Gospel Encouragement For Everyday Life

Worth Reading–May 17, 2012

This is good stuff from Jared Wilson.

How Do You Know When Someone Is Truly Repentant?: 12 Signs
By Jared Wilson

How do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance:

“A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: would the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships.” (p. 72)

These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more.

Here are 12 signs we have a genuinely repentant heart:

1. We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

2. We actually confessed before we were caught or the circumstantial consequences of our sin caught up with us.

3. If found out, we confess immediately or very soon after and “come clean,” rather than having to have the full truth pulled from us. Real repentance is typically accompanied by transparency.

4. We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

5. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

6. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

7. We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

8. We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever).

9. If our sin involves addiction or a pattern of behavior, we do not neglect to seek help with a counselor, a solid twelve-step program, or even a rehabilitation center.

10. We don’t resent accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

11. We seek our comfort in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not simply in being free of the consequences of our sin.

12. We are humble and teachable.

“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”

– 2 Corinthians 7:9-11


Worth Reading–May 16, 2012

Even if you’re not into Twitter, I bet you’ll still find this pretty interesting. This is a great quick overview of a great book of the Bible.

The Book of 1 Corinthians in 40 Tweets.
By Jonathan Parnell

Crosses were dark in First Century Rome. Crucifixion was a horrific execution method reserved for the lowliest criminals. And yet, Paul writes his letter to the church in Corinth and organizes his theology and entire ministry around this object of shame.

In God’s wisdom the cross has become the place, as D. A. Carson explains, where “God has supremely destroyed all human arrogance and pretension.” (The Cross and Christian Ministry, 15). Indeed, this message is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who believe, the cross is the power of God.

1 Corinthians is a book about the cross. And like with Romans, we’ve tried to summarize the book in a series of tweets that we’ll be posting on Twitter throughout the day. As long as we’ve got social media, let’s use it to help one another live in the power of the cross, a day at a time.

Here’s one shot:

1 Corinthians 1
The church is those in every place who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (#1Cor 1:1–3)

We’re waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. God will sustain us to the end, guiltless. He will. He is faithful. (#1Cor 1:4–9)

By the name of Jesus, agree with one another. Don’t have divisions. Be united in the same mind and same judgment. (#1Cor. 1:10–17)

The word of the cross is folly to those perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (#1Cor 1:18–25)

Our life in Christ’s is God’s doing. There’s no room for boasting. He made Jesus our everything. (#1Cor 1:26–31)

1 Corinthians 2
Our message is Jesus and him crucified. Here’s where the Spirit’s power is seen and why our faith is in God, not man. #1Cor 2:1–5

We have received the Spirit of God so that we understand his word. We have the mind of Christ. #1Cor 2:6–16

1 Corinthians 3
Some servants plant the word, some water, but only God gives the growth. Only God brings people to life. #1Cor 3:1–15

Why would you ever boast in man? All things are yours. The whole world, life, death, present, future. Yours! And you God’s! #1Cor 3:16–23

1 Corinthians 4
What do you have you did not receive? And if you received it then why would you ever boast like you did it yourself? #1Cor 4:1–7

The kingdom of God isn’t made up of endless chatter and grumbling. It consists of power. Power. #1Cor 4:8–21

1 Corinthians 5
The church is a body of regenerate believers who walk in step with the gospel, together. #1Cor 5:1–13

1 Corinthians 6
We were all immoral pagans. Lost. But God washed, sanctified, and justified us in the name of Jesus and by his Spirit. #1Cor 6:1–11

God made us the temple of his Spirit. We’re not our own! We were bought with a price! So let us glorify him with our bodies. #1Cor 6:12–20

1 Corinthians 7
God has gifted his people in different ways. If you’re single, it’s good to be single. But it might be best you marry. #1Cor 7:1–9

Be intentional for Jesus’ sake in whatever situation the Lord has called you. #1Cor 7:10–24

Stay single if you can. Marry if you must. The present form of this world is passing away. #1Cor 7:25–40

1 Corinthians 8
There is one God, the Father, from whom and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. #1Cor 8:1–6

