Oh For Grace

Oh For Grace 2

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

I have been parenting for over 28 years now. With five children, I have experienced a variety of personalities. Each kid and relationship just a little bit different from the other. When our daughters came home from Bible study last night, our young adult chatted for a few minutes heading back to her room which is normal for her. Our youngest daughter has a friend visiting. One of them is a handful – two of them are more than anyone can handle. I should have noticed that they were not loud and boisterous upon arrival. It did not catch my attention that she was cleaning her room unprovoked when I went to check on them. In fact, I really should have been more observant because I know the potential of quiet teenagers. Well…

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a lengthy apology from my little suspect. She and her friend had made a poor choice and ended up with a consequence. Discussing the matter with my husband, it was decided to apply grace to the situation. When she wakes up – we will discuss the details of the decision the girls made. There will be some things they will be required to do but overall I cannot help but smile just a little inside. I am blessed that my girls love me. They cannot stand when anything comes between us. Hence the text at almost 2:00 a.m. Our relationship is important to them. It is evident that rather than hiding the truth – they come to me. Oh Lord, teach us to value and appreciate our relationship with You! To come to you as little children seeking the Father’s Love no matter how bad we mess up or constantly make bad choices. You are full of grace. You give us grace upon grace!

Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Unless you turn and become like children”… Reading this passage today – many may have the excuse of poor parents or even none to speak of. I have imperfect parents. I live in a dysfunctional family. If we are “perfectly” honest, there is no such thing as perfect and fully functional relationships when people are involved. Putting our expectation in a being that cannot ever be without fault or failure only sets one up to be let down. Whether our parents were great or not so great, there is still a call from Christ for us to come as children all over again. To relinquish responsibility for our life and humbly relish His Magnificent Grace. God does not punish us. I need you to hear what I am saying today – it is vitally important in understanding what to expect when you turn back to the Father. He doesn’t take anything from us or allow bad things to happen to us on account of sin. To do so would diminish the value of grace and deem it insufficient which it is not. God offers divine discipline. He teaches us better ways that lead to positive outcomes and fulfillment of potential already in us.

Romans 3:22-25 (ESV) For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

The application of grace in our life is complete in Christ. He has given us the gift of grace. It is received by faith. We do not deserve it and certainly could never earn it. We can only accept it and live in it. God’s righteousness and steadfast love is demonstrated in divine forbearance. Forgiveness. How many times do we transgress yet God still blots it away like a father or mother when their little child presents a skinned knee? Taking a clean white cloth and soaking it in water, carefully and gingerly removing the particles of dirt and grass to reveal the bleeding wound. Then gently oh so gently applying the ointment to aid in healing then covering it with a bandage to protect it from further injury. Oh Children of God if only we could learn to live in His Grace and administer grace as the Father.

We are all in this together. Sin is a factor in everyone’s life. We can only overcome death and the grave, which is the future of sin, by humbly accepting God’s Grace. Jesus is our Savior. There was no way to save ourselves as each is born destined to die until Jesus came to pay the penalty price. Now we live in the overtures of abounding grace given to those who will simply come to Him and receive it. He gives us an abundance of grace and His Spirit produces good fruit for us to share with others…gracefully. Notice that as I shared the misfortune of our teen’s poor choice, I did not go into detail and share all the sordid details. We must learn to covers our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Lord has covered us. One sin would have required every ounce of the Blood of Christ right down to His Last Breath. We all took His Life to find our own. No one is exempt.

Psalm 103:10-13 (ESV) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

His Grace is sufficient. It is always enough. The Lord is ready to cover us in grace upon grace. It is not based on my faithfulness but rather His Faithfulness. It doesn’t come from any good in me but rather His Goodness towards me. Grace changes us into Children of the Living God. It’s funny how kids can fight one minute and be best buds the next. Maybe it’s because they have an inner longing for grace and therefore can administer it more freely. Experience teaches us differently. Unmet expectations create voids that can only be filled by God yet we seek out imperfect humans to meet that need. The Lord reminds us today that He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin but chooses to administer His Grace. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He decided to forgive you so it is His Constant and Ongoing Response when we come before Him. His Steadfast Love vast and unfathomable. He removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west tossing them into the sea of forgetfulness. This does not allow room for regret or shame because He is rewriting our story and marking it innocent. He does so as a father shows compassion to his children. I am reminded today of the Father’s Love. His Grace that is abounding to me.

Lord, teach me to respond to Your Grace each day with true repentance. May I start each day turning back to You as my child has demonstrated today. You are a Good Father! Let me not forget that new mercy is mine each morning. You always have good things in store for me. Not because I am good but because You are Good and Your Grace is always enough!

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Lamentations 3:22-26 (ESV) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

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Resurrection Life

Practice_Resurrection.Peterson

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

“The Kingdom of God is within you…” Leo Tolstoy

Jesus Christ is alive. He is living and breathing inside the heart and soul of every believer, but not every Christian. To follow Jesus Christ is not enough. The only way to live a life of successful faith is to let the Holy Spirit change our mind and open our heart to the truth that Christ lives in us. With Resurrection Sunday just a few days away, I am filled with excitement and expectation. I like Christmas, but I love Easter. We celebrate the arrival of the Messiah in December, but the thing that makes Jesus so powerful is the fact that He died for our sin and rose again on the third day. Except Christ be crucified AND resurrected, there is not power, authority or dominion over death. It is important that believers serve the risen Savior and Lord or they are worshipping a dead god.

To believe that the fullness of God be fully invested in Jesus Christ means nothing if He is not alive in us today. How full is a broken cup? No matter how much is poured in it would only gush out. The substance of our faith is contained in the hope of the Living God. If our faith has nothing to build upon – it has no validity. Faith in God is paramount on the fact that Jesus Christ lives in us or to make a connection with Him would be sudden death. Outside of Christ – I have no chance of living in the Presence of God day by day into eternity. The fact that Jesus Christ is alive and lives in us is what changes every impossibility into future possibility. It takes a natural life making it supernatural. Our ordinary existence becomes extraordinary when Christ comes to live in us. It is time to change our mind about the God we serve and recognize that Christ is alive and well inside of us. Christ in us identifies us as part of the Kingdom of God.

“God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.” Leo Tolstoy

Faith is not logical. It will never be understood by human reasoning. It is not validated by what we see but Who we know. The more I know Jesus Christ – the more logical my faith becomes. As I submit my life to Him, He fills me with the fullness of God that is in Him. The Spirit produces fruit from seeds of faith like love, joy, peace, and the like. He bestows forgiveness, kindness and goodness to us in epic proportions so they begin to flow from us as we cannot contain the Favor of the Living God any longer. Too many Christians are trying to pour from empty cups. I must submit my life fully to the Lord in order to have a reservoir to draw from.

