YouVersion Devotional

Repentance is the first recorded message the Bible gives us that Jesus talked about when He began His earthly ministry. The first thing that has to happen for a person to be reconciled to God is the acknowledgement of your sin. If you cannot admit guilt as a result of your sin, then God cannot apply His grace to your life. Grace follows after repentance. God can pour out His love and goodness to you every day, but until you confront your sin and acknowledge it before Him, forgiveness cannot flow on your behalf. 

Repentance is to turn from sin to God. When you repent it’s not simply a change of mind but such a change as would reverse the effects of the previous state of mind. Many times people feel guilt and even remorse for the sin they have allowed in their life. They feel bad but not enough to make a change and head the other way. This is like a kid saying I’m sorry because his mom caught him with his hand in the cookie jar. The kid is not having a true change of heart and desiring to set off in the opposite direction. He is only sorry because he got caught. If he would not have gotten caught, he wouldn’t have thought twice about disobeying his mother. 

“You don’t avoid sin by avoiding the pleasure of sin, you avoid it by finding the superior pleasure God intended.” — CS Lewis

True repentance acknowledges sin and then makes the adjustments to stay away from doing that sin. Worldly sorrow can work on your emotions and cause guilt for what you have done. In the end worldly sorrow does not lead to repentance. If you are sensitive to the Spirit of God inside you now, He will give you a godly sorrow that will lead you to repentance. Repentance opens the floodgates of God’s grace and salvation. 

When you confess your sin, you have looked it square in the eyes and acknowledged it. You are not trying to hide it from God or anyone else. You are saying that you’re not just sorry because you got caught but that your heart is broken because you sinned against God. God said that when you do this, He is faithful and just to forgive you every time and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. What a great promise we have been given! God will forgive you every time.

Some Reasons People Don’t Repent: 1. Ignorance. Many non-believers do not have the knowledge that they need to be reconciled to God. They go about their daily lives living for themselves, empty, and wanting eternal fulfillment. 2. Pride. Many people are so full of pride and ego that they don’t see their need for God or repentance. They feel they have done well all these years without Him, so why should they give anything up for Him. 3. Deception. Others are deceived by Satan into thinking that things are good just the way they are. Some others are in false religions that offer hope in some way other than Christ. They are deceived into thinking that faith in their god is good enough to get them to bliss in the afterlife. 4. The love of sin. Still others love the lifestyle of sin that they are living. They do not want to give up the passing pleasure of sin for what they perceive about God. They do not understand that the sin they are living in is a counterfeit for God.

Action Items: 

1. Read Psalm 139. This whole chapter is an amazing account of how precious you are to God. Focus your thoughts on vs. 23-24 as you prayerfully ask God to reveal any sin in your life. If any is there, take time to prayerfully repent before God and expect immediate forgiveness. 

2. Find a biblical community to get connected to. Ask God to lead you to the church home where you are to plant yourself and take roots. When you find the place, you are supposed to be, get involved with church leaders to help you grow and be held accountable in this season.

Devotional YouVersion

Being a Christian is not about arriving at a destination, but abiding in Christ. If you ask people what a Christian looks like, you will get many different answers. Some people will give you a list of dos and don’ts. If you comply with their list then you are, in their opinion, a Christian. Others will point to what church organization you are affiliated with. They will talk about the completion of classes or programs as the DNA of a Christian. Others will define a Christian as someone who does things for God. They are working toward salvation by outweighing the bad they have done with the good they are doing.

I want to challenge you not to fall into any of the definitions listed here. A biblical Christian is defined as one who is in an abiding relationship with Christ. Abide means to continue to remain connected, to make your home, to be in relationship. What you do for Jesus means nothing without abiding in Him. Abiding is about fellowship with Christ and getting to know Him.

Outside of abiding in Christ you will have an uncultivated soul overgrown with briers, thorns, and thistles. At the end of your life you will look back and realize you did a lot of things for God. You had good days and bad. You had victories and failures. You obeyed His word and sinned against Him. But all of this should be swallowed up in a loving relationship with Him. If you’re banking on anything else, then you will be greatly disappointed.

