Stop Start Continue. The new season of The Hope Over Coffee Podcast is here! I took a few weeks off and got the opportunity to upgrade some of the Hope Over Coffee equipment. In other words, I got a new computer… So with that, I now have the ability to produce a video for the pods. I am super nervous about it. I don’t think it’s any different than putting out audio-only other than everyone can see me! All my insecurities are on display. But I think this is a good way to get the message of hope out there. Maybe that is why it scares me the most. It may actually get seen by people, and I could be misunderstood. But I’m gonna keep pressing on. Fight the good fight and talk about what I know. With that, in this week’s episode, I tell more of my story and try to share my heart with everyone. I know there are guys out there who don’t want to be stuck in the cycle of porn addiction. I want them to know they are not alone. I was there, I have freedom now, and I still live a life where my flesh wants what it wants, and I must deny myself to serve Jesus. Most days are just like any other. Some days it’s harder. The rest are relatively easy in the sense of keeping my boundary of porn. I also want guys to know that in the freedom I found, intimacy has grown exponentially with my wife. You can have that too. We have to put in the work. So let’s stop what we were doing, start doing the work it takes to pursue Christ and continue to the end. Run the race.
How are you handling everyday life? Are you making it in the mundane? What are you doing with the three-headed dragon living near you: culture, enemy, and yourself. How are you overcoming the obstacles that the dragon presents? What in your life is a hindrance? What is it going to take to surrender it to Jesus?
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him,” the writer J.R.R. Tolkien advises.
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old self crucified with Him in order that our body of sin might be done away with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again, death no longer is master over Him.
Here Paul is reminding us of our place in Christ. If we are a believer, then we are united with Him. In death and the resurrection. We have been made new through the cross, and our old nature has been laid on the altar. This means we are no longer a slave to the things that displease God. We are free to choose a life of pleasing God. In choosing a life with Christ, we should not fear death, for we are also united with Him through eternity’s future. We cannot be separated from the God of the universe.
What exactly does being united with Christ in the likeness of his death really mean? Yes, it says that our old self is crucified, so our body of sin might be done away with and no longer slaves to sin. But how do I live that out in my life? Is the goal to follow rules that measure up to a righteous life in Christ? Am I to read the bible cover to cover every year? Take notes on what and what not to do. Is that how I become free from the slavery of sin? Overcoming my broken flesh by working harder at righteous things so that my works win out?
That sounds like a painfully long, excruciating life. How does any of that set me free? I would be trading the master of sin for a master of works. Neither have grace involved. But when we find the One full of grace, the bible still calls us slaves of Christ. I thought I was finding freedom in Christ and still being called an enslaved person. I get that Jesus is our example of holiness and righteousness, but He was also perfect. I am an imperfect man living in an imperfect world that is broken and wants something more significant than self.
What does it mean
I think our issue is we are applying a modern definition to an older word. Slave, servant, and bondservant in the Greek text all are Doulos. A bondservant was someone indebted to someone else. If the indebted individual could not pay the debt, the individual would become a bondservant to pay off the debt. They would use work to free themselves from debt. A bondservant/slave was not a lifetime requirement. However, when the individual reached the end of the term to repay the debt, the individual had a choice.
Do I go back out in the world with what I have, or do I stay with the master willing? Will my life be better if I try to do things on my own, or will my life be better under someone else’s authority? I am making a choice. But in that choice, I must be fully committed to that choice. There was no halfway. In my decision, the individual was marked, and everyone knew that the individual belonged to a master freely chosen. No one decided to be marked and six months later changed their mind. You were all in, or you weren’t.
Where do you fall in your choice? Have you been freed from the bondage of sin, or do you still free trapped by the sin that so easily entangles us? Do you call Jesus Lord? Has the master marked you? Does it mean that being under the authority of the master, we won’t ever struggle with sin? Of course not. We are still broken people who do the things we don’t want to do. But now, we at least have the ability to be an overcomer. Before believing in Christ, we had no chance of moving past our sins controlling us. We were at the mercy and will. Could we have good days when the struggle was lighter than others? Sure.
