Category Archives: Sanctification

Reflecting on the Gospel

You and I communicate the gospel we believe by the way we live our life.   Whether it’s in our conversations, our associations, what we hate or what we admire.  Reflecting on your conversations, your passions and your life will give you great insight into the gospel you believe and the gospel you share with others.  

A woman shares about a wedding she attended.  The wedding was beautiful, gospel centered yet the strongest point made was both the bride and groom came to the altar virgins.  Coming to the altar virgins is a glorious gift to your spouse and a way to honor God but it is not a noble badge to wear.  I’m not undermining the importance of honoring God with your bodies.  God’s ways are good and to embrace them is right.  However; when we boast in virginity we unintentionally disqualify others who are not from thinking they are worthy or able to have a meaningful, gospel-centered, God honoring wedding.  Statements focused on obedience to the law convey a gospel that is all about self-righteousness and right living.  Yes, the Holy Spirit in believers does a glorious work in our messy, stain-filled, corrupted heart despite us.  Holiness is God’s glorious work, not ours.  Many may get defensive saying we make choices and we need to be obedient.  Yes, we do, but don’t you see…even our obedience is God’s work in us; we’d never be obedient on our ownAny good in us is only God and God, not the “Good Christian”, should be glorified.  When we communicate right living is what matters most, we communicate a moral gospel.  A moral gospel disqualifies sinful people from ever thinking Jesus could love them.  This is not the true gospel, because Jesus came to save sinners.  While we were still sinners He saved us.   There is  no doubt the woman at the well could have one amazing God glorifying wedding and she would not be coming as a virgin.  The true Gospel redeems lives despite past choices.

A  woman is passionate about a cause or particular people group.  Her heart is incredibly passionate about justice for select people.  In her passion,  a hatred arises of anyone who may be contributors to the wounds or injustice of her select cause or group.  The gospel being communicated is only good for those who are oppressed, not the oppressor.  This is not the true gospel.  Jesus saves wicked people, not just under privileged people. Jesus gospel is for both the oppressor and the oppressed.  Paul is a clear example of this.  We read and recite his letters yet hate those who are like him.  If this is the gospel you communicate, I challenge you to love those who are not in need of you.  Love those who don’t want anything you have to offer.  Love those who won’t follow you, but may follow Jesus.  Love those who won’t jump on your bandwagon.  Love those who you can’t make a project or a part of your work. Love the oppressor and the oppressed without partiality or favoritism.  Loving the oppressor may not feel as noble, but your nobility is not the point, loving others is.

Jesus has given us clear commands and demonstrated in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension that His Gospel is for everyone.  It isn’t for a select people group or a reward for behavior.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t exclude and elevate people based on their passions and lifestyles.  It’s not purpose driven, its heart driven.  God so loved the world He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.  World includes everyone.  Whoever believes is not a people group, formula or moral code.  It’s those who have put their faith not on what they do, but on what Jesus did.

Take notice of the gospel you communicate and check it with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Where are you communicating an exclusive gospel?

The Gospel is faithful to work in us as we seek to share it with others.  If we aren’t seeing our need for the Gospel in sharing the Gospel, we can be sure we are communicating a wrong gospel.  Genuine desire to know Jesus and make Him known will purge us of our biases, our crooked thinking and our corrupted hearts.  That is what the Gospel does…it saves sinners and makes them right with God.

What’s Your Verse?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock Matthew 7:24

New Year’s Resolutions.  Some people like them, some don’t.  Some get encouraged by them; some see them as a set up for failure.  Fresh starts, new beginnings, clean slates, mercy new every morning…this breathes hope.    

This year instead of coming up with one word or making resolutions I can’t keep, I’m grabbing hold of a bible verse.  It’s a familiar verse, one I could recite and tell you where it is in scripture, but it’s not become a part of me.  I haven’t put this verse into practice and to be honest with you, it’s been a hard year.  Not hard in the sense of trials or tragedy; overall, we are very blessed.  What’s made this year hard for me is what I’ve been dwelling on.   I’ve chosen to let my mind dwell on lies, doubt, things I can’t change, things I wish were, but aren’t. 