To sin against your brother or sister is to sin against Jesus. Do not make them stumble. Jesus died for them. #1Cor 8:7–13

1 Corinthians 9
Comfort is worth sacrificing if it means tearing down obstacles out of the way of the gospel. #1Cor 9:1–14

It is our reward to freely proclaim the gospel. For the gospel’s sake, for our joy, we make ourselves everyone’s servants. #1Cor 9:15–27

1 Corinthians 10
Don’t desire evil. Realize that OT stories were written for our sake — we on whom the end of the ages has come. #1Cor 10:1–12

God is faithful and he always provides a way of escape. He makes you able to endure temptation. So flee idolatry! #1Cor 10:13–22

In everything you do, eating or drinking or whatever, do all for God’s glory, giving up your comfort so others may be saved. #1Cor 10:23–33

1 Corinthians 11
God made men and women dependent on one another. Woman was man from man and man is born from woman. #1Cor 11:1–16

The Lord’s table is to remember him. When you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim his death until he comes. #1Cor. 11:17–34

1 Corinthians 12
There are lots of gifts, but the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God—gifts given to the body for the common good. #1Cor 12:1–11

The members are together. If one suffers, all do. If one rejoices, all do. #1Cor 12:12–30

Yes, earnestly desire the higher gifts. But there is still a more excellent way… #1Cor 12:31

1 Corinthians 13
We can have the most amazing gifts imaginable, but if we don’t have love, we gain nothing. #1Cor 13:1–3

Church, this is what we’re called to: Love. It bears and hopes and endures all things. It never ends. #1Cor 13:4–13

1 Corinthians 14
The point of spiritual gifts is building up the church, not drawing attention to yourself. Strive to build up the church! #1Cor 14:1–40

1 Corinthians 15
First importance: Jesus died for our sins, was buried, then raised on the third day. All in accordance with the Scriptures. #1Cor 15:1–11

Church, if Jesus has not been raised from the dead then we are all wasting our time. #1Cor 15:12–19

The end will come. Jesus will reign over all and deliver the kingdom to the Father. God will be all in all. #1Cor 15:20–34

Just like we’ve borne the image of the man of dust (Adam), we will one day bear the image of the man of heaven (Jesus). #1Cor 15:35–49

Death, where is your victory? Where is it? Thanks be to God! He has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. #1Cor 15:50–57

Because of this victory in Jesus over death, be steadfast, immovable. Abound in your work in the Lord. It’s not in vain. #1Cor 15:58

1 Corinthians 16
Be watchful. Stand firm in the faith. Men be men. Let all you do be done in love. #1Cor 16:1–20

Maranatha, Lord Jesus! May his grace be with you all. #1Cor 16:21–22

Worth Reading–March 15, 2012

Here’s another great prayer from Scotty Smith.

A Prayer for Trusting Jesus
By Scotty Smith

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 143:8
Dear Lord Jesus, in the morning, at mid-day, in the afternoon and throughout the night, keep on bringing us word of your unfailing love. That’s all we need, that’s all we really need. By the Holy Spirit, incessantly gossip the gospel in the deepest chambers of our souls. Wrap the good news of your endless affections around our hearts, tighter and tighter and tighter. Permeate every bit of our being with your fresh mercies, steadfast love and transforming grace, for we have put our trust in you.
Jesus, it’s the assurance of your unfailing love which enables us to trust you with the transitions we go through in life and the uncertainties about the future. Change is never easy. Change makes us feel vulnerable and insecure. Change makes us idolize the “old days” and fear the coming days.
We get tempted, once again, to be our own savior. We run to our “broken cisterns” for water (Jer. 2:13); we try walking by the light our own torches (Isa. 50:11); or trust in wanna-be gods that are not God (Exodus 20:3). Spare us that misery, Jesus, spare us and those we love. May your Word dwell in us richly and your peace rule in us powerfully; and may your glory be our main passion and delight.
We’ve entrusted our lives to you, Jesus, because you alone are trustworthy. We’ve given you our sins, wounds, brokenness and weakness. Now, in fresh surrender, we give you our planning for the next season of our lives. Show us the way we should go through our transitions—transitions of age and stage; career and calling; health and finances; relationships and ministries. Write stories of redemption beyond our wildest dreams and hopes. It’s all about you, Jesus, not us, but you. It always has been and always will be about you.
We’re not so arrogant as to expect all the details about the next season. Just take us by the hand and lead the way. Shepherd us, Jesus, open doors we cannot shut and shut doors we cannot open. All we need to know is that you love us, that you’re in control and that you’re with us. You’ve promised us all three, and you’ve never lied. So very Amen we pray, in your peerless and priceless name.

