It is Finished.

Today’s reading is Hosea 11:12-12:14.

These verses remind us again how God feels about our sin. God is everything good and right. Sin is the exact opposite of Him and His nature. Hosea 12:1 and Hosea 12:8 discuss chasing things that don’t have eternal value but only earthly value. Often times when we receive worldly wealth we think we are invincible and don’t acknowledge that these things came from God. We think we don’t need Him. We become our own God and it’s all about us. God continued to provide for Israel, but yet Israel continued to turn their back forgetting what He had done for them. I do the same daily, and we can get a sense in here how God feels about that.

As you read verses like Hosea 12:14, it is concerning to think about the wrath of God and suffering for our sins. In his final breaths when He died on the cross, Jesus said in John 19:30, “It is finished.” The fact that He took the sin and punishment that should have mine is something that is hard to comprehend. God still hates sin the same as He always has. There are outcomes from our sin we have to deal with on this Earth. However, Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus took the punishment that should have been mine and yours for our sin. John 3:17 tells us that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. The Old Testament, this chapter, and this book of Hosea tell us about the wrath of God and how He feels about our sin so we know how abhorrent it is to Him . However, the New Testament does not talk about suffering the wrath of God for our missteps and mistakes. Why? Because there was a new covenant established by Jesus’ blood. Jesus took the wrath and the pain that should have been on you and me on our behalf. I am extremely grateful to God for what He did through His Son Jesus which He didn’t have to so that “It is finished.”

Dead to Sin or Alive in Christ?

Today’s reading is Romans 6 as we continue our theme to start 2022 of God’s Word of Life.

If I were to ask you what you were passionate about, what would some of your top answers be?

Many might say family, fitness, reading, their favorite sports team(s), and hopefully their faith amongst other possible responses. For me I would likely say family, my faith, and likely Illini basketball, too.

Romans 6:12 discusses being a slave to our passions/sin.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions.

Romans 6:12

I have to admit that I have thought about how I can’t imagine being a slave to nicotine, alcohol, or drug addiction as some are. While I understand these addictions are such that some truly can’t help them due to genetics or disease or other underlying challenges, and yet at the same time I’m embarrassed to say I can still be prideful and quick to judge others with these issues. My brother Chad talked about the problem with being judgmental Monday. Not only am I becoming more aware and having empathy with those challenges, I’m also more aware that I can be a slave to other sins and addictions myself (Luke 6:41). I can be a slave to my phone, social media, trending news/politics, or prioritizing interest in sports over faith and family at times. We can use our phones to stay in touch and nurture healthy spiritual relationships with others, use social media to spread the Gospel, and sports as a platform to share the Gospel as well. However, we can also use these tools in a negative way where they become too much of our focus, as well as use them for the wrong reasons.

A small group friend of mine who has gone on mission trips to areas which don’t have the money and technology we have in the US once commented that you don’t see demonic possessions much in the US so many don’t think they happen anymore like in the Bible. However, he has experienced them and has observed they are more common in other countries where he’s been on mission trips which aren’t wealthy like the US. His hypothesis is that Satan does not need to use demonic possessions in the US because he has plenty of other ways to tempt and control us through the love of money, technology, drugs, and alcohol which is readily available at our fingertips in the US. It is an interesting observations and point he brings up.

While we are still sinful humans who will make mistakes, Paul discusses in Romans 6 that through our baptism, belief, and Christ’s Resurrection, we are no longer slaves to sin and dead in our sin.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.

Romans 6:4

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11

As we reflect on this chapter, I pray we take notice of our actions and habits and have self-awareness on whether we are acting in manner more closely to being a slave to our sins or acting more in a way which displays we are alive in Christ Jesus.

Paul ends chapter 6 with the ultimate mic drop on this topic. As we and others in our lives are under construction, I also pray we keep this in the forefront of our thinking and share this great news with others.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

On Alert

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5-6.

