Giving God permission to live through you ~ 5-15

Life is pain, your highness. Anyone who says differently is selling you something. — Wesley, The Princess Bride

I once read through a magazine that was profiling “The 50 Most Influential Christians in the World” or something like that. George W. Bush was on the cover. I was curious and flipped through it to see if my parents made the list. I got all the way to number 50 and instead of seeing my father or mother, I saw… Dr. Phil!

I was incensed at the injustice of it all! I even went to lunch with a pastor friend and complained about how Dr. Phil was all flesh-based in his advice, etc. Then my friend quietly informed me that his dad led Dr. Phil to the Lord almost thirty years ago.

Bam. At that moment, I pretty much heard the Spirit say to me, “Look at the poison coming out of your mouth, Pete. That’s not who you are.”

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Our minds and bodies need renewing. Lots of renewing. So much, in fact, that it takes us our entire lives. No one gets to the point of total perfection while on earth, and anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something.

And yet, that needn’t be discouraging. What a wonderful thought, that Christ loves us enough to give us the Holy Spirit to teach and lead us as we grow! We are already saints, perfect and holy in our spirit before God. Now we need to simply allow God to live up to what we have already attained in Christ in our souls and bodies!

I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. God is ready to live through you in a way that is a natural extension of who He has made you to be in Christ. Will you give Him permission to do so?

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Freedom over your emotions ~ 5-13

Emotions were designed by God to follow and not to lead. — Pete Briscoe

We were once on a family horseback ride at a family friend’s ranch in East Texas. My son Liam was riding a horse named Easy Money. While we were trotting happily along, Easy Money decided he was done and made a beeline back for the stables. Poor Liam was holding on for dear life! But at that moment our guide shouted, “Liam, pull back on the reins!” So Liam yanked hard, and that two-thousand-pound animal stopped on a dime.

The horse responded just as our emotions ought to respond.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In this passage, Paul communicates what a person acts like when they have their emotions under the authority of the Spirit. The emotions might feel like a runaway horse, but we control the reins when we don’t allow our emotions to dictate our decisions.

You could feel incredibly infatuated with someone in a moment, ready to marry them just on sight. But do you sign a contract with someone you met one hour before because you feel like it? Of course, not! You do your due diligence before you sign it. Emotions can enhance our lives when properly channeled, but when they’re out of control, they can be very harmful.

Believe in your mind what God has promised you in His Word and don’t let your emotions run rampant like Easy Money. When those emotions try to take off in their own direction, grab the reins of God’s truth.

You are what God says about you, not what you feel about you. There’s a big difference.

  • You are forgiven!
  • The Spirit of Christ lives in you!
  • The Spirit of Christ empowers you to do God’s will!
  • You are significant and of supreme value to God and His purposes!

Holy Spirit, I claim the power You give me over my emotions. I am what You say about me, not what I feel about myself. I renounce the lies that feel true, and by Your power in me, choose to act according to who I am in You. Thank You, my Lord, for the forgiveness You have given me and the freedom I have over my emotions in Your name. Amen.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Offering yourself to Christ alone ~ 5-12

Cricket to us was more than play; it was a worship in the summer sun. — Edmund Blunden

Sports bring out the “crazy” in people. Nowhere else can you have a stadium full of ordinarily rational human beings go from euphoria (We scored!) to soul-crushing heartache (They scored!) in a matter of seconds. Sports are a funny manifestation of a deep truth: We absolutely crave something to worship.

To properly worship the Lord, we must make an “offering” of ourselves. It doesn’t happen instantly (which really irks us in the age of Face ID and tap-to-pay). We demand things right now. If it’s not quick and easy, we convince ourselves it must not be worth our effort.

This type of thinking makes it unusually hard to discipline our minds and bodies. But that’s what God calls us to: Disciplined minds and bodies offered up to Him in the service of worship.

We will worship something or someone. It’s how we are designed, as creatures of worship. It’s why we cheer at sports events passionately—and also scream in anguish at a loss.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6)

When you become a believer, your spirit becomes alive to God and dead to indwelling sin, so indwelling sin is no longer master over you. You discover this in your mind. As the Holy Spirit enlightens your mind and illuminates Scripture as you study it, you discover truths about who you are—a creature of worship designed to bring glory to God.

Knowing this—I mean really knowing it—is what helps us make the decision to offer ourselves as instruments of worship to Christ and not to sin.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Living up to what you’ve attained ~ 5-11

God is waiting for a settlement of all of our controversies with Him. — Watchman Nee

The thought of being anything other than British is repulsive to… well, the British. I can say this from experience because I was born in England. So when I became an American citizen, it was likely met with a few raised eyebrows by some of my fellow Brits.

During the citizenship ceremony, I had to raise my right hand and say (paraphrasing), “I renounce all allegiances to any foreign sovereigns and powers.” Basically they were asking me to renounce my homeland, and that was hard for me! I had to promise to do that because the United States does not accept dual citizenship.