Romans 8:10-12 (NLT) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Scrolling through social media, I came across a meme posted about the recounting of sins at the pearly gates and not realizing you were that wild or something like that. All in good fun. A particularly long comment thread caught my attention beginning with a young woman who berated the poster as sacrilegious. I will not recount the back and forth banter because quite honestly the debate a complete embarrassment to Christians. Anyway, she recanted that unless we completely separate ourselves from the world and live “sinless” lives that we will not enter Heaven. I just shook my head and scrolled on. Nobody can do that. We all have a sinful nature to be crucified daily. Religion tells us to follow all the rules and regulations and you will make it into Heaven. If there is no relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never get there from here.

I share this revelation because sinless perfection is impossible in a human being ever. Even saved, sanctified super spiritual people sin – all the time. The mindset of the believer is to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to avoid it but surrender and submit our life to the Cross when we fall short. I cannot judge or condemn another person because I have fallen short. It only took one sin and Lord knows I am capable of way more than that. Our mission in life is complete unity with Jesus Christ. Laying our life down, crucifying our flesh and living in the love of God given to us through His Son. I have no obligation to sin anymore. What does that mean? It means that the Spirit of the Living God gives me power and authority over sin. I can make better choices just because He lives. But even on my best day, the good in me and greatest potential of my life is Jesus Christ. My elevation comes from exaltation and the revelation that surrender and submission are the only way to live. “Christian joy is letting Christ live His Life out through you so that what He is…you become.” (David Jeremiah)

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

“God doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up to the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.” (R.C. Sproul) If we could get the imagine of death in our mind, the reality of it, the brutal and abrupt end of life – maybe there would be a better sense of exactly what Christ offers us in His Resurrection. We avoid death at all costs. Born dying, we try to outrun, outlive, and outsmart the inevitable end of human life. There is another option but in order to embrace the joy of eternity one must engage in the death process prematurely. The unfathomable and incomprehensible has happened. In our revelation of the true meaning of Christ’s Resurrection is that now that same power, authority and vitality lives in us. He was crucified in weakness and raised in complete fulfillment and victory. We must engage in the same process to move from death to life. To obtain grace comes at the price of strength and ability – it is obtained in utter weakness. When we could do nothing to save ourselves – Jesus died for us. “He did not come to shame the sinners. Jesus came to save sinners.” (Reinhard Bonnke) “He came into this world to make dead people live.” (Leo Tolstoy) Apart from the Grace of God our connection with Him is religious. The consummation of our relationship with the Living God is that Christ lives in us. We have live because He is life.

Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT)  For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

I encourage you to join me if examining the heart and mind in these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Do you believe that Christ is alive? Do you understand that He lives in you? Do you live through Him? It is important to evaluate our personal walk with Christ each day? To compare our direction to His Directive (His Word, Will and Way). To completely empty the contents of our heart and make sure it is only faith in God that is retained and worthless things thrown away. The only thing of worth in us is Jesus Christ. If we do not fully believe and base our life on the fact that Jesus lives and resides in us – what is there to celebrate on Easter? If Christ did not emerge from the grave victorious over sin and death – folks, we have a problem. It doesn’t matter how good you are doing or successful you are at avoiding sin, without the Living God – there is nothing to live for. All those efforts following the example of Christ are meaningless if the person of Jesus does not reside inside you. The Spirit gives us life. Apart from Him, death is the only option. Revive us again, Jesus. Teach us to celebrate the power and authority that You have given us and live a resurrection life.

John 11:25-26 (NLT)  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Do you believe this (put your name here)?

 

Glass Houses

Glass Houses

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I love good news. Testimonies are my favorite. The impossible situations that turn into possibilities thanks to a loving, kind and good Father. The unexpected called coincidences by the world but are blessings and benefits of Kingdom Living. I certainly do not deserve the goodness that the Lord has shown me in this lifetime so far. Often I think if He did nothing else, I still couldn’t help but give Him praise for the rest of my life. But if it wasn’t for the Grace of God…the Gospel is not good news.

Grace is probably the hardest component of salvation to wrap our head around. The word “grace” in Hebrew is CHEN and CHARIS in Greek. It literally means “favor”. To bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior. It is the benevolent action of God by stooping down to us in His Kindness and Goodness to reach us in our need and convey upon us a benefit. It is termed as “unmerited favor”. His Mercy is the fullest expression of His Compassion for us. Grace is the action that transformed His Mercy into action that releases His Power in our life. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a Gift of God.

Not by works, so that no one can boast…” I cannot earn God’s Grace. I cannot provoke His Grace to do more than it has already done. This is a point of contention in many religions that cannot embrace a God of Grace who loves us no matter what. It is not a form of weakness implying a reckless God who doesn’t have a backbone. No, God’s Grace portrays His Perfection. If I could earn grace that leads to salvation, I wouldn’t need the Blood of Jesus. The power of His Name would be eliminated if there was another way to God the Father. There is not. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Willful sin and rebellion does not change the heart of God for mankind. He decided to love us and therefore He does. Always. At all times. In every season. Good or bad. God’s love for us never fails. It is constant. He loved us when He created us and will love us through this life and will continue to love us whether we choose to accept His Grace that leads to salvation or not. God is love.

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are still sinners. It doesn’t matter if we strive for godliness and work at serving God. The Love of God established grace in our life before we knew about it or even wanted it. To consider our life worthy of grace is the point that grace loses its power by changing the definition. Grace is favor. Grace is given to the needy. It is received in our weakness. To compare my life to another believer and decide I have pleased God more or less is a dangerous game of pride. One sin required every ounce of the Savior’s Blood shed for me. The sacrifice of my life to fully embody and embrace Christ is not an act of service but simple salvation and full acceptance of grace freely given.

A socially acceptable sin still grieves the heart of God. Changed habits and better choices will never make a difference in how much God loves us or the sufficiency of His Grace given to us. You may find this a hard pill to swallow. God doesn’t have favorites. He rejoices when one comes to repentance. True repentance begins the process of full redemption that takes a lifetime to complete. It is not about perfecting us but God’s Love being perfectly for us. To become do dependent on the Love, Grace and Mercy of God that it is our constant pursuit at all times. I cannot pursue God my way. I must continually enter the Gate already opened in Jesus Christ. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. It is the color of Grace. It is the point of absolute and complete acceptance that I am nothing outside of Jesus Christ that our lives are changed by grace.

2 Corinthians 12:8-110 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But 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.

What would happen if we lived in glass houses? Total transparency between us and the world. Where everyone who walked by could peer through our windows. Would the pristine yard, freshly washed window, rooms flooded with light, and people perfectly poised and presented to the world reflect real life? To project perfection in this life of salvation is a farce. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The Gospel is only good news because of God’s Amazing Grace. It is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that a new life is possible. We can change all our bad habits. Make better choices. Clean up our act and still there will be transgressions in our life. Willful thoughts. Rebellious acts. Delayed obedience or outright disobedience. Paul detailed our plight in Romans 7. The Grace of God will always be the Good News of the Gospel to others. How can I judge another person when despite my best and forthright efforts not to sin, I still manage to on a daily basis. To begin to think there is no sin in us is prideful revival – but to daily live in the constant need of Jesus Blood and His Way of Righteousness is to fully and completely declare our absolute weakness outside of His Grace. The Power at work in me is Christ. The only good thing in me is His Spirit who lives in me. I am nothing apart from Him. Grace gives me the opportunity to have a relationship and live in the perfect love of God despite my complete imperfection.

