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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #6)

Blessing #6: The Blessing of Somewhere to Go with My Guilt

“Guilt is regret for what we’ve done. Regret is guilt for what we didn’t do.” (Mark Amend)

My friend Mike has got me thinking about what I have as a believer and what those who are lost don’t have. I can say without fear of contradiction — based on Mike’s words — that he is indeed lost and won’t (at this point) accept what God’s Word says about him.

Let’s consider another blessing that believers ought to appreciate and that is —

6. WE HAVE SOMEWHERE (BEYOND THIS WORLD) TO GO WITH OUR GUILT!



THE BLESSING “Guilt is the thief of life”, said the actor Anthony Hopkins. Of course, there’s both legitimate and illegitimate guilt. We often feel guilty about things that don’t matter. And, more to the point, we seldom feel true guilt about the things that are of God and are of eternal significance. Someone has said, “Never feel guilt while doing what’s best for you.” The problem, of course, is that we often don’t know what’s best for us.
Biblical guilt is healthy and indicates that our conscience (molded by God’s Word) is working! But we don’t need to stay in our guilt. As one author says, “We are not built for guilt, and it damages our souls and personalities — even our health.”

THE BIBLE: God’s Word has much to say about guilt. For example,
1. Some people are guilty of an eternal sin by blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mk. 3:29).
2. Tragedies in life are not necessarily the result of personal sin or guilt (Lk. 13:4).
3. Guilt remains on those who claim they can see spiritually, but reject Christ (Jn. 9:41).
4. Both Jesus’ words and works condemn as guilty those who reject Him (Jn. 15:22, 24).
5. One who takes communion in an unworthy manner is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord (I Cor. 11:27).
6. The believer’s heart of guilt can by cleansed by repentance and a faith in the Lord (Heb. 10:22).
7. Failing to keep one point of the law means one is guilty of breaking the whole law (Ja. 2:10).
8. The Old Testament gives much material on what is called the guilt offering for sin (see Lev. 5).

The believer in the Lord Jesus has somewhere to go with his or her guilt. And that somewhere is a SOMEONE! Because our sins are forgiven by Christ, we can confess our shortcomings and ask for His restoration.

ACTION STEPS: 1. Read over the verses mentioned above in the list this week. How would you define biblical guilt? How is biblical guilt a good thing?
2. Consider confessing to your unsaved friend something you have done or said for which you have found forgiveness before the Lord. Explain why you are confident the Lord has forgiven you.
3. Read the following article “What Does the Bible Say about Guilt?” found at https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-guilt.html and email a friend sometime this week about what you’ve learned.
PRAYER: 4. Pray for your friend to come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Pray that he would experience biblical guilt and ask your help in confessing his sin and trusting Christ.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings You Have As a Believer! (Blessing #2)

Blessing #2: The Blessing of the Assurance of Forgiveness

“In the shadow of my hurt forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another. Forgiveness is the gift that insures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment. When I accept forgiveness from God, I’m free from the penalty of my sin. When I extend forgiveness to my adversary, there’s a sense in which I am set free from his sin as well.” (Andy Stanley)

I’ve been thinking recently about what believers in Jesus have and what my unsaved friends don’t have in not knowing the Lord Jesus as their Savior. My friend Mike chooses to think of himself as not lost, as not being outside the family of God.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Mike is a great guy. He is giving, kind, compassionate, but utterly deceived about his status before a holy God. And therefore, I’m so thankful for God’s Word telling me the truth about my need of a Savior. A Savior who can forgive me.
I heard one man say, “I don’t mind forgiving and forgetting. I just don’t want the one I’m forgiving to forget that he has been forgiven.” The blessing we want to focus on today is that of having our sins taken care of by Jesus on the cross. For, when I think of what we have in Christ . . .

2. WE HAVE THE ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS!
THE BLESSING How audacious of Christians to claim their sins have been eternally forgiven by God, that they are now in His family, and that He will never turn away from them! But that’s what the Bible, God’s Word, promises to all who turn to Him in faith.

THE BIBLE Because the Bible is our final authority for what we believe, we can be assured of our permanent forgiveness by God. We read that it is in Christ “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14). We can be thankful with the Psalmist who declares, “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you” (Ps. 130:4). We learn that the Lord Jesus came for sinners “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Christ]” (Acts 26:18). Even the prophets spoke about the coming Savior “that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). But the hard fact is that forgiveness is found only in Christ. And if one doesn’t have Him, one doesn’t have it.

