Psalm 146:2 "I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."

Monday, December 31, 2012

Walking In Grace Relieves Our Fears

Hi Everyone,

We know that grace is so important for salvation, because we are saved by grace through faith, Grace once we are saved relieves our gears because we know where we are going upon death when we enter eternity, we know that our sins are firgiven and that we are no longer under condemnation--just to name a few.

But grace is also is important in our day to day Christian living.  It relieves our fears of feeling like we have to earn other people's acceptance and performance. By walking by grace we are freed from having to think that we must convince people that we are someone that we are not. We don't have to waste time comparing ourselves to others or fearing what others think about us.We have nothing to hide. We are able to be honest and real before God--knowing that we are already perfectly loved and will never be loved any less.

Have a joyous year in 2013 walking in His grace!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Success in God's Eyes

So we all get these ideas in our heads of what success looks like in the Christian life and ministry--some people think it looks like the pastor that has the huge congregation, being respected  by the Christian community,  seeing people come to Christ, etc.

Ok a slight aside: There isn't anything necessarily wrong with these things,--again it depends and goes back to motives and what the source is. A big thing our culture needs to know today is that numbers do not necessarily equal success--is the big church big because it has solid biblical teaching and the believers are truly seeking after God, or is the church big because it is just a bunch of fluff that itching ears want to hear with a lack of scriptural content? Remember Jesus focused his life and ministry investing deeply in the twelve. Being respected in the Christian community isn't bad--but from what source of strength has the individual lived and why are they respected?. Seeing people come to Christ or being used to share Christ is an awesome privilege-and we should do so---but who brought the results? Sure God may have used you to share the gospel and build into someone's life, but the Holy Spirit did the work of bringing that person to the place where they trusted Him. So, it all depends-we have to be careful how we view things because the world's values and ideas can get so mixed up in our thinking and we may not always realize it.  

What is God's idea of success in the believer's walk and life? At least partially it is this: Do we faithfully abide and remain in Him? Do we allow ourselves to be a channel that He could work in and through?

This old hymn says it this way:

Words: Mary E. Max­well
Music: Ada R. Gibbs, Twen­ty-Four Gems of Sac­red Song, 1900

Verse 1
How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

Refrain
Channels only, bless├Ęd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.
Verse 2
Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation
All Thy loving message sound.

Verse 3
Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.

Verse 4
Witnessing Thy power to save me,
Setting free from self and sin;
Thou who boughtest to possess me,
In Thy fullness, Lord, come in.

Verse 5
Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water
From our inner self may flow.

*****************************************************************

The truth is that, most likely, some of us, if we are really honest with ourselves, aren't content with being a channel---we want to "do more," somehow thinking that maybe we can accomplish more in the Christian life. We mistakenly think that being a channel won't accomplish much, which is a lie that we believe.. True success is allowing Christ to live His life through us--and when this happens, more is accomplished by His power at work in us than we could ever imagine.

The last few days, I've started praying before I get involved in work responsibilities or participate in stuff--"Lord, I want You to do this in and through me--with Your strength and not my own," and I notice the difference---not because of me or anything that I do, but all because of Him-and what He does! The glory doesn't go to us as the channel-the glory goes back to THE Source.

The beauty of it all is that it isn't about us---it is abut Him. There is blessing in being a channel. We must abide in Him!

Abide In Christ--Part 1

Hi Everyone,

What walking in grace essentially comes down to is abiding in Christ.

John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
 
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

**************************************************************

Contrary to a culture that promotes and rewards being as independent as possible, we  radically find that God's expectation of us as His children is one of complete dependence upon Him. Notice how the same thing in the passage above is stated one way in verses 1-4, and repeated slightly differently again in verses 5-8? This is extremely important to the Christan life--because Christ is our life--He is the source, and apart from him we have and can do nothing.

This is kind of one of those thought provoking loaded questions: How much of what we "do" in Christian living, Christian service, etc is simply the empty noise of our own self effort, done in our own strength, without abiding in Him?   OUCH! You see, if we are really honest in answering that question, it is probably a lot more than we even want to think about.

He only wants one thing: for us to continually and unceasingly abide, remain, rest in Him, allowing Him to work through us.

