Embrace God’s Grace

Embrace God's Grace

Sometimes, in the body of Christ, we get this idea that grace is good and all, but we need to start focusing more on living right, and getting rid of the sin in our lives. In so doing, we can end up pushing off to the side the very news that makes the gospel so good – the fact that we are made right with God not because of the good or bad things we do, but because of what Jesus did for us at the cross.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul says that he does NOT set aside God’s grace, because if we could become righteous through the law, then Jesus died for nothing. Think about it – we often do the very thing that Paul spoke against. We shift all of the focus onto our own actions, and forget all about God’s amazing grace. We think that it’s up to us to keep God’s commands the best that we can, and that His grace us just there to make up for the rest. In so doing, we rob the revelation of grace of much of its amazingness.

If we choose to believe our standing with God is based on what we do, then according to Scripture, Jesus may as well never have given His life for us. The truth, however, is that we NEED God’s grace – every moment of every day. We aren’t perfect. We mess up in more ways than we even realize, and we can never be right with God by trying to do it on our own. When we place our trust in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf, however, something wonderful happens – we receive right standing before our Heavenly Father than can never be taken away from us, or in any way debased by anything we do, because it is based not on us, but on our Savior.

Sin is wrong. It shouldn’t be something we want to live in, but the answer isn’t trying harder. The answer is to accept God’s grace, and allow it to transform us, causing us to become more like Him. Will you do so? Instead of setting God’s grace aside, will you embrace it, and let it change you from the inside out?

The Old Covenant of the Law, and the New Covenant of Grace

Covenants

Under the old covenant of the law . . .

  • Everything’s based on you and what you do.
  • You get what your actions deserve.
  • Your standing with God is determined by your own merit.
  • Mistakes and failures are met with condemnation and punishment.
  • God’s blessing on your life is contingent upon your obedience.

Under the new covenant of grace . . .

  • Everything’s based on Christ, and what He’s done for you.
  • You are freely given what you could never deserve.
  • Your standing with God is determined by Christ’s merit accredited to you.
  • Mistakes and failures are met with God’s abounding forgiveness and mercy.
  • God’s blessing on your life is permanent, apart from any good or bad that you do.

Which covenant are you living under – the new covenant of grace that Christ came to establish, or are you still trying to live under the law? Receive God’s amazing grace today, and place your focus on your Savior’s finished work at the cross!

Impart Grace

Impart Grace

Week 32 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is almost over. This week’s reading was Ephesians 2-6.These chapters continue Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.

Ephesians 4:29 says not to let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but what is helpful to build others up, that it may benefit those who listen. The NKJV, instead of saying that it may benefit those who listen, says that it may impart grace to the hearers.

When we speak positively – say things that will build others up – we impart grace to them. We see past their mistakes, and their flaws, begin to see them as God sees them – valued and treasured, because they are His children.

On the other hand, when we speak negatively – say things that will tear others down – we are doing the exact opposite. We remind them of mistakes they have made. We accuse and condemn. We’re imparting the law, and using reckless words that pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18).

What are you imparting through your words? Let’s begin to view those around us from God’s perspective. Let’s impart grace to our hearers, and build them up, instead of tearing them down!

Live In His Grace

Live In His GraceWeek 30 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is nearly finished. This week’s reading was 2 Corinthians 11-13, and Galatians 1-2. These chapters finish one of Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth, and begin his letter to the church at Galatia.

In Galatians 1:6-7, Paul expresses astonishment at the church of Galatia so quickly deserting he who called them to live in the grace of Christ, and turning to a different gospel, which was really no gospel at all.

We have been called to live in the grace of Christ, but how often do we turn from His grace, and try to become right with God through the law – by obedience to His commandments – instead of accepting righteousness as a free gift, as God intended it? No matter how hard we try, we can never be good enough to gain right standing before God through our actions. God knows that we can’t do it on our own, which is why He wants us to live under the new covenant of His grace.

In Galatians 2:21, Paul says that he will not set aside God’s grace, for if we could gain righteousness by the law, then Christ died for nothing. In other words, if we can be good enough on our own to earn right standing before God, then there was no reason for Christ to die for us. Don’t set aside the grace of God! You were saved by grace (Ephesians 2:5). Continue to live in it!

Does God Seem Distant?

Does God Seem Distant?Does God ever seem distant to you? Like He’s far away? Do you just wish He would make Himself real to you?

Did you ever consider that maybe this has less to do with Him, and more to do with how you’re viewing Him?

Sometimes we tend to see Christianity as merely a religion – a set of dos and don’ts that we must follow if we want God to be pleased with us. We think that there’s this level of perfection we must reach before we can truly get close to God, and we’re constantly aware that we don’t measure up to this standard. We feel like we’re not worthy to draw near Him, and therefore get the sense that He’s far away.

Religion portrays God as cold and distant, and only concerned with how good we are, but that’s not who He is. He is our loving Heavenly Father, who, because of Christ, accepts us and calls us His children. He is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9), and will never leave  us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Begin to view God in the light of Him being your Daddy in heaven, who is always with you, and cares about you deeply, and see how much more real He will seem!

