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Thursday, February 22, 2007
Cardinal on pavement
Brooksyne strives to get that close-up of her favorite bird. Stay tuned!

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"Grace Alone"

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).
Staples is a large office superstore that has presented some of the most creative and humorous advertising through the years. Several years ago they had an ad showing a man who was absolutely determined each January to get his office organized but kept procrastinating year after year and never got it done.  He started out as a young man but finally when he's middle-aged he comes across a Staples ad with items that are the key to maintaining a neat, well-organized office.  The next frame shows him in a perfectly organized office and now his new determination is to lose weight.  That is until his buddies yell out, "Bob, we're going out for pizza".  He immediately jumps up to join them.

Wow, do I identify with that ad!  I'm still working on both disciplines.  Brooksyne reminds me that the bigger challenge is not getting organized but maintaining that organization.  It’s not taking the weight off but keeping it off.  Of course I already know this.  At times my office has been picture perfect and I’ve lost hundreds of pounds through the years. But shouldn't I have all this conquered by my early-fifties?

Paul's candor in Romans 7 is astounding.  This chapter is among the most difficult portions in the Bible.  Devout expositors have grappled for centuries with just what Paul was seeking to communicate.  I believe Paul is indeed writing from the perspective of his current relationship with Christ since in verse 22 he writes, "For in my inner being I delight in God's law.”  (Another interpretation views Paul writing Romans 7 from the perspective of his unregenerate state before he was converted.)

He writes, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  Can you identify with Paul?  I sure can.  What are the ongoing issues you battle as you seek to conquer sin’s strongholds and  cravings of the flesh?  I can think of several in my life.  These are the obstacles that I believe are referred to in Hebrews 12:1 as "everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" that we are to throw off. 

We don't know the personal issues that Paul was dealing with.  Any conjecture as to what they were would most likely be based upon the interpreter’s own experiences.  But he says, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (v. 24). 

So who will?  The great apostle tells us, "Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  (v. 25).  

Grace, grace God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Romans 8 goes on to speak of the power of the Spirit that enables us to live a victorious, overcoming life. That's not a doom's day attitude, but rather it's an encouraging, uplifting pronouncement for those who walk by faith and not by sight!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, the words of a song come to mind as I pray this morning:  “I’m not what I wanna be, I’m not what I’m gonna be, but thank God I’m not what I was.”   There is a marked difference in my actions and attitudes since I made You the Lord of my life. If I trace back to the beginning of my relationship with You I see more clearly the major changes You made in my heart.  But since my life is a living sacrifice there are always new challenges, temptations, and trials that I must endure as a believer.  It is not in my own physical strength or power that I am equipped to conquer the enemy, but it through Your Holy Spirit that I come against the giants of doubt, fear, bitterness, greed, lust, discontent and all the other negative foes Satan throws in my path.  Though I’m far from perfect and always will be on this side, help me to endure to the end when that which is imperfect will be gone.  Sin will no longer have a grip and finally I will be perfect.  All because of Your amazing grace! 

Yesterday we shared about a terrific testimony from a Daily Encouragement reader who has experienced persecution.  Donnie Lama's testimony You might call Donnie Lama’s testimony a Daily Encouragement Condensed Book in the sense that it is equivalent to several pages.  In fact you’ll need to set aside extra time to read it.  It was too packed with significant events to condense it into the usual brief format Daily Encouragement readers are accustomed to. We also found this information and booklet available online through Open Doors.   Please keep Donnie and his family in prayer.  Any responses to his testimony from other Daily Encouragement Net readers will be compiled and forwarded and would certainly be of great encouragement to him.  Merely send to this address.

We wanted to share the hymn we concluded the message with today, but were unable to find a vocal audio version on the web. Here’s an interesting acoustic guitar version.  Another song we have enjoyed for many years related to this theme is “Grace Alone”  Here’s a nice local church version from the Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Finally in my searching I came across this video of a song I do not recall ever hearing before titled, “God of Grace”.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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