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  1. Discussion Question 1:

    Has there been a time in your life when you tried to be “good enough” and do the work of reconciling yourself to God on your own? In your experience, what was the result of trying to do it in your own strength, and by your own will?

    (click “reply” to post your thoughts)

    1. Yes. I started struggled with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness because I felt that I was “dropping the ball” in so many areas. In order to feel better I began to overload myself. I added more “balls” and more pressure on myself to be good enough, to be loved and wanted. When I dropped a ball, I let my mind run wild with thoughts of how horrible I was. I fell into the trap and I was so EXHAUSTED and defeated trying to “do” to get my worth and be loved. And God graciously pulled me to Him and reminded me of the Truth that it is already done; that He loves me as I am; that my identity is in Him.

      1. I have often found myself in that same trap, Lauren! And I have heard one of our pastors remind us that we can’t out give God. I can try to serve Him and do my best to please Him with all these works, but I can’t out give what He’s already done in my life. He doesn’t need me to do anything for Him or His kingdom. He’s more concerned with our relationship.

    2. I may have had a hard time answering this a several years ago. I’m not always very self aware. As in each of us, though, God has begun a work in me. I think that whether in large or small ways we are all guilty of this from time to time. It’s not something I was consciously doing… why would any of us consciously do that, huh… but I was doing just that in a grander scheme in my mind and in my life. While I didn’t realize it, I had this picture of a family and what believers looked like in a family and in general. There was a variety, but a definite way nonetheless, that I felt life looked like as a Christian family. I think when we have these images in our minds about how things should be, we try to make it happen, trying to fit in that mold, being “good enough”. You end up disappointed and frustrated at your short comings. Clearly it didn’t work, but God radically changed my perspectives! Behind the computer screen we each have different lives and God is working in each of us. And boy does He make beautiful! It’s not of our own accord. We cannot be “good enough” and even our image of “good enough” would be faulty, if we could accomplish it at all.

    3. Totally brilliant lesson, BA! God must love working with you! Brilliant illustration of the grandfather going into the play pen! I’d never thought about WHY Jesus came here, I mean, like that, because we couldn’t get out. Great perspective. Love you!

    1. It is not about me or my effort. God saved me because of HIS loving kindness and mercy, and because of His righteousness. This is AWESOME news to me because I am a sinner, and I will continue to struggle and sin until He takes me home!

    2. These verses in Titus remind me of the great act of mercy God planned for us through the washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Savior! Our two oldest grandchildren have just claimed this promise, trusting God and accepting Jesus as their Savior! It is the best news to me personally and even in a greater way to see our children and grandchildren trust God, not their own righteousness, and look forward to the “good works” to follow for His glory alone! Because of His grace we are His children – “heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” nothing we can ever do to earn this. Jesus paid it all!

      1. Mrs. Joy, I don’t know you, but we’re sisters. That’s fantastic news. I celebrate with you on the news of those grandchildren! I look forward to the day when I may see my little one grow and become a believer drawn to Him by the Holy Spirit… and then grandchildren one day too. Oh happy day! Oh, I praise God. And pray that He’ll give them a great group for discipleship.

    3. He reconciles us according to His mercy! We are washed – reborn and renewed – by the Holy Spirit, given to us by God through Christ. We are justified in His grave. ACCORDING to HIS MERCY! What sweet news! It changes the way I operate. I am not working towards reconciliation, but am willingly serving out of a place of unearned reconciliation. It’s so sweet. It makes me want to sing and shout.

  2. Discussion Question 3:

    Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were still stuck in our sin, Christ died for us. Why, as believers, should we not remain “hung up” on our past sin? What does that say about the work Jesus did on the cross?

    1. Love this verse! I think we should “remember” what Christ pulled us out of so we can continously be grateful because of what He has done. But we should leave it behind us (Philippians 3:13-14) knowing that it is done and settled with. It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1). When we can leave it behind us, we can press on to do the work He calls us to do.

    2. By staying “hung up” in our past sins we’re not experiencing His exhilarating grace and forgiveness. Therefore, we’re probably not freely serving Him; instead, we are wallowing in our guilt and a bit paralyzed to reach outside ourselves to serve others. While we know in our hearts and minds that God has fully forgiven us and Jesus’s death on the cross was 100% PAYMENT…we need to embrace that gift. I love the reminder to FOCUS on the crucified Jesus!!

      1. That is so true, Jeannie! It is a form of self-worship… Staying hung up on what I’ve done as if He isn’t enough, didn’t do enough to overcome my sin. And self-focus will ALWAYS keep us from reaching out and serving others. But it is also one of the enemy’s best tricks- to keep us so hung up on our past that we are not usable in the present.

    3. This is something I struggled with for a long time. It took years and several Bible studies for truth to soak deep into my heart and soul. I can’t remember which study it was, but I finally came to an understanding where I realized how much power I was giving Satan by allowing him to lord this guilt and shame over me. I was stuck in bondage to even the memory of past formidable sins. There was no victory in my life if I allowed the enemy to continue to beat me up over it. When Jesus died for us on the cross, He set us free. In Psalm 32, you’ll find where it says our sins are covered and no longer counted against us. I read this over and over out loud on days when the enemy is trying to drudge up all of my past mistakes.

      1. Exactly, Lauren, Jeannie and Stephanie! Guilt can cripple our relationship with God and with people but when we totally trust God and depend on the power of His resurrection, our new life with Him can be so much more than we could ever imagine!

        Really appreciate Kari’s comment about self-focus keeping us hung up in our past so that we are not usable in the present. Thank God for His unspeakable gift, that we can live victoriously today – whatever today may bring, giving thanks to God!

    4. Christ has long paid for these sins. Our debt has been paid, and when God is looking at us, He sees the righteousness of Christ on us. When we dwell on past sins, “hung up” on them, we not only hinder growth, but we belittle the salvation we have and with our actions we say that we don’t believe the gospel. We don’t believe light we want to shine. And how can we shine if we don’t put our full faith in it.

    1. We are saved BY grace to do good works. This frees us from the fear of failure in our “doing.” When I do something god has called me to do, HE takes care of the outcome, and HE has a perfect plan. I can rest on His grace when I continue to fall short! And I can come to Him and delight in Him because it reminds me that HE alone is worthy.

      1. Oh, Lauren, we aren’t close, but oh how I love you and Bobi Ann and so many others in our local church family! I hope that God gives me the opportunity to know you and others better one day! I love your perspective on this. How we just get to be obedient and follow, trusting Him. We can count on Him to fill in the blanks! We can REST in His grace!

    2. Good question. “Doing good” to keep the Law operates out of a selfish self preservation. “Doing good” because of who we ARE in Christ operates out of a place of grace and mercy and joy. We are prepared, made new, to walk in Him. When we are “doing good” now it is the Holy Spirit moving in and through us. We boast only in His good work and grace, not ourselves.

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