Why We Trust the Newborn King

Why We Trust the Newborn King

1. He is the fulfillment of all the prophecies and promises of Scripture. 
{Matt 1:22-23; Matt 2:4-6; Matt 5:17; 2 Cor 1:20}

2. He came to save us from our sins. 
{Matt 1:21; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; John 3:17; 1 Tim 1:15}

3. He is God in the flesh, our Creator who has come to His creation to reconcile us back to Himself. 
{John 1:1, 14; Col 1:19-20; Gal 4:4-5}

4. He is the only one who can satisfy all of our longings and deepest needs. 
{John 4:14; John 10:10; Matt 11:28-30; Matt 6:33}

5. He died, was resurrected, and will come again.
{Acts 3:15; 1 Cor 6:14; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Matt 25:31-32; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess 4:16}

6. He is all of who He claimed to be.
{Luke 5:20-21; Luke 18:31-33; John 11:25; John 14:6}

7. We know Him personally and experientially.
{John 10:27-30; John 17:3; Rom 8:16}

Christmas: A Time to Repent and Believe

Christmas: A Time to Repent and Believe

Even in the Christmas narratives there are encouragements to repent and believe. God has broken into our world to do a new thing, a mighty thing, a wonderful thing! The world is forever changed, and your life can be forever changed as well.

Think of the shepherds out in the fields by night. Luke 2:8-20 recounts these narratives surrounding the birth of Christ. There were shepherds out in the fields in the area near Bethlehem, and they were basically living out there so that they could share the shifts throughout the night to keep watch over the sheep so that they would not wander off, be stolen by thieves, or attacked by wild animals like wolves.

 
This passage is where we get the nighttime theme for so many of our Christmas hymns. They were out there in the middle of the night. It would have been quiet and dark in the fields, and that contrasts with what happens next, as reported in verse nine and following. They were out there in the middle of the night, in the dark, doing the same ol', same ol' and God broke into their lives! God broke into the world! The Savior was born.

And this recounts the normal sequence of events. This happens for all of us:
1. God makes Himself known
2. We rush to Jesus- Savior, Christ, Lord
3. We glorify and praise God
4. We spread the word about Christ

Christmas is a time to recognize (again and afresh) the wonderful revelation of God and to throw ourselves at His wonder and mercy. It is a time to not only repent and believe but to glorify Him and share this Good News with others. Repent and believe all the more this Christmas season, and glorify God and evangelize others as you go along your way!

Joyful in the Lord this Christmas

Joyful in the Lord this Christmas

Here is a message that brings great joy: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. . . .” We have inherited a great legacy from Christian men and women who have gone before us.  They trusted that the Child was born and that the Son was given. They trusted that He gave Himself for them, and we believe the same. The hope of the ages arrived, and peace has come on earth to those on whom His favor rests. That is a message worth rejoicing over!!!

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

What does it mean to rejoicein the Lord? How are we to do rejoice always?
Have you ever felt less than joyful? Have you ever gone to church services on Sunday and just really didn’t feel like singing or shaking hands? This is the human condition. We are weak and vulnerable, and yet we are told to rejoice at all times. I have two questions for us to answer:

1. What does it mean to REJOICE in the Lord?
To rejoice in the Lord is to have a healthy relationship with Him in the first place. David said in a Psalm “He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God.” Secondly, to rejoice is to adoringly respond to the knowledge that we are at peace with God through the blood of Christ. 

2. How are we to rejoice ALWAYS?
In all of the flux of the Christian life, whether in attacks from those who have strayed, personality clashes with fellow believers, hatred from the world, or even the threat physical suffering and death, we are to rejoice. Joy is something that is known and experienced in the Christian’s soul. So, whether or not there is a smile on our face or a song on our lips does not matter. We can rejoice in the deepest, darkest circumstances.

For example, each and every time we gather together for a church service, we should fill the room with joy. From classroom to sanctuary, handshake to hug, greetings and goodbyes—We need to allow our joy to show forth. What if every single one of us came to the assembly with excitement? What if we made it our goal each and ever week to be as joyful as possible? Can you visualize how lively our church would be? Can you imagine the people we would attract who would be interested in the source of our joy? Can you dream of the impact we could have in our community for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ?

A people who truly exhibit the joy that they claim to have . . . that would be awesome. . . .

And if this was to happen and you were experiencing one of those downdays, you could not help but be built up by your brothers and sisters! This is actually what God wants for His people. Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, then you are free indeed!” We are free to love, free to worship, free to laugh, free to be rejoice!!!

This statement found in Philippians 4:4 is not just good advice; it is a command to be obeyed. So, I challenge you—As Christmas is around the corner and 2019 is just over the hill—Make it your life’s mission to be a Christian that is full of joy—So full that it floods out of you when we are together!  No matter the past, which is fixed, or the future, which is held in God’s hands, the Rural Hall Christian Church should be a people of pure, inescapable JOY always!!!

After Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving

How easy it is to dwell on the negative, the difficult, and what we have lost rather than setting our minds on the blessings and good that we have been given from above. Let me encourage you this Thanksgiving week to approach your prayers with gratefulness and begin your prayers with your thanksgivings. When we focus on what we have been given, when we recount the blessings of God FIRST, then everything else is viewed from a more appropriate perspective. Philippians 4:6-7 directs us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." The phrase "with thanksgiving" may be more clearly translated "after thanksgivings." Only after we have given thanks to God should we state our various supplications. God is merciful and gracious. For this reason and so many others, He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. Do not neglect this important discipline!

