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Starting Over

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
December 19, 2021 12:55 am

Starting Over

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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December 19, 2021 12:55 am

This week Phil reminds us that Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to receive Christ in a fresh, new way. And sometimes that involves us realizing that to become more Christ-like, there may be a few things in our lives we need to remove.



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Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life.

Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Bernie Dake. And I'm Cheryl Gillum. Cheryl, it is good to be back on this December 19th episode. Oh, it's almost Christmas. Is all of your shopping done?

Well, totally honest, yes, no. Good. Well, we hope that you're enjoying this Christmas series with Commissioner Phil Needham. As a reminder, this series is inspired by a book that he wrote a few years ago called Christmas Breakthrough.

And you can find it on Amazon, and we'll have some links on our website as well. Check out I don't know if all of our listeners know Commissioner Phil very well. You and I know him.

And so I wonder, could you tell us a little bit about him? I have the utmost respect for Phil and his wife, Keitha. They go to church with my wife and I, and we get to see them usually every week. And they sing in our chorus or our songsters. And so I am lucky sometimes to see them twice a week. But I have a real love for something that he started more than a year ago now, which was a multi-generational discipleship group where he has a number of people representing every walk of life, age-wise, culture, whatever. And we get to share biweekly what the Lord's doing in our life, things that are being revealed in our reading or in our study, and just get to encourage each other, particularly based on statements that we make annually about what we hope to accomplish in relationship to our relationship with the Lord. It's inspiring, really. And now there are other groups that have started in our church.

So it's like a small group, but just a little bit different. Yeah. He's such a godly man and so intentional about pouring into others' lives. And his books reflect this. He wants to see people grow in their relationship with the Lord. So yeah.

And this isn't a secret. I think he would say this to whoever, but he is actually an introvert. So his first thought isn't to be loving and just out there and hugging and all the things, but he loves the idea of community and people. Right.

Authentic. And he has a personal desire to spend one day a week at our church while working with our homeless ministry, which is meaning he has to put himself out there and he overcomes the idea of that introvert nature. But he always is intentional. Yeah. He's great. Like for Tim and I, he's always been intentional about encouraging us and speaking into our lives. And so I'm very grateful for who he is.

Yeah. And so this week, Phil reminds us that Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to receive Christ in a fresh, new way. And sometimes that involves us realizing that to become more Christ-like, there may be a few things in our lives that we need to remove. Every word you say, every step of faith could never be replaced.

They are treasured in my heart. Hello, this is Phil Needham again with our series on the Advent and Christmas season. And we're going to talk about starting over. And the scripture you could consider is Luke 3, 3, and verses 10 through 14. Advent is about preparing to receive Christ into our lives in a new way. This invasion of Christ always asks of us some change.

For the follower of Jesus, the change typically requires the removal of something that doesn't conform to Jesus' likeness and the addition of what does. I well remember something that happened at one of our family dinners when I was a teenager. Surprisingly, the biscuits my mother served that evening were just plain awful. An unspoken rule in the family was that we never criticize mother's cooking. But that night, there was tension in the air because, well, we were appalled at the taste. Finally, one of us children, who will not be named, blurted out that these were the strangest biscuits he or she had ever eaten. This was immediately followed by the stern stare of our father at the sibling who dared to demean mother's baking.

Mother, however, was already trying to solve the problem. Phil, she asked, Phil, are you sure you got the right thing when I sent you next door to borrow some baking powder? Baking powder? I asked sheepishly.

I think I asked for baking soda. During the Advent season, we are invited to remove something in our lives that is unworthy of a follower of Jesus and replace it with something that is. In case you are surprised to hear the purpose of the Advent season described in a way similar to how we describe the purpose of the Lenten season leading up to Good Friday and Easter, the Advent season leading up to Christmas was originally established as a shorter Lenten season, a time of self-assessment and prayer in preparation for receiving the incarnate Christ come Christmas. The first step of this process is what we call confession. Confession is the admission that something wrong or defective in our lives needs changing. As followers of Jesus, we can approach the Father through Jesus to confess our sins and receive forgiveness and cleansing. Recognizing our sins almost always affects our relationships. James invites us also to confess our sins to each other.

