Posts Tagged ‘good news’

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The “Grace” Controversy

July 28, 2014

GOD’S GRACE. Controversial?

Who’d have ever thought that God’s grace could be controversial?  Yet, it seems to be a controversial topic among preachers and teachers today.  What a strange world we live in (oh, the world has always been strange).

In Paul’s day, the religious Jewish folk said he was “blaspheming the Law of Moses and the temple” because he was not telling Gentiles (non-Jews) to become circumcised or that they had to follow the Jewish laws.  Today, there are those who say that persons who preach grace want to throw out the Old Testament….similar? [If you read the Book of Acts in the Bible, you’ll see this everywhere Paul went.]

The Old Testament was the only “Scripture” available to the first Apostles.  Paul, as a teacher and lawyer, used it to prove that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews.  Paul proved Jesus was Messiah to the Gentiles by signs and wonders.  The Old Testament scriptures would have had no meaning to non-Jews.  Paul used whatever he could to show the non-Jews that God loved them; however, they wouldn’t be able to connect the dots using a scripture that had no relevance for them.

As Christian believers in this time, we have the wealth of the Old Testament to peruse as we see Jesus Christ throughout.  We can see God’s plan of redemption beginning in Genesis and follow it all the way through.  We can see God’s character and how patient he was to the Jewish people and how He loved them.  We see his plan to return mankind to a place where they are one with Him again.  We see how blessed we are that we have a new contract (covenant/testament) and that, as believers, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. {Romans 2:8}

When Jesus walked the planet among us, he was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan).  [Luke 11:15]

When Jesus was here, there were no Christians.  He came to the Jews to explain to them who he was and to show them that they were not able to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly enough to ensure salvation.  He showed them how impossible it is to keep the Law so that they would know that they needed a Savior (Him).  Most of them eventually did not believe and many of them called for his crucifixion.

He had a dual message:  1) that no one can keep the Law well enough to be saved and, therefore, God sent His Messiah to save them; and 2) to prophecy about the New Covenant (or agreement, contract or Testament) and what would happen after He died, took our punishment, and rose again to a new life…ushering in that New Covenant.

I knew the grace of God when Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior. John 3:16-18 says

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Just believe?  Isn’t that grace?  This was God’s plan from the beginning.  No hoops to jump through, no Law to obey, just receiving His gift of mercy and grace.

So…we just believe and go on living however we feel like?  Well, we could, but there is another component…the Holy Spirit who comes and lives in us when we turn ourselves over to Jesus Christ, believing He has done it all.  The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus in us.  Our lives begin to change as the Spirit begins changing our desires to match up with God’s desires. We cannot remain the same as we were…we are alive for the first time, we KNOW love for the first time and we respond to that love. [John 14:17; 16:5-15]

Many of those who are so uptight about grace forget the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and our new ability to respond.

When you fall in love with someone, even on an earthly level, you want to please them, you want to learn all about them, and you change your life for them.  Think about how it would be if that person’s spirit was in you helping you to understand them, showing you how to love them and, more than that, showing you that they love you more than you could even absorb.  That’s what grace is like…that’s what grace is.

             Grace is Jesus.  Grace is Love.

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He loves me, He loves me not!

June 28, 2014

*This post is geared to born again Christians.  If you are not among us, scroll down to the bottom and I’ll tell you all the hoops you have to go through to become one.

To my brothers and sisters in the Lord:

Why did you accept Christ as your Savior?  What called to you, what intrigued you, what moved you?  What were you responding to?

Think back.  We all have our own story, our “testimony” about our first encounter with the Living Lord.  Did we come to Him because we “had to”?  Did we believe out of fear?  What was our first experience with Him, with Jesus?  Was it LOVE?…just absolute love and acceptance as a beloved child? All of a sudden, did we “know” Him? Did we KNOW that He loved us just because He loves us? Did we just KNOW?

At that beautiful moment, did He give you a list of “do’s and don’ts, or rules and regulations?  Did you feel burdened down by His yoke?  Did you think that you had to do anything to keep His love?

I know I didn’t.  All I knew was that He died for me, paid the penalty for my sins, loved me enough to call me to Himself and He set me free to tell others about this GREAT NEWS!  I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew what and Who I found and to tell them that they could find Him too!

I found his unqualified, undeserved, absolute, unconditional acceptance and love.  I was filled with Him and His love.  I was on fire for Him.  Nothing would ever be the same because of Him and His mercy and grace.