No Condemnation For Those Who Are In Christ

No Condemnation For Those Who Are In ChristThis week’s memory passage from Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is Romans 8:1-2. These verses declare that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, for the law of the Spirit of life has set us from from the law of sin and death.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Stop and think about that statement for a moment – NO condemnation. If you are in Christ, then even when you mess up, there’s no condemnation. Even when you make a mistake, there’s no condemnation. Even when you fail in some area you’ve failed in dozens of times before, there’s still no condemnation for you, for you are IN CHRIST!

Why is there no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ today? Because the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death! We are no longer under the old covenant of the law, with its regulations that we just aren’t able to keep, that condemn us at every turn. We are under the new covenant of God’s grace, under which His Spirit – the Spirit of life – lives within us!

Always remember that if you are in Christ, there is no condemnation for you. The law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death!

Paul’s Secret

Paul's SecretWeek 20 of Called and Created’s Bible Reading and Memorization Plan is nearing its end. This week’s reading was Acts 21-25. These chapters speak mainly of Paul, of his arrest, him speaking to the crowds, a plot against him, and charges being brought against him.

In Acts 21:10-13, Paul was warned by a prophet that he would be arrested in Jerusalem. The people pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Paul responded by stating that he was ready not only to be bound, but to die in Jerusalem for Jesus’ name. What made Paul, a former persecutor of all who believed in Christ, now willing to risk his life to bring His name to others? What caused him to change direction so completely? What was his secret?

In Philippians 3:7-11, we find our answer. In these verses, Paul declares that he considers all things a loss compared to knowing Christ. He considers them garbage, that he may be found in Christ, having not a righteousness that came through the law, but a righteousness that is based on faith in Christ.

As these verses express, Paul understood that right standing before God isn’t based upon keeping His commandments. It’s based upon having faith in Christ, who kept them for us, and gave His life for our sins. Because our right standing before God is dependent not our imperfect selves, but on the One who truly is perfect, our righteousness is forever secure.

When we truly begin to understand this, something amazing happens. We go from religion to relationship. We go from head knowledge to heart knowledge. We go from an acknowledged belief in Christ to a living, vibrant, active faith in Him. This revelation of righteousness through faith in Christ made Paul willing to face imprisonment for the sake of His name. God desires for each of us to catch this revelation. I challenge you to ask God to reveal to you His grace, and the truths of the gospel, in a great way every single day.

Who’s Your Mother?

Who's Your Mother?Yesterday was Mother’s Day – a day devoted to thanking our moms for all that they do for us, and letting them know how much we love them. In light of celebrating our mothers, here’s a question to consider: Who’s your mother?

In other words, God is your Heavenly Father, but are you His child through grace, or His child through the law? Upon which do you rely for salvation – your own good works, or what Christ has done? Do you feel that you must earn relationship with God, or have you come to the realization that it is a gift freely given to all who believe?

Galatians 4:21-31 addresses this issue. These verses explain that Abraham had children by two different women – Hagar, who was a slave, and Sarah, who was free, and was his true wife. It also explains that these two women represent two covenants (or ways of mankind relating to God). Those two covenants are the old covenant of the law, and the new covenant of grace.

Hagar, who is representative of the law, which was given at Mount Sinai, bears children who are to be slaves. In other words, when we base our relationship with God on our good works, and our attempts to keep all of the commandments recorded in His Word, we will end up feeling as if we were His slaves, instead of His children. We will always feel that He is demanding more of us than we are capable of, and will never be able to cease from our efforts long enough to simply enjoy His presence.

Sarah, who is representative of the new covenant of God’s grace, bears children born as a result of a divine promise, not by the keeping of the law. When we rely on God’s grace for our salvation, and relationship with Him, it becomes no longer about what we have done, but rather what Christ has done for us. Because it’s not about us and our performance, we can rest, knowing that we are God’s children, whom He dearly loves.

Galatians 4:31 states that we are children not of the slave woman (Hagar, who represents the old covenant of the law), but of the free woman (Sarah, who represents the new covenant of grace). God desires for us to rely not on the law for our right standing before Him, but rather on His grace. He wants us to feel not as if we are slaves to His demands, but rather children whom He cares for deeply. Therefore, I ask you – In your relationship with God, do you focus on your performance, or on His amazing grace? Are you living under the old covenant of the law, or the new covenant of grace? Who’s YOUR mother?

The Gift Of No Condemnation

The Gift Of No CondemnationRomans 8:1 says that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. Today, no matter what you have done or failed to do, there is no condemnation for you in Him!

Why is there no condemnation for those who are in Christ? Romans 8:2 gives us the answer – because the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death. No matter how hard we try, we never can live up to the standards of perfection detailed in the law. Every time we try, we end up caught in a cycle of trying and failing, trying and failing, over and over again. 2 Corinthians 3:7 calls it the ministry that brought death, engraved on stones, and 2 Corinthians 3:9 declares it the ministry that brought condemnation. 2 Corinthians 3:9 goes on to say, however, that if the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is that which brings righteousness!

Through Moses was given the law, but through Christ came grace and truth (John 1:17). We are made righteous through faith in Him (Philippians 3:9). If we believe in Him, we are NOT condemned (John 3:18)! Know that you are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Receive His gift of no condemnation, and walk in the freedom He desires for you!