Did you inow . . . Continue reading
By Ken Chester
Blogger over at Grace Gripped
Editor’s Note: Ken Chester is one of my favorite bloggers on the Internet. His grasp of God’s grace is singularly brilliant. I know you’ll be blessed today by his thoughts.
“But you dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is unending life, the real life!” Jude 20-21 Message
What a life Jesus Christ has called you into. It is a life unlike any other .. holy .. wide open with God’s love .. all blemishes wiped clean .. “real life”. He calls you by name personally. He knows the sound of your voice and heals all the broken places in your life so that you can know the sound of His voice. There is grace .. a lifetime of learning just how incredible the love of God is .. beginning at the cross .. a day to day walk by faith .. and discovering that your life is His method for reaching the world around you. Jesus is going to come back one day. It is as certain as the empty grave He left. It is right around the corner. And the life you are called to live is exactly the life the He lives in you. Anything less will always feel like less. Jesus hasn’t left you here to worry or live anxiously. He’s left His Spirit to guide you and grow you in grace. He’s left His Spirit to remind you every day of how much you are loved. He’s left His Spirit to work in you all that Christ is for you. What a life Jesus Christ has call you into .. today. He only takes a moment …
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 NASB
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Waiting-Willing-Walking followers of Jesus(email@example.com)
CAUTION: Today’s post contains a frank, candid discussion of the state of the bride of Christ. To err on the side of caution, I recommend it for adult readers only.
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
In life we have two choices – we can focus on the bad things that happen or we can focus on how good God is.
Our tendency is to focus on the negative, but that can play tricks with our minds. The Bible reminds us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Ps. 23:7). Our mindsets govern our actions and attitude.
There is a book in the Old Testament called Lamentations which addresses a negative mindset. In the first three chapters, Jeremiah gives a long litany lamenting how bad things are. His beloved city, Jerusalem, which “once thronged with people, was silent now. She sits like a widow broken with grief alone in her mourning. She was once a queen of nations, is now a slave” (Lam. 1:1).
Jeremiah describes his initial reaction. “I begged my allies for help. False hope, they could not help at all. Nor could my priests and elders. They are starving in the streets while searching through the garbage for an ounce of bread” (Lam. 1:19). “There is no one anywhere to help” (Lam. 1:21).
He continues, “I cried until tears no longer came. My heart is broken as I see what has happened to my people:little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. They cry out, ‘Mama, Mama, we want food’ and then collapse on their mothers’ shrunken breasts. Their lives ebb away like those wounded in battle” (Lam.2:11). Jeremiah describes himself like one who “cannot escape. I am fastened with heav chains. My path has been filled with detours” (Lam. 3:7).
In the midst of this sad litany, Jeremiah changes his way of thinking. The key word is in Chapter 3, verse 21, when he says, “Yet.” I love that word “yet.” It means that change is fixing to take place. He says, “Yet there is one ray of hope. God’s compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. God in His faithfulness, His loving kindness begins afresh each day” (Lam. 3:21-22).
The quality of life we enjoy sometimes hangs on the ability to use that word Yet. Read my blog from July 15, 2015, about the prophet Habakkuk regarding the Yet mindset. Habakkuk knew how to let the Yet mindset govern his thinking and actions. When you get down, get up to the Yet mindset that focuses on His compassions and His mercies and His faithfulness. (Tweet this)
One of my favorite hymns, based on Lamentations, says – Great is Thy faithfulness /Great is Thy faithfulness / Morning by morning new mercies I see / All I have needed Thy hand hath provided / Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.
This hymn is a great witness of how faithful God is. We discover it every day. The last verse says – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth / Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide / Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow / Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
That’s a Yet mindset! It doesn’t deny the fact that things can be tough, but it affirms the fact that God’s faithfulness is stronger than our toughest situation, and His blessings are in the thousands!
We have a choice. A choice determines a consequence. You can choose to live on the negative side – and focus on how bad things are – and you can be completely overcome. Or you can say “Yet” and let God help you change your thinking to the positive side – to focus on how faithful and merciful He is. The Yet mindset makes possible unbelievable results!
Let God help you get a Yet mindset!!
A money-back guarantee for low self esteem — NO self esteem.
A gay Charlotte, North Carolina waitress was dismayed this week when a woman customer scribbled Leviticus 20:13 on the ticket where the tip should be. Continue reading
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us agape love is patient and kind.