ACTION STEPS 1. A bit of homework: Interview five Christian friends this week on what it means to be forgiven by God. Take a few notes on your conversations. Discuss what you’ve learned with your spouse or a good friend.
2. Sometimes we need to use new words because we’ve become accustomed to the old words. Write out a paragraph of praise to the Lord for your forgiveness in Christ without using words like “forgiveness” or “saved” or “redeemed.” You might consider sharing that paragraph with an unsaved friend. Blame me for the assignment! But ask them if your paragraph makes sense to them.
3. Consider ordering and reading my short booklet on salvation entitled Saved: Rescued from God, by God, and for God found on amazon.com at: shorturl.at/bqN18. Just type in that url (shorturl.at/bqN18) into your search engine.
PRAYER 4. Pray specifically for your unsaved friend this week that he would be open to the Spirit’s work of convicting him of his need of Christ. Pray about the possibility of sharing your paragraph (of Action Step #2) with him.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2022 in blessings

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 4)

My friend “Mike” has got me thinking to about what I have as a believer and what those who are lost don’t have. I can say without fear of contradiction — based on Mike’s words — that he is indeed lost and won’t (at this point) accept what God’s Word says about him.

Mike thinks he is just fine with God. But that’s not what God’s Word says. So, as we’ve seen in our previous posts, my friend Mike (and my other unsaved friends) (1) don’t have an authoritative source for what they believe. We also noticed that our unsaved friends (2) don’t have the assurance that their sins are forgiven. Third, we need to acknowledge that they (3) don’t have a life-long, satisfying mission in life.

Let’s consider about a fourth blessing that our unsaved friends don’t have and that is —

4. THEY DON’T HAVE SOMEWHERE (BEYOND THIS WORLD) TO GO WITH THEIR GUILT!

Of course, there’s both legitimate and illegitimate guilt. We often feel guilty about things that don’t matter. And, more to the point, we seldom feel true guilt about the things that are of God and are of eternal significance.

The believer in the Lord Jesus has somewhere to go with his or her guilt. And that somewhere is a SOMEONE! Because our sins are forgiven by Christ, we can confess our shortcomings and ask for His restoration.

We don’t “make” people feel guilty. But we can pray that God the Holy Spirit would work His convicting ministry in their hearts. For whom will you pray today that the Divine Spirit will do that internal (and eternal) work?

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 3)

I’ve recently been challenged (by my time with my unsaved friend “Mike”) to think about what I have as a believer and what those who are lost don’t have. This may seem like a strange exercise, but it has a way of focusing my prayers and my priorities to genuinely care about my lost friends.

In sharing the biblical truth with Mike that he is “lost” and “unsaved” without Jesus, he responded with his conviction that he was just fine with God. But that’s not what God’s Word says. So my friend Mike (and my other unsaved friends) (1) don’t have an authoritative source for what they believe. We also noticed that our unsaved friends (2) don’t have the assurance that their sins are forgiven.

Let’s think about a third blessing that our unsaved friends don’t have and that is —

3. THEY DON’T HAVE A LIFE-LONG, SATISFYING MISSION IN LIFE!

What is my friend Mike’s “mission” in life? I suppose — if I were to ask him — he would probably say, “I want to be a good person, help others, be kind and compassionate, and die with my family by my side.” Those are good qualities and ambitious goals — but that’s what life is about?

What about knowing the living God? What about rescuing people from God’s eternal wrath? What about sharing in any way possible the message of forgiveness and reconciliation that Jesus provides to those who believe? What about a life mission that will require all one’s energy and resources and priorities and insight and purpose? And my friend Mike doesn’t have that.

To be quite honest and blunt, in the words of Pastor John Piper, my friend Mike has wasted his life! But it’s not too late. And I pray he will come to Christ and use the remainder of his days to have a mission far greater than any one he has ever dreamed of.

Are you concerned that your friend does not have God’s eternal mission in life? Pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to his heart — and remind him that he only has one life. And it can count for God! (to be continued)

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 2)

I’ve been thinking recently about what my unsaved friends don’t have in not knowing the Lord Jesus as their Savior. My friend Mike inspired me to think about what I do have as a believer in Jesus. He chooses to think of himself as not lost, as not being outside the family of God.

Please don’t misunderstand me, but Mike is a great guy. He is giving, kind, compassionate, but utterly deceived about his status before a holy God. And so, I’m so thankful for God’s Word telling me the truth about my need of a Savior. My unsaved friends (1) don’t have an authoritative source for what they believe.

In our post today, I want to spend a moment being thankful for a second blessing and that is — having my sins taken care of by Jesus on the cross. For, when I think of my unsaved friends, . . .

2. THEY DON’T HAVE THE ASSURANCE THAT THEIR SINS ARE FORGIVEN!

How audacious of Christians’ claiming their sins have been eternally forgiven by God, that they are now in His family, and that He will never turn away from them! But that’s what the Bible, God’s Word, promises to all who turn to Him in faith.

