The Grace of Discomfort

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15Jun'  Now that title screams oxymoron doesn’t it?  If God is gracious … and He is … shouldn’t His grace seek to remove all of my hardship and replace it with innumerable pleasures?

How in the world could the grace of God be discomforting

In a culture that seeks personal comfort as the ultimate end?

Even in the church we are inundated with messages from theologically barren pulpits that preach the life of the Christian is supposed to be lived . . .

Within a region bound on

The north by material prosperity,

The south by relational success,

The east by physical health and well-being,

And on the west by every comfort and convenience Western society can offer.

Yet, God’s grace is a discomforting grace and it must be because we have a comfort agenda that consumes our minds and controls our hearts.  We will do anything in our power to trade a life of rigorous activity for relaxing ease regardless of the cost, even when the cost is communion with God.  To be sure, we are rebels by nature on the run from God.  Someone has said, “When we run from God, His response is more likely to be stormy and upsetting than quiet and subtle.”  This is the grace of discomfort.

Our desire to live lives within a zone of comfort causes us to seek security and safety at the expense of service and submission to the will of God.  God’s will more often than not, forces us out of our comfort zones by leading us down the road of discomforting grace.  God knows that we will by nature seek the path of least resistance which is often in the opposite direction from the path God would have us travel.

Therefore, He will make us as uncomfortable as we need to be made

In order to make us zealous for the only Comfort in both life and death

. . . The Lord Jesus Christ!

God will tolerate no rival.

Life with Christ is not a comfortable life.  It was Jesus who said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).  We have been promised a life of discomfort not because the One who promised it is unable to keep it from happing.  Omnipotence is sending us His grace of discomfort to drive us to Christ and the cross where we find a greater rescue than a rescue rooted in nothing more than a life of predictable pain free pleasure.  The grace of discomfort dislodges from our grasp everything except our desperate need for God.

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.”

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The Grace of Divine Dulling

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

God will tolerate no rival.  Nor should He!  What this means is that you will experience the grace of “divine dulling” in two ways:

God’s grace will “dull” the excitement and enticement of the pursuit of your sin.

OR

God’s grace will “dull” the excitement and enthusiasm of the pursuit of your Savior.

Regarding the first truth . . .

God will not allow His people to be driven into the ashes of defeat as it relates to the pursuit of sin.  He will, in His perfect timing, dull our selfish ambition.  He will, in His timing, dull our desire for sinful gain.

God is in the business

Of removing the enjoyment and enticement

Of the sinful desires of our heart.

He will do whatever it takes to “dull” the spell they have cast over us and reorient our hearts back to our first Love.

God tells us in Hosea 2:11-13, “’I will also cause all her celebrations to cease, her feast days, her new moons, her Sabbaths – all her appointed feasts.  And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, of which she has said, ‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’  So I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.  I will punish her for the days of the Baals to which she burned incense.  She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; but Me she forgot,’’ says the LORD.”

The prophet Hosea paints a stark picture of the grace of “divine dulling” that God will bestow on us when we indulge ourselves in illicit affairs of the heart.  Look closely and you will see that God. . .

Will remove the expected return on our sinful investment,

Which will ultimately drive us to our knees in repentance.

And the desire to return to our first Love.

Regarding the second truth . . .

God will also dull the excitement and enthusiasm of our pursuit of Him.

You may be wondering how that could possibly be an act of grace!

When we have divided affections He will dull our affections for Him to open our eyes to the fact that the proverbial wheels are coming off the tracks of our lives.  He will not allow us to experience the rich relationship of intimacy and affection with Him when He is not on the throne of our lives.  And why should He?  He will tolerate no rival and will never affirm our affections for anything other than Himself by letting us think that all is well.

I often hear statements in counseling sessions such as, “I’m not really enjoying my time of worship right now” or “I feel distant from God when I’m reading the Bible or even praying.”  People look at me in astonishment when I tell them, “Perhaps God has sent you the grace of divine dulling to reorient your heart back toward Him.  Could it be that you have settled for lesser loves that have captivated your heart?  That will block you from the right relationship you should be experiencing with your Savior.”

Remember, if your time with God seems distant or dull, you can be sure that God did not move away or suddenly become a bore.

