All posts by clintonavechurch

Mount Everest

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Mount Everest
October 28, 2021

Read: Romans 8:1-11

No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (v. 1)

The book of Romans is sometimes described as the Himalayas of the Bible and Romans 8 as Mount Everest. I agree! Once while flying from India to Nepal, my eyes grew wide as the 29,031-foot mountain came into view. The sky was thick with clouds and yet Everest’s peak stood out like an iceberg above the ocean. The beauty proved indescribable and my phone’s camera inadequate. This is Romans 8. Each verse topped by the next.

Verse 1 declares that there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Like a convicted murderer awaiting death but then hearing, “Not guilty!” Even better, we are set free “from the law of sin and death” (v. 2). Why? Because God sent his Son, Jesus, in flesh like ours to be condemned in our place (v. 3). This means all the requirements of the law are now “fulfilled in us” (v. 4). We go from condemned sinners to freed saints! Could it possibly be better?!

Yes! Four times in versus 9-11 Paul emphasizes that God himself dwells in or is in us. We are not freed and left to ourselves. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” (v. 11). The very one condemned in our place dwells in us as the resurrected conqueror of sin and death. Welcome to your first view of Mount Everest. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, marvel at the beauty of being so loved by God.

Wretched No More

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Wretched No More
October 27, 2021

Read: Romans 7

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (v. 25)

When I received Jesus at age 13, I mistakenly believed sin would no longer be tempting to me. Wrong! Maybe when I joined my local church at 18? Wrong again! And it has not ceased waging war (v. 23) on me for the 38 years following those events either. It never will. I identify with Paul’s assessment, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (v. 18). No wonder he exclaimed, “Wretched man that I am!” (v. 24).

Romans 7 expresses a great conundrum of the Christian life. If we have been set free from sin (Rom. 6:22), if we have died to the law (Rom. 7:4), and if we now serve in the “new way of the Spirit” (v. 6), why on earth do we still sin? For starters, it is because we are still on earth. The process of becoming like Christ, what theologians call “sanctification,” is lifelong until Jesus comes again and we are changed to glory (1 Cor. 15:52). Christians are not only saved by grace, we are likewise sanctified by grace.

That’s why Paul celebrated, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25). What are we to do until glory? Keep living in grace. The third verse of “Amazing Grace” reminds us that just as grace saved wretches like us, grace leads us through all of life: “’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, rest in God’s amazing grace.

Know Your Freedom

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Know Your Freedom
October 26, 2021

Read: Romans 6:15-23

You have been set free . . . (v. 22)

On the first Saturday of every month, hundreds of people gather in Mukono, Uganda, for an eight-hour experience called “Know Your Freedom in Christ.” There are new and old believers, seekers, and strugglers of all sorts. Throughout the day the throng praises God, listens to biblical teaching, and earnestly seeks God in prayer. Nothing quite compares to seeing people discover and experience what it means to “have been set free from sin” (v. 22).

“Freedom” is an appropriate word for what God’s grace does. Paul got to the crux of our sin problem when he wrote that “if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey” (v. 16). Three times Paul used “present” to describe how we become slaves to whatever we present ourselves. If we become enslaved to sin’s besetting patterns, we bear its fruit of joy-robbing shame and, even worse, eternal death (v. 21).

On the other hand, if we present ourselves to God through his free gift of Jesus, we become slaves of a different sort: to righteousness (v. 19), and we reap its fruit of sanctification (becoming more like Christ) and, even better, eternal life (v. 23)! We “present” ourselves to God as we praise him in song, listen to his Word, and earnestly seek him in prayer. Nothing quite compares to discovering and experiencing that we have been set free. It’s a resurrection from death to life.—Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, present yourself to God in praise and prayer.

Moving Away or Moving Towards?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2021 Blog Number 43

October 25, 2021

Moving Away or Moving Towards?

After I was born I came home to my parent’s house, was put in a bedroom, and there I stayed until I left for college. Moving was not anything I had experienced although I did observe it. In grammar school, I lived in the midst of “white flight” from Jersey City. They were fleeing the increasing movement of non-whites into the neighborhood. The non-whites who were moving in, loved moving to a safer neighborhood, yet their enthusiasm was curbed when they realized that not every white was welcoming to non-whites. Some people were moving away from something, and others were moving toward something.

This week I am helping a distinguished elder in our congregation move from her independent living apartment into a memory care unit. She isn’t moving from anything, she is running toward a better place with more appropriate care.

Also, this week, I am helping my daughter relocate to a new apartment and soon she will be starting a new job. Is she moving away from or moving toward something? Maybe it is both. When I speak to immigrants they often tell me that they are always moving toward what they believe is a better life, but they are always moving away from difficulties in their home countries.

