Unrepentant Sinners Beware!

9 Oct

If you are sinning and you aren’t repenting and working on changing, you are in a very scary place.

Please hear what I am saying.

I know some of you are sinning and you are fighting and I want to encourage you to keep fighting. You have acknowledged you are struggling and you have asked for help. We thank God for your humility, for your honesty. God is at work in your life! But I am afraid there might be some of you who aren’t, who are playing with sin, who are pretending, saying the right words, without any real desire to wage war against sin.

This is so, so foolish!

And it’s foolish not just because sin is wrong, but also because sin is very, very bad, for you.

Sin’s a terrible tyrant.

In fact, it is the worst master in the world.

When you live in unrepentant sin, “You, to your shame and disgrace, are servant to the filth of creation, which is too filthy to be allowed in it, and therefore at last shall be cast out of it and burnt in unquenchable fire. You serve the master who is the very loathing and stink of the universe…”

Serving sin is the most humiliating service in the world.

“To serve sin is to become a fool and divest one’s self of reason and understanding and act more filthily than brute beasts.”

Sin deals with its servants more cruelly than any other master in the world.

“Sin makes all his servants labor till they are blind and mad, till they are not able to see whereabouts they are, and then leads them away to their own destruction…the work he sets you about is to whet the knife whereby your own throat is to be cut, to sharpen and poison arrow that are to be thrust in your own hearts, to make a fire for yourself to be burnt in.”

Sin pays the worst payment for the service it requires than other other master in the world.

“After you have spent your life and your soul in this slavery, after you have been vexed by the fears of death and been scorched by your conscience, and rotted in sin’s prison and Satan’s chains, all the wages you shall have for your pains is nothing but one of the chiefest – that is one of the deepest and hottest – places in the lake of fire and brimstone.”

Please listen.

I love you and I don’t want you to experience that. And, I praise God! You don’t have to. Jesus came to save sinners. But He only saves sinners who humble themselves and repent. And one proof you have repented of sin is that you stop hiding it, you confess it, and you actually start fighting it with everything you’ve got.

Is there something you need to confess? Is there a sin you need help with?

Don’t wait.

What tangible steps will you take toward spiritual freedom today?

Simple Family Devotions #4: The Great Gift of Salvation

8 Oct

The moment you became a Christian, some amazing things happened. Unfortunately, we sometimes take them for granted. I want to remind you how much God loves you by having you think about what God did for you when He saved you. But be patient! There is so much, it’s going to take a few days to get through it all. (A lifetime, actually!) But start by looking up the following verses and writing down what God gave you.

1.) Colossians 2:13

2.) John 1:12

3.) Romans 5:5

4.) Romans 8:16,17

5.) Romans 6:6,7 and 14

6.) 1 Corinthians 3:16

Now that you have been reminded what God’s given you, thank Him specifically for each gift!

Dads: Day Three

7 Oct

I have been working on a little devotional for fathers and thought I might share some of it with you from time to time. I know I need it!

———

“But that is not the way you learned Christ – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

As a young man, I was always looking for the one sport I would be good at without much effort. 

It’s been many years now and I still haven’t found it. 

Unfortunately, some of us are like that when it comes to being a father. We want to be good fathers. We just don’t want to work at it. 

If you are a Christian you know that kind of attitude is foolish.  

Being a father is too important not to work at. Besides, you won’t be a good Christian father unless you do. You have to work hard at becoming a better father because being a Christian father is not something any of us are naturally good at. 

Now, I know that might surprise you a little.

You might naturally be good at getting along with your family. You might even be good at having fun with your children. But there’s much more to being a Christian father than simply having your family like you. After all, there are plenty of unbelievers whose children adore them. 

As a Christian father, your primary goal is bigger.  

Much bigger.

You want to glorify God by applying what you believe to the way you actually parent, and doing that requires work. It has to! Otherwise, the apostle Paul could have finished the book of Ephesians at chapter 3, having described all the different things God’s done for believers in Christ. But he didn’t. Instead, he goes on to give many different commands in chapter 4 and following. And all his commands require making the effort to apply the gospel you believe to the way you actually live. 

For Paul, this is Christianity 101. 

When you became a Christian, you learned Christ! And what did you learn? You learned that being a Christian requires putting off the old self and putting on the new. 

There was a way of thinking and living that characterized your life when your understanding was darkened and your heart was hard. You might call that the old self. And, obviously, when you became a Christian, you turned from that. And yet, those patterns go deep. They are hard to shake. And as a result, you constantly have to be putting off attitudes and behaviors that don’t match up with the gospel, and putting on, those that do.

Which takes work! 

It doesn’t just come naturally. 