Praying for the Church

Praying for the Church (Philippians 1:9-11)

I have made it my practice in recent years to pray for people when they come to mind.  There is no better time to pray than when you are thinking of someone.  I also receive many text messages, emails, and phone calls with prayer requests.  It is too easy to say that you will pray and then forget about the person or issue.  I have made it my practice to stop what I am doing and pray for that person as soon as I hear the request.  Not only do I pray for individuals when I think of them or receive a prayer request, but I also pray for our church as often as I think to pray.  I cannot give you all of the content of my prayers for the church, but I can say that I thank the Lord for all of you; I thank Him for our leadership; I thank Him for those who serve here; I thank Him for your generosity; I also pray that He would continue to bless us; I ask that He would make us to grow in our knowledge of Him; I ask that He would give us a fruitful ministry, loving hearts, unity, and a continued willingness to minister to the nations with the Good News of Christ.  These are just some of the things that I continually pray for our church.  Let me ask you: Do you pray for us?  What is the content of your prayers for the church here in Rural Hall? 

After stating the context of his prayers for the Philippians and the reasons for thanksgiving, Paul gives us the content of his prayers for the Philippian church. Maybe we can be encouraged by this prayer, and we can take it as a model for how we can pray for our own congregation today:

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

An Exhortation from the Sermon on Matthew 26:47-56

An Exhortation from Last Sunday's Sermon 
(Matthew 26:47-56)


Jesus’ prediction that one of the twelve would be His betrayer, which was also foretold in Scripture, now comes true as Judas approaches. Matthew reminds us that he was “one of the twelve,” that is, he was a one-time disciple, a friend, a trusted associate. This reminder serves to emphasize the treachery of that night and “the enormity of his offense” (Morris). One commentator remarks that the phrase, “one of the twelve” was, “Repeated not for information, but as the literary reflection of the chronic horror of the apostolic church that such a thing should be possible” (Bruce).

Calvin saw here an encouragement for genuine believers to pursue God that much more. He wrote, “We who are His disciples ought to worship God with sincerity; for the apostasies, which we see every day, excite us to fear, and to the cultivation of true godliness.” When we look at Judas, we ought to fear for our own souls. If one of the twelve can be the great betrayer of our Lord, we should all watch ourselves lest we fall into the same temptation to leave the Lord and ultimately lose our souls forever.

While it is easy for us to quickly pass judgment on the selfishness, pettiness, cowardice, and betrayal of Judas and leave it at that, let us instead see his testimony as an admonition. The path of apostasy is close for those who continue to flirt with self-trust. Judas jumped ship when things were looking bleak for Jesus, and he ended up miserable and hopeless because, after all, there is no hope outside of Christ. Let us not follow the same path.

King of My Life, Pt. 2

King of My Life, Pt. 2

We stated last week that to say God is King of our lives refers, in the first place, to God's sovereignty over all creation and our submission to His lordship. We may continue our reflections today by thinking about the claim that God has on our lives.

As Creator King, God has all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, what He says, we are obligated to do. He is the "great King over all the earth" and the "great King above all gods." He rules over all and commands all people everywhere to repent and be obedient to Him.

God is a loyal and generous King who deserves our allegiance and service. We are to pledge our lives to Him. As King, God demands our single-minded devotion to Him. We cannot serve God and another. Jesus taught this clearly when He said, "No one can serve two masters; he will either hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other." We do well to reconsider this point. Have you pledged your undivided allegiance to God? Is your life single-mindedly devoted to Him and His purposes?

God is also a loving and gracious King who deserves our worship and adoration. We should gladly bow down to Him and give Him thanks for His common graces of life, sunshine, and rain and His work of redemption in Christ Jesus. He has been so good to us!

God is King over His kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world. It is altogether different than the worst and even the best of the nations and kingdoms of the earth. He is altogether different than any earthly ruler. He is perfect in all of His ways. What a glorious blessing it is to be a citizen of the kingdom of God! May we never forget that Jesus has taught us to not worry about a thing; we simply need to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything we need will be given to us by Him.

King of My Life, Pt. 1

King of My Life

What does it mean for God to be King of our lives? The Bible refers to God as "King" time and time again. The psalmist, for example, begins Psalm 24 with, "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein;" and he ends the psalm with, "Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!" The last book of the Bible, Revelation, calls Jesus "King of kings" two different times (17:14; 19:16). We even sing hymns with lines such as, "King of my life, I crown Thee now." Again, we may reflect upon the question- What does it mean for God to be King of our lives?

In the first place, the designation must refer to God's sovereignty. He is creator of all, and, therefore, He is ruler of all. When we say, "All" that includes us as well. God is ruler of our lives! So then, we see who He is, but what about on our end? We are creatures, and, therefore, we are subjects. However, we are God's treasured subjects! We are created for His glory, but how wonderfully blessed are we in relation to Him?!

We have the privilege of knowing our creator and being known by Him. He has loved us to the point that He would send His Son to die for us! He has reconciled us by the blood of Christ's cross so that we are not slaves but sons and daughters! He does not force us into slavery but allows us to freely come to Him by grace through faith, and He adopts us as His children. As His children, we voluntarily serve Him because we love and admire Him.


These are just a few reflections on what it means for God to be King of our lives. Maybe we can share more thoughts on this subject next week.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, was sent from heaven by the Father with a mandate to glorify the Son, to convict the world of the sin of unbelief, to regenerate those who believe, to guide them into all truth, to enable them to live godly lives, and to equip them for the work of ministry. 
(John 14:25; 16:8, 13-14; Titus 3:5; Rom 8:9-11; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 4:7-13)


With all of that being said, there is no doubt that you need the work of God's Spirit in your life! So, is the Holy Spirit active in your life? There are a few ways to know for yourself:

1) The fact that you ask this question of yourself is a good sign. If the Spirit wasn't active in your life, you probably wouldn't care to ask.

2) Have you been baptized? The Bible promises the gift of the spirit for those who repent and are baptized (all motivated by faith, of course).

3) Do you call out to God in prayer and confess your sins? The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts you of your sin.

3) Are you burdened for the things of God like being with and serving the church and sharing the Gospel with the lost? The Spirit of God works the desires of God in our hearts.

4) Is the fruit of the Spirit being produced in your life? (Love, joy, peace, etc.)

5) Do you have a deep-seated confidence that you belong to God? The Bible teaches that His Spirit tells our spirits that we belong to Him!

