By Grace I Am What I Am

But by the grace of God I am what I am,” – 1 Cor. 15:10

Here is every redeemed sinner’s eternal confession.

We are dependent on this grace moment by moment.

Sufficient Grace For Our Weak Strength

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Cor. 12:9

Our strength is weak. His grace is sufficient.

All Grace Abound Toward You

God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” – 2 Cor. 9:8

God supplies to the believer so as to be a blessing to others.

Note the 3 all’s: all grace, all sufficiency, and all things.

Always, God is the source.

God, Alone Wise

“to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” Rom. 16:27

Why is it that Man flips this natural divine order: Man, alone is wise. Man, alone gets the glory?

No.

God, alone is wise.

God, alone gets the glory.

It is all God, from start to finish, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Rest Your Hope Fully Upon Grace

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:13

We can put ALL our hope upon the grace brought to us by Jesus Christ.

This is not a hope that fails; it’s victorious.

This is not a hope that waivers; it’s stable.

This is not a hope that vanishes; it’s eternal.

Our hope is completely sure because of the object of our faith; Jesus, who is trustworthy and faithful to do exactly what He said He would do.

His grace is sufficient for you.

The Rich Young Ruler

rich young ruler

If someone asked you how to get to Heaven, you’d probably say “by grace through faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9),” right? So why did Jesus give the Law to the rich young ruler when he asked the same question (Mark 10:17-22)?

This passage used to scare me. Will I have to sell all my stuff and give it to the poor?

No, no – that’s not the point.

The point is Jesus was exposing where the young ruler put his faith and it was IN HIS ABILITY TO KEEP THE LAW. (The Law THEN was the 10 commandments, NOW is any human effort or religious tradition). He thought rule-keeping was his ticket. His faith was in himself.

I’m not rich, young, or a ruler – but I identify with this guy, don’t you? Self-righteous, works-based faith is a constant struggle. What would Jesus say to me? “Throw away your device and follow Me.” Abraham was asked to give up Isaac (Gen. 22). What would He say to you?

The Law cannot save (Gal. 4:21). It’s not faith-worthy. It’s a ministry of death bringing God’s wrath ( 2 Cor. 3:7 & Rom. 4:15). Likewise today, putting your faith in your works, only brings God’s wrath. The Law is there to reveal our sin and point us to Jesus (Rom. 6:14). Like a mirror: it reflects you (warts & all), but cannot clean you. No one uses the mirror to clean their face. The mirror just shows you how dirty you are (Rom. 3:20). The Law crushes self-reliance, it is not a reason for it.

Mark 10:21 is a tender moment: Jesus looks at the young ruler and loves him. He’s trying to take him from Sinai to Calvary. He does the same for us. He knows us the best and loves us the most. After all, we’re all little Prodigals and Pharisees.

The young ruler boasted in keeping “all” the Law, so Jesus showed how he had missed the FIRST ONE! (Exd. 20:3) He placed his possessions before God. Look, if you rely on human effort, there will always be cracks (Gal. 3:10). Like a chain holding you over a fire; remove just one link and it all falls apart (James 2:10). Anything you make into a Law and then use to condemn others – will be used to condemn you.

 “Everything that isn’t gospel is law. If its not rooted in the good news of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding , Pharisee-producing law. We’ll get either shallow self-righteousness or blazing rebellion or both.” – Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace

This passage doesn’t scare me anymore. I am not under the Law. It is obsolete (Heb. 8:13). I am under GRACE (Rom. 8:2). Relying on tradition & religious rituals makes Jesus of no effect (Mark 7:13). It blinds us with a veil that only Jesus can remove (2 Cor. 3:14-16). Jesus came to set us free from this nonsense (Gal. 5:1).

Luke’s account says when the young ruler left, Jesus was saddened (18:24).  Jesus didn’t force anything. It was his choice. Jesus loves us enough to let us reject Him. However, if we do, it grieves Him.

Please don’t make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. Put your faith totally in Jesus today.

 

Straining at Rowing

spruce island lake davis wv kayak

I took Mary kayaking this weekend. Typical of a 2-year old, she wanted to “do it myself!” Needless to say, we didn’t get very far and she ended up pretty frustrated. Truth be told, she was a hot mess and I apologize to anyone who was expecting a peaceful afternoon on the water, but was instead subject to a full-blown temper tantrum that I’m sure was heard far and wide.

I kept thinking: If she would just relax and let her father do the rowing, we could have fun zipping all over that lake. Instead, she huffed & puffed and sweated & cried. Instead of going somewhere, we went nowhere. Instead of fun, it was… torturous. I was reminded of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee.

“Then He saw them STRAINING AT ROWING, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.” – Mark 6:48 (NKJV) [Emphasis mine.]

“Straining” doesn’t do that Greek word justice. Basanizó literally means TORTURING.

They were literally torturing themselves by not relying on Jesus! Likewise, you and I are literally torturing ourselves by not relying on Jesus too.

Whenever we try to earn our salvation by being a “good person,” we are straining at the oars. Whenever we try to save ourselves with religious rituals, we are straining at the oars. Whenever we try to do ANY of the rowing, we will inevitably be straining at the oars.

