Day 60 Where Is It You Think You’re Going?

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

2 Thessalonians 2: 13-17

Redefining The Journey

In what ways do you feel as though you are “established in every good word and work”?

Allow me to summarize the four great doctrines we have been pointing to as the solution for the four false beliefs:

Because of justification, you are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. You not longer have to fear failure.

Because of reconciliation, you are totally accepted by God. You no longer have to fear rejection.

Because of propitiation, you are deeply loved by God. You no longer have to fear punishment; nor do have to punish others.

Because of regeneration, you have been made brand-new, complete in Christ. You not longer need to experience the pain of shame.

The more we understand and apply the truths of justification, propitiation, reconciliation, and regeneration, the more our lives will reflect His character. Spiritual growth is not magic. It comes as we apply the love and forgiveness of Christ in our daily circumstances. It comes as we reflect on the unconditional acceptance of Christ and His awesome power and choose to respond to situations and people in light of His sovereign purpose and kindness toward us.

“Spiritual growth is not magic.” How do you respond to that statement?

What have you learned during the last couple of months about applying the love and forgiveness of Christ in your daily circumstances?

How would you describe God’s kindness toward you?

What change have you made in your life in regard to where you find your source of significance? What difference has that made in your life?

Write your own prayer thanking God for your relationship with Him and asking Him for help as you continue to trust that relationship for your sense of significance.

Talk To God

Holy Fatjer, I am Yours. I matter to You. It is in my relationship with Christ that I find my most basic meaning in life. Teach me to base my life on our relationship. Help me to continue to see clearly my false beliefs about what makes me worth something. Help me build a life based on Your truth. In Jesus name I pray. Amen and Amen!

Day 59-Would You Rather Have Faith Or A Mouthful Of Water?

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of  little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ” Truly You are the Son of God

Matthew 14:28-33

Confessing Your Weaknesses

How would you compare your faith journey to Peter’s? Have there been times when you felt as if you were walking on water? Falling into the waves? Feeling God’s hand pull you back up?

When we do sin, we should follow King David’s example. When Nathan confronted David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, David did not run from his sin or its consequences. Confess your sins, worship God, and get on with your life. You can experience the mercy of God no matter what you’ve been through.

Our greatest obstacle to experiencing regeneration is that we don’t look different and sometimes we don’t act much differently. As we recognize the results of justification, reconciliation, and propitiation, we will find it much easier to hold to the fact that we have undergone regeneration. However, it will come down to whether or not we’re willing to accept what God reveals about our true natures. He is not lying to us, and He is not deceived.

How important is it to you to be right? How difficult is it for anyone, even God, to point out that you need to change?

When was the last time you had to admit you were wrong to someone? How did it go?

Why does accepting help, admitting weakness, or admitting you were wrong often threaten your sense of significance? What does that reveal about your beliefs?

Think of a time when you felt God “speaking” to you or leading you. How did you recognize His voice?

Talk To God

Father, it makes so much sense to walk through life believing Your voice more than any other. I guess my human nature will always struggle a bit with putting my focus on the voices around me, but I pray that You’ll always call me back to You. Help me to listen. I believe that Your love is the stablizing force in my life. Help me make Your voice the steady one I hear in my head and heart. Thanks for Your mercy. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen!

Day 58- Is What You See Really What You Get?

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

 

Beauty Is Sin Deep!

 

Finding True Beauty

How well do you think you measure up in your culture as far as looks? Be honest. How does that affect the value you place on yourself?

Beauty is highly valued in our society. Television commercials and programs, magazine ads, and billboards all convey the message that beauty is to be prized. But very few of us compare to the beautiful people we in the ads and programs, and most of us are ashamed of at least one aspect of our appearance. We spend hundreds of dollars and an inestimable amount of time and worry covering up or altering our skin, eyes, teeth, faces, noses, thighs, and scalps, refusing to believe that God, in His sovereignty and love, gave us the features He wants us to have.

Sometimes oil will wash up on a beautiful ocean beach to form a tarlike substance. When this happens the tar can easily transfer onto our feet, staining our feet to the extent that sometimes we wonder if we will ever get rid of the stain. Shame is the emotional tar of our lives. Unlike the beach tar, we can’t get rid of it without an act of God.

