How Confession and Forgiveness Work

This past Sunday at Asbury, I preached the last message in our series Thankful. In this series, I talked about the things that we have to be thankful for, we have so many gifts, God has given us a purpose, and finally, I talked about our healing.

The word salvation in the Bible can also be understood as being made “whole.” It isn’t just that God has saved us, but He has made us whole. He had healed us. He has forgiven us.

Forgiveness is a powerful concept. But, how does it work? What is the role that we play in our forgiveness? What is the role that God plays in our salvation?

One of the things that we have done have done is that we have made forgiveness, salvation, all the stuff of God something that we have to earn. We have to do something to be forgiven.

No. We have to accept it. God has forgiven us. The work is done. So, then, what is our role. Are we to do anything? We just get to sit back? Everyone, everything is perfect? No, not really. Listen to what it says in 1 John 1: 8-9:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

ReconciliationWe have a response to make to God’s offer of forgiveness. We don’t “make” God forgive us. We don’t earn it. We don’t do anything to cause it to happen.

We just have to accept it.

And that’s our response. We confess it, not for God’s benefit, but for our’s. Confession is for our good, not for God’s. Confession lets us receive it.

This is why we confess. It makes us take ownership. It makes us look in the mirror and say this – I was wrong. I make a mistake. I failed. It blew it.

If we don’t truly, truly know that we are wrong, we can’t truly, truly feel forgiven. We have to confess. We have to receive it. We have to do our part, for us to truly know and feel that forgiveness.

God has forgiven you. But to truly know it, you have to confess. You have to accept. Without that, you won’t know the true power of His forgiveness.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Burdens and Why I Love the Bible

You know why I believe that the Bible is true? Well, there’s a million different reasons why it’s true. But one of the reasons why I hold to the Bible is that I think it just really lays out how we should live.

I can’t think of anything else that paints a picture of how relationships should go, with God, with each other, with family, with everything. The Bible just so clearly lays out how we should live and what we should do.

For instance, check out what we are told in Galatians 6: 1-5:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

bearNow there’s a lot of thing that we could focus on here, but the thing that jumps out to me in the word “bear.”

First, we are told to bear one another’s burdens. Be there for each other. Help each other out. Support each other. Care for each other. Be there.

But wait you say, a few verses later it says each will have to bear their own load? So which is it? Are we to bear each other’s burdens? Or are we to bear our own?

Yes.

Yes we are. Wait, what? I think this lays it out perfect. We are each to bear our own burdens. We are to take care of ourselves. I am to take care of myself and my family, take care of those that I love.

And this is why. If my things are taken care of, then I am able to help you take care of your burdens. When I have taken care of my stuff, I can help you take care of your stuff.

And here’s the thing. You need to take care of your stuff. Because there’s going to come a time when I can’t take care of my stuff. And I’m going to need your help.

If you bear yours and your burdens are taken care of, then you can help me.

And if I bear my own and my burdens are taken care of, then I can help you.

That’s why we bear our own. So we can bear each others.

That’s beautiful. That’s what it should look like. That’s what faith, what family, is called to look like.

So, today, may we bear our own burdens. So that we have taken care of what we can take care of, and we can fully and easily bear each other’s burdens.

We need each other. Today and each day. May we never forget.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Don’t Admit Defeat!

I’ve heard it said before that there are no coincidences with God. I really believe that. Today is one of those small little moments that make me smile.

At Asbury in my Wednesday night Bible Study, we’ve been walking together through Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It’s been a lot of fun; we take our time; we chase rabbits, we laugh, we enjoy it.

Anyway, we finished chapter 6 last night an I spent a lot of time talking about verse 14. And lo and behold, what is our reading for today, out the Asbury bulletin? Romans 6: 12-14. Pretty cool. Listen to what it says:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

defeat2For sin will have no dominion over you. That’s a powerful phrase. That’s a powerful thought. Sometimes, most times, we feel as through we are helpless against our sin.

We are going to sin, we are going to fall down, we are going to fail. So why fight it? Why push back? Why try? I mean, it’s going to happen.

That’s what we think. We build in excuses for our failure. We are going to blow it. It’s what we do. We are human. It’s going to happen.

And yes, there is truth to that. We do make mistakes. We blow it. We do fail. But.. . . we don’t need to admit defeat before we start.

I had a friend tell me this, and it’s always stuck with me. Yes, sin is powerful. It is. But, is it more powerful than the blood that was shed upon the cross? Is it more powerful than the resurrection and the empty grave?

No. It’s not. As powerful as your sin is, it’s not more powerful than the power of God. It’s simply not.

You don’t have live under the power of sin anymore. Yes, you will make mistakes. But hear this. Sin doesn’t have to control you anymore. It doesn’t. The power of God is great than the power of sin.

As believers, we can live with no more excuses. We can live in the power of God. Not in the power of sin. We will blow it sure. It happens. But have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to resist.

