Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Genesis 15 - Your Great Reward

Abram had just relinquished any claim to the bounty he was due for winning the war on terror in his time. Yet God comes to him with the most wonderful message: "do not be afraid, I am your shield, your great reward".

How often do we allow the cares of our lives overshadow the presence of God in our lives? Fears and worry crowd out faith and keep us from experiencing peace that God gives. If we have our trust in God, we have no need for fear; no matter what comes. It won't matter who is President, what economic turmoil, or the daily conflicts that come because of our faith. Our lives are securely held in God's hand.

The second promise is, "I am your shield". God didn't tell Abram there would be no conflict or danger. If there weren't dangers, Abrams fears would be absurd. We all face a largely unknown future, and that future may include dangers and conflicts, but God is the protection for every believer. We can amass wealth, create storm shelters, or build strength to confront any foe, but God is the only one who can truly protect us.

I don't believe that God would have us abandon planning for the future. Remember in the last chapter Abram had over 300 trained men ready for battle. We should continue to prepare for retirement, build our resumes and evaluate risks and establish protections against them - BUT if our faith is solely placed in our own power and our own planning we will be sadly disappointed. God alone knows our future; He owns all the wealth and can direct and redirect at His discretion. Some dangers are greater than anything we can prepare for - and God alone will sustain his children.

Finally, God says that in Him we will find our reward. Pursuing gain is not evil, but the true gain any of us can have is in a relationship with Him. Our faith in Him is credited for righteousness; but all our faith is insufficient apart from the finished work of Jesus Christ in paying the price for our redemption. Our true gain is in Heaven, but look back to the text. Just like an engagement ring is a promise of things to come; so is God's probation for our lives. God addresses the one thing Abram wants most - an heir. It's also part of God's plan as well to show His power to the world through those who would trust Him. An heir was just a foreshadow of the great reward God had in store for Abram.

If you are struggling, there is good news- this is just for a season and there are great rewards for you who trust in God. If you are blessed, there is good news, this is nothing compared with what God has in sore for you. Your reward is great dear Christian - look up for your Redeemer is coming and soon!

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive our short sighted fears and help us to keep our faith and trust in you alone. You alone are able to supply all our needs and we look to you for that future reward. Keep us in your care as we face danger and conflict knowing that our security is wrapped up in You. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Genesis 14 - Entitlements and Planning

In our last chapter, Lot left Abram because if strife that resulted from abundance of possessions. It would have been easy for Abram to be bitter. On the contrary, Abram races to Lot's rescue when his choice led to the loss of both possessions and his freedom. Abram was entitled to respond in kind to Lot but he chose a different plan in advance.

I hope you take the time to read this chapter for yourself; but here is the situation: a controlling dictator had exercised rule over the region until the leaders of the region rebelled against him. War ensues and the dictator captures the people and possessions. Lot was captured along with the possessions he prized. Abram comes to Lot's rescue and defeats the dictator ruler and returns with both people and possessions.

Here are some lessons we can apply:

1. Abram was prepared for the situation. Notice in verse 14 Abram had 318 trained men. Even though he was a herdsman, Abram prepared for the unexpected. They trained- this was not something that happened spontaneously; it was intentional. Whatever situation arose he would be ready. Application: have you considered the potential "situations" that could interrupt your plans and prepared for those? Abram fully trusted God, but he prepared too so that he could be used by God when a new situation was introduced.

2. Abrams attitude. Abram could have stayed home and decided that Lot got what he deserved after the strife he caused and for taking the prime land for himself. But Abram is full of grace. And quick to come to the aid of his nephew. Application: are you prepared to forgive and administer grace to those who have wronged you?

3. Abram assumes personal risk. Abram could have retreated to his prayer closet and asked God to free Lot but Abram did more; he put his own life and the life of his fighting men at risk. Application: will you allow others to suffer while you have your needs met and enjoy security? Abram could have stayed home, but he didn't.

4. Abram's honor of the Priest of the Most High God. Abram offered the first tithe of EVERYTHING. Abram had a personal relationship to God, but in God's deliverance is quick to recognize God's hand at work and gives a tangible offering. Application: are we quick to see God's ordering of events and circumstances in our lives and do we give him the credit and offerings He deserves?