Romans 11:5-6 (NIV) So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10) Paul summed it up. By the Grace of God, I am what I am. What you see is who He made me? I must daily or more honestly momentarily deal with my flesh and constantly nail it to the Cross. I do not have time to put other people there because keeping myself in the Love and Grace of God is a full-time effort. His Grace to me changed everything. His Love for us is established in His Perfection. Unchanged or influenced by my behavior, but offered in spite of me. If I could achieve grace it is no longer grace so my acts of service are nothing more than offerings.

The Lord takes my weakness and gives me His Power. How will I represent the Grace given to me today? Will I reflect the Love of the Father? Will my light shine in darkness or be covered under a basket labeled pride? Without Him, I am nothing. Lord, make me the part of the “remnant chosen by grace” to be the city on the hill. Let my life be transparent before you and a glass house that others may see that while I was still a sinner you gave your life for me! Remind me that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones!

John 3:30 (NIV) ”He must become greater; I must become less.”

The Worst of Them All

The Worst of Them All

I Timothy 1:12-15 (NLT) I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.

“I am the worst of them all.” I am. The absolute worst sinner of all. You want to know a little secret. You are, too. We sit in good company together. One sin would have required every drop of His Precious Blood and demanded the last breath from His Body. If we could just stop right there and meditate on the consequences of a single sin, it would become evident that I am the worst sinner of all and so are you. Horrifying to think that if I was the only person ever created that God would still love and desire me enough to offer His Son as a sacrifice for my transgressions and give Him up for my redemption and restoration as His Child. Humbling yet often forgotten in hierarchy called religion.

The perfection of God includes His Perfect Law. The law convicts us. It reminds us of all the ways to that human has failed and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The only way to find our way back to Him is to accept the mercy and grace of our fallen Savior and risen Lord. I wonder if the atmosphere of “church” would change if someone, anyone, or all of us understood that the way to the Father’s Heart and access point is faith in Jesus Christ and full acceptance of His Grace. God has not favorites. He does not lie or change His Mind. The only way to have a right relationship with our Father in Heaven again is through His Son, Jesus Christ. To accept the grace offered to us and live in humble understanding of its infinite worth. I cannot earn it. I cannot deserve it. I cannot repay it. I can only live in it and be a conduit of it.

Matthew 9:2-7 (NLT) Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?” Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home!

In Philippians 2, the Word of God instructs us to have the “same attitude as Christ”. Jesus was God. However, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.” This is the attitude that believers are to have at all times. In Matthew 9, the struggle of mankind is revealed. Jesus told the paralytic carried to the Lord by faith-filled friends that his “sins are forgiven.” This caused an uproar among the religious group following Jesus. How dare this man blaspheme God! So to prove his identity, Jesus tells the man, “stand up, pick up your mat and go home.” Why is it that the church cries out for miracles, signs and wonders but takes grace for granted in its corridors?

Religion will always require more of the sinner than Jesus Christ. Righteousness is found in Jesus Christ alone. When Jesus forgives our sin, no matter how many or how few, it is finished. He doesn’t require anything other than to partner with Him. He has given us His Spirit as a teacher, guide, leader, developer, cultivator and yes, the one who will convict us in order to produce change in us. Christianity is not designed to create spiritual bullies. Paul confides that he is in his own mind the worst sinner of all time. He is. So am I and so are you. What gives us the right as redeemed to place rules, regulations, rites, and reprimands on others? God’s Grace is enough. He doesn’t need us but desires us above all things. It is time to start focusing on understanding, accepting and emanating God’s Love, Grace and Mercy to those who have wandered, live in darkness or destined for death with the same gospel that we received but have somehow forgotten.

Luke 7:44-50 (NLT) Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man that he goes around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

For most of my childhood, I was new kid. I attended 11 elementary schools, and 4 middle/high schools. I was constantly trying to fit in. When you change schools that many times it is hard to stay up on the trends of each community culture. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I felt the stares of strangers. I could hear the whispers when I walked by. I knew what it was like to feel like an outsider as they judged my whole life by my appearance. By the time I reached high school, I sought out the victims. The ones who were bullied because they didn’t quite fit in. I decided to be their staunch defender. When the cool clique accepted me, I sat with them instead. I invited them to church with me. To meet this Jesus that immediately let me in. My past experiences have crept into my future relationship with Christ. I would rather meet the sinner, loner, lost, broken, addict, homeless or whoever would fall before Him at the altar than engage with a spiritual bully.

What would you do if the “worst sinner of all” came to your church? What would be your response? The Pharisees judged the woman as she worshipped Jesus. She was a woman. She was a shameless sinner. How dare she come and disturb their meeting with such nonsense? But Jesus accepted her humble adoration and worship by forgiving her sins. She didn’t have to clean up or change just came and acknowledged her Savior. Her faith in Jesus Christ fully demonstrated in her submission and surrender. It was enough for Jesus. Is it enough for you?

There are two extremes in the church culture today. There is the “whosoever come” and let us change you into what we have decided is an acceptable person. Then there is the “whosoever come” and do whatever you want it’s all good. God is looking for a remnant of people who are willing to admit “I am the worst sinner of all” and live the life of grace that changed them. People will always struggle with the freeness of God’s Grace. It is not our nature to do so. Grace is sufficient to cover our sins and give us access to the Lord. It is our willingness to abide in Christ that keeps us connected to the flow of His Authority and Power that can change us from the inside out.

Matthew 23:25-26 (NLT) “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

The judgment of God’s People is filled with good intentions. The religious duties that become the occupation of a Christian are self-imposed. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. In the verses preceding this passage, Jesus tells them that he sees them tithing and recognizes their obedience but because it is religious it means nothing. The religious culture is a shark tank that destroys new converts every day because when they jump from darkness into glorious light they are quickly set upon by those who think God requires an outward change when God is only beginning to work on their inside. I am so tired of watching religious people pick apart baby Christians. They stand on their rightness. It is not righteousness.

The word of God promises those who are merciful will receive mercy. Be wary of those who tell you what to do. God’s given us a glorious standard to live by. Religiosity is the off spring of religious people. Look for those who live a humble life of true repentance. Those who are encouragers of the Word, doers of the same, but not the ones who require rules and regulations in exchange for redemption. Jesus accepted you just the way you are. He started a good work in you and me that He is faithful to complete. We must ask the Holy Spirit to give us discernment. Examining our own heart for true repentance and real love that is the basis of our faith in God and our faithfulness in serving Him. It is not our job to be right but to live in right standing with the Lord. Right standing is not rule following but a loving and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 4:2-5 (NLT)  As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.

