Tag Archives: God’s grace

Behold the Lamb Series

Week 1 – The Lamb of God

[John 1:29, Leviticus 17:11]

Here is the LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world.

  • Behold –to point something out
  • Here – to indicate a place … John is drawing attention to Jesus
  • Lamb of God – sent by God, provided by God
  • Takes Away – removes, blots out

Lamb in a Sacrificial Sense: God is holy and righteous, separate from sin

Atonement – Reconciliation – wipe clean, sacrifice that cleanses from sin

Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement. [CSB]

Leviticus 4:32-35 – “kipper” – make atonement, make reconciliation, to purge, to wipe clean

Leviticus 5:5-6

Leviticus 4:5-6 – The anointed priest will then take some of the bull’s blood and bring it into the tent of meeting. The priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. [CSB]

Leviticus 16:14-16 – He is to take some of the bull’s blood and sprinkle it with his finger against the east side of the mercy seat; then he will sprinkle some of the blood with his finger before the mercy seat seven times. When he slaughters the male goat for the people’s sin offering and brings its blood inside the curtain, he will do the same with its blood as he did with the bull’s blood: He is to sprinkle it against the mercy seat and in front of it. He will make atonement for the most holy place in this way for all their sins because of the Israelites’ impurities and rebellious acts. He will do the same for the tent of meeting that remains among them, because it is surrounded by their impurities. [CSB]

Hebrews 9:11-12, 16-22, 24-28

Confession / Costly / Identification / Personal

Breakout Session Questions:

1) Read John 1:29. Does John the Baptist’s statement about the Lamb of God refer to sacrifice? If yes, how can you tell?

2) The phrase “sin of the world” is bold and radical. Why? How can we live this out?

3) In what sense is God’s provision of the animal sacrifice for forgiveness of sins an expression of mercy?

4) Were animal sacrifices actually adequate to atone for sin?

5) How is the Lamb of God a more sufficient sacrifice than the previous sacrificial system?

 

Week 2 – The Lamb Who Takes Our Place

[Isaiah 53]

Substitute – a person acting or serving in place of another.

Bears Our Sin (v. 4)

2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [CSB]

Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so Christ could make us acceptable to God. [CEV]

1 Peter 2:24-25 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. [NASB]

Receives Our Punishment (v.5-6)

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NIV]

Acts Voluntarily (v. 7)

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [ESV]

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many [NLT]

 Revelation 5:6, 9-10 – Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth… And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” [NIV]

Breakout Session Questions:

1) Read Isaiah 53:1-3. How was Jesus a man of sorrows? How is the description of Jesus that we read about in this passage not what was expected?

2) Read Isaiah 53:4-6. List every “our” phrase. What does the list say to you?

3) Read Isaiah 53:6. Are you one of the sheep? Even today?

4) Read Isaiah 53:7. How does this passage describe the Lamb of God?

5) Read Isaiah 53:10. Who killed Jesus? Who was to blame?

 

Week 3 – The Lamb Who Redeems Us from Slavery

[1 Peter 1:18-19, Mark 10:44-45, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20]

Intro: Last week we looked at Isaiah 53, which promised One Who was coming to redeem from their bondage to sin and death… tonight we discuss The Lamb Who Redeems Us from Slavery.

Free: Not bound, confined or detained; having no obligations; capable of moving or turning in any direction.

Slave: Held in servitude; completely subservient.

We were REDEEMED from the empty way of life

1 Peter 1:18-19 – For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. [NIV]        Redemption – deliverance from captivity by means of ransom price

With the life of Jesus given as a RANSOM for many

Mark 10:44-45 – And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” [NASV]

We were bought with a high price, so we must HONOR GOD WITH BODY

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. [NLT]

Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

How to live free?

  1. Accept God’s Word2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [ESV]
  2. Accept God’s GraceRomans 5:18 – Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [ESV]
  3. Accept God’s Victory1 John 5:5 – Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. [NIV]

Breakout Session Questions:

1) Read Romans 8:1-4. What does it mean that the law was weakened by the flesh? How did Jesus fulfill the law’s requirement?

2) Read Romans 8:5-9. What are the two types of people? In reading this passage, do you think it is possible for a believer to be living with the mind-set of the flesh and be hostile to God?

3) Read Romans 8:15-17. How is this passage empowering?

