Practice Confession

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Freedom and Healing
Confession can certainly be difficult, but we are invited by Jesus to take off our mask, to get off the stage where we feel the need to perform, to be honest with God, and to be honest with others in regards to our sin. Being willing to confess your sins requires you to feel safe though. Are you a safe place for friends and family to confess their sins? Do they know they will be met with understanding and grace instead of harsh words, judgement, and guilt for whatever they confess? Struggles and sins lose so much of their power and hold on our lives when we bring them into the light by sharing them with others who can pray with us and hold us accountable in the future. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” There is freedom and healing available when you confess and repent of your sins. So often, we feel trapped and ensnared by our past sins and current struggles. It feels suffocating and overwhelming, but Scripture promises that freedom awaits us when we are willing to humble ourselves and confess. 1 John 1:9 tells us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So, what do you need to confess today to your Heavenly Father? The idea of confession may cause you some anxiety and fear, but we are told again and again throughout the Bible that true freedom awaits us when we confess.  Reflection/Discussion Question: When in your life have you experienced the feeling of freedom after coming clean about your struggles?
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Free from Guilt
Psalm 32:5 reads, “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.” Confession not only releases us from our sin, but also forgives the guilt and shame associated with that sin.  The Bible teaches that confession of sins is not just something we do with God, but it's something that we should do with one another. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Healing and wholeness come with confession. Oftentimes, confession means being honest with someone about an area of your life that they wouldn't otherwise know anything about.  The healing that James talks about is probably more literal than you might think. It's not strictly a metaphor. According to psychology, people who keep secrets rather than practicing confession have more physical and mental complaints, greater anxiety, greater depression, and are more likely to have back pain and headaches.  In fact, the initial embarrassment of confessing is frequently outweighed by the relief that comes from confessing.  There was a time when the church talked a lot about confessing sin, as it was an important practice of the early Christians. Now, the world even recognizes and says it's important that you live authentically in this way. We don't talk about it as much because we're often so focused on the stage, the performance, and what people think. So, examining your life consider if is voluntary confession a regular part of your spiritual journey? Reflection/Discussion Question: Is there guilt in your life that you need to let go of because you have already been forgiven of your sin?
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True Conviction
David writes in Psalm 32:1-4: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”  David was certainly no stranger to the consequences of unrepented and hidden sin. We read in 2 Samuel 11 of David’s affair with Bathsheba and then murder of her husband Uriah in an attempt to keep the affair from becoming known. David spent so much time and effort to try to escape the consequences and the truth of the sins that he had committed. It wasn’t until God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sins that David eventually confessed what he had done and repented. But when we read what David wrote in Psalm 32, we see the freedom and relief that David experienced when his sins were no longer hidden and were forgiven.  When we put so much energy into running away from what we've done or what we're struggling with, and when we put so much energy into pretending like everything is okay or the real problem is someone else's problem, it just wears us out. Running away is exhausting and so is pretending like everything is okay. Rest and relief from our Father await us when we practice confession.  Reflection/Discussion Question: What emotions have you experienced when you finally have repented and confessed your sins to God?
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Spiritual Discipline of Confession
Spiritual disciplines are sometimes difficult to incorporate into your days and require you to make a commitment to stick with them. Oftentimes, they also require that you clear some other distractions in your life, even when you don’t feel motivated to do so. When we are intentional with some spiritual practices, we aren’t taking part as a way to follow rules, to impress people, or to get God's attention, but as a way to grow closer to God and experience some spiritual awakening in your life. We are challenged to clear our lives of the clutter and distractions and return to some basic spiritual disciplines to connect us to Jesus. In John 15:5, Jesus states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Nothing matters more than our connection to Jesus. Through studying some of the Psalms and we are challenged to not just learn, but to put some spiritual practices into our lives; things like confession, prayer, and meditating on Scripture. One of these spiritual practices is confession. We know that sin separates us from our Heavenly Father. In fact, that separation is the very reason that Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross. As long as there's sin in our lives that we haven't repented of or confessed, there's going to be spiritual distance between us and God. But when we put our trust in Jesus and then we live a life that practices repentance and confession, we can experience not just forgiveness and freedom, but also redemption and an intimacy with God that we were made for. Reflection/Discussion Question: Is confession a spiritual discipline that you regularly practice or one that you often disregard?