The New Has Come

The New Has Come

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance -- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” [Hebrews 9:1]

Imagine if we still had to sacrifice animals for our sins like they did in the Old Testament under the old covenant. That would be wild, but that is how the Israelites lived before Jesus. The glorious news is that we are no longer under the old covenant, but we are living in the new covenant. The old has passed away, the new has come. Praise be to God that Jesus is the guarantee of this new and better covenant. Jesus is our Great High Priest who is continually interceding for us, and through faith in him, he is able to completely save us.
One of the roles of the high priest in the old covenant was to enter into the Most Holy Place once a year by the blood of a sacrifice to make temporary atonement for the sins of the people. We see in Hebrews 9:15 that Jesus is the mediator of the new and better covenant. What does this mean? Jesus, our Great High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place once and for all, not by the blood of animal sacrifices, but by his own blood and offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God. Because of this incredible act of love, the blood of Christ is able to purify us from the acts that lead to death (sin)!

Part of our faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus, includes recognizing that he died in our place. He died as a ransom to set us free. He set us free from the bondage of sin and death. Not only did he set us free, but he gave us life. An abundant, overflowing with joy, full of hope life that fulfills our every need. What an incredible love story! The God of the universe died on a tree to take away our sins and restore our relationship with him. Oh how great are the riches of his glorious grace that is revealed to us on the cross.

God wants to have a relationship with you. He is your friend. There is no greater love than laying down one’s life for one’s friends, and that is exactly what Jesus did! The pressure is off. The old covenant has passed. We don’t have to earn our right standing, we don’t have to earn eternal life, there is nothing we can do except believe in Jesus and his work on the cross.

Spend time with God today. He wants an actual relationship with you. Pray. Just talk to him -- prayer begets prayer. He has breathed-out living and active words onto the pages of the Bible, and we are so blessed to have these words at our fingertips. Don’t take that for granted. Read them. Love them. Meditate on them. Pray over them. It is the most important thing you could do today.

-Bryce

Pray:

Lord Jesus, I praise you for the work you did on the cross. Thank you for dying as a ransom so that I may live. Give me grace as I pursue you. Give me understanding as I read your Word. Give me a newfound passion for prayer and my relationship with you. I love you Jesus! Amen.

The Freedom We Find in God's Forgiveness

The Freedom We Find in God's Forgiveness

“For I will demonstrate my mercy to them and will forgive their evil deeds, and never remember again their sins.” [Hebrews 8:12 TPT]

In Hebrews 8, Paul recounts a part of Jeremiah 31 where God explains the purpose of the new covenant (aka Jesus). It explains God’s heart to deeply know and be known by His people and how this will be full of love, intimacy and mercy.

Verse 12 explains God’s heart of mercy for people who are in Jesus. And reading this verse, I am hit with the power of God’s mercy and forgiveness. I don’t know if you ever struggle with shame and guilt from sin; but I definitely do at times.

God Himself says that He will “never remember again [our] sins” because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
I think sometimes we think that God is going to one day bring something back up. Hold something against us in the future. That He says that He fully forgives and forgets, but doesn’t actually mean it. But one thing I’ve learned is that in Jesus we have a complete freedom to take God at His word. We get to choose trust. And if He says that He forgives and forgets our sins, we get to trust Him in that. So, I think here God is giving us full permission to live in freedom from our shame and guilt of our sins.

Once we confess and repent of our sins, we are good! We are okay! We are free! God isn’t hung up on them, so you don’t need to be either! I say all this to encourage you: God isn’t going to hold your stuff against you, so you don’t need to hold it against yourself.

Yes, sometimes we might need to take steps and time to be completely free from the strongholds or affects of sin on our lives. We might have to learn new habits or ask for an accountability partner or have hard conversations or speak with a counselor. However, we still have complete freedom from sin in midst and process of healing. And taking time to heal and transform does not mean that we are still in the throngs of sin. And God still looks at us as pure as ever. Be encouraged that God loves you. He forgives you. And you are okay.

-Hannah

Pray:

God, will You please help me realize the fullness of Your forgiveness and Your mercy? I want to walk in complete freedom from guilt and shame. Thank You for the gift of Jesus on the cross. Thank You that in Him, You find me blameless. I love You! Amen.

Keeper of His Promise

Keeper of His Promise

“For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: ‘I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.’ Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Promises are serious.” [Hebrews 6:13-15]

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you something and you would ask ‘Promise?’ and they would say ‘Promise’ back and you just knew it for sure was going to happen. It was as if all you needed was that one word and you knew your dreams were going to come true or there were no monsters in your room, or everything was going to be okay, promise. Hearing that word was the best thing but to hear it from your parents was even better because they would never break a promise, right?

Promises are meant to be kept. It’s the giving of your word that they will try their best to make something happen. But that’s just it, we as people can control very little when it comes to anything outside of our own bodies. We can’t control the weather to promise it won’t rain, but sometimes we do. We can’t promise everything will be okay, but sometimes we do. And we for sure cannot promise that life will end up like we think it will, but sometimes we do.

Then life happens and those promises break. Your word you gave or someone gave you, broken. It stings being on the receiving end of that broken word because for a moment you put your trust in that circumstance or person. Promises left un-kept are often a part of growing up with people. We strive for certainty, giving our word when we shouldn’t because we hate the feeling of letting people down or disappoint those we love. I can imagine when God originally promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, of making his descendants like those on the sand, the word promise meant a lot. Abraham KNEW it would happen because God said that word. But then time grew between the promise and the fulfillment, Abraham started doubting because like humans, Abraham knew all too well the signs of a broken promise.

Abraham waited and waited and still no signs of a child. Almost 20 years Abraham did life in the tension.

But God doesn’t lie or change His mind. His character is how He loves us so fervently and big that He makes promises, swears them on His name because there is no one bigger, and then delivers.

