We Are Redeemed! (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 5)

We Are Redeemed! (Hebrews Bible Study- Week 5

It’s never too late to join in this weekly blog Bible Study! Come find rest with us in this moment as we explore the book of Hebrews together.

 

A Brief Note: this isn’t a comprehensive and intense verse-by-verse Bible Study. It’s not a lecture, filled with incomprehensible theology and perplexing words – and I don’t want it to be taken that way.

 

This Bible Study is not a commentary and it’s not a headache, either. Really. No, it’s more like a regular blog post of mine – filled with a few truths from a few verses, and nothing too hard to “get.”

 

It’s truth for the people, people. I don’t want anyone to feel alienated. And yet, it’s so amazing to learn and be reminded of these important truths here in this Book.

Continue reading “We Are Redeemed! (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 5)”

How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 3)

How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study_ Week 3)

I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday again! Happy Hebrews Summer Bible Study, my friends.

 

Grab some coffee (or the beverage of your choice), and come sit outside with me and as all of us study the scriptures together.

 

If you’re new, you’re welcome to hop right in where we are now! You don’t have to have done the first two weeks if you haven’t done them yet, but of course it’ll only help and give you a chance to get a feel for what we’re doing here.

Continue reading “How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 3)”

Who is Jesus to You? (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 2)

Who is Jesus to You (Hebrews Bible Study Week 2).png

Happy Hebrews Bible Study Tuesday, friends!

 

Thanks for joining me again for week 2 of our Bible Study in Hebrews. If you’re new, it’s not too late to start! You can hop in for the ride now, or go back to the beginning.

Continue reading “Who is Jesus to You? (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 2)”

Easter, Repentance, and a Change of Focus

Easter, Repentance, and A Change of Focus

Hey, friends.

 

This post was originally going to be longer than it is now, but the first half of my post disappeared into thin air at midnight. Not sure how, but it did.

 

Anyway, because tomorrow is Easter, I wanted to talk about what it really means, the significance of forgiveness, and how repentance fits into all of it.

 

Easter is my favorite holiday because we celebrate being forgiven. This forgiveness – the forgiveness of sins – gives us eternal life in Christ. I tweeted this yesterday:

 

 

Easter is about life – eternal life, yes, but also our lives now.

 

Furthermore, I wanted to continue the discussion I started on Tuesday about repentance.

 

After reading the post multiple times, and reading the wonderful, thought-provoking comments you all left, I wanted to clarify a few things.

 

I’m not at all against repentance, if that’s what I seemed to imply in Tuesday’s post. For if we deliberately harbor sin in our hearts, we will of course damage our relationship with God. I’m not bashing confession in the sense that I think that we should never come to God about our wrongdoings.

 

In fact, that’s not it at all.

 

I only hope to lead us away from an obsession with repentance, one in which we’re constantly walking on eggshells is the Christian life. I don’t think we should live a life in which we’re so obsessed with trying to do what’s right that we make sure we fess up every single time we think we might have done something wrong.

 

To be totally honest, I don’t believe that’s what God has for us.

 

We are called to freedom and grace, and no longer do we live under a yoke of slavery to sin.

 

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

 

Instead of living trapped to a life of “try hard>>fail>>confess>>do it all over again,” let us live in grace. Instead of legalism, let us listen to the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, that’s all well and good in talking about it, but how do we actually carry it out?

 

What does it really look like to live under grace?

 

1) Get to know God by reading the Bible.

 

I’ve written a few posts on this topic. Post 1, Post 2, and Post 3 (in reverse chronological order). The Bible is a blessing, not a burden. But it takes more than just hearing people say that for it to become true for us. Read the New Testament for a fresh view on grace, starting in Romans. You’ll see things differently. You’ll see the contrast between God and man, and how Jesus didn’t just “wipe our slates clean,” He gave us whole new slates.

 

2) Submit to the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

You know that nudge you feel when you know God’s calling you to do something? Listen to it. Go talk to that new kid and be their friend. Share your faith with that cousin of yours. Go step out in faith to do something that you feel God wants you to do, even if it seems crazy.

 

Do you feel God calling you to start a YouTube channel or blog about your faith? Do it! Do you feel like you’re being called to vocational ministry? Pursue that. The Holy Spirit speaks in subtle ways, but by following His leading, we are following God’s will.

 

3) Continue to pray for a passion for the Gospel.

 

Pray all the time. Pray that you’d have a desire to live for God. Pray that you’d be used by Him. Pray that He’d show you His plan for your life. Pray that He’d use you in the lives of others. Pray that He would equip you to share your faith – even when it’s absolutely terrifying.

