“Lies Christians Believe: Lie #1”

LIE #1 God is punishing me.
 
Lies seep into our thought-life. Some lies chain us in fear and shame. Others keep us dull and weak. Yes, we’re not always sure who told us or why we believed them, but there are LIES Christians Believe that stunt our faith and rob us of the peace and joy Jesus so eagerly wants us to know. In this message series, we expose four especially dangerous LIES Christians believe.
 
TRUTH: God is just.
TRUTH: Actions have consequences
TRUTH: God really loves us.
TRUTH: Jesus took our punishment in full.
TRUTH: God knows we grow through struggle.
BOTTOM LINE: Will I give myself to Jesus because Jesus gave himself for me?
 
Further Conversation
1. No one likes being punished. Share a time you tried to escape punishment? What punishments do you remember receiving? 2. “God is punishing me!” Have you ever felt that way? Why do you think some people believe God might be punishing them? 3. Read Romans 1:18 & Isaiah 24:5-6a. What’s the difference between punishment and consequences? What did Sin cause? 4. Read John 3:16 God chose an extreme way to show us love. Why is it so hard for some to believe and receive that love? 5. Read Hebrews 10:11-14 In what ways do we sometimes act like the priests in the old religious system by trying to appease God with our sacrifices of good deeds or generosity? 6. Read Romans 12:1-2 Jesus paid it all. The question for us is, will we accept this gift on his terms? What does it look like to accept Jesus’s gift on his terms? Have you believed and received God’s love through Jesus?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Isaiah 61:1-3
When Jesus announced his ministry (Luke 4:18-19), this is the passage he chose to quote. These are amazing words revealed to the prophet Isaiah about who God is. So often people see God as a cruel despot or a mean kid with a magnifying glass scorching our ant-like lives. Yet, Jesus zeroed in on powerful words of hope. God doesn’t create broken hearts, God comforts broken hearts. God doesn’t burn our lives down, God exchanges our ashes for a crown of beauty. Broken hearts happen in a broken world. Bad decisions have consequences. But God is a God of hope, love, and good news. Don’t turn from God because you fear punishment. Turn to God because God offers love and hope and grace.
Pray: Almighty God, help me see you for who you truly are, a God of hope and love. May I find comfort as I surrender into your grace.
 
Tuesday – Romans 6:23
It was well past bedtime but our kids were bouncing off the walls. I knew better but I let them have sweets too late in the evening. Now I had to wrangle them into the bath and bed. I received no sympathy from my wife, because she knew I got what I deserved! We know actions have consequences. Scripture reminds us that the consequence (wage in some translations) of sin is death. We have earned punishment from God. But, and I love the word “but” in Scripture, God’s love extends us grace. Jesus took what we deserved and gave us grace and eternal life instead. Will we accept this gift from God? Will we exchange our wages for God’s gift? Remind yourself of God’s love and recommit yourself to Jesus today.
Pray: LORD Jesus, I deserve death but you extend to me the gift of life. I give you all that I am. Thank you for giving me all that you are.
 
Wednesday – Jonah 3:1-10
Have you ever noticed how many people want grace for themselves but justice from others? My kids beg for mercy but try to get me to double my discipline on their siblings. Even the prophet Jonah received grace as he ran from God but was angry when God extended that same grace to Jonah’s enemies. How amazing that God extends grace even to our enemies. We worry over being punished, losing sight of the grace and goodness God sends. May you focus of God’s grace today, living in it and giving it out to others.
Pray: Creator God, you extend grace to everyone that turns towards you. Help me turn towards you, living and giving your grace.
 
Thursday – Isaiah 24:4-6
Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes destroy lives, families, even entire cities. Ironically, these events are referred to as acts of God. Sadly, we’ve placed the blame in the wrong place. God made a perfectly balanced and harmonious world. It was us, specifically our sin (desire to be God rather than follow God) that knocked everything out of balance. Our sin cursed the world. These “acts of God” are really tragedies of our own creating. The diseases that claim the lives of those we love were never God’s plan. They are the consequences of our rebellion. We broke the world. But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ that God is making all things new!
Pray: Heavenly Father, forgive us when we blame you for the brokenness in our world. Thank you that you make all things new.
 
Friday – Hebrews 12:1-13
I always wished I had parents that let me do whatever I wanted. My parents were not mean, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized how loving and reasonable their rules actually were. Thank goodness they loved me enough to discipline me. Discipline is an act of love and grace. I discipline my kids because I want the best for them. I want to see and help them reach their full potential. God wants the same for us, his children. Struggles are a natural part of this broken world. God uses our struggles to help us grow in patience, perseverance, grace, humility, and love. What are you enduring today? How can you let God love you and use the struggle to grow you into a stronger, more faith-filled person today?
Pray: Loving God, sometimes life is so hard. Thank you that you don’t waste the struggle but use it to grow me in love and grace.
 
Saturday – 2 Peter 3:8-16
We live in such an instant world that waiting seems like cruel and unusual punishment. We microwave food in seconds but wait in line two hours to ride a roller coaster. Packages shipped across the country arrive in two days but it takes weeks to get a doctor’s appointment. In the midst of pain and brokenness, we long for God to make the world new again. Yet, we continue to wait. It can be frustrating until we remember that as we wait others have the opportunity to be saved. In fact, if God hadn’t waited this long, we might not have had the opportunity to know salvation. God waits hoping that none would perish and miss eternal life with him. Oh, the time will come. The waiting will someday end. The question for us is, “how will we have used our time?” Will we be his?
Pray: Holy Spirit, move in my heart. Remind me of your love. Help me to respond to your grace and to share it with others today.