Lord, put into my life enough delays to teach me patience. .......................enough failure to teach me humility. .......................enough expenses to teach me to work. .......................enough needy people to teach me generosity. .......................enough leisure to teach me to enjoy myself. .......................enough health to allow me to help the sick. .......................enough barriers to teach me perseverance. .......................enough illness to teach me to accept help. .......................enough stress to teach me serenity. .......................enough loneliness to teach me to reach out. .......................enough joy to teach me to smile. .......................enough questions to teach me faith. .......................enough of YOU to teach me awe.
“As a Christian, all my sins of the past, present and future have been forgiven. Therefore, I don’t need to repent. Repentance is only for lost people, isn’t it?”
Unfortunately, many of God’s children have such an attitude concerning repentance. And their lack of repentance causes them to miss the blessings of a close relationship with Him.
Repentance is not one of the things from which we are “set free” when we are saved. This is pointed out in II Chronicles 7:14 when God said “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin.” (Emphasis mine.)
We, more than non-Christians, should be sickened by sin, especially the sin in our own lives. We know that our sins damage others and displease God. Thus, more than all other people we should be ready, even anxious, to repent.
The Chronicles verse makes another important point. Repentance is more than confession. Confession alone involves only “I acknowledge I did it and I’m sorry.” There is nothing beyond the past (“I did it”) and the present emotional impact (“I’m sorry.”)
Spirit-led repentance includes both of these plus a future resolve. God included this factor when He said “…and turn from their wicked ways.” Genuine repentance requires that we attempt, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to avoid sinning again.
For the Christian, confession is the beginning of what we are called to do after we have sinned. Repentance is the completion of God’s call to destroy the barriers sin places between us and our heavenly Father.
We sing “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on…” without realizing that if we want to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus we will have to go where He wants to go, when He wants to go, as fast as He wants to go and then stand still when He says to. Traveling with Jesus means we let Him make all the “going” decisions.
Our spiritual ears work best when our emotional knees are bent and our physical mouth is shut.
God loves me too much and too wisely to give me too much responsibility in his kingdom. But He loves me too much to give me no responsibility.
If we want advice from God we need to have the humility to ask, the patience to wait for the answer, the faith to trust his answer is best and the courage to act on it.
God can’t do his work through us until we let him do his work in us.
If our churches had more suggestion boxes there would probably be more money in the collection boxes.
It is better to ask God rather than tell Him. (We really can’t tell God anything He does not already know.)
We must learn to recognize God’s mercy, be grateful for it and share it.
- Jesus prayed early in the morning. (Mark 1:35)
- Jesus obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 4:1)
- Jesus cared about lost people he had never met. (Matthew 23:37)
- Jesus met the physical needs of others. (Mark 6:36-42)
- Jesus cared about the emotional needs of others. (Luke 24:36; Matthew 10:31)
- Jesus let God control his speech. (John 14:10)
- Jesus turned regular conversations towards spiritual issues. (John 4:4-41)
- Jesus attended church regularly. (Luke 4:16)
- Jesus fulfilled family responsibilities. (Luke 2:52; John 19:26-27)
- Jesus gave proper priority to physical possessions. (Matthew 8:20)
- Jesus helped disciple new believers. (John 6:3)
- Jesus welcomed “outsiders”. (John 4:4-41)
- Jesus faced criticism in order to tell the truth. (Mark 2:13-17; Mark 3:1-6)
- Jesus had an enthusiasm for the church. (Mark 11:15-17)
Jehovah knew we could never understand a god who could create galaxies, control storms and harness the tides. But He thought maybe we could understand a god who washed feet, loved children and cried at funerals. So He sent Jesus.
Should we study God’s word so that we can be informed or transformed? Are we as willing to be confronted and challenged as we are to be comforted and calmed?
In my efforts to please my Father and be like Jesus, do I emphasize rules or relationships? Have I allowed myself to settle for a reasonable degree of success in the “Thou shall not” part of Christianity while allowing myself to fall short in the “Cup of cold water aspect”?
Lost people don’t need to see good people working for God; they need to see a good God working through people. And these good people need to be aware of and acknowledge that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables them to do that work.
What specific things did I do yesterday that said to the world “That man loves God”? What will I do tomorrow that says the same thing?
The Father decides. The Son delivers. The Holy Spirit defines.
