New Life Through Baptism

When we repent of our sins, God forgives us wholly and completely. We are made new. Baptism is a wonderful symbol of the new life God gives us when we repent and make Him Lord of our life.

By being baptized, we are making a physical expression of the new life God has placed inwardly in our hearts. The water symbolizes cleansing, and when we lay back to die to our old life, our sin, we are then brought up and cleansed. We are a new creation.

God Put Our Wrong on Jesus to Put Us Right with Him

At the end of each person’s life, we calculate the total value of their life by weighing the amount of bad that they’ve done against the amount of good that they’ve done. If at the end that person has a high positive value, they get to go to the ‘Good Place’. Thank goodness that is not how our God works! Though we tend to think this way about our sin debt. “If I do a little good, it will cancel out the bad.”

The truth is that God sent Jesus to willingly die on a cross to take away our sin. To pay off our debt. All our our “bad” was put on Jesus, so that we could be right with Him. What an amazing gift!

Day 4: You Are Not Worthless

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Not all, but much of the anxiety we experience comes from feeling like we’ll never be enough. Smart enough to accomplish the dream in our hearts. Charismatic enough for other people to listen to us. Holy enough for God to like us.

Those thoughts are not from the Lord. We may feel unworthy at times, but we were never worthless. God loved us so much He sent His Son to pay for our sin so we could have a relationship with Him. Jesus gave His life to be at the table with us. That’s how valuable we are.

When we lose sight of God’s love for us, we begin to live like we are responsible for everything. We forget that God is waiting for us at the table, ready to provide for our physical and emotional needs. Instead of settling our hearts in His presence, we strive to be better and achieve more.

If we’re living each day full of worry and apprehension, it’s time to slow down and ask, “Why?” Follow up the answer to “Why?” with “Who told us that?”

The enemy is crafty, and he will feed anxiety every chance he gets. Instead, allow Jesus to calm your anxious heart.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 8: It’s Time To Move Past Your Shame

Read: Nehemiah 8

The people wept over how far they had walked away from God. Then Ezra, a teacher of the law, and Nehemiah, the governor, told them to move past their guilt and shame. Nehemiah and Ezra weren’t giving the people permission to sin. Instead, they were redirecting the people’s attention: Stop focusing on how bad we are, and start focusing on how great God is. Nothing could undo the past. The people’s hearts were repentant, and it was time to move on.

Realizing we’ve sinned causes a specific kind of sorrow called conviction. The good news for every believer is that Jesus made it possible to move past this grief. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Once we’ve confessed our sin to Jesus and repented, it’s time to stop grieving. We may not feel forgiven immediately, but we are. When Jesus forgives us, we are truly forgiven.

General feelings of worthlessness and shame are not the same as conviction, and these feelings are not from God. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” When we trust that Jesus’ payment was enough, we receive abundant and everlasting grace.

Jesus really does love and forgive us. To be a difference maker, we must operate in Jesus’ strength, choosing His grace over our shame.

Consider This:

How would it change your week to focus on God’s goodness rather than your past?

Pray:

Jesus, show me anything that displeases you. Help me realize I am no longer condemned.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 13: Obeying When It’s Hard

Read: Nehemiah 13

After celebrating the completion of Jerusalem’s wall, Nehemiah finds and excludes all people who are of foreign descent. What is going on here? Why did they do this? Why does the book end this way?

Nehemiah’s decision was not about preserving Israel’s racial heritage. It was about obedience to God. Foreign spouses brought false gods with them and turned the hearts of the people. Nehemiah explains in verses 26-27: “Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations, there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”

This exclusion, though drastic, was a way of saying, “Sin led us to captivity. We can’t go back into captivity again. We can’t ever experience the consequences of disobedience again.”

Sin keeps us from experiencing God’s best in our lives. Only through Jesus can we overcome sin and live in freedom. When we live in freedom, we can point others to the freedom Jesus brings. Jesus made a difference in us so we can make a difference to others.

Consider This:

Is there anything holding you back that needs to be excluded from your life?

Pray:

Jesus, help me do whatever it takes to walk closer to you.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Jesus Wants You to Get Over Yourself

Sin makes us self-centered, and many of us build entire lives around getting what we want. But when asked about Jesus’s teachings, He said the most important truths were “to love God and love others.” (Mark 12:30-31) And this requires us to “die to self.” (Put ourselves last.)

