Did you know you were made for more? Jesus said that we would do greater things than even He did during His earthly ministry. It’s true. Sadly, many of us never step into what God has prepared long ago. We allow our fears to dictate our steps. We make up excuses for not stepping out. We think that others have a ministry, but we don’t have our own ministry. For others, it simply is a matter of not being all in when it comes to walking with Jesus.
Each of us has a ministry. If you think you don’t have a ministry because your spouse is in ministry, that’s incorrect. You each have a ministry role. Each of you have important roles. If you don’t reach out in faith because you believe you are limited, realize that you have the Spirit of God living within you. That is the MOST POWERFUL FORCE in the world inside you! The Holy Spirit with equip you and empower you (Romans 15:13). Simply show up. You have an important ministry.
If you have a list of excuses as to why you don’t do something, consider the reason for the excuses. Are these excuses justified? Maybe you don’t show up to Bible study because you don’t feel like you know enough about the Bible. Guess where you should be then? Bible study. Maybe you don’t help out with the mission work because you feel unqualified. Who is qualified? No one is qualified by their own merits. God alone qualifies (2 Corinthians 3:5). Perhaps you don’t attend church because you feel unworthy. Everyone who attends church is unworthy. We all fall short (Romans 3:23). It is only because Jesus died on the Cross that we can approach God.
Today, remember you were made for more. Reach out for the more. Don’t stand for less. God is a big God and He has big plans. Embrace them.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” – John 14:12 [NIV]
In Hosea 8, we read that Ephraim had “multiplied altars for sin” (v. 11). They built altars, but they certainly were not worshiping God as He desired. The altars were “altars of sinning.” Oh how the things that could be useful for good can be used for evil just the same. What a great reminder to tread with caution. Thankfully, God has given us His Word so we know what is desired of us.
This verse translates in the NLT as, “Even though I gave them all My laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them.” The ESV translates this as a “strange thing.” Like it’s strange to apply the laws to them, like it’s foreign to them. Sadly, the people of this time period were far from God. They were led away. They were sinful, idolatrous people. It did not matter how many laws there are—they would be seen as foreign nonetheless.
For many people today, God’s Law is a strange thing. People are so far from understanding the Truth, they look at what God commands and see it as strange, difficult, demanding, and even unnecessary. People do not understand the reason for the Law. God blesses us with the Law. The Law is actually all about GRACE. It is through the Law that we realize we are sinners (Romans 3:20, 7:7). As a result, the Law leads us to Jesus Christ so that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). Without the Law, we would not recognize our need for Jesus. We would not accept the grace of God. We would not be able to have the relationship for which we were created. To outsiders, the Law is a strange thing. To believers, the Law is a constant reminder that we fall short (Romans 3:23) and that we need a Savior. Knowing that He fulfilled the Law and that through Him we have life and life in abundance is a blessing! Today, remember the not-so-strange thing. More importantly, thank the Lord for His unending grace.
“Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing.” – Hosea 8:12 [ESV]
In Hosea, we read a lot about the sinfulness of God’s people. Judgment was given. In Hosea 5:15, we read that the people needed to acknowledge their guilt. After they acknowledge their guilt, then they must seek God’s face. You cannot seek God, you cannot move in His direction, until you acknowledge you have sinned against Him. You first repent, which means change your mind. You recognize that you don’t want to sin. Read that again. It doesn’t mean you won’t sin. You don’t want to sin. You wish you wouldn’t sin.
The verse says that in the distress of the people, the people would “earnestly seek.” This is a powerful thing. The word choice “earnestly seek,” means seeking early in the morning, seeking diligently, even seeking painstakingly. We are to earnestly seek God—to seek Him diligently. This is a search that should start early. This is a search that you need to be all in for doing. This is also a rewarding search. Remember, God’s Word says if you search for Him with all your heart, you will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13).
Today, you have a choice. You can acknowledge that you have a great need for Jesus and you can seek Him wholeheartedly. You can recognize that you fall short just like everyone (Romans 3:23). Or you can make the choice to continue forward with life without acknowledging anything. I pray you earnestly seek Him. It will be a blessing!
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” – Hosea 5:15 [ESV]
We recently did a Bible study where the term “stiff necked” came up. Many people asked what does it mean to be “stiff necked”? Jokingly, I told them I am stiff necked, hence the reason I see a chiropractor. The truth is, yes, I have a stiff neck that needed extensive therapy. My lower back and my neck were the worst. But I am also stiff necked in the biblical sense of the term.
So what does this actually mean? If we would know about oxen and plowing, we would have a better understanding. When a fellow was working the plow, he would have his oxen in order, and he would use one hand on the plow and the other holding a large pole. Usually there would be two oxen together. The man who was working the field, would use the pole to touch the back of the feet of the oxen, or to touch the necks of the oxen. They did these things so that the oxen would know when to change speed, when to go straight, and when to turn. There were some stubborn oxen who didn’t like to listen. When they would have their necks poked, they would not move as ordered. They were known as hard of neck or “stiff necked.”
I admit I am stiff necked. There are times when I don’t want to move when God gives me a poke. There are moments when I chose to try to control a situation instead of giving it to God. There are times when I am supposed to turn, but I go on a different way. Today, ask God to reveal to you any areas in your life that may cause you to earn the name “stiff necked.” Chances are, like me, you are stiff necked. Don’t worry—we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully Jesus Christ has made a way so that we can find forgiveness despite our stiff necked issues.