I ridiculed others......God loves me anyway. I ignored a need........God loves me anyway. I was selfish...........God loves me anyway. I lied..................God loves me anyway. I spread gossip.........God loves me anyway. I lost my temper........God loves me anyway. I held a grudge.........God loves me anyway. I disobeyed.............God loves me anyway. I coveted...............God loves me anyway. I was greedy............God loves me anyway. I was hypocritical......God loves me anyway. I was impatient.........God loves me anyway. I was jealous...........God loves me anyway. I cheated...............God loves me anyway. I cursed................God loves me anyway. When things are going well God will fill us with gratitude and when things are not going well He will fill us with fortitude...if we let him. I want to be a trophy to be admired on God's mantle. God wants me to be a tool to be used in his workshop.
God is more interested in developing me into a tool for his service rather than a trophy for his mantel.
I am a nobody trying to tell everybody about the Somebody who can save us all.
For a child of God his mercy will last longer and be stronger than his discipline.
I am glad God gave us commandments. How else would we know how to please Him?
Does God intend for me to be a soldier or a lamb, a crusader or a teacher, a fierce defender of the faith or a little child approaching Jesus?
May God’s joy in my heart soften my judgements of others and allow his grace to spill over onto them.
A life of service to God is much to be preferred over a life of comfort for self. Do we really believe that?
God applies his forgiveness to our sins with eagerness and joy, not with reluctance and regret. As much as that forgiveness cost Him…..the death of Jesus…..we can be sure He delights in applying it to us. I must give to others what God has given me.
Dear Father, slow me down before I break down and lift me up before I blow up.
Are you stymied for gift giving ideas? Giving gifts can be problematic in our society of affluence when trying to find something for those who “have everything.” Here’s an idea for consideration. The ideal gift is yourself.
That’s right, give away some of yourself:
Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you. Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down. Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family. Give a listening ear to someone who is lonely. Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss. Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is overlooked. Give a gentle response to the frustrated. Give a quiet push to someone needing encouragement. Give the benefit of a doubt to the misunderstood. Give a second thought to someone else's opinion. Give forgiveness to those who have harmed you. Give a second chance to someone who has failed.
God gave Jesus to us on the first Christmas morning. Jesus gave his life for us on a cross of disgrace. How much of ourselves are we willing to give others this Christmas season?
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus said “I stand at the door and knock.”
Which door? The front door, we hope. That is the door we want Him to enter. We want Him in the part of the house most likely to be dusted and “picked up.” This is the part of the house that is ready for an honored guest.
But what if He is standing at the garage door or the back door? What if Jesus wants to come in through those “other” parts of our house? Are we as anxious to let Him see our storage room and garage as we are for Him to see the “parlor?” What if Jesus wants to see our clutter room and our “junk” drawer?
While Jesus is visiting are we going to take Him on a tour of all the house? Will we open every door and even allow Him to look into the closets and behind the shower curtain? How about the medicine cabinet and the magazine rack?
How long will Jesus stay? That depends on us. How long do we really want Him to stay?
However, if we want Jesus to be a permanent resident in our home, we will have to clean out all known sin and disobedience. He will not abide long where He is expected to share living quarters with known sin.
Such house cleaning cannot be done alone. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will show us just what clutter and junk has to be removed and He will give us the ability to do our share of the clean up.
In Luke 10 and Matthew 25, Jesus told his followers to be concerned with the physical and emotional needs of their neighbors. Then in Luke 19:10, he stated that the main purpose for his incarnation was to meet the spiritual needs of the human race. In Matthew 28:19-20, he directed us to have the same priority – the spiritual needs of others.
Before we can successfully carry out this Great Commission we must have the
Courage to Care
We must allow the Holy Spirit to created within us a sincere attitude of concern. We must allow the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments of others to become important to us. Until we have a true, heart-felt caring attitude we will not be successful “Great Commission” Christians.
Courage to Contact
The boldness of first century Christians caused them to go to public places and intentionally meet non-Christians so they could witness to them about Jesus. They were not content to form a holy huddle and hide their light inside the walls of a church building. We, too, must be willing to meet and interact with lost people so we can tell them the Good News.
Courage to Confront
In our live-and-let-live society, most of us avoid confrontations because they make us uncomfortable. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, by its very nature, confrontational. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:34-37. Every person is either lost or saved, serving God or serving Satan, condemned or forgiven. The Great Commission will never be carried out until we confront the world with this knowledge.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to make us brave enough to care, contact and confront.