“15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.” (Heb.6:15) Abraham received what God promised. 20 years later, God delivered and Abraham saw a glimpse of the full promise: descendants out numbering the grains of sand on the shore. Friends, God is a promise keeper. It’s who He is. He doesn’t struggle with people pleasing or striving to not disappoint. God isn’t ruled by our feelings or expectations. He sets His own and He is consistent in living out of them. This is great news! Because with God, we aren’t on a rollercoaster of figuring out He promised just to make us feel good only to break it because He never meant it anyway.

God is not human. We don’t have to take our human notions and preconceived opinions and put them on God. He is so much better than that. He keeps His promise. And that feeling of disappoint from a broken word? You will never know it from God. If God promises something to you, wait patiently, and know it’s coming. The how and when of the deliverance of the promise are unknown, but just know, if it hasn’t come to fruition in this lifetime, it will in the next, and there will be a party knowing God is a keeper of His word.

-Reagan

Pray:

God, thank you that you are a keeper of your promise. Thank you that you don't change your mind. Help me know who you are deeper. Help me see you rightly and living out of the knowledge that you are as far kind as you are good. I love you!

Jesus: The Ultimate High Priest

Jesus: The Ultimate High Priest

“And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” [Hebrews 5:9-10]

First off, I’d encourage you to stop reading this and go read Hebrews chapter 5. It’s fairly short and should be a quick, easy read. Read it? Amazing. Welcome back. Up to this point in the book, the writer of Hebrews has been showing that Jesus is exalted higher than anyone else. He is higher than angels and He is higher than God’s prophets. In chapter 5, the author compares Jesus with the high priests of Israel.

Let's start by asking the question “who were the priests”? The role of the priests was to represent the nation of Israel before God and to offer sacrifices on behalf of Israel’s sin. The sacrifices were made to cover over the sins of the people. These sacrifices allowed the people to live in harmony with God and bought their forgiveness. In chapter 5, the author of Hebrews points out that even these priests themselves sinned. Chapter 5 verse 2-3 says, “...since he [the priest] himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.” This highlights a problem. This was an imperfect system, so God wanted to perfect it. Humans were still unable to fully live in relationship with God because even the sacrifices were flawed. For this reason, Jesus came into the world to be the perfect sacrifice. Hebrews 5:9-10 says, “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” By being a perfect sacrifice, Jesus died so that you and I don't have to die. Jesus died so that you and I can live with Him.

Think of this truth: Jesus died for you. Now you are able to have a relationship with God. Do you actually believe that? If so, do you actually live like this is true? The second half of Hebrews 5 is encouraging the readers to solidify their knowledge of simple truths. So right now, take some time to consider this simple truth of the gospel. Invite God into your thoughts and have a conversation with Him about what He has done.

Pray:

Father, thank You for sending Your son Jesus to die for me. Thank You that I now have access to You in a loving relationship. Please lead me in this relationship, and draw me near to You. Show me Your love. Amen.

Glory and Honor

Glory and Honor

"He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything, “ [Hebrews 3:2-4] NIV

The writer(s) of Hebrews are writing this letter to the Hebrew Christians at the time, specifically those who were struggling to believe that Jesus Christ was their Lord and Savior. At this time, they were being persecuted for being Christian, and were becoming unsure about the goodness of God because of the difficulties they were experiencing. Like the early Christians, it is so incredibly easy for us to become discouraged in our faith because we experience hardships. The authors, here, really want to communicate the sufficiency and superiority of Christ.

In chapter 3, verse 2, the authors say that Jesus was faithful to the One who gave Him his appointing. He compared this appointing to Moses’ appointing and his faithfulness when he believed that God would help him lead the Israelites out of Egypt. What makes Jesus special and superior is the spiritual and emotional freedom that he offers. While God appointed Moses to lead His people out of Egypt’s slavery, God appointed Jesus to lead His people out of their sin. Think of an appointing like God nominating you to do something, or delegating a specific job to you. God nominated Jesus to provide a way to salvation. Jesus was faithful and believed God to come through.

In verse 3, the authors declare that Jesus was found worthy of greater glory and honor than Moses. Moses, once a leader of the Jewish people, created and built the tabernacle. But Jesus, the savior, was the literal creator of all creation. Jesus was there with God in the beginning of time. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” The authors explain how the builder of a house deserves more glory and honor than the actual house itself.

Of course. This makes sense. All glory and honor belongs to God. In the Passion Translation, verse 4 says that God is the Designer and Builder of all things. If God created all things, there should never be a time when we choose to give any glory or honor to anything or anyone other than Him. All humans are inclined to worship. We are constantly on the hunt to worship something or someone. We must choose to worship God above all else, and to never settle for Moses or his tabernacle.

“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything,” (verse 4). My body houses the Holy Spirit. It’s a temple where He dwells (1 Corinthians 16:9). Yet, my body deserves no glory or honor or praise. God, who formed my innermost parts and knitted me together in my mother’s womb, deserves all the glory and honor and praise. Colossians 1:16 says, "For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for him." Through Him and for Him. Through Him and for Him. Through Him and for Him.

-KB

Pray:

God, thank you for showing me your glory. Thank you for sending your Son to lead me out of slavery and into freedom. You are worthy of my praise, of all glory and honor. God, increase my wonder of you. Remind me that you are my best choice. When I consider what You've created, help me to respond in worship. Help me to elevate Your name always, and to communicate your sufficiency and sovereignty in everything I do and say. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Sons and Daughters

Sons and Daughters

“For now he towers above all creation, for all things exist through him and for him. And that God made him, pioneer of our salvation, perfect through his sufferings, for this is how he brings many sons and daughters to share in his glory. Jesus, the Holy One, makes us holy. And as sons and daughters, we now belong to his same Father, so he is not ashamed or embarrassed to introduce us as his brothers and sisters!” [Hebrews 2:10-11]

This morning, as we read through Hebrews, I think we should gain confidence and vision for who God has created us to be and what he thinks of us. Some people spend their entire time in college wondering who they are but I think God wants us to know exactly who we are so that we can walk boldly and approach him confidently.

