Verses For When You Face Discouragement And Hard Times

Verses For When You Face Discouragement And Hard Times

You may have heard the saying: “If a person is breathing, he needs encouragement,” and that can’t be more true.

If you Google “words of encouragement”, you’ll find dozens of websites that offer encouraging words and shareable quotes… but the reality is that most of the encouraging words you’ll find (and what most of what we say to encourage others) are simply skin-deep phrases that give empty hope.

They can be encouraging for a moment, but they don’t last, because they are built on emotions and ideas that easily come and go.

Even the ones that promise more are nothing more than hopeful thoughts because they come from someone who cannot give you more than simply wishing the best for you; they can’t actually do anything about it.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to encourage people by saying “it’s ok, things will turn around” but think about what we’re saying: what if it doesn’t “turn around”?

We live in the present, and none of us can foresee the future.

So, what can bring us a permanent and solid foundation for encouragement?
Or better asked: Who can do this?

The simple answer is: God.

The One Who created everything (Genesis 1:1),
Who breathed stars into existence (Psalm 33:6),
Who holds our very breath in our hands (Job 12:10),
And Who loves us more than we can imagine.

God has the ability to give true encouragement.

So, if you are looking for something to keep your head up,
To get you through a difficult time
To have something in your back pocket (because difficult times will come)
Or you simply want to have encouraging words ready for others…

The Bible is full of truths that we are called to rest in and so there are many more, but here’s just a few of my favorites for you to reflect on.

I’ve broken them into a couple sections based on topic.

God Has A Plan

Sometimes, it’s simply comforting enough to know that none of this is random, but that God (Who loves you very much) sees the pain you’re going through, can relate to it, and has a plan in mind.

This first verse is one of my favorites because it spells out the two most important things:

  1. Our plans, thoughts, and ideas are different from God’s
  2. God’s plan is better (just in case we thought our, different plan was better)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8–9

Your Suffering Isn’t Wasted, God Will Use It

Difficult times and suffering are hard enough, but suffering without a worthwhile purpose or result is even worse.

Think about it this way: If you saved a child from being run over by a car, but you broke your arm in the process, most of us would say it’s worth it. But if you suddenly woke up one day with a broken arm, that would be much harder to deal with. It’s the same pain and inconvenience, but one of them felt worth it.

In the same way, when we suffer in life, God tells us that everything we go through will be worth it in the end. We don’t see how now, but He tells us to trust Him, and that in the light of eternity we will see Him use everything we suffered as part of a worthwhile plan…

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2–4

“If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.”

2 Corinthians 1:6

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

2 Corinthians 4:17

Don’t Give Up, Keep Trusting God

The most important thing is to simply keep going. Emotions and feelings will come and go and discouraging times are temporary. As the saying goes, “Don’t trade what you know about God for what you don’t know about what He’s doing.” Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. I’ve personally been through some extremely discouraging times but have seen the worthwhile result of continuing to do what I know is right even when that’s the last thing I want to do.

This first verse was actually sent to us by 2 different people in the same day during a time when my wife and I were going through a very difficult season in our lives (thankfully, not difficult towards each-other, but outside factors) and so it has remained particularly encouraging to me and I hope it is to you as well.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

These next verses form one of my favorite passages of scripture to look to when I need encouragement. It is such a beautifully sounding verse and so inspiring, but when you look at the situation he’s describing, it’s terrible.

Habakkuk is painting a picture of starvation and hopelessness. There is no food for today (no “fruit on the vines”), there is no harvest on the horizon (fig trees would blossom before producing their fruit), and there’s not any hope of new animals being born for food either (no herds in the stalls and the flocks are gone).

Yet, in this “it’s bad, and there’s no chance it will get better” situation, Habakkuk finds it possible to trust God and even find joy in Him. And so can we.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

Habakkuk 3:17–19

God Wants You To Go To Him With Your Problems

This one is most important. We can believe everything correctly, but we can still miss the most important part: God Himself. He wants a relationship with you and you can know everything I’ve written above without ever going to Him or talking to Him about your situation. He is the “God of all comfort” and wants you to come to Him with all your problems.