To fight back. To overcome.

Today, you don’t have to be defeated. You don’t. You can live under the power of God. You can.

Today we can be free.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Praying the Psalms

881B038111D14A10A0E5B40875264057As some of you know, I went last year to hear my one of my favorite preachers, Tim Keller, speak in Jackson last week. He has written a new book on prayer that I’m reading now, and I’d encourage you to read as well. It’s a got a simple title – Prayer.

He made several points that I’ve been chewing on the last week or so, but on of the things that he said he has done to improve his prayer life was this.

He read the Psalms. He said that we learn to pray a lot like how people learn to talk. By hearing language spoken. The more words a child hears, the more (and faster) the will speak. He said it’s the same with prayer.

We need to hear prayers to pray better. And that’s why we should read the Psalms. They are the prayer language of the Bible. When we read them, we “read” prayers. We grow our vocabulary. We learn how to pray. We learn what it means to seek God. To seek His face. To desire Him. To know Him.

We learn how to pray.

Reading the Psalms is powerful. And life changing. So today, I just want us to read Psalm 100 together. Just read. Listen. Listen to it. Listen for God in it. What does it make you feel? Think? Experience? How does it draw your heart to God?

How does it make you pray?

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

I’d encourage you to read a Psalm every day. I really believe that it will help us each grow, learn to pray, and learn how to better seek God’s face.

Today, and each day, may we pray.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

It’s Going to Be Ok

I saw a cool thing yesterday about perspective. It talked about how vast the universe is and how truly small we are. It shows the earth in comparison to other planets, then the sun; then the sun compared to other stars. Then our galaxy. Then the knives.

It is truly mind-blowing to see how amazingly big the universe is, and yet how small we are in comparison. It really gives you some perspective than things are different that what we may think that they are.

Today in our reading, we kind of see the same thing with James 4: 13-14. Listen to what it says:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

4189047064_67999aecfeThe thing that you are worried about. That thing. That think that is consuming you. That is robbing your joy; robbing your peace; taking over.

Let me ask you. How important is it really? Stop right now, and ask yourself that question. How important is it really?

Will it be as important tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? A year from now?

It’s going to be ok. Really. It is. No matter what. It is. There is a huge, mighty God that made all of this that we see, all that is going on, all that is around us. Made it all.

And He wants to know you.

Today, remember. This life is just a glimpse in eternity. Don’t be consumed by this moment. Don’t be consumed by this problem. Don’t be consumed by this circumstance.

It’s going to be ok. It is. Remember there’s a God that is bigger than us, stronger than us, mightier than us.

And He loves us.

Trust Him today. Trust Him for eternity. It’s going to be ok.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

The Little Things

Yesterday at Asbury, we talked about how we can be, and should be, thankful for our mission and purpose. And we talked about some ways that we can better find that purpose: taking things off our schedule to give us time, trying something big, and looking with our own lives and seeing how we can make a difference in our lives in the things we are already doing.

I thought about that when I read today’s reading from Ephesians 4: 25-32:

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

little-things1Sometimes we make the Christian faith something big and unattainable. Something that we will never be able to do, something that is just beyond us. That’s why I just really like practical advice and encouragement.

Listen to the little things that we are told to do today:

Speak the truth. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Don’t steal. Work hard. No corrupting talk. Speak well of each other. No bitterness, wrath, anger, or slander. Be kind. Forgive as God forgave you.

You know what? Those are things that each of us can do today. Seriously. Each of us can do these things today.

It’s not always the big things. Sometimes (most times) it’s the little things. The little words. The little smiles. The little efforts. The little cares. The little things.

You don’t have to do something huge to be faithful today. You don’t. You just have to be faithful today. Work hard. Be kind. Forgive. The little things.

In your work, in your play, in your family, in your lives. The little things make a huge difference.

Today, be faithful in those things.

And see what God does.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

So, What Next?

nextOne of the things that I stress a lot, that I talk about a lot, that I really believe is that we are all sinful. We are all broken. All of us.

And when I talk about that, I’m not talking about it in terms of us being the worst people who have ever lived in the history of the world, but all of us, me, you, each of us, we need Jesus. If we aren’t sinful, if we aren’t in need of saving, then why did Jesus come.

Our own experience tells us our need for Jesus and we all fall down. We just know that. We have all experienced that.

Ok, go it. But here’s the thing that I always come to when it comes to talking about our sin, our mistakes. What next? We get it. We are broken. We are messed up. We make mistakes. Ok, got it. But what next?

I want to know what I can do it about it. I don’t want to be just like I am. I don’t want to stay the same.

Listen to what it says today in Romans 6: 12-14:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

There’s that last verse – for sin will have no dominion over you. That’s stuck with me since I’ve read it again recently. As many mistakes as we have made, as much as we mess up every day, as long as we fall down, remember.

As powerful as sin is. God is more powerful. Really. He is. As powerful as temptation is, God is more powerful. As powerful as your faults are, God is more powerful.