The Lord has been Treating Us Just Fine

“The Lord has been treating us just fine.” 
Guest Article Written by David Woolard
Lately, this has been my answer to the question of how it’s been going with me, or with Nancy, or with both of us. We have indeed been through a bit of a rough time recently, but we’ve suffered far less than many other folks we know and love. Moreover, the Lord’s people, our church family, as well as our circle of family and good friends have been watching over us, praying for us, even feeding us from time to time. Logistically, relationally, and in every other area of life, “The Lord has been and is treating us just fine.” 
I love the understated yet powerful nature of this response. It’s a way of “giving thanks always for all things.” It’s a solid way to give glory to God without sounding clich├ęd, or perfunctory, or even perhaps, overly sentimental. 
The apostle Paul once directed his readers to do “all things without grumbling and complaining, in order that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, ...” (Philippians 2:14-15). He didn’t call for the big rah-rah, or for a flamboyant and sometimes forced “Praise God, thank you Jesus!” Instead he called for the understated, for a quiet repudiation of complaining and grumbling, for a simple though unspoken acknowledgement that “Ah, even in the midst of this or that moment of adversity, the Lord is treating me just fine.” Such a routinely offered response to our inevitable experiences with suffering will ultimately cause us to “shine as lights in the world.” 
To be sure, there are and will be times which call for nothing less than glorious praise and effusive expressions of gratitude. But at the same time, the need will also remain for more prosaic or down-to-earth, genuinely heartfelt and devotionally sturdy acknowledgements of the Lord’s gracious and providential watchcare over us. 
So. You ask me, “How’s it going?” My preferred reply will most likely be something like, “As for me and my house, the Lord has been treating us. . .!”

Created for Work

Created for Work
 
Did you know that you were created for work? I'm serious. As much as you may dislike a certain job or aspect of a job, you were created to work. Remember all the way back to the beginning of Genesis. When God created everything, including humanity, and all of creation was said to be perfect. God said, "It is very good." Part of what was very good was the fact that Adam and Eve were placed in that Garden paradise and expected to have dominion over it. They had tasks such as naming the animals and surely things like tending to the trees and vegetation as well as maintaining the rivers and streams. Work was a part of the original and wonderful creation. So, we can say that mankind was created to work hard and to be productive.

It is a good thing to be productive during the day, and it is a good thing to be tired when you go to bed, especially if you are doing this hard work for the glory of God. And, no; you do not have to be a vocational minister of a local church in order to work for the Lord. The Bible has a lot to say about the Christian's work ethic, and these things apply to all believers.

The Proverbs remind us of the practicality of work. We have to work to eat, and there is always a profit from hard work. A strong work ethic is also satisfying for the laborer, and there is great blessing in it. We are also exhorted in the Proverbs to "commit our work to the Lord."

In the New Testament there are important passages that give an even more solid theological underpinning for our work ethic. Whatever we do, we are to "do all to the glory of God." We are to "work heartily as to the Lord and not people." Hard work allows us to take care of our own needs as well as the needs of others because we are reminded that "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

So, when you punch in at work today, or you go out to tend to your garden, or you volunteer at a local ministry, remember to do everything as to the Lord and not to simply please people. Paychecks are important, but our motivation and heart is that much more important. Think of ways to use your job to glorify the Lord!

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Getting Your Hands Dirty
 
The apostle Paul was a hard worker. He worked to support himself and his ministry. While some churches supported him financially at times, he often sacrificed his time, energy, and health to labor full-time for the advance of the Gospel and full-time to support his own needs. I guess he didn't sleep! In Acts 20:35 he is recorded as saying to the Ephesian elders, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

You know, we are called on throughout the New Testament to live sacrificial lives, to serve others, to work hard, and to do everything we do to the best of our abilities for the glory of God.

To live this biblical lifestyle, we will often have to "get our hands dirty." Of course, I mean this figuratively, but I do not discount the fact that sometimes we have to do it literally! Working for the Lord and serving others is a wonderful blessing, but we will often have dirty hands. Life is messy. Families are messy. Sin is messy.

The Lord does not need prima donnas. He wants (pick your illustration) soldiers, field medics, mechanics, coal miners . . . You get the idea. God needs laborers! We cannot be those who shy away from high pressure situations and messy tasks. We are "ministers of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18) or, in other words, we are special ops on a rescue mission.

Take the Gospel to a lost and dying world! Shine the light of Christ into a dark and hopeless generation. Don't waste your life ensuring that your fingernails are clean! Get out there and serve the Lord by confronting the powers of darkness, the sin that so easily entangles, and point people to the only hope of the world, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! And let this be one of our life's mottos: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

For God So Loved the World

For God So Loved the World
 
How often do you think beyond yourself? I mean, how often do you think beyond your own little part of the world? I try to do this often, but I certainly do not do it often enough. When we become more godly, we think more like God, and we act more like God. In the first place, God had an immense love for the world. That loving perspective caused Him to act in the world's behalf- He sent His Son to take our sins upon Himself in death and to be raised again for our justification. He first loved, and then He acted in behalf of others.

If we follow God in this pattern, then our thinking must change- we must become more loving. When our attitude changes and we become more loving, then we will begin to act more in the interests of others than before. Yes, we must look out for our own interests. We have to work to live and provide for our families. Godliness is looking out for our own interests AND the interests of others.

So, how often do you think beyond yourself? How often do you think about your fellow church members; your neighbors; the nation; the world? Keep in step with the Spirit as He transforms you by the renewing of your mind! Walk in the Spirit as He directs you to various ministries.

Don't Be Discouraged

Don't Be Discouraged
 
I was really encouraged this week when I read through a brief section of a church history book of mine. I ran into a hymn written by a Christian brother in Brazil some years ago. I think you will be encouraged by it as well. It reminds me of the several times that Jesus encouraged His disciples to not lose heart. For example, in John 14:1 He said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." Read the lyrics below slowly and check out the story behind it. Enjoy!

Don't be discouraged ever again.
Jesus Christ has already given you
    Peace, love, and joy,
    not a fantasy world.
Don't look back,
Jesus Christ has taken you from sin.
Just look ahead, nothing more.
Don't be discouraged from singing.
Through strength and grace all will pass.
And the victory He will give us.
And together we will win the crown.