I am the worst sinner of all. This is not a confession that renders me helpless. It is the admission of my weakness that allows grace to permeate my life. I am surrendered to Jesus as my Savior. I am submitted to Him as Lord. I still sin every day regardless of my best intention. It is up to me to examine my heart each day and ask for forgiveness for that sin. When I decide that I have the right to judge another or call them to accountability – if there is no love, mercy or grace incorporated in that it is my flesh and not born of His Spirit. Spiritual bullies are born of insecurity. When grace is not fully believed or accepted, it is easy to set a standard to be kept by flesh and maintained by pride that elevates us above another. The truth is I am a sinner just as wretched and deplorable as them. Lord, examine my heart today. God give me grace where I have forfeited it to my feelings. Father, fill me with love for your people – all of them. Help me Lord to never lose sight of the vastness of Your Unfailing Love and copious amounts of grace needed to set me free. I will never be worthy of it but am so thankful I have it.

James 2:12-13 (NLT) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

 

Cover Me

Cover Me

 

Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

There is an American hero by the name of Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who at just 19 years old gave his life to save his brethren. He was trained to escape the deadly blast of a grenade if there is the opportunity. However, when an Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into their Humvee, he had to make a choice. This young man had an opportunity to jump from the machine gun turret he was manning and save himself. But that is not what this man of honor and valor did, instead he dropped from the turret into the vehicle falling on the grenade to save his four comrades inside. Months prior to the incident, the same scenario occurred but the gunner followed his military training and jumped out of the Humvee. Fortunately, in the grenade was a dud. Pfc. McGinnis received a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart while his parents received a folded American flag. He gave up his life for his brothers and is an example to us all.

I am challenged by this verse today. I am also inspired by this young man’s story. As believers, there are trials and temptations each day. We face situations and circumstances that cause the superficial Christianity to give way to the truth within our heart. Sin happens. It happens to everyone. We all fall short of the Glory of God not once but daily. Religion often creates an atmosphere of arrogance as some look down on those who are transparent. Rather than reaching out to their brothers and sisters, they reach around them as to somehow prove they have no sin. You who live by the Spirit should restore family, friends, coworkers and even strangers who fall into temptation or succumb to sin. It must never be to pull them up to some invisible level but through the Blood of Jesus surround them with love and hope. When given the opportunity to cover your brother and sister in Christ, what is your response? Hero? Helper? Heretic? Hmm…

Genesis 9:20-25 (NIV) Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

Noah was a farmer who produced a vineyard. Partaking of his choice crop, he became drunk. Succumbing to the situation, he fell asleep naked in his tent. He was not out carousing but inside his home. When his son, Ham, saw him – rather than covering his father and keeping it to himself – he decided to tell his brothers. The response of his brothers, much like Pfc. McGinnis, is a lesson of love and grace needed in the church today. They took a covering and walking backward as not to subject their father to any further humiliation – they covered him up. I cannot stress the importance of this lesson to the Body of Christ. “Bless their heart” shouldn’t be an excuse to share with every other brother and sister the sin of another. Prayer requests on behalf of another can be carefully disguised gossip sessions. The Word of God says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters.” We are one great big family.

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations religion sets forth, Jesus Christ condemns no one. His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for the covering of sin. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Human insecurity threatens the sufficiency of God’s Grace. One’s inability to accept that His Grace is the sufficiency of our life. Our ability to fully accept the grace that God has given us through His Son, Jesus is based on our ability to crucify pride and humbly receive it. When will begin to boast in our own weaknesses rather than putting our brothers and sisters on blast? The life-giving power of Jesus Christ is not enhanced or any way enabled by a chance in our habits but evident in a heart change that humbly accepts outside of Christ – I am nothing. Those who condemn others by spreading rumors, gossip and even when trying to disguise it as concern will one day reap what they sow. Not my words, but those of the Bible – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

John 8:9-11 (NIV) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was caught in the act of adultery. Yet, she was brought before the Pharisees alone. How many times do we cover the religious and expose the sinner? Just because someone comes to church, serves in ministry and cleans up well, does not necessarily mean that their heart is right with the Lord. In fact, the religious men all sat in judgment ready to stone the woman. Jesus said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” God’s Word tell us plainly that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. His Instruction to this woman on the verge of death now given a new life – “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was another woman found in her sin at a well. Jesus didn’t expose her before the masses and make a public example but rather through quiet conversation revealed His Person to her. She became a great witness for the Messiah. I wonder how many people would finally fall in love with Jesus leaving sin behind them if the church represented the love of God rather than the condemnation of the Pharisees. Judgment belongs to God. Condemnation could have belonged to Christ but He chose grace instead. What will we choose today?

James 4:10-13 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Humility will not allow us to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ died for every single person every created to give them access to new life. The enemy uses pride to destroy sound doctrine as men and women who know God succumb to the lie of the enemy that there is a way to make us better when there is only a better way. Slander and gossip come in many forms. It will always circle back to the one for which it was intended. The grace given to us in Jesus Christ can only be accepted in humility. Religion will never be the way to Christ’s Heart but relationship. The kind of relationships that are made up of people willing to lay down their life, pride, fear, insecurity and doubt long enough to love unconditionally and give grace abundantly. Everyone sins. Everyone falls short of God’s Glorious Standard. There is absolutely positively no condemnation in Jesus Christ only constant covering of our sin with His Precious Blood giving us new life and making us a new creation. When someone falls, it is our calling to cover them. Cover them with prayer. Reach out to them in love. Don’t reach around them to share it with everyone else. Let their humiliation and violation stop with you not be cultivated by you. Give them the same grace required to keep you and me in good standing with God. It is free. We do not have to earn it and neither do they. What will you do the next time you find a fallen brother or sister who is slipping?

I John 4:16-19 (NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 

As believers reconcile their life to Jesus Christ – the product must be love. Always love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” There is no fear in love which means that if we are representing God’s love those who are lost or wandering should not be afraid to come to church. They should not be concerned that there is a kangaroo court of judges waiting to tear them down, make them feel bad, or condemn them in any way. What is your response to the downfall of another? What is your reaction? When the grenade dropped into the Humvee that day, Pfc. McGinnis did not have time to weigh his options. The true character of his heart revealed as he covered the grenade giving up his life for his friends. What will you do? We love simply because He first loved us. We give grace because He has given us grace and more grace. We are Children of God building a family out of love. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit full of unconditional love and overwhelming grace for everyone I meet.

I John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Enduring Love

Enduring Love

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

It probably safe to say that sin is definitely rampant everywhere. Love is lukewarm if not tepid perhaps even cold. BUT…the one who endures to the end will be saved. “But” nullifies that which is stated before. When we see “but God” in a passage, it is the resolve of God’s Sovereignty that changes everything. If a “but” is placed within an apology, it voids the true meaning of forgiveness. Within the epidemic of sin and death of love, there is a “but”. The one who endures to the end will be saved. I am challenged today by this “but” – the one that changes sin and hate to enduring and everlasting love.