Most of our lives we are moving away from, as well as moving toward something. Like the ancient Israelites at the Red Sea, not only were they moving from slavery, but they were also moving toward the promise of a rich land for them to inhabit. Moving is, perhaps, always away and toward.

The real question for us in our movements is whether God is directing our movements? Are we moving without inquiring from God where God wants us to be or do we ask God first when it is time to go and where we ought to go? Do we make our moves based on our wisdom or God’s wisdom? “Moving from or moving toward” is not really the question. The question is “where does God want to leave and to where does God wish us to come?” Do we ask that question enough? If we get into the wrong place, perhaps it is because we fail to ask this important question.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                          #BergenfieldNJ

#Moving                                                                     #God’sGuidance

#WalkingWithGod                                               #Immigration                        

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

¿Alejarse o moverse?

Reflexiones ministeriales del lunes
Por el reverendo Mark William Ennis
2021 Blog Número 43
25 de octubre de 2021
¿Alejarse o moverse?

Después de que nací, llegué a casa a la casa de mis padres, me pusieron en un dormitorio, y allí me quedé hasta que me fui a la universidad. Moverse no era nada que hubiera experimentado, aunque sí lo observé. En la escuela de gramática, viví en medio del “vuelo blanco” desde Jersey City. Huían del creciente movimiento de personas no blancas hacia el vecindario.

Algunas personas se estaban alejando de algo, y otras se estaban moviendo hacia algo.

Esta semana estoy ayudando a un anciano distinguido en nuestra congregación a pasar de su apartamento independiente a una unidad de memoria. Ella no se está moviendo de nada, ella está corriendo hacia un lugar mejor con un cuidado más apropiado.

Además, esta semana, estoy ayudando a mi hija a reubicarse en un apartamento nuevo y pronto ella comenzará un nuevo trabajo. ¿Se está alejando de algo o se está moviendo hacia algo? Tal vez sean ambas. Cuando hablo con los inmigrantes a menudo me dicen que siempre están avanzando hacia lo que creen que es una vida mejor, pero siempre se están alejando de las dificultades en sus países de origen.

La mayoría de nuestras vidas nos estamos alejando, así como moviéndose hacia algo. Al igual que los antiguos israelitas en el Mar Rojo, no sólo se estaban moviendo de la esclavitud, sino que también se estaban moviendo hacia la promesa de una tierra rica para que habitaran. Moverse es, tal vez, siempre hacia y hacia fuera.

La verdadera pregunta para nosotros en nuestros movimientos es si Dios está dirigiendo nuestros movimientos? ¿Nos estamos moviendo sin preguntar de Dios dónde quiere que estemos o le preguntamos a Dios primero cuando es hora de ir y a dónde debemos ir? ¿Habremos nuestros movimientos basados en nuestra sabiduría o en la sabiduría de Dios? “De o hacia adelante” no es realmente la cuestión. La pregunta es: “¿Dónde quiere Dios irse y hacia dónde desea Dios que venamos?”

Si nos metemos en el lugar equivocado, tal vez sea porque no hacemos esta importante pregunta.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#Moving                                                                     #God’sGuidance

#WalkingWithGod                                                    #Immigration                                    

Para leer más de los escritos del pastor Mark, por favor pida una copia de su libro.https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Life, Not License

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Life, Not License
October 25, 2021

Read: Romans 6:1-14

In order that . . . we too might walk in newness of life. (v. 4)

One misunderstanding of the abundant grace in Romans 5 and 6 is that, because God’s grace is greater than our sin, we can go on sinning. I have actually heard a person say, “I’ve professed my faith and been baptized, so I can do whatever I want.” Such thinking sees sin as merely bad behavior and turns God’s grace into a license to sin. But sin is not just bad acts; sin is death. And grace is not a license. It opens a whole new life (v. 4).

In baptism, we are “brought from death to life” (v. 13). As a sacrament, baptism is a visible sign of an invisible grace. It represents our being united with Christ. When we pass under the water (either by sprinkling or dunking), we join Christ in his death so that “just as Christ was raised from the dead . . . we too might walk in newness of life” (vv. 3-4).

This does not mean that we will never be tempted or that we won’t ever sin again. This new life does, however, open us to experience true union with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit in our hearts (John 17). The more that we present ourselves to God (v. 13), the more we will savor his goodness and desire the new life Jesus purchased for us. Sin will lose its appeal. It may grab us for a moment, but it will not have dominion over us (v. 14). —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to help you walk in newness of life.

Uberabundance

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Uberabundance
October 24, 2021

Read: Romans 5:12-21

Grace abounded all the more. (v. 20)

If reading about the spread of Adam’s sin feels a bit like a bad virus circling the globe, you’re not far off. It’s actually worse. No mask or any amount of handwashing can prevent you from getting it. Sin does not enter us from the outside. We are born with it. Every human being descended from Adam is born under the reign of death (v. 17) and stands condemned before God (v. 18).

