profession. Now I am professionally irrelevant because I can’t travel to meetings, speaking engagements, or conventions.

God has graciously given me a new assignment. It brings me joy to serve in a new way. But, I sorely miss teaching seminars, speaking to large groups, writing codes and standards, defending what I believe is right, and having the respect of my peers.

I have not yet fully learned that most important lesson: to fall back into God’s loving arms and accept the new plan He has for me.

On the surface it may appear to others that I’m doing quite well. But, on the inside, I have been too often consumed with a burning anger over the loss of what once was my life. How foolish and ungrateful I am!

The lesson is there for each of us to learn in his or her own way. You see, falling back into His arms of love is the toughest lesson we will ever learn.

The Apostle John wrote these critically important and powerfully comforting words in 1 John 5:14-15:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

This day, out of the depths of my own neediness, I urge us all to let go of what once was and fall back into God’s loving arms. He is this very moment working out His perfect will for our lives. He is, indeed, answering our prayers according to His perfect will.

Only one thing remains for us to do: as we fall back into His loving arms, we must say, “Thank You, Lord.”


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It’s Not All About Love


[Graphic of a heart with words superimposed]

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we
will grow to become in every respect
the mature body of him who is the head…”
—Ephesians 4:15a

In many so-called “Christian circles” today it’s all about love. These groups, and particularly their leaders, place an enormous emphasis on “love.” These dear ones claim that Jesus was all about love and that we followers of Jesus must be all about love, as well.

So often in the Christian life we get waylaid by balance. We lean too far in one direction or the other and end up distorting the message of the gospel. We become out of balance.

Yes, Jesus certainly emphasized and demonstrated love. But, Jesus also demonstrated and emphasized absolute truth, too.

In placing all their emphasis on being loving, these dear ones neglect the emulation of Jesus’ truthfulness. In showing God’s love to everyone He met, Jesus never pretended to ignore the truthfulness of their particular situation.

Yes, Jesus reached out in love to sinners and accepted them as they were. But, He never ignored their sin or pretended their lifestyle wasn’t sinful.

In other words, Jesus maintained a perfect balance between love and truth. By emphasizing love over truth—or even worse, pretending that sinful behavior isn’t sinful in order to emphasize love—these dear ones ignore the whole counsel of God.

Take note of these words from the Apostle Paul found in Ephesians 4:15-16:

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Love arises out of truth—or as Paul puts it, “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Let us not fall out of balance by emphasizing love and ignoring truth. Let us not deny the whole counsel of God. If we intend to follow Christ’s example, let’s truly follow His example in its totality.

This day, let’s be both loving and truthful. In so doing we follow accurately the footsteps of Jesus.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hey! Whaddaya Know?


[Photo of a person's silhouette with words superimposed]

“ I know that my redeemer lives…”
—Job 19:25a

When I was a teenager, more than 50 years ago, a common greeting was “Hey! Whaddaya Know?”

A proper response was either, “Nuthin’! You?” Or, some bit of actual news that you thought the person greeting you might not know: “Mary and Tommy broke up!”

In the midst of dealing with the horrific troubles that had visited him, the patriarch Job made this declaration in Job 19:25:

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

Wow! I don’t think I could respond so positively in the midst of personal ruin. But, I certainly should and so should we all.

No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in today, let us cling to the reality that Jesus, our Savior, lives. Then, let's be ready to share that glorious truth whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to do so.

“This one thing I know for certain,” we may confidently report. “I know my Savior lives and one day He will return to stand on the earth. What a glorious day that will be!”



Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Having the Mindset of Christ


[Photo of a cross with words superimposed]

“In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”
—Philippians 2:5

Getting along with everyone in a church is not always easy. We all have unique personalities that are informed by our life experiences. This “baggage” we carry into every situation sometimes makes it difficult to always get along.

The Apostle Paul spoke to this very challenge in Philippians 2:5-8:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Now admittedly, that's a tall order: having the same mindset of our Savior and Lord. It’s the mindset of a servant, a mindset of great humility, a mindset willing to surrender privilege for a greater good, and a mindset of total obedience to God.

As we begin this new day, let’s ask God in prayer to give us hearts, minds, and lives that are willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Let’s ask God to give us the very mindset of Christ that we may relate to each other in self-sacrificing love.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, April 22, 2016

From Heart to Mouth


[Photo of clasped hands with words superimposed]

“For it is with your heart that
you believe and are justified”
—Romans 10:10a

“I’m a spiritual person. I believe, but I like to keep my beliefs to myself.”

Have you ever met people, maybe even fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, who voiced such a position? They claim they do not wish to carry their faith openly. Usually, they feel this way because they want to fit into whatever societal group in which they strive to belong.

