June 2 – Secret Sin – Encouraging others

Read Galatians 6:1-5

“If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

Bruce was in charge of a rescue mission in Barberton to help people who suffered from alcoholism. He also would spend some of his time going into local bars and trying to encourage people to get sober. He would not drink alcohol. He would hand out tracts that explain the immense importance of Christianity. He would go into a bar and tell people that Jesus loves them. Sometimes he would stand out in front of the bar and talk to people before they started drinking. It could be dangerous because some of the people in a bar are not thinking straight because they have alcohol in their systems. It was also dangerous because he had to watch himself so he would not be tempted to drink. It is a great Christian ministry. A lot of the people that Bruce talked to in bars had never talked to a Christian before about Jesus Christ. He did not try to “fix” people. He would listen, encourage and tell them about Jesus.

To gently restore a person in sin is a most loving action.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

If you can carry somebody’s moral burdens then you are fulfilling the law of Christ. Do you know someone who needs this? There are people who need a friend, a listening ear or maybe are experiencing grief. You can carry their burden by listening and looking for ways to assist them by taking a meal or offering to shovel their driveway or mow their yard or buy them groceries or actually demonstrating kindness!

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.”

Am I too important to help someone who is weak? Living by the spirit results in doing good (1-5) and reaping rewards from one’s work (6-10). In this way we are loving one another (2).

“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else for each one should carry their own load.”

Learn people’s “love languages,” the special ways they communicate and understand love. Especially your spouse! In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains that not everyone’s emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it’s important to learn to adapt ourselves to their needs. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

Do you know your love language?

Is there a way that you can love and care for people in the way that would help them the most?

Choose to encourage someone in your life today.

Tom Weckesser

June 1 – Secret Sin – Confession

Read Psalm 32:5-7

Depending on the context, confession could mean something different to each person. If you are watching a movie and the antagonist is caught, the police might be persuading him to confess his actions. Possibly, you could have grown up in or had friends within the Catholic faith that went to confession to talk with their priest.

To the unbeliever, confession could be at the first time when that person accepts Christ into their life by confessing their sins and believing Jesus died on the cross to save them from their sinful lives…this is the best kind of confession!

As Christians, confession is an act of admitting sin in our lives and acknowledging it before God even though Christ already dwells within us. We are not perfect people, so when mistakes are made Jesus is waiting there with open arms and listening ears to hear our prayers asking for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

I recall one time when I was quite young, around 10 years old, I was playing with some kids after church service. One of the kids had a disability that I was taking advantage of during our game of whiffle ball. Once my parents found out, needless to say this did not go unpunished.

That afternoon, I had to call up the boy’s parents and confess my mistake and ask for forgiveness. To this day I recall those events because as humbling and embarrassing as that instance was, it formed character traits within me that I carried on with my family. If any fights or disagreements happen with my kids and their friends, they are aware of what type of confession will be required of them.  

So why is confession so hard? One simple word, pride. Show of hands, who likes to be proven wrong that their way or actions weren’t right? No one that I know of, myself included.  

But God’s truths provide us hope today:

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Psalms 32:5

God wants us to go before him…and those we’ve offended (James 5:16) to admit our errors and seek forgiveness through confession. 

So, after you read this and head out for the day, what’s a good place to start becoming more like Jesus through confession?

1. Start with Him: Pray for forgiveness and even though God knows those mistakes in our lives, admit those sins to him that you desire to do better. 

2. Send that Text: Tell that friend, co-worker, or family member that the relationship could be improved? Confess that area where that offense occurred and seek forgiveness.

3. Simply Accept: Be ready if that person comes to you to confess and seek forgiveness…be gracious and willing to accept their apology. 

Jesus never gets tired of hearing from you whether it’s thankfulness, seeking guidance, or confession of a wrong doing…just seek him often!

Drew Hilty

May 31 – Secret Sin – Bring it into the light!

Read Ephesians 5:6-14

It was a true sign of summer.

My bare feet in the cool grass at dusk as the sun turned in for the night. Chasing an illusion that could only be seen for a second when it lit. Grabbing the little critter, I cupped it in my mind, as a captive. Between the cracks of my hand I could see the glow of its light. My laughter and joy as I darted in an attempt to capture each twinkle delighted my parents and I’m sure it delighted my Heavenly Father as well. Perhaps God had children in mind when He created the lightning bug.

As adults we lose the wonder of this childhood game. We grow accustomed to the light as well as the darkness. This is Paul’s warning in today’s reading. Although he is writing to believers, he understands that we can be deceived and stray from God’s path. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” In the words of the old hymn, we are prone to wander, prone to leave the lit path and journey in the darkness. Paul reminds us that we are children of light. We are the children of the light of the world and we are to walk as children of that Light.