If you read these chapters not knowing when and where they came from, sadly you would likely think they were written to the current church. The Bible makes it clear that God hates sin..as we read just recently in Romans 6:23. Without Jesus’ saving grace, the wages of sin are death. In today’s reading we learn about how God feels about sin within the church, especially sexual immorality. We also learn about how He feels about sin to our own body.

Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin one commits is outside the body, but the sexual immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

When God created the universe and everything in it, He said it was good. But, when he created man on the sixth day He said it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God loved us so much that He gave His Son Jesus for us..giving us grace for a price…His suffering..not ours. The church is often referenced as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7). With these things in mind, it is no surprise God is especially disappointed with sin inside the church (1 Corrinthians 5:12-13), and sin committed to our own body.

Arguably, sins of sexual immorality are the most visible and prevalent in our world today. They are also prevalent inside the church with members of the clergy not only committing sins of sexual immorality, but some churches claiming to be Christian even going directly against what the Bible says. They are not only condoning certain sins, but even allowing those knowingly committing them to serve as pastors and elders. It is more important than ever that we let the Bible be our guidance system. We must constantly be making sure that our churches and pastors are following and preaching what the Word says. The world should not lead what our pastors and the church should do and say…the Word should. One letter…the letter “l” makes all the difference.

It is also more important than ever that we guard the eyes, hearts, and minds of our children. Sins which the Bible says are wrong are being condoned and even taught in some churches and schools. We must educate and teach them what the Word says. We can dislike the sin, but still love the sinner in the same way that God dislikes our own sins yet loved us so much that He let His own Son suffer and die for us. We are sinners ourselves and in need of grace. However, we cannot knowingly approve of sins the Bible says are wrong in the same way we cannot approve of the sins we commit ourselves.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

This is not easy when we are getting told from TV, movies, advertising, schools…and even the churches what is acceptable that directly conflicts with Bible. We must stay on watch and fervently use the Bible as our guidance chip.

Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

How Do You View God?

When you have a choice to make on doing something you know is right or wrong, what sways your decision on what to do? I made my share of bad choices growing up (and still do today), but when I made good choices I would like to say it was always because it was just the right thing to do, or even better, it’s what God would have wanted and I was following His will. However, I would say when I made good choices it wasn’t always for the right reasons. Often times, it was because of a fear of God. Fearing God is not always a bad thing, but it is if you do it because you think God is like a little boy with a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re the ant when you do something wrong. When I did something wrong and then something bad happened a few days later I wondered if it was because of what I did as punishment. Yes, there are earthly consequences for bad choices we make, but God makes it clear He does not punish us for things we do wrong.

Today’s reading is John 9, and in it we read….

As he passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,(this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

John 9:1-3

We also read the following in Romans 8:1…

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. He does not punish us for our wrongdoings while on this Earth and if we believe in Him we are protected and saved from eternal punishment in Hell as well. It’s ok for us to have a healthy fear of God and know He does not like sin, and He’s always watching. But, it’s also more important that we know the love and grace of God outweighs our sin, and Jesus already suffered the punishment which should have been ours 2,000 years ago. We should do the right thing because of the relationship we have with God. He loves us, and we love him so we do right thing out of love and respect for Him. I pray our kids know the love of God for them and make good choices because they want to show love back to Him for His love…not because of the fear of His wrath.

Are you feeling something going on in your life right now is God’s punishment for something you did wrong? Or do you know someone who may be feeling the same way? Direct them to Christ’s love on the cross. This is the exact reason why He came….to remove our punishment. Direct them to the truth that only the Bible can give in these verses. Words like “not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.,” and “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And also in Isaiah 55:8-9 He tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I’ve said it many times in my writings, and I’ll say it again. Satan thought he won. Jesus was dead. But 3 days later God took the worst event in history, the only sinless man to ever live being beaten, crucified, and killed, and turned it in the greatest event in history by saving mankind through His Resurrection. What will God do in your life through your challenges to display His glory?

 

 

 

Comforter

Today, we are examining God as our comforter.  This post was originally written in 2017 by Michael Summers.

