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Friday, January 31, 2014

Receiving and Giving

We give grace because we’ve received grace. Jesus shared a great illustration of this principle.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be    patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’” (Matthew 18:23–33)
 
Don't miss God's grace and mercy. Give as you have received.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wet Feet

How do you deal with hurts in life? The reality is we’ve all been hurt. Hurts are part of the human condition. Have you ever heard, “Hurt people hurt people.”?

Even though we all hurt we are responsible for how we respond. Retaliation has its appeal, but Jesus has a better idea.

Jesus sets the example.

“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” (John 13:3–5 nlt)

Jesus’ command.

“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought     to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14–15 nlt)

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Matthew 18:21–22 nkjv)
 
Don't miss accepting God's grace and using it in your life.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Accepting the Gift

This week's GRACE lesson from Max Lucado is entitled, Accepting the Gift of Wet Feet. We'll look at Jesus' act of humbleness and grace in the days to come.

 May we be reminded of the following 3 truths:

1. Grace once received is meant to be given.

2. Holding on to hurts only further wounds the injured party.

3. We each control only our response to the pain.


“But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.” (Nehemiah 9:17 nlt)
 
Christian literally means "Little Christ". Show God's forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love to the world around you.
 
Accept the gift of God's grace and mercy. Give it freely.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dealing With Differences

Max Lucado, tells the following story with wit and style. When we think about what it is saying I hope it makes us all think about how we deal with those of differing opinions.

Some time ago I came upon a fellow on a trip who was carrying a Bible. "Are you a believer?" I asked him. "Yes," he said excitedly. I've learned you can't be too careful. "Virgin birth?" I asked. "I accept it." "Deity of Jesus?" "No doubt." "Death of Christ on the cross?" "He died for all people." Could it be that I was face to face with a Christian? Perhaps.
Nonetheless, I continued my checklist. "Status of man." "Sinner in need of grace." "Definition of grace." "God doing for man what man can't do." "Return of Christ?" "Imminent." "Bible?" "Inspired." "The Church?" "The Body of Christ." I started getting excited. "Conservative or liberal?" He was getting interested too. "Conservative." My heart began to beat faster. "Heritage?" "Southern Congregationalist Holy Son of God Dispensationalist Triune Convention." That was mine! "Branch?" "Pre-millennial, post-trib, noncharismatic, King James, one-cup communion." My eyes misted. I had only one other question. "Is your pulpit wooden or fiberglass?" "Fiberglass," he responded. I withdrew my hand and stiffened my neck. "Heretic!" I said and walked away.
When faced with a conflicting opinion, how do you respond?
 
Even Peter who was with Jesus throughout His ministry needed a supernatural vision to convince him to change his ways. (Read Acts 10:10-15)
 
Don't miss God's grace - apply it when you disagree with someone.
 

 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Change Happens Here

My wife and I were walking past our local YMCA the other day and their sign in the front yard caught our attention. It said, “Change happens here”. I understand, it’s the beginning of the year and everyone wants to get in shape. Something inside me wanted to pull the sign up and plant it in front of my church!

Real change happens when we accept Jesus’ gift of grace – His salvation. We need to make it personal. It feels good to say Jesus died for the world, but let’s make it more personal and say, Jesus died for me. He died for my sins. He bore my cross and pain.

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Romans 5:6-8 The Message)

Praise the Lord!

Maybe we need to make our own sign to wear; Real change happened here – Really!

Don’t miss God’s grace – allow it to change you forever.

 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Power of Grace

The book of Acts is the history of the church of Jesus Christ. It tells of how the Holy Spirit came upon that original church of 120 and God moving in a powerful way. Many were saved and the church had it's most rapid growth ever. The phrase "God's grace" is found three times in this great book.

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all. - Acts 4:33

[ Stephen Seized ] Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. - Acts 6:8

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. - Acts 20:24

It seems to me that there is a "spiritual equation" at work here.

Testimony of God's grace = Power or God's Power can be found through living out and telling the world of His grace (found in Jesus).  It is what Christ followers are called to do. Testify and Christ will empower you!

What's stopping us? God gives us all we need through Jesus Christ. As my old Pastor use to say, "Use it before you lose it!".

Receive and testify to God's grace to someone today. It will make an eternal difference!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

You Can Rest Now

I hope you are enjoying our GRACE study so far. To get the most out of it I would encourage you to consider the following:
Read GRACE by Max Lucado
Watch or attend the sermons each week at fbcredbank.com
Participate or start a small group to go deeper in to each week's message.