As a father, you have to go back to the gospel, make sure you know what you believe, think through the implications those truths have on the way you care for your children, and practice thinking and speaking in ways that line up with the gospel you’ve embraced. 

That’s the basic process, really, for growing as a dad. 

If you are a Christian, there’s no question, you can become a godly father. The question is however, are you willing to work? 

Take Time to Reflect:

  1. What does it look like to be a spiritually lazy father?

2. What are ways you are working on becoming a more godly father to your children? What specifically have you been putting off and been trying to put on? And why?

Practical Suggestion:

Sit down with your wife and let her know that you want the way you act in the home to match up with what you say you believe. Ask her to identify one way you could improve in doing so. Then pray together that God will give you the strength to change.

Simple Family Devotions #3: Enjoying God’s Love

4 Oct

As a believer, the single most important thing you can do today is enjoy how much God loves you. Sometimes this is harder to do than it sounds. We take being loved by God so lightly. So, think about it! There’s no one who loves you more and there’s no one who loves you better than God. But what makes His love for you so special? Take a few minutes and look at the following verses and note how they help you appreciate God’s love for you. You might just say, ‘God’s love for me is… and fill in the blank with the truth from the passage.

1.) Psalm 136:1

2.) Romans 5:8

3.) Romans 8:35-39

4.) 1 John 3:16

5.) 1 John 4:9,10

Now, stop and think, if God loves you like this, what difference will it make on your life today? Write down one way you should think or act or feel differently based on how much God loves you!

Some Help for People Who Don’t Want to Destroy Themselves

3 Oct

I hate pornography. 

And, honestly, so should you! 

Unfortunately though, more and more, it feels like looking at pornography is an epidemic. And not just out there in society, either. In our churches! If you had 50 percent of your church taking cocaine once a week, it wouldn’t be surprising if that church wasn’t effective. Pornography is like a drug. And I wonder how many people are coming to church week after week addicted. 

Now, obviously, that’s part of why we have the church. 

Jesus died to forgive people who look at pornography. And, He wants to change people who look at pornography. And one of the reasons He gave us the church is to help us change by speaking the truth to us so that we can better fight against sin’s lies. 

And I want to help you do that. 

I’ve found that sometimes people, even Christian people, don’t know why they should fight against pornography. You ask them, why should you not look at pornography and they say, because it’s wrong. And that’s all they have. Well, that is true, it is wrong, but if you are going to overcome pornography, it helps to have more reasons than just that one. 

So, I’ve taken a few minutes today and wrote down 36. 

I am sure there are more. 

But these are 36 reasons I came up with very quickly why I don’t look at pornography and why I hate it and why I am committed to fighting against looking at pornography for the rest of my life. 

I hope they help! 

