Approval Addiction!

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

Studio shot of a fish in bowl  We are all addicted to approval.

  • We want approval from our family.
  • We want approval from our friends.
  • We want approval from our colleagues at work.
  • We want approval from our neighbors.
  • We want approval from our church.
  • We want approval from the stranger on the street!

The problem with approval addiction is that it is never enough, and when it’s withheld, you go through withdrawal.

There is an answer to approval addiction, and it comes from the pages of Scripture.

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4, “. . . we have been approved by God . . .”  The only key that unlocks the door leading to a life released from approval addiction is the certain knowledge that you are approved by God.  Knowing we are approved by God frees us from running on the perpetual performance treadmill of other people’s opinions.  We are no longer driven by what other people think of us because we know that we are the objects of God’s desire – so much so God sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.

When the approval of others is no longer driving your life, you can stop comparing yourself with others to see if you measure up.  In God’s eyes you always measure up . . . even when you don’t . . . because of what Jesus did on the cross.

God says in Jeremiah 31:34, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

I heard a saying many years ago that has stuck with me: “You wouldn’t care what others thought of you if you realized how little they did!”  We spend far too much of our time worrying about what others think of us, without ever realizing they are far too busy worrying about what others are thinking about them to be thinking about us!

Peter found himself obsessed with the approval of others (Jewish legalists) because he forgot the approval he already had in Christ. Paul explained in Galatians 2:11-12. “Now when had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.”

We all have a bit of Peter in us, giving someone more power over our lives than we entrust to God.  In those moments we are living purely godless, horizontal, anxiety-filled lives, devoid of the power of the Gospel.

Paul asked in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?”

Living in the knowledge of God’s approval frees us to live for God and not for man.

So . . . who have you been living for lately – at home . . . at the office . . . in your church – God or man?  It is only by resting in the truth of the Gospel that we can live lives marked by the worship of God and service of others, because we know if we are in Jesus, we are approved of God.  That can never change, and will never change . . .  How do I know?  Because the Bible tells me so!

God says in Malachi 3:6, “For I the Lord do not change.”

God also says in Isaiah 43:13, “I act and who can reverse it?”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

 

Glory Not In Grace

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

14Dec    To those who are regular readers of my blog, the title of today’s article probably has you scratching your head.  I make no apology in talking much about, and making much of. God’s wonderful, marvelous grace.  After all, the Christian life is all about grace: we are saved by grace; we are strengthened by grace; we are able to serve through grace; and we are to stand in grace.  But we are not to glory in grace.  As a matter of fact, it should be a strange thing to see a Christian glory in grace.  But as strange as this idea might seem, it is all too common in the church today.  How easily we lose sight of the grace Giver and focus only on what He has graciously given!

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

Countless Christians have lost their way by disconnecting themselves from the Way.

They glory in the grace given rather than glorifying the One who has bestowed it. They glory in their great faith; they glory in their growing commitment to their calling; they glory in their generous portion and place in God’s kingdom.  But they glory in the wrong things! Every grace is simply a gift from God, and if we are to glory in it at all, it must be focused on the One who has given the gift.

The Bible says in James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .”

And the Bible says in Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”

You see, it is not the grace given that keeps us standing firm, but rather the Giver of the grace.  The only thing keeping us from falling flat on our faces is Jesus’ faithfulness to us, not our faithfulness to Him.

The Christian must never glory in any grace given.

Our glory is to be in God alone

Because our strength is only found in our Savior alone.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive?”  How true that is.  And, the more you have, the more you are indebted to the One who has given it.

We must fix our eyes on the Giver of the gift and never on the gift itself.

Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, (Hebrews 12:2) is the fount from which all our blessings flow, and we must continually drink from this fount if we are to grow in the grace we have been given.

Sip continually from the streams of strength that flow from your Savior and you will find yourself standing on a Rock that will not topple or tip you over.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

AN INSIDE JOB

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

13Dec  The Bible speaks often about joy and how it is to be the mark of the Christian.

“… For the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10c.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy …” Galatians 5:23

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice (be joyful) always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

So the question we must ask and answer is, “Am I marked by joy?”

The Bible makes it crystal clear that joy is the mark of the child of God. In fact, a joyless Christian is an OXYMORON.

The reason I say that joy is an “inside job” is simply because . . .

It is not based on the circumstances of life.

It is based on our relationship to God.

Here is a powerful example of this truth from the Old Testament – The Bible says in Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

What we need to keep in view here is, in an agricultural economy, this is what you would call a complete disaster.  Yet, in the middle of this mess, the prophet kept his eyes on God and did not let his circumstance rob him of his joy.

