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What if I’ve committed a Terrible Sin?

“Is there any hope for me if I’ve committed a terrible sin?”

Of course there is, that’s why Jesus died on the cross. The good news is that you understand that what you have done is a terrible sin against the Lord. God has made your conscience sensitive to His Law and you have responded to your conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit to seek reconciliation and forgiveness with the Lord.Head in Hands

But the question is “how is the gospel applied to my terrible sin? Or maybe, what should I do if I’ve committed a terrible sin?”

First, confess it to the Lord. Only you will be able to tell if your heart is genuinely sorry for what you’ve done. Your relationship to the Lord is the most important relationship that you have and God wants to talk to you about this terrible sin. He wants you to see exactly how terrible and heinous it is in His sight. He wants you to understand what you really deserve for sinning against a holy God. And what you deserve is to face the wrath of God, experiencing physical death and spiritual death for all eternity. Contemplating and meditating on the seriousness of this situation is healthy for your soul and it will enable you to appreciate the lengths that God has gone to in order for you to not have to face His wrath. Namely, that God the Father, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die in your place, physically and to wash you clean from all your sins, past, present and future.

Secondly, repent of your sin. This simply means to turn away from your sinful behavior and to ask the Lord to cleanse your heart from ever wanting to sin in this way again. Repentance is about turn away from sin but also turning back to the Lord. It is about making a change.

Thirdly, our repentance leads us to put our faith in Christ and His work accomplished through His life, death, resurrection and reign. We are believing that the promises of God are better than the promises of the sin we just committed. We are putting our faith into Jesus who has taken our sin upon himself and placed his righteousness upon us.

Finally, we begin to obey the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The grace that we have received from Christ’s redemptive work does not allow us to keep on sinning but rather to develop a hatred for sin and a love for obedience to God and His Word. Leviticus 20:7-8 says, “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies.”

Live everyday in this rhythm of confession, repentance, faith and obedience. Believe with the greatest confidence that Jesus died for your most heinous and terrible sins and He does not want you to be enslaved to it any longer. Nor does Jesus want you to despair because of your sin. Jesus wants you to find hope in His gospel.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

Cowardly or Courageous?

There are two types of people; those who have surrendered their life to Christ and those who are still putting up a fight.  Some people think that those who surrender in battle are cowards.  I don’t think this is always true. Surrendering in battle actually takes courage.  When you surrender you are placing your life in the hands of your enemies.  You are hoping they will treat you fairly and with dignity and that one day when the war is over, you will be set free.  Cowards are the ones who run from the battle and hide. 

The thing about this war with God is that we can’t win.  There is absolutely no hope to beat God.  He is just too powerful, too just, and too loving.  So I am encouraging everyone who is still fighting against God to surrender.   It will take courage, especially since you have no idea how God is going to treat you and whether or not you will ever be set free from His captivity.  But let me assure you…God will treat you with dignity, He will love you unconditionally, He will show you mercy and He will set you free.  Freedom with God is different than what most of the world thinks though.  Freedom with God is when He sets us free to be who He originally created us to be.  You see, for those who are still battling against God, putting up a good fight, you are actually enslaved.  You are enslaved to a lifestyle that focuses on yourself, which is actually pretty pathetic.  Why would anyone want to settle for something so little when you could have so much?  Why settle for a purpose in life that centers around a creature who is so limited?  We were created to live in relationship with the eternal God.  We were created in His image and our purpose is to worship Him and glorify Him in all we do, say and think.  I know this sounds absolutely crazy for those who are battling against Him, but just think about it.  God created us to live in this awesome relationship.  He gave us the entire world to have dominion over and to rule.  He said that He would walk through life with us, every step of the way.  But we have chosen to rebel against God, run away from Him and then try to rule the world without Him? What is that all about?  Why would we give up so much to attain so little?  It doesn’t make sense.  What does make sense is when we realize what we have done, how stupid and self-centered it is and then return to God.  God uses this word called “repent”.  This just means that God wants us to turn away from our old way of living, our old way of thinking and turn back towards Him.  Only when we come back to God will anything in life begin to make sense or have meaning and purpose.

