We will not be meeting tonight for youth group. Have a wonderful week! Happy New Year!
Next Monday is the beginning of a 10 week study of “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud. We will have dinner at 6 at our house and small group at 630. Even if you cannot come every week, this study will help you, and being together is essential for growing up in Jesus. If you need child care, let Rich or Jenny know.
Jenny and I would like to host a 10 week small group at our house this fall. We will gather for dinner around 6 PM and study the concept of setting boundaries for healthy living. We will be using Henry Cloud’s book “Boundaries” as well as his new internet group “boundaries.me.” I think all of you would benefit from joining in this group. You need the fellowship, and setting healthy boundaries takes though and prayer. We are thinking of doing this group on Monday nights starting soon. If you’re interested, please say something on this page or on our Facebook page.
Day after day, I’ve been watching my wife, whether she is sitting in her favorite chair, the couch or reclining in bed without trying to sleep. She is doing some kind of soul work. She’s not reading the Bible. I think she is doing some of the things that Jesus must have been doing internally day after day to live the miraculous life he lived among us. He came into the world to preach forgiveness, and ultimately to pay the price that makes forgiveness possible.
In Matthew 9, Jesus forgives the sins of a cripple man before he makes him walk. Jesus knew that this mean needed forgiveness more that he needed to walk. Have you prayed for your neighbor that they would know that their need to be forgiven is greater than their need to be healthy?
In Luke 15 Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son. This is one of Jesus’ forgiveness stories. The people around you need to hear faith-filled stories of forgiveness. Do you have a forgiveness story that you tell? Do you have a story where you were the one forgiven, not the one forgiving?
Luke 23 tells about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After being beaten nearly to death, punched and mocked, crowned with a crown of thorns, and finally nailed to a Roman cross, Jesus prays for the forgiveness of those around him. How much had Jesus meditated on that moment before it happened? Do you start your day ready to forgive others who sin against you?
In John 21 Jesus makes sure that Peter knows that he is forgiven for denying that he knew Jesus. Three times Peter denied the Lord, and three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him the most. Do the people around you know that you aren’t holding anything against them? Are you holding things against them?
As Christians we must forgive. Jesus forgave all your sins on the cross and commanded us to forgive each other. More than that, we can forgive. Jesus is not just our example of forgiveness. He is the one who helps us forgive. Take the sins against you and pray—ask Jesus to apply the sins against you as paid for on the cross. A church that is quick to forgive each other, to forgive those at home, work, school, the ballfield or in traffic will shout to message of forgiveness in the cross of Christ!
On Sunday I asked a couple people to turn a jump rope and asked for a volunteer to jump in as the rope was spinning. The illustration couldn’t have gone much better unless the guy had messed up once or twice before jumping in.
Jumping into a turning rope is like finding out what special gifts God has given us. We will never know if we don’t try to jump in. All of us as Christians have been given special gifts by Holy Spirit. All of us.
We will not look past the greater gift that God has given us—eternal life through Jesus Christ. When we say “gospel” or “good news,” it would be best to remember the topic of that news. It’s not just that we are getting a good deal or company is coming ( or leaving), but we were the losers in a cosmic war and now Jesus has become our champion, defeating sin, death and the Devil himself. The Good News is that you, though damned, can live eternally through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
As Jesus won this battle for us, he has brought gifts with him. Take for examples these spiritual gifts: faith, encouragement, service and evangelism. The Bible commands us to do all four of these things, so we have a calling (Two people are spinning the rope, asking you to jump in). We have the ability to do these things (If you have healthy legs, back, etc. you can try to jump into the rhythm of the rope). Do we have the gift? (How will you know if you’re good at jumping rope if you never try to jump in?
These gifts are given to you specifically. God thought of you when he gave you gifts. Why would you just let your gifts sit around you without opening them? For the good of the body of Christ and the pleasure of living the life God has for you, jump in.
I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, and I’m frustrated by my own sinfulness. The bad news is that until we leave this body, we will be subject to failure (sometimes) as sinners. The Good News is that Jesus has paid the price for our sins and he’s taken the sting out of sin, which is death. I hope that in twenty years I’m no longer dealing with some of the nagging sins that surprise me and uprise within me, but there will be sin.
In 1 John 1 we are invited to come out of the darkness and walk in the light. One of the ways to deal with sin is to walk in the light, to love the light, to be willing to sacrifice your pride, sometimes your pleasure, to walk in the light. People who walk in sin are walking in darkness, and there is (for all of us) something we like about the darkness. Forsake it. Hate it. Run from it. Walking in sin is like putting several pieces of cloth on your head and then trying to run an obstacle course. You won’t do well; you’ll hurt yourself and others. In sin you’re lost and you need saved.
One sin that I’m trying to eradicate in my life is complaining. It’s not the only sin that I struggle with, but it’s socially acceptable to talk about and probably everyone does it. A couple Bible verses that talk about complaining are Exodus 11 and Philippians 2. In the first passage, God sets fire to parts of the Israelites camp because of their complaining. In the second, Paul just tells us not to do it. I’m not going to tolerate complaining any more. If you hear me doing it, please remind me that I’m no longer a complainer. I may have to have make suggestions or even give criticism at the right time, but no more grumbling.
I know that my sin has been paid for on the cross. I reflect on the greatness of the gift of righteousness that Jesus has given me, and now I want to get these sinful weeds out of my garden.
How will I do it? First of all, I’ve made an admission to God that I’m a sinner. I’m a saint, but I’m a sinner. Secondly, I confess my sin to God who is faithful and just to forgive me and clean me from unrighteousness. Third, I follow the great command to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. When I complain it’s not loving to God. It’s not loving to the people who help me, serve me food, disagree with me or have to listen to my complaining.
What will you do with your sin? Admit that you’re a sinner. Seek the truth about sin and righteousness in the Bible. Confess your sins to God. Love God and your neighbor.