"[The hymn's] author is Lindomar Moreira da Silva, at the time of writing an eighteen-year-old member of an evangelical Protestant church in Buriticupu, deep in the interior of northeast Brazil. This is a region with almost no economic opportunity and almost none of the comforts taken for granted in North America, Europe, and other developed parts of the world. When he wrote this song in the mid-1990s, the author was living with his mother and seven other children in a four-room house. Lindomar subsequently went to seminary, married another seminary graduate, and in 2011 was pastoring a church in the interior town of Dirceu Arcoverde, Piaui" (Mark Noll).

Hospitable Christians

Hospitable Christians
 
The New Testament usually assumes that Sunday church gatherings will only be made up of born-again believers. However, there is one passage, 1 Corinthians 14, which instructs believers to be aware of how their worship services, especially the orderliness of them, may impact unbelievers who visit with them. That is an intriguing thought, isn’t it? Our Sunday services ought to focus on believers, the born-again members of our church, but we should also keep in mind the guests that we have in attendance.
 
Of course, the Bible is full of instructions about being hospitable. Biblical hospitality (as opposed to merely “Southern hospitality,” which is good too) is a highly esteemed godly value. Christians are to be those who are aware of others—there presence, needs, and our Gospel ministry to them. Hebrews 13:2 famously exhorts, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” The last part of the verse concerning angels almost certainly alludes to Abraham hosting God’s messengers in Genesis 18 and his nephew Lot doing the same in Genesis 19. Don’t get bogged down by that idea, though. It is only supposed to illustrate and emphasize the command to “show hospitality to strangers.”
 
Think of these things from church perspective. Don’t you think that we ought to go out of our way to welcome guests in our church services? If one of our members brings family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers, shouldn’t we be hospitable to our guests? What about those who take it upon themselves to visit with us on Sunday mornings? We should certainly greet them, invite them to sit with us, and show them where the bathrooms are or children’s areas and the like. Church hospitality is so important! Christians should be the most welcoming and loving people on the planet.
 
On this point of ministry, our church should really be commended. There is never a time that someone visits with us and is not greeted and warmly welcomed. We are really good about it. Let me encourage you to continue to be so hospitable and to not only be so initially but throughout their visit. If you see folks eating by themselves at a potluck, go and join them, especially if they are new to the church. Invite someone to your pew. Offer to take them to lunch one Sunday. Follow up with them on the phone or by email. There are so many simple ways to invest in the life of others by being hospitable. Obviously, there are some cautions to keep in mind: We do not want to overwhelm our guests, we do not want to put them on the spot in public, we do not want to be nosy, and we do not want to be disingenuous. You get the picture. There are restraints to maintain, but let us be the most welcoming, genuine, loving, and warm church in town! The Lord will defintitely be pleased with that kind of ministry!

When You Pray

When You Pray
 
All believers know the importance of prayer for the Christian life. However, we so often neglect the biblical practice. Remember, the Lord Jesus did not teach in the Sermon on the Mount that prayer was an option. He did not say, "If you pray." Three times in Matt 6:5-7 He said, "When you pray" before stating in verse 9, "In this manner, therefore, pray. . . ." The apostles repeat this theme throughout the New Testament with instructions such as, "Continue earnestly in prayer" and "Pray without ceasing." Prayer is to be a part of the life of the church and the individual Christian. It is one of our chief spiritual disciplines. We are to pray that God's will be done. We are to pray for rulers. We are to pray for one another as well as evangelistic work throughout the world. We are to cast all our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us!

Maybe you have neglected this important aspect of your life and relationship with our God. Let me encourage you to stop right this moment and pray to the Father. Before finishing this email, STOP and pray.

Now that you have renewed your prayer life, keep it up! Stop at points in your day, head over to another room if necessary, even get on your knees, and speak with the Lord. Share your burdens with Him, but also pray for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth!

Do Not Fear

Do Not Fear
 
There is a phrase that is fairly common in the Bible, and it is a command that is crucially connected to a promise. This phrase can be found in a few different forms, but the most basic is, “Do not fear, for I am with you.” If one broadens the search to include phrases such as, “Fear not” and “Do not be afraid” several passages fit into this category. 
 
If you would like to see some of the passages, check out these references for examples and then consider doing your own searches: Gen 15:1; 26:24; Exod 14:13; Deut 20:1; Josh 1:9; 10:25; 2 Chron 20:15, 17; Isa 35:4; 41:10, 13-14; 43:1, 5; Jer 1:8, 19; 30:10; 42:11; 46:27-28; Matt 14:27; 17:7; 28:10; Mark 5:36; 6:50; Luke 8:50; 12:32; John 6:20; 12:15; Acts 18:10; Heb 13:6; Rev 1:17.
 
Let’s take Isa 41:8-10 as a key text for the sake of this discussion. The Scripture reads, “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”
 
Isaiah is a prophet of God who preaches in the South, probably in Jerusalem, around the time of the fall of Samaria in the North. The nation of Assyria came down and annihilated the northern tribes of Israel in 722 B.C. In essence, Isaiah says to those living in the South, “Repent of your wicked ways, live according to God’s covenant, or the same destruction will come upon you.” The people never did repent, and Judah was later destroyed and taken into exile. Beginning with chapter 40, there is a shift in the book looking forward to that Exile and the need to return to the Promised Land. 
 
So, it is in this broader context that Isaiah speaks in chapter 40, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people, says your God . . . Prepare the way of the Lord . . . the Lord shall come with a strong hand” and, in chapter 41, “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God.”
 
Notice that there is a command which must be obeyed, “Fear not.” The people were not to fear—not to fear abandonment, lack of restoration, a shortage of forgiveness, their enemies, the uncertainty of the future, etc. While we may not be Jews in Exile, we do have doubts about our forgiveness sometimes; we do have opponents occasionally; we can easily get frazzled about an uncertain future. So, this command is just as applicable to us today as it was 2,700 years ago. This is seen clearly in the New Testament commands to all Christians to not be afraid; we have not been given a spirit of fear.
 
