Need to check out a church, a bible study, or a community group and you’re not sure what they’re teaching is even in the bible? Take this book with you!
Once upon a time stories were for children. Now they seem to be usurped by almost everybody – big business, airlines, pharmaceutical companies, the automobile industry, everything is fair game even down to the toothpaste yuo use.
The truth is we’re wired for story. Our brains respond to them. And for some of you, you are a slave to your story. It’s the one you play in your head everyday. It can be a traumatic event, an emotional decision, a deep hurt, an unfairness, whatever it was that left a wound in your soul.
Instead of replaying it over and over again, replace it with a better story.
The one that has you in Christ’s story. It’s the one that starts like this:
Once upon a time God created a perfect world and handed it over to his children, Adam and Eve to take care of it, but then they disobeyed him and plunged themselves and everybody after them into sin. When God saw the mess they had made, he realized only he could fix it. So he sent his perfect Son to earth in the form of a perfect man to live and do what Adam and Eve and the rest of us failed to do. Jesus lived to please God and then died on the cross to pay the price for your sins. His perfect life and record is now yours as a gift from God to you. All you need is faith in Christ to get it. The moment you receive that gift you step into Christ’s story.
What is true of you now?
You have a new Father who loves you. He is unlike any earthly father you’ve ever known.
You have a Savior who fixed your biggest problem – your sin that kept you from God.
You have a new identity – you are a child of God with all its privileges, including an inheritance.
You have a new family – your brothers and sisters in Christ.
You have a new future – living in the new heavens and the new earth for an eternity.
You have new support – the church.
You have a calling – the Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts to serve God with.
So what are you waiting for?
Dump the old story today and start telling yourself the new one!
Talk to me.
Religion is for good people.
It has one central characteristic – to give you a bunch of laws to make your life work and to gain approval from its god. And the burden is on you. You have make it work. It’s your discipline and commitment that makes it or breaks it for you.
For example, meditation just doesn’t float down like a cloud and take you by the hand to your happy place. You have to work it. You have to set aside the time, roll out the mat, sit Buddha-style, inhale and exhale, clear your mind, breathe in, breathe out, and keep your back straight. After twenty minutes you get up, roll up the mat, tuck it under your arm and now you’re ready to check that off your list for the day.
On the other hand, Christianity is for bad people. That’s me. I have the mat, the exercise ball, and the twister thing, all with a heavy layer of dust on them in the corner of the room. I’ve walked away from many schools of discipline. I’m sure they would have worked had I been more consistent. But consistency eludes me, along with daily bible reading, prayer, and keeping my eyes glued to Jesus every day.
The slightest distraction draws me away from him. The weather. My spiritual temperature. The latest conflict with my husband. The boring aspects of my job. Those capture my heart faster than everything Jesus has done for me.
I tell others to be aware of looking inward because there’s nothing good there. Just sin and failure. That joy in life is found in keeping a closeness with Jesus. Except I don’t do it.
That’s why I’m a bad people. Even on my best days, my life is shot full of sin. That’s why Christianity is my kind of religion. It tells me I am bad, that I have no hope, and that I am lost and without God in the world. Sounds very orphan-like to me. No Father is heaven looking after me. No church to nurture and raise me. No brothers and sisters to live with. That’s as bad as it gets.
That’s why I need Christianity. That’s where I discover Jesus. He came to rescue me because I was that bad. He merited righteousness through his perfect obedience, and paid the price for my sins through his death on the cross. And both are credited to me through faith in him alone.
That’s it. It’s that simple, and yet it cost Jesus everything. My job? To believe him. If he said he did this, then you can trust him.
Which would you rather do? Believe in Jesus or roll out that dusty exercise ball?
Talk to me.
A lot of Christians think they need to be as close to the world as they can in order to be cool and accepted. They wear the clothes, drive the status car, engage in the culture, and adopt the language, even the curse words.
That’s a very bad idea.
How can a person who has been raised from the dead be anything but gloriously different? (see Ephesians 2:1-10)
It’s the sinner who needs put-on identities. He has nothing else.
In contrast the Christian has the Holy Spirit in him.
Under the Old Covenant the Spirit was given to a few men and women for a short time to do a special work, and then withdrawn and placed back in the Temple, which was His customary home.