We cannot prevent being born with the sin disease, but there is a cure: Jesus Christ. In this passage, Adam’s act of sin and Christ’s act of obedience are contrasted five times. Adam’s act brought death and condemnation; Christ’s act brings gifts of justification (v. 16) and righteousness (v. 17). Because of Jesus’ death our sin is paid in full (justified) and we are reconciled to God (made righteous).

And this work of Jesus does not merely equal out to the effects of sin. Far from it! Three times Paul uses the word “abounded” or “abundance” (vv. 15, 17, 20) to describe how much better Jesus’ grace compares to Adam’s sin. The Greek word for abundance implies “surplus.” God’s grace exceeds whatever condition sin brought. The third time (v. 20) he in effect adds “uber-” as a prefix. The grace of God in Jesus is not just abundant, it is uberabundant! It reminds me of the line in an old hymn, “Grace that is greater than all our sin!” Oh that knowledge of God’s grace would fill the earth completely! —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, thank God for the uberabundance of grace in Jesus.

Paid in Full

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

Paid in Full
October 23, 2021

Read: Romans 5:1-11

At the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (v. 6)

After eating in a restaurant with our four preschool children, I was surprised to learn that our bill was paid in full. The waitress shared that someone blessed us because they were impressed by how well our kids behaved. I was, of course, grateful, but I wondered how they would’ve reacted on other occasions when our children were less mannered.

Paul observed in verse 7 how exceedingly rare it is for one person to pay with their life for another. “Perhaps for a good person” is the best he could imagine. But for a wicked person, one who had personally wronged you? No way!

That is exactly what Jesus did for us. Two thousand years before we were born, Jesus knew we would sin. We have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed. The bill for our sin is death (Romans 6:23). Far from being good enough that someone might be willing to die for us, Jesus chose to pay our bill. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Because this is so, “we have peace with God” (v. 1), “we rejoice in hope” (v. 2), and we even “rejoice in our sufferings” (v. 3). If Jesus paid our bill despite our sin and rebellion, we can trust him to persevere with us through any challenge. And on that day when we stand before God’s throne, by our name in his book will be the words, “Paid in full.” —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, thank God for his perfect love.

What Comes First?

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

What Comes First?
October 22, 2021

Read: Romans 4:1-25

In hope he believed against hope . . . (v. 18)

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This is the issue of Romans 4. What comes first, our faith in God’s promise or our obedience to God’s law? Romans 3:24 emphatically declares we are “justified by his grace as a gift.” If salvation is a gift to all who believe, then our faith precedes our obedience. Our salvation does not depend on our ability to keep God’s commands but on our trust in God’s promise. Amen!

Abraham is Paul’s example for this truth. In Genesis 15, God made the staggering promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Staggering not only because of the number, but also because Abraham was nearing 100 years old with no children. Incomprehensible! Yet, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). “In hope he believed against hope” (v. 18). The saints of the Old Testament were justified by faith and not by works, just like us.

Their trust in God’s promise focused on the future. Salvation in Jesus would not come until centuries after they first believed. Our faith trusts in God’s promise of Christ’s future return and the hope of heaven. But unlike Abraham, we have seen God already act in Christ. We can anchor our hope in Jesus because God has already done what is needed for our salvation. We simply need to receive God’s gift. Do it today. Do not delay. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God for a heart that trusts Jesus is enough.

How Good Is It?

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.

How Good Is It?
October 21, 2021

Read: Romans 3:21-31

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested . . . (v. 21)

The “but” of verse 21 pivots from the valley of our despair to the mountains of God’s majesty. There is so much to take in it’s hard to know where to look. Our family once brought a friend to Colorado who had never been west of the Mississippi. Her eyes popped wide as we entered Big Thompson Canyon from Loveland up to Estes Park. Before we reached 10 miles, all of her Kodak film for the week was used up! We had not even gotten to the best part.

That’s what happens when we begin to understand God’s grace for us. Here are just three of the many vistas in Romans 3. First, notice the “forbearance” (v. 25) of God’s patience with our sin. He has every right to abandon us, but he patiently endured our sin because he had a plan. Second, that plan itself is another vista: God places Jesus “as a propitiation” (also v. 25). Propitiation describes the sacrificial lamb on the altar. This is Jesus nailed on the cross and offering his blood in place of ours.

Third, all this is given “by his grace as a gift” (v. 24). A gift is not a reward. It is offered because of the one who gives it. Our salvation, from beginning to end, is a complete work of God. It is not something we could find on our own. It can only be seen when Jesus comes into view. Are your eyes popping at his glory yet? —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, marvel at God’s grace in Jesus.