At the time of creation, God separated the light from the darkness. At the time of our new creation, our salvation, God separated us from darkness and made us children of light. Jesus said in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Are you walking as a child of the light? Have you strayed from the light of God’s word? Just as cobwebs in a dark attic are not visible until a flashlight exposes them, so our sin is revealed when brought into His light. Paul says that the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth. (v. 9) Allow Jesus, The Truth to expose the darkness, the falsehood, and the disobedience. Ask Jesus, The Word, to light your path and keep you from wandering into the darkness.

As a joyful child runs toward the light of a lightning bug on a dark summer evening, we should daily chase after the Light in the midst of living in this dark world. Capture the light, let it shine and set the light free so that others will find the joy of the Light.

Is there anything in your life that you need to bring to the light? Who should you tell about it?

Charline Engle

May 30 – Secret Sin – The consequences of hidden sin

Read Psalm 32:1-4

My mother’s number one method in raising my siblings and I was that every one of our choices had consequences; whether good or bad, something was going to come from it. 

It’s something that Jake and I are striving to train Mattie in. Now, yes, he is three years old, but even now the discussions we often have with him are the consequences he has to face based on the choices he makes. Just today, after much conversation about him holding his balloon tightly so it wouldn’t fly away, he chose to let go. The consequence he had to face was that of losing his balloon and then sadness (parenting hack: stay away from helium filled balloons).

Now did he completely understand what was happening, I don’t know. However, it’s the consistent conversation we have with him because just as I learned from my mother, I want it to be ingrained in him, that every choice we make has some sort of consequence. 

The Lord also consistently has this conversation with us through His Word.

We read David’s heart in Psalm 32 that he is grateful for the Lord’s forgiveness but brings forth the fact that hiding his sin and not bringing it before the Lord was causing despair, was causing a slow kind of death. 

We read in James 1 that sin brings forth spiritual death.

I don’t know about you but there have been times in my life, knowing the truth that I still chose to hide my sin struggle from the Lord, even though He already knows. I am pretty open about my struggle of comparison, it’s my biggest sin struggle. I can pick myself apart and compare every part to someone else and in doing that I begin to believe that I am not good enough. That someone how God made a mistake when creating me.

There I sit, in sorrow and sadness because I don’t look like someone else or have the fashion sense of this person, or the quietness of that…there are days I could go on and on.

In doing that, I sin. Because I’m looking at the Lord telling Him “you made a mistake” …fully knowing with all my heart the truth and fact of His love and care for me and that He doesn’t make mistakes. 

But as I sit there and I let the lies sink more and more into my mind, and I don’t make the effort to surrender, seek truth and go before the Lord in repentance. I slowly but surely separate myself more and more from God and His best which results in spiritual decay. 

So, when we hide our sin, the consequence is that we sacrifice His best for what is our version of good. 

How many choices have you made that you needed to repent for? How many choices came with consequences that you wish you could change? 

You know what beauty is, however, because of Jesus fills the gap.

May we choose to surrender, may we choose to repent, so that the consequence of our hidden sin can be redemption and not despair!

Kelly Lawson

May 29 – Secret Sin – Shame: Why we hide our sin

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-23 and Psalm 51:1-17

Many of us have been there: the exhausted parent after a long, hot summer day’s work, looking forward to spending some time at home away from the stresses of the day. We walk around the corner, only to find marker drawings on the wall of the dining room as a priceless art display from our toddler. The toddler has been told many times NEVER to color the walls and today, of all days, is the day where the toddler decides to create this masterpiece. 

“Shame on you!”, the words of choice for a moment like this to grab the attention of the child and expose the action of wrongdoing. Or consider a different phase in life, when the child is a teenager and the issue is much more serious.  The parent comes home from a long day of work and the phone rings.  It happens to be the parent of the teenager’s boyfriend or girlfriend on the other line and there is a story that they wish to share that strikes pain in the heart of every parent who has sought to raise their family in God’s way. The story of discovering this sin in their lives. 

“Shame on you!” 

Will those words still be used?  

This is where we look at the actions of Nathan for guidance. In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan (a prophet of the Lord in King David’s time) brings conviction to the King with the exposure of the King’s sin. On a scale of human understanding, this “secret sin” really wasn’t that much of a secret anymore; David’s actions created a ripple effect into other’s lives that were far past that.  The way in which his new life with Bathsheba had come about was one that he thought he had kept as a secret from those who he didn’t want to know. However, David couldn’t control that.

Instead he found himself in a reality that all people who try to hide sin do: trying to manage it and not be exposed. His words in Psalm 51 describe the conviction that Nathan’s confrontation brought about in him. They also show us that his repentance was not brought about because Nathan said “Shame on you!”.  In fact, Nathan never uses that phrase. David discovered shame by stepping outside of himself and looking into another’s life (2 Sam 12:4-9). David’s conviction was now discovered, not manufactured. 

