forgive to live forgiveness

Walking with Jesus
Living a Changed Life

Following
wherever God leads

Mark Batterson tells of a modern day martyr in his book Chase the Lion:

With his hands tied behind his back, missionary J.W. Tucker was beaten and then with sixty of his Christian compatriots he was thrown into the crocodile-infested Bomokande River.

It wasn’t ISIS or Al-Qaeda who claimed responsibility. The attack took place on November 24, 1964, at the hands of Congolese rebels.

Our natural instinct is to feel sorry for Tucker, whose earthly life was seemingly cut short. A holy empathy for his wife and children, who survived the terrorist attack, is biblically mandated. Tucker, like many others who had gone before him, joined a long line of heroes who trace their genealogy back to the first Christian martyrs.

In the grand scheme of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, eternal gain infinitely offsets earthly pain. God doesn’t promise us happily ever after. His promises are so much more than that—happily foreverafter.

It was that eternal perspective that inspired J. W. Tucker to risk his earthly life for the gospel. Tucker didn’t fear death because he had already died to self. It wasn’t an uncalculated risk that led J. W.

Tucker into the Congo during a civil war. He counted the cost with his missionary friend Morris Plotts. Plotts tried to convince his friend not to go. “If you go in,” he prophetically pleaded, “you won’t come out.” To which Tucker responded, “God didn’t tell me I had to come out. He only told me I had to go in.” (Adapted from Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion, Multnomah: 2016), p. 107)

“After talking to the elders, I spoke to the church. At our midweek gathering I once again told the story.

I apologised for my duplicity and requested the prayers of the congregation.

What followed was a refreshing hour of confession in which other people did the same. The church was strengthened, not weakened, by our honesty.” (Andy Nash, “Max Lucado’s confession,” Adventist Review, 2012)

“The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we might be restored to His likeness.”

– Ellen G. White”.

RESTORED TO GOD

The harsh realiy of life is that we are sinners and our sinful natures have alienated us from God.

What advice does God give to us about how to seek Him?

Jeremiah 29:13

Deuteronomy 4:29; 30:9, 10 || Isaiah 55:6, 7 || Luke 11:9, 10 || Jeremiah 24:7 || 2 Chronicles 31:21 ||
Psalm 119:2, 10, 58, 69, 145 || Joel 2:12, 13

When we surrender our sinful selves to God and ask Him to transform us, He will renew our natures so that we learn to love like He loves.

Without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will remain as we are in our sinful state, but God desires total transformation, a renewing of our minds.

“The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought.” Ellen G. White

It is a struggle for us to remain surrendered to God. We need to ask God to give us a desire for His holiness and purity, and a dislike and loathing for sin.

We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives so that we deisre to stay in a relationship with God.

This is a constant battle because we are fighting against our desire to have our own way and do our own will.

This will be a struggle because we are naturally accustomed to doing what we want to do. It is necessary that we submit to God and He will delight in doing a new work in our lives .

Without God, where would we be?

Ephesians 2:1

John 11:25, 26 || Matthew 8:22
|| 1 Timothy 5:6 || Ephesians 2:5; 4:18; 5:14
|| Romans 8:2 || Colossians 2:13 Luke 15:24, 32 || 2 Corinthians 5:14 || 1 John 3:14

God Always Gives
Us a Choice 

FREEDOM AND FREE WILL

Who has God promised He will be especially close to?

Psalm 34:18

Psalm 51:17; 69:32; 10:17; 147:3 || Isaiah 61:1; 66:2; 57:15 || Ezekiel 36:26, 31

“The warfare is not against sin; we can never fight against sin— Jesus Christ conquered that in His redemption of us. The conflict is waged over turning our natural life into a spiritual life.
This is never done easily, nor does God intend that it be so. It is accomplished only through a series of moral choices. God does not make us holy in the sense that He makes our character holy. He makes us holy in the sense that He has made us innocent before Him.” Oswald Chambers

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t.

If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible.

Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”

C.S. Lewis

How do we confess our sin?.

Leviticus 5:5

Leviticus 26:40; 6:4–7 || Numbers 5:7 || Joshua 7:19 || 1 Corinthians 11:28

God invites us to use our minds and our hearts to make intelligent decisions to follow Him.