Of course, it is essential to pay attention to the fact that this command is not just hurled out into space with nothing to give it roots. This is not just advice from some self-help guru or positive thinking expert as if all we have to do is push away the negative vibes. No! This command is connected to an important promise, and the two are linked time and time again in the Bible. The people are encouraged by the prophet Isaiah to not fear because God is with them! The Great I Am is their God! Because they belonged to the Lord and had a covenant relationship with Him, there was no need to fear anyone or anything. How much truer is this of New Testament Christians? We were bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! We have been adopted into the family as God’s children! He will strengthen, support, love, and defend us in every situation. He is our God, and we are His people. He is always with us and will never forsake us. Even when we are weak, He is strong and faithful. The God we worship and serve is the one, true, and living God, the Great I Am, the Everlasting God, the Comforter of His people.

Therefore, be obedient to the command, “Do not fear!” And know that the command is sure and your obedience is possible because we lean on the everlasting arms!

Dear Friend: Getting Excited about the Gospel Again

Dear Friend,

I’m writing this simple note to check in on you. I know I never ask you directly, and, most likely, no one else does either, but, how is your spiritual life? How is your relationship with the Lord? Now, there is no reason to get up in arms about this question. I mean it sincerely, and I am asking as a friend. 

You know, so many Christians have given up in doing good, lost their first love, have watched their faith grow cold. This ought not be so. The New Testament gives one encouragement after another to continue to stoke the fire of our own faith and good deeds (Matt 6:33; Gal 6:9; 1 Cor 15:58; Heb 10:35-39).

Do you remember when you first became a Christian? I’m sure you felt so comforted and free! The Gospel releases us from guilt, the power of sin, anxiousness about the future, and it brings us into a right relationship with God. Sometimes, though, when we neglect our spiritual lives, we end up neglecting the Lord and moving farther and farther away from Him. You know how exhausting that is, how guilty you feel, how miserable your mind becomes. Yet, it is difficult to figure out how to get out of that rut once you are in it!

We have to prepare and pace ourselves for a long Christian life, and we have to get out of ruts quickly once we are in them. I want to offer you, my friend, a few practical helps for getting excited about the Gospel again, for renewing a healthy relationship with the Lord. The first two are traditional, obvious, and simple, but they are also tried and true: (1) Read the Scriptures every day and (2) spend time in prayer multiple times a day. There are so many different ways to read the Bible now. You can use your physical copy with just the Scriptures or open up a study Bible with helpful notes. You can also look up a Bible website or download an app. If using a study Bible, I highly recommend that you read an entire passage first, ponder it for a few minutes, and then read the study notes later. When starting back to Bible reading, I recommend you read the Gospels for a while so that you can see and experience Jesus up-close and personal again. When thinking of prayer, I’d suggest a couple focused times during the day, when you can spend at least 5-10 minutes in prayer. Confess your sins and give thanks to the Lord. Praise Him for His mercy!

After those two timeless and powerful spiritual disciplines, I would also encourage you to (3) spend time with Christian friends, but not just any—really think of some positive Christians to hang out with. There’s so much negativity in our world, and even in the church, to the point that we are all left drained. Find 2-3 people who you enjoy spending time with and who help to refuel you (without even knowing it!). There are so many practical suggestions I could make, but I’ll only share one more in this brief letter. (4) Spend a lot less time with electronics and a lot more time outside. There is something draining about being in front of a TV or phone. There’s lots of evil, honestly, that we are spiritually ingesting through these various platforms, whether it is the things we watch, or articles we read, or interactions on social media. There’s something draining about it, but there is something energizing—physically, emotionally, spiritually—about being outside in the sunshine. I grew up in the foothills of NC, right at the base of the mountains, and to this day I still enjoy being in the hill country and visiting the mountains. I love seeing those sights. The same is true of the beach, and rivers, or just traveling down some winding, country roads. Getting some fresh air and sunshine are good in so many different ways, and those times are also good opportunities for prayer and reflection.

Of course, the one practical, spiritual discipline that often goes without being said is being thoroughly involved in the local church. If you want to renew your spiritual life, if you want to care for your soul, if you want to come close to the Lord again, if you want to get excited about the Gospel once more, then come to church! Praise the Lord with us, learn more about Him, ask lots of questions, pray with us, eat with us, share in life with us! My friend, you have so many helps and encouragements for your Christian walk, don’t waste your life in a rut! See you soon!

Your Friend,
Wesley

Dear Friend: Getting More Involved in the Church

Dear Friend,

Hey, buddy, I hope you are doing well. It has been nice seeing you in Sunday worship so much recently. The Lord is obviously at work in your life. I’m grateful for all of the progress you have made in your faith and for the support that you have shown me as well. I just wanted to write a simple but personal note today to encourage you to get even more involved in the church. 

I know you have a lot on you. You are a busy person. You work so much, and you have to take care of your family. There’s a lot that you are responsible for. Yet, joining the church and getting active in its life and ministries will balance out your life. There are so many reasons to get more involved. You will be less stressed and better prepared for what’s ahead. You will be able to fully follow the Lord Jesus. You know, we cannot even begin to fulfill most of the teachings in the New Testament without being involved in the local church. You will be more motivated to serve others, to pray, and to realize your full potential. This world has gotten crazier and crazier. I know you agree. So, now is not the time for less Bible and less church time. Now is the time to get even more involved in the church and to know the Bible that much better!

Getting more involved in the church will be good for your soul. Listen, it doesn’t matter who we are talking about—we all need to be taught, to be encouraged, to worship the Lord, to have a support team, and to be/do/have several other things that only the local church provides. The truth is, if we are both honest, you need us, and we need you. We’re in this together, but the only way that will have any meaning is if we are together more often—getting to know one another, serving together, worshipping together, sharing with one another.

