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Archive for the tag “God’s grace”

The Clear Message

The story goes: a fellow came into an office chatting up the receptionist. He leaned over and said “my friends call me Tom Cat, what do they call you?” She replied, “I don’t know, I’ve never met them.”

I had to chuckle at that… it was from a show I watched last night. (I’m into British dramas and found this one on my Roku.)

This morning, I sat with Paul in his letter to the Galatians. His letter was written because of words spoken from “false brothers” who were spreading a “law-based Gospel” – the original “fake news.”

Words matter…the right words are essential for the clear message you want to send. Tom Cat didn’t get through to the receptionist; the message was completely lost on the poor girl. But Paul knew how to deliver a good message that mattered. His words changed people – even today.

Paul had to make sure what the Galatians heard from him was the true message without anything “added” to the message. Paul went to Jerusalem to confirm his message – salvation comes by grace and by faith not by the Law of Moses. The false brothers wanted Gentiles (non-Jews) to take up the Law in order to be “true” believers.

Paul’s conclusion about the gospel message was summed up in this manner “if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21b). The leaders added nothing to Paul’s message to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:6b). The leaders actually affirmed that Paul was entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews (Gal. 2:7).

Paul had harsh words for the ones who were spreading a gospel other than the one he preached to the Galatians. Galatians 1:9 states: As we have already said, so now I say again: “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.” Paul’s message was not something man made up (Gal. 1:11), nor did a man teach him, but only by revelation from Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:12). Paul’s message was clear. Words matter and the source is just as important to confirm what we know to be true.

Yesterday, my office had a celebration of life for an employee who died in February from cancer. As the co-workers began to share what this lady had meant to them, it was very evident she was a light shining in this dark world. She had such joy, a smile on her face and was a good friend to all. It’s a shame I didn’t get to meet her. I started this job after she had already left because of her sickness. This time of celebration brought to me remembrances from another death that changed my life.

My friend and coworker died suddenly by tragic circumstances on this day 28 years ago. At that point in my life, I knew about Jesus – after all I grew up in Church – but I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. When my friend died, I had to step back and take stock. I realized if I had died suddenly like my friend, I didn’t know if I would be in heaven like my friend. Her death gave me a perspective I hadn’t contemplated until that time.

Here I am 28 years later, hopefully wiser, but also walking the walk I didn’t know how to walk back then. One thing I am contemplating this morning that still sits in my soul after so many years – how am I using my life to further the Gospel message? Paul fought the good fight – he ran his race. After 28 years of walking with Jesus, what do I have to show for it? I want my life to count for Kingdom purpose. Does it?

At the end of my life – no matter when that will be – have I led anyone to Jesus? Have I pointed my life to Him so that others coming behind me can follow? That’s what Paul did. He walked, he talked and then he wrote so that others would be able to follow the Gospel message as Jesus had revealed it to him.

In this day and time, it is essential to share this Good News, especially around this time of year – this Easter season. It’s supposed to be easy to share this wonderful message when it has made such a difference in our lives.

After this year we’ve had, if our circumstances haven’t changed us by now, nothing will challenge us to do what we know to do. We are losing ground to the enemy. How will people know the Truth unless we speak it? How will people hear unless we go? These are the things that circulate in my heart when confronted with the Gospel message. Let me be aware of who God places on my path and let me be bold to share. Words matter… it’s time to share what we know to be True.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Abounding Grace

Grace. God’s grace. I know the concept, but sometimes I think there is more to it. It can’t be that easy, can it? I am learning it is that easy. God gave us a gift we could never pay for. He sent His son, the only one worthy to come before the Lord on our behalf. There is nothing I could ever do to pay Him back. There is really no sense in even trying to “even the score.” I just have to receive the gift with gratitude and humility.

My salvation story started so long ago that sometimes I forget that it was not by my efforts that I am saved. I know the past sins are paid for. I know everything that was done on my behalf. But then I think about my attitude now. I believe I am good now so it’s all about me working out my salvation (so to speak). The big sins that were committed so long ago have been forgiven and forgotten. The little sins are also forgiven, but have I repented from those as well? Am I trying to pay for those by my good deeds? I have forgotten that even my good works are nothing but filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6).

I was reminded not long ago, God has never been disappointed in me. God knew me before I was ever born. Nothing I have ever done, said or even thought was a surprise to Him. Yet, He was not disappointed. He might have been displeased, more than once, I’m sure. It’s a real wonder that I am still alive. But God’s grace abounds. I try to live righteously, but I can’t do it in my own power. God’s power is sufficient. Beth Moore stated in her Living Proof simulcast in September: “Grace is not permission to stay but the power to go.” We walk in grace. We are dead to the sins of our past. We are to write an obit for the old self. The old self no longer controls us. It is dead. The old self is not Lazarus. It has not been raised back to life. The stone has not been rolled away. These thoughts came from Beth, but have been speaking volumes in my soul.

Andy Stanley said that the epicenter of the Christian faith is grace. We are all getting something for nothing. Grace is undeserved favor. The Bible speaks of grace in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament the same concept is called favor. We are highly favored to receive such grace! But it wasn’t because of any good in us. It is because of the goodness of God. His great love for us saved us. He sent His Son. His Son got up on the cross for us. With Jesus’ last breath, He said “it is finished.” It’s done. Praise God for this undeserved favor! His grace abounds where sin fails us. Thank you Jesus!

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. Ephesians 2:8-10

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