You can be more faithful today than you were yesterday.

Today is a new day. Yesterday is past. Done. Gone. Today is new.

Today, let’s be faithful. Let’s not let the mistakes of yesterday, the things that happen, the past, the old, the failings.

Today is a new day. I’m not saying that everything is going to be perfect. I’m not saying that you are going to be perfect. I’m not saying that there won’t be mistakes made.

But what I am saying is that it’s a new day. A today, we can be more faithful than yesterday. We can. We really can. If we are believers, then we have the Holy Spirit within us. We have the very power of God within us, pulling us, pushing us, helping us.

Today, you can do it. Really. You can. Or better said, God can do it through you. He can.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Relax

Today, relax. Just relax. Breathe in deep. Be calm. Relax.

There is a balance that we need in faith. Sometimes, we need faith to be really intense. Really focused. Really looking, seeking, going, just at it hard. That’s a good thing.

Monday, I talked about how Jesus wants to make a choice. Sometimes, we have to just, in that moment and day, make a choice.

But we never need to forget what Psalm 127: 1-2 tells us:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

ss-relax10Unless it is God that is at work, we labor in vain. Unless God builds the house, it is not worth it. Unless God watches the city, the ones that watch it watch in vain.

We rise early; we go to work, we go, we do, we sweat, we toil, we do all these things. We are anxious. We are stressed. We are worried. We are afraid. We are tired.

And we are told God gives His beloved sleep.

We need to remember that. God has it. He is the one that makes it happen. He has it.

The weight of the entire world does not rest upon you. It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. Relax today. Breathe today.

God has it. He knows what He is doing. You can trust. You don’t have to do everything, be everything, go everywhere. God has it.

Trust. Relax. It’s ok. It really is. It’s ok. Today, no matter what is happening, what’s going on, what you are doing, know that God has it, He has you, and you can trust.

Relax.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Jesus Demands a Choice

We have made a mistake with Jesus. We have made a major one. I don’t know that it’s on purpose, but I do know that it has happened over time.

It’s a mistake in understanding exactly who He is. We have made someone He is not. We have made Jesus something He is not.

What is this thing we have done? What is this mistake we have made about Jesus? What have we made Jesus, that He isn’t?

We have made Jesus safe.

Jesus is a lot of things. But one of those things is not safe.

We have made Jesus to be a safe little kitty cat, instead of being the roaring lion of Judah. We have made Jesus someone who is primarily concerned with our happiness and our fulfillment, instead of being the very Son of God, God Himself, creator of all.

We have made Him the one thing He is not. Safe.

Listen to what it says today in Luke 12: 49-53:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

page9_picture0_1356569055Jesus basically says this – you have to make a choice. You have to make a choice about me. Follow me, or not. But you have to make a choice. You can follow me as Lord. Or you can walk away from me. But you have to choose.

And we don’t like to think about Jesus like that do we? We like to see Him someone who only wants us to be happy. But that is not who Jesus is. Jesus is not as concerned with our happiness as we are.

He is concerned with our life.

He don’t offers us happiness. He offers us abundant life. He offers something so much more than just simple happiness. He offers us life, today, each day, and for all eternity.

Happiness is fleeting. Life is eternal.

But the only way that we will know that life is we have to make a choice. Jesus wants us to make a choice. Choose to follow. Or not. It’s your choice.

It’s my choice.

It’s our choice.

Jesus demands a choice. What will we choose today?

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

When We Can’t Feel His Presence

where-is-God-2-300x227One of the things that I believe that truly gives life, that truly changes us and gives us hope, is to be in the presence of God. To know that God is with us, to know that He is there, listening, loving, caring.

In our lives, we have all been there, at some point, knowing that God is with us, God is present, God cares.

Many of us can think of moments, right now, where we felt that way. I can; you can, we all can.

And in just the same way, we can think of moments where we couldn’t feel the presence of God. Where we didn’t know where He was. Where we didn’t think, He was there. Where we felt forsaken. We’ve all been there, too.

So, what do we do? What do we do when we don’t feel God’s presence? Today, in Psalm 105: 4-6 we are offered two suggestions. Listen to what it says.

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

First we are told this. Keep seeking. Keep seeking after God. Keep doing the things where you experience God.

Keep reading His word. Keep praying. Keep serving. Keep looking. Keep listening. Keep seeking. And you will find Him. You will. He is there.

And second, remember what He has done. Remember where He has been faithful. Remember where He has shown Himself. Remember how He has loved you, saved you, called you, been there for you. Remember. Remember.

Never forget. Never forget who He is. Never forget what He has done. Never forget how He loves. Never forget.

He hasn’t left. He hasn’t. Even if you can’t feel Him. He is there. Keep seeking Him. He is there. Keep remembering. He is there.

Even if you can’t feel it, don’t quit. Don’t forget. He is there. Hold tight to that.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!