But, true faith in Christ doesn’t work that way. Earnest believers are marked by the blood of Christ. They can ultimately never really fully fit into a worldly social group. Oh, they can get a-long. But they will not really belong.

The Apostle Paul explained why in Romans 10:9-10:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

At some point, every true believer will be compelled by the indwelling Holy Spirit to take a stand for Christ. That voicing of one’s faith need not be obnoxious or overly dramatic. In fact, sometimes the clearest word of testimony comes in a subtle statement.

More than a year ago, God brought a new person into my life. The Holy Spirit nudged me, as He often does, that this person might well be a fellow believer. When I viewed his Twitter profile, there it was: a subtle yet powerful testimony of God’s grace at work in his life. At the end of his profile he had written these words: “husband, father, son, brother, sinner, forgiven.”

There it was! His testimony of faith: “sinner, forgiven.” I knew immediately that what the Holy Spirit had been whispering to my inner being was true. Here was a brother in Christ.

This particular man had many qualities to commend him, many valuable insights and interests, but topping them all, he belonged to the household of faith.

As we begin a new day, let us remember to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. And, when He nudges us, let us boldly acknowledge we belong to God through Christ. We do very well to acknowledge with our lips that Jesus is our Savior and Lord.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Power of the Cross


[Graphic of a cross with words superimposed]

“For the message of the cross is
foolishness to those who are
perishing, but to us who are
being saved it is the power of God.”
—1 Corinthians 1:18

Every time I see someone wearing a cross I have to resist asking, “I see you’re wearing cross. Is it just a piece of jewelry, or does it have some significance?”

I’ve actually asked that question a few times. I haven’t really gotten much of an answer. Most people seem either embarrassed or annoyed by my question. It appears that to many the cross has become a fashion statement rather than a deeply moving spiritual symbol.

The true meaning of the cross actually holds great power. Our salvation was culminated on the cross.

The Apostle Paul offered these words in 1 Corinthians 1:18:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Christians have to understand they will never fit into regular society. Jesus even acknowledged this when He prayed for us in John 17:15-18:

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

Whether we wear a cross or not, the power of the cross resides within us. Through Jesus, His power over the cross has become our power.

Let us this day claim the power of the cross to overcome the darkness of sin in this world.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fully Mature in Christ


[Graphic of church organizational diamond]

“He is the one we proclaim”
—Colossians 1:28a

Recently, I observed five men enjoying themselves at a popular restaurant. The booze flowed freely. It wasn’t long before they began to behave like randy teenagers. They spoke loudly and suggestively to the female bartender. They made passes at several women sitting nearby. In short, fueled by alcohol, they acted like immature jerks.

I couldn’t help but think of the old excuse: “Boys will be boys.” But they weren’t boys. They were grown men in their forties and fifties who forgot what it means to be mature.

They made the dining experience unpleasant for the staff and for the other patrons. When they finally left the restaurant, someone began to applaud and soon the whole room was clapping.

In the world of “Christ's-ones,” maturity, spiritual maturity, is an important mark of growth in an individual’s spiritual formation. It is also an important quality collectively for a body of believers, a church.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words in Colossians 1:27-28:

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Paul desired to promote spiritual maturity among those for whom he was responsible. Do our pastors or spiritual leaders promote spiritual maturity? Or, do they try to keep us dependent spiritual babies?

Let us determine this day to do everything we can to become spiritually mature. Let’s set aside time each day to read the Bible and pray. Let’s make certain we attend a church where we receive healthy spiritual food.

And, let’s exercise our spiritual maturity by lovingly sharing what God has done for us through Christ whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to do so.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Lamb Without Defect


[Photo of a lamb with words superimposed]

“…you were redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ”
—1 Peter 1:19

The blood sacrifice for sins must be a spotless lamb—one totally without defect. The people could not discard a defective lamb by choosing to use it for the sacrificial atonement.

Likewise, only Jesus, fully God yet fully human, could cover the sins of all mankind with His precious blood. The Scripture tells us in Hebrews 4:15:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Jesus never sinned! That was only possible because though fully man He was also fully God.

The Apostle Peter makes this very point in 1 Peter 1:18-19:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Jesus paid the price for our sins. He redeemed us with His precious blood. Though we are filthy, rotten, horrible, awful, terrible sinners, Jesus plunged us into the cleansing flood of His shed blood. Now we are totally clean!

