Are You Grace-full?

The order that words and phrases are listed in the Scripture is not haphazard nor random; each word is divinely inspired, even the order in which they appear. So look at the order in these verses:

  • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
  • The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Do you see it? Grace then truth/knowledge.

FullOur human tendency is to switch this order: we want truth and knowledge first. But the Bible never teaches this, and the One Who delivered the greatest words ever spoken never said this. Our tendency is to want to get the facts, and then choose which ones we’ll embrace because they “fit” with what’s comfortable to us. Then we argue with others over what we claim to be “truth” and get labeled as judgmental and haters.

Bottom line―We cannot know what “truth” is without first having received grace. 

To fix this, we need to pursue grace, not more knowledge. We need to pursue Jesus. Look at the order again: IF you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32).

Why can’t we know what truth is without having first received grace?

  • Jesus said this about the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
  • The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Jesus never talks about grace. Why? Because He IS grace.

For IN Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form giving complete expression of the divine nature. (Colossians 2:9, AMP)

...I am IN My Father, and you are IN Me, and I am IN you … Remain IN Me, and I will remain IN you… (John 14:20; 15:4)

And you are IN Him, made full and having come to fullness of life IN Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature… (Colossians 2:10, AMP)

You grow in grace by growing in Christ. You grow in truth by growing in grace. When you are full of Christ―when He is IN you and you remain IN Him―then you are grace-full, and therefore you can also be truth-full. This is how you can reach full spiritual stature.

So here’s a question for you: How grace-full are you?

If you are around Cedar Springs this coming Sunday, I would love for you to join with us as we continue our series answering your questions with the greatest words ever spoken.

Read The Red Letters

Read the red lettersLet’s see if you can guess what famous person said the following (the answers are below … but no cheating!):

  1. “The phonograph is of no commercial value.”
  2. “I think there is a world market for about five computers.”
  3. “I tell you Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad soldiers; we will settle the matter by lunch time.”
  4. “There will never be a bigger plane built.”
  5. “The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.”

People get it wrong lots of times. Even really smart, successful people. King Solomon, who was called the wisest of all, wrote a book called Ecclesiastes in which he shared some bad advice he tried to follow. In the closing verses he gave this warning, “My son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end so do not believe everything you read, and much study is the weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

In the Hebrew world there were three departments of knowledge:

  • Law―words from God to man
  • Prophesy―judgment from God on how man is doing in observing God’s law
  • Wisdom―man’s attempt to live out God’s law based on observation, experience, and reflection (for a great example of all three departments at work, see Luke 10:25-37)

What we need is someone who (1) knows God’s way, (2) lives God’s way, and (3) can teach us how to live out God’s way for ourselves. Someone who is perfect, flawless in every phase. We need the One Who said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). That One is Jesus.

Can I make a suggestion that will bring you amazing results? Spend some time reading the red letters. That is, go to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and focus on the words of Jesus (which many Bible translations print in a red font). There I am certain you will discover the greatest words ever spoken!

If you can, please join me over the next few Sundays as we will be attempting to discover the greatest words ever spoken on a variety of subjects. Folks have turned in the questions that they would like answered, and we are going to look to the red letters to see what Jesus has to say.

Answers to the quiz:

  1. Thomas Edison, remarking on his own invention 
  2. Thomas Watson, Sr., chairman of IBM
  3. Napoleon Bonaparte, at a breakfast with his generals preceding the Battle of Waterloo
  4. A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that held ten people 
  5. IBM board of directors, to the eventual founders of Xerox

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

The Greatest Words Ever SpokenEver been stumped or confused about something, and then received perfect advice from a friend? Maybe that advice helped you get through that particular time in your life.

But what if, later on, the wise friend from whom you got advice wasn’t following his own advice? What if your friend got off track? And now they were the one needed advice? Would you still go to them for counsel? Or would you look somewhere else?

On the other hand, if we could get advice from someone, and their advice helped us not only in a particular situation, but in every situation we faced. If this friend’s counsel was good all the time, and they always practiced what they preached … if they were able to show us things we would have never seen on our own … and guide us where we may never have gone by ourselves … that would be amazing! And what if this friend’s counsel was not only beneficial for you, but helpful for everyone who chose to follow it?

Those wise words could quite possibly be the greatest words ever spoken!

I invite you to join me this Sunday as we begin a new series called The Greatest Words Ever Spoken. And if you are facing a challenging situation, we might even be able to find the right counsel for you. Others have submitted questions on which they would like to hear the wisest words of counsel, so feel free to comment below with the questions you have.

Good Friday Communion Service

Good Friday

Join me this Friday, April 3, at 6pm as we remember what Jesus did for us on Calvary. We will be reflecting on Christ’s sacrificial death in a meaningful time of Communion.

Directions to Calvary Assembly of God can be found by clicking here.

In The Shadow Of The Cross

The Shadow Of The Old Rugged CrossSome people really know how to find the deals when they’re shopping. They know where to shop, when to shop, where to find the coupons, and how to find the rebates.