We are a part of each other's healing. This is especially true when our sin has harmed a specific person to whom we simply must go in humility and confess. Even after doing so, sometimes we must live with a person's refusal to forgive us.

We still honor that person, however, whereas before we had dishonored him or her. Christian confession does not stop with the confessing. It is followed by the determination to replace the wrong or defect with something that is a genuine creation of Christ. The change we seek is more fully to acquire the character and compassion of Christ. We not only own our sin and shortcomings, we begin the process of changing toward his likeness. John the Baptist, Jesus' forerunner, helped begin the revival in Judea by preaching to large crowds that they needed to confess their sins and receive God's forgiveness. He used a traditional practice of water baptism to help people mark and remember their confessions. Those who were baptized, however, were not left without some very basic guidelines for how they were to live differently. Whoever had two shirts was to share one with a person who had none. The same was true for one's food supply.

Tax collectors, who typically kept back from their collections more than they were authorized to, were told not to take any more than the legally set percentage. Soldiers were told not to cheat or harass anyone and to be satisfied with their pay. This was to prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah who would spell out in far more detail an even more exceptional and radical way to live. The whole point of confessing and receiving God's forgiveness is to clear the way and empower us to live the life of Jesus. Some see confessing as getting off scot-free, receiving another excuse slip for sinning. True confessing is starting over. Some of us need to start our whole lives over again.

So far have we strayed from God. Others of us who have been on this journey with Jesus realize that there are some ingredients still needed in the mix of our lives that will bring us closer to likeness to Jesus. Whichever description fits us, there is a starting over to which Jesus calls us.

If we confess without making a new start, our confession, no matter how emotionally high-powered, is empty. Beginning again is God's gift to us. He gives us a night of renewing sleep every 24 hours so we can start over, refresh the next day. He gives us the freedom to fail, to learn from our failure, and then to try again, a little or a lot wiser. He gives us the grace to admit our mistakes and confess our sins, and the freedom to try again. That's why the Bible's insistence on not hiding our failures is good news.

We can confess and start over. The Jesus of the gospels never meets a person he doesn't believe can start over. At the top of that list are those who are sinners and know it. At the bottom, but still on the list, are the self-righteous who find it so very hard to admit that they are sinners.

If you are a seeker after God and his forgiveness, you need have no worry over your qualifications. You can start over forgiven and begin your journey with Jesus. If you are now a follower of Jesus and his Holy Spirit has revealed to you that there is an ingredient in your living that detracts from the taste and character of your life, the Holy Spirit will give you the ingredient of Christ. It does us no good to sit around the dinner table of our church family and pretend that there are no inferior or wrong ingredients in our lives.

Not that we are called to condemn one another. We are called to be a community of forgiveness and grace, a place where we can start over and change in the presence and love of Christ. This is what the true church of Jesus looks like. Could there be a better way, a better preparation for welcoming the Christ into our midst this Christmas? Please join me in prayer. Living Lord, I bring my imperfections to you this Advent season, and I ask your Holy Spirit to show me how I can discover completeness in Christ. I confess my sins again to you, and I ask your forgiveness. And if I have hurt or sinned against another person, I ask that you humble me before that person. If I have been guilty of the self-righteousness that you so much deplore, help me to see myself through lens that are clear of my obscuring pride so that I can truly confess and start over. And if there is any ingredient in my life that is unholy or inconsistent with Christ, please show me, forgive me, and change my heart so that I can change my living. I pray this through Jesus Christ, my Lord and my life model.

Amen. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit to offer your support, and we'd love to hear from you. Email us at Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.

Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia, 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store, and be sure to give us a rating. Just search for The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews, and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake, inviting you to join us next time for The Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-07 19:58:06 / 2023-07-07 20:02:55 / 5

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