That’s how it is for all of us in Christ: We now have complete allegiance to Him. When I raised my hand and renounced my allegiance to Britain, I became dead to Britain. When I came to Christ, I became dead to my old self. Significantly, this death is something that has already happened in Christ. It is a mystery, for certain—but it is done.

Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:16)

We don’t have to work for this. Everything we are was attained by Christ. We’re “living up to what we have already attained.” Britain is still alive and well across the pond. My renunciation of my allegiance did not cause the Queen to step down and dissolve Parliament. My flesh still hangs around, too. I belong to Christ but my flesh still beckons. (I’m not saying that Britain is the equivalent of sinful flesh. Please don’t run with that analogy!)

But there is no dual citizenship. We are all members of Christ’s kingdom first and foremost.

Father, I praise You for calling me Your child and an heir. Thank You for letting me be a citizen of Your kingdom, with no higher allegiance. Jesus, teach me how to live up to what I have already attained by Your death for me, through the power and presence of Your Spirit in me, according to the truths you have recorded and revealed in Scripture. I renounce any allegiance to my fleshly desires. I pledge allegiance to You and You only! Amen.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Everything you need to live your abundant Life ~ 5-10

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. — 1 Corinthians 2:10-12

I’m fascinated by the way animals camouflage themselves in the wild. There’s a fish in the Pacific called the Merlet’s Scorpionfish (neat name for sure!). Scorpionfish blend perfectly into one particular type of coral. You can be staring at this coral and thinking to yourself, “My, oh my, that’s unique and beautiful,” and you’d have no idea you were looking at a fish.

There’s an old phrase that my wife loves to use: “It’s hidden in plain sight.” This refers, of course, to something that is apparently obvious but that people still miss. If you know there’s a fish in the photograph of the coral, you’re better able to spot it. It’s still tricky, but eventually you’ll see it because you’ve been tipped off that the fish is there.

The apostle Paul is saying in this verse that the same is true with God. No one knows what’s really going on inside God’s mind unless He tips us off and reveals it through His Word and/or His Spirit. How does He go about doing that?

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

What we need has already been given to us: The Spirit.

Everything you need to live your abundant Life you already have. He’s already given it to you. It may be “hidden in plain sight,” but you know it’s there. The Holy Spirit is the teacher who wants to show it to you.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Live for Christ with all you’ve got ~ 5-9

Part of the fun of sports is debating who is “the greatest.” There’s no way to subjectively measure such a concept, but in sheer influence and success, many would agree that John Wooden was the greatest coach of any sport, ever. He won ten NCAA basketball national championships, including a span of seven consecutive titles. That’s the all-time record—and with the revolving door of collegiate athletic sports (where entire teams are replaced every few years), it was an astounding feat.

As a Christian, Wooden always rightly gave thanks to the Lord for his success. But make no mistake, he was a fervent believer in the power of hard work and discipline. He drilled his players hard. He demanded their very best. Many of his principles have been studied the world over and applied to businesses and countless other career fields.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

A saint runs to win. Why? Because that’s part of our identity. We give Christ everything, naturally, when we understand who we are in Christ because we know that everything belongs to Him anyway. Without Him we can do nothing. Through Christ all things are possible.

The key is this: Stop trying to become something you already are. You were made a saint by the loving sacrifice of Christ, and the reality of His Holy Spirit in you. If you think you’re a sinner, you’ll need to try to establish your own righteousness. That leads to legalism, despair, and failure, because it simply can’t be done; it’s not the way we were designed.

The design of the Christian life, beginning in the upper room of Acts chapter 2, is an intimate, passionate walk in the Holy Spirit, where we rest in who we are in Christ and allow Him to live His life through us. That’s how the race is won in the Christian faith.

Heavenly Father, I have been called by Your name, and You call me a saint. I desire to be one of Your champions. Yet, I openly confess my failures and my shortcomings—both the things that I have done and the things that I have not done. Show me how to run this race! Remind me continually of my inability to live the Christian life. I now stand aside from my own efforts and ask that the power of Your Spirit in me would live the life that You intend for me to live. You and You alone are “the greatest.” I surrender my will and my strength to You. I ask that You would use me, shape me, in any way that You desire. In the name of Your precious and gracious Son, Amen.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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No longer sinners, we are holy sons and daughters ~ 5-4

God creates out of nothing. Wonderful, you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners. — Søren Kierkegaard

You are not a sinner saved by grace.

Let me explain. At one time you were a sinner, but now that you are saved, your sin-driven past is behind you. You are now a saint who sometimes sins. The difference is in how God looks at you. Look at how Paul describes who you are in Christ:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. (Colossians 1:1-2)

The term “holy” is the same word used for “saint.” If you continue to say that you’re “just a sinner saved by grace,” you’re saying your identity is still that of a sinner.

Not true! At the very moment you trusted Christ, you stopped being a sinner and started being a saint. You were saved by grace from your sin, but your identity as a sinner is gone. You are now a child of God (John 1:12-13).