I like to encourage everyone to be “Plus One Members.” To do so, you come to Morning Worship on Sundays + one class + one ministry. Now, I would certainly be happy to see you come to all three services on Sundays and to find multiple ways to serve the church and community, but let’s start slow. If you’re willing to take my advice on getting more involved in the church, then simply pick one class to attend (The BLEND @ 10 AM or Eve Ministries @ 6 PM), and find one ministry in the church in/through which you can serve (greeting, praying, grounds, sound, singing, meals, office, online, missions, youth, etc.).

If you would like to read about it more, check out Bible passages like these: Heb 10:24; Col 3:16; 1 Cor 12:12-22; and Acts 2:42.

Love in Christ,
Wesley

Dear Friend: Getting Back into Church

Dear Friend,

Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while, and I really miss seeing you at church gatherings. You have been missing out on wonderful times of worship and fellowship. I’m sure you have your reasons for stepping away for some time, but I would love to see you back this Sunday.

Maybe you have just gotten lazy or distracted by the things around us. It is easy to do. I get distracted, myself, from time to time. The world has a way of pulling us in several different directions. Let me encourage you like Jesus did with the Ephesians in Revelation 2: Return to your first love! Set your priorities straight again. Set aside time every first day of the week to worship the Lord.

Maybe you were hurt by someone or something in the church. These things are never easy to navigate, but I am confident that if we can simply sit down and talk, we could clear things up. None of us are perfect. I do not claim to be perfect and neither does anyone else in our church. You know the old saying, those who are closest to you can hurt you the most. Families have disputes, but we are still family. Let’s try to work toward reconciliation.

Maybe you are mad at God about something. Do you really think that moving farther away from the Lord during your struggles is the best thing to do? I would encourage you to draw near to God and cry out to Him. Do it with us, in congregational worship and as we support one another.

Maybe you are confused about living the Christian life in such a radically pluralistic society. Your faith is being challenged daily in many different spheres. There are moral, ethical, and political questions coming up continuously, and the Christian Faith is being portrayed as archaic and useless, even hateful. You know this is not true. You know that the love of Christ is for all people. Christians are the ones who are called to be peacemakers and to pray for all people. We are the ones who work for justice and reconciliation. And, yes, we are the ones who uphold strong morals and values in our day. Don’t shrink away now! Come to church and be better equipped to face each and every day with confidence in the Faith, seeking to be truth-tellers, Gospel-sharers, and genuine servants of all.

Maybe you have wanted to come back, but it has been so long that you are embarrassed. You might be thinking that the awkwardness of coming back to church at this point would be overwhelming. You don’t want to hear people say things like, “Where have you been?” And you don’t want strange looks from folks. You know what? You’re probably overthinking it! Now, there is the possibility that someone may say something stupid, but that’s always a possibility when a group of people get together! Stupidity is lurking every time you leave your house. Yet, for the most part, I’m confident that you will be warmly welcomed back and loved like you always have been. We have missed you, seriously.

I shouldn’t conclude without sharing the confession that maybe I haven’t said or done enough as your minister. If so, I want to sincerely apologize. If you know me at all, then you know that I respect people’s privacy. I don’t want to be nosey and get into your business. I also don’t want to be pushy. I have known too many ministers like that, and I don’t want to be one of them. That is why I have written you this letter. This is a simple note to let you know that I am thinking about you (whether you realize it or not), to encourage you to come back to church, and to let you know that you will be welcomed when you do come back. You know church participation is good for you; it is good for your soul. You also know it is the right thing to do as a Christian. Let me/us help support you in your spiritual journey. I hope to see you soon! Take care.

Your Friend,
Wesley

Redemption and Forgiveness in Christ

Redemption and Forgiveness in Christ

The epistle to the Ephesians is a fantastic letter. It has one encouragement after another and even begins with the richness of the Gospel of Christ. Ephesians 1:7-8, for example, reminds us that, “In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us. . . .” Meditate on that thought for a moment. Sit back, and read those phrases again slowly. 

Two parallel ideas come together here- we are redeemed, and our sins are forgiven. To be redeemed picks up the act of freeing a slave by payment. The word means “buy back” or even “ransom.” The fundamental idea of redemption is that of the setting free of a thing or a person that has come to belong to another. The New Testament teaches that before we are united with Christ (notice the “in Christ” language at the beginning of the verse), we belong to the realm of darkness, we are fallen humanity, we are slaves of sin. God the Father has sent His Son who voluntarily took our place on the cross to redeem us, to bring us back. We have now been rescued for darkness and welcomed into His marvelous light! We are no longer slaves of sin to fulfill its lusts. We are now free to pursue everything that is good and godly. The Old Testament exhorts, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”

Also, in Christ our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is about pardon for a transgression, taking away sin, it’s about making right any wrongdoing. The Bible teaches that we have all sinned, that we have gone our own way, that we have transgressed the law of the Lord, and not just the written law, but the law that is in our hearts. If we all admit, we have done things in our pasts that were damaging to ourselves and others. These things are called sins, and they are offensive to our perfect, holy, and righteous Creator. To restore our relationship with Him, He extends forgiveness to us for our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. While we may deal with the consequences of some sinful choices throughout our lives in this age, there will be no eternal ramifications for our sins if we are “in Christ.”

True atonement, which is unique to Christianity, is shown in these two parallel statements concerning redemption and forgiveness. Our past sins are taken away, we have been welcomed into a right relationship with God, and we are now free to pursue those things that are healthy and beneficial to us and those around us. Notice that the apostle does not leave the subject without making clear, as he always does in his letters, that all of this is by God’s grace. Grace, of course, is unmerited favor, unearned privileges. We are redeemed and forgiven by simply repenting of our sins and trusting Christ with our lives. The Lord has done all of the work necessary to bring about true atonement by Christ’s penal substitutionary sacrifice on the cross and through His resurrection from the dead. We now simply believe in Him and freely receive His benefits. What an awesome God we serve!