Let’s get a quick recap of who we are based on the above verse: We are sons and daughters that share in the glory of Jesus Christ, through whom all of creation was made. We are made holy by THE Holy One. We belong to the Father of this Holy One, we are a part of this holy family, a family in which our Father is PROUD to call us his own. 

Jesus has always meant for us to have a right view of who he made us to be. It is not a secret that you are a part of a family that has a glorious inheritance. I think that Christians feel like they have to consider themselves as less than a speck of dirt, but God wants you to understand the high position that you have been lifted up too. 

And that is also important to realize: you have been lifted up by God, covered in the blood of Jesus who made you holy and brought you into the glory of God. You did not earn this. You did not spend “enough” time in the Word. You did not do “enough” good things. Jesus died for you. You may have heard that in Sunday school your whole life but let it sink in. Jesus died and brought you into glory. He didn’t die and then say “But my blood will only cover you if you can also make yourself holy enough by doing good things and not doing bad things.” You haven’t done anything to deserve it or to lose it but you are glorified by Christ and you have been made holy because of what Jesus Christ has done for you.

This holy position should bring us incredible confidence. Jesus is NOT ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters so we get to approach the throne of God confidently. You get to talk with God as your Father. That may seem difficult or unappealing based off of your family situation but in God’s heavenly order, this looks like knowing that you are valued and seen and unconditionally loved by God the Father. You can come to him safely with your questions, anger, confusion, joy excitement and everything in between. 

You have authority in the name of Jesus because you have been brought into the family of God. You get to walk confidently and boldly in who you have been made to be, knowing this identity has been freely given to you and that it cannot be taken away. 

-Julia

Pray:

God, thank you that you are my kind and loving Father. You have brought me into glory and made me holy. Help me to live out of a deep thankfulness for what you have done for me and an unshakeable confidence in my place in your family. Amen.

Jesus: Greater Than All

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Jesus: Greater Than All

The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature—his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word. He accomplished for us the complete cleansing of sins, and then took his seat on the highest throne at the right hand of the majestic One. He is infinitely greater than angels, for he inherited a rank and a Name far greater than theirs. [Hebrews 1:3-4 TPT]

Jesus being greater is a major theme in the book of Hebrews. Jesus is greater than every person, practice, policy and procedure in the Old Testament. The fact that Jesus is unquestionably greater than the people and practices in the Old Testament is not just an abstract idea with little impact on your life today. Rather, it demonstrates the fact that God’s plan and desire to redeem His people has moved forward in the person and work of Jesus. The author of Hebrews supports this by comparing the greatness of Jesus to a few people and events from the Old Testament. Let’s look at some examples!

The person of Jesus is greater than anyone else in the Old Testament. Verse 3 states that Jesus, the son of God, represents His Father perfectly, making Him and God equal. As a result of this, Jesus is greater than all of the angels and Moses, etc. He is the ultimate “apostle”, leader of God’s people and sharer of His word. He is the ultimate High Priest whom all the other high priests in the OT merely foreshadowed. Because of this, Jesus alone is the only person who can serve as an “anchor for the soul” (Heb. 6:19).

Jesus is also greater than every event in the Old Testament. Animal sacrifices were never meant to be the end-all-be-all for covering sins, it was only temporary. Instead, God designed the entire “sacrificial system” as a means of pointing people to the ultimate sacrifice for sins: Jesus dying on the cross! Jesus’ death on the cross established a permanent path by which sinful people could have a relationship with God with nothing holding them back. God promised a day when He would give His people the full ability to obey Him, a day when He would live in complete harmony with His people. With this in view, Jesus made a “new covenant” between God and people (Heb. 9:15).

Finally, Jesus is the “pioneer and perfecter of faith”, meaning that He is where people first encounter God the Father and continue to encounter Him. Jesus never changes unlike the many patterns and seasons of life. To encounter God, we simply need to go to Jesus and trust in His sacrificial work to cover their sins.

-Kailey

Pray:

Jesus, thank you for coming to earth to be the living and breathing face of God. Thank you for being greater than anything in the Old Testament and establishing a new covenant through your love and sacrifice. I will never stop wanting to learn new things about you so please keep revealing yourself to me! I love you, Amen.

 

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On Hope

On Hope

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” [Jeremiah 29:11]

This is a guide to pray for hope. Hope is not wishful thinking but it’s an assurance and confidence that we can have in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and kindness. God has given us the gift of hope so we get to be expectant that God is working all things together for our good. It may not look the way we expect it to or happen in the time frame we want but hope allows us to be expectant that God will come through. When you pray for hope, focus on the character of God- who he is- his goodness, kindness, and the fact that he is better than we think. He works all things out for the good of those who love him.

Posturing your heart to hope is a choice. Galatians 6:8 talks about sowing into the Spirit to reap eternal life: “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”. I think this looks like sowing into hope to reap hope. Hope allows you to sow into the good even while you’re experiencing the challenging times.

To pray for hope, first open up your heart to God about the ways you have felt hopeless. Say “God my eyes don’t see your goodness. My heart doesn’t feel your goodness. It is hard for me to believe you’re good when everything around me feels and looks bad”. Maybe your freshman year isn’t looking the way you thought it would. Maybe you feel really lonely and like this place will never feel like home. Maybe you don’t know what it looks like to connect with God but you feel like you can’t. Maybe there are circumstances in your life that feel like they will never get better. Be honest and open up your heart to God about how you feel. You don’t have to pretend to be okay.

Then ask God to fill you with hope. Invite him to invade and change your mindsets. Say “God give me eyes to see what you see. Give me the strength to believe in your provision and goodness even when everything around me tells me otherwise.” Ask him to change the way you think and the way you feel. Ask him to increase your expectancy for the ways that he will move.

Because there is a gap in what we feel and what we want to believe I find it really helpful to declare things about God and who he is until I feel like I believe it more.