But how in the world is this possible?  If God is really just then it would go against His perfect and holy character to let me, His enemy, go free without punishment?  God has made it possible by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to take your penalty upon Himself.  Jesus lived a perfect life, perfectly fulfilling every law that God demanded.  God sent Jesus to die for you, in your place.  So God really is just and His justice was taken out on His own Son, Jesus.  So surrendering to God means believing that Jesus died for your sins and giving your heart over to Him.

So, you may be a coward and run away from God, you may have the gall to stand and fight God or you may have the courage to surrender to God through Jesus.  But ultimately, God is going to win the battle, whether you like it or not and whether you believe it or not.  So my suggestion is to surrender to God.  Believe that Jesus died for you, that He rose from the grave and now sits at God’s right hand.  Believe that He will send His Holy Spirit to come and live in your heart, to walk through every moment of life with you.  Come back to God and let Him take you captive.  It is His great desire to have you back, to show you mercy and grace, to love you unconditionally.  Surrendering to God has no regrets.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

Everyone’s a Teacher

From guest Blogger, Paul David Tripp

The following was taken without permission from Tripp’s book, Whiter than Snow; Meditations on Sin and Mercy.  I highly recommend this to purchase.  My wife Julie has been reading this book in her devotional time and thought it would interest me.  It obviously did and so I am passing it on to you.

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”  Psalm 51:13

   Do you know that God has called you to be a teacher? You say, “Come on, Paul, you’ve got to be kidding! I’ve never been to a seminary. I freeze up whenever I have to say something in front of a crowd. I don’t feel that I’m as biblically literate as I should be. I don’t think God really intends me to be one of his instructors.”

   Let me explain what I’m talking about. It’s true that God sets apart a certain people for formal teaching ministry in the church. He gives them the gifts and grace necessary to do the thing he’s called them to do. But the formal ministry of the Word in the body of Christ is only one aspect of the church’s teaching ministry. Paul says, in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” It’s clear here that he’s talking about the myriad of everyday-life ministry opportunities that God will give every one of his children.  According to Paul, you have been called to teach. And if you want to understand what that means, you need to understand that there’s no real separation between life and ministry. Rather, the Bible teaches that every dimension of human life is, at the very same time, a forum for ministry.

   This is where David comes in. He says, in Psalm 51, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways.” David is reminding us that what qualifies us to teach in the personal ministry context of daily life is the grace that we have received in our own moments of need.  This teaching isn’t about laying out a comprehensive theology of grace. Most of us wouldn’t be qualified to do that. No, what it’s actually about is realizing that my story of God having rescued me by his grace is a tool that God intends to use in the lives of others. As I teach others, by being willing to share my own story, I am actually being a tool of transforming grace in their lives. In this kind of one-on-one, informal ministry, I’m not teaching the person about grace.  No, I’m sharing my experience of grace. People learn, not because I’ve opened the dictionary of grace, but because I’ve shown them the video of grace in operation.

   So, are you a good steward of your story of grace? Have you thought about how to tell your story in a way that puts God and his grace in center stage? Have you looked around and considered who’s living with or near you who could benefit from your story of grace? Where have you tended not to let your gratitude shine as brightly as it should? Where have you been unwilling to talk honestly about how much you were (and continue to be) a person in need of rescue?

   So, it’s true; you have been called to teach.  Maybe not as a pastor, small group leader, Sunday School teacher, or foreign missionary. But you have been called to a daily life of gospel transparency, where you’re ready, willing and waiting to share your gratitude for the grace you’ve been given someone who needs it just as much as you.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

A Love Story?