What does love have to do with it? Everything. It is our mandate in life to love the Lord God and love others. It sums up our mission as Light and Salt. To illuminate the darkness and flavor the earth so that others will taste and see that He is good. What is the light of our life? What is the flavor of our interactions? Does it make a right relationship and true repentance desirable or palatable? Truly love is the difference maker that binds a Kingdom of diverse people who reconcile their life to Jesus. His Spirit works to produce His First Fruit which is love. Are we cultivating love in our life? In our homes? Churches? Community? Workplace? Everywhere we go there should be a foretaste of the love that saved us, delivered us, healed us, grows us, develops us and prospers in our life.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

What have I gained? I want to know God’s Secrets. I want to hear the voice of His Angels as they sing around His Throne in His Presence. I desire all gifts of His Spirit as promised but if I do not possess His Love – it is all pointless. Love is not just in the receiving but absolutely in the giving. It is reciprocated by the release of it. We give our lives to religion freely. It is something I can do. It is the method of giving over which I have control. But is it enough to be among those who endure to the end. Is it enough to finish the race and be found faithful to Christ? I am not sure doing anything for Christ is worthwhile if it is not packaged with unconditional love and grace as it is given.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

“His Love Endures Forever” is given as a reminder 41 times in the Word of God. God defines love as patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude meaning it doesn’t contain any pride or self. Love doesn’t demand its own way but gives up its way to pursue unity. It is not irritable or unforgiving never keeping count of wrongs. It does not rejoice in injustice or the faults and failures of another but rejoices when truth wins out. What truth? God’s Love endures forever and His Grace is enough. Love never gives up. Endures. It never loses faith and so it is always faithful even to the faithless. It is always hopeful never ever giving up on itself or the pursuit of it. It endures through every circumstance.

God’s Love for us is defined by these characteristics. To be imitators of God is to reflect this kind of love to all people. It is noted that there is no greater love than to lay down our life for our friends. We are instructed to lavish it on our enemies as well. Love is important to God because it is who He is. Love defines Him. It must define us to identify with God as His Children. However, love must endure. What does it mean to “endure”? According to Strong’s Concordance, it is to hold one’s ground in conflict, to bear up against adversity, hold out under stress, stand firm, persevering under pressure, waiting calmly and courageously. It is not a passive resignation to fate with mere patience, but the active energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance. Why would love require endurance? Because loving everybody all the time is not easy and nearly impossible outside of the Love of God given to us and His Grace that covers us. We must fight for love because the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy it. He is doing a pretty good job at it.

I Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Continue to show deep love for each other. The kind of love described is the same kind of love in Romans 5:5. Agape love is a word given new meaning by Christianity. Agape love is an undefeatable well-meaning kindness and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of other people. No matter what the response of the other person to our giving – agape love gives anyway without reservation. It is self-giving love that gives freely asking nothing in return. It does not consider its own object worth but is liberal in its giving. Agape is a love by choice, not love by chance. It is an act of willingness not emotionalism. Agape is the kind of unconditional love God has for all of His Children even those still far away. It is the love that His Spirit tries to produce within us. Agape love is grown from faith in God and as He becomes our confident hope carrying our full expectation it is the overflow of our life to others. Love without condition. Forgiveness without reciprocation. Giving without the expectation of receiving. We must continue to show deep and abiding love in the midst of a world where love has grown quite cold.

Love covers a multitude of sin. Love covers. Love does not expect retribution or recompense but gives up the right to be offended and hurt by the misgivings of another. It is the kind of covering that will lead others to the Light of His Amazing Love. We cannot love others properly until we accept the completely that He first loved us.

I John 4:16-21 (NLT) We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

There will always be people around us who seem undeserving of our love, time and attention. People will always let us down, hurt us and not meet our expectation. It is not their job to do so. It is our job to love. My personal responsibility as a Christian fully saved, sanctified and filled with His Spirit is to love. To love first. To love most. To love always. To love without regard. To love without expectation from anyone other than God. His Love is my fulfillment from which I am free to love without need or necessity for reciprocation. Here is where endurance comes in – I don’t always want to love people who hurt me, use me or offend me. I am not always quick to forgive, forget or forge a relationship with those who I do not deem worthy of such things. I don’t always want to give up my way to embrace the journey of another. See I am just as human as you are. I have had my fair share of letdowns. I have been attacked and maligned plenty. But I want to endure to the end. I want to be saved. I cannot spend my time trying to glean a little bit of love from unproductive vessels. The fulfillment of love is to accept fully the Love of God through His Son Jesus Christ and live in that love completely. From this place – there is freedom from fear and insecurity of hurt and betrayal. His Healing Balm of Love covers the misuse and abuse of others with a sufficiency of grace that fulfills us. It is from the Source of Love that never leads to disappointment that I can love others freely with enduring love that makes me known as a Child of God. I must love like the Lord. I must love unconditionally. Lord, help me to develop enduring love in all my relationships past, present and future. Teach me to love others solely on the basis that You, Father have first loved us.

Psalm 136:1 (NLT) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

No More Mediocre

No More Mediocre

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is mediocrity a sin? The word “mediocre” means of only ordinary or moderate quantity. Neither good nor bad. Barely adequate. Not satisfactory, inferior or poor. However, it is not a sin. You can live a mediocre and mundane life and still make it into heaven. In the warning of Revelation 3:15-16 to the Church of Laodicea regarding a “lukewarm-neither hot nor cold” life it says that the Lord is “about to spit you out” of his mouth. Detestable, undesirable and distasteful to God and its works, mediocrity is not a rejection of Jesus. It is to reject His Promises. Hebrews 6:12 warns about becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.” Such a mentality keeps us from inheriting God’s Promises which require faith and endurance.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God is full of glorious excellence. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He decided to save you, call you and even bless you – it became a done deal. I remember in youth as a teenager hearing the story of a man walking with Jesus in heaven. He was walking through a warehouse stacked high with many boxes both large and small. As they continued to walk, the man asked the Lord, “What’s in all these boxes?” Jesus told the man that they were filled with all the promises and blessings left unopened or unwanted in his natural life. God has given us a rich inheritance. It is already written in our life plan containing a future and hope. It is up to us if we will have them or not. He gives us precious promises according to His Glory and Excellence. We receive them in righteousness and by His Grace. It is up to us whether or not they are manifested in our life according to our desire for them.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Moral excellence is to strive to have superior merit and possess the outstanding quality of morality. To live a life intent on excelling in the principles of right living. This is not the same as being right but living in right standing with God every day in every possible way. It is to sow spiritual fruit in our heart and mind so that our soul will prosper in the promises of God such as love, joy, and peace. This will produce the Promises of God in our life through His Perfect Love.