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are painful to read.  Yesterday David asked if any of us had ever experienced having a person we were trying to help question our motives and speak negatively about us to others.  I sadly answered yes in my heart as I read David’s prompting.

That experience was difficult for me.  Today’s reading challenged me to grow. Especially verses 3-7.

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

God is our comforter.  Παράκλησις, translated as comfort here, could also be translated ‘encourage’.  It holds in it the element of acceptance, council, and courage.  As if to say God is the one who finds our sorrow acceptable (or not) and strengthens us to continue on (if it is acceptable, more on this latter).

Παρακαλέω, translated as comfort three times in verse 4, could also be translated as urge, implore or exhort.  This helped me understand the activating (or reactivating) nature of this word as if strengthening one to get back in the fight.  God provides us the strength to continue Glorifying Him.

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

‘That we’ is a purpose clause.  God strengthens us so that we may be strengthened and encourage others.  Citing God’s character as the Comforter; the source of strength gives God glory.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

This was the most challenging part for me.  The comfort supplied has no limits, so long as our sufferings are in Christ.  Put another way, God supplies us with all the comfort we need for righteous suffering.

The question then became, what if the suffering was not righteous?  That is, what if the suffering was actually a result of my selfish ambition, seeking my own glory and not God’s?  This was my wake up call.

If I did not receive strength and comfort for the sorrow I felt, does it then mean that it was chastening rather than suffering for Christ?  I am inclined to consider this deeply.  Afterall, are we to believe that all suffering is because we are seeking Christ glory perfectly?  If not, as I reflect on a past wound that lingered too long, that sapped my strength when I know it shouldn’t have, I am inclined to think it was due to my sin and pride.

Ouch and amen! God is the righteous One who judges.  I am the sinner who is judged.  God is the Merciful One who gives grace.  I am the one in desperate need of His mercy and grace.   Admitting this depravity is the first step to receiving that which I need from God.  Confessing our Sin is our humble gate that protects God’s glorious reputation. (see extra credit below)

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

We are to thank God for the righteous suffering.  We will know it by the degree to which we are supernaturally strengthened.  This is to be shared with and passed on to those who suffer.  All the time giving glory to God as the Strengthener.

7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

 

Extra Credit: God’s Glory and Confession of Sin

All things were created for God’s glory. (Revelation 4:11, Isaiah 43:7)  The proud are too busy seeking their own glory to give God His glory.  Confessing our sin proclaims God’s character as holy and His Law as right. (Luke 23:41)  Not confessing our sin is a way of blaming God for sin.  Notice the first sin and how Adam blames God. (Genesis 3:12)  Confessing our sin humbles us and gives God glory. (Joshua 7:19) In summary, when we do not confess our sin it is disagreeing with God, a form of attack on His reputation.  When we say, “God I deserve this” it agrees with God and brings Him glory.  We were designed to bring God glory.  This is one way we can do it.  Confessing our sin.  

The world says, ‘find your strengths and play them up.” the Word says “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12:10)

John

Today’s reading is 1 John 1-2 and Revelation 1.

The Greek word for sin in the original New Testament was “hamartia” which is translated as missing the mark. Have you missed the mark? I know I have…every hour of every day of my life…maybe every minute. It is clear John wants us to realize this. God is the mark, and we miss it and Him. I’m taken back to my roots and part of the Lutheran liturgy with the words of 1 John 1:8-10…

“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 our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Paul also states in Romans 3:23…

..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

John is clear not only that we miss the mark and sin, but also tells us how to avoid it as much as possible in 1 John 1:15-16…

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life- is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Constantly the world is trying to tell us what is “ok.” It’s on the internet, TV shows, commercials, movies, books, and the list goes on and on. And not only is the world trying to force things God says is wrong upon us, but the world tries to tell us that if we don’t agree with the world we are not only in the wrong, but we are also practicing hate. Isn’t it crazy what Satan is capable of and how he works? He can twist things not only from what is actually bad to make it look good, but also make the world believe what is good is hate. The world tells us we cannot dislike a sin and still love the sinner. We can because we in fact ourselves as Christians are sinners (1 John 1:8-10), and yet Christ loves us.

