Archives For grace

In his groundbreaking book “Cross Vision”, Greg Boyd writes, “The way you imagine God largely determines the quality of your relationship with God. The intensity of your love for God will never outrun the beauty of the God you envision… the depth of your transformation into the likeness of Christ will never outrun the Christlikeness of your mental representation of God.” Jesus is the perfect representation of the Father.

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He is at once both the flawless depiction of God and is God Himself. If we have seen Christ, we have seen the Father (John 14:9). Our eyes have looked on the face of God. If we want to know what God is like, we need only look at the person of Jesus. He alone perfectly reflected and manifested the Father. If we have an imperfect mental image of Christ, we will have an imperfect picture of God.

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Those who have been reading my work for a while know I set a theme for each year in my life. One of my favorites from the past remains, “Consume less, contribute more”. That principle has stuck with me and continues to shape the way I live. As I contemplated this year’s theme, I kept bouncing between several ideas and could never seem to land on one. When I awoke on the first day of the year, I still had no theme.

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As I was standing in the quiet of my house in the early morning, I suddenly felt compelled to go to my knees in prayer for the upcoming year. Out of this time, my theme very naturally presented itself. As I was praying, the chorus to the song, “Scandal of Grace”, began playing repeatedly in my head. It begins, “Oh to be like You”. I knew in an instant this would be my theme for the rest of the year.

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There is much pain and loneliness in the world. Every day people disappoint us. It’s difficult to keep your head up and keep going. It seems so easy to forget how much God loves us; we forget this is the only thing that matters. We love Jesus because He first loved us.

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When we come to understand who He is and what He has done for us, we cannot help but love Him more than we love anyone or anything else. None compare to Jesus. When we live in this truth, the disappointments and discouragements of this world begin to matter less. Only Jesus is worthy of our affection.

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On your journey to discipleship, it’s important to remember following Jesus is always about the next step. We aren’t concerned with where He’s leading us, we’re simply content to follow. A hallmark of discipleship is never looking back. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. The blood, grace, and love of Jesus makes all which has come before irrelevant. We are who He says we are, and He sees only who we are becoming.

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As far as God is concerned, the past doesn’t matter. He’s not interested in what you’ve done, only in what you will do for His Kingdom.  He holds no grudges. Jesus never looks at what you’ve messed up in the past as an indicator of what you might accomplish in the future.

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Every so often, I like to increase the amount of hate mail I receive. There’s no better way to assure this than discussing the faith (or grace) vs. works topic. As I have stated previously, I don’t fall into either the faith or works camp. I believe one without the other is useless, and believe there is strong Scriptural support to say the answer isn’t either faith or works, but rather faith and works. James says plainly in his letter faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

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Coming from the brother of Jesus, I’m going to consider him a strong authority. There’s more to say about this, however. To those in either the faith or works camp, I urge you to keep reading. Not so I might persuade you to agree with me, but rather to take an honest look at what Scripture says about this and consider the eventual logic behind each view.

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What does the armor of God look like in your life? Ephesians 6:10-18 is a familiar passage of Scripture detailing the armor of God. Like many familiar passages, it can be easy to overlook and never take the time to apply it to your own life. Paul gave us a great gift when he outlined the weapons of our warfare. Though I have distant memories of a flannel-graph (remember those?) soldier in Sunday School, there is nothing childish about the depth of this passage.

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Within these words are the strategic plans to counteract the attacks of the devil.  To best make use of the armor and weapons, we should know what they look like in our own lives.

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One of the reasons I believe we don’t take the call of Christ more seriously in our lives is because we don’t see our sin the way God does. We don’t tend to see ourselves as deserving of hell if not for the blood of Jesus. We might say we deserve hell, but do we honestly believe it? As A.W. Tozer wrote, “from the way we love, praise, and pamper ourselves it is plain enough that we do not consider ourselves worthy of damnation!”

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There’s a disconnect between what we say we believe and how we live. Instead of living as if we were humbly and eternally grateful for the salvation of Christ, we instead live as if there’s always something more we “deserve”.

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I can’t seem to get away from the constant debate of whether we are saved by grace alone or works alone. As I have often commented here, I don’t believe it’s a matter of grace or works, but rather grace and works. Before you bail on me, I wholeheartedly believe and affirm that we cannot be saved by anything other than the grace of God. Without grace, there is no possible way to “work” our way into salvation. Only our faith in Jesus and the grace He extends to us can secure our future with Him. The works we do are simply proof of our love for Him. If we are sincere in our devotion to Christ, obeying His commands – doing the things He told us to do – will be a natural extension of that love.

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A phrase I’ve grown weary of hearing over the years is, “you deserve it.” It permeates the advertising world as well as our everyday speech. We tell colleagues they deserve their recent promotion or our friends that they deserve some time away. Commercials try to convince us that we deserve a new car or the latest electronic gadgetry. As followers of Jesus, I hope you recognize that what we deserve is an eternity separated from our Creator. We deserve nothing in this life because we have all squandered what God has entrusted to us. To be frank, we deserve Hell. I think that’s why we spend so much time trying to be comfortable and secure. We know what we deserve and yet do everything in our power to keep from thinking about it.

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aaron pelsue,mercy,grace,depression,does God answer prayer

“Hear my cries Lord, hear my plea / All around me, all I see / Are canyons of heartache, rivers of mistakes / … It’s clouding up my clarity.” Those lines are from the song, “Mercy”, written by Aaron Pelsue. How often have you felt this way? Every day brings a new disappointment, and it seems as if bad news has taken up permanent residence in our inbox. The daily news grows ever more depressing, and the demands on our time our choking out any semblance of a spiritual life. We are dismayed by our past, discouraged by the future and despondent over our current circumstances. Where does it end, and how do we get off of this ride?

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