Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
One thing that all of us as men and women have in common is that we are all very, very sinful. We are dreadfully evil in the sight of the Lord. We can read about this in the Scriptures. For instance, Isaiah says, “All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.“ (Isaiah 64:6) This reality is written so deeply into our souls that we all have a sense of it whether we admit it or not.
Many people approach this reality in different ways. Some people claim there is no real thing as sin. Others believe that sin really isn’t such a big deal. However, no matter how we attempt to sweep this reality under the carpet, we will never escape its grasp or consequences.
From a Christian perspective, we have the ultimate deliverance from this pervasive presence of sin in our lives. We have… forgiveness! We have… mercy! The God of heaven and earth has told us that, when we confess our sins to Him, He will gladly forgive us. I love the message of 1 John 1:9. This verse says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What an amazing release from the bondage of guilt and remorse for the many ways we have fallen short of God’s standard!
Furthermore, there is no sin that is so evil that it escapes God’s ability to forgive. God can reach all the way to the bottom of the barrel to offer His forgiveness. What a tragedy it is when people live their lives in this sinfulness but fail to seek God’s forgiveness. It is such a terrible thing when people miss out on the gift of forgiveness.
TODAY’S BIG IDEA: “God’s mercy is beyond human comprehension. His mercy endures forever!”
Pray that God will forgive you of any sin that you can think of that you have not yet confessed, and then live in peace knowing those sins have been cast as far as the East is from the West!
But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Throughout the Scriptures we see a huge celebration of the holiness of God, and yet most of us really don’t have a full grasp of what it means to be holy. The original word for holiness in the Hebrew meant to be “set apart” or to be “separated from” something. As it applies to God, we see that He is exalted above and completely separate from any type of sin, flaw, or moral imperfection.
It’s interesting to note that God’s Word actually proceeds from His holiness. The Scriptures are perfect and infallible, and they can be trusted in every way. It is the fact that God is holy that allows Him to be able to produce such a document.
The Scriptures also indicate that, even as God is holy, so should we be holy in all manner of lifestyle. We are to follow that divine example. Now, on this planet, we certainly will never attain complete holiness, for we are ever warring with our old, sinful nature. But holiness is the target for which we are to direct our actions. Sin puts a barrier between us and God. Holiness brings communion and fellowship with Him.
As we grow in our journey with God and become stronger in our own personal holiness, we will actually begin to hate sin and its effects. We grow to despise those things that interfere with our intimacy with God and those things which bring so much pain to others here on this earth. And we will seek to avoid those things with a passion.
Toilet water may appear to be clean, but you would never be so foolish as to take a drink of it! That’s because no matter how pure it may look, you still know that it is contaminated. And it does not take much impurity to make that water unclean! In a similar way, we must understand sin to be a filthy contaminant to our spirit, and we must avoid those things through the power of the Holy Spirit.
TODAY’S BIG IDEA: “Seek to live a holy life, and you will enjoy an amazingly-close relationship with the Holy God.”
Pray that God will help you to see those areas in your life that are contaminated and that He will help you to turn away from those things … toward Him!
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
Today’s big question: whose message did the writers of the Scriptures write?
In the above passage, Peter gave us an interesting insight into the doctrine of inspiration. He mentioned that the prophets who gave us the message regarding the coming Messiah actually searched their own writings to try to figure out what those writings meant. What author has written a book and then gone back to figure out what it meant? This is only true of the Scriptures, because the Bible is not man’s word but God’s Word.
The writers of the Scriptures were not writing their own stories. They were merely writing the words that God gave them. Jeremiah described it like this: “Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.’” (Jeremiah 1:9) The content of the Scriptures comes from the mind of God and not from the mind of man.
This past June I attended a graduation ceremony in which they asked the graduates to stand who were planning to go from high school into the military. Dozens of young men and women stood, and the crowd gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation for their willingness to risk their lives for their country. When I saw that, I felt “inspired.”
We all experience that feeling at times. However, we must understand that when Paul said that the Scriptures are “inspired” (2 Timothy 3:16), the Greek word he used there actually means “God-breathed.” The writers of Scripture were not merely “inspired” in the human sense. They actually wrote the very words that God gave them. These are God’s words!
With this concept in mind, we must seek the great truths that are found in the Scriptures. Through that we can actually know the heart and mind of God Himself!
Today’s big idea: when we dig into the Scriptures, we can know the heart and mind of God Himself.
What to pray: ask God to reveal Himself to you personally through His Word so that you can enjoy an intimate relationship with Him.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Bible truly functions as a “sword” in its ability to cut through to the innermost depths of a person’s heart and soul. God’s Word can penetrate through all the layers of impurity and get to the true central issues of life.
In line with this conception, we can see that the Bible truly has two edges: condemnation and restoration. These two edges represent the beauty and wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me explain.
First of all, the Bible condemns us. Now, this may sound rather bleak to you, but it is a critical part of your journey toward enjoying a full relationship with God. Before you can truly connect with God on an intimate level and enjoy His presence in your life each day, you must come to a proper recognition of the depth of evil in your heart. When we read God’s Word, we get a clear picture of just how bad we are in light of God’s holiness. We must get this. We must have an accurate picture of our own state of heart.
Once we understand our need for a Savior and His forgiveness, then we can begin to experience His restoration. When we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us and redeem (“buy us back,” i.e., receive us back to Himself; 1 John 1:9).
I’ve heard it said that “we must be lost before we can be found.” In other words, you won’t turn to your Savior until you realize your need to do so. You won’t confess your sins until He shows you the true darkness of your heart.
The Word of God acts as a mirror by giving us an accurate picture of who we really are (James 1:22-25). Once we see that image, God can begin to change us into what we really ought to be. So dig into His Word in order to experience both the sobering reality of your own condition as well as the healing forgiveness that you need to walk with God.
What to pray: ask God to show you your true condition through His Word, and then confess those things that are hindering your journey with Him.
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Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating the truths of God's Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.
Chris has three kids and happens to be married to his best friend, Leigh. He currently pastors a church on the north side of Cincinnati. When he's not pastoring or blogging (www.SensibleFaith.com), he runs a real estate company in his "spare" time (www.PlumTreeRealty.com). He believes that A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) is one of his 'spiritual gifts.'