Worth Reading–May 14, 2012

This is helpful encouragement from Casey Cease.

Just Do It
By Casey Cease

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23–24

Have you ever had a day, week, month, or year where you’ve felt stuck? (Or maybe you feel like this all the time?) Whether it be vocationally, spiritually, or relationally, you just feel like things aren’t moving along as they should. We’ve all been there. The question is, how do you get out of those seasons?

The other day I went to help a friend get his yard in order because he was feeling overwhelmed by it. Some time had passed from the last time he did yard work, for sure, but it wasn’t all that bad. However, the task seemed daunting to him, because he felt stuck. This experience caused me to reflect on times when I have felt overwhelmed or stuck, which has happened several times in the past.

Here are a few things to remember when you are feeling stuck and some things to help you become unstuck:

1. Remember Whose You Are.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have been purchased, adopted, and identified with Christ. As followers of Jesus we need to remember that we are called to freedom (Galatians 5:1, 13) and not slavery. This freedom enables us to become unstuck.

2. Admit That You’re Stuck.
We were made to be in relationship with other people. For followers of Jesus, we’ve been called to live in community with one another. Confess your stuck-ness to God and to those around you who will love you, pray for you, and if necessary, hold you accountable.

3. Set Realistic Goals.
If you have some chores or tasks that need to get done, create a list or checklist. I like to use a free service called Do.com for this, but regular old pen and paper work just fine, too. If you haven’t read your Bible in months, then setting a goal of reading it for three hours is not realistic. If your entire house needs to be deep cleaned but you only have an hour, then pick one room. If your house is a total disaster, then start by cleaning the room used least, so that it will stay cleaner long. Setting realistic goals will help you experience some momentum and help you to not become discouraged.

4. Just Do Something.
A lot of times, when we are feeling stuck, we end up not doing anything. That’s almost always the worst solution to this problem. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to find something constructive to do and do it. For those who are “waiting on the Lord” (there are certainly situations for this, but a lot of people use this as an excuse to cover up their laziness), they need to realize that there is a lot that they should still be doing (i.e. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission). I really enjoyed a book by Kevin DeYoung called—wait for it—Just Do Something.

5. Ask for Help.
There is no shame in asking for help. Perhaps you need to hire someone, delegate a project, or you just need to ask some people in your community for help. After all, most of the time, our pride keeps us from asking for help, and we all know that that only hurts us.

The good news about the gospel of Jesus is that he meets us where we are, but also refuses to leave us there. You have the opportunity and the power to get unstuck. So what are you waiting for?

Worth Reading–May 11, 2012

I found this on Kevin DeYoung’s blog. It is really, really good.

Jesus Is What the Old Testament Promised Him to Be
By Kevin DeYoung

Last Sunday evening, Ben Falconer, our excellent associate pastor, preached a sermon called “Immanuel” on Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and promise. He concluded the sermon with a worshipful list of all that Jesus is.

He is the promised seed of Adam who would crush Satan’s head (Gen. 3:15).

He is the descendent of Abraham through whom every nation on earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).

He is the son of Judah, who reigns eternally as king, whose garments are washed in the blood of grapes, and whose hand is on the neck of his enemies (Gen. 49:8-12).

He is the Passover Lamb who was slain to protect God’s people from the Angel of Death (Exod. 12).

He is the greater son of Israel who came out of Egypt, and He is the great redeemer who brings his people out of a bondage and slavery that is far worse than anything the Israelites experienced there (Exod. 12-14).