He might not fix everything going on, but He wants you to go to Him for comfort, strength and provision in the mist of every difficultly and problem in life. He is the Giver of all life and can sustain you even in difficult times.

But you can’t simply know that to receive His grace,
You have to go to Him to receive it.
And He’s waiting for you to do just that.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6–7

May you rest in God and go to Him in the good times and the bad, so that we might live like the “man who trusts in the Lord” that Jeremiah described:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7–8
The Birthday Of a Friend Who Has Passed

The Birthday Of a Friend Who Has Passed

This last Wednesday was the birthday of a friend of mine.

He was one of many recovering drug addicts and homeless who my wife and I invited into our lives when we very first moved down to Florida to help start a church.

For a time, we had a small group of people that met in our apartment. There were a few consistent people and many who would pass through over time. We would also end up spending Christmas mornings and other holidays with them as so few of them had family who live down here.

This friend is one of the first of many who we got to lead to Jesus and help in their recovery and homelessness.

He was the first of those friends to die.
And last Wednesday would have been his birthday.

We’ve thankfully only had one other close friend die from overdose, but for some reason (I don’t know if it’s time of life or something else) I have experienced more family and friend death in the past 7 years than ever before.

He was one of the first.

And when he died, I made a decision to keep his birthday in my calendar, and I’ve chosen to keep this habit with everyone ever since.

Simply Loving People

His birthday held special memories for me, which led to this new habit.

He, like many of the addicts we met down here, rarely got to celebrate his birthday with close friends or family because of his addiction. As we held a small group at our apartment, we held many birthdays and it never ceased to amaze me how much people appreciated it, addicts and non-addicts alike.

In a world where everyone gets well-wishes on Facebook, the simple text or phone call means so much more. And, to actually sit in a room around simple cupcakes and sing ‘happy birthday’, is almost unheard of.

These small birthday celebrations and times together in our home led to many experiencing God’s love and hope in a way I couldn’t have replicated in any other way.

And God used simple moments like these to save multiple people in our very living room, and I’ll never forget them.

The Importance Of Remembering

Part of the reason I keep people’s birthdays in my calendar, even after they have passed, is it helps me remember them, and more importantly, the things I learned from them.

Specifically: many of the people in my calendar remind me that God is not done. So many of them seemed like “lost causes” yet many of them experienced massive life and heart change by the grace of Jesus, and I never want to forget that.

Whether homeless and drug addicted,
“Old” and “Set in their ways,”
Argumentative and seemingly impossible to reason with…

Many of them found Jesus before their last breath.

And it reminds me of the many birthdays in my calendar who are not long gone, but may one day turn to Jesus as well.

Life Is Short

The 3rd and final reason I keep friends’ birthdays in my calendar, even after they’ve passed, is simply this:

It reminds me that tomorrow is not promised.

One day, you and I will breathe our last and will stand before God and eternity. And as David wrote in Psalms:

“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Every month, as I look at the people who used to celebrate birthdays in that month, I am reminded that the things I do today will have an eternal impact, and I don’t know when my story here on earth will end.

And I want my days to count.

You might find my habit weird, but I’m happy I started it. And if nothing else, I hope this reminds you…

To simply love people today,
To keep hope that God can work in even the most desperate situations and people
And to live life to the fullest of God’s calling on your life, because you don’t know when you will meet Him face-to-face.

Receiving Life From Jesus, Unlike The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17–27)

Receiving Life From Jesus, Unlike The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17–27)

A couple weeks ago, I got to teach the older kids class at our church, and as you might guess, our text was Mark 10:17–27 about the Rich Young Ruler. I thought I’d share it with you, so below I’ve put the highlights from our study that we had together…

What must I do?

And as he [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Mark 10:17

It’s pretty obvious that the Rich Young Ruler wants to get to heaven on his own merit. Even his question “what must I do” implies he wants a task to accomplish.

And, he’s not alone, we all like the idea of earning things, and wanting to earn our way to heaven is no exception.

But there’s a major problem: none of us are perfect (Romans 3:23).