Thinking you have anything to do with your redemption is the opposite of the gospel. Paul says that teaching telling you otherwise is not even a gospel; it is distorted and accursed, twice! (Gal. 1:7-9) Listen: we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, by His blood, through faith. Period. (Rom. 3:24-25)

We are all in a tempestuous sea. The wind is against us. No matter how furiously we strain, ROWING IN OUR OWN STRENGTH will never get us to shore. Aren’t you tired of rowing in circles? Aren’t you tired of torturing yourself? Jesus can easily step in if we would only let Him. He calms the sea, silences the wind, and gets us safely to the other side.

But we must first hand the oars over to Him.

Let God help you.


Ref: https://biblehub.com/greek/928.htm

Righteousness & Peace Have Kissed

SONY DSC

“Mercy (hesed) & truth have met together; Righteousness & peace have kissed.” – Psa. 85:10

Where did they meet? In Christ Jesus.

These four virtues, once lost with Adam, are now found in Jesus. All the attributes of God rest perfectly in Him. They lovingly kiss.

When did they kiss? When He poured out His life on Calvary.

We are all guilty. The Law requires justice (TRUTH/RIGHTEOUSNESS). But the Judge wants us to be free (MERCY/PEACE). So He punishes sin (in the person of His Son) and releases the sinner. It is the only way God can judge us and save us at the same time. It is the only way God can be both Just & the Justifier (Rom. 3:26).

Why? Because He loves you so.

“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us & sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

Sound too good to be true, but it gets even better: it’s a free gift. All you have to do is accept it in FAITH Rom. 10:9). You can’t earn it. If you could, it would become “payment for services rendered” (Rom. 4:4).  It is HILARIOUSLY WRONG to think we have anything to do with our own salvation. God could never, ever (ever ever ever) be “in debted” to Man (Rom. 11:35).

Its called Good News for a reason!

Your Sins Have Been FIRED!


Let’s say someone comes up to you, removes your coat, and sends it away. Would you say you still had your coat?

No. It was removed. It was sent away. Literally, the coat is no longer here.

Jesus takes our sins away. (1 John 3:5). When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:19)!”

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to FORGIVE US OUR SINS and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 (Emphasis mine)

Just like that coat; they’re gone. Now, of course we don’t miss the coat or go shopping for new coats, right?

“No one who is born of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin,” – 1 John 3:9 (AMP)

Therefore, if we repent and turn to Him, Jesus forgives our sins (something only God can do, by the way).

The Greek for “forgive” carries the word picture of discharging something so as to leave.
I note it because:

  • It is so much fun to say: aphiémi (af-ee’-ay-mee).
  • Its roots are apó, “away from” and hiēmi, “send.”
  • Properly then, aphiémi means: send away; release (discharge).
  • By forgiving our sins, Jesus removes them and discharges them.

Therefore, because of Jesus’s wonderful Love & Grace, your sins have been:
Let go; fired, dismissed, sacked, axed, laid-off, and canned. They have been given their “pink slip” and “walking papers.” Like Elvis, your sins have left the building.

  • Stop re-living them.
  • Stop obsessing about them.
  • Stop beating yourself up over them.

Brother and sister, they are not even there! (Heb. 8:12, Rom. 11:27, Mic. 7:19, Psa. 103:12)

To pretend otherwise is to act like you still have that coat on that someone removed from you and sent away.

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Jesus Will Lift You Up

featherLook, I know it’s heavy. Too heavy. Who can lift it? Troubles, trials, & temptations; I know they crush you. They weigh you down. I know you feel defeated. Conquered.

So please listen: Jesus can lift you up.

All that heaviness? Light as a feather to the LORD. Lighter still!

  • He’s eager to do the heavy lifting. Let Him!
  • He wants to take the burden. Let Him!
  • He longs to break your chains. Let Him!
  • He yearns to set you free! Let Him!

Sound too good to be true?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke? – Isa. 58:6

He desires for you to hand over the reigns of your life to Him. Is there anyone more able? Is there anyone more willing? He takes your burden and exchanges it with His rest. Where’s the verse for that you scream?

Come to Me, all you who labor & are heavy laden, & I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you & learn from Me, for I am gentle & lowly in heart, & you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy & My burden is light.” – Matt. 11:28-30

Jesus will lift you up no matter how heavy you think your life has gotten. Jesus will lift you up no matter how badly you think you’ve messed everything up. Jesus will do all of these things & more, if you but submit to Him.

Then WATCH GRACE WORK!

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7 (also Psa. 55:22)

  • He will hear you (Psa. 34:17).
  • He will carry you (Isa. 46:4).
  • He will deliver you. (Isa. 40:11).
  • He will help & uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isa. 41:10).

Its all for His glory, not yours. Its all for Him, not you.

So, go out now with a lightened load. Go out with renewed strength. Go out & help your brother (Gal. 6:2). Go out & bring others so He can do the same for them!

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Inspired by: X Ambassadors, “Feather.” (VHS)