5. Abram's refusal of the spoils. Abram was entitled to take a portion for his service. He was offered ALL the possessions by the King of Sodom but he refused to have a part with a King who no doubt had a reputation for compromise of God's principles. Abram knew God would supply his needs and he didn't need to entangle himself in tainted relationships. Application: will you commit yourself to holy living and refuse the benefits associated with compromise?

6. Abram's predetermined commitment. I believe Abram had predetermined his responses before so that when conflict arose he was prepared with a Godly response. He chose ahead of time to watch out for Lot. He chose ahead of time to prepare for battle and conflict. He chose ahead of time that God would be honored in his life. He chose ahead of time to refuse worldly entanglements.

Today we may be faced with unexpected conflict or blessing from above. Will you choose in advance to honor God no matter what comes?

Dear Heavenly Father, I am humbled to consider the great depths of commitment Abram displayed and the many ways he honored you. I confess that this attitude has not always been my choice, but today I choose to in advance prepare for the unexpected and to honor you with my words, my attitudes and my actions. Please keep me from worldly entanglements even as I choose to turn away from them. Even in my commitment, I need your wisdom and your strength. I look to you today to fulfill your work in me. In Jesus' name I pray.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Genesis 13 - Mine, Mine, Mine

Affluence brings with it a whole host of temptations. Greed, jealousy, envy, strife and division. In the United States, we live in a prosperous nation. There are poor, but even after nearly a decade of economic turmoil, we still have more possessions and wealth than most nations. You would think that wealth would bring with it satisfaction and contentment, but as in the example of Abram and Lot, it does not.

Infighting had begun among the servants of Lot and Abram. Their herds, flocks and tents were more than the land could bear (verse 5). God had blessed both men with an abundance.

Abram was the one who had the promise of land and greatness. He could have likely said to Lot, take off and find a place for yourself. Instead he gives Lot first choice and says "you pick where you will go" (verses 8 - 9). And Lot choose the well watered plain of Jordan and selected the best for himself.

In Lot there was no humility, no honor for his Uncle Abram, no gratitude for all God had given him, no prayer for wisdom in dividing the land. He assumed he knew what was best for himself and went for it. Now before we condemn Lot, how many times in our own past have we selected the best for ourselves and didn't think twice? I know I have. When have we been blessed because of someone else's abundance or status and enjoyed the blessing without redirecting the honor and recognition to our benefactor? Within our own hearts is the propensity to be selfish; we do well to recognize it and repent.

Now look at Abram's attitude in this chapter. He doesn't have to give Lot anything but look at verse 4. We see Abram calling on the name of The Lord. He looks to God for direction and I believe God gives him an assurance that he should allow Lot to go.

Abram wasn't concerned if the best was taken because his faith was in God and not the abundance. In vers 14 after Lot had left God tells Abram to look all around him; that land would belong to him and his descendants and his offspring would be so numerous they would be like the dust of the land. (Before he had a single heir). So what did Abram do? He followed God's command to walk the borders of the land and he built an altar to God in recognition of his Sovereignty.

He believed God before the promises had come to pass and when confronted with a selfish heart that would take his possessions he let him have what he wanted and trusted God to keep him.

Our lives are not measured in the abundance of possessions but in the amount if our faith and trust in God alone to supply our needs.

Dear Heavenly Father, you have blessed us with great abundance both in possessions and opportunity. Help us to keep our hope fixed on you and to return to you for direction and to worship you in every circumstance. You alone deserve the glory. Help us not to cleave to recognition but to give you the honor for our blessings. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Genesis 12 - God's Calling

The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." Gen 12:1

Statistics demonstrate that a college education is the ticket to success and happiness. All you need to do is find a major that lends itself to marketability and press forward with all your might. Since education is available to virtually anyone who desires you would think that we would be the most satisfied people. In fact based on domestic violence numbers, alcoholism, numbers of people being treated for depression we know that education and affluence don't equate with joy and satisfaction.

Our satisfaction comes in being in tune with God's calling in our lives. We know that we have a calling to follow the Lord wherever He leads us. Consider the example Abraham gives us in chapter 12 of Genesis. God speaks directly to him. We don't hear an audible voice (at least I never have) but if you are a Christian you have the Spirit of God living in you and guiding and directing you.

