We need more Grace in this world . . .

We need more Grace in this world . . .

There is an old song, hymn really, called “Grace Greater Than All Our Sin.” It dates back to 1911, and it is full of . . . well, grace. Here is the refrain:

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.

You know what we lack in these days? You might have guessed it, grace! Just look at the comment section of any hot topic on Facebook or Twitter or any social media platform, and you will see some of the ugliest comments imaginable. Not only that, but you will see that many folks will agree with the comment, judgment, or condemnation. For instance, i was reading an article on the arrest of the Florida Pastor who went against the state orders to not congregate. The comment section was alarming, scary even. Here are some:

“Should arrest all of the people that showed up as well and put them on the front lines without any PPE’s working as volunteers in the emergency room since they clearly don’t think they ‘re going to be affected.”

“Plays right into his favor. He and his followers will delight they are being persecuted for their beliefs, and will count it as a blessing. They will pray harder and sing louder, and most importantly, rejoice they are being persecuted in god’s name and getting coverage.”

“Arrest him, jail him, and gain access to his money. Take away his tax-exempt status.”

“Every fool that attended the services should be last in line for ventilators or ICU beds. The pastor and his wife shouldn’t even be allowed into a hospital parking lot. They can self-heal at home.”

Regardless of how you feel about this or the decision to continue to meet against the government’s orders. The reality is there is a huge lack of grace or compassion expressed in these replies. And that should alarm anyone, believer or non-believer. We must always err on the side of grace. How many times are we to forgive someone? “and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4) That doesn’t necessarily say that there will be no consequence for the action. It only puts that consequence in the hands of the ones who can enact them. Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 1 Peter 3:13-17 . . .

Here is my point. We need more grace in this world! We need to live out the forgiveness that we ourselves claim in the name of Jesus. We must live in such a way that brings honor and glory to our Heavenly Father. Be more grace-filled today!

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.

You are loved,

cj

Sit, Stay, Roll-Over

Sit, Stay, Roll-Over

He said, “sit,” and he sat. He said, “lay down,” and he laid down. He said, “roll over,” and he rolled over. He said, “beg,” and he sat up, leaned back slightly with his paws up as he looked longingly into his master’s eyes. He said, “BANG!” And he fell back and played dead. It is amazing what you can teach a dog to do. And these are just simple tricks. i have seen some dog acts where i think the dogs are part human or something. Dogs are trained to help police, military, the blind, and disabled, they are used as emotional support animals in hospitals, and homes. They are remarkable animals. They are always happy to see you, no matter how long you have been gone, 10 seconds, 10 hours, or 10 days. Even 10 months or more! i have watched some emotional videos of soldiers coming home after deployment, and their dogs go absolutely insane with joy. “Dogs, a man’s best friend,” that is what they say anyway.

i have had a few dogs in my lifetime. None could do many tricks. Shake, sit, and lay down, simple commands were about it. You know what most of them could do, though? Get into the trash, relieve themselves in the house, bark at nothing, dig up the yard, shed all over the house more fur than could possibly be imagined, and yet they never went bald, if i were only so lucky. Yet in all of this, they were loved, correction quickly forgotten, and belly rubbings promptly reinstated. Why all this for a dog? Loyalty, that is really the only word i can come up with, loyalty. Dogs are loyal to the very end. It is what makes forgiving them so easy. If only we were able to forgive others as quickly if only others were so loyal.

The parable of the Prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32 tells a tale of a greedy and ungrateful son. He wanted his inheritance while his father still lived. His father obliged. After squandering his inheritance, he found himself destitute and wishing he could even just eat like the pigs. But not even that was offered. He reasoned to go home where his father’s servants had food to spare. Determined to seek his father’s forgiveness and beg to be treated like one of his servants, he set out for his former home. What greeted him, he was not prepared. His father gave him the best, returned the family ring, and killed the fatted calf in celebration for his son, who was dead, was now alive again. Not dead in the physical sense but gone in the emotional sense had returned humbled by life with sorrow in his soul.

Jesus goes on in this story to relate it to how our Heavenly Father looks at us. We are not dogs, trained to do this or that, but we are dogs that even when we mess up, love is just behind the correction. Forgiveness awaits the sorrowful, repentant heart. Never be so proud to come home, never feel so lost that you can’t seek the Father. The Lord, who loves you, waits eagerly for you, He is watching the horizon for a glimpse of your approach. When He sees you, He runs to meet you, love you, and celebrate your return! Come to Jesus! Come back to Jesus! He longs to have mercy on you.

