Tag Archives: grace

Got my grace. Which way now?

It’s time to conclude yesterday’s story about the freedom & grace Jesus Christ gave us through His death.  His death fulfilled the law and removed the bondage of sin.  He won the victory for us!  However, Paul warns that we shouldn’t use the freedom we’ve been given as an opportunity to live in the flesh…in other words, we can’t just live any ol’ way we want.  We aren’t called to serve our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit.

It is when we are led by the Spirit of the Lord that we are no longer under the law because the Spirit proves it through us.  When we are led only by the flesh, we want things that are in direct opposition to the Spirit.  Here are some examples that Paul gives of things that the flesh wants:  adultery, impatience, drunkenness, fornication, envy, prostitution, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambitions, anger, and others.  Can we be forgiven of these things?  Absolutely!  But if we simply live a lifestyle of these things then we are not being led by the Spirit, because these things are in opposition to His desires.

When we are led by the Spirit, it shows up in our lives in ways like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will bear one another’s burdens, not bite and devour one another with our words and actions, and we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

Paul said if we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life.  In other words, after we have accepted the grace of God, it isn’t about the customs and traditions that we perform; but if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the evidence will come through in our lives in ways like kindness, goodness, love, self-control, etc. Every day we will have a choice to make, “Will I walk by the flesh, or by the Spirit?”  One will corrupt us, and one will point us and those around us to the Father.

I, for one, want to be led by the Spirit.  Those times when I’ve been led by my flesh have never turned out so well, and I’ve lost many an opportunity to be a witness for the Lord.  It’s time to let Him be in control.  Not only will we be able to show more love and be able to witness more, but it will take the pressure off of us, as well.  Let Him take control and lead the way.  We already know where it leads.  🙂

walking there alongside you,

jamie

Burdened under the law

The Galatian church was a church being turned away from the grace of Jesus.  Paul had taught them, they’d believed, but someone had come into their midst and caused them to believe that grace wasn’t enough.  Sound familiar?  Suddenly, they started thinking they had to begin observing the old Jewish customs again of the Passover, the Feasts, festivals, and other areas of the law.  They were even about to become circumcised.  They went back to the old ways because what they were doing wasn’t enough.  It couldn’t be enough, could it?

Paul asked them if they really believed that if they started out in the Spirit of the Lord were they were now being made perfect by what they were doing in the flesh?  He implored them, “Stand fast in the freedom by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”  Over and over, he reminded them that Jesus fulfilled the law and brought grace and victory for a reason.  He said that if we bind ourselves within the confines of the law again then Christ died for nothing.  Christ died to fulfill the law once and for all, and anyone who tells us otherwise is not of God.

That freedom doesn’t mean we should simply live or speak however we choose, however.  There is more to the story…

Tune in again tomorrow,

jamie

Loving like God

Reading through the first few chapters of Galatians this morning I was struck by the beauty of the gift of God’s grace–in the fact that He truly doesn’t judge us by our works.

This past week I’ve had several times where I’ve been able to let my guard down with people and just be me and it’s been so amazingly refreshing in a world where our performance is “king.”

It’s exhausting to have to perform constantly, because then you have to out-perform the next time, and the next time, and the next… but if we can just admit that “this is me” and I’m imperfect and although I’m doing the best I can, what I’m most grateful for is that God isn’t judging me on my performance.  He loves me for who I am.  If I have faith that He says who He say He is, then that’s enough for Him.

If, in our relationships with others, we can not expect people to perform to perfection, but love them for who they are…who they were created to be, we will be releasing them to be free from a burden that even God Himself didn’t place upon them.

Yes, we need to be responsible humans, and we should keep our word.  But some days we’ll be brilliant and get it all done, and other days we’ll fall flat on our face.  The performance of the day is not the sum total of who we are.

Gal. 4:7 says, “We are an heir of God through Christ.”

We are more than our mistakes.  They happen.  Get up.  And keep moving.  Apologize if necessary.  Always forgive.  Laugh about it if at all possible!

Tripping up,

jamie

 

this is the performance pic, the other one was a “mistake”…it made us laugh harder, though. 😉

 

How’s your flock?

Pr. 27:28:  “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds.”

What is the state of your flock?  Have you been looking, asking, or taking note?  In the class I’m in right now, it’s reminding us how Jesus always noticed the needs in people’s lives and filled those needs.  We are usually so great about filling the needs in the lives of people outside of our families, but I don’t think we are as good at ministering to the ones closest to us.