As we begin this new day, we have much for which we should praise God. So, let this praise be on our lips, ready to share our joy with others when prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Day of Reckoning


[Graphic of a bird with words superimposed]

“So then, each of us will give an
account of ourselves to God.-”
—Romans 14:12

My father served as the treasurer of our church for just over 25 years. My mother, who had been trained as a bookkeeper, made very precise entries into a journal using the double-entry system of bookkeeping. I can still see her carefully holding her special bookkeeper’s fountain pen making those careful entries during that time before computers in the 1950s and 1960s.

Once a year, the auditors appointed by the church would come to our house and collect the books. It was a day of reckoning. Did every entry balance? Were all the funds accounted for properly?

This auditing process was particularly important because a previous treasurer had embezzled thousands of dollars from the church over a period of many years. Such a catastrophe must not be allowed to happen again.

Of course, because of the diligence of my parents, the books were always spot on—no errors, every amount balancing to the penny.

The Apostle Paul talks about a day of reckoning for every human being in Romans 14:11-12:

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

How will we fare on that day?

We who have responded to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and have acknowledged God’s gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ will find that the “books” of our lives will already be stamped “Approved” in the very blood of Christ our Savior and Lord.

We will pass the test—not on our own merit, but because we already belong to God. We will meet this day of reckoning without fear. For, by acknowledging God’s claim on our lives, we have already bowed our knees in fealty to Christ.

Let us rejoice at the beginning of this new day that our place in heaven is secure. Yet, we have done nothing on our own to deserve God’s mercy, nor to reserve our place forever with Him. Our place of honor on that day of reckoning comes as God’s precious gift to us of His mercy, grace, and unfailing love.

Praise God for His immeasurable love for us. We are, of all humankind, most blessed.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Another Tax Day


[Graphic of the word--Taxes]

“This is also why you pay taxes…”
—Romans 13:6a

No one likes to pay taxes! And yet, every April 15th—“Tax Day” in the United States—we citizens pay our taxes. (Okay, this year the Internal Revenue Service has extended the filing date to April 18, 2016.)

Most of you probably paid your taxes weeks ago. I paid mine last month. I paid the taxes. But, I didn’t like it.

I suppose I resent paying taxes because there is very little that the government does of which I approve. I think government is way, way, way, too big. I think far too much money is wasted. Almost every issue that has arisen in the last seven years, I vehemently oppose.

I want a strong national defense, pure food and water, constraints on financial game-playing, and a rigidly strong adherence to the Constitution.

I want strict control of our borders. But I also want a fair and welcoming immigration policy.

I am opposed to so-called “political correctness” because all it does is hamper free speech. I believe idiots have the right to talk idiotically.

I do not believe you can legislate behavior because we are all sinners by nature. So, I don’t care what other people do unless or until their behavior endangers others—not hurts or offends, but endangers.

I think the church has failed miserably by abdicating social programs to the government.

I could go on, but what’s the point? The “perfect” nation in my head will never, never, never happen. Our political system is too corrupt. Many of our citizens are too uninformed to choose candidates who would move us back to the place where I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Besides, I am a citizen of a greater Kingdom. And, the more I focus on the wishes of my King, the less time I have to ruminate on the state of our nation.

Which brings me back to taxes. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13:6-7:

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

So, on this “Tax Day” I will pay my taxes and try to remember—though I find it very, very hard to do so—that “the authorities are God’s servants.”


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

No Excuse


[Photo of a river valley]

“For since the creation of the world
God’s invisible qualities—his
eternal power and divine
nature—have been clearly seen…”
—Romans 1:20a

“You must understand, Officer, I really didn't know the speed limit through here was 30 miles per hour.”

Have you ever been stopped for speeding? Have you ever tried to talk your way out of a ticket by claiming ignorance of the posted limit?

One day, in the mid-1980s, I got two speeding tickets in a 50-minute period. I had rushed out at lunchtime to do two errands. Just feet from the entrance to the parking lot at the insurance company where I worked I was stopped for going 33 mph in a 30 mph zone.

On my way back to the office by a different route, less than an hour later, I was stopped again for going 34 mph in a 30 mph zone. In neither case did I try to beat the ticket. For in each case the speed limit was clearly posted.

The saddest part of the story is that the City of Hartford added a surcharge to the state-mandated fine. The two tickets cost me a total of $750—money I frankly did not have to waste in such a foolish way.

You can argue that such a close tolerance was unfair. But, as I said, the city had signs prominently displayed that informed all citizens of the city’s 30 mph speed limit. And, the signs also included the words “Strictly Enforced.”

People routinely make excuses for their lack of knowledge. They try to claim ignorance even when the knowledge is very clearly evident.

In our relationship to God, we simply can’t do that. We can't claim that the knowledge of His presence is not clearly seen.

