You will cleanse no sin from your life that you have not first recognized as being pardoned through the cross. This is because holiness starts in the heart. The essence of holiness is not new behavior, activity, or disciplines. Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behavior.
If you don’t see your sin as completely pardoned, then your affections, desires, and motives will be wrong. You will aim to prove yourself. Your focus will be the consequences of your sin rather than hating the sin and desiring God in its place.”
- Tim Chester
“Being dead to the world means that every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love and an occasion of boasting in the cross. When our hearts run back along the beam of blessing to the source in the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.”
- John Piper
Pray more…worry less.
Every time you show generosity, you strengthen your faith.
Why is that? Because when you take something and, instead of using it on yourself, you use it to help others, then you’re going to have to depend on God to help you.
Verse of the day: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV
Application: Worrying instead of praying. That’s easy. Praying instead of worrying…that’s the hard part. That takes real faith. Pray more…worry less. Depend on God and trust he knows what’s best for you!
Prayer: God my life belongs to you. Soften my heart so I cease trying to control everything. Help me to depend on you. You know what’s best for me. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.
It’s your job to ask.
It’s not your job to figure out how God’s going to provide. It’s your job to ask.
The Bible says in James 4:2, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (NIV).
Here’s the second key to stress management: Worry less, and ask more. Instead of worrying, pray about everything.
Verse of the day: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 NIV)
Application: God has already taken care of our biggest need. Jesus did everything necessary to reconcile us to the Father. I worry too much and ask too little. How is that possible after all that Jesus has done?
Prayer: God you know my needs before I even ask. However, I can use that as an excuse not to ask. Help me to ask as much as I worry! You know where you want us to be…I pray that you reveal it to us soon. In Jesus name, Amen.
In the late 1800’s, Scottish pastor and author John Watson wrote: “Be kind to everyone you meet, for everyone is fighting a great battle.”
What if we were to live with that understanding about one another? Every day, we have the opportunity to connect about the stories we are going through. Even if just for a few moments. A chance to say “I know you are fighting a great battle, and so am I.” To say, “I’m a fellow sojourner. I’m with you.”
A chance to commune with compassion.”
- Al Andrews - Storyline Blog
A decision…then a process.
Following Jesus is a decision and then a process for the rest of your life. You can’t follow without walking. You’ve got to have movement!
Philippians 3:12-13 says, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be” (LB).
Pride will keep you from growing, because when you pretend that you’ve got it all together, you won’t make an effort to become more spiritually mature. No one has it all together! Humility leads to happiness because it makes you teachable.
Verse of the day: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (Philippians 3:12-13 NIV)
Application: Stop pretending…start relying. I need Jesus. Bottom line. The sooner I apply this to every part of my life…the better!
Prayer: Jesus I need you. Overwhelm my life with yours! In your name, Amen.
You can’t earn God’s approval.
You can’t earn his love. You can’t earn his recognition. God is love, and he loves you unconditionally. If you want to be a happy person, you need to relax in God’s grace every day.
Philippians 3:3 says, “We Christians glory in what Christ Jesus has done for us and realize that we are helpless to save ourselves” (LB).
Verse of the day: and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:9 NIV)
Application: Nothing will free you up like this truth. Let go of legalism or you will be miserable, unhappy, lacking real joy. Rest in Jesus and his righteousness.
Prayer: God you have done it all already! Help me to stop trying to do it all over again. In Jesus name, Amen.
Christianity is a singing faith. There are more songs about Jesus Christ than anything or anyone else, even love. That’s why you need to be part of a local church. It’s not just about listening to a weekly message from the Bible. At least once a week, you need the emotional expression that comes from singing thanks to God. If you don’t, your heart will shrivel. You can’t be a healthy Christian on sermons alone. You need both the impression from the message and the expression through the music.
I have discovered that the times when I least feel like singing are when I need to do it the most. When my heart is cold, I need to be renewed, restored, and recharged through singing thanks to God. In my hectic schedule, I find listening to music and singing praise to God renews my soul.
Verse of the day: Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! (Psalm 147:1 NIV)
Application: I love music. Can’t play an instrument. Can’t sing a lick. But I love music. Always have. Don’t take the music in a worship service for granted, as if all it represents is a prelude to the message. Let it sink in. The message is already being preached.
Prayer: God give me ears to hear the gospel in lyric. May it spur my heart and will to know, love, and serve you better. In Jesus name, Amen.
Giving thanks in every circumstance.
You can thank God in every circumstance because God is in control. He can bring good out of evil. He can turn around the stupid mistakes you’ve made. No matter what happens, God isn’t going to stop loving you. There are a hundred things to be thankful for in any circumstance, even when the circumstance stinks.
Verse of the day: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
Application: Sometimes it’s hard to think of a hundred things to be thankful for. I’m going to begin with one simple thing: God is good. Start there!
Prayer: God you are always good. Always. Thank you for being God over every circumstance! In Jesus name, Amen.
An attitude of gratitude.
God makes you rich in every way so you can be generous on every occasion, which will result in thanksgiving to God.
God doesn’t bless you so you can be greedy; he blesses you so you can be generous. You give away, and God gives back to you so you can give more away and he can give more back to you and on and on and on. God doesn’t give you things so you can pile them up. When you let go of what’s in your hand, it’s now empty to receive greater blessings from God.
Verse of the day: You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV)
Application: it’s not enrichment for my own sake but rather for the sake of others. We have seen this generosity on display up close and personal. We hope to be able to one day return the blessing.
Prayer: Lord bless us so we can bless others. Thank you! For EVERYTHING. In Jesus name, Amen.