Let’s take a look at another powerful example of this truth from the New Testament.

The Bible says in James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James is making it perfectly clear that there is purpose in our pain

And

That purpose is to grow us up into Christ.

Clearly Christian joy is an “inside job” …

Unrelated to what is going on around us …

Because of Who we have within us…

The Holy Spirit.

You see, the Gospel changes the orientation of our hearts.  Vertically it orients us toward God and horizontally it orients us toward others.  When we are working from this kind of “other-orientation,” the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, flows both to us and through us.  That is the exact opposite of what painful circumstances usually does to a person … it turns them inward.  The power at work in us through Gospel faith causes us to turn to God who leads us to be able to help others (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

 

GOING IN GOD’S POWER

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

12Dec  The Bible has many warnings about the words that come out of our mouths because of the way they can affect – both positively and negatively – everyone around us, including ourselves.  Here is a word of encouragement, spoken to Moses long ago and which still speaks to all of us today:

In Exodus 4:12, God says to Moses, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

The Bible tells us that Moses was as reluctant as he was fearful to go back to Egypt as the spokesman for the Almighty.  He was not only fearful of facing Pharaoh (Pharaoh had sought to kill Moses after Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrews slave); Moses was also fearful of how his own people would receive him . . . or not receive him.  Moses did not see himself as one who could speak on God’s behalf and he protested, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

Moses knew his natural limitations in speech.  (Some commentators have suggested that he spoke with a stutter.)  But what Moses didn’t know was how God would equip him with supernatural ability to do what He was asking Moses to do.

God will never call us to do anything without equipping us to get it done.

This was as true for Moses thousands of years ago as it is for you and me today.

So . . . where is God calling you to go and speak His words of life today?

  • Perhaps someone at the office needs to hear God speak through you today.
  • Maybe someone in your classroom needs to hear God speak through you today.
  • Is it possible someone in your own family needs to hear God speak through you today?

God never enlists us into His service without equipping us to do it.

God gives us everything we need to do all He is calling us to do.  He takes an apparent natural weakness and turns it into a supernatural strength.  In whatever areas we lack, God fills us with His abundance.  Where we are weak, God is strong; He will demonstrate to the watching world that He alone will accomplish His purposes in this world through broken people.

In closing, remember this: God placed a call on Moses’ life, but He also met Moses in his place of deepest need.  God sent Moses’ brother Aaron to speak the Word of God for Moses (Exodus 4:14).  Moses still had to go as the deliverer of God’s people, but God gave him a helper.  God knew exactly what Moses needed to lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.  And God knows exactly what you need today to go and speak His Word into the hearts and lives of others.

Will you go?  If not you . . . who?  If not now . . . when?  This is one time we are not to be “slow to speak,” as James 1:19 cautions us – when we are called to be the Master’s mouthpiece.

Remember, you do not speak your own words and you do not go alone.

You go in the strength of God Almighty. Go!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

 

A Holy Heart Burn

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

Jeremiah 29:8 – “Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”

11DecThe Bible records in Luke 24:14-17 that the hearts of the disciples had been broken three days earlier.  What they had believed in and hoped for died a slow, agonized death, nailed to a cross in the middle of Golgotha’s Hill.

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all the things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus drew near and began to walk with them.  But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.  And Jesus asked them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?”  And they just stood there, looking sad.

In the above we find two dejected disciples trudging along the road to Emmaus, two men who were about to have the encounter of their lives with the living and resurrected Lord.  Prevented by Providence from recognizing Jesus, they began to tell their unidentified companion everything about their hope in the one called Jesus of Nazareth, whom they wanted so desperately to be the promised One to redeem Israel.  But their hope were dashed when Jesus died upon the cross.

But as they walked with Him, He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.  They drew near to the village to which they were going.  He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”  So he went tin to stay with them.  When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.  And he vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

From broken hearts to “burning hearts” –

That is the change that encountering Jesus produces,

Regardless of our current circumstances.

I don’t know where this finds you, but I do know Jesus wants to have an encounter with you . . . today and every day.  Our Master is always on the lookout for opportunities to minister and work, even when we are not looking for Him . . .

  • He sought out the women at the well.
  • He sought out a tax collector in a tree.
  • He sought out a dead friend.
  • He sought out a denying Peter.
  • He sought out a doubting Thomas.
  • He sought out two melancholy men on the road to Emmaus.
  • He sought out a Pharisee on the road to Damascus.

And He is seeking you out today.

Perhaps He is speaking to you today for the very first time – or at least the first time you’ve heard the call.  By His Spirit He is drawing you to Himself to cover you in His redeeming blood and to forgive your every sin.  Oh, your sin may be great, but Jesus, Who wants to be your Savior, is far greater; and He is able to save to the uttermost.