  1. I believe God knows how sex is supposed to work best and He’s told me in the Bible and that looking at pornography is not part of that good plan. 
  2. I believe looking at pornography is stupid because I am trying to find pleasure in something God has already told me will not satisfy and will not ultimately fulfill His good design for sexual relationships. 
  3. I believe God’s command not to commit adultery means I should not look at anyone who is not my spouse with lustful intent.
  4. I believe looking at pornography is therefore sin.
  5. I believe pornography lies at every level. It is trying to get me to follow it down a path that leads to pain, that leads to shame, that leads ultimately to spiritual death. 
  6. I believe looking at pornography leads to looking at more pornography. Seemingly small compromises in this area will lead to bigger compromises in this area. If I look at pornography for a short period of time, it will lead to looking at pornography for a longer period of time. And if I look at pornography of one kind, it will lead to looking at pornography of another kind. 
  7. I believe the people who struggle the least with looking at pornography are people who aren’t watching pornography. 
  8. I believe looking at pornography makes my conscience hard. And a hard conscience is a scary, scary thing. I want a sensitive conscience which will keep me from sinning. 
  9. I believe looking at pornography makes it harder for me to do what brings me the most joy which is to worship God. 
  10. I believe looking at pornography makes it harder for me to focus on obeying God in other areas. 
  11. I believe looking at pornography creates images in my brain that are very difficult to get out and that will make it difficult for me to obey God when I want to. 
  12. I believe looking at pornography will make me worse at loving my wife and enjoying a sexual relationship with my spouse, because looking at pornography is fundamentally selfish, it makes sex all about me using someone else for my pleasure, and anyone who is selfish like that, isn’t going to be a very good lover. 
  13. I believe the wrath of God is coming because of sins like pornography. 
  14. I believe looking at pornography is the kind of sin I was saved from. It’s what spiritually dead people enjoy. It’s what spiritually blind people like to look at. It’s what people who are darkened in their understanding think about. 
  15. I believe I am the temple of God. And looking at pornography is like worshiping a pagan idol in God’s home. 
  16. I believe sexual sins are serious. As I look at society, I see the pain that sexual sin has brought as women are raped, children are abused, families are broken all by sexual sin. And I believe looking at pornography is connected to all those kinds of sexual sins. They are all part of a package. I may not be doing those other sins as I am looking at pornography, but I am doing one of the things that is connected to those other sins and that leads to those other sins, and I don’t want to have any part of that. 
  17. I believe that looking at pornography is unkind to my spouse. It’s not fair to her. It is like a slap in her face. 
  18. I believe that many people who have committed awful sins didn’t start out thinking they would commit those awful sins, but instead, thought they could control their problem with pornography only to find out when it was too late, that they couldn’t. 
  19. I believe looking at pornography is a sin Jesus died for. I believe I have been purchased with a price. I believe that my eyes don’t belong to me. I believe that my mind is not my own. 
  20. I believe that one day I will stand before God and that the Judge of the Universe hates pornography. 
  21. I believe God is with me at all times and that he would know if I were looking at pornography and He hates it!
  22. I would hate it if anyone in my family were ever exposed to people they didn’t know. That would be a terrible violation. And if I wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone in my family, I would never want to be part of promoting that to others. 
  23. I believe really wicked people are using pornography to make money for themselves and do more wicked things and I don’t want to have any part in causing that system to thrive. 
  24. I believe there are a lot better things to do and enjoy in life than looking at someone I don’t know having sex with someone I don’t know. 
  25. I believe that if I met the people involved in the pornography industry in real life, if I were thinking straight, I would pity them and I would be grieved at the way sin is destroying them, not envy them. 
  26. I believe that unrepentant sin in this area leads to hell. I believe that hell is much worse than any momentary sacrifice I might have to make right now not to watch pornography.
  27. I believe that many young people have been hurt by older people who have compromised in this area, and I want to be a blessing to those who follow behind, not bring them grief. 
  28. I believe that Jesus died that I might be holy, and that part of being holy means saying no to looking at pornography. 
  29. I believe holiness is beautiful. Therefore, I believe that looking at pornography will make me more ugly spiritually. It will make it more difficult for me to become who I long to be. 
  30. I believe because of Jesus, God actually sees me as holy right now. I am a holy one. That is such a huge privilege. And as a holy one, I don’t want to live like someone who is not. 
  31. I believe I have been given the ability by God to say no to what I might sinfully desire at any given moment and that I don’t have to be enslaved by my desires. 
  32. I believe sinful lust is a terrible tyrant and I don’t want to give that terrible tyrant any space to do damage in my life. 
  33. I believe I have been placed in this world to be a light in the darkness. And I don’t want to do anything that would cause me to switch off that light. 
  34. I believe that self-control in this area of my life will have tremendous benefits in other areas of my life. Saying no to this sin is saying yes to a million other things that I really want. 
  35. I believe Jesus wouldn’t look at pornography and I want to be like Jesus. 
  36. I believe God sees pornography for what it is, hates it more than I ever could, and yet is so gracious, and willing to forgive me for looking at pornography, because He punished Jesus for that sin on the cross, therefore I don’t want to look at pornography! 

If you are struggling with looking at pornography, I want to tell you several things. 

First, there’s a Savior for you. 

Pornography wants you to think your sin is too bad for Jesus to forgive. That’s a lie. Jesus came to save sinners. And He wants to save you. If you are a Christian and you are struggling with pornography, go back to the cross, think about Jesus dying for your sin, and specifically this sin, and confess it as sin, and thank Him for the forgiveness He provides. 

Second, Satan wants you to be so ashamed that you hide your sin and you don’t get the help you need. 

Sin thrives in the dark, so bring it into the light. Find someone who is godly, and let them know about your struggle, and ask them to pray for you. Now, they can’t live your life for you. They won’t be able to be with you all the time, so you are still going to have to fight. But, I think you will be surprised how helpful it is to know you are not in this fight alone and to have someone who will pray for you and ask you how you are doing. 

Third, don’t put off fighting this sin until tomorrow. 

If you have a lion who wants to eat you in your kitchen, you don’t wait until tomorrow to do something about it. Tomorrow may be too late! Sexual sin has huge consequences. Sexual sin wants to own you. Sexual sin is a terrible dictator. If you are going to be free from sexual sin, today is the day to begin! One simple way you can begin is by cutting off all access to pornography. Then, make a plan to do something productive and God-honoring during the times you are particularly tempted. 

Fourth, it’s going to be a battle, but if you are a Christian, it is a battle you will win. 

God’s plan is to present you holy, blameless and above reproach. That’s going to happen for Christians. What God wants to get done will get done. It might seem impossible right now, but what’s impossible for man is possible for God! There is hope. So stop telling yourself that you can never change, and start working on actually changing!

