Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already obtained. Philippians 3:12-16
A book I read recently stated that “getting good” at any complicated task takes about 10,000 hours of practice. Now this author wasn’t speaking about the living the Christian life, but I imagine it still applies. So if you want to “get good” at being a Christian, simply sitting in the pew won’t cut it. At the rate of one hour per week, “getting good” will take approximately 192 years! In case you haven’t noticed, none of us have that long! To really mature as a Christian, we need to put in the hours –hours of prayer, Bible study, service and more.
This is exactly what the Fanning the Flame process is teaching us. As a team, we are learning to be more disciplined in our prayer life; to discover and use our spiritual gifts; to repent of our sins; to remember God’s promises; to study His Word; to fellowship with one another, and so on. Hopefully, as we mature in our faith, we will influence others within the congregation to do the same. We’ll be stronger, better witnesses.
Will we ever achieve complete sanctification? Lutherans don’t think so. However, like Paul, we need to press on and do what is in our power to become worthy followers of the gift we have already been given. Christ died for our sins so that we could be reconciled with God and live with Him in eternity. Is it enough to plunk ourselves down in the sanctuary once a week, sing a few hymns and drop a few dollars in the offering plate? Is this a show of true gratitude, or is it just a pious habit we’ve developed over the years? We can’t stand still in the life of faith, we have to practice. We have to get good.
As Lutherans, we ray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday – But do we really understand or even hear what we are saying – the power and reverence? This book explains the power of prayer and what each line means.
I enjoyed this book and felt it gave great examples of how to construct our own prayers through the model of the Lord’s Prayer. This book is written so that anyone wanting a more detailed explanation and help can follow along.
As always, I really liked the author’s personal experiences that relational to the passages. I am a firm believer in “connection through confession” with others through our own experiences in the faith
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars – it is well written and easy to understand.
You may purchase this book at the link below
Yes, we Lutherans believe that we can be sinners (duh, of course) and at the same time saints, as part of Christ’s body the church. This is one of the great mysteries of the faith, and part of our justification through the death of Jesus on the cross. We have been freed from the penalty of our sin. Isn’t this reason enough to repent every day? Shouldn’t we try to live up to the gift we’ve already been given?
First and foremost, I do not color, I have to start this review off honestly. Rather than taking the time to sit down and color, or a lot of times just “be still”, I can usually find about a thousand other things to do. That being said, I liked this book and I actually did do some coloring to try it out. The book overall is well done and put together nicely. The devotionals are easy to relate to and the illustrations definitely project the image the devotional is portraying. I feel motivated to sit down a color occasionally.
I enjoyed all the devotionals but I do have a few favorites
- Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
- Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God
- Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I connected with the hamster on the wheel in this one a lot.
Overall, I am going to give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The author and illustrator did a great job of working together to give devotionals that are relevant today and a picture that tied in nicely. Great job ladies, I will be recommending this to others. You can purchase through the link below.
I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review.
“Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the Lord.”
When we sin, when we mess up and we really know we did . . . we want to do better. Most of us want to “fix” it. And maybe that can be okay if we keep our eyes on God in doing so. Because while work can never save us, wanting to try, to get up and do, or even the action of stopping a behavior because we know it’s wrong-is the beginning (action of) repentance.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” -James 2:18
In other words he has the desire to do good. To work, share, help, save, obey, because he has faith. Faith brought on by the hearing of God’s word which tells us we need to repent. We need to stop the bad that we do and return to our Father in heaven. Not only for our good but for the good of others.
Return with apologetic words and then words of encouragement, because the law meant to guard us. To keep us from certain death.
Galatians 3:24 “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”
If we ever wonder why we have a conscience, this would be the reason. It’s our flashing yellow light. When it goes off we have a choice to keep going, or return.
R. C. Sproul was not a Lutheran, but this sounds quite a bit like Martin Luther’s First Thesis, doesn’t it?
I receive morning devotionals every morning from several sources. One is from a pastor that I’ve known for years and he is the one that married my husband and I, and baptized both of our children. I enjoy hearing from him every day.
The thought for today included this:
There is an infinite depth in our Lord that can never be exhausted. The excitement continues as the Lord draws us closer to Himself. Continue to read, think, and pray. There is always more grace, truth, and real excitement in walking day by day with Jesus Christ.
Wow, just wow. This really hit me. We cannot run out of His Grace, we can always receive more. There is no “getting there”, we are always moving closer to our Lord.
As usual with me, when I think of things like this, a song came to mind. Enjoy.
As sinners our natural response to biblical instructions is to say “no”. It is our default position if you will. God tells us how to behave, and we say no. God says that our thoughts are to be about Him and our goal is to be His glory. And we say no. God says we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And we say no. We must repent of that behavior. We must repent of those thoughts. We must repent of those emotional responses. And we must repent of those times when we say “yes” but live no.