The first step in finding Jesus is realizing we need Him. How? We have to be truthful with ourselves about our sin problem. Let’s go back to 1 John 1:8 for a moment. We must specifically name our sins. That’s how we realize we have missed the mark and need Him. We must not compare ourselves to others and what the world says is acceptable. John tells us the world is not the mark…God is!

So, what do we do now that we realize we’ve not done what God wants? 1 John 1:9 tells us we must confess our sins, and He makes us white as snow..cleaning us from all our dirty deeds. John wants us to know we have an advocate in Jesus who took our place; He is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). Through Him, and only through Him, do we please God. He knew we could not do it on our own..that we would miss the mark. John is clear that God had a game plan all along. John tells us God knew we needed Jesus, and Jesus was their all along with the Father from the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5 and 1 John 1:1-2).

There is no relationship like with Him. All relationships are two sided and conditional….know matter how much we say, or even try not to make them that way. This is not the case in the relationship with Him though..He loved us before we loved Him and still loves us today when we miss the mark. All we can do is try to do our best to follow His will by walking in the light John discusses, and say, “Thanks! Praise be to God!”

The Pharisees

Today’s reading is Matthew 12:1-45.

Do you have a hero of the Bible you like to compare yourself to or like to think you’re similar? Could it be Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Joshua, David, or Ruth to name a few? I doubt very many of us like to compare ourselves to the Pharisees, but I for one, have to admit that often times I am more like them than some of the other aforementioned desired people.

First, we see in Matthew 12:1-3, the Pharisees judging the disciples for picking grain and doing work on the Sabbath. We then see them questioning this again when in Matthew 12:9-10 Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It can be easy to quickly judge someone for how they parent, how they spend their family time, the car they drive, or the home they own. I heard a quote one time that said…Question: “How big of a house is too big of a house?” Answer: “Just a little bit bigger than my house.” Please forgive me for not giving the proper credit, but one of our other Bible Journal writers commonly says they remind themselves by saying, “Stay in your lane.” What a great saying. Even if what someone does is in fact a sin (and it may not be), their sin is no worse than any of my own sins in God’s eyes.

In Matthew 12:22-24, we see the Pharisees not wanting to believe the miracles Jesus performed in front of them were from God, and then they asked in Matthew 12:38 to see a sign. How often do we have the sin of pride by not giving credit to God for what He’s doing and then not seeing the “signs” right in front of us of what He has done already or will do. Recently, I’ve faced a challenge that I’m wondering how it will be resolved, and it has consumed many of my thoughts. The crazy thing is that this same exact challenge has been overcome many, many times before under arguably more difficult obstacles. Yet, God pulled through in the past and has even used some circumstances this time to help give me clues that this to will pass. However, like the Pharisees, I find myself looking for more “signs,” nearly completely ignoring His past provisions and evidence that this to will be resolved.

Why do I consistently do this? Why am I like the Pharisees when I don’t want to be? I’m a sinful human in need of a Savior just like the Pharisees. All I can do is pray for more awareness to make me more like Him and less like the Pharisees, to not lean on my own understanding by trusting Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and most importantly by confessing my sinful nature and by thanking Him for His saving grace on the cross.

David

At first, when I saw I would be writing about David I had to laugh. What were the chances? God always has ways to make you laugh and to draw you closer to Him. It also could have been planned out by BJ as he set our readings up? Either way, I get to share the story of David.  Now before I looked at the readings for today I figured it was going to consist of some OT that looked at his courage as a young man or king. There was also the chance we looked back at the time where David was involved in some terrible sins. When my eyes read across the page revealed the readings for today are Psalms 3-8, Psalms 32, and Romans 4:6-8.  Did you know that out of the 150 Psalms seventy-three psalms are associated with David?  In Hebrew, the Book of Psalms is tehillim which means “praises”. The Book of Psalms can also be seen as a hymnbook. 

So what hymns or praises would David be singing about? Let me start by going to part of the Romans verses that were the bookend for today’s readings.  