He is the true bread from heaven that actually nourishes and feeds his people (Exod. 16).

He is the Rock from whom the only life-giving water flows (Exod. 17).

He is the fulfillment of the Law, perfectly obeying not only the 10 Commandments, but all 613 from the day of his birth (Exod. 20).

He is the One through whom we enter into our lasting Sabbath rest, not just for one day out of seven, but for every day from now through all eternity (Exod. 23:10-12).

He is our great High Priest who offers his very body as an atonement for the sins of his people (Exod. 28-29).

He is the radiance of God, the exact representation of his being, and is the very presence and glory of God among his people, even more than the ark or the pillars of cloud and fire (Exod. 40:34-38).

He is the once for all sacrifice that God offered on the altar on the Day of Atonement on Calvary, and at the same time he is the scape goat that was sent out of God’s presence into the wilderness on account of the sin that he bore (Lev. 16).

He is like the bronze serpent that was lifted up and when people look to him in faith, they find forgiveness and healing (Num. 21).

He is the star that shall come out of Jacob, and the scepter that comes out of Israel (Num. 24:17).

He is a city of refuge for guilty sinners to run into and find shelter (Num. 34).

He gives us every blessing for his obedience to God’s perfect commands, and he paid the price for the curse we deserved for our every disobedience (Deut. 28).

He leads his redeemed people into the Promised Land where they will dwell with him forever (Joshua 3).

He is our conquering warrior, victorious over the powers of sin and death (Joshua 5).

He is the righteous judge and savior who never fails to defend and protect his people when they repent and turn back to him (Judges 2).

He is the offspring of David whose kingdom has been established forever (2 Sam. 7).

He is the very temple of God, which though destroyed was raised again in 3 days (1 Kings 8; 2 Chron. 3).

He is our chief prophet and teacher who restores true religion by calling us away from our idols to return to the One True God (1 Kings 18).

He is leading a remnant out of Babylon back to the Holy Land (Ezra 7).

He is Job’s hope and ours because we know that our Redeemer lives and at the last he will stand upon the earth (Job 19:25).

He is the eternally begotten Son of the Lord Most High, whom kings fear in his anger, and who blesses those who take refuge in him (Psalm 2).

He was for a time forsaken by God on the cross, so that those who are found in him might never be rejected (Psalm 22). And yet, his body did not see corruption, because, as David sang, God did not abandon him to Sheol, but raised him physically with an incorruptible body (Psalm 16).

He is the shepherd of his sheep, who restores the soul of his fold and leads us in paths of righteousness (Psalm 23).

He purges us with a cleanser much stronger than anything the hyssop branch can spatter on us—he washes us clean in his very blood so that we might be whiter than snow (Psalm 51).

At his command the angels would bear him up lest his foot strike a stone, yet he did not call on their aid, but welcomed the cup the Lord had for him to drink (Psalm 91).

He is the greater Son of David who will sit at Yahweh’s right hand until all his enemies are as footstools, and is the priest forever in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110).

He is the Word of God incarnate, and the only lamp for our path (Psalm 119).

He is the very wisdom of God made manifest in the flesh (Proverbs).

He is the only purpose in life that matters (Ecclesiastes).

Jesus is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley, and he is the husband who brings his beloved to the banqueting table and who satisfies her fully in his love (Song of Songs 2).

He is the sign to Ahaz, one named Immanuel and born to a virgin (Isaiah 7).

He is the great light shining to a people walking in darkness, coming out of Galilee of the nations; He is the child born who is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, and on the throne of David and over his kingdom, he will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9).

He is the shoot coming from the stump of Jesse, and righteousness will be the belt of his waist. During his reign, the wolf will dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11).

In his coming, the glory of the Lord is revealed and all flesh shall see it together (Isaiah 40).

He is the Lord’s servant, in whom his soul delights, and with whom he is very well pleased (Isaiah 42).

He is Israel’s only savior and besides him there is no other (Isaiah 43).

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. He is the one who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we were healed (Isaiah 53).

