Archives For Grace

Choose Grace

January 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

grace

Jesus doesn’t stand separately from life calling humanity unto Him; He emerges in the midst of life offering the lost of the world a way to the Father through simple faith. He left all of glory to dwell among us. In human form, the bible tells us he humbled himself through obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)

He lavished His preventive grace upon humanity as the greatest offer of all times. It is by His offer of grace we are saved through faith. Grace is not our own doing. Grace is a free gift received by placing your belief in the finished work of Christ. God’s grace is not a spiritual enhancement; it’s a radical rescue, calling you to walk the kingdom path of good works.

God’s gift of grace calls upon the sinner, inviting a choice. You can choose His offer of grace. You can reject His offer of grace. However, you can’t ignore His offer of grace because it pursues you constantly. The greatest gift to man was, is and will always be Jesus, but I contend that the second greatest gift was the gift of choices.

Choose grace; it is the only path that leads home. Choose grace; it is the only path that leads to heaven and earth coming together where those found in Christ will live for all eternity. Choose grace; the Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes. Choose grace; and you will discover the new way of life walking out the good works God has prepared for you.

Choose grace and you’re on the path to becoming fully human as God has always desired for His creation. Choose Jesus and allow all the old to pass away and embrace the new. Allow me to repeat myself as I end this devotion. Jesus doesn’t stand separately from life calling humanity unto Him; He emerges in the midst of life offering the lost of the world a way to the Father through simple faith.

grace

2 Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What would make a man cry out those kinds of words? There is only one answer, one word. Grace!

Ultimately for the Christ follower, life is only livable by grace.

Grace alone touches what is beyond your control.

Grace transcends any questions we may have.

Why can’t I find happiness? Why am I trapped in depression? Why do I have no close friends? Why does everything in my life seem to fall apart?

Most often answers to your hard questions are not found in asking more questions but rather by surrendering to His grace by saying, “Nevertheless.”

God’s grace grows perfect in your weakness

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giving

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 is worth a slow read. These verses are packed with the grace of God to give under extreme circumstances. It is a beautifully convicting and humbling portion of scripture.

 

In verse 7, Paul is encouraging believers to excel in “this act of grace.” The act of grace Paul is referring to is the Macedonia Churches have given under punishing circumstances by the grace of God. Verse 2 tells us they were in a severe test of affliction, and extreme poverty. However, generosity overflowed in abundance in spite of their present hardships.

 

Paul is showing that when God takes ordinary people, and throws in a full measure of His extraordinary grace, and then throws in a full measure of the power, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you have a recipe of all things possible.

 

Often when it comes to preaching about giving, many pastors come across as begging and desperate when asking their congregation to give. They end up using guilt to motivate them to give. However, that case is not true of the Macedonia Churches.

 

I once read where an old ancient Greek preacher speaking on this very passage said, “They did the begging, not Paul.” Isn’t that amazing! They begged to give. How incredible would it be if Christ-followers would beg to give to the causes of God’s kingdom, instead of being coached into given by man’s wisdom?

 

What would happen if we begged God to be able to give instead of the preacher begging God’s people to give? We would be like the Macedonian Churches caught up in the grace of God working through us.

 

Often when we think of grace, we think only in terms of God’s grace working in us and for us. However, that is not all that grace is for. Grace also works through us for His glory. Part of that grace is the grace of giving.

 

It takes grace to receiving anything from the Lord and it takes His same grace to surrender it back to Him. We love holding on to what God gives us like it’s our own. Grace for you, and in you, is an undeserved Gift of God, but grace through you is its purpose. You can’t lose what you give to God.

 

In verse 1 of 2 Corinthians 8 we read, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia.” The root of given is not money; the root of giving is the grace of God.

 

What is God’s grace capable of producing? It will produce people that give, and beg to give no matter the hardships. In verse 4 we read, “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…” There it is! By the power of grace, they begged to give and didn’t need to be manipulated to give.

 

How is this type of giving possible? The answer is found in verse 5. “…they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” There you have it. When you give yourself first to God, you always give your best. N.T. Wright speaking on this passage says, “Paul phrases his entire appeal, not in terms of money, but in terms of grace.”

 

Grace is what God does for us, and in us, but we must never forget that it is also what God does through us. The next time you struggle to give remember the grace of God and giving will come easy.

Simply Grace

August 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Ordinary people with God’s extraordinary grace are a recipe for all things being possible.

The same grace that drew you to Christ is the same grace that is at work through you toward the ungrateful and the evil of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not a big fan of cursing the darkness. As a Christ follower,  we should be primarily concerned with being salt and light. While it’s true, the Bible calls us to reprove the works of darkness, reproving darkness and cursing the darkness are two different approaches entirely.