Romans 4:6-8 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them”.

David had felt tremendous guilt for some of the terrible sins he had committed.  And yet he had experienced amazing joy in the forgiveness. We all have sinned. I truly feel like I grew up making many wrong decisions that selfishly were based on my own desires. Even today these desires to do it my way or by my terms can cause this pain. David reminds us all that you don’t need to hold on to this guilt. That when we quit denying our guilt and recognize our sin, admit to it and ask God for forgiveness, we can let go and trust that God that He will and has covered our sins.  I know, easier said than done. Maybe you contemplate the severity of the sin or who it may have involved. Just remember God sent his son for us, even when we were sinners. Jesus already paid the price. We just have to take them all to Him and trust.

1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive, and to cleanse us. 

This statement is a reason to sings songs of praise. Now goa head and read through Psalms 3-8, and 32.  In these Psalms, you will be reminded of how we need to trust in God for protection and peace. That when we have this confidence we can call on Him anytime and he will listen and provide the comfort we need.  God will defend you, He will deliver you in times of trouble and rescue you when you need it. I David, just like David, need rescue. Forgiveness brings true joy. Walk away from the pain of guilt into the arms of our Father who provides comfort and relief from the mistakes of our past.  

 

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Psalm 32:10 Many are the woes of the wicked,  but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

 

Have a blessed day Biblejournal family. 

 

David 

Die to Self (again)

The primary reason for a fitness run yesterday morning was more emotional and spiritual than physical. I was seeking peace and calm, and wanted to be away from various distractions in order to focus on writing this post.

During this 45 minute exercise event, the following were observed:

  • The remnants of a likely stolen purse dumped in the woods.
  • A pile of litter from an apparent party in the woods.
  • A motorcyclist speeding (illegal), passing a bus on the right (illegal), in a no passing zone in a heavily populated/tourist area (illegal, selfish, and just plain stupid). The craziest thing is the motorcyclist was angry with the driver of the bus and was sounding his horn shaking his fist at the bus driver!
  • A young woman without hair who was likely undergoing treatment for cancer.

While returning from the run with a different mindset, it wasn’t what was expected. Angry over the observed crimes and sorrow over the woman with cancer, the realization was that we live in a world full of sin and brokenness. Sin that harms ourselves and others and separates us from our creator. Brokenness from disease that brings death to the body.

In truth, I was and am no different than the criminals. I am a sinner in need of a savior. There was some hate that came into my heart, and I confess… something inside me was hoping the motorcyclist would crash. Lord, forgive me.

Today’s reading in 1 Corinthians 15 mentions the various forms of “death” (die, death, dead) twenty-four times. Death is imminent and no one can argue this, and that is why we need Jesus. He defeated death and through this we can have life eternal.

One theme that has helped guide my journey is “dying to self”. For me this means making the choice to resist temptation and “die” to the sinful desires that put “me” as priority verses God’s will.

I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! (1 Corinthians 15:31)

Like Jesus died for us, we must die every day to our selfish desires. Such as:

  • One more serving of food at the party when I’m already full. Die to self.
  • One more drink of alcohol when I’ve already had enough. Die to self.
  • Judging others when I too am a sinner. Die to self.
  • Wanting something new when what I have seems old. Die to self.
  • Trying to hold on to the things of this world while knowing our real treasure is in Heaven. Die to self.

Imperfect but forgiven, grateful today for the many who have pointed me to (and keep pointing me to) Jesus including my mom, dad, my sisters (Katie and Marne), Amy, BJ, Rick, Heather, Mike, Duane, Robbie as well as our entire Bible Journal team, past and present.

Missing The Mark

Today’s reading is Matthew 18.

