(I encourage you to read Steps 1 & 2 previously posted on this blog)
PART 3 by Pastor Jon Gaus
Emptying Hands & Heart of All Known Sins
3rd STEP: Confession of Sin
Often We Are Missing Out: Our Heavenly Father desires for us to receive His good gifts, but when we are holding on to unconfessed sin or idols from our past, we do not have clean, open hands to receive the Father’s gifts. Jesus desires us to have close fellowship with Him, but when we are hiding secret sins our fellowship with Him is distant.
Idols are those things I often run to when I’m tired, angry, depressed, lonely or wanting to escape reality. Jesus calls us to cast down our idols and run to Him! He always satisfied and always fulfills!
Confession of sin and repentance is an act of admitting my sinfulness to my Heavenly Father and turning from my sin with a change of heart about my sin.
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened.” Psalm 66:18
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“This is the time to confess my sins by name to my Heavenly Father, admit that I am wrong and turn from my sins and accept my Father’s forgiveness.”
“This is the time where I ask God to cleanse me of any form of pride and lack of love.”
“This is a time of introspection and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal all unconfessed sins. We receive our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins solely through the blood of the Lord Jesus. On the grounds of His death on the cross.”
“This is the time to thank the LORD for His complete forgiveness, mercy and grace and that nothing can ever separate me from His love!”
Our Besetting Sins:
Most of us have two or three areas in which we face the greatest temptations and which are the sin proclivities we most easily fall into.
Take a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify these areas of weakness and sin and then write down the paths or situations that most often lead you into these sin areas.
List the areas of sin in which you struggle most often.
List the situations you need to proactively avoid because they often lead you into these besetting sins.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Now take some time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize the patterns in your life that often lead to sin. Also, thank the Spirit for always providing a way out of temptation through His indwelling presence and power in your life.
Now, take time in pray to ask the Father for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and surrender every part of your heart, mind and life to the Spirit so He can dwell in every part of you!
(I encourage you to visit the previous blog post for PART 1 of this series on enjoying Jesus!)
PART 2 by Pastor Jon Gaus
Begin With Praise & Worship
Because of who God is! Praise & worship is an expression of adoration and devotion to God because of who He is and because of His perfect, holy character and attributes. Express your wonder and delight in God out loud. Tell the Lord how much you love Him and how much more you want to love Him.
Expanding you view of God: Psalm 145 is full of wonderful, powerful and intimate declarations back to God. A meaningful way to worship the LORD is by praying His Word back to Him, out loud, from a sincere heart. This act gives great glory to God, it helps magnify our view of God (which is often shrinking), and it causes the Enemy to flee. Give it a try…
PSALM 145 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. 7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12 to make known to the children of man your[b] mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.][c] 14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
The “One Thing” request of King David:
David was one of the richest, most powerful men in the world and basically could have anything he wanted. But the one thing that he desired most and sought after with all of his might was to behold the beauty of the LORD!
“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his templePsalm 27:4
Make this Your Request:
Take an extended time right now to pray and ask the LORD to show you more of Himself, more of His beauty and to draw you close into His presence so that you can truly experience more of Him. Take time to walk with Him and share your heart with Him.
As an act of worship,make a list of ten things about JESUS that makes Him worthy of your praise…then praise Him for each one.
God delights in you and desires to spend time with you!
The God and Creator of the universe, the eternally existent One, is a relational God. The three members of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have existed in perfect fellowship and communion for all of eternity. And now, through our redemption in Jesus Christ, God has brought us into this fellowship (1 Cor 1:9) and He delights in us and desires to spend time with us!
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17
Enjoying the Lord’s presence requires Spiritual vision.
We all know what it’s like to walk into a dark room. At first, you can’t see anything at all. But, after a while your eyes adjust to the setting and you begin noticing shapes and make out objects. In much the same way when we take time to sit in the Lord’s presence, unplug from the distractions of the world and bring our mind, will and emotions to focus on Him, we truly begin to sense Him in us and all around us! Its during these sweet times of communion that the Holy Spirit can speak to us and show us amazing things. God’s Word encourages us to focus on the spiritual realm:
“As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:18
We come in the name and righteousness of Christ.