And as the young man is going to find out, he can’t get enteral life on his own…

Attaining Perfection

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ”

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Mark 10:18–22

As we read what Jesus tells him, we realize that was Jesus is telling the young man is that he must be perfect to attain eternal life. Jesus begins by reminding him of a few of the 10 commandments listing the standard given by God for perfection.

The young man tells Jesus that he has kept all of the outward commandments and so Jesus then proceeds to remind him of the inward ones.

Notice that Jesus says “You lack one thing”. He goes from the general laws to the specific issue that this man faces.

And here’s why: Money had become this young man’s functional god. He had broken the first commandment: “you shall have no other gods before me”.

In the case of the Rich Young Ruler, his love of money was at least one of the many things that kept him from God’s perfection (and let’s be honest, how many of us would be willing to give up everything we have if Jesus told us to).

But Money Isn’t Even the Real Issue

Jesus never asks anyone else in scripture to completely give up their money (even more on that later). And because of that, we can infer that He was trying to make a point: We can’t earn our way to heaven because we’re all imperfect.

Jesus chose the thing that He knew the man would not give up, and we all have those things, don’t we? We all hold imperfections in our character and hearts that keep us from the perfection that eternal life with God requires.

In fact, money is simply a tangible asset that enables us to hold on to things as our functional savior instead of surrendering to God.

Here’s a few examples of things that money can “give” us so that we hold onto money instead of holding onto God…

Power
Popularity
Fame
Security
Possessions
Freedom
Success
Admiration
The list goes on…

Obviously, money cannot provide any of these things perfectly (that’s kind of the point), but they can become false substitutes for what only God can give us.

We don’t know what the Rich Young Ruler struggled with most, but it’s no denying that money can take on many different roles in our lives and it can easily keep us from having God be our only and first love.

So, What Did Jesus Really Want From The Young Man?

Ultimately, God doesn’t care about our money, possessions or skills. We are imperfect sinners and so the best we can offer is still tainted with sin.

Jesus wanted him to humbly surrender.

He wanted the young man to stop
To realize he couldn’t measure up to God’s perfection
And for him to accept God’s grace.

The young man was created to enjoy a complete and whole relationship with God and to live in a way that reflected God as a result.

Unfortunately, his (and our) sin gets in the way and we become disconnected from God, Who is the Giver of life. And we cannot be reconnected to Him without becoming perfect.

In this passage, Jesus is essentially telling the Rich Young Ruler that he needs to be perfect to “inherit eternal life”. And so Jesus points out an area of imperfection in his life and says it has to be corrected in order for him to earn his way to heaven, all the while knowing that it would be too much for the man to do.

Unfortunately, it’s not even that simple.

In order to earn our relationship back with God, we must be perfect our entire lives: so even if you “clean up” now, it’s already too late!

What Jesus really wanted from this conversation was for the Rich Young Ruler to realize he wasn’t good enough to inherit eternal life and that what he really needed a Savior, just like everyone else.

“Then Who Can Be Saved?”

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”

Mark 10:23-26

After the Rich Young Ruler determines he cannot go to heaven on his own merit, he walks away sorrowful.

Have you ever considered this problem before?

God’s requirement is perfection, and there is no way that you or I are meeting that.

For many of us, just like him, this is the end of the story.

If only he had stayed a little longer.

Because after he left, Jesus told His disciples that it is extremely difficult for wealthy people to enter the kingdom of heaven. And He then follows it up with comparing it to a camel going through the eye of a needle (which is not going to happen).

Their response is what we should all ask: “then who can be saved?”

And that is a very good question.

**Please note that when Jesus said it’s difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God, He is not saying that it’s wrong to be rich. What I believe Jesus was getting at is that when you are rich, you are all the more able to hide behind and hold onto the things in your heart that separate you from relying on God. It’s simply harder to choose to surrender and trust God as first in your life when you have such a tangible ability to “trust in yourself” for all of life’s needs and problems. Jesus is merely saying that it is a natural roadblock to salvation, not that it is wrong to be rich.**

What Jesus Offers Us (And The Rich Young Ruler)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Mark 10:27

If only the young man had stuck around.