God does not move away from us; we drift away from Him.

God’s Word does not become dreary or stale;

Our desire to search the Scriptures cools.

When we give our hearts to something other than Jesus, that idol will drain us of our passion for the only One who is worthy of our love and devotion.

This is why we need to be reminded of the truths of the Gospel every day.

We need daily reminders of the love we have in Christ

And how everything else in this world

Pales in comparison to the fulfillment we find in Him.

Let the grace of “divine dulling” drive you back to the only One who will meet you in your place of need and satisfy you beyond all you could ever ask or imagine.

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.”

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Grace Abused Simply To Excuse!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

13June  Jesus’ sermon on the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, provides a wonderful picture of God’s amazing, unconditional grace.  I had a person inquire about this Parable and asked the question “Is it possible to take this grace message a bit too far?”  This was not an accusation coming from a cold legalist; it was a sincere question from a concerned, mature Christian.

I understand this well-meaning person’s concern.  The Apostle Paul was anticipating that very objection when he wrote in Romans 6:1-2, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!”  To be sure, there are those in the church today who abuse grace in order to excuse their sin and coldly refusal to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  But just because grace is abused doesn’t mean we should shroud it with half-truths in order to coerce others into obedience and holiness through guilt and fear.  This is not the Gospel.

Grace is not opposed to obedience. As a matter of fact . . .

Grace produces obedience!

Grace is the fountain from which obedience flows.

Grace is the fuel that ignites the fire of our obedience

And keeps it burning brightly, albeit imperfectly.

Preaching the grace of God and His unconditional love in spite of our sin might lead some to think lightly of sin and to misuse and even abuse grace.  But that is only because their understanding of the Gospel is inaccurate or incomplete.  That is why we must clearly, concisely, and continually preach the Gospel in all of its glory.

God does not make our obedience a condition for His acceptance.

But grace does NOT free us from the demands of obedience.

The Bible says in Romans 6:12-14, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

God wants us to be holy because He is holy, and if we desire to accurately reflect Him to a watching world, we must strive to reflect His holiness.  And that desire is driven by the grace of the Gospel.

Our obedience, therefore,

Is a result of our relationship with Jesus,

Not a requirement for our relationship with Jesus.

So is it possible to take this grace message a bit too far?  No, no, a thousand times no!   We cannot take it far enough!

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.”

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Grow Where You Are Planted

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

12June  We live in a society that is in mad pursuit of the good life.  Never fully satisfied with what we have, we are always on the lookout for something better.  Restlessness is the daily reality for many people—both outside and inside of the church.  James identified this problem in stark language.  He is led by God to write in James 4:1-4, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

There’s really only one thing that will cure us from this grasping for “more.”

When we have a clear vision of what God has called us to

And the courage to walk into it,

We will find contentment, regardless of the cost or circumstance.

Years ago, when the Standard Oil Company was looking for a representative in the Far East, they approached a missionary and offered him $10,000 to take the job.  He quickly turned down the offer.  They raised it to $25,000, and he turned it down again.  They raised it to $50,000, and he rejected it once more without giving it a second thought.  “What’s wrong?” they asked.  He replied, “Your price is all right, but your job is too small.”  Every job is too small when it is not the job Jesus has called you to do to expand the cause of His kingdom in this world.

Now, don’t run off thinking I’m telling you to be a missionary because everything else is too small.  The job at the oil company would have been a wonderful job . . . if it had been God’s calling for this missionary.  But it was not.  This man knew so well what God had called him and equipped him to do, and he was so focused on doing it, that he had the fortitude to refuse a job that would have made his life a whole lot more comfortable and secure.

Only a small percentage of Christians are called by God to be missionaries in the sense of traveling to a foreign land.  To be sure, we are all on mission for God, declaring and demonstrating the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And for most of us, that mission is to be lived out right where we have been planted . . . whether we have been called to be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker.  Our calling is the place where we are growing and serving our Lord, regardless of the offers that come our way and no matter how much greener the grass may look on the other side of the fence.  This missionary who turned down Standard Oil knew . . .

That nothing less than God’s call in his life

Was worth contemplating, considering, or carrying out.

