Deal with your sin

1 John 3:5 NIV

When you refuse to confront your sins and deal with them, you become a well-marked target for the Enemy. And by looking at someone else and saying, “I would never do that,” you fail to build a safeguard against it. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). You never thought you could get that angry, or have an affair, or lie to your boss, or cheat in your finances. And because you never thought you could, you did nothing to protect yourself against it. As sure as fish swim and birds fly, your sinful nature will lead you astray unless you deal with it decisively and scripturally. Paul wrote, “As they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God …[he] gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28 NIV). The worst thing God could do is to give you over to your own carnal impulses and say, “Have it your way!” It’s amazing how we compare our sins with other people’s sins, and conclude ours aren’t as bad. The Bible says, “All have sinned, and come short” (Romans 3:23). If you try to jump over a deep chasm, it doesn’t matter if you miss the other side by one foot or one hundred feet, you fall just as far and land just as hard. But there’s good news: “He was manifested to take away our sins.” Today Jesus will forgive your sins, declare you righteous, and give you strength if you come to Him with a repentant heart and receive His mercy and grace.

Soul food: Job 1-4; Luke 16:1-18; Ps 24; Prov 7:24-25

Who am I? (1)

Hebrews 12:1 NLT

The kind of person that we are, can influence the kind of sin that we get ourselves caught up in. Our character can make us more vulnerable to certain areas, as well as making us stronger in others. The pattern of our sin is often related to the pattern of our gifts. Our gifts and passions can indicate our areas of vulnerability. For example, extroverts who have the ability to inspire and encourage others are sometimes prone to gossip. People who love to learn may be tempted to feel superior and talk down to others. People who are spontaneous and have a great appetite for life often struggle with self-control. Optimists are often susceptible to denial. Why is it helpful to know this? Because awareness and sensitivity to our own tendencies are the first steps towards building a defence. When we know what we’re vulnerable to, we can help strengthen ourselves in that area so that we’re not tempted to sin. And, with God’s help, we can break free from patterns of sin in our lives. Sin is a topic that we don’t always like thinking about. But the truth is, we all sin. The Bible says: ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV). God knows we’ll struggle with sin, in fact He knew it ‘easily trips us up’, that’s why He gave His Son to save us. But when we recognise where we’re going wrong, or the areas we’re weak in, we can do all we can to avoid repeatedly sinning in a certain area. So over the next ten days, we’re going to look at different personality types. We’ll be thinking about their strengths and weaknesses, and looking at how we can break free from our patterns of sin.

Acts 13:21-22; 1 Sam 16; 1 Sam 17:32-51; 1 Sam 24:1-17

Right with God

James 1:14 NCV

James writes: ‘People are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin grows and brings death. My dear brothers and sisters, do not be fooled about this’ (vv.14-16 NCV). As humans, we’re all prone to following our own desires and wanting to go our own way, which often results in sin. And when we don’t confess our sin, it just grows and gets worse. When we keep sinning and going against our values, we can end up reaching a place where it’s hard to live comfortably in our own skin. What we thought we wanted yesterday, we find ourselves needing today. Then before we know it, we give ourselves over to the thing that’s controlling our lives. That’s the power sin can have in our lives. But there’s a greater power than sin. And that’s Jesus. His death meant that we don’t have to be a slave to sin anymore, we can find freedom. We can confess our sins to God and He forgives us. In fact, He no longer even remembers that sin. God says: ‘But I, yes I, am the one who takes care of your sins – that’s what I do. I don’t keep a list of your sins’ (Isaiah 43:25 MSG). But when we don’t confess them, we don’t experience the peace and forgiveness that God promises. After all, the only way to find real peace is to get right with God. Here’s His offer: ‘The wicked should stop doing wrong, and they should stop their evil thoughts. They should return to the LORD so he may have mercy on them. They should come to our God, because he will freely forgive them’ (Isaiah 55:7 NCV). So let’s get ourselves right with God today.

Heb 11:7; Gen 6:9-22; Gen 8:18-22; Matt 24:36-41

Why sin doesn’t work

James 1:14 CEV

James writes: “Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. Don’t be fooled, my dear friends” (vv. 13-16 CEV). When you keep sinning and violating your values, you can reach a place where it’s hard to live comfortably in your own skin. Any appetite that’s overindulged can quickly become an addiction. What you wanted yesterday, you find yourself needing today. Then before you know it, you give yourself over to the thing that’s controlling your life because it’s the only way you can find temporary escape. Stop and ask: (1) “What about my life’s purpose?” What about the person God called you to be? Seeing the joy others have is a constant reminder of the joy you’ve lost, and what you’re missing out on. (2) “What happens when trouble hits my life or my family?” In such moments you wonder, “Is this happening because of me?” A thousand voices may tell you it’s not your fault, but deep down you are never sure. The only way to find real peace is to get right with God. And you can. Here’s His offer: “Turn to the Lord! He can still be found. Call out to God! He is near. Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts. Return to the Lord our God. He will be merciful and forgive your sins” (Isaiah 55:6-7 CEV).

Soul food: Heb 11:7; Gen 6:9-22; Gen 8:18-22

Good gifts

Matthew 7:11 NIV

Some people are really great gift givers. They know exactly what to buy to make the person feel understood and loved. God is the ultimate gift giver. He always knows what we need. He always knows what the desires of our heart are. He always knows the right time to give us the gift. And He always knows when the gift we are asking for isn’t going to be the right thing for us. The Bible tells us that ‘every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows’ (James 1:17 NIV). God’s love for us is unchanging and He wants to give us ‘good and perfect’ gifts. We have the ability to enter into God’s presence and ask Him for what we want. Jesus said, ‘How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ And if we are walking in obedience and seeking to please Him, we can be confident when we come before Him. The Bible says: ‘If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God’ (1 John 3:21 NIV). But if we are approaching with selfish motives or sin that we haven’t confessed, we will probably feel uncomfortable in God’s presence and struggle to confidently believe that God will provide for us. So let’s make sure we are dealing with sin and seeking His will at all times. We are told that ‘He does not hold back anything good from those whose lives are innocent’ (Psalm 84:11 NCV). And if God’s saying no, it’s because it wouldn’t be good for us. We just need to trust Him – He has something better in mind for us.

1 Chr 16-18; Luke 12:49-59; Ps 119:41-48; Prov 21:1-3