Tar-stained feet…Do you have blotches of shame or inferiority that you are having a hard time getting rid of? Describe them.

What is your prayer in regard to the areas of your life that are still a source of shame to you?

In Ephesian 3:14-21 Paul prays that the Christians at Ephesus will be “filled with all the fullness of God.” In what areas of your life are you filled with the fullness of God? In what areas do you still feel you’re running on fumes?

Think back over your physical appearance in the past twenty-four hours. How big a part did it play in your sense of significance?

There will always be things we don’t like about our lives. There will always be things we would change if we could. The essential thing is that we don’t connect our worth to those things. What difficulties about your life or yourself keep getting connected to your sense of significance?

Talk To God

Father, You formed my shape. You put me in a world where the outside is the cover by which every book is judged. Give me Your wisdom to judge my worth by a completely different standard than just how my body compares to this world of airbrushed photos. Give me eyes to see the needs of my soul and the beauty that You want to cultivate there. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Day 57- Have I Kicked Myself Enough Today?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Ephesians 1:3-7

"Flagellation" is a self inflicted flogging as an act of penance to identify one with the suffering of Christ. It is not necessary. The blood of Christ is all sufficient.

Paying Penance

Penance is punishment, often self-inflicted. It’s not the same as repentance. Repentance is turning away from sin. Penance is punishing yourself for sin. God wants our repentance, requires it even. He doesn’t have much use for our penance. How much energy do you give to each?

There have been times when I thought that I couldn’t feel forgiven until I had experienced remorse for my sin for a certain period of time. These occasions led to depression because I could hardly complete my penance for one sin before I had sinned again. Then I would have to feel bad about that for a period of time, only to sin again…and again…and again…and…well, you get the picture.

No matter how much we do to make up for our sin, we will continue to feel guilty and believe that we need to do more unless we resist Satan, the accuser fo the brethren. This can only be accomplished because Christ’s blood has completely paid for our sins and delivered us from guilt. We need to verbalize what the blood of Christ has done for us: We are deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted, and complete in Christ.

How would you expect a person to behave who was “deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted, and complete in Christ?

No matter how your life is going right now, the truth is that you already are all of those things listed above. Taking each description one by one, list how closely you perceive yourself to fit the description.

Ephesians 1:3-7 says that God chose you before the foundation of the world was established. You are significant in the grand scheme of things. What feelings or thoughts does that truth raise in you?

Why is it more attractive to us to earn our own way instead of receiving grace from God?

Talk To God

Father, sometimes I’m like a little kid at the cash register. You’ve paid for the whole basketful, but I keep taking the change out of my pocket as if I have enough to pay myself. In this moment, I lay down my own foolishness. Thank You for Your provision for my very soul. Thank You for doing what I could never do for myself. I am wowed by your amazing grace. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

Day 56- Who Named You Judge And Jury?

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:5-11

Am I being Punished or Disciplined?

Punishing Versus Disciplining

We punish a child when we apply negative consequences for bad behavior. We discipline a child when we help him learn how to replace bad behavior with good behavior, walking him through the process. Sometimes they feel the same to the child, but for us it is a different intention and process. Do you most often perceive God’s punishment ( which was actually taken on by Christ) or His discipline?

Many of us operate on the theory that if we are hard enough on ourselves, then God won’t have to punish us. We fail to realize that God disciplines us in love and never punishes us in anger. Because God loves us unconditionally and does not punish us, we don’t need to punish ourselves. The blame game leaves us feeling all alone without experiencing the faith we need to live without fear. Fear and faith can never be coequal. One will always dominate the other. The more you give yourself to fear, the more difficult it is to experience faith in your life. The fear of punishment and the desire to punish others can be overcome by realizing that Christ has borne the punishment we deserve. His motives toward us are loving and kind. His discipline is designed to correct us and protect us from the destruction of sin, not to punish us.

If God disciplines us to teach a new way of life, what is our best response to His discipline?

How do you tell the difference between the natural consequences of your choices, even mistakes, and the discipline of God?

If God’s discipline is really training in life, what message does that send to our sense of significance?

Think about yesterday. Did you feel God teaching you, training you, or guiding you? What did it feel like?