Truth sets us free.  Applying God’s truth is how we build lives on the Rock.  We can study God’s word, be in bible study and know the scriptures; but it isn’t how much we know, it’s what we apply.  This is a real danger of bible study, you can get head knowledge and not live it.  I’ll never forget doing some purging in my home.  Looking down I had stacks of bible studies scattered all around me.  It was sobering.  I gazed and thought, does my life and relationships reflect all this time spent in God’s Word?  We must practice and apply or all we are doing is deceiving ourselves.

God’s word is powerful.  As the Hebrew writer tells us, the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  So this year I’m grabbing hold of a verse that has the power to purify my mind and transform what I dwell on. 

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

This is my verse for 2017.  Praying about it, processing what it means, and practicing it.  Can you just image with me for a minute the difference this truth embraced will make?   By allowing God’s Word to work through the power of the Holy Spirit, my mind is about to get a makeover and some long time needed cleansing.  I cannot wait!

How about you?  What verse will you grab hold of this year to permeate your mind and transform your heart?  I’ve listed a few to help get you thinking, but don’t settle or do to do.  Ask God!  Seek Him for what He would have for you.    God’s word is powerful…more powerful than any word for the year or resolution.  Power beyond the will power we muster up which fades over time.  God’s word completes what it sets out to accomplish and promises to not return void.

Grab hold of a verse and experience enduring change that will last long beyond 2017.

 

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5
  • It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in humans – Psalm 118:8
  • I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
  • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  –Ephesians 4:29
  • I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:12
  • 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
  • Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. – 1Timothy 4:14
  • My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
  • The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love – Psalm 33:5

Making Personal Holiness a Priority

This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so they will not be a stumbling block that causes your punishment. Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. So repent and live! Ezekiel 18:30-32

 “Break my heart for what breaks Yours”….these lyrics ran through my mind as I pondered God’s heart through His Word. What breaks His heart? Sin. Your sin. My Sin. While we can have a heart for ministry and injustice, if we bypass the heart of why those things exist…we continue to contribute to it.

It is so tempting to overlook our own sin while standing for causes that honor God. It’s so tempting to lead, worship, serve and fellowship with one another all the while negating the very thing that breaks God’s heart. Sin’s nature seeks to convince us it isn’t that bad. It is! It robs and destroys us. When we confess our sin and the power is broken, new life and greater glory erupts.

Never underestimate the value of personal holiness – getting honest and letting God purify our hearts, making us more like Christ. Oh it’s much easier to focus on what we can do for God but stepping over our own personal holiness to accomplish things for God is missing the point and contaminating the work.

Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Holiness

God’s heart breaks over sin because He knows its only purpose is to enjoy destroying us. If we do nothing else but come clean before God and allow Him to purify us, we’ve done everything. A pure heart can’t help but to love God and others more deeply.

Sin causes us to stumble, it hurts others and it hurts us. As long as we carry our sin along it affects and limits us. When we think we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves.  Friends, we can’t afford to be deceived! That sin we keep putting off, or the sin God is waiting to reveal, is keeping us from good and glorious places.

God takes no pleasure in death. Not the death of a relationship, a life, a dream or a hope. He takes no pleasure in our stumbling. He has provided a better way – a way where we can put off the sin that so easily entangles us so that we can run the race and live the abundant life.  Bring it to the cross of Christ where all power to overcome is waiting.

2Timothy 2:20-21 tells us that if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Don’t you want to be a special instrument in the Master’s hands? It begins with our personal holiness.

This past week I’ve intently prayed asking God to search my heart. Not only did He convict me of sins that continued hindering me, but He graciously revealed to me how ONE sin affected so many areas. God does not waste our time or overwhelm, He gets to the heart. While we seek to change our behavior in multiple areas, God reveals the root that leads to all those areas. When clarity comes confession follows and before long we are embracing new freedom in Christ.

Before jumping into a new season this Fall, will you join me in sincerely asking God to search your heart and cleanse you by the power of His Spirit so that you can be a radiant light shining into a dark world.

God Convicts us to Cleanse us NOT Condemn us.

Here are some passages to pray through asking God to convict what He wants to cleanse.

  • Galatians 5:16-26
  • Ephesians 4:17-32
  • Colossians 3
  • Psalm 51
Seeking to Serve Him with a pure heart for His glory and the good of many