Cursing the darkness is throwing condemnation at those who are outside of Christ, while reproving darkness is shining our light as to awaken the sinner from their sleep. The first is done in the same spirit Jesus rebuke James and John for when they wanted to call fire down on those who rejected Christ. (See Luke 9:54)

The latter is done in the Spirit of love that understands that those outside of Christ are under condemnation already, and we have no need to throw more their way. (See John 3:18) If we are to win the world to Christ, we must do so in the greatest power know to man, which is the love of God.

Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart. Jesus died to prove love real. We are called to do more than talk about grace; we are called to demonstrate grace to everyone. Yes, Even the ungrateful and evil. (See Luke 6:35)

In Ephesians 5,  we are called to take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. We are told to expose them. We expose them by  letting our light shine, and be visible, not by trying to curse the darkness and win a religious argument. When we love like Christ, His light shines and awakens the sleeper from darkness to light.

Many Christ followers need to return to trusting in the love of God to win the lost. We need to  stop trying to win them by persuasive arguments of men, arguments of condemnation.

Allow me to say it again, Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart.

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Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

Overlooked No More!

April 26, 2013 — 2 Comments

Jesus And Woman At Well1

Have you ever felt overlooked? Have you ever been overlooked? The answer to both questions are probably a resounding, “Yes.’ In John Chapter 4, Jesus meets a woman at the well and takes away her feeling of being overlooked.

She wasn’t overlooked because she didn’t have others around her; she was surround by people in her village, but she still felt alone. It’s been said, “Being lonely isn’t having no one around you, it’s the feeling that there is no one around you who cares.

She was undergoing feelings of being unwanted; which is poverty unto itself. The women of the town was ostracizing her. The tale-tale sign was the time of the day that she went to draw water from the well.

Sure, she had some bad choices happening in her life, but don’t we all? We find out soon enough that she had experienced 5 husbands in her life, and the one she was living with at the moment wasn’t her husband. Jesus said to her, “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband…” Her choices in life, right or wrong (I think wrong) caused her to be overlooked.

However, the great news was God hadn’t overlooked her. In fact, He was led of prayer to go to the very spot she was going to be that day. Her life was about to intersect with the one who never overlooks anyone.

The day before life was dark and depressing. This day, the day she met Christ, changed her forever. Jesus shared with her about the true water of life that would transform her. Jesus didn’t overlook her but gave her life and true love. He rescued her.

She now belonged to someone greater than herself. She would soon come to understand; as it has been said, “Who you are is rooted in whose you are.’ She could now drop all the unnecessary baggage in her life. She was now under the power of Jesus’ watchful eye.

It was now impossible for her to ever be truly overlooked again. God is always mindful of you, therefore, you can’t be overlooked with Him in your life.

When it seems you are being overlooked; instead of getting down about it, cheer up! You just might be getting ready to run into Jesus and have a day changing (life changing) event.

 

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I once read the following quote. “To my children…if I had to choose between loving you and breathing…I would use my last breath to tell you…I love you.”

Jesus was the first to essentially say the same thing from the cross when He drew His last breath and said, “It is finished.” If you listen with your heart you can hear Him say, “I love you.”

You are loved; Just look at the cross and you will see. The Bible teaches in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Spurgeon says somewhere—“We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son.” The greatest example of God’s love for us was found hanging on a cross. He didn’t just talk about how much He loved us, He showed us how much he loved us.

Romans 5:8 tells us,“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Brennan Manning, in The Ragamuffin Gospel says, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ, and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” What a beautiful and true statement!

Reflect on this today; God unconditionally loves us even though we are incomplete, and His love is ever-pursing a relationship with us who are the height of His creation. You are loved. You are loved. (See John 3:16-17)

Bad Friday

March 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

Good_Friday

It was a bad Friday for the powers of darkness. It was a Good Friday for a world needing redemption.

He created the world and saw that it was good.  He redeemed the world and said, “It is finished. When Jesus died on the cross, He reached to the deepest place of collapse and with His might power, He rescued the world with His unmatched love.

We now stand in the victory won on the cross, and we live by the power of the resurrection breathing in the air of the new creation. The world is now different; therefore, we can live different.

We can and must behave as kingdom people that have had their lives renewed in order to witness to the world. We are citizens of heaven called to colonize this world with His beauty. Resurrection is an event that is still in progress for the deliverance of the world and humanity to the glory of God.

Your life and mine must point to the redemption and rebirth of God’s creation in order to witness of hope assured.  Our hope is not the world’s hope. Our hope is assured in Christ Jesus.

N.T Wright once wrote, “Good Friday is the point at which God comes into our chaos, to be there with us in the middle of it and to bring us his new creation.”

I end the devotion today by sharing a few lines of an old hymn.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:

Jesus Who died shall be satisfied, And earth and Heav’n be one.