The Apostle Paul makes this declaration in Romans 1:20:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

People cannot claim they don’t know about God. Everything around us declares His divine presence and His unending glory.

Let’s begin this day grateful that we love and worship the God who first loved us. He has revealed Himself to us through His Son and through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

How very blessed we are to know Him! How grateful we must feel that He has so clearly revealed Himself to us.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Given by the Father


[Drawing of Jesus leading sheep with words superimposed]

“My sheep listen to my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.”
—John 10:27

I wonder if we fully comprehend that before the foundation of the earth God chose us to belong to Himself? He had the power to do this because He created us—He caused us to come into being.

If you ask me why God chose us, I cannot give you an answer because it is a great mystery. Surely we have nothing to commend us to God.

Nevertheless, He chose us and, in due season, He sent the Holy Spirit to reveal His love for us and to show us the salvation He has provided for us through His Son, Jesus.

Our Savior spoke these words, as recorded in John 10:27-30:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

God has given us to His Son. He is our Savior, Lord, and King. We are His brothers and sisters, joint heirs with Him of eternal life.

That certainly gives us something to celebrate as we begin this new day. We were chosen by God, given to Jesus, and vouchsafed for eternal life with Him.

Let us go out into this new day rejoicing in our God-given security. Our salvation is a gift. We can’t earn it. It is a precious, precious gift given to us by God who loves us for reasons we simply cannot comprehend.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Victory is Ours


[Photo of a man at the cross with words superimposed]

“He gives us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ.”
—1 Corinthians 15:57b

I grew up in a wonderful church. It was a warm, loving, family environment. Compared to what I experienced in the world outside of the church, the world inside the church was a little bit of heaven.

We were Fundamentalists. But, as a child I didn't know any better. In my old age, I have come to appreciate, more and more, the foundation that was laid during my formative years.

We met for worship on both Sunday morning and Sunday evening. We had youth group on Sunday, too, in the late afternoon. We also met for prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings. And, we had Youth for Christ rallies twice each month on Saturday nights, District Youth Fellowship meeting once each month on Saturday night, and also went bowling or rollerskating the other Saturday night. On those months with five Saturdays, I would be beside myself because we had no scheduled activity.

We sang lots of gospel hymns, songs, and choruses. One of my favorites was “Victory in Jesus” by Eugene Bartlett. The chorus contained these stirring words:

O victory in Jesus my Savior forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood.
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him.
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood.

This gospel song echoes the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we begin this new day, let us rest in the victory that our Savior has already won for us. And, let us be always ready to share the good news of God’s redeeming love with every person we meet.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Truly Alive


[Photo of Camp Findley]

“For as in Adam all die, so
in Christ all will be made alive.”
—1 Corinthians 15:22

“I feel so alive!” my colleague at summer camp shouted with arms outstretched toward the hot summer sun. He worked as one of the life guards. I had paused in my duties as kitchen worker/groundskeeper to sit with him a moment near the dock at Camp Findley in Findley Lake, New York.

A soft breeze kissed the leaves of a nearby shade tree, rustling the smaller branches. In the distance, at the other end of the small lake, I could hear the putt-putt of a fisherman’s trolling motor. It was a glorious moment more than 50 years ago.

When was the last time you felt truly alive? Perhaps it was when you held your first child in your arms. Maybe it was when you achieved that long-desired promotion at work. Or, you felt truly alive as you watched your son or daughter walk down the aisle at his or her wedding.

As believers in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should begin each day with a keen awareness that while some remain dead in their trespasses and sins, we are truly alive in Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22:

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

This day and every day, let us begin our days with praise on our lips and gratitude in our hearts that through Christ we are truly alive.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Hold on Firmly


[Photo of a person clining to a rock]

“By this gospel you are saved,
if you hold firmly to the word
I preached to you. Otherwise,
you have believed in vain.”
—1 Corinthians 15:2a

Did you ever receive a gift as a child that you simply would not put down? Everywhere you went, you would hold on firmly to this gift. Perhaps it was a Christmas or Birthday present.

You had longed for this gift for weeks. You had seen it in the Sears catalog. And now, your loving parents had graciously given you exactly that for which you had longed.

We were all created in the image of God. We bear His stamp within the core of our beings —what theologians call the Imago Dei. This stamp of God creates a connection to our Creator that cannot be broken.

It is a great mystery, but among those He has created, God has chosen some to whom He sends His Holy Spirit to produce a longing within them to move from mere creations to children—children of God.

The Holy Spirit reveals to these chosen ones that God has given them a life-transforming gift through His Son’s death and resurrection. (see John 1:12)

Just as children will cling to a special gift given to them by their parents, so we whom God has called must cling to the gift of His overwhelming mercy, grace, and love.