He had finally come to the end of himself.
He had finally realized that he could not earn eternal life.
He had tried his hardest,
And when he realized that wasn’t good enough,
He figured that was the end of it.
(After all, he was rich and probably didn’t ask for help often)

But he had forgotten about the only One Who could really help.

He Had Forgotten About God.

The Rich Young Ruler, unfortunately, left before Jesus had a chance to remind Him that God’s grace is an option for Him to inherit eternal life.

What’s a little ironic, is that the Rich Young Ruler wanted to know what he could do to “inherit eternal life” when an inheritance is far from earned.

To inherit eternal life, you merely have to become an heir. In this case, an heir of God.

And we once were heirs,
Until sin entered the world and our hearts.
From then on out we were separated from God,
And removed from His inheritance.

There is nothing we can do,
as the Rich Young Ruler found out.

We can’t offer God a complete and perfect heart and life.

But what the Rich Young Ruler missed was this:

There was something God could, and would, do.
To give us the inheritance we could not earn ourselves.
And He was standing right in front of him.

As part of His Salvation plan,
Jesus would take His rightful inheritance,
And would trade it for our lack of inheritance.

The Rich Young Ruler (and all of us as well) wanted to earn his way, but as Paul wrote in Romans “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And that’s not a good wage.

But in that same verse we learn that “the grace of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23).

You want to earn eternal life?
Sorry, that ship has sailed.
That’s not going to happen.

But are you willing to receive it?

Are you willing to accept God’s free gift through His Son?
That Jesus paid your price,
That Jesus accepted the wages for your sin,
And that Jesus gave you His rightful inheritance?

Then you can receive, you can inherit, eternal life.

What Happens If We Receive This Free Gift?

If you accept Jesus’ free gift of life, there’s a few things that happen.

  1. He gives His Spirit to be inside of you (and every receiver), to be with you, and to transform you to be more like Him. Remember, we were created to worship God, be in relationship with Him, and reflect Him in our lives. By receiving Jesus’ free gift of eternal life, your eternal life starts now. Instead of waiting for eternity, God wants to start now. He wants you to be close to Him, now.
  2. As you continue to rely on His grace for your inheritance, and on His Spirit for your daily life, you will supernaturally become more like Him. These changes will take place in personal inward thoughts and desires, and also in your outward actions and words. This is a continuation of the first part as mentioned earlier that our relationship and closeness to God is what continues to transform us to be more like Him.

And there is no better example for this story than the rich man who was saved shortly after this passage.

In Luke 19:1-10, we meet Zacchaeus who is not only a rich person, but clearly an unethical one as he was a chief tax collector. To spare you the details, he essentially gets saved and tells Jesus he’s going to repay everyone back what he has stolen from them and essentially obey the Hebrew law that God put in place.

He’s not giving away all his wealth. He’ll actually probably still be fairly wealthy when he’s done.

Yet he is saved, while the other wasn’t.

It’s because his salvation didn’t come from his work,
It came from receiving Jesus’ grace.

Zacchaeus received Jesus’ message of repentance and forgiveness and was transformed because of it.

Is he perfect?
No.

But he was saved, has been given eternal life and now is being transformed by God from the inside out.

Did he give away all he had?
No.

But he joyfully gave back what he had stolen, and I am sure that if he remained in Jesus’ grace and love, he continued to joyfully give, love and surrender in many areas of life, including his finances.

The Difference Between The Two Rich Men

In these passages we saw two rich men.

The first wanted to earn his eternal life.
The second realized it was a free gift.

The first desired to earn an inheritance by being perfect himself.
The second was given an inheritance through Jesus’ perfection.

The first could not be perfect and walked away to continue earning his wage of death.
The second received eternal life and began living a generous and love filled life that reflected the great gift he had been given.

The first left feeling like his life was probably over.
The second left feeling like his life was just beginning.

Which do you feel like today?
Which do you want to be like?

The Prayer Of Salvation

To close this post, I wanted to remind you of another rich man who found eternal life in one of Jesus’ parables. In the chapter previous in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells of a tax collector who went to the temple to pray and left righteous. Here is all he prayed:

“…the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Luke 18:13

Do you have that same prayer of repentance and humility?
Do you hold to that same mercy that God offers us through Jesus?

