Grace: There is No Sweeter Word

Grace No Sweeter Word

Grace: Without It, We Would All Be Lost

The acronym for today is GRACE. I have two for this one. One came from my pastor at Faith Lutheran and the other comes from Celebrate Recovery. Let’s look at them respectively. Grace is receiving unmerited favor.
God’s    
Riches  
At         
Christ’s  
Expense
You see grace is receiving that which we did not deserve. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have received God’s unmerited favor. It is like a man going before a judge and having his fees paid for without asking for help.
God’s gift
We are justified by His grace as a gift. (Romans 3:24)
Received by our faith
 For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8a) 
 Accepted by God’s Love
God loved us while we were still sinning. (Romans 5:8)
Christ paid the price
 In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7)
Everlasting Gift
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Grace is so amazing in that there is nothing we can do to add to or take away from it. It is a gift freely given. Christ paid a debt we could not pay and died a death we deserved. It is so simple but yet so many have a hard time accepting it. 

For you

Furthermore, Christ continues to make a difference in my life and I desire for others to know what I know about Jesus. I encourage you to spend time this Easter contemplating on what He did for you. On March 28th here in the Austin area, you are invited to see the Easter Passion Play at Manor High School click on the link, Easter Triumph Passion Play.
Here is something that I think that you will enjoy Acappella Singing of Amazing Grace.
Related link, if you like acronyms: H.A.R.D.
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Can You Find Jesus in Psalm 22?

Find Jesus

Find Jesus’ Crucifixion in Psalm 22

Psalm 22:1a,16-18 (NIV)
 
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
I remember reading this psalm back when I was still in the military at Bergstrom AFB. For me, it was amazing to see Jesus in this. It was like visiting the cross myself. This Easter, I hope that you would take the time to consider what Jesus went through so that you might not perish but have everlasting life. Therefore, I want to encourage you to study it for yourself. The following references are taken from the NIV. To clarify, I am listing the verse from the Psalm  and then where I have found the similarity in the New Testament.
22:1 – Jesus cried out, “My God , My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
22:15 – Jesus was weakened from loss of blood from sweating blood and from the flogging. (Luke 22:44; Mark 15:15)Jesus complains of thirst from the cross. (John19:28)
22:16 – The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus and drew lots for his clothing. (Matthew 27:27-31) Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced. (John 20:25b-26)
22:17 – The chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him. (Matthew 27:41-43)

The Purpose for the Cross

After all, Jesus willing went to the cross for everyone. Hebrews 12:2b-3 explains it so beautifully,
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

For You to Consider

Celebrate this Easter with joy and thanksgiving to our risen Lord and Savior! Be sure to go and see the Easter Triumph Passion Play if you are in the Austin, Texas, area.
 
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New Self: A Change in Our Hearts

Change in our hearts

Our Hearts are Keys to the New Self.

This is the final part in a series on the New Self of which this makes 5. In part 4 of this series, Characteristics of the New Self, I discussed Colossians 3:11-13. We learned what we were to put on. This part we will discuss the change in our hearts as a result of Jesus in our lives.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:14-17 ESV.
Here we are instructed to put on love which binds things together, to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and be thankful. In verse 16 we find the how to, through letting word of Christ dwell in us going on to teach and admonish one another.
The key here is that it is a matter of the heart. First, we are to let the peace of Christ and His word rule in our hearts and second being thankful in our hearts to God.

My Personal ExperienceHearts changed

Ephesians 4:21-32 is another passage on putting on the new self. I particularly like verse 29, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV) This means that one should be mindful of what comes out of one’s mouth as not to hurt or harm others. One ought to think of something to say that would build the other person up instead.
God has often afforded me the grace to hold my tongue at times. He helped me to remember that once words are spoken I cannot take them back. I also think of how I would want to be treated and try my best to be kind. Again, I may not always get it right but I do my best to promptly admit when I do wrong and ask for forgiveness.
In conclusion, as a follower of Christ, I am called to live differently.  By the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and study of God’s word I can be the light in this dark world. I am changed from the inside out and I like who I have become in Christ.
May you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tomorrow I will have another acronym for your consideration.
 

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Characteristics of the New Self

Characteristics of a Christian

Characteristics of the New Self.

We are continuing a theme on the Putting of the Old Self and Putting on the New Self. In part three, Put Away Old Habits, I discussed more of what we are to put way. Today, we will look at the Characteristics that we are to put on with the new self.

Colossians 3:11-13, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

In Verse 11, Paul is telling us that as believers we are all the same in Christ. There is no distinction between one another for Christ is all and in all.

In verse 12 to the end of the chapter, Paul is telling us what the characteristics of a new life of a believer are. We are going to look at 12 & 13 today.

Let us take a closer look at the word meekness. It is defined in Wikipedia as follows, ‘Meekness is a possible attribute of human nature and behavior. It has been defined in several ways: righteous, humble, teachable, and patient under suffering willing to follow gospel teachings; an attribute of a true disciple.’ There is a lot in just these two verses. We are instructed to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, and patience. We are to bear with one another meaning carrying and supporting each other and most important to forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.