You simply cannot sin yourself beyond His reach.

As someone has said, “God’s willingness to clean things up is infinitely bigger than our willingness to mess things up.”

Could it be that today – today – salvation has come to you?  Are you hearing Jesus’ invitation to become a member of His family of faith for the very first time?  Take a walk through the Romans Road to get a crystal clear picture of that so-great salvation . . . It describes . . .

Our Problem –

Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23a, “The wages of sin is death . . .”

God’s Solution –

Romans 6:23b, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 5:8, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

If you have walked this road for the very first time today and placed your trust in Jesus as your Savior, please let another Christian know.  Please let me know!  I would love to tell you how you can grow this relationship with Christ into something fruitful and powerful.

Perhaps you already have a personal relationship with Jesus, but today you do not sense this “holy heartburn.”  Come back to Jesus … Look unto Him … Let Him help you recover your first love for Him!  Let Jesus remind you of the love and grace of the gospel once again … that His way is unmatchable … that His patience is unwavering …  that His forgiveness is unlimited, and … that His love is unconditional.  And it is all this just for you!  You are the object of His heart’s desire.  You have the opportunity to experience anew His power, enjoy even more of His peace, and explain His purpose to everyone you know and meet.

Let this truth minister to you and encourage you today and every day.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

When Right Is Wrong!

Grace For The Journey

8DecIs it possible for right to be wrong?

Everyone wants to be right.

  • We want to be in the right relationship.
  • We want to be in the right job.
  • We want to be in the right church.
  • We want to be in the right position of service.

So what’s wrong with right?  Probably no better picture is portrayed for us about right being wrong than the picture of the Pharisees in the days of Jesus.  They did everything right . . . and yet got it all wrong.  Let’s take a look at some of the things they did right.

  • They prayed (Matthew 6:5)
  • They went to the synagogue (Luke 18:10)
  • They gave a tithe of everything they possessed (Luke 11:42)
  • They fasted (Luke 18:12)

Judging from the externals, the Pharisees seemed to be doing it all right.  They were models of obedience, discipline, and holy zeal for the things of God.  So what was so wrong with all of their right?

Everything they did was done for the wrong reasons.

Here is just a portion of the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees delivered from the lips of our Lord as recorded in Matthew 23:23-28:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

What was true of the Pharisees in the days of Jesus is true for us today.

Doing the right things for all the wrong reasons is not what God wants!

God does not want our obedience for the sake of our obedience;

He wants hearts from which loving obedience flows as a

Response to God for all that He has done for us.

The Pharisees were obedient for all the wrong reasons.

They sought the approval of God and the applause of man.

Their form of obedience is called legalism; sadly, legalism is alive and well in the church today.

It is rooted in a misunderstanding of the Gospel that

Tries to earn God’s favor and receive His blessings

Through a slavish obedience.

No matter how faithful we are in keeping the law of God, when our heart is not right, we are all wrong.

It is only the power of the Gospel that frees us from pursuing the approval of God and the applause of man and empowers us to live to honor Him.

The Gospel teaches us that we already have everything we need in Christ.

As someone has so correctly said, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything!”

What the Pharisees did was not wrong.

It was right to pray, go to the synagogue, tithe, and fast.

It was wrong to do it because they expected to get

Recognition from men and earn favor with God.

When we are convinced that we already have all that we need in Jesus, then we are freed to serve and worship our God with hearts that are overflowing with love and devotion, not legalism and duty.

God never wants our hands without our hearts;

When we give Him our hearts with our hands,

We are right even . . . when we go wrong.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

When is Loss Gain?

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

7DecThat seems like a strange title for today’s blog.  How can loss be gain?  This is certainly something that the world does not promote or seek.  However, we have all this truth in some areas of life.  Some loss in this life is great gain.  When we use a disciplined approach to diet and exercise to lose those extra pounds we put on over the holidays, our loss is gain.  When we lose the debt we have incurred from having too much month left at the end of the money, our loss is gain.  But there is an even greater and far more glorious gain from our loss.  It is outlined by Paul as God led him to write in Philippians 3:7-9, “Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them garbage; that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Paul is telling us that loss is indeed gain when we gain more of Jesus by losing everything other than Him.

Paul says a lot in these verses.

But his main point is that . . .

  • No social or religious achievement,
  • No educational success,
  • No position,
  • No familial heritage,
  • No amount of societal approval

is worth holding onto and building your life on, compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus, for whose sake it’s worth losing all that you have.