It’s your only way to eternal life.


If you already know Jesus, then reflect back on His grace and come back to those first joys of salvation. We all tend to drift away from that feeling and mindset, and it is important to draw near again.

If you don’t already know Jesus, please contact me with any questions you have about what it means to be forgiven for sins, have enteral life, and to know and follow Jesus.

The Love Of God

The Love Of God

A little over a year ago, I was awoken around 7am on a Sunday morning and was asked if I could preach last minute at church that morning. It was sudden and unexpected so I had to immediately go to God and ask Him what He would have for that fated morning.

As I was reflected on various truths and Bible passages I was brought to a very simple, yet often overlooked one, and I knew it was needed:

The Love of God.

The Love of God is a theme I’ve revisited many times and is one that I have to remind myself of often and I felt I should share it with you as well.

Although we live in a culture that has devalued and misconstrued love as something you feel or an undirected affirmation of anything someone else wants, God’s love towards us is an undying care an affection that we could study our entire lives and never reach it’s depths or expanse.

One of my favorite hymns describes God’s love this way…

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry Nor could the scroll contain the whole Though stretched from sky to sky

That verse paints such a vivid picture of how we cannot fully understand or appreciate the vast love of God.

But we can certainly try.

And so I have tried to make the habit of taking 5-10 minutes a day to simply reflect on the love of God, and I invite you to join me.

I’ve written some verses below for you to simply read through, To slow down, And simply think about God’s love and care for you.

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"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” – Deuteronomy 7:9

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15

"Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:26

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:9–13

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:37–39

"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.” – Ephesians 2:4–5

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” – 1 John 3:1

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins..” – 1 John 4:9–10

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6–7

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

Embracing A Lifestyle Of Confessing Sin And Repentance (Part 2)

Embracing A Lifestyle Of Confessing Sin And Repentance (Part 2)

In case you missed last week’s post, you can read part one at this link: "Embracing A Lifestyle Of Confessing Sin And Repentance”

I never intended for this to be a two-parter, but as I was thinking and praying more about this topic, I realized I left it off improperly.

So let’s back up…

It’s incredible how difficult it is to write on a topic like confessing sin. As I wrote the past blog and now writing this one, I’m constantly pausing to wonder what else I should be confessing or repenting over.

Even worse than that, I have the dread that someone will come to me with something I’m completely unaware of (or worse, that they’ll just hold on to it bitterly while I sit here unaware).

But it was while I thought about these things, I realized I had completely missed one of the most important pieces in my last post.

Encouraging us to actually do it.

The last post pretty much left it as an important thought and something to reflect on, but did you realize that this is something we need to act on right now.

Jesus told us that this is so important that we should even pause our worship to reconcile with those who we have sinned against:

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23–24

Jesus is basically saying that nothing is more important than your confession of sin and repentance.

Even if you find yourself presenting worship to God He would rather you confess your sin against someone else and reconcile with them And then come back to worship Him.

So, are you going to do it?

Do you have someone in mind that you haven’t confessed sin to and asked forgiveness from?

Now is the time.

Text them. Call them. Meet with them.

Repent of sin, And worship God in His forgiveness.

As we were made to do.

Embracing A Lifestyle Of Confessing Sin And Repentance (Part 1)

Embracing A Lifestyle Of Confessing Sin And Repentance (Part 1)

“Confessing sin” sounds so intense doesn’t it?

It brings up images (for me, at least) of a catholic confessional or your final words with a priest when on death row.

But, it’s not suppose to be so distant in the life of a Christian, is it?

We see confession and repentance as an important act all throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament with the entire sacrificial system and lifestyle ordained by God – and even Jesus Himself confirming this for Christians as His primary message was a call for us to repent of sin and turn to Him for forgiveness (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:5).

(And, note that repentance absolutely confirms confessing sin, as without confession, you have nothing to repent for.)

This is later confirmed in Acts where the primary message of the church to unbelievers is to “repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19).

