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​26 Common Ways We Hinder our Growth in Sanctification

1 Sep

(1) Thinking some (little) sins don’t matter or aren’t a big deal. 

(2) Not watching out for and actively avoiding the temptations that might lead us to sin. 

(3) Whether out of pride or desire for acceptance, allowing the presence of our peers to lessen our vigilance against sin. 

(4) Allowing ourselves to dip a toe in sin so long as we don’t pass a certain self-defined line. 

(5) Thinking we don’t need to fight against certain sins because culture has redefined them as acceptable or even admirable. 

(6) Thinking sin matters little because we’ve been forgiven by God’s grace. 

(7) Easing our guilt and shame by passing the blame for our sin on another (e.g. My accountability partner didn’t call me, my elder didn’t check on me, my wife didn’t give me the attention I need, my coworker pushed me over the edge, my children were just exhausting today, etc.) 

(8) Not approaching Scripture with an eye to revealing our sin. 

(9) Forgetting to consider the sins in the Bible as opportunities of warning and instruction.

(10) Failing to pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal and root out unknown sins in our lives. 

(11) Rejecting the exhortations and rebukes of the Church. 

(12) Brushing off all criticisms by those who are not currently Christians. Their eyes are often keenly trained on the Church and can reveal our sins as well. 

(13) Not actively praying and desiring for an abhorrence of our sin. 

(14) Trying to win over sin by our own efforts and forgetting that it is the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that frees us from the power and bandage of sin. 

(15) Forgetting that Christ yet interceeds for his people. 

(16) Not caring that we are to be making ready for our Beloved’s return. 

(17) Only focusing on putting off our old sinful self without remembering to actively be putting on the new self. 

(18) Not enjoying, living, desiring, relishing in our union with Christ. 

(19) Not faithfully engaging in the means of grace given us (Sacraments, Prayer, and the reading, preaching, teaching, meditating, and praying of the Scriptures) and wondering why we show no progress. 

(20) Withdrawing from the fellowship and corporate worship of the Body of Christ. 

(21) Thinking some sins are more powerful to condemn than Christ’s blood sacrifice is to save. 

(22) Forgetting how loving our heavenly Father is and that his discipline is an outworking of love. 

(23) Failing to realize that the Father desires for us to depend upon his mercy. 

(24) Letting shame, self-pity, guilt, or anger keep us from praying and reading the Word. 

(25) Not seeking help and prayer from a trustworthy brother or sister in Christ.

(26) Thinking that you will deal with the sin later. 


A Beautiful, Honest Prayer

1 Feb
And Jacob said, “Oh God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Jehovah, who saidst unto me, ‘Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will do thee good:’ I am not worthy of the least of all the lovingkindnesses, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; (Gen. xxxii.9-10a).
I love this honest, heartfelt prayer that Jacob prays in the presence of his fear.
(1) He cries out to God
(2) He recognizes that this is the same, one, true God of his father and grandfather. The same God who covenanted with them and with Jacob. He is a faithful God. It shows that it is the responsibility of the heads of the household to share about that faith with their families. He even uses the covenant name of God–Jehovah.
(3) He acknowledges God’s commands and promises. Praying Scripture back to God is not only pleasing to God, but comforting for the person of faith.
(4) He acknowledges his humble state before a mighty God: “I am not worthy…”
(5) He notes that God’s lovingkindnesses are unmerited and only given by his unfathomable grace and mercy.
(6) He acknowledges that God making himself and his plans known is also a gracious and merciful act. This one particularly made an impression on me as I read this prayer. We must not forget that God’s grace extends further than his forgiveness and his patient endurance with us. God did not have to make himself known to us. He would be no less real or powerful by keeping to himself, yet he has been intimate with us. He allows us to have a close, personal relationship with him. He does this most beautifully and wonderfully in his son Jesus (God with us) through the Holy Spirit. Jacob rightly acknowledges that we are not worthy of knowing God, not worthy of knowing his will…and yet, God lovingly reveal himself: “which THOU hast shown unto thy servant.” We have the most complete knowledge of him in his revealing of himself in his Word–the Scriptures of the Bible. Let us never take for granted that he has made himself known to us in his Word. Let us always be clinging, searching, submitting, and enjoying Scripture, for by it we know the heart and mind of the God of all things visible and invisible.

Words that Hurt

27 Sep
Do people speak evil of you?
Are they justified in doing so?
If not, you are not alone:
Be not silent, O God of my praise!
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
-Psalm CIX.1–5
One way of combatting those words of malice is through prayer. Pray to the God of the bible in your anguish. Pray for peace. Pray that you would find contentment in Jesus despite the hateful words. Pray for the souls and attitudes of those who speak ill of you. Give yourself to prayer when they return hate for your love. And above all else, remember that Christ Jesus—fully God—humbled himself by becoming a man; he died a gruesome death; and even worse, “He who knew no sin became sin for us,” and took the wrath for those who would believe in him. He did this all out of love, to the glory of God. The people returned that love with cruelty, hatred, jealousy, mocking, scorn, flogging, embarrassment, and crucifixion. Take comfort in knowing that your Saviour suffered in the same way, only much worse, for you.

Pray for Those

24 Jul

“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Ex. 22.28). I hear an awful lot of cursing of our rulers. We may not always agree with them, and they may not always do what is in our best interest, or even have it in mind at all times. Yet, this hatred and bitterness is unbecoming of Christians. Instead we ought to be following God’s mandate:”First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2.1-2). And even when you believe your leaders to be your enemies who persecute you, we ought to do as King David did, as Paul did, and Jesus our Lord instructed to do: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:43-45). Let us be a prayerful people. A people devoted to God and his ways.

How Is Your Ministry of Prayer?

8 Apr

2 Kings 20:1-6 ESV

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord , ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord , saying, “Now, O Lord , please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord , the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord , and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”

God often will wait to grant blessings until we ask. Not because he is a dependant rather than proactive, sovereign Lord (for he knows what we need before we ask, and knows even the desires of our hearts). Rather, he desires that we, his beloved children, talk with him, weep before him, get on our knees and acknowledge him in petition and thanksgiving. He is to be our first love. Do we not as parents sometimes wait for our children to ask before giving them something? If we know how to give good things, does not our Father in heaven desire, and have the power to bless us to a greater extent?

I was recently at the memorial service of a dear brother. It was here I learned that he clinically died – all vital signs flat-lined – in 1999. His prayerful, faithful wife prayed and asked the Lord that she might have just 15 years more with her husband. He was ushered into glory last month, March 2014. Glory to God. Is this not a testament to God’s love?

It is by the will of God whether or not to preserve a life or not, yet God hears the prayers of his people and desires to answer them. In this case, and in the case of Hezekiah, 15 more years were added as a result of honest, heart-felt prayer. Let us never become weary in our prayer ministries. God may add years to a loved one’s life.  Talk with your first love. Spend time getting to know him and his heart. Would you do any less with your husband or wife? How much more than with the one we love above all others?