If you remained in Him then you will have produced fruit. You will have allowed Him to prune you so you could grow. You will have done something that mattered because it was centered on Christ. Anything you do outside of Him will not produce lasting fruit. He wants to change you into the image of God as He spends time with you. An abiding relationship with Christ encompasses everything you need to be planted, take root, grow, and produce fruit in God’s kingdom.

I learned a long time ago that I do not have the skills or charisma to help anybody long term. I can offer some seemingly wise thoughts and steps of action, but these are not going to produce lasting fruit. The best thing I can do to help people is push them to proximity with Christ. This and only this is the definition of a Christ follower. My ministry in life is to get people as close to Christ as I can and make them stay there until they have an abiding relationship with Him. I know I am fruitful when they are ready to take their abiding relationship and share it with someone else. There is no greater feeling in the world than seeing people experience Christ in this way.

Action Items: 

1. Read John 15:1-16. Take time to reflect on the heavy yet simple truth that Christ gives us. What does abiding look like to you? Have you ever looked at your life as so dependent on someone else?

2. Ask God to teach you how to abide in Him. Ask Him to show you areas in your life that need to be cut off and others that can produce eternal fruit for His glory. 

YouVersion Devotional

Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)

The very notion that we were created to worship is a mystery. From the foundations of the world, everything God has made has existed for the sole purpose of worshipping the living God. The skies declare the work of His hands. The rocks will cry out in praise if we don’t. These examples and countless others in scripture point to this truth: everything was made to worship. Being people, crafted in the image of God, we are given the opportunity to seek our Heavenly Father with all that we are – our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul. It is the reason we’re here. 

But somewhere along the way, humanity lost its purpose. We became obsessed with ourselves. We wanted what we were not given. We sought to destroy each other to gain what we thought we deserved. We ignored the One who made us and believed the lie that this world is enough. Something had to be done. 

That something turned out to be Grace.

Grace that took up a cross. Grace that bore the scars of rebellion, shame, and guilt. Grace that broke every chain. Grace that humbled Himself, so broken people could find love and redemption through a Savior who would literally do anything He could to save them. Now, this Grace holds what once was held by sin and death. He holds your heart in His pierced hands. And all He wants is for you to receive His gift of grace and worship Him forever.

Enter into that space, where the humble merge with the Heavenly, and real transformation begins. There’s no better time than right now to start praising God for all He’s done. One day, the people of God will do nothing but worship. Revelation 4 promises that we will all gather around the throne of Jesus, singing day and night, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” There is no better time than right now to offer your whole heart to the One who has rightfully claimed it from the beginning. Sin and death no longer have any hold on you. You are healed and forgiven. The grace of God holds you now.

YouVersion Devotional

Good Grace

If there’s anything the man after God’s own heart knew, it was that He could do nothing in his own strength. David needed the help of a holy God to survive. He clung to His faith, even in the most difficult times. You see evidence of this in the songs He wrote. Psalm 121 is one of those songs that echoes David’s deep dependence on the graceful care and provision of God. 

He writes: 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.”

In this statement, David acknowledges that God is both His Creator and Sustainer. It’s a beautiful psalm of worship that pushes readers to examine exactly who they depend on. When you choose to depend on yourself, or others around you, there is always some way to be let down. Brokenness is not mended by adding more brokenness. Brokenness only finds healing when it is fully restored and made new.

When Jesus came to die on the cross, He made a way for your brokenness to be made new. Just as He explained to Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus has come so people could be born again. Not a physical rebirth, but a spiritual one—allows for the brokenness in your hearts to be made whole again through belief in Jesus. You get a brand-new life. That is good grace. 

Now, everyone who has received this grace is a part of the family of God. You can access the people of God to help you remember where your help comes from. When you can’t speak, they speak for you. When you can’t sing, they sing over you. Just like David reminded you in Psalm 121, your spiritual family is there to help you, encourage you, and remind you that the hope you need for every circumstance is found at the cross.

God is madly in love with you. Why else would He willingly die and take on the weight of your sin? Why else would He give you the people of God to lock arms with when times are tough? Remember the sacrifice of Christ and join in praise with the people of God. Watch the walls come down. Watch His kingdom come. Watch His will be done. All because He chooses to extend His good grace to those who call upon His name.