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Showing posts with the label Works

Trust in the Truth

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. (Galatians 1:6-9) In the early church, Christ's message was being embraced and shared, but the Jewish leaders were still preaching that all of the Law of Moses still needed to be kept. Christ's message proclaimed that we are saved by faith, while the Law of Moses taught that works upon works were necessary. Christ's message showed how God worked his way to us through Christ Jesus, while the message of

Entering God's grace

I have enjoyed vacationing in Colorado again this year, exploring areas I haven't seen since I was a kid.  One of the things I like to do is notice the signs around me - especially those which announce we are "now entering..." and "now leaving..."  It is like a clear-cut way of understanding where the town or landmark begins and where it ends.  Why is this important?  When we are looking for our way, these signs welcome us.  When we are drifting a little too far outside of where we wanted to go, they warn us we are about to leave the area we hoped to spend a little time in exploring.  On road trips, these signs are important.  In real life, when we need to be cognizant of where we are in comparison to where we want to be, these "signs" may be equally important to us!  They may not be physical signs which announce "now entering..." or "now leaving...", but there are "signs" we are about to something foolish such as "l

Grace upon Grace

Kids "live off" their parents, don't they?  For however long they are part of the household - eighteen or plus years - the child lives off the provisions of the parent.  In many cases, the child goes off as a young adult to learn to make a way for himself, recognizing this will become his turn to begin to not only provide for himself, but perhaps his own family in time.  This is a cycle - has been from the beginning and will likely continue to the end of time.  Families are God's plan.  In fact, when he invites us to follow him, he invites us into his family - adopted as a child into the position of continuous fellowship with him.  That very adoption is what gives us the ability and privilege of living "off his generous bounty" - gift after gift after gift.  Now, how silly would it be to have access to the "bounty" of the Father and choose to live off what you could provide instead?  Yet, so many of us choose to do just this - we come into the fam

Drop that load

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know I periodically like to revisit this idea of "keeping rules" vs. "living by faith and in grace".  I think there is something important in revisiting this topic from time to time, as even Paul did so when he spoke with the New Testament churches.  Perhaps he was just aware of how addicting and binding "rule-keeping" actually is. It is one thing to know a rule, another to keep it, and yet another to keep it out of willingness and submission.  I know lots of rules (laws) - I have even been known to break a few of them on occasion!  There are still other rules I have been trying to keep all my life and have been very unsuccessful at maintaining them with any consistency.  We struggle with rules because of the "binding" power of rules - keeping them proves to require a whole lot more effort than most of us want to exert! The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embraci

Whatcha doing with the little stuff?

You know, there are a whole lot of things in this life we can "work hard" for and see our goals achieved.  Olympic hopefuls put years and years into training for their sport - hopeful they achieve the goal of the coveted gold medal or new world's record.  The student who pours through the books, takes copious notes, and studies like nobody's business might dream of being valedictorian at graduation.  The person who opens a business with a clever new idea is hopeful it will catch they eye of others and become a success as a result of their hard work and commitment to their product or service.  They can dream big, work hard, and still not come out on top, though.  Big dreams coupled with hard work are commendable, but only so far. You see, God never intended us to do the "hard work" of salvation - he only intended us to work alongside him once we received the "gift" of his salvation. No amount of hard work yields the same results in heaven's eco

Am I good enough yet?

There is a story in the New Testament about children.  Jesus is surrounded by these curious little ones, pushing at him, wanting to be with him, some there because their parents brought them, but some likely there because they beheld him with curiosity and wonder.  Some of his disciples just did not understand the press of the children - nor the desire of their parents for Jesus' blessing of their lives.  So, they want to send the kids away.  Isn't that so like us adults?   We see the "business" of the hour as more pressing than the needs of a young one's heart.  Then along comes a man who wants to pose a question to Jesus.  His question:   “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  I don't think this is an unusual question to ask, but notice it was not the kids who asked this question, but the adult.  Jesus' response to the man reveals much about how it is we interpret our standing with Jesus.  Kids come in awe and wonder - adults come wit

Does God help those who help themselves?

5-6 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. (Galations 3:5-6 The Message) This is indeed a good question for each of us to consider in our daily walk!  Does God do the "stuff" in our lives he does out of obligation to us because we have somehow "earned" it?  Do we obtain the blessings of God, including his attention and his directing influence, simply because we "did enough" to warrant it?  The Book of Galations is a letter to a church with a mixed up set of ideas.  They believe in the work of Christ - salvation through his shed blood (faith).  Yet, they

Mirror, Mirror on the wall...

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? (Romans 8:31-32 The Message) In other translations, this passage begins with the words, "If God be for us, who then can be against us..."  Well, I think our worst enemy is not some demonic agent of hell, but US!  It is amazing to me to see the things we believe about ourselves that keep us limited in our lives.  The passage begins with a very telling question:  "What do YOU think?"  The answer to this question goes a long way in us walking INTO growth as we should and not AWAY FROM it! The truth we often fail to embrace is that God did not hesitate to embrace us - in our sin , aware fully of our fickleness of heart, and knowing full well that every promise we'd make him would al

Salvation 101 - Part VI - Freedom

4-8 Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, once they've personally experienced the sheer goodness of God's Word and the powers breaking in on us—if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can't start over as if nothing happened. That's impossible. Why, they've re-crucified Jesus! They've repudiated him in public! Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God's "Well done!" But if it produces weeds and thistles, it's more likely to get cussed out. Fields like that are burned, not harvested. (Hebrews 6:4-8) There are several passages in Hebrews that speak to us about "drifting" away from our position in Christ - some call this leaving the faith - still others call this backsliding.  The Book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians - those who believed in C

Salvation 101 - Part III - Started and completed

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?  And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way!   (Romans 8:31-32) The rest of the passage that follows these two verses ends with a statement of fact:  I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embrac

Who are you relying on?

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God.   Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start.   It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe – Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.   ( Galations 3:25-27) We arrive in style at our final destination in Christ – in an adult faith wardrobe.   In direct relationship with God, we are “more than washed up” for a fresh start.   We are completely transformed.   There is an exchange of character – although we may not immediately see the evidence of it in our daily lives, it has been accomplished.   Through our daily pursuit of his presence being cultivated in our lives, we come to recognize the changes already accomplished.   Paul describes our position in Christ as being in direct relationship with God - having no compromising or impairing element that would keep us apart from a holy God.   Close logical relationship because of th