4) From tonight’s reading in the book of Romans, what are some of the things the Holy Spirit will help us live out if we live in the Spirit?

Week 4 – The Passover Lamb of Whom We Partake

[1 Corinthians 5:7, Exodus 12:3-14, Matthew 26:26-30]

Passover Lamb – Passover Instituted

Exodus 12:3-14 – Instructions for Passover

The Lord’s Supper Instituted

Matthew 26:26-30 – 3rd cup, Cup of Redemption

Bread – blessed, broken – “Take and eat it; this is My body.”

Cup – “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Cup of Promise – 4th cup “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” PROMISE TO COME

Handling the Leaven

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

  1. 3 – Even though I am absent in the body, I am present in spirit.
  2. 7 – Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new unleavened batch as indeed you are. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.
  3. 8 – Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old leaven or with the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of SINCERITY and TRUTH.

Remove old yeast – sin/sinner

We are to be the new unleavened batch

  • Sincerity of mind & integrity of character (Pure inner motives)
  • Truth – divine truth / God’s Truth

Breakout Session Questions:

1) Looking at Exodus 12, in what ways did the Passover lamb protect the families of God’s people?

2) How is the Passover lamb in Exodus similar to the sacrifice of Christ?

3) Read Matthew 26:28. How could these words fill us with sorrow? Why should these words fill us with joy?

4) Read Matthew 26:29. How does the celebration of the Lord’s Supper anticipate a future celebration with Jesus? How does this give you hope?

5) Read Exodus 12:11. How is this in relation with how we approach the Lord’s Supper?

Week 5 – The Triumphant Lamb We Worship

[Revelation 5]

Jesus has fierceness & fearlessness of a Lion (v. 5) and tenderness and humility of a Lamb (v. 6).

  • Scroll is the action plan
    • Scroll is an Action Plan to judge, cleanse, and prepare the nations for Jesus’ rule over Earth, while bringing the Church to maturity and into unity with redeemed Israel.
  • Scroll is the Title Deed to the Earth
    • By taking the scroll, He accepted responsibility to cleanse and rule Earth.

Jesus is the only Man found worthy, deserving, and capable to take scroll from Father.

  • Who is worthy? No one.
  • John wept bitterly.
  • He hears – Lion of Tribe of JudahLion – boldness, strength, fierceness
  • He sees – Lamb SlainLamb – humility, gentleness, weakness, submission

He alone could redeem us:

  • He was related to us (Man of God)
  • He was willing to do it
  • He was able to pay the price

Highest government council around throne. (Living angels – angelic, elders – human)

They fell awestruck before the worthy Man and boldly proclaimed their agreement with the Father’s decree to make Jesus supreme leader of whole Earth forever.

Because of His obedience to death, God highly exalted Jesus in heaven and on earth

Philippians 2:8-10 – And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [NIV]

 Breakout Session Questions:

1) Read Psalm 96:1-9. This Psalm speaks of the King of the earth and provides reasons to worship. What are some of the reasons listed?

2) Read Psalm 96:6-12. This passage speaks of the need to “ascribe to the Lord.” What does it mean to “ascribe to the Lord”? This passage speaks of our witness. When considering this passage, what are we supposed to be sharing when we witness? In verse 10, it says, “Say among the nations,” which is again pointing to our witness. When considering this passage, what are we supposed to be sharing when we witness?

3) Read Psalm 96:11-13. How does this passage describe worship? How does this description change the way you think about worship? This Psalm ends waiting for what? How does this relate to tonight’s look at Revelation?

 

 

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Taste and See

The Bible tells us to taste and see the Lord is good. This is one small step toward God, drawing near to Him to see Him with eyes opened. But it isn’t supposed to be a simple taste. Just as we don’t sit down at a full meal and simply taste a bite of food and walk away satisfied, so it is with our life with God.

Too many people take a small bite of the meal the Lord has prepared for them. Too many people are living life okay to have the assurance that they are saved because of their belief in Christ Jesus, yet the Lord has prepared so much more.

Are you missing the fullness of God because your relationship with Him was only about salvation? Are you not seeking the Lord’s face because you did not recognize His great desire to reveal Himself to you in a personal, intimate way? Are you living life on the breadcrumbs, and missing out on the power, the peace, the joy, the love that God has for you today?