We will keep our focus specifically on Matthew 18:7-9. In these powerful verses, Jesus tells us that is better if we remove certain body parts that cause us to sin than to keep them and continue to sin. This is a powerful and direct message that tells us how terrible sin is in God’s eyes and how important He feels refraining from it is. He begins in Matthew 18:17 by saying….“woe to the one whom the temptation to comes.” Although He did not sin, we have a Savior that understands because like us, He too was tempted. Jesus realizes how hard it is to not sin. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

We must first examine ourselves closely to acknowledge our sin. I read a quote today that said, “Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if no one is doing it.” I know I’m guilty of justifying sins by telling myself it’s not that bad and everyone is doing it. However, our standard for determining what is a sin should be comparing to no one except Jesus and what the Bible says about that sin. The question isn’t what does the world think about it, but what does God think about it?

The Bible tells us that our sin is erased when believe in Jesus’ forgiveness through the cross and ask Him to do so. However, it also tells us to repent of sin. Merriam-Webster defines repent as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.” God knows that we will trip up and not only make mistakes but will make the same mistakes over. But, we can not continue to commit the same sin knowingly and willingly because of His forgiveness. Our intention in our heart when we have a relationship with Jesus should be to not sin and to do all we can to refrain from it. Christian musical artist Toby Mac posted a quote on his social media this week which said, “an apology without change is manipulation.” We may be able to manipulate others, but we can’t manipulate God. He knows our hearts and actions.

Whether removing body parts is a metaphor or literal (I’m hoping it’s a metaphor!), Jesus is underscoring that it so difficult to not sin that we must take some extreme measures to protect ourselves. In my nearly 15 years in a sales-based career, I’ve learned from my personal coaches and those that I coach, as well as reading about successful business people and athletes, that even when we have a goal that’s really important to us and our family, we can’t just say we are going to do something and expect to do it. Even the highest performers set up their environment and calendars in a way to help them do that which they know they should and truly want to do. One quick, simple example is that if you want to get up earlier to work out to get in shape or because you know doing so effects how you feel and your performance that day, but you can’t keep from rolling over and hitting the snooze button, you can set your alarm across the room or even buy an alarm clock that moves to a different part of the room in the night so you have to get up and search for it. It’s no surprise that Jesus, the greatest teacher and coach of all time, is telling us here to set up or environment to not sin. In Matthew 26:41 when He asks His disciples to keep watch in the garden but yet finds them sleeping He states, “The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” My father shared with me once that the late, infamous Rev. Billy Graham once said that he would never put himself in a position to have an extra-marital affair because he would never be alone in any personal or professional situattion with any woman other than his wife. The word sin in the Bible comes from the translation of Greek word hamartia which means to miss the mark. You would be hard pressed to find too many people who lived a more Christ-like life who could likely withstand more temptation than Rev. Billy Graham. Yet, he knew he must set up his environment to not be tempted because even he could subject making a mistake and missing the mark.

Another observation is that the top performers in the business world and in athletics typically pay someone to be a personal coach for them and are also typically are a part of another group of peers who help them with ideas and hold them accountable to staying on track for what they want to accomplish. Even the best need support and accountability partners. Are we doing this as it relates to living a Christ-following life and refraining from sin? I recently read in another devotional where a leader of a high school boys small group was asking them about pornography. Nearly every single one of them admitted to their problem with it. The leader made them aware of a monitoring subscription they could put on their phone and computers that would alert an accountability partner, which he offered to be for them, when they went to certain types of websites. Nearly all agreed and within the first few days he got an alert for one of the boys, and he was able to talk with him and help him. Kudos to this group of young men for acknowledging their sin and seeking help and accountability!

Let us ask ourselves the following…

  1. What sin do I need to acknowledge?
  2. Am I truly sorry and turning away from that sin or instead justifying it?
  3. What can I do to set up my environment to not be tempted and refrain from my sin?
  4. Who can I ask to be a trusted accountability partner?

Ask for God’s wisdom in answering these questions and then not only for forgiveness, but to help you truly repent and turn away from those sins.

Consider the following prayer…

Dear Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I’m sorry that I justify my sin by the world’s standards and not yours. Please forgive me and not only change my heart but give me the wisdom to figure out how to truly repent and turn away from my sin. Thank you for loving me when I’m unlovable and for forgiveness through giving your life on the cross for me which you did not have to do. I love you. Amen