“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” – Deuteronomy 10:16 [NASB]
“Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. – 2 Chronicles 30:8 [ESV]
We all have heard the phrase, “Bad things happen to good people.” Often it is said when we believe ourselves to be undeserving of what comes our way. Perhaps we are speaking about someone who we deem to be a “good person,” who gets handed a “raw deal,” and we think that should only be reserved for those who are “bad people.”
The truth is that there are no “good people,” so we cannot say that “bad things happen to good people.” In Romans, we read that there is no one righteous – no one who is good. We are all bad. We all fall short. Therefore, the only way this phrase is true is to say that bad things happen to people. We know that to be true. We live in a fallen world—a broken world. Even as we find ourselves following God’s leading, we will find “bad things” will happen. We are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We are promised families will be torn apart (Luke 12:53).
Today, let us remember that bad things only happened to the One Who is Righteous. He suffered a lot of “bad things.” He carried all of our sins on the Cross. He did not deserve the wrath of God. He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15). But the “bad things” that happened to Him at Calvary were endured to the finish so that through Him we could be righteous, redeemed—that we, too, would follow Him to the Cross and the Resurrection to a new life—a life that will be all good when we are called home.
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’” – Romans 3:10 [ESV]
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 [ESV]
Look Back – Remember what God has done
Joshua 3-4 – REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE
Remember personal experience
Remember to share faith – John 21:25
NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY YOUR TESTIMONY- IT IS YOURS ALONE
Look Back – Remember past events and old life
Dwell on past sins – missing old life – longing for what was
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Leave your old self behind – put on new self (Ephesians 4:17-24)
Old self – “the flesh” is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so (Romans 8:6-7) – old self is all about us
Lot’s Wife – Genesis 19, Luke 17:32-33 – Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it
Harboring unforgiveness towards others / holding grudges
FORGIVE means to NOT TALK ABOUT IT and to NOT THINK ABOUT IT
Forgive just as Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13)
FORGIVE LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED
Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. (Matthew 6:12)
Guard your heart – Proverbs 4:23
Pray for them – But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)
Look Back – Remember Past Mistakes
Romans 3:23 – All fall short of the glory of God
Everyone makes mistakes:
- Abraham fled to Egypt because of drought (Genesis 12-13)
- Moses killed Egyptian (Exodus 2) & struck rock in anger (Numbers 20)
- Peter denied Jesus THREE times (Mark 14:66-72)
Today’s Passage: Conception and Birth of Jesus – Matthew 1:18-25
“Verse 21 – “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Nathan Rebukes David – 2 Samuel 12:1-14
- David – man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).
- David commits adultery & plans murder to cover up sin (2 Samuel 11).
- David’s repents – TRUE REPENTANCE – David’s prayer – Psalm 51
Knowing if it is a sin
- Sin is going against God and His Word. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. (1 John 3:4). Know God’s Word. Know His Commands. READ BIBLE & PRAY – REQUIRES AN ACTIVE, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP
- Believers have His Spirit (the Spirit of God) to teach (Ephesians 1:17) and convict (John 16:8)
You must admit sins
- To be healed (James 5:16)
- To get another chance (Proverbs 28:13)
- To be changed (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5)
- To share with others
Your sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ
- Declare with your mouth and believe in your heart (Romans 10:9)
- While you were dead in sin He forgave ALL our sins (Colossians 2:13)
- The debt was cancelled – Jesus nailed it to the Cross – paid in full (Colossians 2:14)
- He blots out our transgressions (Isaiah 43:25)
- He will not even remember our sins – acts as if they never happened – forgives as far as the east to the west (Psalm 103:12)
Confession isn’t necessary for forgiveness – Jesus finished that once for all – but it is important
There is NO ONE between you and God.
- Jesus encourages us to confess to the Lord (Matthew 6:12, Mark 11:25, Luke 11:4)
- We were given an Advocate with the Father – Mediator – Holy Spirit (1 John 2:1)
- We should reach out to Him daily for a spiritual washing (1 John 1:9)
- We should confess to each other because it’s beneficial to the body (James 5:16)
- Not only do others realize we all struggle, but there is ACCOUNTABILITY. We all need an accountability partner who will SPEAK TRUTH.
Philippians 1:6 – He will complete the work He began in you – TRUST
Oh everyone makes mistakes. Oh, yes they do; Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too; Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people! Everyone makes mistakes, so why can’t you?
I used to sing that Sesame Street “Everyone Makes Mistakes” song as a child. It was the first song I learned. When I sing that song (and I still do today), I cannot help but consider Romans 3:23, as this song is definitely a song about us all falling short of the glory of God. No matter where we live, who we are, how young or old, etc., we all fall short. We all are sinners. And we often make mistakes.
Some mistakes can easily be forgiven. Some mistakes cut a little deeper. But no matter what the case, a mistake is a disruption of the glory of God for He cannot look at sin for He is holy. Thankfully God made a way to bridge the gap caused by sin. Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose again so that we could have new life through Him.
We will continue to make mistakes, but it is important to not focus on those mistakes. Instead, focus on your God. He is an awesome God. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds more. Though hate and judgment can cause discomfort, His love wins. Where there is only weakness, we see His strength on display. Our mistakes show our brokenness, but the blood of Christ washes us white as snow. Today, let us not focus on the sins and transgressions that have broken us—instead, fix your eyes upon your God. Follow His will. Focus on His purpose.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [NIV]