God created us to have curiosity, intellect and reasoning skills, with a character that can be continually refined and a mind that is continually learning. God does not want slaves or servants that mindlessly follow, but instead desires that we choose Him completely.

“Mankind was God’s crowning work of His creative power and shall reach the highest possible development. He invites us to give ourselves to Him, that He may work His will in us.” Ellen G. White

God asks us to give ourselves to Him so that we can live the best possible life – a life that is in harmony with His plans for us. Sin imprisons us, and God wants to set us free so we can live life to the full, during our time on Earth and with Him in eternity.

“A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is [their] great concern. As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ.”
-Jonathan Edwards

GIVING OURSELVES TO GOD

How specific were the Israelites when they were defined their sin?

1 Samuel 12:19

Psalm 51:1–4 ||Deuteronomy 32:49–52 || Ezekiel 33:15

Sin separates us from God, so when we give ourselves to God, we have to give up all the things that would draw us away from Him. This should not be seen as a sacrifice but a generous response to a loving God.“

God invites us to surrender anything that would distract us or cause us to stumble in our desire to follow Him. This may be different for each person.

For some, it may be the lure of money, for others, fame or chasing after status symbols and worldly possessions.

These priorities can enslave us – so we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and be alert to worldly temptations.

We cannot divide our attention and belong to both God and the world. In choosing to be one of God’s children, our desire is to live every day in the presence of God..

“In giving ourselves to God, we must necessarily give up all that would separate us from Him.”

— Ellen G. White

How does the Bible describe salvation?

Ephesians 2:8

Ephesians 2:5 || Romans 3:20-26 ||Luke 7:50 || John 3:14-18, 36

Some people claim to follow God, but actually their focus is so caught up on ‘doing the right thing’, they are not really seeking to be in a relationship with God.

They think by concentrating their minds on their own actions, they can change their characters and save themselves. They are so focussed on what they are attempting to do by their own powers that their hearts are not open to Jesus and fail to experience the love of God.

To them, Christianity is a checklist of things that need to be done or achieved in order to go to heaven.

This isn’t real religion – and it’s certainly not the kind of life Jesus wants for us.

“It is not by telling people about ourselves that we demonstrate our Christianity. Words are cheap. It is by costly, self-denying Christian practice that we show the reality of our faith.”
Jonathan Edwards

When Jesus dwells in our hearts and is part of our daily lives, we will be filled with His love and experience the joy of being close to Him. Once we’ve felt what this is like, we will desire a more intimate walk with Him each day.

Instead of mindlessly ‘going through the motions,’ our Christianity will be a dynamic living experience. Instead of being focussed on self, our eyes will be fixed upon Jesus.

We won’t be trying to constantly meet a set of standards for the sake of following rules because of our response of love for who He is and what He has done for us.

”Those who feel the constraining love of God do not ask how little may be given to meet the requirements of God; they do not ask for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of Jesus their Redeemer.“ 

— Ellen G. White

SALVATION’S INCREDIBLE COST

If you ever feel like you are sacrificing too much to follow Jesus, remember what your salvation cost heaven. Jesus, the Son of God, gave all of himself because of His incredible love for you.

What did Jesus endure that we might be saved?

Isaiah 53:5, 7

1 Peter 2:24; 3:18 || Romans 4:25; 5:6-8 || Daniel 9:24, 26 || Matthew 20:28 || Ephesians 5:2 || Titus 2:14

As we reflect on the scale of the sacrifice and the depth of His love for us, we will feel humbled as we realise that the challenges we face pale into insignificance in comparison to the sacrifice Jesus has made on our behalf.

“ Christ was treated as we deserve that we may be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share.

He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His.

‘By His stripes we are healed.”

— Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages

Jesus considered us so valuable that He willingly sacrificed His life for us. We didn’t deserve or earn it, but He died the death we should have died so that we might live the life He was to live.

“He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

What incredible burden did Jesus carry on our behalf?

Isaiah 53:12

Isaiah 53:5, 11 || Galatians 1:4; 3:13 || 2 Corinthians 5:21 || Hebrews 9:26, 28 || 1 John 2:2; 4:9, 10 || Mark 15:28 || Luke 22:37

Sometimes human pride causes us to question why we need to come humbly before God in order to be sure of our acceptance with Him.