Talk To God

When I get a moment of clarity, Father, I realize how futile it is for me to be hard on myself to settle a score that You’re already settled. I don’t know what game I’m playing that makes me want to punish myself on Your behalf. But I guess that is the tricky nature of false beliefs. Thank You for continuing to show me the truth. Help me live according to it. What a better life, when I stay there! In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

Day 55- Can You Have Too Many Brothers And Sisters?

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
1 Corinthians 12:12-18

Living In The Body

Who are the people you turn to for spiritual encouragement? How are they most effective in encouraging you spiritually?

While God often demonstrates His love and affirmation for us through believers and non believers alike, His desire is that our relationship with others will enable us to know Him more fully. His work through others is , in part, to serve as a channel through which we can better understand His divine love and acceptance of us. Sadly, we are all prone to miss His message and mistake His messenger(s) as the source of our fulfillment.

Our relationships with one another are very important to God, so much so that He has placed unity among the brethren as a priority in our relationship with Him (Matt. 5:23-24). This is because God has reconciled us to Himself as a body in Christ (Eph. 2:16) and therefore intends for us to interact as members of one another (Eph 4:25).

What do you see as God’s purpose for the church?

How does the metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:12-18 (the church of Christ functioning together as body parts do) work with understanding of the church?

We’ve already established that we can’t base our significance on the opinions of others, even other Christians. So what role do your brothers and sisters in Christ have in terms of your value?

Think about the last time you were at church. What did you have to offer there? How did it make you feel?

What would you like your role to be in the body of Christ?

Talk To God

Father, I know You have a great plan for the church. Thank You for that plan. But sometimes the church is the very place where hurts and wounds occur. Help me to see past that and keep my eye on Your purposes for Your body. Help me not to try to live out my life of faith in isolation. Give me Your vision for Your body in this world.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

Day 54- How Many People Can You Keep Happy At One Time?

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can a man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Psalm 118:6-9

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Proverbs 29:25

 

PILATE ACTED IN FEAR OF PLEASING A GROUP THAT HATED HIM

 

Avoiding The “Pleasing” Pitfall 

Think about a time (recently if possible) when someone responded to you negatively. What kinds of feelings did that stir up in yourself? About them?

Living according to the false belief I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself causes us to fear rejection, conforming virtually all of our attitudes and actions to the expectations of others. We can ultimately seek either the approval of men or the approval of God as that basis of our self-worth. We cannot seek both. God wants to be the Lord of our lives, and He is unwilling to share that rightful lordship with anyone else. Therefore, the only way we can overcome the fear of rejection is to value the constant approval of God over the conditional approval of people. The good news is that because we are fully pleasing to God, we need not be devastated when others respond to us in a negative way.

Virtually all of us fear rejection. Rejection won’t usually physically hurt us, so what is it we really fear? What do you fear most about rejection?

How does knowing that you are completely and totally pleasing to God help you overcome the fear fo rejection?

Psalm 118:6-9 says it’s better to put your confidence in God than in people. You’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks giving thought to this concept. What still makes it tough to step back from people’s opinions and put you confidence in God alone?

What does if feel like to let go of the responsibility of keeping someone else happy?

From your experiences, what happens when you let the people around you take responsibility for their own happiness and you take care of yours?

Talk To God

Father, it does feel so good when I keep the people around me happy. It’s nice to be without the hassle of conflict. Unfortunately, I have lost some of myself to make that happen. I see Your vision of me walking authentically through life content in the fact that I am pleasing to You rather that pleasing the people I pass by. I just need Your help to keep living that out one step at a time. I JESUS name I pray. Amen!

Day 53- Why Does A Puppy Learn To Obey?

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slave to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:15-18

 

SIN IS DEADLY

 

Obeying To Please God

Think about the people whom you would most like to please. What would you like them to say about you?

Satan has effectively blinded man to the painful, damaging consequences of sin. Sin is as deadly as any venomous viper.  Sooner or later, sin will result in some form of death. It is the nature of sin.  Our loving Father has given us the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. On the cross, Jesus bore all the punishment we deserved; therefore, we no longer need to fear punishment from God for our sins. We have a wrong perspective if we only view God’s commands as restrictions. We must realize that His commands are guidelines, given so that we might enjoy life to the fullest. Obedience to God’s commands should never be considered a means to gain His approval. Our noblest motivation for serving Christ is simply that He is worthy of our love and obedience.

