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Confession

Confession is the expression of our greatest need, in that God would forgive us and in this, give us the power to forgive ourselves.

“Whenever you see sin or failure in your life, immediately look by faith to Christ and seek His forgiveness; and keep on looking to Him. The more you look at yourself, the more discouraged you will become. Focus on His perfections, not your own imperfections.” – Warren Wiersbe

This is an incredible statement, but hard for us to process.  When we see God in the midst of our failures, the point is that a transfer of trust is happening.  We no longer rely on our inconsistency for righteousness.  We rely on His perfections, so when we see them, we have a confidence, not of our ourselves, but that God is capable to forgive because of who He is.

It takes something with imperfection to clean something dirty.  God’s perfections are capable to cleanse us.  That process begins with wanting to be made clean.  It begins with confession.

Confession is the precursor to real surrender, where a heart that has been humbled comes before a perfect God able to forgive sins.  Confession is always a beginning in someone’s life.  Confession is how change happens in a person in such a way that genuine confession becomes the beginning of healing, restoration and even growth.

Augustine says it this way:

“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” ~ Augustine

For an evil to end in a person’s life confession is the means by which we can close the door of its impact on the heart and invoke change.  The most damaging sin is hidden sin.  It is confession that brings it to light to be dealt with.

There is an empty confession.  That kind of confession is genuine coming from a person’s mouth, but not genuine in the person’s life.  It’s a form of hypocrisy really.  Confession alone is no substitution for holiness, but genuine confession will lead to holiness if it invokes change.

A person who sees their confession through with their actions arrives again and again at the destination of holiness, not because they are perfect, but because a loving God has made them clean.  

Confession without a changed heart will never lead to a changed life and we must understand what is at stake.  Imagine a Christian life where a person is ignorant of their own sin or unrepentant of their own sin.  What kind of Christ life is that?  Does it take a person anywhere?  Of course not, but many people choose a Christian life lacking in the holiness that confession initiates.

As we fast, use this time to go before God, whether confessing sin or confessing your need to draw closer to Him.  A Christian life without holiness is as useful as a car without gas.  What is it in our lives that we need to confess before God?  Use this fast to invoke real change.

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Beyond Surface Level Christianity

What does it mean to be a true follower of Christ?

Does it mean to go to Church every Sunday? To read your Bible now and then? That if you were baptized everything is fine and you don’t have to do anything else? 

What does being a true follower mean to you? 

Mark 8:34 – And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” 

Surface Christianity is not a true following of Christ. In your heart and your mind, if you have a true love for our Savior, you should pick up your cross daily to follow Him. Jesus should be a part of your life, not just on Sunday. We should be in the word, be living it, showing it to others, and following Christ. Unfortunately, with all the distractions of everyday life, this is becoming less and less. 

John 12:26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. 

It starts with our hearts, with our free will, we must make that decision. As humans though our automatic decision in our hearts is to choose ourselves first. What can I do for me? Me, me, me. The heart can defy us and make us think negative or sinful things. 

Matthew 15:19 Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” 

God gave us free will to choose Him. To be a true follower, we must choose Him every day. Serving Him and following Him is all a part of that. We are to be His light that shines every day. 

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Are you truly living with Christ in your life? Or are you going through the motions? It’s easy to say that we are just too busy, or you can do something later. But Jesus showed us the way. He wanted us to follow Him, pray to the Father, know the word, and share it with others.  

God calls to us every day, we must take up our cross daily and show the world His amazing love. Move beyond surface Christianity and what we think will make US look better. It’s not about us…. It’s about Him. 

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Faith

Elton Trueblood relates the story of a man who had the crazy idea he wanted to walk a tight wire across Niagara Falls, pushing a wheelbarrow with a man in it. The wire walker erected a simulated practice situation in his backyard. Daily the determined person practiced, first with a balance bar, later without it. Eventually, after long, tiring weeks of hard work, the “wire-walker” became very good. At last, the day arrived for the hazardous undertaking. Neighbors and persons from the press assembled. Looking nervously across the rushing water the stuntman said to an admiring friend, “Joe, do you believe I can do it?” 

“I absolutely believe you can.” 

The performer looked out over the falls one more time: “Joe, do you really believe …?” 

“I really believe you can.” 

“Fine, you’re my man. Get in the wheelbarrow.” 

Imagine the question was given to you:  Would you believe enough to get into the wheelbarrow?

Most of us would say no.  But isn’t this an accurate analogy of the invitation of the Christian life?  We either have enough faith for it, or we don’t.  We get in or we don’t get in.  We admire others in the wheelbarrow, but we would never actually take such a risk ourselves.

Unfortunately, it’s how we treat faith today.  We’ll show up to the event; we’ll admire others with enough faith to get in; we may even be willing to pay a price for admission, but we would never actually get in ourselves.

We are inspired by the faith of others when we hear their stories, but we never imagine living them out ourselves.  Consider this:

What are you doing right now in your life that requires faith?  What are you doing right now, that if God doesn’t come through, it won’t work?  Do we live with this kind of faith or are the lives we live much more controlled than this?  We almost manage ourselves out of our need for faith until a crisis hits and then when it does, we lack the faith we need to face it.

The time has come where we need to test our faith.  The time has come to believe big things for God’s glory and see if He comes through.  It’s time to pray and ask God to increase the faith we have.

I believe we have lived too long on selective faith where we choose the terms by which faith happens or doesn’t happen in our lives.  It’s time to take away the terms and restrictions of our faith and allow God to move in your life unconditionally.  

We know when faith is accomplished, God is glorified and our lives are meant for that very thing.  

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

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Peace

In the past year we’ve seen protests, riots, shootings, and bombings. Yet everyone says they want peace. People were looking for peace when Jesus walked the earth, and they looked to him to bring it. What they didn’t understand is that he did bring peace, just not in the way they expected. It wasn’t through physical force or overthrowing the Roman government. He gave them peace in their hearts and minds.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”     ~  John 14:27 NIV

There is only one way for us to have true peace – when our hearts and minds are turned to God. The closer we get to Him, the easier it is to experience His peace, despite the chaos that reigns all around us.

When I look at social media, I see so much worry and fear. Even those who are Christians seem to spend more time worrying about things that are outside of our control. Where are we placing our hope and trust? Some look to an elected official, a government ruling, or the Constitution. Some look to their families or spouse. Others put their trust in financial security. If we have our hope in the wrong place, we will never experience the peace that Christ brings. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”     ~  John 16:33 NIV

In 1918, Helen H. Lemmel wrote a great hymn that is so relevant today. 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace”

This time of fasting is a perfect way to keep our eyes fixed on God and make our time with Him a priority. As we deny ourselves something that usually takes up our time or our attention, we can grow in our relationship with Him. As we get closer to God and find His peace, we can then share it with a world that is in desperate need of peace.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”      ~  Isaiah 26:3 NLT