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Posts tagged ‘Sin’

How to Pray ‘On Target’ With Your Spouse.


Do you and your wife know how to pray the Word together?
Do you and your wife know how to pray the Word together? (Lightstock)

Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet who complained a lot to God. He thought God needed to show up and handle all the foolishness and sin that was evident among His people. So God shocked Habakkuk by announcing that He was preparing the Babylonians to bring a judgment upon His people.

In Habakkuk 2:3, God explained, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (NIV).

Did you catch that line: “For the revelation awaits an appointed time”?

Some months before my wife, Vicki, confronted me about my failure to consistently lead us in prayer for one of our children who was struggling, this verse had impressed that concept upon me. It is about God’s sovereignty. God reveals in His timing.

When the light goes on in our lives, usually it is not because we learn new information. Often we already have the information, and what we need is the revelation. In the mystery of God, it is also about His “appointed time.”

This is a mystery to me. Sometimes I think God’s timing is pretty bad, don’t you? But we are not God. Certainly only God always understands the reason for His timing. Sometimes we have a glimpse of understanding, but frequently we are in the dark. It is an evident call for us to trust Him.

That afternoon with Vicki, I had the revelation! As all of this came tumbling out of my wife’s heart—I literally lifted up my hands, as if being arrested, and said, “Guilty … Guilty as charged!” The conviction of God fell heavy upon me. The alarm was ringing with more force and volume than ever before, and I couldn’t hit the snooze button any longer. I was really broken. I felt terrible. I confessed to Vicki, “It hardly seems sufficient to cover the scope of what we are talking about here, but I want to tell you I am sorry. With all my heart, I am so sorry!”

It is a wonderful thing to realize the attendant grace of God. As the revelation of conviction and repentance fell upon me, simultaneously a firm resolve gripped my heart. I said, “You know what Vicki? By the grace of God, this is not going to happen again. I promise. It is not going to happen again!” I sensed my words were at the level of the vows I had given her at the wedding altar.

I continued, “The best we can, within the reasonable limitations and realities of life, we are going to pray together. I know life is very busy, unpredictable, a moving target, but daily prayer together will be the goal. And I am going to take the lead in initiating. I vow to be intentional.”

Suddenly, I even knew how we were going to make this work.

I told Vicki, “Here is how we are going to do it. We are going to pray the Bible! We will let the Bible literally be the guide for our prayers. The Bible will be our template. We are going to intentionally follow God’s Word in our prayers—Scripture praying.

“We will read a paragraph of the Bible together—see how the Holy Spirit might speak to our hearts—and then we will let the text of the Bible be the guide for what we will pray back to God.

“We will run on the tracks of the Scriptures to give us the ideas and content for our prayers. Then we will pray about a few of the other things that are immediately at hand in our lives, family and ministry – and that is it. We will keep it short and then we will be on our way.”

Since it is one my favorite books of the Bible, I suggested we start with the book of Hebrews. And you know what? It was just awesome!

Think about it! What could be better than praying the Word of God itself? The will of God, the truths, principles, prayers, praises, values, and doctrines of God.

Perhaps you have heard of “expository preaching.” An expository preacher preaches through the Bible, verse-by-verse, paragraph-by-paragraph. He allows God’s Word to bring forth the message for God’s people. The Bible becomes the guide to provide the content, ideas, concepts, and exhortations of his preaching and teaching. This approach allows the message to emerge from the Word of God.

So let’s call our approach “Expository Praying.” We can follow the Bible with our prayers. God’s Word will be the guide to show us the topics, ideas, praises, and requests. In doing so, we allow God to show us what to pray about. We “call out” God’s Word in our prayers. The Bible gives us the tracks to follow, and in this way, we can be sure our prayers are on track.

I am either not creative enough or spiritual enough to pray with the same person on a daily or very regular basis and sweep the heavens with all kinds of “thees,” “thous,” spiritual insights, and wonderful intercessions. Praying every time about basically the same things in the same way, I would be boring and/or bored in short order.

But by following the Word of God and by letting the Bible literally be the text of our prayers, then the Bible will take care of keeping our prayers fresh. It will enable us to be as creative and comprehensive as the Bible itself! We will be praying “on target”—the Word and will of God over our lives, family and ministry—in an ever fresh and empowered manner.