God allows us to feel shame when we are convicted because it can spawn in us the need to have it healed by Him. When our sin is exposed, our personal feelings of shame serve as a painful reminder to us of the many reasons why God didn’t want us engaged in sin to begin with. 

Praying points for today:

  1. I pray that God will use all of us who seek to follow Him, raise our families for Him and love as He has loved to live in this way – suppressing the shaming of ourselves so that we may be confident in the work He is doing in us (Philippians 1:6).
  2. I pray that God will use this foundation to search me of any wrongdoing that needs to be brought to light, free from fear. This way of living can be a beautiful foundational piece to keep ourselves from sinning in secret.
  3.  I pray that I can treat others with compassion leading to conviction, regardless of their sin.  I recognize that it is not my job to shame, but God’s job to heal it in all people’s lives.

Joe Rubino

May 28 – Secret Sin – Sin Defined

Read 1 John 3:4

One topic that we like to dance around as believers is sin.  Most of us know what sin is.  However, some of us try to justify our own sin.  We have all heard people say, “Well, my God wouldn’t punish for ________”.  Some of us also think that our sin isn’t as bad as the next person’s.  “Well, maybe I have done this, but at least I didn’t do this like _____”.  

So, what is sin?  How did sin enter the perfect world created by God?  What happens to us because of sin?

Sin, by definition, is a transgression of the law; lawlessness. Doing something in opposition to the Word of God which defines sin for us. We do not get to choose for ourselves what is and what is not sin. 

“…everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”1 John 3:4

The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Not one of us is without sin as we all have fallen short of God’s standard.  Adam and Eve were no strangers to this. The first man and woman gave in to their sinful nature when tempted in the garden. God has given us all free will. He does not force us to love Him and follow Him.  God was not caught off guard or surprised by the sin of mankind.  He is sovereign over all things.  But He allows us to make our own choices, even though they may harm us.

When God had finished creating the world, He “saw all that He had made, and it was very good indeed” (Gen 1:31). Sin was not part of the plan and was not decreed by the will of the Creator. All sin comes from the creature as does its desires. 

“…but each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire.  Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown it gives birth to death.”James 1:14-15

Romans 6:23 says “for the wages of sin is death.”  Just like earning money for doing a job, we receive wages for our sin.  It could be one sin or it could be millions; but one sin is enough to separate us from God and His “gift of eternal life”. God is perfect and would be unjust if He did not punish us for our sin. But He loves us so much that “while we were still sinners, (He) died for us” (Romans 5:8).  He sent His perfect Son to take the punishment for our sins so we could be forgiven!

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”Colossians 3:5

Or as theologian John Owen once said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you”. What is in your life right now that is in opposition to the Word of God? What is pulling you away from Him?  Don’t put it away for later.

Kill it!

Nate Mills

May 27 – Secret Sin

Read Proverbs 28:13

I could remember it like it was yesterday.

It was late into my high school years as I was sitting on the stairs at mom and dad’s house, breaking into a sweat as I came to the realization that there was some sin in my life that I needed to confess. I knew the only way to move on was to confess so I sent a simple text to my dad, “Hey, can we chat when you guys get home?”

Was it humiliating to confess a sin to the person that I look up to most in this life? You have no idea. The feelings of guilt and shame welled up inside me as I brought dad up to speed on what had been going on in my world. The only way I was going to move on, to heal, was to make my secret sin no longer a secret.

Bring it out into the light.

We all have things in our life that we would rather keep secret. We all have things in our life that we are dead set on taking to our grave.

I find the words of Proverbs 28:13 so incredibly true:

“If you hide your sins, you will not succeed.”

There is a 0% chance of success if there is sin in your life that isn’t confessed.

Now, let me be as clear as I know how: I am not advocating for you to march into WalMart and air your “dirty laundry” for all to hear. However, there is an appropriate way to confess sin and move forward into healing.

For the next week, we are going to be learning about secret sin and how to make it no longer secret.

Now, before this series begins, it is of utmost importance that we all soften our hearts. Again, you will not be encouraged to walk into WalMart and confess your deepest and darkest secrets. However, if our hearts are not softened, pride will, almost certainly, get in the way of true repentance.

Is there dirty laundry in your life that you would like to clean? Are there skeletons in your closet that you would like to remove?

Open yourself up to God’s Word. Allow yourself to bring the hidden to the light and begin the journey of repentance and forgiveness.

Remember, God is for you. He loves you. He isn’t ashamed of you. He was stripped naked, beaten and nailed to a tree for YOU! You are special to Him and He would like nothing more than to be reconciled to you!

This series will be tough for all of us. How bad do you want to make a change?

Jake Lawson