Which branch do we want to be?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rest In Christ's Sufficiency

When we allow Christ to live in and through us, and stop depending on our own self effort our walk becomes one of truly resting in Christ's sufficiency. We can fully rely on Him to do in us what we in our own strength could never accomplish. We are able to rest in and live in the riches of His perfect grace.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Say Goodbye To Legalism

So when it comes to Christianity there are all these lists-you know--lists of stuff that Christians should and should not do--it might be your own list or one that someone else in a sense made for you--or just in general what you think is expected of a Christian,

For example--a big thing that Christians can legalistic about is having their daily quiet time reading the Bible every day. So why do we read the Bible every day? Do we do it because we are scared thst something is going to happen to us if we don't do it, or that we are breaking some law or expectation of knowing this is how we should perform?

The motive changes when we are allowing Christ as our life to live in and through us--for example we may still read the Bible every day--but we read it out of a motive of being in love with God --of wanting to know him better. It has nothing to do with "keeping the rules." We already know that whether we read the Bible or not, God isn't going to love us any more or less for having done so becaise we are already fully accepted and loved in Him. However, we are excited to read it as an opportunity to get to know Him better as a person and as a relationship with him, rather than just reading it because it is something we are "expected" to do.

So whether living by legalism or living by grace, we may be carrying out some of the same actions, but doing so for very different reasons.

We cannot expect to produce  in ourselves what only Christ living in and through us can produce in us. We weren't meant to live the Christian life taking the job upon ourselves that only Christ's life lived in and through us can do. Only He can transform us--the source is Him.

We can say goodbye to legalism because the Christian life isn't about us or our effort---it's about Him. There is no room or need for legalism in the walk of grace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Danger Of Serving In The Flesh With Our Own Strength

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."


"We are delivered from the law, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" Romans 7:6.

**********************************************

The Galatians 2:20 verse so familiar to us--many of us have it memorized, but do we grasp the depth of it?

One of the major dangers that as Christians we can easily fall into is depending on our own strength and striving in the flesh rather than depending fully upon Christ.

Anytime we are doing anything out of our own flesh or trying to  "get victory"our own strength, it is not going to bring God glory-and it isn't going to work.. The only way to bring him glory is to depend upon him to do it through us.

Every time that we start serving out of our flesh in our strength it is as if we are putting ourselves back under the law. which we can never fulfill. Christ fulfilled the law, however, just because we are no longer under the law, this does not mean we should just live sinful lives.

We must abandon all self-effort.

Why did we have to be crucified with Christ? Part of the reason is that apart from Him there is nothing good in us.

The solution is not "trying to do better"--the solution is  depending on Him to work in and through us moment by moment. We must walk by Grace through faith.

Andrew Murray put it this way,  "Happy is the Christian who understands that his greatest danger is to fall under the law--to be eager to serve God in the flesh with his own strength. Happy is he when he realises that he is not under the law--which demands and yet is powerless through the flesh--but is under grace where he simply has to receive what has been given. Happy is he when he fully accepts for himself the promise of the Spirit who transfers all that is in Christ to him. Yes, happy is he when he understands what it is to live by faith--to serve, not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit." (The New Life By Andrew Murray-- from chapter 26 "The Life of Faith")

As believers, there is nothing we can do to cause God to accept us more than He already has. We ARE accepted in the beloved.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Identity in Christ is REALITY

Hi Everyone,

So we all hear all this stuff about our identity in Christ---and it is a list that sounds so "nice"----but the rubber hits the road, do we really believe that it is true if us and that it is our current realty?

This list is not exhaustive by any means, but I am going to pick a few that have stick out to me in the past few days...especially because of how they relate to the walk of grace.

1) Do we truly reckon ourselves as dead to sin? Do we believe that we have died to the old man that we once were before trusting Christ? (This concept will most likely come up in later blog posts)

Romans 6:5-11 "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 6:18  "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."

Colossians 3:3-4 "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

Colossians 2:13-14  "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."

2)  We are a New Creation in Christ--do we believe this?

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

3) We are Saints--Look at how many times Paul refers to believers as Saints in the New Testament (below are just a few)---Today so often as believers we refer to ourselves as "sinners saved by grace"--But God sees us so differently than we see ourselves--so how do we honestly see ourselves? We are clothed in Christ's righteousness.

Romans 16:2 "that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well."

Ephesians 5:3  "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints." 