Patience is a by-product of tribulation; it’s not granted, it’s earned. Don’t ask God for patience. He will remind you that you earn a degree of patience as you plow through each trial in life.
We have lived with mental illness (our trial) in our family for years. If I hadn’t earned a mega dose of patience along the way I would have had my own psychotic break by now.
Granted, you can’t earn patience driving in Interstate traffic. Or when the snack machine eats your money. But you can learn to change your responses when impatience triggers occur.
Speaking from experience, things go much better for me in life if I do two things when impatience triggers occur. 1) Stop, take a deep breath and count to ten; and 2) say the Serenity Prayer to myself.
I reached for a can of green beans in the pantry recently to heat up for supper. I was glad I flipped the can over to look at the “Best if used by” date. We should have eaten those beans I grabbed two years ago.
I have to admit sometimes the “Best if used by” date slips past our scrutiny. Weeks, months, even a few years for that can of beans, past the “Best by” date render the food useless, maybe even harmful if we consume it. We need to be vigilant and continually check the “Best If Used By” on all the food we fix.
Aren’t you glad God’s grace and mercy don’t have a “Best if used by” date? We will never hear Him say, “I’m all out.” His supply of both never stops. No matter what we do, who we are, or where we go.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
God’s grace is inexhaustible. It is always available and always flows freely from God’s eternal fountain of grace.
My friend Henry asked this question Saturday at our Bible Study. “Are you a Christian or are you Christian?” It’s a question we can all ponder.Which phrase below best describes you?
___ I am a Christian.
___ I am Christian.
___ I am a good Christian.
If you answered “I am a good Christian,” who is a better Christian than you? Who is not as good a Christian as you? God looks at each of us the same. Through the blood of Jesus God sees all of us who are born from above as forgiven, righteous and holy. In Luke Jesus answered a man who addressed him as “Good Teacher” — “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’ ” (Luke 18:19) Good is a comparative adjective which means someone compares people or things by degrees, such as good ice cream, better ice cream, best ice cream. God does not compare Christians.
If we say we are “a Christian” it implies that we claim to belong to a group of people. (A Gallup poll in 2009 found that 78 percent of Americans declared themselves to be a Christian, as opposed to being a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, other groups or a non believer).
When we tell someone, “I am a Christian,” what does that mean to us? Does it mean we have claimed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (we’re saved)? Does it mean we go to church 50 Sundays and Wednesday nights a year? Does it mean we read the Bible? Does it mean we can quote a bunch of scripture? Does it mean we volunteer at a soup kitchen twice a month? Tithe? Visit widows and orphans? Does it mean we pray? Does it mean we attend a Bible study every Tuesday night? Does it mean we’ve been baptized?
Both the ones calling themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” do many of the same things. The difference is their motivation. Those who are “a Christian” do things for the approval of men. They link their works to their desire to follow all the rules, do all the right things, participate in all the right events, and look good to everyone around. These folks are religious. They are working to gain acceptance from God, when they are already fully accepted by God.
In Mark 10 we read about a rich young ruler who came to Jesus wanting to be a follower.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’ Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus is not implying that to be rich or have lots of money is bad. He’s teaching us that if we love money, or anything else more than we love Jesus, and if we are not willing to deny ourselves and forsake all our possessions, we can not be an authentic follower of Jesus.
In Matthew 23, Jesus talks to the Pharisees about their religion and the seven woes. Two of the woes address issues “a Christian” faces. Jesus says.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, (and those who call themselves “aChristian”) hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)
In his book not a fan, Kyle Idleman says, ” That’s a picture of what happens to a lot of fans (those who call themselves ‘a Christian‘). If you asked them: Are you a fan (a Christian) or a follower? they would confidently respond, ‘follower.’ It’s not a question of their effort or desire. They are following hard. Here’s the problem; it’s not Jesus they are following. Without realizing it, they are aiming at the wrong target. Instead of following Jesus they are following religious rules and rituals.”¹
The major difference between those who call themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” is their commitment to love. Christians allow Jesus to live His life in us, through us and as us. Jesus loves through Christians. Christian works come from a heart surrendered completely to God through faith. Faith in Christ to carry out God’s will through them. Faith in the Holy Spirit to lead them, help them and speak God’s will to them.
Christians love others out of their deep, abiding love for Christ.
So, are you “a Christian” or are you “Christian”? Your answer may impact your eternity. Not your salvation, but your eternal rewards.
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¹not a fan, by Kile Idleman; ©2011 by Kyle Idleman; published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids Michigan, 49530; pg. 69