The following is an example of what we talk about in my Tuesday morning group:


GRACE - You Can Rest Now

Life Group

 What tangible proof is there of salvation?

 Do we expect certain habits or traits from those who call themselves Christians?

Read Ephesians 2:8-9 - What does this say?

 How do God’s grace and our faith work together to equal salvation?

 Read Romans 3:21-26 Why is the law no longer necessary to experience God’s grace?

 Do we ever allow nonbiblical ideas to interfere in our relationships with other Christians?

When faced with a conflicting opinion, how do you respond?

Even Peter who was with Jesus throughout His ministry needed a supernatural vision to convince him to change his ways. Read Acts 10:10-15

 Have you ever felt like there are certain things you need to do in order to be a Christian? What are these things?

Have you ever been around someone who claims to be a better Christian than you are? What things did that person say you were wrong about? How did you respond?

 When someone gives you something freely do you feel the need to somehow repay the giver?

 How can you repay Jesus?
 
Accept God's grace with a thankful heart.

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's Only Grace but It's Enough

Trying to be “good enough” to achieve salvation  never works, because we are not perfect. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 esv)

“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10–14 esv)

Grace has to be one God’s best ideas for sinful people. We contribute nothing. He contributes everything. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8 nkjv)

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:9 niv) The certainty of God's promised grace replaces endless effort—we can rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 niv)

Accept and rest in God's grace today.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Good is Good Enough?

We are taught all our lives to "be good", and we should be. But when it comes to our salvation we cannot be "good enough". In Max Lucado's book GRACE he shares a few things about trying to be good enough. First of all; How good is good enough?

“Most people embrace the idea that God saves good people. Still no one can answer the fundamental question: What level of good is good enough?” The stakes are high—our eternal destination is on the line.

 The trouble with trying to be good enough is it only makes us weary and frustrated. Attempts at self-salvation guarantee nothing but exhaustion.”

“Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you into the wrong way. Your hearts should be strengthened by God’s grace, not by obeying rules.” (Hebrews 13:9 ncv)

It doesn’t lead to more faith. “Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: ‘The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.” (Galatians 3:12–13 msg)

Receive God's grace with a grateful and transformed heart.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Gift of Grace

I praise God for the wonderful gift of His Word - our Bible! It tells us God's story and remind us of the truth about grace. Grace is God's gift to us. We can accept or reject it. There is nothing we can "do" to earn His grace. God has completed the work of salvation. We can add nothing to it.
Meditate today on the following Scripture:

 “God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it.” (Romans 4:16 msg)


 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5 niv)

“And all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ. God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus' death. This showed that God always does what is right and fair, as in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins.” (Romans 3: 24–25 ncv)

“Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.” (Psalm 107:6–8 msg)

 
Receive and share God's grace.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eternal Grace

God's Word is so deep that you will never get to the bottom of it! It sure is fun to "dig in to it" though. This is has been proclaimed as the Year of Grace and Hebrew 12:15, "Don't miss God's grace" is our key passage. Today let's look at the New King James version of verses 14-16.

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

God's peace and holiness is available to all people. Christ followers are to share His grace in a world filled with bitterness and trouble. We are warned not to trade the eternal gift of God for the temporary things of this world. 

 Receive God's eternal grace not the world's temporary pleasures.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Receive God's Grace

There are so many modern day medical miracles. I am amazed by what they can replace and fix in our bodies. They can give you a heart transplant but cannot change your "heart". Surgeons cannot remove lust, hatred, envy, or any kind of sin. Praise God He can!

Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” –
 
 Do you need a change of heart?

God's grace is the key to this change for a God-shaped heart.
 
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:14-15
 
Receive God's grace not the world's troubles.
 

 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Live in Worship

Christians are to worship God by using their bodies, minds, and spiritual gifts in a glorifying way.  How can we glorify God by making worship our way of life? Paul gives us a blueprint of how to live a life of worship in Romans chapter 12.

12:1 – Worship: Present Yourself Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Do you give your "all in all" to Him daily?

Verses 2-3 – Worship: Renew Your Mind.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

How has your concept of worship changed over the years?

Verses 4-8 – Worship: Use Your Gifts  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

How do you use your mind, tongue, body, and spiritual gifts to worship God?

What commitment to change do you need to make?

Be wise today and always – worship God with your life.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Conviction or Condemnation?