Paul considered his “everything” nothing in comparison to the everything of Jesus.

For Paul, Jesus plus nothing equals everything; everything minus Jesus equals nothing.

That’s why, for Paul, giving up everything for Christ was nothing.

Here is a challenging question for you and for me:

“Am I, like the apostle Paul, willing to give up everything for Jesus?”

A “YES” answer will only be found in a life that has been born-again and rooted in the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Only the Gospel can free us from the need for human approval and the applause of man.  Only the Gospel can free us from the need to attempt to broker God’s favor and earn His love.  Only the Gospel can free us to give up everything that really doesn’t matter for the only One who truly does matter: His name is Jesus Christ.  When the grace of the Gospel grips our hearts, we find that we no longer want the “wants” of life that somehow morphed into “needs.”

When Jesus is our everything, we begin expanding the borders of our lives beyond the borders of our lives.  We begin investing our lives in the only One who truly matters and who will live on forever.  When Jesus is our everything, we begin living for more than ourselves – our wants, our desires, our agendas, and our acclaim – and instead begin living for Jesus and His wants, His desires, His agenda, and His acclaim.

We must remember that everything in the universe,

Including you and me,

was designed by God

To have Jesus at the center;

For Him to be preeminent.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Colossians 1:15-18).

God the Father never intended His precious Son to be pushed to the periphery of our lives – in any area!  When we do this we are functionally living for ourselves.

  • Jesus is to be at the center of our marriages.
  • Jesus is to be at the center of our families.
  • Jesus is to be at the center of our professions.
  • Jesus is to be at the center of our social life.
  • Jesus is to be at the center of our hobbies.
  • Jesus is to be at the center of our recreation.

Jesus is to be at the center of everything

Because everything is to center on Jesus.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

When the Good News is Not So Good

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

6Dec  The Gospel is good news to those who trust in Jesus—those who trust in His righteousness . . . His perfect life . . . His sacrificial death . . . His forgiveness.  But for those who trust in themselves the Gospel is not so good.  In fact, it is bad news!  The Gospel is of no use and it provides no benefit to those who trust in themselves.

The Bible says in Luke 18:9-12, “[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.  ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’”

Like the Pharisee in this story, far too many in the church today are counting on their good works – rather than Christ’s finished work on their behalf – to cause God to accept them and give them forgiveness, blessing, and eternal life.

The Pharisee’s problem did not lie in his good works;

He actually did fast twice a week and he did give tithes of all that he had.

To the watching world, the Pharisee was a model of piety and righteousness.

The problem lay in the fact that he was trusting in his good works to broker God’s favor.

In so doing, the Pharisee minimized the holiness and justice of God,

And magnified the goodness and purity of his own good works.

For all those who are trusting in their own righteousness – their own goodness and good works – the good news of the Gospel is not good news at all!  In fact, it proclaimed catastrophic bad news to the self-righteous Pharisee when Jesus judged his condition and rendered a verdict of “NOT JUSTIFIED!”

We must all remember the truth of Isaiah 64:6 . . .

That what we perceive to be “good works” are nothing more

Than filthy rags in the sight of our thrice holy God.

Yes, good works are good to the extent that they benefit others.

Although God does not need them, our neighbor certainly does!

But when we are counting on our good works to do for us what only Christ can do, the good news of the Gospel becomes bad news – the very worst news!  Jerry Bridges explains, “At the end of the day this fact remains: no amount of personal performance will ever gain the approval of a holy God.”

The Bible says in Romans 10:3-4, “Being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

This is why we should be reminded of the grace of the Gospel.

We need daily reminders to rely on the righteousness of Christ and not on our own perceived righteousness.  The Gospel is God’s great good news to fallen, broken people who truly have no hope apart from Christ.  Those who understand the depths of their own sinfulness and the height of God’s holiness cry out these words from the old hymn:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness . . .

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

One final thought: what the Pharisee failed to understand was that even with all of his “good works,” he was still exactly like other men: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, and even tax collectors – great sinners in need of an even greater Savior.  The Pharisee was judging and comparing by outer appearances and forgot that God judges the heart.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

“ONE ANOTHERING”

Grace For The Jourrney

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

5Dec  Those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ’s atoning work on our behalf must be careful and not think that this amazing, gracious salvation is all about “me.”  To be sure, we were saved individually . . . BUT we were saved to be involved in the Body of Christ, His church.  The Bible talks about this in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free . . . .”  Every believer is needed and valuable.  As Bible believing followers of Christ, you and I have received instructions for how we are to treat one another.