The Apostle Paul confirms this when he makes this statement in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2:

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

As we begin a new day, let us hold firmly to the truth of the very Gospel which has transformed us from mere creations of God to His dearly loved children.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Returned Sheep


[Photo of three crosses on a sunset hill with words superimposed]

“He himself bore our sins…”
—1 Peter 2:24a

The happiest sheep are the ones who remain close to the shepherd. When a sheep goes astray—and sheep stray easily because they are very curious—they seem to experience a bit of shock, confusion, and panic when they come to their senses and realize they have wandered away from the flock and moved outside the protection of the shepherd.

These wandered-away sheep begin to run around in a circle until they become faint with exhaustion. In their run down state they become all the more vulnerable to predators.

In our natural state, stained by Adam’s sin and all the more so by our own sins, we are dazed and confused. We wander through life aimlessly. We are hopelessly lost.

But, God, in His mercy, grace, and love has acted to gather us to Himself through the redeeming power of Christ's blood and through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Peter explains God's actions toward us in 1 Peter 2:24-25:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Quoting from the Prophet Isaiah, Peter confirms the great truth of God’s consuming grace. Through Christ's death and resurrection we have been redeemed and set free from the bondage of sin.

As this new day begins, let us allow the mercy, grace, and love of God arise within us. Let us surrender to God’s will for our lives. Let us turn away from sin and return to the loving, protective arms of the Shepherd.

Let us die to sin this day and live for righteousness. Let us determine to be ambassadors of God's unfailing, undying love. Let us become beacons of God’s light in a lost and dying world.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Redemption of the Powerless


[Drawing of a cross with words superimposed]

“…when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

We have no ability on our own to break the power that sin has over us. The most natural thing we do as humans is sin.

If you doubt that, just watch the development of a child. Even a child only a few months old has a natural, in-born tendency to assert his or her own stubborn will. No one has to teach a child how to be willfully disobedient. Sin is as natural as breathing.

So, it is amazing that God did not wait for us to try to be good before He sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem us from the bondage of sin. He knows we cannot stop sinning without His direct intervention in our lives.

The Apostle Paul offers a very clear explanation in Romans 5:6-8:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

How blessed we are! How fortunate we are that God loves us so very much.

This day let's humbly rejoice that God has redeemed us through His Son. Let us praise God and thank Him for the mystery of His mercy, love, and grace.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Purification Provider


[Photo of a bright light shining through the clouds]

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory”
—Hebrews 1:3

Nothing is more important to stable health than pure water. We don’t even think about how fortunate we are to just turn on the tap and out flows pure, clean water.

Much of the world struggles to obtain pure water. The disease that’s rampant in the world comes largely from a lack of pure water.

Just as impurities in water cause disease, the sin in our lives causes a spiritual disease that separates us from fellowship with God.

But, praise God, through His Son, Jesus, God has purified us from our sins. Jesus is the “Purification Provider” through His death and resurrection.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews pit it this way in Hebrews 1:3:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Let us rejoice this day that, as followers of Christ, our sins our gone—covered by Jesus’ precious blood. And, as God opens up opportunities, let’s be quick to share this good news with others today.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Saved in the Here and Now


[Photo of an hourglass with words superimposed]

“…we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…”
—Romans 5:10b

I wonder if we Christians fully realize that our salvation is for the here and now every bit as much as it is for eternity.

We tend to think about Christ’s death and resurrection in regard to guaranteeing our place in heaven.

But, as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:10, our true salvation begins in the here and now:

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

You see we are saved from the loneliness of a sin-scarred life right now, today, right here where we are.

When the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to us what Christ has done in our behalf and we acknowledge the gift of salvation that God has provided for us, we become new people. We move from mere creations of God to children—children of God and joint heirs with Christ.

Let us rejoice this day that we are saved in the here and now. Our new life in Christ begins right here and right now.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Dead to Sin and Alive in Christ


[Graphic of a Scripture verse]

“I have been crucified with Christ…”
—Galatians 2:20a

As “Christ's-ones” (Christians) our faith has set us free from the bondage of sin.

Yes, we continue to sin because the sin nature we inherited from Adam remains alive in us. But, because of our Savior’s death on the cross, sin can no longer hold us captive.

The Apostle Paul expressed it this way in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We live by faith. Christ lives within us through the Holy Spirit. The captivity of sin died with Christ on the cross. We can claim victory over sin through Jesus' shed blood.

Let us live this day as ones freed from the bondage to sin. Let us rejoice in the power of Christ within us. Let us glory in the resurrection that guarantees our place in heaven.

And, let us show forth Christ’s love to all those we meet today.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.