This second in a series of three articles is adapted from “Just Say the Word: A Simple Way to Increase Your Passion for God and Your Wife” by Sam Ingrassia. Click here for part one. For more information about creating spiritual intimacy by praying with your wife, please visit

Vatican Stresses That Pope Has Not Abolished Sin.

The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin“, after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled “Francis’ Revolution: He has abolished sin”.

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal”.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” was wrong.

“Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners,” Lombardi said.

It was not the first brush between the Vatican and Scalfari, who founded La Repubblica newspaper in 1976.

Last month the Vatican removed from its website the text of Scalfari’s transcript of his conversation with the pope, saying parts of it were not reliable.

Scalfari said he had not used a tape recorder or taken notes when he met the pope but reconstructed the long session from memory afterwards and made additions to help the flow of the article.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Franklin Graham: ‘I Support My Friend Phil Robertson’.

Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham (BGEA)

Phil Robertson’s desire is to see all men and women repent—that is to turn from their sin and follow Christ in obedience. Indeed, that’s his own story, as he freely shares. This is my desire too.

We live in a culture that openly supports and promotes sin against God. While Phil Robertson is not anyone’s judge—God is, and will judge all sin. Jesus Christ came to this earth to save sinners, which includes me.

I have appreciated the Robertson family’s commitment to biblical values, and that they have not backed down in a politically correct world that is tolerant of everything except biblical standards and values. I pray that we would be a nation where we can disagree civilly while holding firm convictions.

I support my friend Phil Robertson.



Study: Many Believers Struggle to Obey God’s Word.

reading Bible
Canadian churchgoers say reading the Bible has changed their life, and they readily confess their sins. (

Canadian churchgoers say reading the Bible has changed their life and they readily confess their sins, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

The survey included 1,086 Canadian lay people who attend church at least once a month.

More than half say they try to avoid temptations but few say that becoming a better Christian involves self-denial.

About a third (33 percent) of Canadian churchgoers agree with the statement, “A Christian must learn to deny himself/herself in order to serve Christ.” Close to half (45 percent) disagreed.

“Obeying God and Denying Self” is one of eight attributes of discipleship found in the Transformational Discipleship study conducted by Nashville, Tenn.-based LifeWay Research.

Each of the eight attributes consistently shows up in the lives of spiritually growing believers, said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research.

McConnell said researchers didn’t list specific sins that churchgoers should avoid. Instead, they were more interested in people’s attitudes. They wanted to see how important obeying God is to churchgoers.

He said spiritual maturity goes beyond avoiding sin and asking for forgiveness. It also involves conscious choices to obey God’s will rather than our own.

“Obeying God is only easy when a person’s own desires match God’s,” McConnell said. “Until believers have the same mind as Christ, denying their own natural desires will be hard.”

The survey asked churchgoers how often they confess sins or ask for forgiveness. It’s a way to measure a spiritual attribute called “Obeying God and Denying Self.”

Sixteen percent of those surveyed say they confess sin and seek forgiveness daily. One in five say they confess to God a few times a week. Almost a quarter (23 percent) rarely or never confess sins and wrongdoings to God and ask forgiveness.

The survey also asked churchgoers how proactive they are in avoiding sin.

Just over half (52 percent) agree with the statement: “I try to avoid situations in which I might be tempted to think or do immoral things.” Twenty-five percent disagree, and 23 percent are indifferent.

More than half of Canadian churchgoers (58 percent) change their attitudes when they feel those attitudes displease God.

The idea of obeying God, however, got mixed results, especially the statement: “When I realize that I have a choice between ‘my way’ and ‘God’s way,’ I usually choose my own way.”

Forty-percent disagree, while nearly the same number (38 percent) neither agree nor disagree. Only two percent strongly agree, while 22 percent agree overall.

The survey also reveals actions that lead to higher scores on the “Obeying God and Denying Self” attribute, according to researchers.

Those actions include:

  • Attending a worship service;
  • Making a decision to obey or follow God with an awareness that choosing His way may in some way be costly;
  • Being discipled or mentored one-on-one by a more spiritually mature Christian;
  • Reading the Bible or a book about what is in the Bible;
  • Praying for unbelieving acquaintances;
  • Setting aside time for prayer of any kind.