Under the New Covenant, the Christian is himself the temple, and the Holy Spirit dwells in him from the day he believes the gospel to the day he dies, and beyond.
The Spirit comes for a purpose, the first of which is to vindicate the promises of God. He promised in the Old Testament to fill His people with His Spirit permanently, and on the Day of Pentecost He did just that. This He did for the praise of His glory, and to make God look good.
Second, we are blessed because by the Spirit:
- we understand the gospel
- we repent of our sins
- we believe in Christ
- we feel conviction
- we grow in grace
- we know the truth
- we recognize heresy
- we witness for Christ
- we suffer with grace
- we die in hope
We do nothing good apart from the urging and restraining power of the Holy Spirit within us.
And one day, the Holy Spirit will raise our mortal bodies and invest them with the glory of immortality, thus making us fit to live in heaven and in the presence of God forever.
Remember, every Christian possesses the Holy Spirit, including the one you can’t get along with, are looking down on, is slow to learn, and difficult to love. Which means practically everyone, including you!
The reality is every believer is a treasure in the Holy Spirit, which makes every one of us invaluable to God and to each other.
Talk to me.
Do we believe the cross is our Father’s ultimate expression of his love for us?
Or do we think that having our dreams and desires met is the litmus test of our Father’s love?
Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how sinful we are and how deep sin goes. It has twisted everything about us – our minds, emotions, will, and bodies. We are bent inward on ourselves, which keeps God out.
Each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Whose voice do we hear everyday? What thoughts do we think? What lies and fantasies do we entertain? What willfulness do we exert on others? Every atom of our being cries defiance of the living God. We are rebels in the world God created.
Since we’re as deformed as the Scriptures say we are, then the cross is our only hope of rescue and deliverance. We deserve death, not a make-over. And for that reason God killed us at the cross in Christ. Then he buried us with Christ. And when Christ was resurrected he took us with him so we would live a new life in him. See Romans 6.
We are so united to Christ that we are now new creations made in his image. His holiness and the fruit of his Spirit are now ours. And that pleases the Father immensely.
Christ won it all at the cross.
Thank the Father today!
Talk to me.
If you think the bible is about good people doing wonderful things for God, you ought to read it sometime!
The fact is, the bible is about a wonderful God doing good things for bad people.
The only good guys in the bible are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Everybody else is bad.
That includes you and me.
“There is none righteous, no not one.” – Romans 3:10
The truth is not a single soul can stand before God and say, “I’ve done my best.”
We haven’t done our best, not even on our good days.
If God is going to save us and use us and make something of us, He’s going to have to do it in spite of ourselves. Not because we read the bible every day; not because we give thanks before every meal; not because we never miss church; and not because we try to be good parents, friends and neighbors.
We are promise breakers, we’re not people of integrity, and we don’t measure up to our own standards let alone God’s.
We need a God for failures.
And that’s exactly what we have.
Jesus Christ joined the human race so he could become our substitute.
He lived the life we should have lived, obeying every one of God’s commands from the heart.
That means he won God’s favor and secured a place in heaven for us.
His righteousness was charged to our accounts, so that we with all our sins and failures are declared righteous.
What happened to our sin?
God charged it to Jesus’s account, he absorbed the penalty, and died in our place on the cross.
It’s all paid for.
We stand forgiven and accepted because of the work of our Savior.
Talk to me.
Sanctification is like being brought up again but this time in Christ. God is your Father, Jesus is your elder brother who has blazed the trail for you, and the Holy Spirit draws you deeper into your new identity in Christ.
You are born again but living inside an old house. Don’t get focused on the rusty hinges, the peeling paint, and the overgrown lawn. Keep your attention focused on the architect and builder of the new house you’ll be living in.
Meanwhile, refuse to participate in the conspiracy of silence. You continue to be a wretched sinner even as a Christian. You have great examples of confession from the apostles. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. So can you. There’s no shame in that.
It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make you more humble and dependent on the Lord, more grateful for his sacrifice, and more adoring of him as a wonderful Savior.
Don’t be surprised at your trials then, Peter said. They’re meant to make your faith like gold. And faith attaches itself to Jesus who was meek and lowly and won salvation for you.
Joy here and now is your birthright and inheritance even when you sin miserably as a Christian.
Talk to me.