In what ways are you motivated by the sheer fact of pleasing God who already loves you more than you can understand?

How would you explain to someone else why you obey God?

How do you define sin? Sin is not always necessarily just wrong deeds. Sometimes it’s being less than God calls us to be, “missing the mark.” How do you define the damage that is done in your life by sin in this broader sense of the word?

Think of a time when you felt really good about yourself. Jot down the circumstances. Then think of a low time in your life. Jot down those circumstances. How was your view of sin affected during those times?

Talk To God

Father, I think I dishonor You when I cower away as if You are waiting to condemn me. Forgive me for treating You like a school principle in that way. Teach me to enjoy the freedom of Your love while honoring our relationship enough to take seriously the commands You give for my own benefit. I worship You. In Jesus name I pray.Amen!

Day-52 So, You Think You’re Close To Perfect?

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is he overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:1-5

It's Your Fault...You Made Me do it!

Overcoming Hopelessness

What does it mean to you to “overcome the world”? What kind of personal victory does that entail?
The fear of failure can affect our lives in many ways. One of the most common symptoms of the fear of failure is perfectionism, an unwillingness to fail. Another very common result of the fear of failure is a willingness to be involved in only those activities that can be done well. New challenges are avoided at all cost. Anger is another normal response. What is the common first thing to do when we realize we have failed? We look for someone to blame. Experiencing failure and fearing failure can lead to deep depression. Much of what is known as low motivation or laziness is better understood as hopelessness that comes when people believe they will fail.
How would you define perfectionism? What evidence of it (or of your response to it) do you see in your life?
Are you a person who fears new challenges? What connection do you trace between that fear ( or lack of it) and your deepest sense of worth?
Think of a time in the past twenty-four hours when you felt hopeless. If you need to think back further, go ahead and focus for a minute on that hopeless time. What was you view of yourself during that time?
What was God’s view of you during that time?
Why do you think the myth ” If we just try hard enough, we’ll be good enough” is so hard to let go?

Talk To God

Father, who taught me the myth that if I try hard enough I’ll be good enough? Somehow I’ve come to believe that I can get to a place where I don’t need You. I might not say it, but I live that way sometimes. Keep me from the land called Denial. Help me to see myself realistically and to see the truth of who You are. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

Day 51- How Many Die-Hard Fans Do You Have?

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God upon every remember of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:2-6

Thou Art The Potter, I am the clay...Mold me and make me...Have Thine Own Way

Growing Spiritually

In what ways do you feel confident that God will complete the work He has begun in you? On what do you base your confidence?

The Father is busy in our lives even when we are unaware of His activities. He wants us to find freedom in this life. He is determined that we have a chance for this freedom. Although we will never experience absolute freedom this side of heaven, if we are willing to cooperate with His plan, we can experience much more than we could ever imagine. This will be a process. It will only occur as we are willing to go to a deeper level in our relationship with Him. There will be struggles and many failures along the way. However, the Father does not get tired of being there to bring us to victory. The only question is, Are we willing to go with Him?

Have you ever known God to answer a prayer before you even asked, or to provide for you before you even knew what you needed? What does it mean to you that God is working in your life even you are unaware of it?

What does it mean for you to go to a deeper level in your relationship with God?

Think about the past twenty-four hours. On reflection, what evidence do you see of God working in your life?

We don’t usually walk around thinking about our own self-worth. We usually walk around thinking about how to respond to the moment and people before us. Have you noticed a connection between your worth and your moments? How do they relate right now?

Take a moment to thing about how much you’ve grown in terms of cooperating with God as He helps you mature spiritually. How has your connection with God changed over the course of the last month? Are you more aware of your partnership with Him in this thing called your life?

Talk To God

Father, when I try to get life “right” on my own, I end up feeling to alone. Help me relax in Your love. Help me accept my human limitations and be grateful for Your forgiveness. I feel like a child who has to wear himself out struggling before he’ll relax in his dad’s arms. Teach me to relax in Your forgiveness and acceptance. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!