Fifth, overcoming pornography involves more than just saying no to pornography. It requires a commit to daily worship. 

When you are really enjoying your relationship with Jesus, you want to work at protecting the joy you find in Him, which then motivates you to want to say no to things like pornography. So, make a plan to working at delighting yourself in Him on a daily basis. If that concept sounds foreign to you, and you wouldn’t know where to begin, then this is exactly where you need to begin, or you will never find success! Find someone at your church who is godly and ask them to help you learn how to find your satisfaction in Jesus on a daily basis.

One Key To Making A Spiritual Impact

3 Oct

There’s a difference between knowing some things about Jesus and really knowing Jesus. 

One way to tell if you have really seen Jesus for who He is is if you have seen yourself for who you really are. 

Have you ever been broken before Jesus?

Now, when we talk about being broken, we are not talking about just feeling badly about yourself. We are talking about finally being able to actually see yourself because you have seen yourself in the light of Jesus. 

This is essential.

If we aren’t looking at Jesus, it’s easy for us to think we are all right and good and basically fine. This pride goes way deep in all of us. We are basically happy with ourselves spiritually so long as we are looking at the people around us. 

I think of Peter as an example.

When Peter was comparing himself to James and John and Andrew, I am sure he wasn’t too bothered. But what happens when he comes into the presence of Jesus? When he sees Jesus for who He is for the first time in Luke 5, he cries out:

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”

Even the most self-confident people are overcome by their need for Jesus, when they see Jesus.

Peter’s not just standing there in the boat thinking bad thoughts about himself.He’s not randomly shouting out I am an awful person, oh man, I am so terrible.

That’s not what spurs this on. 

He’s seen Jesus, really seen Him. He’s seen how powerful Jesus is and I think also, he’s seen how kind Jesus is as well and how patient he’s been with him up to this point. 

As he’s looking at Jesus in the boat that day, he’s coming to really understand that this man, is God, and as a result, Simon can’t help but fall on his knees. 

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

This is a deep to the core feeling of entire and inexcusable sinfulness, expressed in Simon’s own straight up kind of language, that comes from a sight of Jesus, for who He really is, all powerful and good. 

And the truth is, as we get to know Simon a little better throughout the gospels, we’ll see there were times later where he seemed to forget what he said there in the boat. 

I mean, this is a great moment for him. 

But it was hard for him to hang on to. 

If you trace the core problem Simon had, even as he followed Jesus, you’ll see it was too much self confidence. This was a lesson Jesus had to teach him over and over and over again, but even with that being true, we see here, at the very least, fundamentally, at the start, that, Simon was a man who had been humbled before Jesus, which I think is one of the keys to understanding what made him in the end an effective spiritual leader.

Real spiritual leaders are humble.

And you know that they are humble, not because they go around saying bad stuff about themselves all of the time, but instead because they are just not that interested in themselves any longer.

Their lives and their energies are consumed with someone better. 

They have been gripped with the glory of Christ.

There’s a new center for them and it’s not them anymore, it’s Jesus.

Worldly leaders will make all kinds of sacrifices for themselves. And honestly, sadly, even sometimes religious people, lead like this, only they are using Jesus to exalt themselves. But genuine spiritual leaders, are fighting that, because, they have seen the beauty of Christ.

Have you?

To make an impact for Christ, you need to be willing to obey Christ, no matter what, and to obey Christ no matter what, you have to first be gripped by an overwhelming sense of His power and glory. Sometimes we think it is so hard to obey Jesus because what’s he’s asking us to do is so difficult, but that’s not the reason, ultimately. After all, if it were just a carpenter asking Simon to leave all those fish in the boat and follow him, that would have been hard for Simon to do, but it wasn’t just a carpenter. 

And, that’s the point. 

It was the “Infinite, Almighty, Omnipresent, Everlasting, God.”

Standing there in his boat. 

And Simon knew. He really knew. And we know he saw Jesus because of the way he saw himself. 

How about you?

Simple Family Devotions #2: Getting to Know You

2 Oct

It’s going to be hard to get anything right today if you don’t remember who you are. Take a few minutes to think about what you naturally are like apart from God’s grace. Look up the following verses and write down what they say about YOU. Warning! Sometimes we read these verses so generically, as if they were only talking about everybody else. But, you might try to think more carefully about what they say about yourself personally by writing down, I …

1.) Romans 1:21,22,23,25

2.) Romans 6:23

3.) Ephesians 2:3

4.) James 2:10

5.) Titus 3:3

6.) Romans 5:6

Now that you have done that, go just one step further and jot down 5 ways believing that about yourself will make a difference on the way you view God and relate to others.