 

Prayer helps us to advance in our relationship with God, and through it, we come to trust Him more and more.

 

We don’t need to overemphasize repentance because as we live in submission to the Holy Spirit and our new nature, the desire to sin will decrease.

We don’t need to overemphasize repentance because Jesus’ death has pardoned our sin and given us a new nature.

We don’t need to overemphasize repentance because God does not see our sin when He looks at us – He sees Jesus’ righteousness.

 

When we’re in the Bible consistently, we see the significance of things like Easter. The Resurrection. Forgiveness that washes away every last one of our sins.

 

When we keep our ears tuned to what we feel God is leading us to do, we live a fruitful life, and not one of destruction.

 

When we keep in communication with God through prayer, and see that He answers our prayers, our relationship with Him grows.

 

Simply, a change of focus is what we need. A focus on the finished work of Christ as opposed to the filthiness of our sins. And so often, that makes a world of difference.

 

Happy Easter, everyone. Instead of getting caught up in simple traditions, let us remember the true meaning of it all – of sacrifice, of forgiveness, and above all, of hope.

 

*aj

Why I Don’t Talk Much About Repentance

Why I Don't Talk Much About Repentance

This week, I’ve really had something on my heart.

 

After reading a blog post on the importance of repentance, and realizing I tend to avoid the topic on my blog, I decided it best for me to explain my reasons behind not talking about it much.

 

I am not anti-repentance. For us to let go of our pride and accept what we know we could not earn – salvation – is a truly powerful thing.

 

However, I believe that we Christians often overemphasize the teaching of repentance where it really does not belong.

 

For starters, Hebrews 6:1 refers to repentance as an elementary doctrine. Elementary means simple. Baseline. Something that’s a building block.

 

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God[.]”

 

This verse in Hebrews tells us to leave the elementary doctrine of repentance. I believe this is such an important point, and I’ll elaborate in order to explain what I mean, though it seems confusing at first.

 

When we get saved, we’re usually told to repent of our sins (though I believe it’s more accurate to tell people to acknowledge the fact that they’re sinners, not to repent of every sin they’ve ever committed). We’re told to repent and receive forgiveness. But that’s not all.

 

We’re then told that when we sin, we must confess it to God in order to stay right with Him.

 

But wait a minute. I don’t see how that’s actually accurate.

 

We believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins, right? And we believe that He was the perfect sacrifice, covering every single one of our wrongdoings: past, present, and future, correct?

 

When we put such an emphasis on repenting for every one of our sins, we underscore ourselves. Going with the idea that we must apologize to God for every sin we commit after we’re saved, does that mean that if we die without confessing our last sin, we’ll go to Hell?

 

I know we don’t mean this, or I surely hope we don’t. What about what Jesus said, in John 10:28?

 

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

No one will snatch them out of my hand. That, my friends, is assurance of salvation. That when we put our trust in Jesus for salvation, we cannot lose that.

 

When we put such an emphasis on ourselves, and on making sure we don’t sin without confessing it, we forget about God’s grace.

 

Do we remember what Galatians 2:20-21 says?

 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

 

Paul points out a few imperative things here.

 

1) Sin’s controlling power does not live any longer, for it is Christ’s righteousness that lives in us.

2) We live by faith, not by ‘trying harder.’

3) Our right-standing with God is not through us obeying the law; it is by grace. For if it were, Christ died pointlessly.

 

What’s the central message of this? Living under grace. God knows we’re not perfect, and that’s why Jesus came! For what other reason would He have come to earth? To be a ‘good moral teacher?’ No!

 

If we put such an emphasis on post-salvation repentance, we disregard God’s grace. We disregard the fact that when we received salvation, the righteousness of JESUS HIMSELF was poured out on us. Our sins have been removed from us completely.

 

See, the Bible even explicitly states it in Psalm 103:12.

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

Colossians 2:13-14

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

 

Have you ever forgiven someone for something they’ve done to hurt you, but they still apologize profusely, even after you have assured them that it’s all good? When that happens with me, I just want to say, “Chill out! I forgive you, and we don’t need to keep revisiting what you did. I don’t hold it against you; can we move on?”

 

I think we forget that it’s a bit like that with God.

 

Jesus has forgiven all of our sins. God has pardoned every last one of them. By forcing people to repent of every sin (the ones that Jesus’ blood has already covered), we minimize the power of the cross.

 

We make it about us, instead of making it about Him.