He is anointed by the Lord to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound. He proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; and he comforts all who mourn (Isaiah 61).

He creates the new heavens and the new earth and he will dwell with his people there forever (Isaiah 65).

He is the balm in Gilead that heals the sin-sick soul; he is the great physician who restores the health of his people (Jer. 8).

He is the Righteous Branch from David who will deal wisely and execute justice and righteousness in the land (Jeremiah 23).

He drinks the cup of the wine of the wrath of God so that his people will be spared (Jer. 25).

He ushers in the new covenant in his blood, a covenant written on the hearts of his people, and marked by his forgiveness of our sin (Jer. 31).

He is the very manifestation of the never-ceasing steadfast love of God. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; for great is his faithfulness (Lam. 3).

He brings life to dead men’s bones; by his Spirit he causes breath to come where death had reigned (Ezek. 37).

He is the Son of Man whom the Ancient of Days gives all dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, and that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion (Dan. 7).

He is the merciful husband who takes back his unfaithful wife, and allows us to once again call him “My husband” rather than “My Baal” (Hosea 1-3).

He brings the Day of the Lord, which will be a day of great terror and judgment for all who do not know him, but everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2).

He is the ruler from Bethlehem Ephrathah, whose origin is of old, from ancient days (Micah 5).

He arrived as king in Jerusalem righteous and having salvation, yet he was humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech. 9).

He is the refiner’s fire and the fuller’s soap, refining us like gold and silver (Mal. 3).

He is the sun of righteousness, who will rise with healing in his wings, and as a result of what he has done, we, like calves, will go out leaping from our stalls (Mal. 4).

Jesus Christ is the only remedy for the infinite gap between our Holy God and sinful humanity. He is the only bridge from one side to the other. He is the only hope for every downcast soul. He is the only comfort for our sorrow. He is the only healing for our diseased hearts. He is our only true joy in a world full of fleeting pleasures. He is the reason for our existence and we exist to give him praise. So set your heart and your mind and your soul and your strength on him and give him worship.

Praise God. Let us worship and bow down.

Worth Reading–May 10, 2012

Here are some wise words from David Murray.

4 Reasons to Remember Your Creator in Your Youth
By David Murray

Our enemy says, “Youth for pleasure, middle age for business, old age for religion.” The Bible says, “Youth, middle age, and old age for your Creator.”

But as it’s especially in our youth that we are most inclined (determined?) to forget our Creator, it’s especially in these years that we must work to remember our Creator (Ecc.12:1). Remember that He made you, that He provides for you, that He cares for you, that He watches you, that He controls you; and remember that He can save you too. That’s a lot to remember, but it’s much easier to start memorizing when we are young!

1. Energetic years

However, that’s not the only reason why God commands us to remember our Creator in our young years. It’s also because these are our most energetic years.

Why wait until we are pegging out, until we are running down, until our gas is almost empty, before serving our Creator? The God who made us deserves our most active and healthy years: our bodies are strong and muscular (well kind of), our minds are sharp and clear, our senses are receptive and keen and sensitive, our enthusiasm is bright and bushy, our wills are steely and determined. Remember Him in your energetic years.

2. Sensitive years

Why do far more of us become Christians in our youth than in our middle or old age? It’s because youthful years are sensitive years. Without giving up our belief in “Total Depravity” we can say that it’s “easier” to believe and repent when we are younger. It’s never easy, but it’s easier. And it’s easier because as we get older our heart is hardened thicker, our conscience is seared number, our sins root deeper, our deadness becomes deader.

Let’s use our youthful sensitivity and receptivity to remember our Creator before the evil days of callous indifference set in.

3. Teachable years

We learn more in our youth than in any other period of life. That’s true in all subjects, but especially true in religious instruction. All the Christians I’ve met who were converted to Christ late in life have expressed huge regrets about how little they know and how little they can now learn. I encourage them to value and use whatever time the Lord gives them, but they often feel they have to study twice as hard to learn half as well.