Here are just a few examples:

  • We are to love one another                           (John 13:34)
  • We are to honor one another                         (Romans 12:10)
  • We are to serve one another                         (Galatians 5:13)
  • We are to bear one another’s burdens          (Galatians 6:2)
  • We are to forgive one another                       (Ephesians 4:32)
  • We are to encourage one another                 (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • We are to pray for one another                     (James 5:16)

One of the distinguishing marks of the early church that caught the eye of the watching world was the way the Christians carried out this “one another” principle in their local church families.  They continually devoted themselves to meeting others in their place of need.  The Gospel truths helped them rise above the natural sinful human tendencies for self-service and self-protection.  Instead, they lived lives marked by self-sacrifice, regardless of the cost or circumstance.

Can the same be said about you and me?  What would those closest to us say about the visible evidences of self-sacrifice in our lives right now?

Here is what we must keep in view . . .

We love because He first loved us.

We forgive because He first forgave us.

We are kind and gracious because He has been merciful and gracious to us.

Are there people in your life you find hard to love, forgive, or accept?  Love them anyway!  Are there people in your life you simply cannot bring yourself to forgive?  Choose to forgive them because Christ has forgiven you and asks you to.  Are there people in your life you find difficult to carry out the “one another” principle?  Ask God to do that through you!

You see, the key to living by the “one anothering” principle

Is to fix our hearts on the One who, in spite of our sin,

Loves us, honors us, served us, forgives us,

carries our burdens, walks with us, and works through us!

When we keep God’s mercy in our hearts and His love in our lives, how can we not be merciful and loving in the lives of others?  Jesus took our place on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins . . . past, present, and still to come.  And don’t forget this: while He hung, bleeding and dying on that cruel cross, Jesus cried out to His Father in heaven, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

That truth – that amazing love and grace – should set us free to put others first and lay our lives down for others.  The “one another” principles were the marks of the early Christians and they should be what mark us and set us apart today.  This is the foundation upon which a life of devotion to Christ is to be built.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

Worried About Weakness?

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

4Dec  Don’t be worried that you might be the weak link!  The Bible teaches that one of the qualifications for being a servant of the Most High God is found, not in your strength, but in your weakness.  God will not have His servants seeking success in advancing His kingdom in their own strength; when we go out to serve in our own strength, defeat looms in our future.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The apostle Paul was not worried about his weakness, in spite of the “thorn” (some unidentified source of great discomfort) God had given him.  Far from it!  Paul boasted all the more gladly in his weakness, because he knew he would only advance in the service of his Savior to the extent that he advanced in the power of God.

Kingdom servants must serve the kingdom in His strength, not their own, or God will not receive the honor and glory of their labor.  Make no mistake; God, who is omnipotent, does not rely on our feeble efforts to accomplish His purposes in this world.  To be sure, God uses our efforts, but our efforts advance and accomplish only in His strength that He imparts to us.

You see, the apostle Paul knew very well who he was before Jesus showed up: his name was Saul, the vicious persecutor of the early Christian church.  Saul held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and personally dragged Christian believers off to prison (Acts 8:3).

But Jesus stepped in on the road to Damascus, and Saul was forever changed.  Saul was renamed Paul and commissioned by God to pen nearly two-thirds of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Paul went from persecutor to preacher, but he knew that none of that happened in his own strength or effort.  As a student of Old Testament Scriptures, Paul knew the truth of Zechariah 4:6 – “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Paul was not worried about his weakness because he knew that where he was weak, God would be strong.  He knew that his weaknesses were simply opportunities for God to demonstrate His power: accomplishing His purposes, through His apostle, in His strength.

So . . . what weakness has you worried? Perhaps God has called you to do something for Him that doesn’t seem to play to your strengths?  Fear not!  If God is calling you to do it, He will provide you all the strength you need to get it done.  God’s strength will make you sufficient for any task He has set before you.

Remember, God is not surprised by your weaknesses.  He created you with those weaknesses so that you will rely on Him and not on yourself.

The years have taught me

That weakness has a tendency to keep us on our knees,

And it is only from that position

That we will ever advance in the Christian life.

One last point: weakness is never an excuse for not doing what God has called us to do, regardless of how we feel about it.  In the fourth chapter of Exodus, we read how Moses tried to make an excuse before God when he was called to be the deliverer of the Israelites. God would have none of it, and He sent Moses off to do His work – not in the strength of Moses, but in the strength of the Master.

We want to walk in the faith of Abraham.  Paul lifts him us as a model to us in Romans 4:20-21, saying, “[Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.”

Whatever God is calling you to do, do it with the confident assurance that the One who called is able to complete the task through you, working through your weakness as a witness to His strength and the power of His promise.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture