Church: Love One Another as God First Loved You

A church is made up of imperfect people, like you and me. It doesn’t matter what position you hold or role you play in your church body or how long you’ve been walking with the Lord, none of us achieve perfection this side of the Pearly Gates. When a brother or sister in Christ fall, it can be tempting to ostracize them, ridicule them, or banish them from our lives. After all, we don’t want to go hang around sinners now do we? The problem is, we’re all sinners. Being saved and becoming a Christian neither immunizes nor incubates us from sin. Such is not the nature of the world we inhabit.

As a Christian, I’ve made a conscious effort to walk a different road than the one I ventured down before I encountered Christ. Having a relationship with Christ makes me think about sin and view my shortcomings differently than before I knew Christ on a personal level. Yet, daily, I find myself dependent on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct my way. I don’t want anything to come between me and God. That doesn’t mean that nothing will be vying for my attention. To the contrary, it seems like the opportunities to mess up and fall amp up dramatically the more pronounced in my faith I become.

There’s a reason that the Apostle Paul urges us to put on the full armor of God every day. He understood better than most that ours is a daily battle to pursue the righteousness of God versus succumbing to the vices and devices of the Enemy. There’s a reason Scripture instructs us to be careful about assessing judgment on the words and deeds of others. It’s no accident that the Word emphasizes us to treat others like we would want to be treated.

Ephesians 6:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

When a brother or sister in Christ falls, they need our love, not our condemnation. Who can they rely on to love on them in the hour of their greatest need if not us? This is what it means to be family. We love one another because God first loved us while we were yet sinners. God demonstrated that love through the atoning sacrificial offering of His precious Son, Jesus Christ and He continues to show that love through the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in us.

As a friend of mine once encouraged me: If you find a perfect church, don’t start attending. You’ll just mess it up.

In the meantime, cast no stones.

Peace be with you.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

Find Jesus

Make This Your Best Easter Ever!

For Christians all around the world, this week commences the annual celebration of Holy Week. Holy Week serves as a remembrance of the last week of Jesus’ life on Earth.

What is Holy Week?

For Christians, ‘Holy Week’ refers to the last week in Jesus’ life. It begins with Palm Sunday – the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds waved palm leaves at him as a sign of respect.

Holy Week precedes the great celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, commemorating the Passion of Christ, and the events immediately leading up to it.

What Happened During Holy Week?

Beginning with Palm Sunday, the week progressed with Jesus teaching in the Temple and challenging the hypocritical Jewish authorities. On the Thursday, Jesus and his disciples gathered for the Last Supper, during which Jesus taught the disciples about Communion and invited them to share bread and wine in remembrance of him. Later that evening, after being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus was arrested and taken into custody by the Romans.

Jesus was tried in a highly public trial on Friday, scourged, and crucified. This day is called Good Friday. While it was the darkest day in human history from one perspective, it was the greatest day in all history because through it Jesus paid the debt of our sins and paved the way for us to be reunited with God.

Saturday his dead body rested in the Tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea.

Sunday morning, the heavily guarded and sealed Tomb was discovered to be empty, with the resurrected Jesus revealing himself to a number of his beloved followers proving that He had defeated death.

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Why is this important?

  • We are separated from God because of our sin. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)
  • According to Scripture, the penalty for sin is death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • Good News! Jesus Christ paid the debt of our sin by dying on the Cross.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  • By confessing our sin to God and agreeing to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sin. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13) …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.(Romans 10:9,10)

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Holy Week commemorates God’s work on our behalf. Separated from God by our sins, the Lord took the initiative, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us, who were once considered unredeemable. Through God’s grace, by faith in Christ, you and I are able to reunite with the Lord, and indwelled by the Spirit, we are able to live lives of purpose, fulfilling God’s plan and calling on our lives. Because Jesus lives, you and I can shed our old clothing and put on our new gown, cloaked in the righteousness of Christ, who, through the work on the Cross, made it possible for us to stand in the presence of the Lord forever. The gift is wrapped, sealed, and delivered. All we have to do is receive that which cost us nothing, but cost God everything. No, you and I aren’t worthy. No, we don’t deserve it. But God, because of His love for us, sought us and bought us with the blood of His own Son.

Come to the Altar.

What will you do with Jesus?

I pray you’ll ask Him to be your Lord and Savior and make this the greatest Easter of your life.

Amen.

May the Lord, our God, shine His favor on you and yours.

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3 Ingredients for Creating a Healthy Recipe of Second Chances

Having had my own battles with addiction I get that sometimes we all just need someone to believe in us and give us a chance. Not that anyone has any reason to help us or find us trustworthy. We’ve spent the better part of our lifetime destroying any ounce of trust people had in us. People who love us don’t want to give up hope, but we can’t blame them for walking away. Lord knows we’ve let a ton of people down, especially ourselves.

Through my recovery, God has blessed me with people willing to give me second chances as well as the opportunity to give others a second chance.

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

What does a second chance involve?

forgiveness

A Heart of Forgiveness

To give someone a second chance requires willingness on our part to forgive them for whatever it is that they have done in the past. This is true even if their past did not involve us because what they did may go against our own principles and sense of right and wrong. We must look past who they were and be willing to see them for who they are and who they could be.

This is true for me. To get a second chance, I need others to forgive me and look past who I was and see me for who I am and who I can be. This is what God does. Once we confess we’ve messed up and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, He doesn’t see us for who we were but looks at us for who we are and envisions who we can be. Who we are in God’s eyes far exceeds whatever expectations we might imagine for ourselves.

Matthew 18:21-22

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’”

A Momentary Suspension of Judgement

It’s hard to forgive if we sit in judgement of someone. We’ve got plenty of our own issues to be concerned about and if you’re like me you’ve made your own share of mistakes. This may sound easy, but it’s not. Recently, during a prayer session with some homeless guys, one individual asked me for prayer for forgiveness and restoration. As I typically do, I asked him for his story–what got him here? When he told me what he’d done, I had to suspend judgement in that moment. My job wasn’t to pass judgement. He’d done his time. He wasn’t asking me for approval. He was asking me to pray for him. So, I did, thanks be to God.

Matthew 7:3

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

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A Kind and Gentle Spirit

You can not have a hard-hearted, mean spirit if you are going to a) give others a second chance or b) have others give you a fresh start. Forgiveness and second chances call for both parties to be kind and gentle in spirit. On the one hand, I must want to see others succeed and do well. On the other, I have to be humble and contrite, knowing that I don’t deserve another opportunity to dazzle people with my shortcomings and failures.

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Restoration is a two-way street that brings together two people, one willing to help the other and the other willing to receive help. It means showing someone how to fish, not just feeding them. It means doing your part, not just taking. If you don’t cook, you don’t eat.

We all need help sometimes. We all mess up. I know I do. Other times, we find ourselves in the position of being the helper. We may be the only Bible someone reads. What will you do?

 

#secondchances #whatwillyoudo #forgiveness