4. Dangerous years

Young years are minefield years: hormones, peer pressure, alcohol, drugs, pornography, immorality, testosterone, etc. Few navigate these years without blowing up here and there. Dangers abound on every side – and on the inside. How many “first” temptations become “last” temptations! How much we need our Creator to keep us and carry us through this battlefield.

Remember to remember

Let me then give you some helps to remember your Creator during these best of years (and “worst” of years):

Be persuaded that you have a Creator: Get well grounded in a literal understanding of Genesis 1-2 and shun all evolutionary influences.
Get to know your Creator: Study His Word using sermons, commentaries, and good books. But also study His World using microscopes and telescopes and any other instruments He gives.
Join with your Creator’s friends: Build friendships with other creatures that love to remember and respect their Creator.
Follow your Creator’s order: He set and gave the pattern of six days work followed by one day of rest for contemplation of His Works.
Ask for your Creator’s salvation: Even if your rejection of your Creator has broken you in pieces, He’s willing to re-create you in His image.
And while we’re on the subject of salvation, I don’t want elderly readers to be discouraged. Compared to the aeons of eternity, you are still in your “youth.” It’s not too late to remember Him, before these evil days come even nearer.

Worth Reading–May 9, 2012

Here, David Fairchild helps us talk to ourselves about the gospel.

Gospel Diagnostic Questions
By David Fairchild

Preaching the gospel to ourselves and to others is an art all of us must grow in if we seek real, lasting change in our lives. It is often assumed that the gospel is only for those who have not yet trusted Christ. This is a faulty view of the gospel and limits its work to a personal salvation experience rather than the explosive power and catalytic dynamic for renewal in our hearts on a continuous basis.

To sum up, the life of the Christian is one of continual repentance and belief, without which we slip into a boss/employee, earn/wage, work/rights relationship with our God.

It then becomes the loving responsibility for each of us to run gospel diagnostics to determine whether or not what motivates our heart and lives is “in step” with the gospel (Gal. 2:14).

Here are twenty gospel questions to ask ourselves:

(1) What is my greatest nightmare? What do I worry about most?

(2) What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live? What keeps me going?

(3) What do I rely on to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?

(4) What do I think about most easily? Where does my mind go to when I am free? What pre-occupies me?

(5) What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?

(6) What makes me feel the most self-worth? What am I the proudest of?

7) What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?

(8) What position of authority do I desire to give me a sense of power?

9) Whose opinion of me do I hold so dear that if lost I would be undone?

(10) What type of financial loss or gain would change my sense of security?

(11) What one criticism would cause me to respond in anger (wife, children, work, ministry, family, friends, etc.)? What am I most touchy about when brought to my attention?

(12) If I had ______________, then I’d be truly happy and feel as if my life has meaning and value.

13) If I lost ______________, I would be undone.

(14) I’m impatient because I’m ____________.

(15) I’m critical because I’m _____________.

(16) I’m angry because I’m _____________.

(17) I’m unhappy because I’m ____________.

(18) I’m in despair because I’m ____________.

(19) I have hope because I’m ___________.

(20) I feel worthy because I’m ___________.

These are only a few questions to help us be truthful with ourselves about the gospel. There is no benefit answering these questions with the “right” answers at the expense of the “true” answers (how we really feel and think).

It is only when the “true” answers come to light that the “right” answers will have any power.

We must spend time excavating our idols by asking these questions. When we sin, we do so because some idol has promised us power, prestige, influence, joy, peace, satisfaction, security, pleasure, etc. – that is far more attractive than Christ at the moment. We don’t sin with a gun held to our heads. We sin willingly because it is overwhelmingly appealing.

We need to discover why sins are so appealing by asking these questions and then remind ourselves that idols:

•are weak 
- can’t deliver when you succeed
•can only raise the bar
can’t forgive when you fail
•will only condemn you
•are harmful to you and to others
•hurt you spiritually, emotionally, and physically
hurt others by undermining your ability to love
are grievous to God
By pursuing this idol you are saying to God, “Jesus is not enough. I also need ______ to be happy.”

Our daily struggle is to realign ourselves with the truth of the gospel, to discover new ways to surrender our trust to Christ and grow.