Let Jesus Restore You

I’ve encountered a lot of resistance to the Gospel message over the years. I used to resist it myself before Jesus was really introduced to me. And in mostly every instance, it boils down to one single thing… the unwillingness of the person to let Jesus restore them. And I’m choosing my words very carefully here. You see, there usually is no argument that a restoration needs to happen… most people accept that, but where they have difficulty (and where I also had difficulty myself) was in recognizing who the active agent of that restoration actually is. Again, most people are not willing to simply let Jesus restore them, they usually want to be restored by some other means or method – usually themselves.

This is nothing new however, it has been going on since the beginning in the Garden of Eden; and a lot of people are stuck in the spiritual mud with this mentality that they must achieve restoration some other way before presenting themselves to God. The reasons for this are sometimes fear, and sometimes pride.

The prideful ones want to try and impress God: They want to have a Tada! Moment where they can say to God something along the lines of “Here I am, all nice and clean for you! Aren’t you proud of what I did?”

And the fearful ones are too afraid to approach God at all because they know that they are dirty and are afraid of His reaction.

Both of these are mentioned in scripture, and I have personally lived on both sides of the aisle myself as well. What I want to share with you today is how to truly handle both of these situations, and find real peace with God, not through your own efforts, but by letting Jesus truly restore you.

Don’t Fear the Shadows

When I was a young child, I used to be afraid of the dark. I would look at the walls, or outside my window and see shadows which I presumed to be monsters. I didn’t recognize the shapes, and the sizes of the things seemed to be very large. It was a troubling sight to my young mind.

Later in life, as I became more mature, I understood that those things were just shadows without substance, and they could not actually hurt me in any way. The perception of danger was a false perception, and that the fear of them was doing me more harm than anything else.

This simple realization carries with it a spiritual truth as well – more than one in-fact, as many believers today are held captive by the fear of things which also are just shadows. Spiritual shadows that cannot actually hurt them; yet just as when I was held in bondage to fear of the shadows as a young boy, these precious believers are likewise held in bondage by fear of things which are just as false and empty as the shadows on the wall.

Relax, God is Not Angry With You

I’ve encountered many people throughout my years, whom I have shared the truth with, that God is not angry with them. And many times, their response, was “I wish I could believe that.” They couldn’t receive the truth of God not being angry with them, because they were measuring His attitude towards them using a different standard. Instead of looking at the truth in scripture, they were looking at their current circumstances, their emotions and feelings of the moment, to gauge God’s mood, instead of what His eternal word says. When things were going well, God was obviously happy, and when things were not going well, God was obviously displeased. And so for these people, thy were constantly living a roller-coaster of ups and downs. Never on a solid foundation, but always on the shifting sand of the present moment.

However, God does not want us to live that way… that’s not the abundant life that He came to give us. He paid a high and precious price to reconcile us with Himself – and that is not a maybe, or a half-hearted reconciliation. Jesus has done a complete work, one that has a sure result; one that we can be confident in, and one that does not waiver back and forth like the wind, or get tossed around by the waters of daily life. What we will be studying today is why you can be absolutely sure of your status with God today. Why you can be bold and confident in your relationship with Him, and know beyond all doubt, why He is not angry with you today.

Being Secure in Christ

Many times in scripture God has said to not be afraid (it’s not actually 365 times, closer to 110), but really once should be enough for anyone who takes the word of God seriously. However, we still find it difficult to not be afraid in certain circumstances. Often we think that being afraid of certain things is normal. Just a part of being human. However we still have the very words of God that tell us to “fear not”, “do not be afraid”. Was He just saying it for the sake of saying it… or is there something for us to learn and see in His words?

It might be interesting to note that whenever God said to not be afraid, it always accompanied a revelation of Himself… who He is and His nature, character and power. This is key when considering His words. God never tells us to not be afraid, without telling the reason why we do not have to fear. It’s one thing to simply say “aww, don’t be afraid!” – but it’s quite another thing to say “Don’t be afraid, because I am here!” and when God is the one saying it, you now have a very solid foundation upon which to securely stand. What we will be studying today is the security that we have in Christ, and how His words of fear not, are not just empty suggestions, but a reality for us to live in – all because of Jesus.

The Real Meaning of Humble Yourself

You’ve probably heard it before that we are supposed to “humble ourselves”. This is a favorite saying of many preachers, especially those who like to use the Bible as a blunt-force object. Whenever they see someone doing something wrong, the go-to phrase for many of them is “You need to humble yourself before a holy God!” – I’ve had this phrase lobbed at me many times, in many different places, yet I was never told what it actually meant. I used to assume that it meant to berate yourself, because after all, the legalistic and condemning preachers just spent an entire sermon telling me all the things that I need to do to get right with God, and how displeasing I am to Him, so that must be a form of humbling, right?