The audience we have with the Father is entirely based upon the merits of Christ. It’s because Jesus lived perfectly, suffered and died to fully satisfy God’s wrath against our sins, and rose again victoriously that we have the privilege of boldly coming to our Heavenly Father as His eternally adopted sons and daughters. The Bible says we’ve been raised to a new position of victory and intimacy with God!
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:4-6
NEXT POST: PART 2: “Inviting the Holy Spirit to Search Us”
There are 650 prayers contained in the Bible. We can learn much about the power of prayer by studying these prayers, looking at who prayed them and observing the circumstances in which they were prayed. In 2 Chronicles 20 we find the nation of Judah in deep trouble surrounded by several enemy nations who are conspiring to attack. The King of Judah, Jehoshaphat, is a good king but the scriptures tell us he was filled with fear. In his desperation, Jehoshaphat calls on the entire nation to turn to the Lord in prayer and fasting.
As Jehoshaphat stands and leads the people in calling out to God, we see that he has a very strategic and powerful pattern to his prayer. Jehoshaphat begins his prayer by worshipping God for His omnipotence and supremacy by praying, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”(2 Chronicles 20:6). By starting his prayer this way Jehoshaphat redirects the focus of the people from the threats of their enemies to their awesome, unconquerable God. Next in his prayer, Jehoshaphat recounts how faithfully God has provided in the past by praying, “Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?” (2 Chronicles 20:7). Here, Jehoshaphat is reminding God’s people that God is always faithful and always keeps His promises.
The way Jehoshaphat closes his prayer models for us the kind of humility and surrender that God honors. He closes by praying, “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Here, Jehoshaphat is modeling for the people a heart that desires God’s will and God’s way as he places their entire situation back into the hands of the Lord. As chapter 20 goes on to report, God honored and answered this prayer of Jehoshaphat’s by completely destroying the enemies of Judah as the people worshipped and trusted in God alone. As we grow in prayer and as intercessors, this prayer by Jehoshaphat is a powerful model for us to emulate as we seek to make ourselves small, make God big, and always place the battle back into His hands.
The CROSS…How can a cruel instrument of torture and excruciating death, be seen by some as wonderful and beautiful?”
The future of everything and everyone who ever existed, hinges on what happened that day on the hill outside of Jerusalem called Golgotha …God’s perfect justice AND God’s prefect mercy met in JESUS on the cross. If the human race was ever going to be free from the curse of our sins & death, if we were ever going to escape the God’s righteous wrath against our sins…it had to be JESUS on that cross!
JESUS is the “Only One!” The “Only One” uniquely qualified to restore our relationship with God the Father, and to save us from a just, eternal punishment in Hell. JESUS IS the perfect & awesome mediator!
2 Timothy 2 proclaims…“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all”
While we were still His enemies…Christ suffered and died for us IN LOVE!
1 John 4:10T”his is love, not that we have loved God…but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.“
Ephesians 2:4–5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the GREAT LOVE with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
As one N.T. scholar has stated, “The One from whom we needed to be saved, is the One who saved us!…Now that’s GRACE & LOVE!
JESUS IS…the only one qualified to redeem mankind and all of creation, because He is the only one who is fully God and fully man! Since, sin was committed by man, therefore sin must be atoned for by “a man.” Only a “prefect human being” can be a substitute for other human beings! But, as God’s Word states…”For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!”
We DESPERATELY needed a divine rescue….we DESPERATELY needed a qualified Savior! And the Father, whom werejected, weoffended and we rebelled against… He sent us JESUS…fully God and fully man, who was tempted just as we are tempted… but remained without sin.
JESUS would let NOTHING STOP HIM in His mission to rescue you and me from sin, death and eternity in Hell! MANY forces tried to stop him from making it to the cross!
Shortly after His birth, the blood-thirsty King, Herod tried to murder Jesus and stop God’s plan of redemption…but The Father sent His ministering angels to rescue Joseph, Mary and Jesus.