In Max Lucado's book, Grace he talks about Satan’s condemnation vs. the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Satan’s condemnation will destroy. “Unlike the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Satan’s condemnation brings no repentance or resolve, only regret.” —Lucado

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 nlt) Satan’s aim is to “steal your peace, kill your dreams, destroy your future.” —Lucado

Conviction from the Holy Spirit brings about change in the heart. “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.”  (2 Corinthians 7:11 niv)

What is the fruit of this grace? Confidence in your Defender - Jesus. “Behold the fruit of grace: saved by God, raised by God, seated with God. Gifted, equipped, and commissioned. Farewell earthly condemnations.” - Lucado

Will you listen to Satan’s accusations? Or will you believe what Jesus says about you?

Be wise today and always - be consumed by the Holy Spirit and walk in  faithful obedience.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Don't Look Back

Do you trust your Advocate or your Accuser? God is willing to stoop down and be your advocate. We see an example of Jesus stooping in the book of John.

“But early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one.” (John 8:2-9)

 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5–7 esv)

Jesus is also our defender.

“Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right. Who can say God's people are guilty? No one, because Christ Jesus died, but he was also raised from the dead, and now he is on God's right side, appealing to God for us.” (Romans 8:33–34 ncv)

The apostle John called Satan the Accuser.

“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10 nlt)

Down forget that condemnation of mankind is Satan's specialty. He wants you to look backwards or down not forward and vertical.

Be wise today and always - allow Jesus to be your defense in a fight against evil.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A God Who Stoops Down

Aren't you glad that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus? We are so thankful and blessed that Jesus gives us grace and models how to use it. He is our Advocate while Satan is our Accuser. Look what God's Word has to say about it:

“We will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” (I John 3:19–20 nlt)

“Since we have a great priest over God’s house, let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience.” (Hebrews 10:21–22 ncv)

“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10 nlt)

“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.” (Romans 8:34 msg)

“He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:25 nlt)

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.” (Isaiah 50:7–9 niv)

“And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart.” (2 Corinthians 7:11–12 msg)

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 nlt)

Be wise today and always - seek your Advocate, Jesus in all of life's matters.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Power to Change

I love this introduction to a Lucado book on Grace. It shares the excitement of this year's "grace focused" study we have entered. Enjoy!

"Grace. We talk as though we understand the term. The bank gives us a grace period. The seedy politician falls from grace. Musicians speak of a grace note. We describe an actress as gracious,
a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and premeal prayers. We talk as though we know what grace means.


But do we really understand it? Have we settled for wimpy grace? It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, “Do you believe in grace?” who could say no?

Let's ask a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace?

God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it. Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God secure. From regret riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid to die to ready to fly.

Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off. Let’s make certain grace gets you." 


Be wise today and always- let grace change you.
  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bring It On

Two weeks in to the new year seems like a short time but for some this year is always overwhelming. Too much or too little seems to be in our constant vocabulary. Do you ever feel that way? Remember:


The impossible is what God does best. So if you are feeling "outnumbered" these days turn to God. He is on your side!
 
Be wise today and always - look up when you are feeling down!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Critical Decisions

Spiritual battles take place all around us. Let's take a page from our American history books to learn a lesson about making decisions. On the battlefield discernment is critical. An officer leading his men into battle must be able to make decisions quickly and accurately. Decisiveness can spell the difference between victory and defeat. During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee, one of the greatest military strategists to ever wear an American uniform, knew this well. He was fond of saying that “battles neither turn on a division or a brigade let alone a company or a squad. Rather, battles turn on the will of a man holding a rifle who takes aim or takes to heel.” Battles turn on individual decisions. Such was the case of the battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Lee, with a force of several hundred thousand Confederate troops, had marched through Maryland and into the lush Pennsylvania countryside. With surprise and speed on his side, Lee took to the offensive and pushed into the city. He knew that the Union army was to his rear and that by the morrow he would be facing them. Nonetheless, there was high ground just outside of the city, a hill called Culp’s Hill. With the city under occupation and his artillery on that hill, Lee could command the approach of the Union army and put them on the defensive. However, everything hinged on taking that hill.

The hill was on Lee’s left flank directly in the path of General Richard Ewell’s corps. Lee sent a message to General Ewell directing him to “take that hill if feasible.” As Ewell’s corps advance through Gettysburg and over the field leading to Culp’s Hill, the Union Army began to pour into the Gettysburg countryside. Elements that had been routed earlier in the day were streaming eastward toward General Meade’s Union army encampment on Cemetery Ridge just to the east of Culp’s Hill. If Ewell could take that hill, his guns would be trained right down upon them. Ewell paused his forces. What should he do? Should he attack with full force and push them off the hill? Should he take a small detachment and engage the enemy for strength? Should he stop his advance and wait until the next day’s light? Ultimately, Ewell decided to do nothing. Two days later the Confederate Army, defeated, straggled back toward the Potomac River and the safety of Virginia. The moment had been lost. The day had been lost. The battle had been lost. And, ultimately, the war had been lost. For the sake of a moment’s indecision, all had been lost.