My wife is reading a book called Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. It is a fictional book based on the historical Biblical Minor Prophet Hosea. It’s a gut wrenching story of love, prostitution and redemption. In the Bible, God tells Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer. God’s purpose is to show Israel that they are His Bride but have prostituted themselves with the idols of other nations. Hosea reveals how the people have degraded themselves with sin and idolotry against a pure and holy God. Even after Hosea marries Gomer, she continues to go back to her way of life as a prostitute. In the fictional book, Redeeming Love, the wife continues to go back to her life of prostitution as well. She does not know any other lifestyle, she feels like this is just how she was made and that this is just how life is going to be. She also feels dirty and unworthy when she is around her husband who loves her deeply and keeps accepting her back.
What a perfect picture of how we, even as believers can act towards God. We have been redeemed by Christ. Christ has brought us out of our degraded life of idolotry and rebelliousness and into a right relationship with God. However, we often go back to some of our old ways, giving in to old desires and worshiping our old worthless idols of materialism, lust and self-satifaction. The Good News is that God relentlessly pursues us. He will never let us wander too far off. His hand is ever upon us even when we sin. What we need to “do” is to “believe” in who we really are because of what Jesus has “done” for us. You see Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins. We believe in faith that Jesus died for us and God imputes the righteousness of Christ upon us. That big word imputes means that Christ has washed us clean from all of our sin; past, present and future. Then God takes the righteousness of Christ and clothes us with it, like giving us new permanent clothes that are holy and pure. Even though, we, like Gomer, do not always see ourselves as worthy of anyone’s love. But because of what Jesus has done on the cross we can see ourselves as holy and pure, as one who has been completely redeemed. We do not have to go back to our old ways, old habits, or old loves. We have to trust and believe that God has made us new people.
While the story of Hosea seems like a strange love story, it is actually a beautiful love story of an awesome God who relentlessly pursues His people with an infinite love He has showered us with in His Son Jesus Christ.
I hope that today you will believe that God loves you unconditionally, that He continues to be faithful in the midst of our faithlessness and that He will never, ever give up on you.
Happy Valentines Day!
Fletch

Life is NOT about ME

Is it better to live here on earth or is it better to be in heaven with Jesus?  To live here on earth means that we experience pain, suffering, difficulty and sorrow.  We have to live in a wretched world full of sin and misery.  Disease, sickness, depression, hatred and selfishness characterize our daily lives.  But in heaven none of this exists.  There is no sorrow, pain or sin.  Heaven is a holy place.  So is there really a question as to which is better?  Of course we will be better off in heaven.  Then the question follows…why don’t we just go to heaven once we become a Christian and skip the pain and misery of living here on earth?

The answer comes from the Scriptures;

 

21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.” Philippians 1:21-26

 

Paul says that it is better to be with Christ but to remain here on earth means fruit labor.  He says “it is necessary on your account.”  Don’t miss this.  For Paul, it is better to be in heaven with Christ.  But Paul is not looking at his life according to what is best for him.  Paul is looking at life from the perspective of what God thinks is best.  God wants Paul here on the earth for the progress and joy of the Philippians.  So Paul’s life here on earth has nothing to do with himself, at least not directly.  Paul’s life is to be lived for others for the glory of God. 

The problem is that most of us go through life living for ourselves.  So we live life exactly the opposite of how God wants us to live it.  We must understand the Biblical concept of not living life for ourselves but for God and for others.  Jesus makes this clear when He is asked what is the first and greatest commandment in Matthew 22:34-40.  Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.  Neither commandment says that we should live for ourselves.  There should be no confusion.  Except that our sinful nature constantly and consistently puts ourselves at the heart and center of everything.

Somehow we have to lose sight of ourselves and get caught up in loving God and loving others.  Joel Osteen has a bestseller called “Your Best Life Now”.  Where’s the focus? It’s on YOU.  I think a title of a more Biblical book would be called, “Life is not about you!”  It probably wouldn’t be a bestseller.  But it would be glorifying to God, whereas Olsteen’s book is a stench to God.