Our lives take on new meaning when we live in self-sacrifice and according to God’s instruction through the Bible. We no longer consider what we want first (our selfish desires); we consider what other’s need first and how we can serve them just as Jesus would.

The Capability of God’s Voice Is Restoration

Sometimes we’ve wandered so far and sinned so much that we start to believe God would never want anything to do with us. We stamp “unforgivable” across our foreheads and hang our heads in shame. But Jesus wants to write “redeemed” across our hearts! Our lives can be forever changed and our relationship with God forever restored if we would simply turn to Him and ask.

Cascading Loss

Pastor Kevin shares a conversation he had with his oldest son soon after he finished high school. He uses the illustration of a parking lot to explain that we don’t drift away from God and our dreams all at once – we cross over one line at a time. Before we realize it, we’ve ended up someplace we never intended to be.

To avoid this, we should focus on pleasing God instead of pleasing ourselves.

What Do You Say to Someone Who’s Losing Valuable Time in Prayer?

There are various ways to pray, but confession is always an important component. Pastor Kevin offers an acronym as a guide: P.R.A.Y. (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) Start with a posture of praise. Then approach God with a clean heart through repentance so that nothing stands in the way. Ask God to grant a request, and then yield to His will for whatever outcome He chooses.

What’s Better Than Forgiveness From Sin?

In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, “Lead us not into temptation.” Temptation, in this instance, means trials that would lead us to fall prey to Satan’s schemes and cause us to sin.

We should pray daily so that God would help us not to become so undone by our challenges that we would believe the lies of the enemy.

Separated from God

God told Adam and Eve, “If you sin, you will die.” They did sin, and they did die. They were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, lost their relationship with God, and all of humanity lost its’ spiritual awareness. Since that moment we have been displaced from God. We have tried to create our own paradise, make up our own rules, decide for ourselves what is truth, all a part from God. It has never worked.

The only answer to returning to what we are created for is surrendering to Jesus.

Mad at God

PK shares a story of when he raced his wife in the car and only “won” by breaking the law.

Setbacks in life are often because of our own sin. We often become mad at God, but the truth is we bring it on ourselves.

When we experience loss in life, it is always due to Sin (personal or universal). We try to blame God for hardships.

In reality, just as the officer was justified in pulling Kevin over for breaking the law, God has a case against us because we messed up His perfect paradise (Garden of Eden).

Sin Leads to Death

Genesis 3 is the story of how Adam and Eve sinned against God, when God had already warned them that the price of sin is death.

Kevin uses a rubber snake as an illustration of how we often view sin. We tend to forget that sin is dangerous and treat it like it’s fake (rubber). But sin is real, and if we sin we die.

Why 12Stone is Here

The name 12Stone serves as a reminder of the rescuing hand of Jesus.

We were all in desperate need of rescue. We were separated from God for all of eternity because of sin. But God sent Jesus to rescue us because he doesn’t want to see us separated from him.

John 17:18 says:

“Father, as you sent me into the world, I have sent them (my disciples) into the world.”

12Stone exists to join Jesus in rescuing those who are near us but far from God.

Keep Battling What Beats You

Humble yourself, get past your pride.

There are places we are vulnerable to peer pressure and signature sins. It’s only when we let God transform those innermost places that we can be defeat what beats us.

A temporary “feel good” fix (like alcoholism, addiction, drugs, pornography, etc…) only starts to make us loathe who we are. Beyond getting over our pride, we have to keep battling what breaks and beats us. This is only done by letting God battle with us.

Theory: Everyone Has A Signature Sin

Dr. Wayne Schmidt believes most of us has a “signature” sin; an area where we have a spiritual “Achilles Heel”.

If we know what ours is and it’s persistent in our lives, we have to put it to “death” daily:

Every dream passes through the cross. Every dream takes you to where you let go of everything and everyone, every agenda and expectation, and then it is only as the Lord resurrects you and your dream that you can go on.

We spend much of our time and energy trying to avoid that place. We want just enough of Jesus to make us happy, just enough to give us peace, and just enough to make things go our way to fulfill our dreams and our agenda.

Meanwhile, He wants to take us to the cross, where our selfish dreams, egos, and plans for “great accomplishments” have to die. The cross brings you to a place of total and absolute surrender of all you have and all your are.