Ewell risked failure because he couldn’t make a timely decision. Only one decision, but so much depended upon that moment’s value. When you think about it, our lives are like that terrible battle. Satan’s army lies before us waiting to destroy us. God is behind us, though. He tells us to take the high ground and put the foe on the defensive. We can either advance or retreat. But, remember, this battle hinges on your ability to be discerning. Delay can be costly when you are fighting the good fight. Every moment has its value. We should live life in a spirit of knowing this and accepting our responsibility to understand that our decisions, good and bad, are critical to the path we walk in this life. Obedience to God's plan and ways are always best.


Be wise today and always - choose God's high ground every time.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hope and Grace

We have started our study on grace this week and how God wants to change our hearts. I believe that as we accept God's grace through Christ we are in turn to give grace to those around us. This is had to do in today's world. Every day Christ followers are under attack, but God calls on us to love our enemies and forgive as Christ forgives. Seems impossible doesn't it?

Be encouraged by these two verses:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.- Galatians 2:20

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. - Colossians 1:27

We are to live, love, and forgive as Jesus did. It is for His glory, and under His power that we can.

Be wise today and always - praise God for His hope and grace.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Heart Changed by Grace.

A grace- shaped life is marked by a changed heart. Think of God as a heart surgeon.*

“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19 nkjv)

 Some say they can’t change – they're not Jesus. Well use the example of Paul.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 nkjv)

Christ creates the change—unique to Christianity is that Christ accepts us before we change, then he moves within us. You can’t forgive? Christ can. Can’t face tomorrow? Christ can.*

Have you received God's grace? What evidence do you see in your life of a changed heart?

Be wise today and always – grace can change anyone’s heart.
 
*GRACE by Max Lucado

Friday, January 10, 2014

Look at Your Heart

What does a grace-shaped life look like? The grace-shaped life begins with receiving God’s grace. A simple definition of grace is God’s unmerited favor. Everyone needs grace, regardless of our personal circumstances.*

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23–24 nkjv)

A wimpy grace doesn’t change you. Have we settled for a “goldfish grace”? It sits on a shelf and looks pretty, but it doesn’t do anything. God’s grace does something—it changes lives.*

“Our God is in the business of changing hearts.”*

Be wise today and always - allow God's grace to change your life.

*GRACE by Max Lucado

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Grace-Shaped Life

The objective of Grace-Shaped Life* is to introduce or remind us of the following truths:

God’s grace is not limited by our understanding and treatment of it.
Grace is available to everyone.
A changed heart is evidence of God’s grace on the move.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” (Hebrews 12:15 niv)
“Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 nkjv)
“I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.” (Ezekiel 36:26 msg)
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” (Titus 2:11 nkjv)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9 nkjv)
“The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you.” (Colossians 1:27 msg)
 
Be wise today and always - ask God to change the shape of your heart.
 
* GRACE by Max Lucado
 
 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grace of God

Grace is simply another word for God's tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. It comes at us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We've barely regained our balance from one breaker, and then Bam, here comes another. Grace upon grace (John 1:16) Jesus has enough grace to pardon every sin, solve every dilemma, wipe every tear, and answer every questionGrace -It's more than we deserve and greater than we imagine is a seven week study and book by Max Lucado. We will be following along and using this theme over the next seven weeks.

May we seek to have the mind, wisdom, and ministry of Jesus as we accept and give grace. Martin Luther said, "Should anyone knock at my heart and say. Who lives here? I should reply, Not Martin Luther, but the Lord Jesus Christ."

Be wise today and always - go deep in to God's grace.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Love Letter from God

God’s Word is the Bible. We must apply the whole Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 to our lives. We are treading on dangerous ground when we start pulling out things we don’t like or agree with. Sure there will be different versions, interpretations, and at certain times in your life the Scripture itself will mean different things to you.

The Word of God is the absolute authority in determining the faith and practice of God's people (II Tim. 3:16,”All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”). The sixty-six books of the Bible are inerrant, divinely and uniquely inspired, and are given to mankind written as they were inspired by the Spirit of God . These Scriptures are divinely intended for personal study and interpretation, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 4:12,”For the Word of the Lord is living and active. Sharper than a double-edged sword it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”). This letter from God gives us a plan of redemption by God's love and grace.