Oh, taste and see, taste and see His goodness. Partake. Enjoy His presence. Rejoice in His provision. Thank Him for His great love. Drink deep of His mercy and grace. Consume His Word. Allow Him to have His way in every area of your life – blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8 [ESV]

Be Useful

Something that I have been thinking about a lot is usefulness. There are moments when we have items in our home that are not useful to us. Sometimes we have apps on our devices that are not useful. Maybe at a time they seemed useful, but things have changed. But usefulness isn’t only something we consider as objects or possessions. People can be useful or not useful too.

Paul was writing to Philemon about the runaway servant Onesimus. He tells Philemon about this change that has occurred. Yes, Onesimus was deserving of punishment, which could have meant a death sentence. It was within the legal limits. But Paul mentions this great conversion of Onesimus. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but in doing so, he became useful. In saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” he became useful. God had big plans for Onesimus!

If someone would consider your usefulness, what would they say? Would they describe you as very useful? Do you think you are very useful? Or is something getting in the way? That something could even be you! Truth be told, you have a great purpose. God has known this since the very beginning. It is a purpose that I pray you embrace and pour yourself into as an offering. Aim today to come to terms with this usefulness, and if the Spirit convicts you, follow His leading. It is a very dangerous prayer to say, “Use me.” Yet is a prayer than can help position you for what God has already prepared. Be useful. Plant for a good harvest.

“Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.” – Philemon 1:11 [NLT]

Joyfully Disciplined

As I have aged, I realized the great blessing of being disciplined. When younger, the word discipline was a cruel one we tried to avoid. No one likes discipline. We do not usually request or desire discipline. Discipline is punishing someone to correct poor behavior or disobedience. Discipline trains people to be obedient people.

The Bible tells us that anyone God disciplines is “blessed” or “joyful.” The world looks at the discipline of the Lord as wrath and usually describe it as harsh and unreasonable. As a child of God, hopefully you understand that God disciplines us as a father disciplines a child. It is for our own good. Discipline helps us to grow. Discipline protects and teaches us. Discipline is a blessing.

Today, thank the Lord for His instruction. Thank Him for His discipline. Thank Him for seeking the best for you. Thank Him for His love. Praise Him for He alone is good, and He alone deserves all honor, glory, and praise. I pray that you are joyfully disciplined.

“Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions.” – Psalm 94:12 [NLT]

“Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.” – Deuteronomy 8:5-6 [NLT]

 

His Perfect Timing

God’s timing is always the best timing. Oftentimes we consider how we don’t receive a particular blessing until just the right time when it is needed, but He also keeps us from seeing or experiencing things until it is the proper time as well. Not only can we look at His perfect timing when it comes to the blessings we receive, but we also can look at His perfect timing when He protects us or keeps us from something until the timing is more appropriate or better for His great work.

This past week was Holy Week. It was a full on week of preaching and ministering. Throughout the week, I kept myself fixated on God’s Word, continuously in prayer, and I tried to balance out things so I had rest built in within the busy schedule. But in the midst of it all, God was not allowing me to see things that would throw me off course as well. We don’t often consider how He is fighting for us, moving behind the scenes to ensure His children stay the course and run the race before them. He is a faithful God. He is a merciful, gracious God.

God’s timing is always perfect. Today, consider what you do not get to see happening—the protection of God, the hand of God keeping you from items hidden from your view. The Lord embraces you—covers you with His protective wings. It is not by chance that you missed a particular newspaper article. It is not by chance that you caught that red light that didn’t seem to go off like the normal traffic timing at that time of the day. Everything is under God’s control. Today, thank Him for His protection. Thank Him for seeing things through to the end. Thank Him for using you for His great work and for never letting you go. He is faithful! He is awesome! He is Lord of all!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” – Psalm 91:1-4 [NASB]

 

Balancing Truth and Grace

Some people have brought it to my attention that I have a problem balancing truth and grace, hence the reason the Spirit led me to speak often about truth and grace. Often we are not only preaching for others to hear, but God leads us to preach to ourselves as well. Jesus is grace and truth (John 1:17). Life is all about balance, and this is true when it comes to truth and grace. If we have too much truth and lack grace, we have judgment and condemnation. If we have too much grace and lack truth, we have tolerance of the ungodly.

