What can we expect for certain this coming year?

As we enter a new year, there are two things Paul says we can count on: First of all, we can “count ourselves dead to sin,” and secondly, that we’re “alive to God,” Romans 6:11, both of which have been done for us by Jesus – the first one by his death, and the second by his life.

We do not travel through the new year, then, in our old body of sin. Jesus nailed it to the cross and rendered it powerless. We are free of it once and for all (verse 7). The typical human evils Paul talked about in chapters 1 and 2 “no longer have mastery” over us, just like they had no mastery over Jesus (verses 9-10).

But that’s not all we can count on. We can also count on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead to lift us into a completely new life that’s just like the life he lives. And what kind of life is that? Simply put, Jesus “lives to God,” verse 10. And so can we, verse 11, because we’re “alive to God” too.

It’s at this point a Christian may well ask, “But what’s our part in all this?” – because Jesus seems to have done everything for us. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (4:25), so what’s left for us to do? We’ve already been credited with righteousness (4:24), we’re already at peace with God (5:1), we’ve already been saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to him (5:9-11), and now we discover sin has no power over us either, so now what? What part do we play in all this?

Paul has an answer: “Therefore,” Romans 6:12, now that we know we’re dead to sin and alive to God, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” It’s a nasty shock to discover that even though we’re walking in eternity with the living Christ, evil still exerts a strong influence on us in the here and now.

It’s like the children in Narnia. They live in a wonderful new world, in which Aslan the great lion rules, but there’s also an evil witch in Narnia trying to thwart Aslan’s purpose, and the children still fall prey to their own desires and fears. It’s not a bed of roses for them; it’s a constant battle, but Aslan encourages them to keep pressing on, forget the mistakes and mishaps – count themselves dead to them – and be alive to him, because he is with them every step of the way, and he will get them through.

And that’s just as certain for us too, all through this new year.                 

Sufficient for today is his grace thereof

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” says the King James Version in Matthew 6:34. In other words, don’t even think about tomorrow, we’ve got enough troubles to deal with today. But in the previous nine verses Jesus is also saying, “Sufficient for each day is God’s grace thereof.” So each day has its troubles, yes, but each day Jesus provides the grace to deal with them. Trust him to take care of us and “You’ll find your everyday human concerns will be met,” says The Message translation in verse 33.

Jesus is saying there isn’t any need or worry we’ve got that his grace doesn’t cover. He knows exactly what needs and worries we have, because he lived in our world as one of us. So, I ask myself, what need do I have, or what worry do I face, today? Because Paul’s answer to me in Philippians 4:19 is, “My God will meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

All of them? Yes, says Paul, God’s “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3, and in 1 Corinthians 1:7, “you do not lack any spiritual gift” – meaning, we’ve got more than we need to take care of us, because the help we’ve got is “spiritual.” It’s from God, and God “is able to do far more abundantly BEYOND all that we ask or think, according to his power which works mightily in us,” Ephesians 3:20-21. He’s got power a billion times sufficient for anything I face, with power left over. How stupid of me to worry, then.

But let’s get practical. I face today. My mind whirred into action the moment I awoke. I started thinking about what needs to be done. I immediately felt weak at the prospect of some things I had to face and do, and there wasn’t much in my day I was looking forward to either, because most of it involved effort of some sort and I’d woken up tired. For my day to be filled with peace and joy and love – and all those other lovely “spiritual” things mentioned in Galatians 5 – I clearly needed help, because I was in no mood or state of mind to come up with those things myself.

But I don’t have to come up with them myself, because they’re spiritual. They’re from God, because he’s my sufficiency, not me. He, therefore, will fill my day with peace, love and joy, and wisdom, and calm, and laughter, and positive thinking, and whatever else I need, because sufficient for my day is his grace thereof. HIS power working within me is way beyond what I need.