– Chip Ingram, “Good to Great in God’s Eyes”

 

What is Sin?

Our sin nature dates all the way back to Adam and the original sin. To make things even tougher, each of us may have a spiritual “Signature” sin that keeps recurring throughout our lives. Examples of these sins are insecurity and jealousy; hate and anger, lust, addiction – the list goes on (Galatians 5:19-21).

The good news is we do have hope! Examining your life, turning away from your sin, and living under the grace that comes through Jesus’ death on the cross will set you free.

What’s the Problem With Sin?

What’s the problem with sin? (Original, Willful, and Involuntary)

We believe that through the disobedience of Adam and Eve sin entered the world and all creation suffers its consequences.

Conclusion: Crucifixion -> Resurrection -> Synchronization

Reflection & Action:

  • Out of step: What passions or desires may trip me?
  • In step: Where am I experiencing God’s guidance and energy?

God Made the Way to Heaven

There’s a sin gap between where we are and where we long to be. No matter how much we try, we can’t earn our place in heaven.

Thankfully, God made a way – and He made it clear in the Bible. Through Jesus’s death on the cross, we can find forgiveness for our sins and restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

 

 

Is Having Debt A Sin?

While debt is not clearly labeled a sin in the Bible, it is discouraged in Proverbs 22:7, which reads, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

That’s because we’ve all been given a size at which God wants us to live, and debt is something that limits that size. It’s a sin to live smaller than God intended.

Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?

Do you remember the Price Is Right game called “Hi Lo”?

The daytime gameshow standard features a particular game where a contestant is presented with six items from a grocery store. The contestant’s challenge is to pick which three of the items are the most expensive. Those three items are then placed on the “Hi” row, and the remaining three items are placed on the “Lo” row.

If the contestant is successful at determining which items cost the most, they win the game.

Now, a harmless little daytime game may not seem like a good illustration for a biblical post, but people play this game all the time with sin. In fact, it’s the basis of many a Christian’s moral compass. The question usually sounds like this:

Which sins cost me the most, and which ones can I get away with?

As human beings, we have rankings of sin. We tend to think of them as big or small, and we judge our character based on which of the big ones we’re not committing. Meanwhile, we judge the character of others on the little ones they embrace. So while we pat ourselves on the back for not murdering anyone, we cry foul when someone else watches a movie we deem inappropriate.

Here’s the truth about sin: before God, all sin—small or large—is an offense to his holiness. Any sin is enough to separate us relationally from our perfect Heavenly Father. The truth is that all sins carry a cost—which is why all sins need Jesus to cover them, all sins need repentance, and all sins need forgiveness.

Here on earth the differences we see in sin are differences of consequence. Some sins bring far more destruction into our lives on a practical level. Jesus said that lust is the same as committing adultery, but while lust can be hidden for a while, actually committing adultery will blow up a relationship in a heartbeat. Jealously wanting what our neighbor has is the same as stealing, but the police don’t lock you up for wanting your neighbor’s Harley – they only lock you up if you steal it.

If we want to grow deeper in our relationship with God, we have to get brutally honest about our sin. We have to recognize and admit that any sin creates distance between us and our Heavenly Father, and we have to lean into His grace and forgiveness while repenting of our actions. Then, we have to fight against that sin in the future by drawing even closer to God.

Hi or Lo, big or small, we all stand before God guilty as sin—but thank God He made a way for us through the covering of Jesus’ work on the cross.

How Do You Live Free From the Guilt of Sin?

There is a difference between felt guilt and guilt for before our Holy God.

We are guilty before God for our sin, and that’s the guilt that Jesus covers on the cross.

There is also a guilt that we feel for hurting someone we love, and when we sin against God, we hurt Him. He forgives us through Jesus and asks us to release that, but remorse does matter.

Remorse demonstrates the authenticity of our love for God that we have to release. If we didn’t have it, there’s something very wrong in the relationship.

The freedom that God provides is the freedom of the consequences of sin eternally. We never before God and through Jesus will carry the consequence of our sins. But on Earth, there are very real consequences in society. We aren’t free of consequences on Earth. This is the reason God says “Don’t sin.” We’re going to be free in Heaven, but the destruction will be felt on Earth. That often destroys marriages, families, finances, careers, futures, and emotional souls.