That’s Not You Anymore

An ongoing battle that every Christian faces is the one between the person you were before you met Jesus and the one you are now that you have met Him.  Old temptations beckon.  Old habits resurface.  Old desires rekindle.  Old loyalties divide.  Old beliefs hinder. Old memories haunt.  When you feel this tension, remember that you have a new identity, a new life and a new you because you believe in and belong to Jesus! You have been changed, are being changed and will be changed by His transforming grace.  So fight the good fight of faith against sin as you rejoice in this today:  that’s not you anymore.

Will This Matter 100 Years From Now?

Here’s a simple, but significant, lens through which life looks radically different than we often see it… will this matter 100 years from now? How we think, feel, speak, act, and react would be wonderfully different if we saw things in light of eternity, and remember that this short life is not all that there is.  Our lives would create an everlasting ripple if we could look a century into our future to see the impact of our today.  As we live by grace, in dependence upon the presence and power of Jesus, let us give less priority to the things that really don’t matter and more priority to the things that do.

Striving For Holiness, Resting In Grace

Imperfect words.  Imperfect actions.  Imperfect thoughts.  Imperfect attitudes.  Imperfect motives.  Even though we are not who we used to be, we are also not yet who we will become.  We are imperfect people.  That doesn’t mean we should be indifferent to our sin-produced flaws or complacent in our grace-driven effort to overcome them.   We should work hard to act like Jesus on the outside while God works to make us more like Jesus on the inside.  But we do this secure in His love, safe in His mercy and strengthened by His power.  Today, let us strive for holy living while relying on and resting in His grace.

Pleasing God Over Pleasing People

The paths will divide.  The objectives will conflict.  The plans will differ.  The desires will compete.  The advice will disagree.  We will often find ourselves having to choose sides for who we will listen to, go with and live to the satisfaction of … God or people.  We simply cannot be and do what will make Him happy and others happy at the same time, all the time.  Rather than compromising to satisfy the crowd, let us show others the better path, the better objective, the better plan, the better desire and the better advice found in the good news of Jesus.  Today, by grace, let us prioritize pleasing God over pleasing people.

Trust Vs. Mistrust

Faith in Jesus is followed by following Jesus in faith.  Saving belief leads us to step off the throne, take off the crown, and let Jesus take over ruling our hearts and lives. We haven’t really put our faith in Jesus if we are indifferent to what He wants and resistant to what He says.  That’s not trust. That’s a lack of trust.  That’s mistrust.  Real faith in Jesus makes us want to give up our sin and self-rule to follow His steps, His ways and His commands (although imperfectly executed) more fully over time.  Why? Because we are confident that life His way is better than any other option, and that for eternal life He is the only option.

Our Identity Is Not Something We Wear On The Outsi …

It’s not Sunday church clothes.  It’s not a cross necklace.  It’s not a t-shirt.  Being a Christian is not something we put on and take off depending upon the place we are at, the position we are in, or the people we are around.  We should strive by grace to speak, act and live in the same manner at all times, not picking and choosing when we let our Christianity be seen.  People will know that we belong to Jesus not because of what we have on, but by how we love on those around us.  24/7 we are imperfect image-bearers of the One living in our hearts.  Our identity is not something we wear, it’s something we are.

It Never Leaves You The Same

Since trusting in Jesus is the basis for our hope of eternal life, how can we know that we really trust Him? The short answer is: we look for evidences that the trust we have in Him is changing us.  Genuine saving belief never leaves you the same.  We gradually become less like the world and more like Jesus as we follow Him in faith.  Trusting Him leads to ongoing and loving… Repentance, because we believe what He offers is better than sin.  Obedience, because we believe His ways are always good and right. Confidence, because we believe what He has promised us will happen.  We believe.  We change.  That’s how we know.

We Will Sin Less

One of the evidences that you have received God’s pardon for your sin is that you are relying on God’s power to fight against your sin. Forgiveness and freedom are two inseparable aspects of grace. You don’t get one without the other. Spiritual growth will vary by person and season, but one thing every genuine Christian has in common is this: sin no longer holds the same appeal or power as it once did. We go from loving sin to hating it and from choosing sin to fighting it. Though we will not be sinless, we will sin less because of this… Our relationship with sin changes because of our relationship with Jesus.

Run To The Throne Of Grace

There is a daily tug-of-war for control of your thoughts, feelings, motives, attitudes, words and actions, pulling you in the opposing directions of what sin entices you into and what God invites you into.   Look to Jesus for help and look for His help to arrive in your time of temptation as a way to leave it, the power to say “no” to it, a divine removal of it, the arrival of someone to help you through it, and / or a promise of something worth waiting for that is better than it.  He is bigger than your biggest need!  Take heart… You are never helpless against temptation as long as there is a throne of grace for you to run to for help.

Grace Isn’t Opposed To Effort

Grace is not cruise control.  Ours is not a set it and forget it relationship in which God does all the work, and we do none of it.  He does all of the things that only He can do and enables us to do all of the things that He purposes for us to do.  How do we respond to grace?  We. Work. Hard.  We work hard to be who God called us to be and do what God has called us to do in Christ, relying on His power and provision every step of the way.  Grace isn’t opposed to effort; it’s opposed to trying to earn what we’ve been freely given.    We don’t work hard to receive God’s grace; we work hard because we have already received it.