But to overcome and be free to choose not to follow through in sin comes from being united with Christ in death and the resurrection. We now have the option and opportunity to choose to follow God instead of our flesh. Our freedom comes from knowing Him and the power of His name in our lives. We can do nothing in ourselves; it is Christ living in us. His power is the power to overcome, to say no to disobedience. It is his righteousness that the Father sees in us. I think the church needs to understand better who we are in Christ and what it means for Christ to live in us.
Father, help us understand what it means to be free in Christ.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4
Here Paul starts with a question. Do we get to sin more because God’s grace covers us? Is the freedom given through the abundance of God’s grace in Christ a free ticket to indulge in every sinful activity under the sun? Paul has an emphatic no! Them asks if we are new in Christ and died with him, how are we still living in sin? Do we not understand? Those who proclaim to be Christ followers through the example of baptism proclaim a new life. One that died to sin and is raised to walk in this new life.
The word or concept of counterfeit has been coming up a lot in my life lately. Most of the time, it is a preacher, sermon, or a Cristian-based book discussing the idea of something being counterfeit. What does it mean to be counterfeit? Merriam-Webster dictionary says counterfeit is made to imitate something else with intent to deceive or insincere. Have you ever had something in your life that you thought was authentic only to find out later it was a counterfeit? Or did you purchase an item knowing full well that it was an imitation?
Years ago, I worked with a guy that used to buy boxes of “Oakley” sunglass and sell them to the guys he worked with. He never tried selling them to us at the price of Oakley sunglasses; it was always much lower. They looked like the real thing, but I knew they weren’t. I broke a pair or two just putting them on. The item was from a distance; I could look like I could afford hundreds of dollars in sunglasses. The reality was they were twenty-dollar knockoffs that were cheaply made. But I knew that when I bought them.
Where is the counterfeit in your life? Do you know that it is counterfeit, or do you walk around believing that whatever it is authentic? How can you tell the difference between the two? What do you use to measure what is real in your life? What if you are the thing that is being counterfeit? Does depending on where you are, make a difference in how you are perceived? Is there a church version of you, a work version, a party version, or any version of you that has the intent to deceive or be an imitation of the real you?
We live in a culture of death, but as Christ-followers, the wrong things are dying. Instead of dying to sin, we kill that still small voice of God. When we should be dying to ourselves, we indulge in what the world has to offer. We find ourselves immersed in political views, sides of opinions, and dealing with distractions of every kind. Instead must be focused on a life of freedom in Christ. If we are made new in Christ, we are free from this world’s pressures. We should find our “want to” of loving our neighbor instead of tiptoeing around what can and can’t be said.
Are we in Christ? Or are we slaves to sin and bondage, living in fear of men and this world? I think we all want to live free. To sever others. I want us to encounter God regularly and be stirred in our souls to be Christ-like. But our distractedness, we miss out on that stirring and turn to those fleshy things that help us deal with the pain of life. We will encounter hard things. Life is not promised to be easy. What will it take for us as believers to take that step toward a holy and just God? To die daily for things I want in my flesh and strain for the Kingdom of God. We can do it! But will we do it?
Father, we are sinful people who get wrapped up in our kingdoms and neglect Yours. And your loving kindness always leads up to repentance. It is an absolute miracle that you are always there waiting for us no matter how often we choose sin over holiness. Let us never get to thinking more sin equals more grace from you. Let us find the will and want to choose You over everything. To bring you glory in everything we do. Amen.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
These are the last two verses of the gospel according to Matthew. These are the final instructions that Jesus gave his disciples before ascending to heaven. It is better known as “The Great Commission.” Jesus has wrapped up His earthly teaching to His disciples with one last command. Go and make disciples. Take all your life experiences and everything I have taught you in the past three years. Please bring it to other people in your life. Follow my example and find those to follow Me through your example. And Jesus’ last statement is, “no matter what happens; I will be with you!”