For Further Thought

I like to think of this as thinking outside of ourselves and being other-minded. Again we find the word must in verse 13 which implies that we are to take action and not hold back. Luke 6:31 comes to my mind, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (NIV).’ Of ourselves, it is not possible but through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible. God gives us the grace to put these on especially when one stops to consider how much He has forgiven you. I have seen this in my own life and it has surprised me what He has given me the strength to do. 

For instance, I have been able to be gracious when someone made an attempt to push my buttons in order to get a certain response out of me. I saw it for what it was and did not overreact. God helps me to see what is really going on and respond rather than react to the situation. I may not always get it right but God gives me grace when I fall short.

In the final part of this series, we will look at verse 14-17. Until then rejoice in the Lord; again I say rejoice.

What can you ask God to help you put on as you draw closer to Him?

 

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New Self: Put Away Old Habits

Old Habits

Put Away the Old Habits.

 In my post titled A Paradigm Shift, I discussed what we were called to put to death. Apostle Paul continues to tells us to put away old habits of the sinful nature. Therefore, we continue on a theme.
Colossians 3:8-10, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
In verse 8, look at the contraction here. It is a turning point. You were once living in sin BUT now you must put them all away. Your action is required. There is no and, if, or but about it. The rest of the verse lists those things that one is to put away. These are the old habits of our sinful nature.
In verse 9, we are told that we are not to lie to one another because we have put off the old self with its practices. Lying is to be a thing of the past, in with the new and out with the old. After all, Christ has made you a new creation.
In verse 10, we are to put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its creator.  How is this done? We are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds through God’s Word.  Renewal in the Greek means to replace thought process in error. God’s word replaces that error in us. This is what makes us different from the world and what should draw others to Christ as they see that difference in us.

Look for the Next Post on this Theme.

In part 4, we will look at the characteristics of the new self in verses 11-17. In my next post, I will share with you God’s cell number.
 
What efforts are you making to replace the thought process in error in order to put off the old self and embrace the new self?
 
 
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New Self: A Paradigm Shift is Needed

Paradigm Shift

What is a Paradigm Shift?

A paradigm is a framework of basic assumptions and ways of thinking about something, for example, a worldview. A paradigm shift is a change in those assumptions and ways of thinking to another point of view. Often it is not easy to make the change. However, this shift is exactly what the Apostle Paul is wanting believers to do. Think of it like crossing a bridge to the other side of a great chasm.

Put to Death What is Earthly in you.

We pick up the post on Put on the New Self, part 1. We are focusing on Colossians chapter 3. In part 1, we covered Colossians 3:1-4. Today’s passage is verse 5-7. 
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these, you too once walked, when you were living in them,” (ESV).

You might ask, how does one put to death that which is earthly in us?  Good question! This is where the paradigm shift begins. Here we will use scripture to interpret scripture. Romans 6:13a reads, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness.” We are to choose not to sin.

The earthly things that we are to put to death are listed in the second half of verse 5 above. Ephesians 5:3 tells us that sexual impurity and all impurity or covetousness must not even be mentioned among us as is proper among the saints. Covetousness is referred to as idolatry (Eph. 5:5). Idolatry is the worship of an idol or a physical object as a representation of a god. So when one desires what someone else has, one is putting that desire before God in one’s life.

Paradigm

We are not Helpless. We have a Helper.

However, we are not left helpless. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Therefore, as followers of Christ, we have a way to avoid the temptation to sin and God will provide that way out. God gives us the power to put to death that which is earthly in us through the study of His word, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
To summarize, the paradigm shift is not only to see our sins as God does but to have a desire to put them to death.  The Holy Spirit enables us to resist temptation and will convict us when we have a need for it.

Next in the series: Put Away Old Habits.

 

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Put on the New Self Part 1

Put on the New Self

Putting on the New Self

My focus is on putting on the new self as mentioned in Colossians 3:10.
This week, I will be mining Colossians chapter 3:1-17. Let’s begin with verses 1-4,If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (ESV).

There is a lot here. First, take a look at the ‘If then.’ I think of this the same way I do the ‘therefore.’ It implies a connection with what came before this chapter. Looking back at chapter 2 it is verses 5 -7 that grab my focus. Colossians 2:5-6,For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” 

To clarify, Paul is expressing to the Colossians his feelings for them as they persevere in faith.  They are rooted and built up in Christ for this Paul rejoices. This is what brings us to the ‘If then.’ Being rooted and established in our faith in Christ, we are to seek things that above and set our minds on higher things. For our lives are hidden in Christ with God. Hidden means kept out of sight; concealed. Set means put, lay, or stand (something) in a specified place or position.

Our Part

In conclusion, we are to put, lay, or stand our minds on things that are above (higher things, Isaiah 55:8-9) because we are concealed in Christ with God. Christ is our life. In Him we move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

It takes discipline to set our minds on things above but we are not helpless. For we have the help of the Holy Spirit to become disciplined disciples of Jesus. In doing so all things will grow strangely dim. And through our trials we will prevail for greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

Next in the series: A Paradigm Shift.

So what do you need to do to set your mind on things above and not on earthly things? What things are your setting your mind on?

 

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