This devotional is Day 17 of the 25-Day Advent Series “The Wonders of His Love.” Follow along with us as we grow in grace through the Christmas story by subscribing or bookmarking the home page above!
Scripture: Titus 3:3-7
Do you ever wish that you were different? I mean, maybe you have a few qualities about yourself that you’d change in a heartbeat.
I know I wish I wasn’t such a worrier. I know that I shouldn’t, but I always travel down that road. Participating in this activity never bodes well, and I end up further away from God then growing closer to Him.
The problem is my human flesh wants to do what it wants. It takes choice and intentionality to stop myself in my worrying tracks and instead turn it over to God and trust Him.
We all have these vices and behaviors that we know aren’t beneficial, but continue to do them.
The apostle Paul sums it up in this passage: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Romans 7:19-20
Left in our humanness, we are bound to self-sabotage and get ourselves into trouble.
Sin likes to allure us and pull our attention to things that can fulfill us momentarily, but leave us perpetually unsatisfied and unfilled.
When we compare ourselves to a perfect God, boy do we come up looking like big ‘ole loser.
Return to the Gospel
Want to know a life-changing truth? It’s found in Titus 3:3-7:
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (NASB)
While we were at our worse, God sent His Son to save us.
We didn’t have to clean up our act or get it right (or even try to get it right), He swooped in a grabbed a hold of us. Jesus offered us salvation through faith, even when we still fall into our repeated sin and habits.
Even though I know I have this salvation in Jesus, I still mess up greatly. My thoughts and actions aren’t always a signal that I have this faith and hope of eternal life.
Many days I still “suck” at being a Christian. Maybe you agree with me, there seems to be so much work to be done in us. We need more patience, love, self-control, gentleness, and joy. God didn’t neglect to cover this either. Instead, He covered us fully and leaves us with this other truth and promise.
He is re-making us and refining us to be more like Him. And you know what? It will take our entire lives on earth.
“For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to His good purpose.” Philippians 2:13, CSB
We are work-in-progress believers.
Jesus Removes the Shackles of Sin
As I look back at the birth of our Savior, I’m filled with such hope.
When I try following His directives on my own willpower, I constantly fail and become weary in the process.
The question beckons me, “how will I ever do this, how can I ever live like God wants me to?” At about the same time as this question escapes, this small nudge within tells me: Jesus has done it all.
He has covered where you’re lacking, the motivation you can’t muster up, and He has given you the ability to trust Him as He works deep within. His Spirit is in you.
We might not always see the fruits of His labor because sin bogs us down. Sometimes we can’t see the change within us, but others can see it. God has promised to change and remake us (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24).
As Christmas draws close, friend, and the should’s and desires of your heart to get this life right overwhelms you, let us remember the gift of the babe in the manger. He came down to earth to give us such beautiful blessings and promises.
You aren’t who you once were, and God is leading you to become more like Him. It’s His gift to you. We have hope all due to the love of the Messiah.
“No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief…” – John Calvin
Questions for the Heart:
- When you feel like a failure, why can recalling the Gospel renew your hope?
- How does knowing that Jesus mercifully regenerated your heart and helps you by His Spirit inspire you to holiness rather than make you weary?
- What sins do you need to repent of? Pray to the Lord for forgiveness, knowing in doing so you are fully washed!
About the Author
Julie Loos is the mom of 5 kids and has been happily married to Greg for 19 years. She loves to read, eat chocolate, drink iced tea and spend time writing in the midst of messes.
You can find her blog at www.unmaskingthemess.com.