Use the Bible this year to let God speak to you. Commit to making more time soaking in God’s Word. In any relationship to make it grow you must give it time. We can spend time in meditation and prayer with the Creator of the universe. Isn’t that awesome?

Be wise today and always - embrace and live God's Word.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grace and Mercy

If Jesus was never born we would not know God’s grace and mercy. Jesus’ disciples John and Peter testify to His grace and mercy.

John 1:17 - For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-4 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.

George Bailey, in It’s a Wonderful Life couldn’t grasp the affect that his life had made on the world around him until it was shown to him.  Jesus knew that the world needed saving, and He was the only way to bring it about. He left the splendor of heaven to come in to this dark world as a baby. Jesus brought the light of heaven to earth, and made salvation available through His sacrifice.

Praise God that Jesus was born and still lives today!

Be wise today and always - have a grace filled year.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Connected to God

Are you feeling disconnected from God? I have a great remedy that I am committing to myself. Spend some time this year reading from the Psalms in the bible . Other people have experienced many of the same emotions and thought that you have.

Consider chapter Psalm 8:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them[with glory and honor.You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky,and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! - David

 
Look at God's Word and world! Rejoice and relate to Jesus.
 
Be wise today and always - remember you are God's handiwork.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Reason for Jesus

Immanuel means God with us. During His ministry time on earth Jesus was constantly asked, Why have you come to us? On thirteen occasions in the New Testament Gospels He answered this question with,  I have come…”.

Matthew 9:13 - I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call sinners in to righteousness.”

John 5:43 - I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.

John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

John 7:29 - but I have come from God and he sent me to you.”

John 12:46 -  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

No sense of calling or mission has ever been more apparent. Jesus came to us, meaning He left somewhere else for the most important ministry – to the lost. That means all of us!

Have you let Him “come” in to your life completely?

Be wise today and always – allow Jesus to make His home in your heart.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Proper Focus on Life.

Starting off on the right foot is essential for success. The same is true as we begin a new year.You might be a Christian, but unless you commit yourself to putting God at the center of your lives you’ll not only miss out on the peace of God this year You’ll also miss out on a lot of other blessings from God. Are you waiting for God to come in to your life?
The apostle Peter wrote to the people of God about this in 2 Peter 3:3-12: Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives  as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

There will always be those who believe it is futile to wait for God.
The Lord comes to us many times throughout our lives if our hearts are receptive and our eyes are open. How should we wait and watch?

We should wait patiently, expectantly, and faithfully.

Keep your eyes on Christ - You’ll be glad you did.

Be wise today and always - keep looking up this year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Waiting and Watching with Hope

In Luke 2:21-35 Simeon’s “waiting for the consolation of Israel” is different from the reality of the Jews and religious leaders. He was waiting and watching for Messiah. He had separated himself from other Jews by living a holy life and being lead by the Holy Spirit. Most leaders and Jews were not like Simeon. They were hypocrites and were not seeking God, but only what benefited them. We find that in our world today as well. There are people (maybe even leaders) who are only out for their own glory and profit in the church and not truly seeking God.

 Here’s a few things we can learn from Simeon:
1.  Stuff isn’t important
Simeon didn’t fall into that trap. He was looking for the Messiah… and who did he find? He found Jesus, this baby being carried by Joseph & Mary., they were part of the ordinary crowd of people who came into the Temple every day. If anything distinguished them – it was the fact that they were poor. Luke 2:21-24 says they brought two small birds. According to the law, a person of means who gave birth to a child was required to bring a lamb as their sacrifice. But a poor couple brought what Joseph and Mary offered: a couple of small birds. This couple’s poverty, didn’t phase Simeon. He was not distracted by appearances.

2. We need to look for Christ

Simeon was looking for Jesus. What robs many people, including Christians, of the peace that Christmas can have is that we get caught up in looking for everything but Jesus. And thus, the manger of Christmas becomes empty for us.

3. We need to prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessings.
Simeon was not a particularly important man, but he was known as a righteous and a devout man. In Greek his name means “taking a good hold” on something. for him, God was at the center of this his life.. He was constantly in the Temple fasting, praying, and worshiping God.

He was not a CEO (Christmas - Easter only) type of worshipper, or every other Sunday attendee. Simeon was the type of worshipper who would have been present every time the church doors were opened. He was dedicated and loved God with all of his heart, soul and mind.

It was only to him, a lady named Anna, and a bunch of shepherds that God revealed His message of peace. Wonder why? They were waiting and watching with hope!


Be wise today and always - look for Jesus this year (you will find Him).