That was my thought process all those years ago, and I have found that many believers today still think along the same lines. Many people are still very confused about the idea of humbling themselves. So that’s why today in this study, we will be examining what it really means to humble ourselves; and by seeing the truth presented in scripture, we will not be in confusion regarding this phrase any longer.

Taking Up Your Cross in the New Covenant

A phrase which makes a lot of people uneasy, is when Jesus said to “Take up your cross”. It makes people uneasy because the cross is an instrument of torturous suffering, terrible pain and an agonizing death. It is certainly not a pleasant image to have in our mind, and it generally doesn’t fill us with peace or confidence to have this image imprinted on us either. This situation is exasperated further when religious teachers use this phrase as a way to hammer legalistic, performance-driven ideas into our brain either; as is often the case in many churches today.

So today in this study, we will be examining this phrase from the perspective of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and what this statement means for us today. Jesus obviously said it for a reason, and it wasn’t to frighten or intimidate people – He knew what He was doing and He knew what He would do for us. As we see the truth of Christ in this area, it will free us from the irrational fear that this statement causes due to lack of understanding of what Jesus truly said.

The Real Sacrifice of Praise

A long time ago, there was a popular praise song that we always used to sing; the lyrics in-part were “we bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD.” This is a reference to Hebrews 13:15, saying that we should continually offer such a sacrifice to God. This phrasing has always puzzled me. Because in my human mind, the word “sacrifice” always implied cost, or some kind of a victim. Often times we hear preachers say that in order for our praise and worship to mean anything to God, it has to “cost us something”, and this left me even more confused because it really wasn’t costing me anything to praise God – as a matter-of-fact I enjoyed praising Him! So did this then mean that my praise was worthless?

I struggled with this thought for many years, and it led me into a performance-driven, merit-centered mentality where I was trying to give something of value back to God, which I naturally assumed was my own works and efforts; my performance and law-keeping. However, this idea is not actually supported in scripture. In-fact the Bible is very descriptive regarding what the real sacrifice of praise is which we are to offer, and this is precisely what we will be studying today.

Godly Fear Explained

You have probably heard it quoted before, that you must fear the LORD thy God and serve Him only. This is a popular quote from scripture that seems to get a lot of circulation. Though in all of its popularity and use, it never really is explained what exactly this fear is. Are we to tremble and quake before a holy God as some preachers would have us do? Or does it mean something else entirely?

You might be surprised to learn that Biblical fear is something different than the kind of fear that we often associate with it today. It is by understanding the word fear as the Bible defines it, that we can begin to see what the scripture is actually telling us, versus what man merely assumes of it. This is what we will be studying today.

Embrace Grace and Be at Rest

In the world today, things are very high-strung. People are very busy going from this thing to that thing. Always in a hurry, and always desperately seeking, but never finding true peace; true inner rest and tranquility. Now the world has many different avenues by which people try to find peace. There are many rituals and tools, and things that people pursue to chase after this inward rest.

The Bible though has another method, one which is opposite to our natural human thinking. We tend to have this idea that in order to really rest that we must shut-off our mind, empty ourselves and relax.. usually in front of the television or with music. But are those activities truly “restful”? What we will be exploring today in scripture is true Biblical rest; what it is, and how to receive it.

The Holiness of God Leads to Jesus

There is a division in many Christian circles today; and this division is between the holiness of God, and the Grace which Jesus Christ has brought to humanity. You may have heard it spoken in church or preached from the podium, that “God is a Holy God. His Holiness is uncompromising and His eyes see everything.” This is an absolutely true statement – no doubt about it at all. But what is the intent of the message? For believers in Christ Jesus who have been cleansed from all of their sins, is the holiness of God still something to fear?

I have spoken to many believers who are facing confusion, because they have been taught that they should be in fear regarding the holiness of God and should constantly be weighed-down in remembrance of their sins. To do otherwise would mean that God had “given them up to their sinful lusts” or that they have a “seared conscience”; and we have an entire separate study on the true meaning of a seared conscience for those who are trapped in the psychological jail-cell of sin and guilt because of that particular false teaching.

The question we will be answering today in this study is: Is the Holiness of God separate from the Grace of Christ? Many people think that they are on two opposite ends of the spectrum, as if God has a split-personality disorder. Yet is this what the Bible actually teaches? We will be looking at this today in the scriptures.