 

And while I definitely have more to say on this, I’ll leave you with this thought in closing:

 

We are forgiven already. Let us move on from stressing repentance, and let’s stress His grace instead and see how important it is to live filled with the Spirit.

 

Come back on Saturday for part 2, where I’ll be digging deeper into what repentance should mean for us, and how to live in grace in a biblical sense.

 

*aj

Dear Reader: You Are Loved No Matter What

Dear Reader- You Are Loved No Matter What

Dear Reader,

 

I want you to know that you are loved.

 

I want you to see that not only are you not your past, but you are not loved because of anything you could ever do.

 

While some see that as depressing, I see that as relieving. That no matter what I do, I cannot “lose” God’s love. Neither can you.

 

We cannot sin so many times to retract God’s love from us. We cannot make so many mistakes or bad decisions, or be such a disappointment that God says, “Sorry kid, I don’t love you anymore.”

 

The reality is that His love has nothing to do with our performance, but everything to do with His mercy and grace.

 

The conditions on which He loves us have nothing do do with who we are but who He is.

 

We make mistakes, and we sin. Our inherent nature is not to be perfect, but to live for ourselves. Yet God is different. God doesn’t say, “I love you because you’re perfect,” He says, “I love you because I am perfect.”

 

“I love you because I created you.”

“I love you because even though you do not deserve it, I choose to love you.”

 

That’s powerful.

 

You are cherished, no matter what your life looks like.

 

I’m not trying to say, “Hey, everyone! Because God loves you regardless of your lifestyle, go live however you want!” My point is to the contrary.

 

In knowing that we are loved in spite of the fact that we’re utterly imperfect, we find freedom. Not to live as slaves to our sinful desires, for when we grasp the love of God, the love of sin won’t seem so lovely anymore.

 

See, the love of God didn’t stop with the simple phrase, “I love you.” It only started there. It was an “I love you; let me prove it to you.”

 

Sending Jesus to die to pay the price of the forgiveness of our sins (whew, that was a mouthful) brought that love from just a word to an action. God didn’t sit back and say to us, “I love you, but you’re gonna have to figure it out on your own, because that whole sin mess you got yourselves into is ugly and tough to deal with, so good luck.”

 

No, He said, “I love you, and I don’t want to see any of you spend eternity apart from me. Here is my Son, to die and rise from the dead, that in believing in Him you may have life and be my child.”

 

John 20:31

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

 

John 1:12-13

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

 

So Dear Reader, no matter what you do, you are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). You are loved by a God who desperately wants to have a relationship with you. You are loved because of who He is and because of His amazing grace, and not because of your performance.

 

Let us not forget that that we are NEVER out of the reach of His mercy and love.

 

*aj

You Have A Purpose

You Have A Purpose-2

Yesterday afternoon, I had a wonderful idea for today’s blog post. “I’ll remember it,” I told myself. Did I remember it? Of course not. So goes the life of a blogger.

 

Recently, I’ve been addressing topics having to do with life and purpose. I haven’t explicitly stated that, but let’s look at the most recent ones and you’ll see what I mean.

 

In There is Always Hope, I discussed how we can have hope even in the darkest situations of our lives. Similarly, in Where Does Your Strength Come From? I explained that we need to rely on God to get through our difficulties. In Don’t Regret Where You Are and There is A Plan For You, I talked about living lives glorifying to God right where we are. That it doesn’t matter what point in life we’re at, but that we make the most of the lives that God has given us. In Christianity: Hypocrisy vs. Authenticity, I wrote about living authentically as a Christian.

 

As you can probably see by my past five posts, life and purpose are important to me. So to tie those posts together, I’d like to explore purpose today.

 

Before we get into why purpose is important, I want to establish what it is.

 

The handy-dandy dictionary.com says that purpose is “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.”

 

Therefore, it stands to reason that our purpose is the reason we were made. Why we’re here.

 

As Christians, we’re not left in the dark about this, though. We don’t need to wander aimlessly through life, crossing our fingers and hoping we make the right decisions. We can live a life full of purpose and meaning, and we don’t have to wonder what that is.

 

Firstly, we must acknowledge that God creates our purpose for us. His purpose is worked out in our lives through us.

 

One of my favorite verses is this one.

 

Job 42:2

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

 

It’s so encouraging to me to know that God’s plans surpass my own, and that no one can get in the way of His purpose and will. But what is His will?

 

John 6:40

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

 

I find that to be an interesting verse. It’s such assurance to know that everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus will be saved, and that salvation is not withheld from anyone who wants it.