As Jesus began His earthly ministry, SATAN came at Him Full–Force in the wilderness to tempt Him with the “All the Kingdoms of this World” and to stop Him short of the cross, but Jesus used the power of the Word to continue toward Calvary.
After feeding the 5000, the crowd, wanting an earthly King, (not realizing they desperately needed a “crucified Savior”) tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross, but, in love for sinners…He kept traveling straight toward Calvary!
Even one of those closest to Him…tried to keep Jesus from the cross! Matthew 16 reports it this way…
“Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and be killed… and on the third day be raised. PETER took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!” This Shall NEVER happen to you. But Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
JESUS, authoritative, fearless, in total control, face set on Calvary…BUT the moment we get to “Garden of Gethsemane”, it radically changes! Jesus knows what’s in store for Him. It’s been a planned “covenant” between He, the Father and the Spirit since eternity past. Jesus has been warning His disciples for months…YET as he forges ahead to the cross, the Gospel of Matthew tells us he began to “be gripped by a shuddering terror” that sent him falling on his face.
Jesus made it clear to His disciples he had the power to stop this at any time, but as the Jonathan Edwards has stated, “you and I were hanging over the “flames of hell” by a thin thread…and Jesus willingly came to our rescue!
Sohorrific is the burden on Jesus, of what lies ahead, he cannot even remain upright, and he turns to Peter and John and says “My soul is sorrowful even to death…” He actually “draws near to dying” in His human experience in the garden.
THEN, THE CROSS…a place of excruciating suffering and death for common criminals!
Within the first hour of being nailed to the cross the criminal experiences the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, “carbon dioxide” builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream.
Certainly not a quick death…crucifixion is hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending dislocations, growing asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough wood of the cross.
Then, a “greater agony” begins: a deep, crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium (the sack that surrounds the heart) slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.
After hours of this torture…its almost over — the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues — the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the “chill of death” creeping through his tissues. Finally…after hours of excruciating torture…the body succumbs to physical death.
As “unthinkable” as it is that the “CREATOR himself…JESUS” would “willing” suffer such a torturous, shameful death by those He creates…on a tree that He created…the historic truth is, “thousands of men” were executed by crucifixion before Jesus…and “thousands” died by crucifixion after Jesus.
NO, “Christ’s suffering” goes much, much deeper than that! Beyond the physical torture of crucifixion…Jesus is bearing three “much greater” agonies on the cross:
First, God the Son, who for eternity has existed in “full divine glory” and “full divine holiness”, is about to have the vile, evil, putrid sins of the whole world, including yours and mine, cast upon Him FULLY!
As 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes, “He became sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God!”
Jesus was also in the “deepest agony” because He knew He was about to have the Father’s full, righteous wrath against all sin poured out fully onto Him…..the wrath of God against sin that had been stored up since Adam’s fall, extending past the cross to your sins and mine, all the way to the end of human history…a torment “infinitely” beyond the pain of physical suffering!
Because Jesus knew He was about to drink fully, of the cup of the Father’s righteous wrath against sin…He prayed to the Father to “take away the cup of wrath…if possible”, if there was any other way!
God’s Word clearly teaches that JESUS was laying down His life willingly, He “had the power” to stop the crucifixion at any time…but out of a “covenant obedience & love to the Father” and out of “perfect, merciful love” for you and I, He ENDURED to the end. As one theologian has described it: “In love, Jesus looks down from the cross at you and me and whispers our name and says, “I drain this cup fully for you, for you who have lived in defiance of me, for you who have hated me, for you who have opposed Me, I drink it all…for you!”
The third horrific torment Jesus knew was coming, was that for the first time in all eternity, He would be separated from the perfect, unity and fellowship of the Trinity! Our finite minds cannot fathom what it was like for God the Son, to have God the Father forsake Him and turn his gaze away from him for those hours on the cross bearing our sin!
The infinite unity and fellowship of the Trinity (that has eternally existed) has to be broken by the Father, because in His perfect holiness, the Father cannot look upon the most obscene mass of sin in the history of the world…resting on one man…His own Son!