Declare this or other true things over yourself:

God is working together all things for my good.

God is good all the time.

God sees me and cares about every detail of my life.

God is near to me.

I am God’s child and I am secure.

God’s goodness is not based on our circumstances.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God!

Pray:

God, fill me with hope! Allow my faith in you to not be based on my circumstances. Fill me with expectancy and change my hopeless mindsets. Give me your eyes.

Fighting Shame

Fighting Shame

But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. [Isaiah 50:7]

Do you believe this verse? Sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around what this actually means. It is so easy to look at our mistakes and feel shame and condemnation. In our culture, we are pressed on every side, and riddled with anxiety and fear, constantly being condemned. Constantly feeling like we are going to be judged or shamed for our mistakes, struggles, and sins. Luckily, we have a God who is not of this world. A God who meets us where we're at every time. A God that wants us to go to him without fear of being shamed. A God who loves us unconditionally. If God says that we have not been disgraced and we will not be put to shame, there is no room for us to live out of a place of insecurity rooted in our shame. God says he will help us. That is a promise. He will help us. We can go to him freely without fear of being shamed because we know his character. We know his goodness. Romans 10:11 states, As scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” It is actually that simple; because we believe in him, because our faith in who he is, we will never be put to shame. I can't think of anything more exciting and freeing. Let’s invite God into the messiest parts of our stories, our lives, so we can walk in more freedom.

First, start by sitting in solitude, drowning out any distractions. Thank God for everything he has given you. Thank God that that you are made perfect in Him. Thank God that he is your strength and your hope. Thank God that he is your helper. Thank God that he is a loving Father. Thank God that he is a loving friend. Thank God for all that he has done for you and all that he will do for you. Thank God that he never shames you.

Now, think about the areas in your life where you feel shame. Dig deeper. Go beyond the surface and figure out what things have a hold on your life that you wish didn’t. Where did those things come from? What lies are you believing? How are you feeding those lies? Don’t be afraid to ask God to take it away. Ask him for the strength to overcome any obstacle or struggle in your life. Ask God for hope in areas you feel hopeless. Ask God for strength in areas you feel weak. Ask God for peace in areas you feel anxious. Ask God for freedom in any and everything that makes you feel shame. Ask God what next steps you need to take that will help rid you of any shame. Sit in those next steps, then ask God how you can partner with him to achieve them.

Finally, ask Him for faith, to believe that everything he says is true. Ask him to break every chain. Ask Him for an expectant to heart. Ask Him for eyes to see his goodness. Ask Him for a heart that believes his goodness is for you. Ask Him to shatter shame in your life, because you know that it is not of Him.

-Denika

Pray:

Lord, thank you that you are God who helps me. Thank you for constantly meeting me where I’m at. Give me the power to say no to any lies and shame that have a hold on my life. Give me a deeper faith to trust you with all things and a deeper understanding of your character to recognize that you will not put me to shame.

For Spiritual Strength

For Spiritual Strength

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3:14-21]

I want this to be a guide that you can follow along and help you pray. Use this as much as you would like; God doesn’t grow tired of hearing the same words from us, he cares about the disposition of our hearts.

A common way I often come to God in prayer is by starting and telling God that I don’t even know what to pray for. I used to think that I had to come to God with all the right things to say, but that’s just not true. Verse 20 tells us that God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for. God already knows all of our thoughts, desires, struggles, and challenges, so I think he simply wants our honesty.

Telling him that we don’t even know where to begin or how to say it, is a great place to start, it’s honest. So, take a moment and pause. Breathe. God doesn’t require you to say any magical words, he simply wants you to come to him honestly. Pray that God would fill you with an ability to trust him. Pray that your greatest desire would be to seek him. Verse 16 tells us that we are strengthened in our inner being and it is through God’s Spirit. Take heart, you can’t transform yourself, only God can. Ask that God would begin to strengthen you and fill you with his Spirit. You don’t have to be put together to ask, simply ask and rely on God to work. He wants us to come to him helpless. It makes us rely on him for strength. I think this is why Jesus was so often calling us to be like children. Matthew 18:3 says, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Children are reliant on their parents. They can’t live without them, so they rely on their strength. God wants your weakness. Simply ask God to be your strength. It’s okay to admit you can’t do it on your own.

Take a few minutes and think of the things that keep us from trusting God. What are the things that keep us from being real with him? Now tell God those things. Ask God that he would equip you to trust him, that he would fill you with all the fullness of God. Pray that in your weakness you would simply trust God and would lean back into his goodness. God is right there, ask him to be your strength.

Ask him to encourage and equip you for the things you haven’t even thought to pray for. Now take a few minutes and just sit with God. God is working even when we are just silent with him.

Lastly, reread Ephesians 3:14-21, pray it over yourself.

Pray:

Lord I pray that this prayer would ring true in my life. I pray that you would fill me with your Spiritual and equip me to trust you more deeply. Lord I can't do this apart from you. Thank you that you are with me. Amen.

For Purity

For Purity

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." [Matthew 5:8]

Use this to guide you in praying for purity. What a promise we have from God: that the pure in heart will see him! Purity comes in many facets of life - the things we think, the things we say, and the things we do. It is not only an external issue with which we deal. Purity should penetrate to the very core of our beings. It is rooted in what is in our hearts. Our hearts are that on which the Lord looks, and out of the overflow of our hearts, we think, we speak, we do.

In John 15:3, Jesus says, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” You are ALREADY clean. Let that sink into the core of your being. Pray that truth over your life. We are pure because we are covered by Christ's righteousness. The truest nature of our purity does not come from ourselves or anything we can do, but it comes through the work that Christ did on the cross. Praise God that it is not of ourselves! Picture Jesus on the cross. Really picture him hanging there. He died on that cross so that we may have life and have it abundantly. Impurity steals, kills, and destroys life. Jesus did not die so that we might be mastered by impurity. Thank Jesus for what he did on the cross. Search your heart and let go of anything that keeps you from believing that you are clean, righteous, and pure through the power of the cross. We have been washed by the blood of Christ!