Philippians 4:21 "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you"

Galatians 3:23-27"Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. 24 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

As I said this list is not complete by any means--- but we cannot just give these things lip service and shrug it off--they are our reality if we ave placed our trust in Christ.  That reality is ours to walk out by grace in our daily living.

I am New

Hi Everyone,

I really want to get another blog post up later today, but based on everything I am learning, I woke up with this song going non-stop through my head---it isn't a hymn--it's a modern one, but it explains some things I will be explaining later on today and in continuing blog posts...very cool!  Don't read it fast--think about the words. (bold emphasis is mine)

Jason Gray - I Am New 

Artist: Jason Gray
Album: Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue

Now I won't deny
The worst you could say about me
But I'm not defined
By mistakes that I've made
Because God says of me

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

Who I thought I was
And who I thought I had to be
I had to give them both up
Cause neither were willing
To ever believe

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

Too long I have lived
In the shadows of shame
Believing that there
Was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn't see me the way that I do
He doesn't see me the way that I do

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

I am not who I was
I am being remade I am new
Dead to the old man, I'm coming alive
I am new

Forgiven beloved
Hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and holy
Reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy, this is our new name

This is who we are now... 
Yes THIS is who we are now---more to come later on today :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Few Important Thoughts

Hi Everyone,

I've begin sharing some thoughts these past few days and am going to continue to share some things along the same lines in some subsequent blog posts.

I have three things to say first though:

1) In general, as believers, we can at times tend to make things much harder in our daily walk than God meant it to be for us. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Now, just because His burden is light does not mean in any way that we are exempt from trials or hard times--but God uses everything in our lives so that as a result we will be transformed to be more like Him.

2) There is nothing that can be added to what God has already given us. We have already been given EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness. (1 Corinthians 4:7, 2 Peter 1:3)

3) This for every believer---it is for all that have trusted Christ.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Let ME Do It

Hi Everyone,

So I went to immigration this morning----no I don't have my new migratory form yet-it will be awhile. But I had to give my fingerprints.

So, one thing about me is that some of things that involve fine motor skills can end up being on the challenging side for me....and I had to do all of my fingerprints--so I looked at the piece of paper and the ink pad at the immigration office with sheer dread, "How am I going to be able to do this. I can't do this my myself without messing it up!!! How did I do this last year??" I thought to myself.

I didn't say a word but the immigration official took my hand--"Here, let me do it-you don't have to do anything," he said calmly---and began one by one putting my fingerprints to the paper. "Whew!" I thought to myself.

But then, at one point I tensed up or something thinking I needed to help him out or something---the official once again said, "Relax--let me do it."

And at the same time as all this was going on, my thoughts turned to what I had been thinking about all the way to the immigration office--the walk of grace--and I have sooo much more to share about everything I am learning on a daily basis. (Get prepared for nearly daily blog posts again for awhile!)

So as the immigration official was taking my fingerprints, the thought came to my head that what the immigration official had sad to me in a sense is what God is saying to me and all of us in the Faith.  "Let ME do it---Trust Me--I don't need your help-I am God---you don't have to live the Christian life in your own strength--in fact you can't. Let ME live in and through you---what I want to do in and through you is so much greater than anything you will ever "do" for me."

Pretty neat huh?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Just LIVE By Faith

Hi Everyone,

So yesterday I sought to put the "walk in grace" concept into practice and for the fist time in a long time, I got through the day without getting all frustrated about my sin issues--but rather trusting God with them. It was actually quite a blessing---Can you believe that I had almost forgotten that life could be that way?

"The just shall live by his faith" Habakkuk 2:4.

"We are delivered from the law, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" Romans 7:6.

"I live; and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" Galatians 2:20.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Walk of Grace

Hi Everyone,,

So, we get saved by grace through faith.

And somewhere along the way when it comes to our sin, so many of us get caught up in this idea that we have to live the Christian life by pleasing God and working at "not sinning."

But the more we "work on our sin" the more frustrated we become. Have you ever been there? I haven't been walking down this road of the faith that long, but I would honestly say the last year has pretty much been that way for me. You try to determine not to do x or think about x only to discover that you are doing the very thing you determined not to do all the more--ugggg!

We cannot conquer our sin by simply working on it--it just doesn't work.

The answer to resolving our sin is trusting God with it.

The Christian walk is one of grace and trust from start to finish.

God is the author and perfecter of our faith----just as we received Him by faith (trust) we must continue to walk in him. His burden is light.