McConnell noted that “Obeying God and Denying Self” is the only one of the eight attributes of discipleship that was predicted by more frequent worship attendance.

It’s a sign that spiritual maturity often happens in community, said McConnell.

“Many people think of obeying God as something they must do on their own,” he said. “However, it’s clear through the research findings that the teaching, encouragement and accountability of corporate worship have a direct impact on obedience.”

These findings on obeying God and denying self are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.

LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity based on eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides practical suggestions for continued spiritual development.


The Message of Hope.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. —John 1:29

The time has come for the people of God to wake up and recognize what is going on in the church. The enemy keeps gnawing away, deceiving us into accepting one lie after another, luring us into believing a compromised gospel, until the diluted body we call the church is pleasing to everyone except God.

It is time once again for the church to show the people their transgressions and point out their sins. Sin is the one thing we all have in common, but nobody likes to talk about. Sin stops us from receiving all God has for us.

The message of sin is a message of hope, for Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. We need not shrink from calling sin what it is, even at the risk of being rejected and ridiculed. Some will always turn away when confronted with their sin, but many more will be saved.

Jesus, convict me of my sin by Your Spirit.
Give me the boldness and courage to
confront sin in my life and
my world. Amen.


Which Side are You On?.

James Merritt
Luke 23:33,39-43


1. The universal symbol of the Christian faith is the cross, the old rugged cross. The empty tomb may be the foundation of Christianity, but the cross is the focus of Christianity. When we think of the place called Calvary; when we think of that “hill far away” in our mind’s eye we can picture the cross upon which Jesus died.

2. But too often we forget there was not just one cross that day. There were three. “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, AND THE CRIMINALS, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” (v.33) There was more than one cross, and there was more than one crucifixion. There was a cross of redemption, but there was also a cross of reception and a cross of rejection.

3. Someone has observed that Jesus did not die in a cathedral between two candles. He died on a cross between two criminals. Three men died that day on a cross. One was a benefactor, one was a blasphemer, one was a believer. One was a Savior, one was a sinner, and one was a saint. One man died for sin. Another man died in sin. The third man died to sin.

4. Now the fact that a Holy Savior died between hopeless sinners was not just an accident. It was an appointment. This was a fulfillment of prophecy for Isaiah had said 750 years before about the Messiah “And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12b)

5. Before this world was even created, God had made an appointment in his calendar for the Savior to meet these sinners and for these sinners to meet the Savior. Two men died that day. One man died on the wrong side of Jesus. One man died on the right side of Jesus. Friend, when the day comes that you die, the only question that will really matter is: which side are you on?

6. Now both men were on the wrong side of Jesus, but one man got on the right side of Jesus. The way he got right is the way we must get right. So I want us to look at Calvary through the eyes of a sinner who became a saint.

I. The Revelation Of His Sin

1. This thief saw something in the last minutes of his life, that had he not seen it, would have doomed his soul forever. That is, he saw his sinfulness.

2. He realized that it was his sin that had nailed him to the cross. But more than that, he realized it was his sin that had nailed Jesus to the cross. The reason why this thief was saved is because he finally realized he was lost.

3. He realized because he was a lost sinner he needed to fear a holy God. It was his fear of God that led to his faith in God. It is important to understand not only why one thief was saved, but also to understand why the other thief was lost.

A. No Fear Of The Person Of God

1. One thief wanted to save his soul. The other thief wanted to save his skin. “Then …

{ Day 279 }.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:8-10

David opened his heart again in Psalm 103 to express what he knew about the way God‘s heart worked. He was saying, “When I deserve to be punished, He forgives me and restores me in love.” David knew that God had removed his sins as far as the east is from the west. This was David’s revelation of God’s heart. He learned to relate to God on the basis of God’s passion for him rather than his own performance. Beloved, only a student of God’s emotions can recover so quickly after grievous compromise. God forgives us today so we will grow in the fear of God tomorrow. If He wiped us out today, we would never become mature, God-fearing people. This is God’s strategy toward us. He wants to deal gently with us even though it requires burning our Ziklags. He does not want to mark our iniquities but to forgive them so we can go on to be great in love. He wants our confidence to be based in the revelation of His desire for us and His work on the cross.