What about you?  In what vineyard has God planted you to grow and flourish and expand the cause of His kingdom?  If we have never thought much about our calling and where we fit into God’s perfect plan, we may find ourselves careening from wall to wall throughout life, going from one job to another job.  I have spent many hours counseling men who have lived this reality, which has left them reeling.  Only when we are doing what God has designed us to be doing, based on the way He has hard-wired us, will we be able to say in the face of a seemingly better offer: “No thanks, it’s too small!”

Someone asked Dr. D. James Kennedy, if he had ever considered running for president of the United States.  He promptly replied, “Why would I want to take a step down from the greatest job in the world?”  Dr. Kennedy knew what God had called and gifted him to do, and once that truth seized him, he could not consider any other place of service in the world, even if that place was located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  It simply would have been a job that was too small!

When you are doing what you have been created to do, there is nothing that can pull you away from it.  At this level of living . . .

You are not only in your calling,

But your calling is in you.

Remember, every job is too small when it is a job you have not been called to do or you are not doing for the glory of God.  Someone once asked me if I considered any job to be menial labor.  “Absolutely!” I said emphatically.

“It is the job you are working at for your own glory,

To expand the reach of your own little kingdom,

And where Jesus simply cannot be found.”

If Jesus is not calling you away from your current station in life, grow where He has planted you.  This will be for your good and for God’s glory and to the benefit and blessing of everyone you meet.

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.”

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Christian Commitment, The Christian Condition and the Un-Christian Culture

Grace For The Journey

11June  I would like to begin this week with a word of encouragement on the need for continual commitment when it comes to pursuing a life of holiness and obedience to our Lord.

In our ongoing battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, we must be serious enough to make specific commitments to stand against the temptations that we face every day. Here are two wonderful examples from the biblical record that are a source of great encouragement and strength for every Christian in the middle of the battle.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.”  (Job 31:1)

“Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”  (Daniel 1:8)

In his book, The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges wrote, “We are vulnerable to [two] kinds of temptations. Some arise from indwelling sin that still resides in our hearts; others come as a result of the environment in which we live or work.”

Job, who lived centuries before the time of Christ, provides insight into the Christian condition, a condition that remains sinful even after Jesus comes into our lives.  Sin no longer reigns in our lives, but it certainly remains, and we are to take the sword to it every day. The temptation Job battled is one which all men and women face today: the inclination to look lustfully at someone. The ongoing temptation to do this is simply a result of the indwelling sin that remains in us.

Daniel, on the other hand, made it clear that we face temptation because we live in a sinful culture. Daniel lived in an unholy environment; but instead of giving in to it, Daniel resolved to remain holy, regardless of the cost.

Some people mistakenly think that making such commitments is “works of the flesh” and we ought not to be doing such things. We need only trust in God, they say. Well, let me provide a news flash. To be sure, we must trust in God and His empowering grace to provide the strength we need to resist temptations. But we must make the commitment to resist them! Resisting temptation must be our serious commitment if we are ever to make progress against it. We must pray and work, as much as it is within our power to do so. Job and Daniel remind us that the battle is both within and without, and we must be on guard on both fronts.

So . . . in what areas do you need to consider making specific commitments to fight against temptation? Are you willing to do so? Make no mistake; God has given you the greatest motive and motivation for sustained effort against temptation: His name is Jesus Christ. Keeping in view what Jesus has done on our behalf and will do in our future is the fuel that ignites the fire of our faith and inspires continual commitment to fight against all temptations—within and without.

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.”

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Vision in the Valley of Dry Bones

Grace For The Journey

 

8Jun  Today we’ll look at a portion of Scripture that is a source of great comfort and encouragement for anyone who is struggling with anything.

The Bible says in Ezekiel 37:1-10, “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’  I said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.’  Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’  So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.  Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.”

For far too many today, life is being lived in a valley of dry bones, very dry bones.

  • A career that once held great promise has careened out of control because of addiction.
  • A marriage that started in a magical world has ended up in a world of misery because of self-centeredness.
  • A ministry of service that began building a monument to the glory of God has come crashing down in the ruins of everything a man once stood for.

Countless careers, marriages, and ministries have become nothing more than a valley of dry bones, very dry bones.

The prophet Ezekiel gives us a wonderful word of comfort and encouragement . . . no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in today.