So why do some see the cross as WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL?
Because Jesus willing went to the cross to experience the Father’s full wrath against our sins… so we will never have to!
Because Jesus, for the first time in eternity was totally alone and forsaken… so we will never have to be!
This is why followers of JESUS…look upon the cross, a cruel instrument of torture and excruciating death, and see it as eternally wonderful and beautiful?”
As God’s redeemed people in Christ, our lives are NOT dictated by fate, chance, luck, karma or coincidences…but only by the goodness and purposes of God! Click on the following link to be encouraged by a teaching on the full coverage over you of the promises of Romans 8:28-32!
The longer we follow Jesus Christ and experience the daily sanctifying work of his Spirit in our lives, the more we realize the necessity of renewing our minds daily with the living, active Word of God. We come to discern that there are three voices that are always lying to us…the Enemy, the world and our own sinful flesh. To combat these powerful lies, we need something even more powerful washing our minds, souls and emotions…and that something is the inerrant, infallible, eternal Word of God which indeed is more precious than gold & silver!
Many of us use daily reading plans and schedules that will get us through the Bible in a year, which is a blessed accomplishment and will certainly bless us beyond measure in every part of our lives. Yet, there are times when the Holy Spirit (who wrote the Bible) will lead us to “camp out” on a certain verse, half a verse or even a single word that he wants to drill down into our hearts and have us meditate on. Once, as I was systematically reading through the Psalms, the Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks on the first three words of Psalm 97…”The LORD reigns…”
All of a sudden, all these Kingdom thoughts came rushing into my heart and mind about the ramifications of these three words for me personally! The LORD should be reigning not only over the entire universe but also over my life, my thought life, over my finances, over my emotions, over my affections, over my identity, etc….and if he’s not, I’ve allowed someone or something else to replace him on the throne of my life! The Spirit was drilling down and sanctification was happening because I was willing to “camp out” on three words for the day instead of having to stick to my daily reading schedule. That was a great lesson for me to open God’s Word daily with the prayer of anticipation from Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
We all exist in a fast-paced, fast-food, fast-forward culture! The tyranny of the urgent seems to be pulling us in five different directions and we are succumbing more and more to the addictive time-snatcher that is social media and online brain candy. Yet, in the midst of this daily frenzy, the Holy Spirit continuously bids us to come and sit at the feet of Jesus… and “be still.” Deep down, most of us recognize that we have the disposition and values of Martha rather than her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42). We know that getting things accomplished is “good” and busyness is not only encouraged in our culture but applauded.
Yet, the Spirit keeps calling us to the feet of Jesus, because a major part of the Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives is convincing us that we are now citizens of a different culture…the Kingdom culture. And, in the Kingdom culture, the King calls His beloved to “be still and know that He is God.” With all of the hyper-stimulation we’ve been exposing our eyes and minds to it’s very difficult for us to “be still” about anything. But, the Lord Jesus invites us and exhorts his people to come and sit at His feet, gaze into His beauty, soak in His healing presence and grow in our relationship with Him! His Spirit even has things to speak to us if we will stop treating Him like our “fast-food” God by giving Him a quick two-minute drive-through.
Think of it this way. We’ve all walked into a dark room and
at first you can’t see anything. But, if you linger in that dark room for a few
minutes and give time for your eyes to adjust and take it all in, all of a
sudden you begin making our shapes and seeing objects. It’s the same way with “being still” before
the Lord. It’s pretty clear from the
Scriptures that our God will not be treated as a “fast-food” God but is calling
for and deserves our first and best.
When we heed the Spirit’s calling to come and linger in the presence of
Christ, if we settle our heart and calm our mind, we will begin seeing with our
Spirit! We will receive a fresh view of
the beauty of Jesus, His Spirit will give us a fresh filling Himself, His
Spirit will have time to give us fresh revelation and best of all…we will grow
deeper in our relationship with Jesus!