You are loved,

cj

Christian (part three)

Christian (part three)

The topic of Christianianity is a BIG one. There is no way around it actually in our society, as it is in nearly every facet of life. Today, we will focus on the politics of being a Christian. It is pushed by both major political parties, some would say, “exploited” for political gain, touching on the surface, our need to be compassionate. It’s a double-edged sword if you will because politics are ugly and yet i do believe we have a civic duty to participate in it. But we can not separate the two. i know the constitution makes a distinction of separation between Church and State. However, that separation is intended to protect the Church from the government not the government from the Church.

If you are a politically active Christian you must do so from a perspective of the values found in the passages of Scripture in which we hold so dear. To separate your beliefs in some attempt to appease a group of people is not within the guidelines of being Christian. Nor can we separate it out from our lives in any aspect. To do so would be a denial of our values, our faith, our Christ. So far in our previous two weeks of looking at this topic, we covered Romans 12:9-10 which state:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Our next verse, 11, states:

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Think of those in past times who basically risked everything in order to remain faithful to God. Namely, in this case, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, these guys put God above politics in everything they did that’s why they were hated by the others and set up. Even to the point of not denying their God for any reason even their very lives. We should be so bold! “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord!”

So, what are we to do when the climate is so split, compassion over what? When sizing up candidates does one issue rule over another? Where is grace or mercy when it comes to pass indiscretions? How about moral failings? Or the candidates stated belief versus their present actions? There is so much to consider how does one possibly vote at all? i for a very long time was registered, independent. i didn’t want the label of a political party, in fact, i still don’t but when we moved i somehow selected an affiliation and just haven’t gone to fix it. In my heart of hearts, i remain an objective independent voter. Who Votes his beliefs over politics, over issues, over a person. As a Christian, i take into consideration my own grace, mercy, love and the charge to love others, in making my decisions on casting a vote for someone or some issue.

May we take into account such things always and in everything that we do, not just politics, but also, work, friendships, relationships, even when we are alone.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

Act Like It

Act Like It

Colossians 3:1 in the Message paraphrase says, roughly, if you are serious about this new life in Christ, act like it! In Ephesians 4:1 in the NLT is says, “I, (Paul) beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Paul the author of both of these letters has a central theme, Jesus is to be taken seriously and our lives should reflect our desire to please Him.

We are called to lead with a “quiet strength”. As defined it is perseverance, tenacity, get up, dust yourself off and keep going, kind of attitude. Its a leading by example. Colossians 3:12-17 gives legs to this idea and breaks down putting on Christ, with these as bench marks; Compassion, Kindness, Humility, quiet strength and discipline. It goes on to mention forgiveness, quick and complete forgiveness, as quickly and completely as you have been forgiven.

These areas are not suggestions, if we are serious about living out our faith, living for Jesus, we need to act like it. We need to begin to allow Jesus to work in and through us to develop these characteristics within us. If we as the church are unable to live these out how can we expect a fallen world to do it? We are the Mantle bearers, the standard bearers, of Christ. We are the ambassador’s of Christ, the building of the church should be the consulate, the “safe place” the lost and the hurting, the broken and confused, come to in their hour of need…but if they see us out in the world and we are no different why would they seek refuge from us?

…lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called BY God. And if you are to be serious about this new life in Christ, ACT LIKE IT.

You are Loved,
cj

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

We are wrapping up the awesome book of Philippians during Coffee with Jesus. It is such a good book, full of great things. This morning as we met we had a great discussion about life, and forgiveness. The difficulties of forgiving others and the parallel that we can draw from the life of Jesus. The discussion happened prior to our reading of the text. Which in and of itself did not reference forgiveness directly however we definitely were able to draw from it.

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” 

It is said, that we forgive not for the other person but for ourselves. There is Scripture to back that up but let me say this, scientifically it has been proven beneficial as well. The stress release that comes when we let go of bitterness, anger, hate, malice, strife, jealousy etc. is unmeasurably hhuuuugge. When we pray to forgive someone, or maybe the first step, for the strength or the resolve to do so…we can rest assured that that prayer will be answered.

When we begin to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for all God has done as the passage declares, peace comes. Additionally, that peace will surpass anything we could ever understand. It will also guard our hearts and minds. It is finding the essence of the heart of God. It will set our minds at ease and prepare our hearts for praise. Let me conclude with this from Philippians 4:8-9. NLT

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirableThink aboutthings that are excellent and worthy of praiseKeep putting into practice all you learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” 

You are Loved,

cj