Attacks on Biblical Christianity

Attacks on Biblical Christianity found in the Winston-Salem Journal

This midweek article will be longer than usual, but my hope is that you will take the time to carefully read it to the end. Two important articles appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal last week. I say “important” not because of positive content but because of what they demonstrate about the world around us, even what many would call the “Christian” community at large. The fact that these articles have been published right here in our own community only deepens the weight of importance. The first article was on May 11 titled, “Moravian synod will let gay clergy marry” by John Hinton, and the second article was on May 12 titled, “Taking a closer look at the Bible” by Earl Crow in the religion section.

Now, the Winston-Salem Journal is not known for its conservative stance on anything, really. The paper continuously promotes the agenda of the left, like many news outlets today. Of course, we are not those who only want the right promoted. We want a balanced perspective. We want to hear things out of both camps, and we want the news to be reported fairly and consistently.

Another caveat before discussing the articles: Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not one to “cry wolf” about every little thing that happens. I have even been recorded as saying that Christians need to stop grumbling about things that are not really persecution, things such as “taking prayer out of schools” and “removing in God we trust” off of this or that. These events certainly mark a change in our nation’s history and speak of the fundamental changes in our culture’s thinking, but these things are not “persecution.” It is most likely good that prayer was taken out of school—I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a Mormon teacher or Muslim teacher leading my children in prayer. So, I’m not playing the victim role in this note. I intend to share a perspective on these things from a historically Christian and biblically orthodox point of view.

First, we received news that the Moravian Church has approved a resolution affirming homosexual “marriages.” Both members and the ministers of the Moravian Churches who identify as gay are now allowed to “marry” someone of their same sex. Of course, it did not take long for the Moravian leaders to be quoted using buzzwords such as unitywelcomingrespectfullovingdiversityopen, and affirming. All of these words are used with an agenda in mind and most of them have been redefined. This new out of the Moravians is not too surprising. Anyone familiar with the situation knew it was coming at some point. Yet, it really hits home because of the influence the Moravians have in the Winston-Salem area. Many of us already knew and now it is official that most Moravian churches and ministers cannot be trusted because they do not believe the Bible.

Second, we have all learned that Earl Crow is not an Evangelical, but let me say emphatically that he does not represent historic and biblical Christianity in any way. He represents his own beliefs and consistently shrinks away from honestly portraying and interpreting biblical doctrines. But, why would we expect anything different? He does not believe that the Bible is the Word of God and has stated that Paul was wrong on this or that, and the Old Testament saints were in error on many things. He began writing these articles about Christianity and the Bible in the Winston-Salem Journal by “beating around the bush.” At first, he would drop hints that he didn’t like this or that about biblical Christianity. Now, he flat out says that he does not trust the Bible. 

He was asked squarely in the last religion section article, “Do you believe [the Bible] is the word of God?” His answer in one word: No. He basically says that the Bible has errors, we can question passages, the Bible is merely man-made, biblical authors disagree with one another, he has “questions” about the Scriptures, passages are “troubling,” and he insinuates that it is absurd to believe every word of the Bible. He quickly gets to the issue of same-sex relations, as he usually does nowadays, and asserts that the Bible and Bible-believing Christians are wrong on the issue. He wholeheartedly believes that same-sex relations are acceptable and not sin. His argument in this article, and in many that have come before it, rests upon his own opinion and vague references to “most who study the issue” and science and the like. Let me say, there is nodefinitive research that affirms that anyone is “born gay.” Besides that point, Crow is saying that science can undo what the Scriptures clearly teach because biblical authors, in his opinion, were unsophisticated in their scientific knowledge. Well, we certainly see his understanding of the Bible. It is basically a book among many books that we can glean a few bits of wisdom from here and there. He makes it all about the “love of God” and about Jesus. Calling something sin, believing in right and wrong, is apparently not loving. What’s interesting to me is that Earl Crow must be skimming through the Gospels in his Bible because mine clearly records Jesus confronting sin, calling for repentance, forgiving sin but demanding that we go and sin no more, and even DYING FOR OUR SIN. The whole purpose in the incarnation was to “save sinners.” And, to the specific point of sexuality, Jesus Himself said that from the beginning God created us male and female, and God has ordained that a man leave his parents and be joined to his wife as the two are made one. Jesus taught marriage between one man and one woman.

Now, we are not those who only want to confront one sin (e.g. homosexuality), but the liberal Christians and the “sexual revolution” agenda has made this one issue THE make or break issue. Here is where we must make a decision about God and the Bible, plant our flag, and hold our ground. We are not the ones who have highlighted this subject, but we have been forced into the battle. Let us take a stand and hold to our biblical convictions. If we give up ground on this issue, we will not only lose the battle, but we will lose the war for our Faith.

We should note that Crow is ordained by the United Methodist Church which has been trying for years to go down that same road that the Moravians have finally traversed. In fact, both denominations formed committees last year at their annual meetings to “study” these issues. Many have predicted that at some point soon, the Methodists will somehow push the “sexual revolution” agenda through, one way or another. Mainline protestants and Methodists like Crow have followed the culture and not the Creator, and their denominations and churches have suffered the consequences as they continue to dwindle.

I have called these articles “attacks on biblical Christianity.” The articles themselves somewhat indirectly attack us, yes, but the decisions and institutions they represent definitely attack us directly in that they are tearing down the authority of the Bible and the God who inspired it. They are spitting in the face of the Creator who has made us male and female. Once we redefine this termor reinterpret that passage, we have lost everything. So, what do we need to do in light of these two articles and the strong winds of political correctness blowing against us? We need to resolve to do two things:
(1) Remain steadfast and firm in our biblical convictions, and
(2) We need to share the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ more clearly and more passionately than ever. 

To conclude, let me quote the well-known, 19thcentury hymn: “We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Bear the news to every land, climb the mountains, cross the waves; Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!” The message we must proclaim is repent of your sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!

Human Sexuality

Human Sexuality

As Christians and churches continue to take heat in our day over the issues surrounding human sexuality, it is vital that we continue to adamantly communicate what the Bible teaches concerning these things. We must maintain the fact that we have not dreamed up these things; on the contrary, our Creator God has created us in specific ways and revealed to us directly in the Scriptures how we ought to live and move and have our being. To recap, let me share with you my formal statement on humanity, again, and then make a few comments at the end.