Relying On And Resting In His Grace

When we receive God’s grace, every sin we have committed, are committing and will commit are all forgiven. Fully.  Freely.  Forever.  That doesn’t mean we can knowingly and willfully continue sinning with no remorse or repentance.  True grace is not “All is forgiven, now you can freely wallow in sin.”  True grace is, “All is forgiven, now you can firmly withstand sin.” Jesus did not pick us up just so we would run back to the same thing that knocked us down. He supplies both pardon for sin and power not to sin. So… We rely on His grace as we strive for holiness, and we rest in His grace when we need forgiveness.

Headed In The Right Direction

It may not be the easy way.  It may not be the popular way.  It may not be the crowded way. But following Jesus is always the right way.  As it has been said, when the whole world is running towards the cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.  But he is actually the only one in his right mind headed the right way no matter how hard, unaccepted or lonely it may be.  So, let us follow Jesus confident that He will always lead us to the right place at the right time.  We’ll often be heading in the opposite direction of the crowd, but we’ll always be headed right to where we need to be.

By Grace We Get Up And Fight On

People who love Jesus repent by making war against their sin instead of making excuses for it.  Because His pardon is given to us, and His power is with us, and His presence is in us, we can be honest about our sin, and we can be victorious over it.  We have been forgiven.  We are free.  We can be faithful. Therefore, let us strive for holy living while resting in the grace of God, remembering and rejoicing over this truth:   what Jesus has done for us on the cross is sufficient to both cleanse and correct our transgressions.  Because of grace we don’t give up in our fight against our sinfulness; by grace we get up and fight on.

Happy In Ways That Will Not Be Regretted

Loving others includes being happy that they are happy … unless the source of their happiness is sin.  People can find happiness in things ranging from cheating on a test to cheating on a spouse, hurting themselves through addictions to hurting others through mistreatment, and ignoring family needs to ignoring God.  This is not the time to be happy for them; it is the time to help them. We should support: Godly ambitions, but not selfish ones.  Godly affections, but not sinful ones. Godly actions, but not senseless ones.  Let us encourage each other to be happy in ways that will not be regretted in the end.

Small Things And Big Things

The world wants us to make small things big and big things small.  It wants small fears to rule our hearts, petty disagreements to sabotage our relationships, and trivial matters to dominate our schedules.  It wants the seriousness of sin to be downplayed, the importance of living for eternity to be minimized, and the amazing availability and role of God’s grace in our everyday lives to be underestimated.  But, praise God, we don’t have to live like that!  Jesus has redeemed us from a life of smallness and sinfulness so we can live for bigger and better things.  Today, by grace, let us keep big things big and small things small.

Two Kinds Of Help

There are two basic kinds of help.  First, there is help for things I can do without you.  Second, there is help for things I cannot do without you.  I can lift a cumbersome box by myself, but your help would make it easier.  I cannot lift a couch by myself, so your help would make it possible.  As branches to the vine, we only receive the second kind of help from Jesus.  He helps us do things that we could not do apart from Him (John 15:5):  bear fruit, do good, live rightly, have faith, glorify God, persevere, experience His joy, everything.  His help doesn’t just make these things easier.  His help makes these things possible.

Focusing On The Inside

Many people strive to look stylish, look good and look fit.  And while the Bible emphasizes modesty and simplicity for believers, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t value our outward appearance as well.  However, it is important that we value who we are more than what we look like. We should focus more attention on our hearts than our hair, our minds than our makeup, our character than our clothes, and our personhood than our physiques.  By grace, let us pursue becoming who we were made to be, knowing… Godly character is in style within us.  Morals look good on us.  Christlikeness is a nice fit for us.

You Are Never Helpless Against Temptation

Every day there is a tug-of-war for your thoughts, feelings, motives, attitudes, words and actions, pulling you in the opposing directions of what sin entices you into and what God invites you into.   Look to Jesus for help and look for His help to arrive as a way to leave the temptation, the power to say “no” to the temptation, a divine removal of the temptation, the arrival of someone to help you through the temptation, and / or a promise of something worth waiting for that is better than the temptation.  Rejoice!  You are never helpless against temptation for there is a throne of grace you can run to for help.

The Scale Always Tips

If you put all of my weaknesses on one side of the scale and all of my strengths on the other side of the scale, it’s not even close in comparison.  Strength wins easily.  See if you agree with me on this.  My weaknesses: I don’t have all the right answers.  I don’t say all the right words.  I don’t make all the right moves.  Day after day, there are countless ways in which I am wrong, not right.  My strengths:  Jesus.  The scale always tips to the side of grace!  Day after day, He gives me the right stuff I need and forgives me for the wrong stuff I do.  Let us rejoice in this good news today:  His strength will overcome our weakness.

Has He Started That Good Work In You?

Has He started that good work in you? How can you and I know that we have received God’s grace?  There are two really good indicators that your faith in Him is genuine:  you have a growing hatred for sin and a growing love for Jesus.  You don’t just want to be free from the consequences of sin, but sin itself.  You don’t just want to have the blessings of God, but God Himself.  There is a desire that begins growing inside of you to experience all that God has for you, in this world and the one to come.  You believe in Jesus for the first time, and then you believe in Him more fully over time.  We grow.  That’s how we know.