That was about 45 years ago for me.  During those years, many things happened and life continued.  I wandered off for a while (all the while knowing He was with me and calling me back). I returned to Him again. I always knew He loved me. I always knew He’d take me back. Did I always feel great about me? No. But, I realize that, just as my salvation was not about me, neither is His love.

His love is about Him.  He IS LOVE.  He has placed His seed in me, has sealed me with the Holy Spirit, and has made me eternally His. I did nothing to deserve His love and I can do nothing to un-deserve it because it’s all about Him.

Over the years, I wanted to learn more about Him. I diligently studied the Bible to learn more.  I found that I was loved and secure. I found out that I was one with Him, just like He was one with the Father.  I was moved from glory to glory!  I discovered the power of faith and of declaring His word. I was baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Unfortunately, with my desire to know more, I began taking in the teaching of men.  I began taking in “rules and regulations” into my Spirit and my Spirit began to become heavy…I began trying to “work out my salvation” by doing, or not doing, things to improve my walk with God.  I tried pulling the ox cart all by myself, or yoked with other sincere people…but not yoked with the One who asked me to take “His yoke” which was not heavy, but light. I began to rely on me instead of Him.

Recently, I was blessed by a new/old revelation…It’s not my job!  He, just as in my salvation, has done it all. I repented of my pride, let go of my lopsided yoke and gave myself back to Him.  Now, He does the heavy lifting and I walk along side Him.  He leads, I follow. He teaches me of His Love and I am in love with Him again.

No longer do I live in “He loves me, He loves me not” based on my performance, but in HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME!

Again, I ask you, remember the first things…how you felt in the beginning and drink in the joy of your salvation again.  HE LOVES YOU TOO! JUST THE WAY YOU ARE…JUST AS YOU AND I CAME TO HIM. He still loves us more than we can love Him back and He will lead us from GLORY to GLORY!  He can’t help Himself because He loves us so much.

To Him be the glory forever and ever, amen!

***

*The “hoop” is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verses 16-18.

 “John 3:16-18  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

ONE HOOP: BELIEVE IN HIM!   Oh, and before I forget…I didn’t say this, Jesus did.

           Try it, you’ll like it.  He loves you!

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THE GREAT FORGETTER!

March 15, 2012

            I was thinking, in the beginning in Jerusalem, after the Resurrection, when Peter and the other Apostles began preaching and teaching, many miraculous signs and wonders followed them. The people brought the sick and impaired to them and everyone was healed. I was thinking how marvelous it would have been had they been allowed to continue with full backing of the Jewish ruling class. What a different world it would now be. By now, there would be no sick, no lame, no blind, and no unbelievers. 

            Before Jesus left this planet, he told us that we would do the same things he did. He even told us we would do greater things. The apostles believed him and did those greater things. Somewhere down the line we forgot what Jesus said. We forgot that he empowered us, that the Holy Spirit has enabled us to heal the sick, raise the dead, and bind the broken hearted and proclaim the gospel. That was all he commanded us to do, except for his commandment to love God and love one another. It seems we’ve forgotten that too.

So much for the Great Commission.

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No More Land for Peace!

July 22, 2011

Yesterday, I touched a spiritual level I had never experienced before, a place where God’s heart lives.  I was overwhelmed with the weight of it.   I tried to explain it, but I could not.  His heart is heavy.  We Christians have ceded His territory just like the modern day Israelis…for peace…for “political correctness”.  Satan knows how to take territory, little by little, ever chipping away at land, at faith, at courage and finally at hope.  We have allowed it, stayed silent, kept out of controversy, safely hidden in our little church fellowship groups where the “world” cannot touch us. 

What is wrong with us!  Who are we?  Who do we belong to?  What do we believe!  People are being led to the slaughter day by day and we do nothing!  We let the Lord, the Holy One, the One and Only God be removed from the public square and we do nothing!

We are called the “silent majority”, yet Jesus called us to Preach the Good News!  Silent! Silent?  Do we belong to the Almighty?  Are we Ambassadors for Christ?  Do they “know us by our love?”   Did Jesus die in vain? 

I am ashamed.  God is watching and we are not doing what He called us to do.  “Well done, good and faithful servants”?  I think not. 

I declare this day, in the Name of my Lord Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, that I will serve my Father in Heaven and establish a beachhead wherever He leads me and, once established, I will hold it!   All the armies of Heaven go before me and surround me as I do the will of my Father…no more land for peace, no more hiding in my comfort zone.  Here Am I, Lord…Send Me!.