“Human beings from every nation, tribe, and tongue are created in the image and likeness of God.  We would contend, therefore, that each and every human life is sacred from conception to natural death.  Moreover, each person’s gender is biologically established and is an intrinsic, immutable aspect of his or her nature and identity.  God created each person as either male or female, and these two distinct, complementary sexes together reflect the image of God among humankind.  As to the blessing of marriage, we believe both that it is a divine ordinance pertaining solely to the union of one man and one woman and that it is meant by God to bind each to the other for the entirety of their earthly lives.  God has also set sexual intimacy apart, intending for it to be an expression of love and commitment between wedded couples only. Any expression of sexuality outside of marriage is sin.”
{For biblical quotations, see the following for example: Gen 1:26-27; 2:7, 21-25; Exod 20:12-17; Ps 139:13-18; John 10:10; Lev 18; 20; Matt 19:4-9; Rom 1:18-31; 1 Cor 6:9-10, 15-20; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Jude 7.}

In this formal statement, we have summarized what the Bible teaches on humanity, including many parts that are “hot-topic” issues in the Western world today. As you can see, this statement covers fundamental doctrines of biblical anthropology including race, abortion, marriage, and sexuality. The Lord has given us clear revelation in both nature and Scripture to teach us how we are to live. He has created us with purposes in mind, and He wants what’s best for us. When we stand against those things that are unnatural and sinful, we are NOT doing so out of hate or judgment but out of genuine love for people. God calls us out of sin so that we may no longer be slaves of it, trapped in a world of misery and hopelessness. Yes, some sins are “fun” in the meantime, but what about throughout a lifetime? What about the long-run? What about eternity? God is Creator, and He is holy. If we want to live to be all that God created us to be, and if we want to know Him and enjoy eternal life with Him, then we must approach Him on the basis of His revelation in nature and Scripture. Let us hold firm to biblical teaching. Let us not waver as so many are in our day. Let us proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ—that if folks repent and believe on Him they will be saved from this present wicked age, the wrath of God to come, and for eternal life in a new heaven and new earth where there is no longer sin and sorrow but the joy of the Lord forevermore. 

What is Worldliness?

What is Worldliness?

Everyone knows the Bible says that God loves the world. Seemingly, America’s favorite Bible verse is John 3:16. For two consecutive years, I volunteered to be a community judge for a national Christian organization that promotes public speaking and debating among high school students. I have served in the area of apologetics (defending the Christian Faith). It is rare that a student makes a presentation without quoting that famous verse: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall inherit eternal life.”

God loves the world. We all agree with that sentiment, and we all glory in it. The apostle John is the one who stated that fact. However, the apostle writes another letter that we call First John. In 1 John 2:15-17 he writes something quite different, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” God loves the world, we are to go into all the world preaching the Gospel, and yet we are told to “not love the world.” Do you find this curious? The surface-level contradiction is easily resolved when we realize that words have various meanings depending on their context and usage. In John 3:16, “world” refers to all “people,” but in 1 John 2:15 “world” refers to the “corrupt systems” of the world. Jesus uses the term in the latter sense as well when He basically teaches in John 17:15-16 that Christians are to be in the world but not of the world, meaning, then, that Christians should not follow the thinking and behavior of the corrupt world systems of the day. So then, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to love the world, the people of it, but we are not to pursue the things of the world—self-promotion, power, money, sexual immorality, big houses, fancy cars, etc. Our Lord teaches us to seek to be last instead of first, become the least and not the greatest, strive to serve as an alternative to being served. Sure, we battle temptation. Sometimes we fall prey to worldliness. Yet, on the whole, are you pursuing the things of the Lord or the things of the world? We all need to evaluate our lives from time to time to see where our hearts are and how our priorities stack up.

I Have Sinned, What Now?!

I have Sinned—What Now?

Lots of Christians continue to live a life of guilt even after coming to faith in the Lord. This is unfortunate because grace is available for all of us. Christ has secured our forgiveness in His death and resurrection. I’m afraid that many believers simply let their sins go without any attention simply because they do not know what to do with them, or they feel guilty because they know that Christians are not supposed to sin.

We all know that Rom 3:23 teaches that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Yes, we all repented of our old lives when we became believers. But what about our sins and shortcomings afterbecoming Christians? We know that this does not please the Lord, so what should we do? 1 John 1:8, 10 clearly states that Christians are not perfect, we continue to sin even as we pursue holiness and purity. The apostle says that if we claim to have no sin, then we are only deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us; we’re making Christ out to be a liar, and His word is not in us. The Christian life is one of progressive sanctification, that is, we are moving toward holiness. Little by little we are fighting to do away with our sinful thoughts, speech, and deeds. John Newton, the pastor and famous hymn writer of “Amazing Grace” once exclaimed, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” This is progressive sanctification; this is the Christian life.

John goes on to say in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The first thing we must do when we have sinned is confess it to the Lord. We need to pray the prayer of the tax collector from Jesus’ parable about justification: “Have mercy on me a sinner.” When praying that prayer to the Lord, we need to specifically name our sin(s) to Him. We need to ask for cleansing and Spirit-given strength to fight that same sin in the future.

After confessing our sin to the Lord, we need to make peace with anyone we may have sinned against. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount to “Be reconciled to your brother or sister,” and James piggybacked on that teaching in saying that we ought to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. The New Testament commands us throughout to forgive one another and restore one another.

Lastly, for now, it should be said that we need to put a plan in place to defeat the sin(s) in our lives. We must submit to God, resist the devil, flee from the very appearance of evil, walk in the Spirit, pray that we not enter temptation, not be conformed to the world, be transformed in our minds, and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body. We also need to find support from other Christian friends. 

Therefore, imperfection is expected, but growth toward perfection is demanded. Confess your sin to the Lord, reconcile with others, and plan to defeat your sin!