I need to pray for my friend that he will come to a knowledge of his need of Christ, that God the Holy Spirit would do His good, convicting work in his heart. (to be continued)

 
 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Unconditional Love)

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 10

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

E. Being Strengthened with All Power to Endure! (v. 11)

F. Giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified us as holy people (v. 12)

G. He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (v. 13)

Let’s notice an eighth and final request Paul makes for these believers —

H. He brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (vv. 13-14)

I’ve never been part of a monarchy! Have you? What better monarchy than the Lord’s? We’re children of the King! And we have already been brought into His kingdom. And what’s the first thing Paul gives as a benefit to being in His kingdom? “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”!

Challenge: What would it look like today if you and I acted as children of the King, already in the Kingdom? Redeemed and forgiven?

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #49 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 21

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and have been reading chapter 12 during the last while.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, to reach out to others regardless of their status, to not repay evil with evil, and to do right before everyone!

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 18.

The twenty-first critical imperative is quite clear —

21. Believers are LIVE AT PEACE WITH EVERYONE WHEN POSSIBLE (v. 18)!

Ahhh, living in peace. That’s not always easy to do. If I am left to myself, it’s fairly easy in the sense that I’m an introvert and I’m perfectly happy being by myself. That way I don’t have to worry about getting along with others!

But God is relational and He wants me to be as well. Simply being a cave-dwelling self isn’t what He desires in the child of God. We are to relate to others — and sometimes that produces conflict and disagreement and friction.

The answer? Do everything you can (“If it is possible”) to live at peace with everyone. I can only do what lies in my power (“as far as it depends on you”). I can’t force others to live at peace with me, but I can choose and make careful decisions to maximize the possibility of peace with everyone.

This involves several steps, it seems to me. It means that (1) I’m to keep short accounts with others. That is, I’m to apologize when I’ve wronged someone and to be honest with them when they’ve wronged me (Matthew 5 and 18). It means that (2) I’m to forgive others just as God in Christ has forgiven me (Col. 3:13). It means that, on occasion, I might have to bring others into my conflict situation to act as peacemakers (Mt. 5:9; James 3:18). And that’s a humbling, but important, thing to do.

Today’s Challenge: Are you presently living at peace with everyone? If  not, what specific steps will you take in your power to resolve that situation or restore that relationship? Anything keeping you from taking those steps?

 

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #45 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 17

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, and to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other.

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 16.

The seventeenth critical imperative is —

17. Believers are to LIVE IN HARMONY WITH ONE ANOTHER (v. 16)!

How critical is it that believers get along with one another? Well, critical enough that the Apostle Paul, led by the Spirit of God, included this charge in this list of imperatives. The world is, indeed, watching Jesus-followers and when they see needless disputes and quarrels and bitterness and unforgiveness and unresolved issues, they stop watching and look elsewhere for spiritual truth.

We are to live in harmony with one another. We don’t have to agree with each other on all issues, but we do have to get along. This means we keep accounts short with one another. We apologize quickly when we’ve wronged another believer. We are fast to forgive when we’ve been wronged. And if the conflict keeps paralyzing the friendship, the spiritual leaders might need to intervene.

Today’s Challenge: Any grudges between you and another believer? Matthew 5 and Matthew 18 speak to both you as an offender and you as the offendee. Pursue harmony today!

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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UNFORGIVENESS — “One of the Best Weapons in My Arsenal!” (Satan) (2 Cor. 2:5-11)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter two:

UNFORGIVENESS — “One of the Best Weapons in My Arsenal!” (Satan) (2 Cor. 2:5-11)

What does it look like to be outwitted by Satan? When we make choices for our happiness that ruin our holiness, he wins. When we follow our own priorities and lose our passion for Christ, he wins. When we immerse ourselves in everything but God’s Word, he wins. When we live for our own comfort and choose not to risk anything for the gospel, he wins. When we settle only for what we can provide for ourselves and forget to pray, he wins. When we fudge the facts, turn away from honesty, and engage in lies black or white, he wins. When we are determined to keep a grudge going, to steadfastly refuse to forgive another, he wins.

In our passage this morning, the context is UNFORGIVENESS. The Corinthians had a lot to forgive, didn’t they? This man who was sleeping with his mother-in-law disgraced them. Now they needed to forgive him.

When we choose not to forgive, we have been outwitted by the Devil himself! He is somehow invested and involved in our conflicts — and unforgiveness is his primary goal. When unforgiveness is the result, love dies — and he wins.

Today’s challenge: Anyone you need to forgive? We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us (Col. 3:13). For the sake of God’s people, in the sight of Christ, choose to forgive that other person. Today. Right now.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2020 in forgiveness

 

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