In Christianity we often use
the phrase that it’s not about “religion” but about a “relationship.” And, this is certainly true! God’s Word is abundantly clear that you and I
cannot earn our way out of our sinful condition through ‘good works” (Eph 2:8-9)
or through any amount of religious activities or rituals. We must repent of our sins and turn to Jesus
Christ and personally put our faith in Him to save us. This work of salvation wrought by the Holy Spirit
of God puts us into a new relationship with God the Father through the
redemptive work of God the Son.
Now that we have begun our
new life in Christ and the Holy Spirit has begun His life-long work of
progressive sanctification in our lives, we must be aware that Jesus has made
our fight against sin and temptation very personal! Instead of just saving us and then sending us
on our way telling us to “try your best”
and “be good” and “make sure and follow all of the commandments”, Jesus has
made our obedience VERY PERSONAL!
First, Jesus didn’t leave us
alone when He ascended back into heaven.
He sent us the person of the Holy Spirit to indwell us, empower us, counsel
us and work through us. Notice, the Holy Spirit is personal and not just an “it.”
Next, Jesus didn’t just command us to follow all of His commands…He made it
extremely personal when He said in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep
my commandments.” Just like our
salvation, here Jesus is telling all of His followers that our daily fight
against sin and temptation is not about “religion” but about “relationship!” Jesus is telling us that when we choose the
way of sin instead of the way of the Spirit toward obedience, we are showing Jesus
that at that moment we love ourselves and our sin more than we love Him.
What a motivation for obedience! Instead of just looking at the commands of Scripture
as list of religious rules and regulations to be followed the best we can…Jesu
has made it totally personal. He’s personally
given us His Spirit to empower us AND He has told us that each time we are
faced with a temptation it really comes down to a choice between who we love
more, our sin and ourselves or Him.
Once, we embrace this Kingdom truth that our daily obedience to the
commands of Scripture is based on our personal love for Jesus in conjunction
with the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we will experience increasing victory
sin and temptation in our lives. Jesus
made this all…very personal!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Every driver has had to face a filthy windshield. Those times when the accumulation of dead bugs, dirt and bird droppings make it impossible for even your wipers to accomplish a satisfactory cleaning. That’s when we can’t wait to pull-up to a well stocked gas pump and get our hands on a squeegee soaked in windshield solvent.
There are few things more satisfying than scrubbing a filthy windshield with the spongy side of the soaked squeegee and then flipping the squeegee around to take advantage of the rubber side. Watch most people when they apply the rubber side of the squeegee to their windshields and you’ll notice how deliberate they are in wiping away all excess cleaning solution and dirt in a careful horizontal pattern, so the result is crystal clear windshield. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is commanding us to do here in Romans 12:2! He warns us that this world is constantly trying to pollute our minds with lies, temptation, accusations and anti-Christ philosophies. Since, we currently are assigned to live in this world as Christ’s ambassadors and witnesses, it’s impossible for us not to be affected by our environment. Some of the stuff thrown at us actually sticks!
This is why Paul goes on to exhort us to “renew our minds.” The Spirit is communicating through Paul a very critical truth every believer must embrace…the mind is the battlefield! We’re taught in Ephesians 2:5-6 that our spirit has been redeemed and is now seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father. We’re taught in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 that our natural bodies, which are aging and fading away, will be redeemed in heaven when we receive a glorified sinless, sickless eternal body. And, we are taught in Colossians 3:2, and elsewhere, that our minds are being redeemed. Since the mind is the battlefield, and the world, the enemy and our flesh are constantly trying to plant worldly thoughts into our minds, we must renew our minds daily on the truth of the Word of God. God’s Word, His love letter to us, always tells the truth about who Christ is and who we are in Christ!
God’s Word is like a supernatural squeegee that wipes away all of the accumulated lies, accusations and anti-Christ philosophies that have stuck to our minds as we daily traffic in this fallen world. Just like looking through a sparkling clean windshield, when we clean our minds with the Word of God our view of God and our view of who we are in Christ are no longer distorted but once again accurate and clear! So, next time you’re tempted to think of time in God’s Word as simply a good spiritual discipline to do…remember its much, much more than that because the mind is the battlefield and it is either being polluted daily by the world or being redeemed daily by the Word!