Lord, if You treated me as I deserve, You would banish me from Your presence. Yet it is my sins that You remove, taking them as far away as the east is from the west. Thank You so much for raising me up to walk with You again in holiness. Complete Your work in me.

Do you need to overcome a spirit of fear that
gets in the way of your intimacy with God?


How Accountability Can Help You Live with Freedom and Confidence.

Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Craig Gross‘ book, Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable (Thomas Nelson, 2013).

Everyone struggles with sin in this fallen world – from gossiping about others or spending money irresponsibly to addictive behavior with pornography or alcohol. No matter what type of sins you struggle with, however, you don’t have to let those sins control your life.

Our society is full of people who try to cover up their sins and spend valuable time and energy worrying about what will happen when the truth about their behavior eventually comes to light. That’s an exhausting and destructive way to live. God offers a much better way to deal with sin: accountability.

When you live an open life before God and a few other Christians whom you trust, you can enjoy freedom from sin’s power over you and the confidence that you’re growing more powerful over sin. Here’s how you can pursue accountability:

Approach accountability from an accurate perspective. Accountability shouldn’t be harsh, with people admonishing you to follow rules and judging you when you fall short of their expectations. Instead, accountability involves deep relationships with people who care about you and will encourage and challenge you in ways that lead you to God’s best for your life. Also, accountability shouldn’t involve broadcasting your private information to the whole world. Instead, accountability involves simply opening up with a few people you know, love, and trust who want the best for you and will treat the information you share with respect and grace.

Understand why accountability is necessary and important. Keep in mind that participating in an accountability group gives you valuable opportunities to explore your personal issues and grow as a person in a safe and supportive atmosphere. It also gives you the benefit of deep relationships with others, which will motivate you to make good choices when facing temptations to sin.

Find a few good accountability partners. Pray for the wisdom to know who you should choose to assemble for a team of accountability partners in which you’ll participate. Choose a few people of your same gender whom you know well and can trust. Make sure that these people won’t just be “yes” men and women who will only tell you what you want to hear; instead, include people who have the courage to confront you about sin and the insight to present you with fresh perspectives on the issues you’re dealing with in life. Close friends are likely to work best as accountability partners, but some family members (such as your spouse or a sibling) could possibly work, as well.

Plan how to meet together. Schedule an accountability group meeting every week for at least a half hour at a specific place (or via conference call, if you can’t all meet in person) to discuss what’s really going on in each of your lives and help hold each other accountable to deal with sin and keep growing closer to God. Set a format for each meeting that includes just a small amount of time for chatting and focuses mostly on asking each other questions about your lives, listening, discussing, and praying. In between meetings, nurture your friendships with each other in less formal ways, such as by eating meals together or joining each other for fun outings.

Ask each other helpful questions. Some questions you may choose to ask each other during weekly meetings include: “How was your week?” “Did the things you said and did this week make your life better? Did they represent you well to the rest of the world?” “How have you treated those who are important to you this week? Did you honor them and treat them with grace and generosity?” “Did you use any of your words as weapons this week, either to someone’s face or behind their backs?” “What about anger? Are you angry or resentful toward someone? Are you holding on to that anger or letting it go?” What about your stuff? Have you been trustworthy with your money and belongings this week?” “Have you indulged in lusts or anything of a sexual nature, whether physically or mentally?” “Have you caved into any of your addictions or weaknesses this week?” “Were you honest and truthful in all you did?” “Did you take at least one full day off from work this week?” “Have you encountered any new triggers to sin, and if so, how you can you avoid them next time?” “What lies have you told  someone in the past week?” “What secret are you keeping from someone else or the group?” “How are you feeling emotionally right now?”,and “Did you lie to me in your answers to any of these questions?”

Be completely honest with each other. Partial honesty isn’t enough; only 100 percent honesty will do. Keep in mind that, if you can’t be completely honest with your accountability partners, then who can you be honest with? Also, if you aren’t being honest with your accountability group, are you really being honest with yourself?

Listen carefully to each other. When others in your group are sharing their thoughts and feelings, give them your full attention, listening carefully to them. Afterward, don’t judge or criticize them, but instead challenge them – with love and respect – to put their faith into action to deal with the issues they’ve shared. Let them know that they can count on your support as they try to grow in those areas.