Rebates have always amazed me. I wondered how companies could give away money and still make a profit. Then I read that often up to 70 percent of rebates go unclaimed. Some people say it’s too much work to fill out all the correct forms, others say it takes too long to get their rebate, and still others think the amount they get back isn’t worth the effort.

I’m concerned about Christians who slip into a rebate mentality with God. It seems some Christians believe that they need to “fill out the right forms” in order to claim all that God has for them. They seem to think that salvation isn’t enough, and that they have to add church attendance, offerings, good works, Bible reading and other activities to make sure they don’t miss out.

Not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, but there is something wrong with thinking we have to do something to keep our salvation at its full effectiveness. 

If we have placed our faith in Christ’s work on an old rugged Cross, then all of our sins have been forgiven (see Psalm 103:1-5, 10-12 and Jeremiah 33:8). This is a gift that is available to everyone (Acts 10:43).

But here’s when I think satan steps in to deceive us―when we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is constantly refining us to make Christ’s image visible in us. But satan wants to twist and pervert this conviction into condemnation.

It’s only in the shadow of the old rugged Cross that I can see my sin correctly:

(1) The Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin tells me that He desires for me to be more like Jesus―John 14:25-27.

(2) Sin isn’t my master any longer―Romans 6:1-2, 8-11.

(3) My sin never diminishes God’s love for me―1 John 1:8-2:2.

(4) Sin cannot condemn me―Romans 8:1-2.

As we remember and celebrate what Jesus did on Calvary for us, let’s also remember to stay in the shadow of the Cross. It’s there we can see from Heaven’s point of view.

If you are in the area and don’t have a church home, I would love for you to celebrate Resurrection Sunday with us! We’ll continue our look at what happened on the old rugged Cross.

The Ministry Of Reconciliation

Ministry of reconciliationWhen couples are divorcing, their most common complaint is summed up in two words: irreconcilable differences. The couple is saying that things have gotten so bad―and the distance between them has gotten so vast―that there is no hope at all of ever patching things up.

Sometimes we might be able to say that both husband and wife shared some of the blame. But this isn’t true in a spiritual divorce. When we are separated from God, it’s all on us. Paul describes us as powerless sinners, unholy enemies of God (see Romans 5:6, 8, 10). We did the leaving; we are the problem.

But in the desire to bring reconciliation, God puts it all on Himself―more specifically, on the death of His Son Jesus on an old rugged Cross. In Romans 5 Paul says our reconciliation was through Christ five times in just three verses (vv. 9-11).

As if it weren’t amazing enough that Christ’s death on the Cross saved us, justified us, and reconciled us, giving us a brand new start (2 Corinthians 5:16-17), God then gave us the same ministry that He undertook through Jesus: the ministry of reconciliation (vv. 18-19)!

What Jesus purchased for us on an old rugged Cross allows us to “become the righteousness of Christ” (v. 21). Not reflect His righteousness, not talk about His righteousness, but actually become His righteousness!

We have the supreme privilege of being able to bring the message of reconciliation to others who used to be where we were: powerless sinners, unholy enemies of God!

We have the awesome joy of being God’s righteousness to people who think their irreconcilable differences will keep them from God!

The greatest act of serving you could ever do for anyone is telling them that they can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ’s work on an old rugged Cross!

Absolutely amazing!

We’ll continue our look at the Old Rugged Cross next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join me at Calvary Assembly of God.

Attitude Check

Attitude checkWhen we realize that nothing can thwart God’s plan, and that you and I are a part of that plan, I think there could be a couple of attitudes that might pop up: (1) Confidence―not in my abilities, but in God’s; or (2) Humility―not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less.

Confidence without humility leads to self-destructive pride, and humility without confidence leads to self-destructive fear. We need confidence with humility, just like Jesus demonstrated in going to the old rugged Cross.

We can see the confidence in Jesus when He claims to be the “I AM” (John 8:54-59). But we can also see the humility of Jesus when He said He would lay His life down (John 10:11, 15:13).

These two attitudes converge powerfully in John 13:1-17 when we read that Jesus knew that God had put all authority under His command (vv. 1, 3), and then He used His confident authority to serve His friends by washing their feet.

Confidence without humility won’t serve because it thinks others must serve them. Humility without confidence won’t serve because it thinks others will take advantage of them. But Jesus was confidently humble (or humbly confident) so He could serve. It’s the only time Jesus said “I have set you an example” (v. 15). Our attitude is to mirror His, and we are to confidently and humbly serve.

A humbly-confident / confidently-humble servant is known by his or her:

  • Heart―E.G.O. (edging God out) or E.G.O. (exalting God only) [*]
  • Head―having his/her thoughts aligned with the Word of God
  • Hands―serving God and others (Matthew 20:25-28)

If you were to honestly reflect on this, where do you rate yourself?

  • Are you confident that God loves you and has a plan for your life, a plan that cannot be thwarted?
  • Are you humble enough to serve others? To give up your own agenda so that God is glorified?
  • Can you honestly say you have the right E.G.O.?
  • Are your thoughts becoming more and more aligned and shaped by God’s Word?

We’ll be continuing our series on The Old Rugged Cross next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

[*] My thanks to Kenneth Blanchard for his insightful description of E.G.O. in his book Lead Like Jesus

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