ASK – God to connect with you here. In prayer, start by slowing down, inviting God to be present. Begin with focus and openness to see what God has for you.
READ – the selected section of Scripture slowly. Take note of the words and phrases that intrigue you, reading them a second time if necessary.
REFLECT – on what grabs you. What connections do you see at this point in your life? How might God be speaking to you through these words? Stop long enough to let this take root and thank God for engaging you.
RESPOND – to the Scripture. Speak directly to God about what’s on your mind and heart. Look for ways to live out what you’ve uncovered – individually and with your church. And look for ways to bring what you have discovered to others.
Will you turn your life over to your Creator?
Will you believe Jesus Christ is that one Person, that one relationship, you need?
Will you admit you need him and confess your wrongdoing?
Here’s how you can turn to God:
1. Admit your spiritual need. Admit you are a sinner.
2. Believe Jesus died for YOU on the cross.
3. Receive him into your life by trusting him to forgive you forever.
4. Repent, and be willing to turn from your sin.
Here is a sample of what you might say to God:
“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I was made for you, but I’ve been living for me. I want to begin a relationship with you now. I believe that you died in my place, to pay the penalty for my sin, and rose again for my salvation. I need your forgiveness. I now invite you to come into my life as my Lord and Savior.”
We cannot bridge the distance between us and God. But fortunately, God himself designed the perfect solution. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. He was both God and human. He lived a normal life, but lived it as God.
Jesus loves people. He talked with them, healed them and made them promises. He even submitted to an unjust death sentence for people. But that wasn’t the end. After three days, he rose up out of his grave. He’s alive!
God saw the death of his Son Jesus as payment for your sin. Jesus took your place on a cross some two thousand years ago. That’s how God sees it. And then Jesus overcame death and actually came back to life to show his divine power. And his power over sin and death is yours. For free!
Being at peace with God is not automatic, because by nature we are separated from him. This separation is the “something wrong” that is at the root of our selfishness, loneliness, and dark feelings.
Through many immoral and amoral acts, thoughts and attitudes, we keep moving away from God, not toward Him. All of us do this, no matter how moral and upright we may seem on the surface.
If you search your own heart honestly, you already know this is true. This has caused a split between us and the One who made us and loves us. This split is called sin.
Openness to truth where truth may be found is a long-standing virtue that worked on the assumption that there is such a thing as objective truth, to which we should be open. Students of higher education now taught one overarching virtue: to be “open.” The purpose of their education is not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue—an openness, a relativism that eschews any form of fixed objective values or truth. Its simplistic creed is that there are no absolutes.
Without objective standards of truth, we are left with feelings, impressions, and intuitions that can never be judged as either false or bad. The bottom line of such an approach is not merely ignorance and skepticism, but the ultimate dehumanization of persons. If everybody is right, then nobody is right. If every viewpoint is equally valuable, no viewpoint is valuable.
As members of the body of Christ, we face twin enemies, both of which are deadly. First, we are tempted to embrace the thought patterns of the secular world in order to be modern and relevant in our thinking. We are terrified of being perceived as being “out of it.”
Second, we may be tempted to a new form of monastic isolationism, in which we surrender science, logic, and education to the secular world while we try to live an empty, discontent faith on an island of religious feeling.
Either option ends at the cemetery with a morbid funeral service for truth. A burial is a decent thing to do for a body that has been left where it was slain.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Examine your own life: Are you tempted to embrace the thought patterns of the secular world in order to be modern and relevant in your thinking? Are you living an empty, discontent faith in monastic isolation?
In the Bible, the supreme feminine image is ascribed to the church. Before the church is ever seen as mother, though, she is first revealed as a bride. In the Old Testament, the commonwealth of Israel is the bride of Yahweh. In the New Testament, the church is the bride of Christ.
The resulting familial imagery is somewhat strange. God is the Father; Christ is the Son. As the Son of God, Christ is then referred to as our Elder Brother. The church is His bride. In the language of family, this would then mean that the church is our sister-in-law. But no one speaks of holy sister-in-law church.
We, both men and women, are given the title “bride of Christ.” I am male, yet I am part of a body that is described in feminine terms. What is stranger is that the same entity that is called bride, of which I am a part, is regarded as my mother. I cannot be my own mother.
These images are not the result of a jumbled mass of nonsense or confusion. It is not a matter of nonsense to refer to the church as mother. Though we are born of the Spirit, it is chiefly within the cradle of the church where we are birthed into spiritual life. If the church is not our birthplace, it is surely our nursery. It is in her bosom that the means of grace are concentrated. The church nurtures us unto mature faith.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Reflect on how God has used the church to birth you, nurture you, and mature your faith. Thank God for this divine process that is at work in you.
This section provides a 5 point Bible-based strategy for effectively dealing with sin and temptation. Putting this plan into action is one more way of giving God first place in your life!
1. UNDERSTAND THAT GOD SEES YOU AS PERFECT, HOLY AND BLAMELESS, through the work of Jesus Christ. (Read II Corinthians 5:21.) Many times guilt and shame are the most destructive of sin’s consequences. Understanding that there is no condemnation for those in Christ, regardless of the sin, is fundamental to victory (Romans 8:1).
2. CONFESS YOUR SINS. (Read I John 1:9.) Confessing our sin means acknowledging those sins first in our own hearts and minds, and then confessing them to God. Confessing our sin does not necessarily mean making them public to others. Confession is between you and God.
3. BE ACCOUNTABLE. (Read James 5:16.) Finding a close trusted Christian friend, pastor or family member in whom you can confide is an effective way to introduce accountability and prayer support into the battle.
4. AVOID THE SOURCES OF TEMPATION. (Read James 1:13-15.) This is the most challenging point to implement, and requires some creative thought and planning. The truth is if you can avoid the temptation, you’ll avoid the sin.
5. READ GOD’S WORD. (Read Psalm 119:11.) God’s word tells us plainly that as we “hide it in our heart,” it gives a special strength to say no to temptation and sin.