Our willingness to sow determines our ability to reap in the natural and supernatural realms. If I work with excellence in my job, those seeds of faithfulness will generally turn into a promotion or pay increase. If I sow seeds of investment, I can expect a return on the good seed. If I sow generously, I will harvest the same. Sowing and reaping is a promise of God given to us for this life, as well as eternal life. Love is the commodity of the Kingdom of God. He loves faithfulness and willingness on our part to love Him and everybody else. It is the trait that the Lord commands of us. Excellence is the quality that dictates the outcome of our sowing. To sow with excellence will reap in abundance.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…” (NIV) Whatever you do. What are you doing today? Will you do it as if working for the Lord? Will your effort be wholehearted? I believe that mediocrity implies a worthless god. We do not serve a God like that but one who promises us good things. So much so that His Purpose in sending His Son was to give us a rich and satisfying life of abundance. In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it tells us that whatever our hand finds to do to do it with all our might. This comes just after the promise a few chapters earlier that God makes everything beautiful in His Timing. Romans 8:28 tells us that He works all things together for our good. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We must simply seek to find them in our life.

If a bank posted an advertisement that it was going out of business, starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM that they were opening all the safes and vaults to give away all the cash and gold – would you go? The majority of people would go deciding it would be worth it for some “free money” if the ad was true. Some may hesitate but still join in the fun. Then there would be the select few who would get up and go to work just like every other day. The Word of God has promised us a life of abundance. What is your response?

Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am challenged today to examine each area of my life for excellence. To weed out the mediocrity and plant renewed diligence in these barren places. My desire is to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. I do not want to become spiritually dull or indifferent. Unresponsive to the Word of God, His Promises and His Blessings in my life. The Peace of God is worth having and is produced abundantly in a prospering soul. Mediocrity may not be a sin but it still keeps us from the Promises of God which became our inheritance through Jesus Christ. To live in excellence produces the harvest worthy of His Sacrifice and His Glory. I am thankful for God who provides all my needs according to His Riches in Glory. The same Lord who uses His Spirit to press upon my heart when I am setting for less and He has so much more.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NLT) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 

No Longer Condemned

No Longer Condemned

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The enemy of all mankind will use just about any bat handed to him. He is aggressive and ruthless in his attack against humanity. He hates people. So when given the opportunity to remind us of faults, failures and shortcomings – he capitalizes completely. Given our inability to earn salvation or restore our relationship with God outside of Christ creates a vulnerability to these tactics. Shame and regret are his biggest enforcers of our insecurity and inability to own our new relationship with God through His Son. We are no longer condemned but empowered by God’s Grace to become new creations. If only we could see the Gloriousness of God and His Goodness concerning us to silence the lie of the enemy in our life.

God doesn’t wait with a huge sledgehammer to smash us when we sin. In fact, our sin grieves God. His Hate for sin doesn’t extend to the offenders. He only hates sin not those who live in it. Unconditional love is probably the greatest love of all and easiest to maintain if our heart would only receive it and our head able to conceive it. Hurt and betrayal harden our heart to such a thing in light of our own broken emotions. This limits the Body of Christ in fully filling each position. It hinders the Kingdom coming to earth in disbelief. God wants to break the stronghold of condemnation over your life. Whether promoted by religion or simply a lack of knowledge. He wants to break through this barrier and free you from this hindrance in your life. God is good. He wants His Glory to fill us to overflowing…despite what we may think of ourselves?

John 3:18-20 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

Why does God love me? How do I know that He does? How can I be sure? Well, the Word of God tells us that God is love (I John 4:8) and He first loved us (I John 4:19)! God’s Word is the credibility of my faith and the logic that I must live by to successfully overcome every lie introduced by the enemy. I must believe God’s Word is for me and about me. I must allow His Spirit to sow the Word in my heart so it will become the wisdom of my life. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love and Desire for me. (John 1:14) The Love of God for mankind is who He is. We cannot make God love us because He already does. His Mercy each day delivered to everyone regardless of what they believe and how they live is evidence that His Love will stop at nothing to apprehend us.

The only condemnation is disbelief. To refuse the Love of God given in His Son Jesus Christ is the only condemnation possible for people. When presented with the Light of His Love, yet they choose darkness rather than light. Aha! Said all the religious people with a Pharisee-spirit in them. No this does not mean that sinners are condemned but rather those who do not desire a relationship with God. The application of grace does not mean that a person is no longer a sinner just forgiven. Doing some things right (or religiously) does not promote you to a higher level in God. In fact, the more humble the person the closer to God. Those who reject His Love. This is very different that feeling unworthy or insignificant. There are a whole lot of people in the world who entered our churches and rather than experiencing the selfless and unconditional love of God – they were condemned by Christians and wandered empty and helplessly back into the darkness. Shame on us for putting a higher price on our love than God puts on His Love. He stops at nothing to make a way for us to enter right standing and promote a restored relationship with even the most violent offender.

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This is one of the most known verses in the Word of God. God loved us. He sent His Son to save us. But there is more to the story that is relevant and true. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The purpose of Christ was not two-fold. He did not come to save some and condemn others. God is never double-minded. Jesus came that the world might be saved and have everlasting life. There is no condemnation in Christ today. If you feel condemned, it is not from God. God is love! His Mercy is new every morning. He loved you first. He loves you the most. His Grace is enough to gain access to every blessing and experience His Glory in your life. You don’t have to do everything right just love His Son and believe in Him for salvation. A brand new life as a new creation is only accessible through Christ. He gives it to us with a helper that will help us in our weakness. Take knowledge and turn into wisdom. There is no sin insurmountable to an ounce of Christ’s Precious Blood – you are not condemned but made alive again. Resurrection life and power are working its way through you to make its way out of you. Put down the big bat of condemnation, shame, guilt or any other lie that the enemy handed you today. You have a purpose and plan designed for you by the Hand of God. The whole point is that you will know His Love. Gird yourself in the Truth that God loves you. Jesus died for you! His Grace is enough for you! You are alive again! Now walk in that freedom! Live in His Glory! He is for you! Never ever not once against you! Jesus is Our Champion – claim your victory today!

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Expert Witness

Expert Witness

I Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

In many court cases, attorneys will call on expert witnesses. Doctors or specialists in a variety of fields to testify on behalf of their client. These individuals are retained by either side – plaintiff or defense in order to sway jurors in their favor by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Human reasoning can be a dangerous thing. People are bias. Objectivity tainted by a subjective perspective of life. Emotional impact causes us to feel rather than rely on the facts or truth sometimes. It can impair our judgment at times. The more influential the witnesses in a case the more likely it is for a ruling in your favor. These individuals called to testify are highly paid based on their qualifications. While the counsel may give passionate statements, these folks just speak the truth. Their words hold conviction as they relay what education and experience have given them. They have no side to take other than that of truth. No need to be emotional because at the end of the day they do not win or lose but continue about their daily life.