The first vision given to the prophet was not a pretty sight “I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley.”  Dry, dead bones were scattered everywhere.

On the heels of this desolate picture of death we have the rhetorical question asked by our omnipotent God, “Can these bones live?”  The answer we all must give, of course, is a resounding “YES,” for it is God asking the question and it is God who will breathe life into them.  And God will breathe life into whatever area of your life is on “life support” right now.

  • He will breathe new life into your struggling career.
  • He will breathe new life into your strained marriage.
  • God will breathe new life into your misaligned ministry of service to Him.

The second vision given to Ezekiel was a powerful sight, “The bones came together, bone to bone!”  As of yet, however, there was no breath in them.  Imagine what was running through the mind of the prophet when he heard the rattling sound of those dead dry bones coming together, attached by tendons, and being covered by flesh and skin!

But the vision did not stop there, because in spite of the miracle of putting the bodies back together again, there was still no life.  So God took Ezekiel deeper in to his vision. God told him to prophesy and breath will enter them.  Guess what?  It did!

From his first vision of being surrounded by nothing but dead, dry bones, the prophet now found himself standing in the midst of “a vast army” that God assembled right before his eyes.

Funny thing about God . . .

He seems to enjoy bringing life out of death.

  • He brought life to dead Adam with a breath in his nostrils.
  • He brought life to these dead dry bones.
  • He brought life to Lazarus in the tomb.
  • He brought life to Peter after his denial of the Lord by giving to him a new vision of feeding God’s people.
  • He brought life to Saul on the road to Damascus – Saul, who was dead in his trespasses and sins – and turned him into the apostle Paul.

And God can bring life to you and anything you are facing today that is either on “life-support” or already dead.  You have His Word on it!  Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  Now you need only to catch His vision in whatever valley of dry bones you are facing today . . . and watch Him work!

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.”

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Loving the Unloveable

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

  When we read through the Bible, it seems remarkable – perhaps even incomprehensible – how God sets His love, time and time again, upon those we would call the unlovable.  He set His love upon people whom society had no interest in . . . and He did it to show us what a Gospel-saturated love is to look like.

The Bible says in Matthew 9:9-13, As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office.  And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’  So he arose and got up and followed Him.  Now it happened as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him His disciples.   And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’  When Jesus heart that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’”

The term “tax collector” wasn’t simply a title for a job; it was a label of the utmost judgment.  “Hated” and “despised” are two words that best describe the tax collectors of Christ’s day, and that is what Matthew was: a hated and despised tax collector.  Israel’s Roman conquerors had hired Jewish men to collect taxes and gave these men the authority to keep anything they collected over and above the money that was due to Rome. So the tax collector was not only working for the hated Roman invader, who held his people in bondage; he added insult to injury by collecting more than he needed – lining his pockets at the expense of his own people!

To say that the tax collector was viewed as a scoundrel is an understatement!

His neighbors would have seen him as a traitorous villain.

Jesus was well aware just how much the people despised Matthew.  Jesus used tax collectors as examples of “the lowest form of life” on more than one occasion, such as the time He delivered this stinging rebuke to the Jewish elders and chief priests: “Verily, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.”  (Matthew 21:31).  By equating tax collectors with prostitutes, Jesus was simply acknowledging what was a widely held opinion.

And yet in spite all this, Jesus called Matthew to “Follow Me!”  He even went to Matthew’s house to eat with him, a sign of friendship and intimacy.  Christ knew the condemnation that would greet His decision to pour love out on the unlovable, but He never hesitated.  He had come for sick sinners who desperately needed a doctor . . . the Great Physician had arrived to pour out His love on those who were “kicked to the curb,” so to speak.  When was the last time you felt like that?

Jesus came for people like the tax collector, the prostitute, the immoral, the beggars, the blind, the crippled, the sinners, and even self-righteous Pharisees . . . people just like you and me!

We all have one thing in common with Matthew,

Which is that we are all sinners

In desperate need of a Savior.

We can try to save ourselves or we can trust in

The only Savior of the world: the Lord Jesus Christ.

As for me and my house,

We have chosen the Savior of the world!

You remember the rest of Matthew’s story, don’t you?  The hated tax collector became one of the twelve apostles and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave us the very first book of the New Testament.

