God has been teaching me the importance of sharing my life with others, confessing my sins, taking an honest look at my sinful heart, and trusting in His grace and mercy.
The Lord is helping me see the power of the Gospel, the power of His love for me, and His amazing grace. Let me first say, I’m just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. I’m messed up. Seriously, I’m one bad sinner. I have done things that weren’t pure. I have said things that weren’t pure. I have thought things that weren’t pure.
But God saved me and forgave me, yet daily I deal with temptations. I may be a pastor, but I’m still a man. I’m selfish…a lot. I’ve yelled at my kids…too often. I’ve said hurtful things to my wife too many times. I’ve slammed doors when angry.
I’ve had pity parties. My pride gets the best of me too many times. Too many times I’m self-reliant rather than trusting in God’s promises. Too many times I gossip.
Too many times I fear man rather than God. I have foolishly thought, “Pastors should be super Christians, have it all together, or at least look that way.” But what I’m learning is pastors don’t have it all together, we’re just as messed up as anyone else. Pastors should be honest, not perfect.
I also worry too much rather than live by faith. I’ve even said lies in my lifetime, but trust me when I say, I do hate my sins and that’s the truth. I do repent of my sins….daily.
I daily battle the flesh, the devil, and worldly temptations. But that’s a good thing. It’s a bad thing when I try to solve my own problems my way rather than God’s way.
I’m not perfect, but I am moving in the direction of holiness. I stumble…I strive…but here’s what has set me free. I’m been told all my life “Jesus sets you free” and I believe that, but I don’t always live it. I need to listen to my own sermons. I’ve been told, “Jesus loves you” all my life, and that’s true and I believe it, but too often I live like a practical atheist.
You see, the Gospel is true, it is amazing, it is radical, and it is for me and you, but that little idol called, “Pride” often causes us to believe Satan’s lies. I say I trust God, yet God knows I worry.
I preach holiness, yet God knows my mind isn’t always pure. I say I live by faith, but the reality is I worry, I get angry, and I’m self-reliant.
But, (and here’s the good news), there is a bigger reality than all my awful sins….the Gospel of God’s amazing grace! I used to think the Gospel was something for unbelievers, but now I know it’s for both unbelievers and believers.
Unbelievers need to be saved, but believers need to grow in sanctification. Here’s what I mean: I need to see that my sin is bad, bad enough for eternal hell. I deserve nothing but hell. In God’s eyes, I’m no better than anybody else, even Hitler. In fact, I have to be perfect in order to go to heaven and God knows I’m not perfect.
But don’t stop there. Jesus knew I would sin against Him before He made me. In fact, He died for me while I was still a sinner! He took my punishment. He took my place. He died my death! He took what I deserved.
When you really ponder the Gospel…it’s humbling. Jesus gave up His life so I could live, so I could go free! He died for me not while I was a good person, but while I was a bad person. That’s why only God is good!
It gets better! I’m not only justified, just as if I never sinned, but I’m also declared holy, just as if I always lived His life! So I’m forgiven and sanctified! But until I get to heaven I have to deal with this fallen flesh.
Jesus not only showed me mercy (that is He took away my deserved punishment), but He also showed me grace (that is He gave me something I didn’t deserve…His holiness)! And it’ all a gift. It’s freely offered. I can receive it, or reject it. If I receive it than I become His adopted child!
It gets even better! This means God loves me unconditionally. He will NEVER stop loving me. He can’t love me anymore than He does now, and He won’t love me any less than He does now.
That doesn’t mean I have a license to sin, in fact, if I think that means I can go out and sin all I want, then it shows I don’t understand the Gospel. Because when I understand the Gospel, I won’t want to sin, I’ll want to obey God and trust in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
The Bible tells us that if we say we have no sin, we’re a liar, the truth is not in us, and we deceive ourselves. We’re to confess our sins one to another so that God may heal us – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s good for the soul. It’s not required for salvation, but it’s God’s way of healing our heart.
Why is that? It’s because we can’t do it on our own! We actually need people to help us! God uses people, and He places people in our path for this purpose.
I’m not saying we have to spill our guts. That won’t be pretty or helpful, but I’m saying spill some of your guts, to a trusted friend. Here’s what I mean. If something in your past will encourage someone, then share it. Be honest about your weaknesses. We are all a bunch of broken clay pots. Your past mistakes will benefit someone who is hurting or struggling today.
Now if it is something you are struggling with now, then we share it not for the purpose of encouraging someone, but for the purpose of receiving help.
So how does God work on my heart and yours? Does He say, “GO TO YOUR ROOM! I’m going to kill you now?!” Does He say, “I’M DONE WITH YOU?!” NO!
The Bible says His kindness lead me to repentance. It says He is rich in mercy. It says I did nothing to deserve His grace, yet He died for me, forgives me, and continues to work on my heart, making me more like His Son.
He’s not finished with me yet. He’s got a lot of work to do. But He’s faithful. What He started in me, He promises to finish!
God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble! It’s not until I humble myself that I receive His grace. We serve an awesome God! His grace is inexhaustible! His love knows NO limit!
You are loved, and you are free, really free! Free to love, free to forgive, free to be honest, free to stop trusting in yourself. We serve a great great Savior!
Place your hope and trust in Him today! What He has done for me, He can do for you!
Love, Pastor Douglas Graham