Each of us is called to be a witness. To share the Gospel of God’s Love and illuminate the dark world in which we live as temporary residents journeying to our forever home. Are we expert witnesses? I wonder. During the past election, my Facebook Friends list grew a bit smaller. I had to unfollow many people who I have kept on my timeline for years. The debate grew ugly. The arguments became less about truth and more about agendas. Hate began to fester. There was no encouragement or kindness as brothers and sisters in Christ began to wage war amongst themselves. Please do not judge me for one click of the button. I did not want to get drawn in or begin to have bitterness in my heart so I disengaged instead. I do not have a dog in the fight as they say. Yes, I live in America. I pray for my country. Yet, I am just a temporary resident. My home is a Kingdom far greater than this place that I live. I have a purpose in my travels. It is to be an expert witness. I must decide who I am in Christ and assume my identity as Child of God to represent Him well.

I Timothy 2:1-4 is a great reminder of real worship. One of my very best friends is a worship leader. My son-in-law the same by profession and trade. When the Bible talks about “instructions about worship”, this is the description given. To pray for each other. Ask God to help them. To intercede on behalf of others. To give thanks for them. Pray for all who are in authority. To live peaceful and quiet lives personified by godliness and dignity. This is good. It pleases our Savior. He wants everyone saved and to understand the Truth. In the words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.” I wonder if we can really handle the Truth appropriately. It is not about my rightness but God’s Righteousness. His Grace that is all too sufficient needing nothing from me. Will my pride allow me to be an expert witness?

Revelation 12:10-12 (NLT) Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”

There are two things needed to defeat the enemy in our life. The Blood of the Lamb shed by Jesus Christ and accepted by us. The word of our testimony or truth by which we live. These two things are the essentials to overcoming. The Blood of Jesus is for the remission of sin. Everyone sins. Everyday people sin and no one is exempt no matter how they act or good they pretend to be. God’s mercy is new every morning because it is a daily requirement. The testimony of our life is displayed in our attitude and actions. Those who are confident in the Truth will live by it and through it each day. This is not to be confused with the Law which condemns but the Truth of God’s Love and Salvation who is Jesus Christ. The Word became flesh. He came to live out God’s Love for us and die to pay the bounty for our sin. Now we are free to live and love like Jesus without regard for the outcome. We know how it ends. We win. We overcome. Victory is in Jesus Christ. Or is it?

We are overcomers because Jesus Christ overcame the world. However, there is a very real enemy. He cannot threaten us because he has no power over us but he can spend “night and day” before the throne accusing us. Jesus is on the throne next to Father God so each venomous slanderous word is consumed by the Grace of God given to us by Christ who faithfully intercedes for us each day. The enemy cannot snatch us from God’s Hand or harm us in any way. Christ lives in us and we live in the Presence of God. However, his constant attacks and thoughts on our mind can destroy confidence in Christ if our faith foundation is not solid. We must live to solidify our faith in Jesus Christ. We must cast down every thought contradictory to Christ. We must not join the accuser or cast more stones at God’s People. This is not the kind of testimony that the Lord is referring to. I don’t need you to tell me everything I do wrong. I know the heaviness of my sin as I lug it to the Cross each day. People need to know is the gravity of God’s Grace and potential of His Great Love.

John 8:4-11 (NLT) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Unfortunately, religion can sometimes skew one’s perspective. The woman caught in the “act” of sin and thrust before her accusers was dead wrong. The Law was clear. Her sin demanded her life. Jesus is life. He stood over the woman interceding in the flesh as He does now in Heaven. Let the one without sin cast the first stone. I am an expert witness. My sin left me naked and afraid exposed to a life of disappointment, discouragement, defeat and ultimate death. But God! Jesus came to my rescue standing between me and my accuser. He wrapped me in a robe of righteousness. He has been compassionate, caring and concerned each day continually showering me in His Love, Grace and Mercy. Helping me up when I fall. Holding my hand so I do not stumbling. Whispering truth to silence the lie of the enemy in my life. Who am I to do anything less for others? To be a constant source of compassion and encouragement. To love them unconditionally. To drop all the stones labeled with my expectations of them to fully embrace the grace God has given me to share with others. This makes us an expert witness. Not our rightness but His Righteousness that covers our living breathing soul for redemption sake.

Hebrews 7:24-26 (NLT) But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.

When Jesus was on trial, he did not defend himself. He went to the Cross completely innocent saying very few words – he endured the torture and horror of a brutal death…quietly. In Acts 24, Paul is brought before Felix by his accusers. He did not riot or raise a ruckus. He was brought to Felix because of lies and accusations that were not true. Paul shared the truth but did not argue or cry out for justice. He remained imprisoned instead. Jesus does not need you or I to defend Him. He doesn’t need us to argue His Case. Jesus commanded us to love one another. It is not my role or position in life to point out other’s sin or dissuade them from it. It is certainly not my job to tell them how to live. The testimony I have is simple – I once was lost but Jesus found me. He loves me. Now I am going to love you like Jesus does. Look in your hand – are there stones with people’s names on them? If so, release them and ask God to fill your heart right now with overflowing love and overpowering grace for that person in Jesus Name.

I Peter 2:11-17 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

Are you an accuser or affirmer? The expert witness offers love, grace, and encouragement based on our faith in God’s Love for us. Envy, bitterness and accusations come from insecurity in our own heart concerning His Love for us. I can fill a bucket with water. However, I cannot share it with others if there is a hole in it. By the time, I get to them the water has run out. We do not live in competition for anything but as God’s Children our inheritance including every blessing and promise is secured for us in Jesus Christ. His Sacrifice set me free to love without condition or consequence because His Love overpowers every other force. It brings fulfillment and contentment in me that results in overwhelming satisfaction allowing me to love other people without any expectation of reciprocation. It draws my attention from self to serving others. My life should not be controversial. It should relay the confidence I have in Jesus Christ, the Power of His Blood and Testimony of His Love lived out before others. I must be an expert witness. To do so requires more of Him and less of me.

I John 5:5-8 (NLT) And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses— the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree.

…When these three agree…it leaves no room for me.

A Calibrated Life

a-calibrated-llife

Proverbs 16:11 (NLT) The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; He sets the standard for fairness.

Life is not fair, get used to it. (Bill Gates) The daily administration of justice and judgment in the world is conducted from shifting standards rather than a consistent one. Such is human natures that seeps into the Halls of Justice along the way. A strong moral code and steadfast ethics is dependent on one’s opinion, religion or political bias. In order to successfully navigate this life as a believer, it is important to set the standard for our life accurately. To makes sure the foundation of faith on which our life is built is level with the Word of God, His Way and His Will. If you have a scale at home, it is important to calibrate it from time to time. One must determine the accuracy of the scale to gauge its validity. Common use or even subtle movement can cause it become off balance. It will not give an accurate reading. Therefore, one cannot access proper progress because it is inaccurate or unbalanced. Our life as a believer changes caliber when righteousness is accepted. It sets a new standard of living not common to man. A life lived according to the flesh and sin now must become aligned with faith and trust in God to accept a higher standard of living. If one is not careful, it is easy to become unbalanced because of failure to check our life for accuracy.