 

2 Timothy 1:9

“[God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”

 

His salvation of us is by His grace alone, and not by our works. Because of His grace, we have been called to live in holiness – that is, as new creations in Christ, the holy people He has transformed us to be. We have purpose in this – to live out new, transformed lives.

 

Purpose is what gives our lives meaning. Purpose gives us a reason to live. A reason to get up in the morning. A reason to put others before ourselves and press on through hardships.

 

In this life, we’ll have difficult times. We’ll struggle, and stumble, and mess up because we’re not perfect. This life can get us down, stressed, depressed, discouraged, whatever. But because of salvation, we have such a great hope. We have the hope (and assurance) of everlasting life in Heaven, and God is not withholding that from us.

 

God desires for us all to choose Him, for us all to choose everlasting life.

 

This doesn’t mean that everyone on earth is saved, but that everyone who calls upon Him for salvation will receive it. It’s our choice. And His grace.

 

Romans 10:13

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

 

With this purpose in our lives, a reason to live, and an assurance to inspire us to press on, we don’t have to fumble around. We can live confidently, hopefully, and peacefully, in knowing that there is, in fact, a purpose for us.

 

*aj

Christianity: Hypocrisy vs. Authenticity (+ news!)

Christianity

 

Something I find really interesting is the concept that Christians are hypocrites. Don’t get me wrong, so many of us can be. We’re imperfect, and just accepting Jesus doesn’t make us perfect, stellar human beings. We still have a sin nature. We’re still tempted, and we still fall into sin sometimes.

 

But I think I’m starting to figure out the difference between hypocritical Christians and authentic ones.

 

Let’s compare the two. Comparisons are helpful.

 

Hypocrites are motivated selfishly, to live a “Christian” life for what they can get out of it. However, authentic Christians embrace humility and selflessness.

Philippians 2:3

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

 

Understanding the Gospel means that we understand our lowly state. That because we were sinners, Christ died for us. Not because we deserved it. Knowing that we don’t deserve anything brings us to a state of humility – and also of freedom. HE LOVES ME! I don’t have to prove anything! This is such a contrast from walking around on eggshells, trying to prove that you’re a good person. News flash: no matter how hard you “just try,” you won’t be able to measure up.

 

Hypocrites live to impress others. Authentics (I’m going to coin that word for the moment) seek approval from God. I don’t mean in earning salvation, but I mean in “living the Christian life.”

 

Person A: LOOK AT ME OVER HERE, SLAVING AWAY FOR JESUS, THIS IS REALLY HARD, ISN’T ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION TO ME?

Person B: I love Jesus and want to serve Him with my life – He saved it, after all.

 

I’m not saying we have to have to use Person B’s words, but without that heart attitude, we won’t grow in our faith. Church and Jesus and Bible all becomes like empty religion – meaningless obligation, filthy rags.

 

Galatians 1:10

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

 

1 Thessalonians 2:4

“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

 

Who are we trying to please? What are we living for? To please, or not to please — that is the question. (Hehe.)

 

And one more difference, before I close.

Hypocrites try to be perfect. Authentics know they are new in Christ, and do not have to put on a face of impeccability.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

As authentic Christians (meaning that we’re not trying to pretend to be someone that we’re not), we don’t need to “work hard” or “prove that we’re saved” or “pretend to be flawless” or anything like that. We are new creations. We are no longer under condemnation.

 

Romans 8:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

 

When we experience God’s love and grace, it’s more natural to be authentic.

 

We don’t have to pretend to love God because we already do. We don’t have to pretend to be overwhelmed my grace because we already are. We don’t have to pretend to enjoy serving God because we already will.

 

Authenticity isn’t hard to come by. It’s true that no matter who we are, because we’re imperfect, we’ll all be accused of hypocrisy at some point. But that’s not our focus.

 

The focus here is to understand this amazing love, and not get caught up in dos and don’ts.

 

We don’t have to get caught up trying to live a perfect life, because we can’t.

 

We must get to the root – understanding grace, and hope, and truth, and love, and out of that will flow an authentic life.

 

 

Oh, I have news! If you hadn’t noticed it on the sidebar of my blog, I joined Twitter on Saturday. So, you can follow me and see my tweets at https://twitter.com/amanda_beguerie/ or just search my handle, @amanda_beguerie. All lowercase. So far, I’ve posted Bible verse graphics, and when I think of something profound to say…then I’ll be sure to tweet those too. My goodness, am I new at this.

 

*aj