God's call is a scary one. Basically God says, "Abram, drop everything and leave where you are and don't look back. Trust me and I will show you your new place." Abram had I act before knowing the end of the plan. God doesn't always lay out all the details for us but He does require our availability and our obedience.

God assures Him faithfulness will be worth his while as we have several promises given:

1. You will be a great nation
2. I will bless you
3. I will make your name great
4. You will be a blessing
5. I will bless your friends and curse your enemies
6. All nations on the earth will be blessed through you.
7. To your offspring I will give this land

Would that be enough for you to leave relationships and security behind? I don't think Abram needed all those promises. I believe he would have obeyed just because God commanded, but I do think He looked to God to honor those promises later.

Abram leaves and all seems to go well until he arrives at Egypt. He seriously falls off the trust wagon and hands his wife over to Pharaoh to be in his harem. But even in his failure God intervened to protect Sarah his wife and inflicted disease in Pharaoh's house. When Abram was implicated for the deception he was asked to leave with all the wealth he accumulated there.

The point is not that faithlessness is rewarded but that God knows our frailties and will intervene on behalf of his children to sustain them if they will commit their way to The Lord.

What is God's calling in your life? Will you follow Him even if it means abandoning your security and even relationships that are dear to you? He may not ask such of you, but listen to his Spirit. How can you be faithful to Him today. Leave tomorrow to The Lord and be available and obedient to his leading today.

Dear Heavenly Father, we confess it is scary to consider the possibilities of service you might require, but we have been given a great name (yours) and we know you have redeemed us, you have a plan for us and you will not let go of your people for all eternity. Help us to increase our faith in you as you direct us and help us to clear away anything that hinders our availability and obedience to you. In Jesus's name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Genesis 11 - Monument to Man

When I look around me in the world we live in, I see a lot if people working hard to make a name for themselves. All of us want to leave a mark in the world that will be remembered.

The difference in Babel was that they were attempting to create a monument and a grand city so they would not spread across the earth and fill it. They thought they had a plan that was as good as God's if not superior.

Before we look at God's response, consider for yourself - as you accomplish your plans are they done for God or against Him? Anything that is not for God IS against Him. I have to continually guard my motives for what I do. The sin nature within me wants to seek pleasure, fortune and fame, but God wants my motives to be purely for Him alone. If you find your motives are not to serve The Lord, go to Him and confess them. We have a God who will forgive if we will return to Him.

Starting in verse 5 we see that God will not allow rebellion and disregard for His authority to continue. God holds every man accountable and He has every right to since He is Creator. God does not allow the tower to be completed. He supernaturally confuses their language so they cannot band together to challenge God's authority.

This judgment at Babel was not because God was afraid of the challenge. He is Almighty and had not so long ago wiped out mankind altogether except for Noah. He executed this judgement out of his live for the people and to cause them to turn from their plans and look back to God.

In verse 8 we see that even if man comes against God's plans he will accomplish them nonetheless. Man was commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. From verse 4 in this chapter we see they had a clear understanding that this meant they were to scatter over the face of the earth. The tower was set up in direct opposition to God's command.

As stewards of God's resources we need to recognize God's authority and use possessions, time and talents to glorify God and doing as He commands. God gives us great pleasure as we live for Him we don't need to seek worldly pleasures for ourselves.

What will be written on your tombstone? Will it be for your glory or for God's?

Dear Heavenly Father, in humility we come to you remembering that only what is done for Christ will last. Please forgive us for our failure to put you first in all things and help us to keep our eyes fixed on you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Genesis 10 - Conflict of Nations

After the flood we get a record of the legacy of each of Noah's sons. You learn a little about the mark these men left on the world through their sons.

Japheth - his sons founded some of the territories west of Ararat, but we also see him as the father of maritime people's. I have heard that he populated places like Greece and some of the European lands. Different lines of people are beginning to form and we can see some of the core values they maintain handed down from their ancestors.

From Ham we see some of the middle eastern nations arise and even to Africa. We see he has hunters in his line and builders of great cities. The Canaanites descend from Ham.