At the start of Galatians, the Apostle Paul is astonished that the people were deserting the Gospel. People were “turning to a different gospel.” We notice in the New Testament that as the Early Church was spreading, there were people who wanted to introduce something else into the Gospel of Christ. People were teaching Christ, but adding to the Gospel. In doing so, it was as if Jesus wasn’t enough. In teaching something added to Jesus or something other than Jesus, it was taking away from the grace and the truth.

As Paul notes here, there is only one Gospel. There is the Good News of Jesus Christ. As John writes, Jesus is grace and truth. As we share this Good News to others and as we live this out in our own lives, we must always have grace and truth. If we live with a lot of truth, trying to uphold the Law, we will die to the law. We are not perfect. We all fall short (Romans 3:23). It won’t work. We will beat ourselves up, and for no good reason. If we pour this out to others, we will be the judgmental, finger pointer who turns everyone away. If we live with a lot of grace, we will never be confronted with the Truth. We cannot be molded into who God created us to be if we turn away from the conviction. We will find ourselves tolerating anything and everything that comes our way. Not only will we live a life tolerating sin in our own life, but we will live like that toward those around us. We will pour out the love, but we will love everyone to hell. This truth hurts. But it is truth that must be spoken. We need truth. We need grace. We need Jesus.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” – Galatians 1:6-7 [ESV]

More Than A Story: Obedience

[The Vineyard Workers: Matthew 20:1-16]

Isaiah 1:19 – “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.” [HCSB]

God uses EVERYONE obedient to Him – Peter asks “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME”?

“Then Peter chimed in, ‘We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?’ Jesus replied, ‘Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.’” – Matthew 19:27-30 [MSG]

“Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”- Matthew 20:15-16 [NIV]

1) This parable is not about salvation or eternal life

Salvation is not earned by works

Ephesians 2:8-9“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” [NASB]

Titus 3:5-6He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” [NLT]

2) This parable is not about rewards for service

God rewards differently

1 Corinthians 3:8 – “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” [ESV]

LABORERS WHO BEGAN AT 6AM FAILED TO BE THANKFUL – SELF-SERVING ATTITUDE

We all will receive great rewards for following Jesus (see Revelation 22:12)

OBEDIENCE – act of obeying, words or actions denoting submission to authority, dutifulness

  • Obedience expresses faith in His wisdom and love. (Hebrew 11:6)
  • Obedience expresses hope in a future blessing. (Mark 10:29-30)
  • Obedience expresses love (John 14:15, 2 John 1:6)
  • Obedience glorifies God (Matthew 5:16)

Bible Study Questions:

1) In this parable, we read about a Landowner, Laborers, a work day, a Vineyard, and the end of the work day. What do you think these people/things represent?

Landowner –

Laborers –

Vineyard –

Day of work –

End of the work day –

2) Those who were hired last were unworthy of what they received. They were receiving a day’s wage despite working less than a day’s work. They were paid first. They were treated equally.

How does this resemble God’s grace?

What reminds us of our unworthiness?

3) Those who were hired first were paid last. It was their opinion that they were treated unfairly though they were paid an equal amount and given exactly what was agreed upon.

Why was it difficult for these workers to accept God’s grace towards others?

What made this an unfair transaction (from their vantage point)?

4) Before this parable, Peter asks what the disciples will gain for leaving everything behind. Jesus twice speaks of the Great Reversal. Those who are first will be last; those who are last will be first. It wasn’t about the difference of the reward. We should all be thankful.

How can we obey with an attitude of gratitude? What does this look like?

What should be our motivation of service?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

Acts: Possessions

[[Acts 4:32-37 ]]

No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (v. 32b)

And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (v. 33b-35)

At this time people would sell some property – brought all proceeds – not told you have to sell everything (voluntary not mandatory) Barnabas sold a field he owned to support the ministry – sharing without considering repayment

[[Acts 5:1-11]]

Ananias & Sapphira – Sold property but kept back part of the money

“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” – Acts 5:3-5 [NIV] The Holy Spirit Peter replied, Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38 [ NLT]

Quench or Grieve It

  • Quench—1 Thessalonians 5:19Do not quench the Spirit. (NIV) Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. (NLT) [[Suppressive / Destructive / Non-Unifying]]
    • Holy Spirit – Fire – Purifying / Enlightening / Enlivening – Don’t despise Spiritual Gifts
    • NOT ALLOWING HIM TO MOVE FREELY
  • Grieve—Ephesians 4:30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (ESV) [[“Lupe” – To cause grief / To offend]]
    • Lying, angry, corrupt behavior – actions, behavior towards God and others
    • ACTING OUT IN SINFUL MANNER