Though Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to those who are in him, giving us a new spiritual nature, we still must wage war against the desires of the flesh. Paul discusses the dichotomy of having both an earthly and spiritual nature that wage war against each other in Romans 7. We must put to death the things belonging to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Pray for the power and courage to wage war against the ever-so-tempting desires of our flesh. God’s will for your life is that you would be pure. Here it is again: God’s will for YOUR life is that you would be pure. In his kindness, He doesn’t leave us alone in this battle. He has given us weapons to fight impurity.

For those who are in Christ, we have the Spirit of God living inside of us! Praise God! 1 Corinthians 6:19 declares that our “bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.” Do you know what this means? God is with us at all times. There is not a moment that he is not there. In the days of the Old Testament when there was an actual temple in Jerusalem, people would come from all around to worship and pray to God because his presence was in the temple. Now, because of Jesus, God has sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. Therefore, if God is residing in us, how much more should we desire to honor him by having pure thoughts, saying pure things, and keeping ourselves from impure acts. Pray that the reality of being a temple of the Holy Spirit would hit you.

Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Everywhere we turn, the world is attempting to lead us astray from God. We must continually renew our minds through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, so that we may be transformed to be more like our Savior and Lord, Jesus. We must take every impure thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. The first step of taking thoughts captive is recognizing our impure thoughts for what they are. Ask God to give you awareness of the impure thoughts that you have, the impure things you say, and the impure acts that you do. The second step is actually taking them captive, killing them, and turning to Jesus to confidently rest in His righteous that has been imputed to you.

-Bryce

Pray:

Ask God for a pure heart. Ask for a renewed mind. Ask for the power to take your thoughts captive. Pray that you may be filled with the Spirit so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure under Christ who is our righteousness.

On Growing in Desire to Know God

On Growing in Desire to Know God

“Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer. In his shelter in the day of trouble, that’s where you’ll find me, for he hides me there in his holiness. He has smuggled me into his secret place, where I’m kept safe and secure— out of reach from all my enemies. Triumphant now, I’ll bring him my offerings of praise, singing and shouting with ecstatic joy! Yes, listen and you can hear the fanfare of my shouts of praise to the Lord!” [Psalm 27:4-6 TPT]

I have this super distinct memory from my freshman year. I was sitting on a Monday night in my Freshley small group, and I had this realization: I really did not have that much of a desire for God.

In that moment, I think it could have been easy to feel shame or condemnation. I think that it could have been really easy for me in that moment to be tempted to just give up on following God. But that’s actually not what happened.

In the moment directly after that, I realized that while I didn’t desire Him yet, I did have a desire to desire God. So, I prayed one of the most simple (and quite honestly blunt) prayers that I have ever prayed. I said to God: “God, I don’t want You now, but I want to want to want You. But I don’t think I can make myself do that. Will You help me want You?”

And that was it—that was the prayer. So simple right? But let me tell you: God truly came through and answered that prayer. Within months, He had met me and encountered me. I experienced Him in some of the deepest ways that I ever have to this day. And let me tell you: I wanted Him deeply. And I truly believe that that shift in my heart was just an incredible kind answer to that prayer I prayed silently that night in the middle of my small group.

So, whether you have next to no desire for God or you already crave His presence and just want more, I would love to help you pray into what He has for you. The rest of this blog is just going to guide you through some practical ways to desire Him more.

Sit in a quiet place. Sit in silence or sit with some peaceful music. Say, “God, will You come and meet me in this place?” Then, just sit with your eyes shut for a few seconds or a few minutes. Take your time, but also remember that more time does not make you more holy. Then begin to pray: “God, I want to desire You more. I confess that I follow You wholeheartedly without Your sustaining me. Will you sustain and grow my desire for you?” Read Psalm 27:4-6. Ask God where in your life you see a desire to be with Him and know Him? Ask Him where He has more for you. Pray “God, will You show me the sweet loveliness of Your face? Will You draw me into your secret place? God, please help my desire for You grow.” As you’re praying these things, you might feel a pressure to force yourself to feel a certain way or to think certain thoughts. I want to challenge you to not make yourself do anything. I want to invite you to just simply allow God to come in more and do a work in your heart. Don’t try to force anything. Let Him come in and move because He wants to meet you there. Ask God what it would look like for you to grow in your desire for Him. If certain ideas pop into your mind, write them down. See how you can apply them to your life over the next few days. Pray “God, I want to want You. I want to grow in my desire for You. Will You help me?” And then just sit and rest in His presence. Give yourself at least three minutes to just be still. And then you can stay sitting and praying and listening to God for however long you want; but remember, please don’t feel a pressure to stay forever because I really do mean it when I say more time does not make your more holy. Close your time with a simple prayer.

-Hannah

Pray:

God, I want to want You. I want to grow in my desire for You. Will You help me?

On Trust

On Trust

“When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.

2 He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence.

3 He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and he will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse.

4 His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.

5 You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you.

6 Don’t fear a thing! Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you, nor will the powers of evil launched against you.

7 Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed, you will remain unscathed and unharmed.

8 you will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment, for they will be paid back for what they have done!

9–10 When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm. How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?

11 God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm.

12 If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you and keep you from stumbling.

13 You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet!

14 For here is what the Lord has spoken to me: “Because you have delighted in me as my great lover, I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face.

15 I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.

16 You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!” [Psalm 91]

I had a season a few months ago where I was riddled with anxiety. From small things like which way to take home to big things of what to do with my future. I was fearful and worried that what I did wasn’t what God had for me and in turn, wouldn’t be good. I was scared to commit because if I messed up then I felt like I failed. I would let my worries and negative thoughts take over my mind so my normal, outgoing and people-loving personality became that of a hiding, people-avoidant one. I hurt, emotionally and mentally, because I so deeply wanted some security and stability but I didn’t know how to get it. I would cry out to God to help me and take away the wrong feelings and lies in my head, but I wouldn’t slow down long enough for Him to speak or move. Can you relate? Or maybe it isn’t you but someone you are close with, who you see second-guessing themselves out of good things. It sucks. But thankfully with God, it doesn’t end there.