I have been told when you are reading scripture, and you come across a “therefore,” you ask what is it there for? In this passage of Matthew 28:19, we could rephrase the verse by taking some of the wording from last week and applying it here. So we could say; Because you are a follower of Jesus and as you go through life, live out your faith daily and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
By reading it this way, a few things come to mind. First, are you a believer? Do you believe Jesus came, died, and rose again for you? Second, what does your daily Christ-following look like? How do you approach life? Do you only guard your mouth on Sundays or every day of the week? Does your social media expose you as someone desperately seeking the will of God, or does it blend in with our culture? Third, are you concerned with more than yourself? Are you blinded by your sin, addictions, and self-serving that you don’t see how you are leading your family into the same patterns?
Only by His power
We all have something to do with our faith. Not that works save us, but what use is faith without works, according to James 2:14. So how are you working out your salvation? How are you leading others? Whether you are a well-seasoned Christ-follower, a brand-new believer, or somewhere in between. You need to be a group of two to three people digging in scriptures and working out what it means to live as Christ lived.
I was saved as a senior in high school, and I missed out on someone discipling me. It wasn’t until twenty-plus years later that I experienced what it meant to sit under this kind of leadership. Don’t miss out. You lead if you can’t find someone to sit and learn under. There are all kinds of resources out there. If you can find them, email me I will send you resources.
You’re probably thinking, “I can’t lead a group. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Faith is moving. Faith is action. The fruit will come, grace will be found, and Jesus will be you always.
Father, stir Your church to be in a unified community heading toward Your Son Jesus. Teach us what it means to be discipled and how to disciple others. Draw us in closer to You, and let us encourage others along the way. Amen.
2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
In this second letter from Peter to the church, he starts by reminding us of who we are in Christ Jesus. If we have faith in Him, we have been given everything we need about life and godliness. We can be partakers of the divine nature. And we can escape the corruption that is in the world. As we pursue the knowledge of Christ, certain qualities will increase. Others will see the overflow of abundance in our hearts. And if Christ-follower is lacking in these qualities, they are blind and have forgotten the cleansing of their sins. Then Peter challenges us to examine our faith walk. Do we bear fruit of belonging to Jesus?
What does it mean to live a godly life? If I have been given everything I need about life and godliness. What exactly did I receive when I put Jesus lord of my life? Did I get my “get out of hell” card? Was I able to give up every bad habit and compulsion that plagued me for years? Or did I instantly receive what some might call the “good life”? Meaning that all my troubles disappeared?
A Gift that is a helper
I received the Holy Spirit, which gave me the ability to apply moral excellence to my life. In moral excellence, knowledge; knowledge, self-control; Self-control, perseverance. In perseverance, godliness; godliness, brotherly love; brotherly love, agape love. I was given the keys to the kingdom. Our problem is that even though we have the keys to this life, we are often forgetful of our saving grace. We live as if we are still trapped in a cell when the cell door is open. When the cell door was opened, we were given everything we needed about life and godliness. We could ask, “Where did I put my keys?”
I am challenged to examine my own life; do I see these qualities flowing from me? Again, not looking for perfection. Where is my heart? Can I sacrificially love someone else? Do I lay down my life and fleshly desires to love my spouse the same way Jesus laid down His for the church? (Ephesians 5:25) Do I pick up my cross daily and follow Jesus, so much so that I put others before myself? Do I apply all diligence in my faith, or do I do just enough in my faith to be labeled “Christian”?
There are enough “good men” in the world. The world needs godly men. Those who wholeheartedly pursue Christ. Men who live self-controlled lives because they live under the authority of the Holy Spirit. These men step up and surrender their lives to God’s will and remove the things that distract them from accomplishing God’s plans. A father that will spend time reading a bible with his children and pass up a hunting or fishing trip to do it. A husband who will put his hobby on hold to spend time with his wife and connect emotionally. Do I have to give up everything I find fun? No. But I may need to check my priorities.
We must learn to be intentional with our relationships. God is a personal and relational God, and we must ask, “What is more painful?” Missing out on something that will only entertain for the moment or a decaying relationship with a spouse. Take time to invest in future generations for the kingdom. Run the race of life well.
Father, stir within us that desire to pursue Christ. A hunger to want to know Him more and live a life that resembles Him. Teach us to put down the distractions. Help us love sacrificially. Remind me to look out for my brothers. Bring us from being “good” to be holy in Your sight. Lead us in leading our spouse, children, and others to the foot of the cross. We desire to know You and to be known by You. Amen