Finally Shem is recognized with their great claim to fame - well we don't have special skills detailed. We know they spread east to the hills. We know that the earth was divided at the time of Peleg - interesting. In future chapters we learn that Abraham descended from Shem. So Shem's greatest legacy is to father the nation of Israel God's chosen people.

Maybe special skills were not highlighted because God even then planned to do a work in this line of people that was so amazing that he wanted no question that the work came directly from above.

If you are wondering even now what is God's plan in your life. Perhaps you are feeling inadequate to do anything significant. If that is your story you are in good company.

God can use those who are available to Him more than he can use those who are talented. You see, often people with great talents try to resolve issues for themselves and depend on themselves more than the depend on God. I'm not saying this is true of all people with great talents but look to those who tout humanism as their belief system. They generally are people of great talent.

If you are a person of great talent The Lord can use you too if you make yourself and your talents available to Him. Our biggest barrier to service may be our focus on ourselves and not looking to The Lord for our next step day by day.

Ultimately there are only two types of people on the planet and our ancestry may or may not have influenced our nationality. We either belong to Jesus Christ adopted in to his line or we belong to the world. We either live to please ourselves or to please our Father in Heaven. I believe you probably are one of Gods people if you are reading this but if you really want to please God you must look to Him and not yourself for salvation and you must obey His commands for you. You won't know what those commands are unless you study his word and apply it to your living.

Dear Heavenly Father, please give us your clear wisdom and strength for the works you would have us do. Whether menial or monumental help us to apply ourselves diligently to your plans and purposes. In Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Genesis 9 - Blessing of God

After receiving a beautiful sacrifice in gratitude to God for his salvation from destruction, God offers Noah a blessing saying "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He announces that the beasts that had once cohabited with him would now be filled with Fred and fear.

God give Noah permission to eat the animals in the same way he gave green plants but he must not eat their lifeblood.

God re-establishes a society with all the provision Noah would need. Man was held higher than the animals as the animals would account for taking human life. In fact humans are not to take a life because it desecrates the image of God.

God gives commands that apply to he animals and in fact his covenant of the rainbow was established as a promise from God to both man and the animals. Even though man is held high, the animals are regarded with living kindness as well.

God remembers his people and provides for them. He loves to have his people's love in return. How can we show God how much we love him? Today we have opportunity to bring a sacrifice of praise and prayer to The Lord. Can you give him thanks for your salvation?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gen 8 - God Remembers His Servant

Just as taking a bath removes the filth from our bodies, God had virtually wiped evil off the planet in the flood. A fresh start with only Noah and his family. As we begin this chapter the ark had been floating on the waters for over six months.

The first verse is so encouraging. Any place in scripture where the words "But God" appear you know there is something significant. God is providing for Noah and the rain has stopped and the floods are receding.

God gives Noah a couple bits of encouragement. Even though water still covered the earth the ark stopped floating. It comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The second piece of encouragement is when the dove returns with the branch in its beak. There is land out there somewhere! Can you imagine the joy that must have rang out on the ark that day!
Finally a year after this ordeal had begun Noah sees there is dry land and is told by God that he can leave with his family.

Noah's first action is to build an altar and to sacrifice some of the clean animals on it. God was so pleased to know Noah's sacrifice. It was truly an act of love from Noah to God. Interestingly God is not fooled into believing Noah was pure because in verse 21 God says "never again will I curse the ground because of man because every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood". God knew Noah and his family had a predisposition toward sin even as Noah's offering reached his nostrils. Nonetheless God reaffirms his promise to never destroy all life as he did in the time of Noah.

When we become Christians we don't lose our capacity to sin; we gain the ability not to sin. Even though we may fail him God remembers his children and his children's sacrifices for their faith.

We may have tremendous opposition but we have an even greater God who sees our needs and is pleased with our prayers offered in faith.

Let's pray: Almighty God, thank you for your tender mercies in our life. As Noah did in his time we also look to you for our salvation and our provision for life here. Please accept our service and our prayers as tokens of our gratitude for your loving kindness. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Genesis 7 - Leaving it All Behind

Noah is an amazing example of a man who wholeheartedly lived for God. No doubt he was a spectacle to the rest of the world. He willingly left his reputation his family and his worldly goods under the complete discretion of The Lord. He is the first person recorded in scripture who completely trusted God for his salvation and obeyed Him fully.