You see, it doesn’t matter where Jesus finds you – whether you’re in the pit or in a palace.  It only matters whether or not you heed His call to follow Him, regardless of where He leads you.

Matthew knew full well what everyone else thought of him; but he heard the call, got up, and followed Jesus.  In keeping his focus on Jesus, Matthew never let the opinion of others derail his divine destiny.

What about you today?  When you get right down to it, we are all like tax collectors – our sin makes us ugly and unlovable – yet we all have a willing Savior who is ready to pour our His love on one who is so unlovable.

One last question: Are we willing to do the same to others?  Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  Will you share Christ’s love with those who need a healing touch from the Great Physician?

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.”

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Tug-Of-War

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6Jun

We have all heard of tug-of-war, and most of us have played it.  It is a contest that pits two teams against each other in a test of physical strength and endurance.  When I was in College, a group of my friends and I entered into a tug-of-War competition called the “Tug-a-Ton!”  Each team was allowed up to but not exceeding 2000 pounds of total man weight on their side of the rope.  You could have as many men as you wanted on your team as long as the total weight of all the men combined did not exceed a ton (2000 lbs).

I will never forget the team we lost to in the finals.  After a long day of tugging on the rope, everyone’s hands and forearms were pretty well tired and aching from all the straining and pulling.  The team we were up against came out for the championship match wearing special “lobster” gloves for a better grip on the rope.  The gloves were allowed, but we were too proud to wear gloves.  We fought hard for nearly ten minutes, but in the end we were pulled across the center line and into second place.

So the term “tug-of-war” can describe a demonstration of brute strength by two opposing teams, such as a rivalry between two teams.  Today, I want to employ a metaphorical use “tug-of-war” to describe the battle going on daily inside the heart of every Christian believer – a-tug-of-war between the sinful nature and the Spirit of Christ.  The Bible describes it perfectly in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh (our sinful nature) lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Like two opposing teams straining at their side of the rope, the sinful nature is at war against the Spirit, and the Spirit is fighting against the sinful nature.  The Bible makes this truth crystal clear.  In  his book The Gospel For Real Life, Jerry Bridges writes, “We must acknowledge this tension if we are to make progress in the Christian life. Indwelling sin is like a disease that we can’t begin to deal with until we acknowledge its presence.  But in the case of sin, we must also count on the fact that, though it still resides in us, it no longer has to have dominion over us.”

Sin remains . . .

But it no longer reigns.

Jesus reigns, and the grace that He poured into your life when you were saved is the same grace that He continually pours into your life as He is sanctifying you.  Sin is no longer our master.  The Bible states that in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Jesus is our Master,

And it is His Holy Spirit

Who has power and control over us.

It is the grace of the Gospel that empowers us to keep on pulling, even when we have fallen into the dirt time and time again and feel like we have no strength left to pull. When we are weak, we are strong because of the One who is on our side.  In knowing that Jesus will never take His hands off of our side of the rope, regardless of how often we slip or let go altogether, we find the strength to keep fighting the good fight.

You see, for the Christian, the One really pulling on our side of the rope is Jesus.

  • It is His hands.
  • It is His strength.
  • It is His grace.

And Jesus has never lost a match!

He’ll pull us across the center line and into the winner’s circle!

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.”

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He is So Precious to Me

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

5June  I fondly remember singing a wonderful hymn in my youth with the title, “He is So Precious to Me.”   The first verse and chorus go like this:

 So precious is Jesus, my Savior, my King,

  His praise all the day long with rapture I sing.

To Him in my weakness for strength I can cling,

  For He is so precious to me.

For He is so precious to me,

  For He is so precious to me.

’Tis heaven below, my Redeemer to know,

  For He is so precious to me.

That hymn is based on 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious.”

 Christ is precious to all who know Him.

The word “precious” means “highly valued or esteemed.”  It is an apt term to describe how believers think about their Savior and Lord.

Peter loved to use the word “precious” in his epistles.  J. Vernon McGee comments: “I think it is so interesting that Simon Peter, the big, rugged fisherman, uses the word precious. We think of it as a word used in the vocabulary of women, but whenever Peter speaks of Christ or of His blood or any part about Him, he uses the word precious.”