The caliber of our life is defined by the Word of God – both written and spoken. To properly calibrate something is to measure the degree of capacity, competence or ability. It means to check the degree of merit or excellence determined by quality. What is the quality of life you are living? Fairness cannot be determined by our present condition or circumstances as a Christian. We no longer live for today but forever. The measure of our life must be according to God’s Standards to have the kind of life that He has promised. To assess one’s life according to the world, its standards, beliefs, morals, ethics, politics or even religion gives us a shifting foundation and fluctuating mark that lacks true accuracy which gives no validity to our faith in God. We must set our standard of living according to God’s Word. (Period) Be prepared. From a worldly standard – life will never seem fair.

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.

Sin took justice from us and replaced it with judgment. Jesus came to the world not to bring us judgment but to provide the grace and mercy needed to obtain justice again. The highest standard of living is God’s Glorious Standard which is obtained through Jesus Christ. He is righteous and therefore, can administer righteousness to us. We must consistently calibrate our life according to His Example. To compare our life to other people is to lower our standard of living and creates unbalanced and inaccurate scales by which life is measured. For example, if the only time that I engage in the Word of God is in church or a small group whoever is leading the experience is the one who is calibrating my life. How so? I am using their interpretation of godly knowledge to adjust my life – if I truly desire a life measured by justice rather than judgment – I must make a commitment to God’s Standard of Living and no one else’s. Good teaching is beneficial but the weight and bulk of my life must be faith in Christ alone that creates an alignment and connection directly with the Lord and His Spirit as my source and guide for life. Access to God is in Christ alone. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I cannot get to the Father unless I go through Jesus to obtain righteousness. Jesus is the Word. (John 1)

Proverbs 20:8-12 (NLT) When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good. Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin”? False weights and unequal measures — the Lord detests double standards of every kind. Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.

Our bathroom scale is ancient. I loathe the thing which is probably why I have not replaced it yet. When I visit the doctor, I am weighed on his scale. I usually will come home and immediately weigh on our scale to determine its accuracy. It is inevitable that I will like the measurement of one more than the other. Now if I come back from the doctor, and see that my scale is reading a lower weight, it would be easy to say oh the doctor’s is off. I like this one better or even vice versa. However which one is really right – neither. How do I know that either one is accurate unless before and after each use they are balanced and calibrated which they are not. Our life is based on subjective measurement. The human mind is conditioned with a variance in it. A variance gives us a gray area of operation for the plus and minus factors in life. Nobody’s perfect. Well, no one except the Lord.

A variance is defined by a difference or discrepancy. It is a disagreement. Derived from the Latin word “variare” which means to change. There can be no discrepancy in my life to achieve God’s Standard of Living and receive His Glory. His Goodness falls like rain on the just and unjust, but His Glory is achieved in righteousness which is right standing accomplished with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way. He outlines the measurements and specifications in God’s Word which cannot be a variable in our life. God does not change. He doesn’t cast shifting shadows in our life. Any inconsistency must be brought into alignment with God’s Word, His Will and His Way to have His Best. We are free to choose our standard of living but not the calibrations of God’s Highest Standard of Living which comes from a life of faithful integrity in Jesus Christ. God detests double standards and only recognizes one – the measure of His Son. The purpose of the Body of Christ, the Church and every living, breathing temple of God in progress is to measure up to the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

Psalm 119:137-138 (NLT) O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy.

To improve one’s standard of living means change. It is all part of transformation. Many will choose mentors to mold and shape their life. People comparison is a joy killer due to the flawed and subjective nature of humanity. Even if I do every single thing they do to become who I long to be, it is impossible to ensure that I will have the same success. Sin flawed our condition and disabled perfection in our life. The slightest deviation will lead to a different destination. However, if I choose to believe that all God’s Regulations are fair. To believe that His Laws are perfect and completely trustworthy – I will receive the Promises of God. Through adoption, I have an inheritance to be claimed but if requires a commitment to a higher standard of living that is not common to mankind because it is not based on elevation but humility. I must give this life away to obtain forever. Hold up – doesn’t grace allow me to live how I want, when I want, and do what I choose to do without recourse. No, not really. Sin will never produce God’s Glorious Standard of Living. To repent means to turn and change directions. To step from darkness and into the Light of His Love. His Word is a mirror that points out our flaws and weaknesses to be covered in His Blood and Amazing Grace. The Light will always drive away darkness. “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Proverbs 2:6-10 (NLT) For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

Do you feel that life is unfair today? Does it seem like other people are getting blessed while you being passed over? Is comparison killing your joy? The Lord is offering you wisdom. Knowledge and understanding that come from His Mouth to our heart. We must make room for His Word to manifest in our heart by rooting out all the lies that the enemy has planted in us through society and culture. It really doesn’t matter if I am right when God returns just as long as I am righteous. I cannot obtain righteousness on my own due to the handicap of sin that I was born with. God’s Gift of Grace allows me to pursue God again and receive all that He promised. I must calibrate my life according to the destination I am seeking. If I want the things of this world, I will pursue them in my flesh according to my plan and marked by my way. I will have successes and failures according to my ability and strength. Freedom allows me to do so unhindered yet unaided by God. If I desire righteousness, it is only obtained by obedience born of willingness called faith and trust in the Lord. I choose to walk His Way according to His Word and Will for my life. His Kingdom come and His Will be done before giving in to my whims and notions of how life should be. I must find what is “right, just and fair” according to God’s Standard of Living to live a glorious life as He promised. God is mighty. He made the world and everything in it. He handed it over to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. God loves justice. He established all principles of fairness. (Psalm 99:4)

John 13:14-17 (NLT) And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

When I was a kid, I remember a preacher or maybe it was a Sunday School teacher instruct us to do everything written in red in our Bible. Many Bibles mark the words of Jesus in red. As Jesus knelt down to wash the feet of His Disciples, He set the standard of living for this life. Micah 6:8 puts it simply, “…This is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” So obvious yet such an obstacle ridden stumbling block for one’s flesh. We must die to self to live in righteousness. It is not subjection living but objectively using God’s Standard set forth by the Word to balance the scales in our life. Any other standard deviates from it. We must apply to every aspect of living to achieve success in righteousness, to build a firm foundation of faith, to become confident in our hope and to decide that He is trustworthy enough to invest our entire life. Duplicity leads to failure. Commitment is the act of willing obedience that yields the highest results. How will you determine outcomes in life? With God all those impossibilities are suddenly possible, but in His Way and according to His Timing! The Lord offers peaceful confidence and inexpressible joy to those who choose to trust Him even when life seems unfair because their life is not according to this world but His Kingdom. This means for those who believe the best is always coming our way because we choose to walk in His Ways. Lord, teach me something new in your Word today. Write in on my heart. Remove every hindrance that keeps me from achieving the next step of faith leading to Your Glory. Thank you Lord for amazing grace and unfailing love that helps me if I stumble. I choose Your Word as the scale for my life against it I will weigh everything else. I want your Standard of Living – Your Glorious Standard above all things in Jesus Mighty and Precious Name!

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.