I think the one verse that sums up Noah is verse 5... "And Noah did all that The Lord commanded him." It is easy having read the rest of the story to glaze over Noah's choice but prior to God's call to build an ark, there is no record of flooding. In fact there is no record of rain. He was operating in uncharted territory.

I can only imagine the emotions Noah must have felt. He must have felt gratitude for the salvation received for himself and his family. He must have felt honored to have been selected by God to complete this work. He must have felt some anxiety in considering God's plan to destroy all life.

He must have felt great sadness that he alone was saved; I am sure he would have desired to see his neighbors and family saved from this devastation after all he had brothers and sisters who were not included. If my calculations are correct, his grandfather Methuselah was also destroyed in the flood. Noah saw moe death and destruction than any man in history. How could he help but hurt for those who refused to be saved.

Few of us have had our faith challenged so totally. I know my mood sours after three days of rain; I can't imagine 40 days and then the floods continued for 150 days.

In all this trauma Noah remained steadfastly obedient. Because of his obedience he and his family saw the salvation of the Lord. The Lord in his mercy withheld the full force of his wrath and offered to those who would accept it a way of salvation.

As you consider your situation is there anything that you are withholding from the Lord's full discretion? Is it your reputation, your career, your family or your possessions? Our stewardship demands our obedience and our faithfulness to the Lord.

We live in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christians. Following Noah's example could we live more boldly for The Lord? Could we put our full faith and trust in Jesus' plan of salvation and with that faith share this salvation with those who don't know and pray for even those who are hostile that The Lord might give light to their eyes and soften their stony hearts?

Can we pray that The Lord would increase out weak faith and allow us to live our faith boldly and impact our world without regard for the costs we may incur.

Let's pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we see that our own culture has offended you and even our own weak faith has disappointed you. We are so dependent on your mercies; would you first increase our faith as we commit our way to you? Then for those who do not know you, would you go ahead of our witness and soften their hearts and increase their understanding? More than stuff we value our relationship with you. Help us to trust you more. In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Genesis 6 - Stewardship and The Flood

You might be wondering what the flood has to do with our stewardship. There is no mention of money. I think this chapter speaks to the foundations of our stewardship. At our core, do we walk with God or do we go our own wicked way.

Three different hearts are revealed in this chapter. God's heart, man's heart and Noah's heart. God is obviously disturbed by the condition of the earth. In verse 3 God says "My Spirit will no contend with man forever his days will be 120 years." And in verse 6 (I think this is the saddest verse in the Bible). The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain. It brings tears to my eyes to think that our actions would grieve God so deeply.

Mankind however were running amuck. Intermarrying to bring about a superman (verse 4) and engaging in all kinds of violence to demonstrate their superiority (verse 13). God saw the wickedness and saw that men's hearts were inclined to evil all the time (verse 5). There was no good to be found just a few generations after the garden. The evil in their hearts was translated into evil deeds - but for the grace of God go we.

Noah was the only righteous one who walked with God. There was no one else who was interested in pleasing God but him. How did he do that? Obedience. God commanded him to build an ark and gave him precise specifications. God even shared his plans with Noah so he understood why he was building the ark. His heart to honor God translated into obedience.

As stewards, our hearts are revealed in our usage of not just money but also our thoughts, words and deeds. We will obey God and seek to walk with him. Our actions are megaphones revealing the condition of our soul to the world around us. Our check books also tell a story of how much we trust God and how much we live for ourselves.

One day there will be a book opened before God that will account for our days here on earth. What will that book say about you? If you have not been walking with God, there is hope. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive. Today is a fresh day to walk with God and to follow Noah's example of stewardship when he left his wealth, his reputation and his life in God's control and obediently followed him.

In what ways can we walk more closely with God? Pursue them my friends and find the peace of knowing you are completely in God's care.

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Genesis 5 - Living with Purpose

I used to approach chapters full of begets and begats with glassy eyed boredom. Now I realize that God was recording a legacy for the nation of Israel that would forever tie together the generations between Adam and Jesus. God was keeping a detailed history record so there would be no disputing His word or His promises.