Repentance is a necessary part of the Christian life. When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the town church in Wittenberg he wrote this, “When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’ He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” And true repentance has to be more than simply saying some words on Sunday morning. It must be heartfelt and life changing.
True repentance is a willingness to let God change us in any way He so chooses—no limits and no exceptions. And maybe that’s why we resist so hard. It’s scary, isn’t it? It’s scary to think that God would take me and make me something other than I am when I’m perfectly comfortable this way. Most of you know the difficulties Joan and I have been going through with our home. It is not easy to be constantly moving about from one place to another—sleeping here, eating there. Wondering when we’ll be able to return to our place and get back that sense of normal life. Believe me, we’re so looking forward to that day.
That day will come fairly soon and things Joan and Terry will return to normal. But when you and I repent of our sins, truly and completely, when we let God change us, there will be no going back. There will be a new normal and a new level of comfort. Things which we have long clutched to our chests will no longer be there for us. Instead we will be Kingdom people—which is what we are meant to be. Mark tells us that when Jesus began His earthly ministry He went into Galilee preaching Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. And citizens of the Kingdom are different.
But friends, what a great day that will be for us because we do indeed bear a burden when we sin. We know what our sin is and it weighs us down, even if we don’t admit it to ourselves. But that burden will be lifted when you truly repent and allow God to do as He wills with you. Instead of the yoke of sin we will bear the yoke of Christ, and it is light and easy. Instead of the dimness of our natural vision we will see with a new light, the light of Christ Himself. Instead of the confusion which so often rules our lives, we will have complete clarity, because it is God’s clarity, His gracious giving of His wisdom to the people of His calling.
We all know that Fanning the Flame presents a new way of living, which, like any life-changing protocol takes time. I believe that we, as team members, are already beginning to feel this change stirring within our lives as we seek God’s will through steady and heartfelt prayer.
We and God are in this together. As team members we are opening up and becoming more honest and vulnerable as we share our prayer visions and seek to understand our God-given gifts. A sense of trust has sprung up among us, as well as a sense of unity of purpose. Individually we are growing and striving to be the people God wants us to be.
People make comments such as, “Sounds like a lot of work!” and “we’re not even sure what you are doing.” Well, yes, it is a lot of work! We’re committed to work for the Kingdom of God…an immeasurable response to the work He has done for us. We’re learning to put our trust in Him as we evaluate the needs of the church and understand how He wants to see St. Paul’s grow. Though we are a small group, we are in the process of figuring out how all members of the congregation can join into this effort to become one in Him. We see a future where small groups like ours will also want to come together–to trust each other as their trust grows in Him. I know in my heart that every member of our congregation desires a personal relationship with the Lord–why else would we bother to attend church? Nothing in our life is as important, and if it takes the work of praying, reading the Word and sharing His love with others, then it is really not work at all…it is a gift and an opportunity from which no one should be excluded.
Please be unified with us in this opportunity and realize that the growth we see at St. Paul’s may not necessarily be in numbers, but in spirit. I know you’ve heard this phrase: “the family that prays together, stays together.” Well, St. Paul’s is a family and we all want to stay together and grow together. Please pray that the Flame of the Spirit will become contagious and that each and every member will be on fire in a new and life-changing way.
Don’t we often behave as if God doesn’t know what we’re doing, hear what we’re saying, know what we’re thinking? We go right along in our lives sinning away thinking that God isn’t paying attention. We think we’re going to get away with something with God because the guy who lives next door or the spouse who sleeps next to you doesn’t know about it. Yet the psalmist here tells us that God has searched us and known us—and that means in every single moment of our lives, from conception to death.
God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. And that means we who are His chosen people must examine ourselves and repent of our sins before Him. Christ has paid the price for our sins, He has borne our punishment, He has done all that is necessary for our salvation, but I’m not talking about salvation, I’m talking about being in a right relationship with God during this life. Sin separates us from God even when we are saved. It puts a barrier up between Him and us that keeps us from fully enjoying the grace He shows to us. Repentance is about restoring a proper relationship with God after we have come to faith in Christ and believed in His atoning work.
I suspect most of us have had difficulties with relationships in our lives. We want to have a close relationship with someone, but there is always something that stands in the way. Quite often that something has to do with a refusal to address differences and what seems an inability on someone’s part to repent of that feeling. Central to all sin is the ego of man. We want to be first and best, or at least we want people to think we are first and best. It’s hard to go to someone and admit that you’re a failure or that you’ve not been the person that you should have been. That failure builds walls that separate and isolate us.
Surprisingly, we often have exactly the same problem in our relationship with God as we do in our relationships with other people. We don’t like admitting we are what we are—failures. Certainly we make a confession in all of our worship services, but even then we can hold back a bit, we can’t not bring all of our sins to mind, we can even hope God will be completely satisfied by that once a week statement. But that isn’t really true. God wants you to be honest with yourself about what you have done and to truly repent of that so that you can experience true freedom in your life.