If we walk around constantly identifying ourselves as sinners saved by grace, we are communicating to ourselves and to others that we are defined by our previous identity. It’s tricky, isn’t it? We want to fully acknowledge to the Father and those around us that we continue to sin, but the Father doesn’t want His children to identify themselves as sinners.

Am I just playing with words here? Absolutely not! The distinction between seeing yourself as a sinner or seeing yourself as a saint makes a huge difference in the way we live our lives. Because no human being can act contrary to the way they believe themselves to be. Think about that one for just a little bit! In the next days we’re going to explore the importance of that in more detail.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Hoping in Christ helps free you from sin ~ 5-8

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. — C.S. Lewis

In 2009, the world was enraptured with the harrowing rescue of 33 men trapped in a mine in Chile. The drama played on some of the greatest human fears: darkness, suffocation, isolation, you name it. But thanks to a small burrowed hole, the men were able to receive goods from the surface. Interestingly, despite their dire predicament, the men later admitted that things were occasionally tense, although overall they were never that terrified.

That seems odd, doesn’t it? It turns out that a team of psychological experts recommended that the rescue commanders on the scene come up with projects and activities for the men to do while the rescue tunnel was drilled. These tasks did not technically assist them in their rescue, but it did something just as important. It kept hope alive. They overcame tremendous hardship because they had tremendous hope.

Because of who we are in Christ, we can latch on to a similar, tangible hope of rescue from sin.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

You can almost hear Peter shouting this encouragement. He’s bursting with infectious enthusiasm. He’s desperate for the people to see that the Father has done something so wonderful that their entire lives need to become consumed with it.

Go back to when you first came to know Christ. Why was it so exhilarating? A big part of it was probably because you felt something like Peter was describing in that verse: Living hope. For perhaps the first time, you truly felt purpose. You had a sense of lasting joy and fulfilled life. You shed your old self for new beginnings.

Knowing who we are in Christ, understanding the unconditional love of a perfect father—it’s like that mineshaft of hope that brings light into our darkness. And yes, that hope is our way of escape. There’s no longer a need to feel trapped in an inescapable hole of sin and darkness. Hope has come!

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Managing your sin doesn’t work ~ 5-5

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above.

— Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Someone who believes they’re a “sinner saved by grace” tends to focus on sin management more than pursuing intimacy with God. They’re too busy trying not to sin to really embrace life as a saint. It’s almost as if they are just waiting to sin again, feeling doomed by its inevitability. Managing sin keeps us looking down in the dumps. We’re never quite able to see beyond the next mistake.

What a tiring way to live! Now, no one is saying that the saint in Christ is going to live a sinless life. (Actually, some people do say that, but that goes contrary to Scripture, too). What this means is that our identity is not that of a sinner.

Paul had an interesting take on the believer’s relationship with sin:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)

That might seem like a contradiction to everything we’ve been talking about, but if you dig deeper, you’ll see that Paul is affirming the sinfulness of his actions, never denying that it’s God’s grace and not his behavior that saved him. In passages like Philippians 3, Paul tells people to imitate him. (He wouldn’t tell them that if he was still the worst of sinners!) He’s acknowledging the reality of sin, but wants his readers to understand that it’s rooted in their old self—residue from their past life and the flesh.

We are indeed prone to wander, like the old hymn says. We will always struggle against our flesh, the world, and Satan. Instead of seeing the Christian life as merely a struggle to manage sin, we can embrace the thrill of being a believer in spite of our sin.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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Prioritizing your relationship with Christ ~ 5-3

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it. — Jane Wagner

When I was 22 years old, you could say my life was characterized by ESPN and the Golden Arches. I watched sports when I got home and ate McDonald’s while I did. If that would have been the rest of my life, I’d probably have been pretty cool with that.

Then one day, I was standing in the church lobby and I noticed this beautiful blond named Libby. I’d known her since I was seven, but I’d never noticed her before.

The rest is history. After the knot was tied, we basked in euphoria and bliss as newlyweds… for a while. Several years into our marriage we started pastoring and the kids started coming. We spent less and less time together, until one day we had to sit down and say, “We need to change some things. We’re growing apart.”

Do you remember those early days when you came to Christ? How it felt like you couldn’t soar any higher in your spirit? Then life took over, and you still loved Jesus, but the blinding excitement of it eventually faded.

On earth, there is constant tension between the temporary and the eternal. It’s natural and normal to feel this tension. We ought to feel the pangs of yearning for the eternal. At the same time, we need to seek joy in Christ as we go about the normalcy of today.

In the same way that Libby and I sat down and made it a priority to talk about our relationship, you need to do that regarding your relationship with Christ.

Overcome the tension and cut through the clutter of the temporary. Sit down, be still, and listen to the Holy Spirit as you read the Word.

Pete Briscoe’s Daily Devotional – ‘Experiencing LIFE Today’

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