Not much detail is given in most of their lives you know how old they were at the birth of their children (something we don't normally record on our tombstones) and their age at death. There is generally one child followed in the genealogy with "other sons and daughters".

While there are few significant details given until we get to Enoch and then Noah we get a sense if something significant building. Each man invested his life into the life if his sons and daughters. Their success was a reflection of himself because according to verse 3 the children were created in the image if the father.

We continue this timeline each and everyone of us descendants of Noah. Each if us impacting our generation for good, bad or not at all. At the end of your life what will be written of you? Will you be known for your Christ like spirit? Will you be the one to open the door to heaven for those who do not know Jesus? Will you raise children who will carry on the gospel story?

While the events if our future are in God's hands we choose whether we will walk with God as Enoch did or choose to live our lives for our own pleasure. Today is the only day we can influence so will we live out our days with a God honoring purpose or will we be just another son or daughter with a life not recorded for posterity?

Another lesson I see in this text is that we are forever tied with prior generations. There is no busting free from our heritage and no separation from the future generations. The lives our children and grandchildren lead are influenced by their ancestry as well. We have a responsibility to pass the torch to the next generation to ensure they hear the gospel and that they walk with God in their generation. We can use not only our influence but our prayer time to equip and supply them with the armor they need to fight the good fight and to stand strong in a world that is full of adversity.

The best inheritance you can leave to your children is a relationship with Jesus Christ. If your children are not walking with God, it is not too late. If you are not walking with God begin today by rededicating your life to Him.

Let's pray together: Dear Heavenly Father we look to you and desire to live our lives in a way that pleases you. We also recognize we cannot accomplish this without you. Please come and renew our spirits and give us the passion to influence our generation and to stand strong in the face if adversity. We know that as we live daily for you, you get the glory and we see your salvation. In the name if Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Genesis 4 - Offerings and Hatred

In Genesis 4 we see Adam and Eve following God's command to be fruitful and multiply. Eve was obviously ecstatic to bring her first son, Cain in the world. The first baby ever, Cain must have been well loved. Even so, we find in the chapter Cain acting in sin when his brother offered an acceptable offering to God and he did not.

We aren't given exact reasons why one offering was acceptable and one was not but rather than accepting personal responsibility and making things right between him and God, he killed his brother as if his shining example brought his offering down in the acceptability scale.

Before judging Cain for his actions consider how many times we ourselves have brought less than our best to God and justified ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. We may not have done our best but at least we did more than... You know how that ends.

The Lord judged Cain not in comparison to his brother but according to his own merit. Look at Gen 4:7 where God said "if you do what is right will you not be accepted?" This was God's counsel to Cain before the murder. Look within yourself and don't base your righteousness on the acts of others. Abel did not bring Cain's offering down, Cain did.

Furthermore, God warns Cain about the sin waiting to overcome Cain and prods him to take control. We all have our theories about what made Cain's offering unacceptable, but do you think that it might not have been as much the external offering itself but more The condition of Cain's heart? God saw the anger mounting in Cain's heart for his younger brother. Perhaps it had been there a while.

There is more in this chapter I will leave unpacked for now and I encourage you to post other lessons you take from this chapter but I want to move to the application.

What is the condition of your heart before God?

Have you given Him less than your best?

In bringing your offering to God what was your motive?

Was it anything less than adoration and worship?

Do you focus on the the outward acts of righteousness more than the only righteous one, Jesus Christ?

Abel's blood still speaks telling us to honor God with our lives and our substance not out of obligation but in love and worship of our Maker and in thankfulness to our Redeemer.

God issues the same warning to us all- sin crouches at our door but we must master it. We can choose not to sin and we must recognize our sinful motivations and repent quickly.

God judges us not in comparison to other sinners but in our relationship to Jesus Christ. He is our righteousness and the only means to peace with God.

Let's pray: Father, we confess that we have sinned before you and we are not worthy of your mercy but we look to it nonetheless. Reveal to us our hidden sins and help us to confess them and repent of them. Only Jesus' offering can truly cleanse us, so please look upon us through the blood of Jesus and restore our fellowship with you. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ - amen