The answer is found in Jesus. He was sinless and more than this, He was the Prince of heaven, but on your behalf, He became sin for the human race and was numbered with sinners to bear the sins of many.

“God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain.”

— E G White

LIVING LIFE GOD’S WAY

What should we make the priority in our lives?

Matthew 6:33

Matthew 6:30–32; 19:29 || Romans 14:17 || John 6:27 || 1 Kings 3:11–13 17:13-16 || Proverbs 3:9, 10 || Luke 12:31–34 || Psalm 34:9,10; 37:3–7, 18, 19, 20, 25 || 1 Timothy 4:8 || 1 John 2:17

Jesus desires what is best for us. How marvellous it would be if we could comprehend that Jesus offers us something better than what we even seek for ourselves.

Chasing after the temporary pleasures of this world may cause happiness for a time, but it’s not the kind of happiness that will last. When we think and act against God’s will, we will only hurt ourselves because the path of trangression leads only to misery and destruction.

“When Jesus died on the cross, the mercy of God did not become any greater. It could not become any greater, for it was already infinite. We get the odd notion that God is showing mercy because Jesus died. No–Jesus died because God is showing mercy.

It was the mercy of God that gave us Calvary, not Calvary that gave us mercy. If God had not been merciful there would have been no incarnation, no babe in the manger, no man on a cross and no open tomb.”

A.W. Tozer

LIVING A LIFE OF DESIGN

What does God promise us if we follow Him?

Psalm 37:4,5

Psalm 145:19; 84:11; 23:1-5; 36:8 || John 10:10; 15:7, 16 || 2 Corinthians 9:8–11 || Luke 12:30–33 || 1 Timothy 6:17 || 1 John 5:14, 15

Sin has distorted our world in so many ways including our understanding of God. It is a mistake to entertain the thought that God is pleased to see people suffer.

All of heaven is interested in the happiness of humanity. We must close all avenues that bring indulgence, suffering and disappointment.

Jesus accepts us as we are, but does not want us to remain in the same sinful state we were in when we first came to Him. He wants better for us.

He knows we are weak and flawed, which is why He has promised to cleanse us from our sins that we can experience the perfect peace that passes all understanding. The true, joyous life of the soul is to have Jesus formed within, the hope of glory.

How do I surrender my life to God?

Joshua 24:15

1 Kings 18:21 || Proverbs 4:25-27 || 1 Peter 4:19 || Matthew 26:39; 6:10, 21 || Romans 12:1 || Philippians 2:5, 13 || James 4:7 || Luke 1:38

Many ask the question, how am I to surrender myself to God? We desire to give ourselves to God, but often feel weak and discouraged knowing that we make many mistakes.

While we have the best intentions and make every effort, we fail and break our promises unable to control our thoughts, impulses and desires.This mindset causes us to doubt our decision to follow Jesus. We wonder how God can accept us, when we keep making the same mistakes.

Do not despair. Remember, God has created you with free will, the governing power in your nature. God has given you the power of choice to freely exercise.

You are not able change your heart by your own efforts, but you can continue to choose to follow God and put your trust in Him. He will help you and continue to forgive you even when you fail Him. He will help you to love others the way He loves them, and to desire what is good.

“What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in human nature, the power of decision, or of choice.

Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to us is yours to exercise.

You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections, but you can choose to serve Him. You can give him your will and He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.

Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Jesus, your affections will be centred upon him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.” Ellen G. White.

“Following Jesus isn’t a choice you make only once. It is a choice you make each day.

When things are hard and you are discouraged, that isn’t a reason to give up – it’s a reason to ask Jesus for more faith and more strength, all of which He is waiting to provide.

Following Jesus isn’t a choice you make only once. It is a choice you make each day.

When things are hard and you are discouraged, that isn’t a reason to give up – it’s a reason to ask Jesus for more faith and more strength, all of which He is waiting to provide.

How has God promised to help us when we put our trust in Him?

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 41:13, 14; 40:29- 31; 44:2 || James 4:7, 8 || Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 || Psalm 27:1; 29:11
|| Romans 8:31 || 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

You are entrusting yourself to God has promised to give you strength and security, and who will help you make the right choices so you can enjoy the best possible life.

Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By walking with Jesus, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers.

You will have strength from above that will hold you steadfast and through a life of constant surrender to God, you will be empowered to live a new life of faith.

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