All of these examples show that we need to confess and repent of our sins for salvation, but why should we repent of sins after we’re saved?

Repentance as a lifestyle

Ongoing repentance in a Christian’s life is such an important topic that it was the first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses:

“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

As Luther pointed out, scripture points to a daily/frequent repentance – not just a single repentance to become a Christian.

This is alluded to in the sacrificial system laid out in the Old Testament where there were times of “whole covering” sacrifices, but then there were also “trespass” offerings and other types that were done on an “as needed” basis.

Now, as Christians, we do not have a need for a sacrifice to be made beyond what Jesus has already done, His work on the cross as our sacrifice is complete and forever. However, we are told to continue to confess and repent of sin in our lives because, although we have been made righteous before God, we are still imperfect in our actions.

We see this lifestyle as described in James 5:16 where James writes:

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16

And also 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.” – 1 John 1:9

These are not descriptions of repentance for salvation, but for the daily struggles of sin we still have even though we are saved.

So, why is ongoing repentance important?

The obvious question is “why is ongoing repentance important”? If this is not repentance for salvation, then why would God tell us to do this?

I think there are a lot of good reasons for this, but here are the two most important factors I can think of:

1. Confession and repentance keep us focused on the Gospel and the ongoing grace and mercy of Jesus in our lives

Think about it this way: without ongoing repentance, it would be dangerously easy to grow prideful in our salvation. It would be all too easy to think that we have life together and that although the Gospel was something we needed “back then” we don’t need God’s grace for today.

Repentance is the quickest way to bring ourselves back to the reality that we are imperfect, in need of a Savior and that we need God even for our every breath.

And, as a side-note, having a constant reminder of our need for God’s grace is the only surefire way to keep us humble, which is by far the best way for us to live life, since we are told multiple times in scripture that God “Opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 29:23, Matthew 23:12, Luke 1:52, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)

2. Confession and repentance bring a constant reminder of who we are and who God is making us to be

Or put another way: when we have an active life of confession and repentance, it helps us recalibrate and realign with God’s will and plan for our life.

Think about it this way: without ongoing repentance, God might never work out the character flaws or other “rough edges” from of your life. Although the Gospel brings about our justification, it is also meant to bring about our sanctification (our becoming more like Jesus).

Paul actually wrote to Titus specifically reminding him that the Gospel was meant to bring about our salvation and to transform us into a people who “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-14).

God wants us to grow in holiness and Christ-likeness, and this will not happen without the ongoing confession and repentance of sin and shortcomings as God reveals them to us in our lives.

An awesome (and surprising) side benefit of confessing sin and repenting

About a year ago, I remember reading about a study that had been done by the Barna group on what brought about the most evangelistic change in Christians. They were looking to see what could be done in churches today to help the average Christian share the Gospel more frequently in their day to day lives.

And do you know what they found?

It wasn’t how many Bible studies attended
It wasn’t how involved they were in church
Or if they were part of a small group.

The factor that caused the most amount of evangelistic growth in groups of Christians was simply an increase in confessing sin to one another and repenting of their sin.

Isn’t that crazy???

The two seem so unrelated… but are they really?

Because, as we make a purposeful choice to confess sin more frequently…
We are actively choosing to remind ourselves that the Gospel is for us, today…
And as we engage with and are humbled by the Gospel for ourselves
How could we not increase our sharing the Gospel with others?

I think what we so often lack, as Christians, is that we believe the cross, our repentance and the Gospel was for yesterday. It was for “back when I really needed Jesus”.

But when we remember that we need Jesus today.
And we come to Jesus with our sin, today
We will be more humble,
More joyful
More engaged with His mercies
And, of course

We won’t be able to brush by those around us without telling them about this good news that we are experiencing today.

Not yesterday.
Good news, today.

So, may you refresh your hearts in God’s Gospel, grace and mercy, today.

Whether you’ve been saved 1 day, or 100 years, you can enjoy the Good News just as much as you did when you were first saved. And I guarantee you, that when you do, you’ll have a deeper passion and desire to tell others of this great love you’ve found in Jesus.

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