Peter uses this word in the following ways . . . He speaks of . . .

  • Precious Trials – “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes” (1 Peter 1:7).
  • Precious Blood – “Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
  • Precious Corner Stone – “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, chosen of God, and precious… a chief corner stone, elect, precious” (1 Peter 2:4, 6).
  • Precious Faith – “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).
  • Precious Promises – “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 2 4, that . . .

God the Father regards His Son as precious (1 Peter 2:4)

And so do believers (1 Peter 2:7).

The world may not rightly value the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Father and those who have been saved by Him do!

Our estimation of Christ is the same as that of the Father’s.

He is precious beyond calculation!

One writer says, “Our estimation of other objects is often governed by public opinion, but we must appreciate Christ, not by what men think of him, but by what he is in the account of God… and if we are of God, we shall be of God’s mind; he that is precious to God will be so to us.”  People and things are said to be precious to us; yet, how much more precious to us should things of a spiritual nature be.

We need to ask ourselves . . .

Is the Lord Jesus precious to me?

What is my estimation of Him?

Do I view Jesus like the men of the world who reject Him . . .

Or do I view Jesus like God does, who regards Him as precious?

We have every reason to regard him as precious!

  • He is good and gracious;
  • His blood atones for our sins;
  • He gives us eternal life;
  • Hhe cares for us and bids us to cast our cares upon Him!

Matthew Henry said, “Jesus Christ is exceedingly precious to all the faithful.  The majesty and grandeur of his person, the dignity of his office, his near relation, his wonderful works, his immense love – everything engages the faithful to the highest esteem and respect for Jesus Christ.”

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has popularized an expression that is relevant to 1 Peter 2:7.  It comes from the lips of Gollum, formerly known as Smeagol.  He was desperate to have the ring which was once in his possession.  He continually refers to it as, “my precious.”  The ring consumed him.  It was the most valuable thing to him but it led to his destruction.

There are many people like Gollum today.  Their eye is fixed on some material thing and they are ever thinking, “My precious; my precious.”

But there is no one dearer and more precious than the Lord Jesus Christ.

He who acknowledges that Christ is precious and turns to Him will be saved.

The greatest treasure of all is Christ.

He is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).

Get rid of everything else

In your affections

And

Esteem Him as precious!

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.”

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Redeemed and Reckless

Grace For The Journey

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4Jun  The dictionary defines “reckless” as “utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless.”  Some antonyms for reckless are prudent, cautious, and calculating.

Which group of definition best describes your Christian life right now?

Are you reckless for your Redeemer . . . or cautious and calculating?

Many Christians today are far from living recklessly for their Redeemer.  They like to play it safe and live inside well-established zones of comfort.  They play it safe with their time, talent, and treasure, living only a portion of the life God is calling them to live.

They are sold-out for comfort

Rather than Christ.

Those who are redeemed and reckless are easy to spot, because their lives don’t seem to make sense – not just to unbelievers but to Christians also.  They do things for Jesus that most can’t even imagine doing.  They worship openly.  They serve whole-heartedly.  They give generously.  And they do all this without any thought of what they will receive in return.  That’s because . . .

They don’t do what they do for a return;

They are living out their unqualified,

Unquestioning love for their Redeemer.

This is reckless living, and it is the life Christ has called each of us to live!  In Mark 12:28-30, when asked what is the most important commandment of all, that Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Let me say something that might not be received very well today – The reckless Christians I am speaking about – at least those who live in the United States – are not likely to rise to the level of commitment evidenced by the early Christians, or those today around the world, many of whom live in Muslim or Communist countries and are beaten, imprisoned, tortured, separated from their families – even killed for their faith.

The Bible commends the tenacious faith of such as these in Hebrews 11:35-38, “… (They) were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

If our reckless living for the Redeemer never rises to this level, may we who are living in relative comfort for Christ begin making decisions that will cause the watching world to sit up and take notice of our commitment.  Let them see us as the world once saw Abraham, Noah, Esther, John the Baptist, the twelve disciples, the first-century church, and countless others throughout the ages:

As ones who are recklessly, incautiously committed to our Redeemer!

This kind of full-commitment Christian living puts us in good company . . .

And puts our great and glorious God on display for all-the world to see!

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.”

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