About three months into what seemed like a year of worry that I heard God speak Psalm 91 over me. He spoke it over me and kept speaking it over me until I took it and started speaking it over myself.

I read it and read it like a promise over me. God, my El Shaddi, protects and gives me hope and security as my confidence, my trust. I realized, for me, the anxious thoughts and feelings were coming from a place of displaced trust. I wanted control. Control with my future, my plans, my people. It doesn’t take much to know that there are very little things we can control. One of those was my mindset and my feelings. I took the trust I put in my circumstances and in myself and put it on God. I gave him every worry, every doubt, every bad thought and he gave me hope. He gave me peace. He made me feel loved and seen even through the storm of my craziness.

And he wants to do that for you too.

He is good for His word and his word says “I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face” (Psalm 91:15) .

Trusting in God is good. God doesn’t break trust. He isn’t human that he lies or changes His mind. So when you are anxious or worried, read Psalm 91 over yourself. Know that God delights in protecting you, his kid. You are loved and seen by God.

-Reagan

Pray:

God thank you that it is your joy to honor my trust in you. You delight in our love for you so thank you. Help me see where my trust may be misplaced and help me place it in You. You are good to me and for me. I love you. Amen.

For Rest

For Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

If I’m completely honest, I find it super difficult to rest. And I'm not talking about sleep. Sleep is important, but I’m talking about something different. It is totally possible to get tons of sleep, but still find your soul restless. In the verses above, Jesus says “come to me”. Jesus is the source of real rest. I truly believe this is the most crucial part of finding rest. What are you doing to spend time with Jesus? How are you inviting Jesus into your daily life?

I mentioned above that I find it hard to rest. I think the reason is because I feel like its unproductive. I'm the type of person who always has to be doing something. I often view rest as a waste of precious time. However, God has taught me in the past couple of years the importance of rest. To start, I’d encourage you to think about what you love doing. What seems to give you life? For example, things that seem to do this for me is playing music, playing basketball, or doing something active outside with friends. These things are life-giving to me and are things I resort to when I'm feeling stressed out. Think about what gives you life. Knowing these things is honestly just good emotional intelligence.

To take things a step further, I've mentioned that Jesus is the source of ultimate rest. So, think about the “life-giving” things in your life. How can you invite God into these activities? According to scripture, the Holy Spirit is in us. God is always with us. So think of how you can connect with God by doing what you love. To give another personal example, I’ll sometimes play basketball with God. This sounds weird at first, but all I mean is that I will go shoot hoops while listening to worship music, and I’ll pray the entire time I play. I'm doing what I love while spending time with the God I love. What can you do? Maybe go on a drive with God? Or for you ~fit~ people, go on a run with God. God wants a relationship with you. So I encourage you to enter into relationship with Him. Ultimately if you want rest, you need to spend time with God. So find where you can have intentional one-on-one time with Him.

-Avery

Pray:

Take some time praying through the following:

Take some time to humble yourself before God. Close your eyes and think of who He is. He is God, He is powerful, and He loves you enough to die for you. Thank Him for this truth.

Ask God what He thinks about rest. -Ask God to show you where you need to find better rest.

Invite God into your day. What will you be doing later? Ask Him to join you in those things.

Take a minute or two (or three if you’re feeling crazy) and just sit in silence. Think about God. Think about what Jesus did for you. Think of how great it is that the Holy Spirit is with us always.

For Self-Worth

For Self-Worth

“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” [Isaiah 43:1]

We are easily our harshest critic. Too often, we talk ourselves down and lose sight of our incredibly great worth that we have in Christ. So for this prayer guide, I just want to take a minute to speak life over you.

God calls you His own. He who created you, and formed you uniquely, calls you by your name. He asks that you don’t fear, because He has redeemed you. Google defines “redeem” as “to gain or regain possession of something or someone in exchange for payment”. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells you that when you believe in the Lord, He claims you as His own, marking you with His Holy Spirit, and promising goodness for you who are redeemed, because you are His possession. The greatest exchange was that which God made on the cross: Christ’s life for your sin. God chose to make that exchange and to redeem you.

Let the truth of that sink in.

The God of the universe calls you His own. Psalm 139 tells you you are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Passion translation of 1 Corinthians 6:20 says you were “God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood”. You are chosen by God, His special possession. You walk in the light of His goodness, because you are God’s chosen treasure. A literal prize in His eyes. Luke 12:7 says “the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Remember that game, “He/she loves me, he/she loves me not?” with the flower petals? That’s not a game you have to play with God. You don’t have to worry which petal you end on. Every single petal screams God’s love for you. It is so guaranteed. No conditions, no guidelines.

One of the loudest truths that I learned a few years from Daniel Simmons at Freshley was this: There’s nothing you can do that would make God love you any more, and there’s nothing you could do that would make God love you any less.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. God is full of endless and abundant grace - there is so much freedom when we receive that. When we live in the truth of knowing that we are God’s, we can live confident and free, lavished in His love. Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Let this prayer time be a time of declaring truth over yourself. Change all of the pronouns from this prayer guide to say “I,” so that it’s personal to you, and speak life over yourself.

I am loved.

I am redeemed.

I am His.

God, I choose your voice over all others. Your voice holds authority. Your voice has influence. God, help me to be confident in who I am in You. Repeat these truths to me every moment, so that I can live my life in light of You.

-KB

Pray:

God, I choose your voice over all others. Your voice holds authority. Your voice has influence. God, help me to be confident in who I am in You. Repeat these truths to me every moment, so that I can live my life in light of You.

On Community

On Community

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’”  [Genesis 2:18]

This is a prayer guide on community. More specifically, this is a prayer guide for believing that God has good community for you. I know that freshmen year it is very emotionally and physically tiring and it can be easy to convince yourself that of a few false things: that you are okay with being alone, that you aren’t worthy of community, or that everyone has already found their people and you aren’t wanted. These however, are all lies, and God has the exact opposite for you. 

Start out by just sitting and welcoming God into the room. Ask him to come close. If this has been uncomfortable recently and you don’t feel close to him, start to consider why that might be. Do you feel like he isn’t on your side? Do you feel like he is withholding good things, like community, from you? Remind yourself of God’s goodness. Remind yourself of all of the times that God has provided for you in the past. Thank him for those times and be reminded that he is on your side and has been from the very beginning. He did not even withhold his own son from you so he is most certainly not withholding good community from you. Community was God’s idea, meaning it is perfectly in line with his desires that you have strong community to build you up.

 

Now, think about your dreams for community. What have you always hoped to find in Godly community? Tell those dreams to God. When you think of your dreams for community, what “But..” statements come up? What are the things that you believe make those dreams seem far off or impossible? Is it that you think you aren’t worthy of being known? That you aren’t “fun enough”, “wise enough”, “interesting enough”, etc.? Whatever it is that keeps you from believing that good, healthy community is not for you is completely a lie. There is not one ounce of truth in it. The truth is that God wants you in healthy community where you can come to know him and love others and yourself and anything that comes against that truth is completely a lie. 

 

Ask God to replace the lies that you believe about yourself and about him in regards to community with truth about what he actually has for you. He is for you. The first step to walking in community is believing that it is for you, you are worthy of being known, and that God wants it for you more than you do. Spend time asking God for his heart for you and for community. 

-Julia

Pray:

God thank you that you are for me. Thank you that you have good things for me. You do not withhold from me. You want good, healthy community for me. Lord, speak your truth over me. Tell me what you love about me. I am completely worthy of being known and pursued. Thank you for every good thing that you think about me. Lead me into community and bring kind people around me who know you and love you. Thank you that you desire this for me, even more than I desire it for myself. 

On Loneliness

On Loneliness

“The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.” Psalm 145:18-19 (NLT)

This is a practical guide for praying against loneliness. A very common theme for me freshman year was feeling extremely lonely even when I was surrounded by a sea of people at different events, dining halls or in my dorm. I felt a social pressure to be loud, crazy, fun and “desirable” for the people around me which, in turn, resulted in me not being myself at all. When you are known for being someone you’re not, you become very lonely on the inside because no one knows the real you. This is the last thing God wants for us! In Him, we can find fullness rather than emptiness simply by calling on His name and making declarations over who we are in Him. Let’s walk through some time with God asking Him to bring us out of our loneliness and into fullness and freedom!

Start by picturing Jesus just sitting with you– whatever that may look like! He is our greatest friend and the best company to have. Picture His face, His laugh, His demeanor. If you have a hard time with this, try to picture yourself sitting with your best friend in the entire world and think about the attributes that make your best friend so fun to be around. Now take those attributes, multiply them by 1000 and place them onto what you think Jesus looks like for you. Just rest in His presence and don’t strive for anything crazy to happen. You’re just sitting with Jesus and that is the easiest thing to do!

Next, start telling Jesus about the places and situations in your life where you feel lonely. Is it at social events, in your sorority/fraternity, at home, in your dorm? Describe to Him what about those places makes you feel the loneliest. Is it the people around you that seem like they have it all together? Comparing yourself to others and making assumptions on how someone else is doing can get super messy– I know from experience. Ask God to step into those places where comparison takes hold of your mind. Ask Him what He loves the most about you and all of the reasons you are worth loving. Write them down and refer back to them when you feel like you aren’t worth choosing. Ask Him to renew your mind and change your thoughts from that of the enemy to that of Jesus.

Ask Him to reveal His heart for your college experience to you. Tell Him all of the ways you want to see Him move in the next 4 years. Dream big on this one! He is not intimidated by the things you ask of Him­– odds are, He will do something even greater than you think! Let love guide this conversation and show Jesus the ways you want to advance His kingdom this year. Listen to Him tell you all the things He wants to see you do and partner together in it! Ask Him to equip you well and send you to all of the right places to find community and a higher purpose for college (other than getting your education, go to class!!!)

I love Psalm 145:18-19 because it says that the Lord is close to ALL who call on Him. This is great news! Anyone can call on Him. Not people who are “good enough” or do enough things within church/freshley/etc. For God to come close to us, all we have to do is simply call His name. He loves to sit with us and listen to any problem we may have or even just how our day was. Start inviting Him in, He will always accept the invitation!

-Kailey

Pray:

Jesus, thank you that you come close to those who feel lonely. Please give me the freedom to be myself and be confident that it is good enough. Thank you for who you created me to be! Renew my mind and help me take my thoughts captive from the enemy when he tries to put lies in my head about who I am and what college will look like going forward. Thank you bringing me here to UGA and thank you for all you are going to do in me this year! I love you, Amen.

Whole Armor of God

Whole Armor of God

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Ephesians 6:10-17]

Whether or not you realize it, you live in a battle. There is a spiritual battle being waged against God and all believers are impacted. As Paul mentioned, there are powers and spiritual forces, darkness, and evil authorities. They are on assignment to steal, kill, and destroy from you because they are products of the enemy, who is the father of lies. Their mission is to steal, kill, and destroy from the kingdom of God, and therefore from you because you belong to God.

Often when we are discouraged, defeated, struggling, or feeling heavy, it can be accredited to this warfare happening over your soul. You are often times fighting beyond what you can touch, feel, and see. There is spiritual battle over the territory of your soul, and you need to be aware of it.

The good news is that you have not been left defenseless in the war zone. God has given us a full armor of protection to guard us in the midst of the darkness and schemes of the enemy. This scripture is important in recognizing that there is a battle and that yes, God is victorious, but we have to put on our armor and fight, so that we don’t become casualties to the schemes of the enemy when temptation, trials, and hardships come our way.

Paul emphasizes the importance of putting on the whole armor of God. This armor is a gift that provides you with the strength, peace, confidence, and hope to stand firm in Jesus and to stand against the enemy. This armor leaves you fully equipped to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. It is our choice to remember to put on this armor of God and to stand firm believing that it has power over the darkness.

-Jules

Pray:

Lord, Thank you that we have victory through Jesus. Thank you that you don’t leave us defenseless in this battle. Give me strength and grace to put on the whole armor of God, to believe that I am fully protected, and to fight the battle. Help me to be strong in you Lord. Amen.

Out of Hiding

Out of Hiding

“It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” [Ephesians 5: 12-14]

Sometimes I’m afraid to say hard things aloud. I feel like if I don’t say them, then somehow it’s not true. If I don’t call it out, I can pretend that it’s not there. I think that if I hide it really well, maybe I can somehow keep God from finding it. I can somehow pretend that it’s not a struggle, that nothing is actually wrong, that I’m doing okay. And then this thought creeps in, if only someone knew. I don’t want to be alone in this. But then this other thing creeps in and adds to my insecurity: shame. So I keep quiet and my heart grows heavier. I’m hiding from God what he already knows.

Someone recently told me that shame and intimacy are like water and oil. They can exist right next to each other, but they never mix. I try to go deeper with God, but my shame settles on the top, just like oil, never allowing me to get as intimate with God and community as much as I desire.

In this verse Paul encourages us to expose our sinful deeds. When we do that, we go from death to life and God sheds light into our darkest places.

Here are some pretty crazy things I’ve been learning about light coming into our darkest places:

1. When we hide for a long time we get comfortable with our sin. When we stay silent, it may seem like we are approving it. God challenges us to call sin sin.

2. He wants us to come to him with our sins and struggles. He gives us a choice to bring it to him, even though he already knows. When we expose our sins, God actually honors that decision.

3. Paul states in Romans 8: 1, “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” God never condemns or shames us. Instead he says “I love you, partner with me to turn away from your sin.”

4. Light always drives out darkness- when we bring things to light, Satan can’t touch us!!! Satan will use shame to isolate us from God and community, but if we expose that thing that brings us the most shame, he has nothing to use against us. Once you say it, whatever your “it” may be, Satan has no power. That doesn’t mean when you expose your sins and struggles, you’ll immediately be freed from them, but it does mean you don’t have to go through them alone.

5. We are not alone. We were made for community. I am not the exception, and neither are you. Do you believe that? The reward for opening up with God and in community is far greater than any shame we could ever feel, because God knows us, our friends can really know us, they can fight for us. You deserve to be known and fought for. Give them the opportunity.

-Denika

Pray:

God, is there anything in my life that I need to expose? Is there something that weighs so heavy on my heart that I feel is too much to open up about? In whatever place in my heart I believe that lie, give me the strength to give it to you. Give me peace to know that all of me is worth knowing by you and my community.

New Life in Christ

New Life in Christ

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” [Ephesians 4:22-24]

When we know Christ and are made alive and brought to faith in him and when you let him teach you how to live, the first thing he says to you is: change. Take off the old person and put on the new person.

Here in Ephesians, Paul is talking about our transformation through life in Christ. We go from old to new. We become a new person in Christ! Think about how incredible that is. When we know Jesus, we slowly become transformed into a new person, who begins to live more like Jesus.

These verses also highlight how different this is from moral self-improvement. Jesus doesn’t expect us to give our lives to him and then all of the sudden force ourselves to become this morally sound person. Verse 24 says to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God. Notice the word CREATED– we are not doing the creating, God is! This is the miracle; God creates the new me. Our emotions, practices and desires are transformed into his likeness. Rest, take heart, God is the one who transforms us.

Now remember what this new person is! It is the bundle of attitudes and emotions and practices that make up the new me. That is what verse 24 says God creates. He creates the new me. This identity of attitudes and emotions and practices are created after his own likeness in righteousness and holiness.

So here I am in Christ. I have heard his voice. He has called me from death to life. I've trusted him to forgive all my sins. I've gladly submitted to follow him and to be transformed by him. So, what does this mean for me and my life? How do I live in a way that my old identity is gone, and I put on the new? Jesus answers this in verse 23, which says to be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Putting on the new self means to be created in righteousness and holiness that is fueled by truth. John 14:6 tells us that we find truth in the person of Jesus! “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” We were created so that our heart and emotions are deeply affected by what we fill our mind with, so we must fill our head with the truth of God. We know this to be true because we see it also in Colossians 3:10, which says; “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” We are renewed in knowledge, and so we must find this truth in scripture! Now, I am careful to not say that knowledge alone will transform us because it won’t! Knowledge alone, without the Holy Spirit applying that knowledge, produces pride. Paul said so in 1 Corinthians 8:1: “this knowledge puffs up. Love builds up.” We must be people who learn and know the truth about God, but it is his Holy Spirit that reveals it to us.

Today, tomorrow, and by the Grace of God, spend time with him everyday you can. Seek him in the Bible and in prayer. God has given us an inspired book containing the truth about himself and his ways and what he wills for our lives. Pages and pages of God, his thoughts, his words, his heart. Through Jesus, we have access to God, take a few moments to just pray and thank him. Thank him for his goodness, and faithfulness. Ask him to transform you and make you more like him.

Take a few minutes and just rest. God is the one working, not us. We can’t force ourselves to become a new person, we don’t have the power. God can and will, simply trust him. Rest in him, he is at work.

-Cole

Pray:

God, thank you for your goodness and faithfulness to me. Lord I want to know you, I want to see you become more real to me. God, I pray that you would help me see and know the truth of who you are. Lord fill me with a desire to seek you and spend time with you. Lord, help me simply rest in who you are and what you have done for me. Amen.