Some of you may already have some good habits and routines in place in your lives, and that is great! Some may be completely overwhelmed and unsure where to start. I wrote GCHP for all of you! Even if you have already worked through some of my original GCHP materials, it's always good to have a refresher, and if you're starting at the beginning, it's often helpful to have someone prompting you and giving you extra encouragement along the way.
For these reasons, over the coming weeks I am planning to make the chapters of my new book the topics of my newsletters and blog posts. Bear in mind that some chapters can easily be covered and things set in place in a week. Others involve the formation of new habits, and when that is the case for you, do take the time to keep working on that one habit until it's firmly habitual before moving on. However, I will still post about a chapter per week, to keep things moving along. Either way, I'm sure you will find my posts helpful and motivating.
Let's begin by looking at two important points touched on in Chapter 1:
First, the question - Are YOU right with God?
Recently I was studying Galatians 1. In verse 4, Paul succinctly sums up the good news of the gospel: "Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live." (NLT)
Think on that verse for a minute. What does it tell us?
- Jesus died for our sins - yours and mine
- God our Father planned this - why...?
- To rescue us from this evil world!
And what is this abundant life he plans for us? It is a life filled with the joy and peace that can only be found in God. It is a life free from condemnation, and free from feeling the pressure to conform to a bunch rules.
The new Christians in Galatia had initially believed the simple gospel message that Paul had preached, but later other Jews had come along and convince the Galatians that they must also conform to the Law. This placed an unnecessary and very heavy burden on them, and Paul called them "foolish Galatians" who had "turned away so soon from God."
Here's what I want you to understand, my dear friends:
1) All you need to do in order to receive the gift of salvation is to place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. "If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NIV
2) God's gift to us is a life free from the burden of having to conform to a bunch of rules.
Yes, there are standards for the way a Christian should live, but we ought to choose to live that way as a heart response flowing from our love of God. "Following the rules" cannot save anyone, and in fact trying to do so may actually condemn us if we do so from the wrong motivation. That means freedom not only from the rule of the Law, but from "rules" or expectations imposed by other humans, or even ourselves. Even such things as "your house must always be clean," or "your children should be perfectly behaved at all times," or "you must find time to homeschool, serve in the church, ensure your children have music lessons and take part in sports and drama, all while cooking gourmet meals, making bread by hand, keeping the house clean, the garden beautiful, and yourself looking spectacular!"
God knows we cannot live up to a bunch of rules and expectations, and that trying to do so will wear us down and destroy our joy. Jesus says "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt 11:28-30 KJV
Today, come to Jesus! Lay down your burdens, your self-expectations, your heavy load. If you've never done so before, place your faith in him for your salvation. If you already know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, then just rest in his presence. Let him wash you clean once more, and refresh you.
If you'd like to talk to me about this further, then please email me via the Contact page linked above.
And the second point of chapter 1 is to take a few moments to ensure you're ready to embark on this journey from a practical point of view. Have you downloaded the manual? If you've lost the download link, then email me and I will send it to you. Have you printed the manual out and put it in a binder? If you're one of those people who genuinely likes reading books on a computer screen, then great, but for the rest of us, getting it printed out so it's ready to use is very helpful. Yes, I know it's 175 pages. But it's going to be something that helps you change your life! If printing that all at once is difficult, then just print one chapter each week.
Don't forget you will need a journal or notebook to write in as you go through this material. Any journal will do, but many folk find having a pre-designed matching companion journal much easier and more motivating to use. You can purchase the Companion Journal for only $2 HERE. If you do choose the companion journal, then make sure you do print that out and either get it spiral bound, or put it in a binder. If you don't print it, you won't be able to write in it!
Ok, so that's it for this week - take some time to ensure your mind/heart and practical tools are in the right places and ready to go.