The Holy Spirit…

Counsels You (John 14:16)

Cleanses you (Romans 15:16)

Comforts you (2 Corinthians 1:3)

Empowers you (Romans 15:13)

Helps you when weak (Romans 8:26)

Gives you confidence (2 Corinthians 5:5-6)

Assures adoption in God’s family (Galatians 4:6-7)

Encourages you (Acts 9:31)

Gives you new life (Romans 8:11)

Gives you wisdom & revelation (Eph. 1:17)

Leads you to all truth (John 16:13)

Helps you pray (Romans 8:26)

Convicts you (John 16:8)

Strengthens & renews you (Ephesians 3:16)

Brings you reassurance (Romans 8:16)

Sanctifies you (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

Fills you (Ephesians 5:18)

Gives you joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

Helps you remember (John 14:26)

Dispenses God’s love in hearts (Romans 5:5)

 

Spirit leads into the Wilderness

“I suggest that many Christians… have never allowed them to be led by that selfsame Spirit into the wilderness. But those who would know the Spirit’s power and not just His presence must be tempted, tried, tested, and tempered, so that they might learn to live dependent on God and not on themselves.” – Oswald Chambers

1) Wilderness is a place of Separation Stripped down, out of comfort zone

2) Wilderness is a place of Grace God provides despite our sinfulness – Pillar of fire, Manna, Quail

3) Wilderness is a place of Revelation Opens your eyes to greater knowledge and understanding of God and His Word

4) Wilderness is a place of Preparation Correction, pruning, discipline

5) Wilderness is place of Choice With God – without God – a choice must be made

Download Outline PDF

This is one of the 4 part Acts series:

Acts: Prayer

Acts: Possessions

Acts: Persecution

Acts: Proclamation

Not So Fast

Well my daughter’s Cross Country season is over. I asked if she wanted to participate in Track and Field; however, she said she doesn’t think she will. I asked why because I know she loves to run. She said she isn’t a fast runner. She’s a distance runner. Many of the Cross Country team members were fast and they would start out really well, but then she’d be ahead. Their energy fizzled a bit and she kept a steady pace.

In our Christian walk, we can start out really well and fizzle. I see it time and time again. Some people get this passion for Jesus when they accept Him into their lives. They get a huge Bible. They are highlighting. They are raising hands. They start telling everyone about Jesus and they look to be on fire. But that quick burst suddenly fizzles. In time it looks as if the light has gone out.

Paul told us to press forward on the race that is set out before us. It doesn’t have to be a quick rush forward to surge ahead. Our walk with Christ is a steady one—day by day, moment by moment. We aren’t in a race against each other trying to be the “better Christian” as if there was a thing. Each of us is simply to continue fixing our eyes on Jesus and trying to follow God’s will for our lives. We will stumble. We will mess up. God’s grace is enough. The bottom line is—keep pressing forward.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24 [NIV]

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:14 [NLT]

Whitewashed Sins

I recently moved into a new home. Before I moved in, there was a work crew here making sure that all of the blemishes were no longer visible. The nail holes were patched up. The walls were painted. Where there once was a mark on the wall, there was fresh paint. You know paint can cover up so much. For example, you can have a scrap on your car and a bit of touch up paint will make it go away. It doesn’t mean the scrap didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean you didn’t get a little too close to the garage. But it looks like nothing happened.

Long ago they would whitewash the tombs. They wanted to be sure that the graves were easily marked, some would say covered with lime or chalk, but it helped them consider it pure in case someone walked up to the tomb. Otherwise, if the whitewashing didn’t occur, a person would be contaminated, defiled for being in close contact with the dead.

Today’s passage says we cannot whitewash our sins. We cannot cover them over. We cannot pretend they aren’t there. We cannot take a paintbrush and cover it all up. Instead, we are to admit our sins. We are to confess and repent. If something you have done has not yet been confessed, get it out now. God is quick to forgive. You simply need to confess your sins and move forward. Don’t hide them behind some whitewash and think they will go away. Receive God’s mercy. Confess and receive His mercy.

“You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it;
you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”

-Proverbs 28:13 [MSG]

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