Keep information confidential. Protect the privacy of the people in your group who share sensitive information with you by keeping it absolutely confidential. Ask God to help you make sure that you keep your promises not to reveal private information to people outside your accountability group. Remember that even one breach of confidentiality can break the crucial bonds of trust between you that are necessary for your accountability group to function.

Courageously consider the reasons why you’re struggling with various issues. Ask God to give you the courage to investigate why you’re driven to act in certain ways that trouble you, and to figure out how to pursue healing and make better choices moving forward.

Motivate and help each other achieve goals. Encourage and support each other to set and take specific steps to reach specific goals – from losing a certain amount of weight to overcoming an addiction to pornography. Use the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in your group to complement each other as you spur each other on to live better lives. Learn from mistakes and celebrate successes together.

Adapted from Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable, copyright 2013 by Craig William Gross. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn.,

Craig Gross is an author, speaker, pastor, and revolutionary. He shot to prominence in 2002 when he founded the website Craig is the author of nine books. He currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca., with his wife, Jeanette, and their two children, Nolan and Elise.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at:

Publication date: September 30, 2013

Why Jesus Is the Only Way to Salvation.

Eddie Snipes

In our post modern culture, the question frequently arises, “Why do you say Jesus is the only way?” or “Who are you to say Jesus is the only way?” We can expect the culture to ask questions like this, but in the last few years the Christian church itself has begun to ask these same questions. I watched an interview on MSNBC with a very prominent ex-politician who has always claimed to be a Christian. In an answer to a question he stated that all religions served the same God in different ways.

We have all heard similar statements — all roads lead to the same God and all religions worship the same God in different ways. One illustration was made popular a few years ago by a Buddhist parable. Men who were blind from birth were gathered together in a room with an elephant. Each man was led to a different part of the elephant — one felt the head, one the legs, tail, ears, and trunk. Afterward they were asked, “What is an elephant”? They began arguing when one claimed it was a plowshare, or a tree trunk, a brush, etc. The conclusion is that they all saw one part of the greater whole. In other words, we who argue about truth are arguing about the same god that has been revealed to us in different ways.

It is a very clever parable but holds one truth that I’m sure the author did not intend. Each one of these men was blind and each one was wrong. Until God reveals Himself to us, we all grope around in the darkness vainly searching for some semblance of truth. However, as long as we are blind, we remain in the darkness and what seems true is complete error. In Christianity, God reveals Himself to us and we receive His truth and experience a relationship with our Creator. In world religions, man seeks his own truth and creates his own god. He may call the thing he worships a god, but that does not make it God. As we will see shortly, the Bible gives concrete pointes of reference that place it squarely in contradiction with all world religions. Two contradicting points cannot be one in truth. Let’s take a moment to look at three points which show scripturally that Jesus Christ alone can offer salvation.

All sin is against God alone. There is not a religious leader on earth that can forgive sins. Only God can forgive because we only sin against Him. Look at Psalm 51:
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight — That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

This is the prayer of King David who was mourning over his own sin when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed to cover his transgressions. God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David and he repented. Even though David committed the transgression against Uriah, the Bible makes it clear that the sin was against God a …

Cars and Christians.

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.
Romans 8:3

Recommended Reading
Romans 7:18-20 ( )

The idea of the gasoline-powered vehicle to be used for human and commercial transportation is a fabulous idea! In fact, a century of innovations and further inventions have made cars and trucks a permanent part of our life. So why do we only tolerate them instead of love them?

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

It’s because they break down and need repairs. Rubber wears out, metal breaks down, paint fades, wires break, and we crash these machines into one another. It’s not the idea of the vehicle that is bad — it’s the execution that breaks down. And so it is with the law of God. The law is “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12), yet we have a hard time implementing the concept. Vehicles are weak because of their parts and humans are weak because of their flesh — their fallen human nature. If inventors ever create parts that last forever, they will do for vehicles what Jesus did for us: be strong, not weak, in the flesh.

The next time your car is in the shop, thank God that Jesus is a permanent, perfect keeper of God’s law. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.
Dwight L. Moody

Ezekiel 47-48

By David Jeremiah.

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