When it comes to the ones closest to us we suddenly begin looking inwardly, and shifting things to ask, “What are you going to do for me?”

Why does ministry have to stop at our front doors?  We are still supposed to attend to our herds.

We can’t always give our best to those outside our immediate flock (whoever that is for you) and then have nothing left for the ones we have been told to attend.  They also have needs.  They also have desires.  They also have hurts.

My class talks about how Jesus even broke tradition, in order to help people.  He actually touched the leper when He healed him, even though he could have just spoken the word, because the leper probably needed human contact. They didn’t do that back then.  He also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery instead of stoning her, like he was supposed to by law, because she needed forgiveness.

I also remember when He healed someone on the Sabbath.  I think that shows that just because we have a plan set for our morning, our evening, our day, our weekend, our class, etc., if someone in our flock has a need, sometimes we need to set aside our personal plan and minister to their need, and then move forward; as some needs are more important than others.

This also tells me that sometimes, we will have to do things in ways that might break the traditions we’ve set up in our own minds, as well.  I had some Aha! moments about those for myself this week.  Ask God what those are for you.  In doing so, it may feel like you are giving something up, but didn’t Jesus also sacrifice for His sheep?  If we are following Him, we must be like Him and trust that God will provide for all that we need.

One of the best things we can remember, when we are with our flocks, is that in order to be more like Jesus, we need to care for people.  Jesus didn’t just say the words in the Bible.  He said them while He was caring for people.  We can’t just walk around saying words.  We have to act them out, and it starts with our own flock.

Trust me, I’m talking to myself, fellow shepherds,

jamie

handle with care

Don’t start nothing

I was driving behind a van today sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”

This line is from the Men in Black movie, apparently, but struck such a chord with this motorist that they felt the need to add it to their vehicle’s decor.  I realized right away that the driver of this van did not want to be provoked, and if they felt they were, things could get ugly very quickly.

I couldn’t help but think that this is actually the way the world seems to be all around me now days.  People seem ready to strike out at the first hint of provocation.  And then this saying…it seems like a large population lives by this rule.  If others won’t mess with me we’ll be fine, but if they start something, then it’s on.

But can’t we do better?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to loving our enemies?  What happened to forgiving and looking over trespasses?  Jesus was literally hanging on a cross, being mocked, bleeding from his hands, feet, back, and head, and said, “Father, forgive them.”  But we say, “don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”  Hmmm.  That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think we have to let people walk all over us or abuse us, but we also don’t have to always be ready to attack.  There are ways to say things that are kinder.  There are ways to say things that are calmer.  Sometimes it’s even ok to say nothing.  How about praying before we speak or react?  That’s still acceptable.  It’s not an old-fashioned concept.  It is Biblical.  God is still there on His throne offering grace and mercy in our times of need.  God is still handing out wisdom.

I really do think we can do better.  As Christians, I believe we should do better.  Not everyone is even trying to start something…we could start by realizing that.  After that, we could take an approach more like, “You start something, I end it.”  I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care who started it; they can be the one that ends it.  It’s all about choices.  I remind them that they, alone, are responsible for the choices they make.  I also remind them that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Let us be the ones that stand out from the crowd and don’t react with attacks and harsh answers.  Let us be the ones that end it before it even begins.  We can do better.

I’m ok with you,

jamie

2 things to believe

Pr. 15:14:  “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Today my study of faith brought me to my long-time hero…Enoch!  He rocked!

Let me tell you his story.  After Enoch begot Methuselah, he walked with God 300 years and had sons and daughters.  The Bible says he lived 365 years.  So, for 300 of his 365 years, he walked with God.  And this must have been some really good walking (i.e. living), because the Bible doesn’t say that he died.  It says, “And he was not, for God took him.”  Man!  I just love this!!!!  How amazing must his relationship with God have been!?  Heb. 11:5 tells us that he had this testimony, “That he pleased God.”

It goes on, in verse 6, to say, but without faith it is impossible to please God, for He who comes to God must believe 2 things:  #1. that He is.  #2. that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Ok.  So, do you believe that He is?  If you do, check that one off.  If you’re unsure, then move on with us to #2 and we can all journey together.

#2 says we must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  If we believe this then we’re already walking down a similar path like Brother Enoch, and that’s amazing!

I looked up verses this morning about seeking God and thought I’d just share a couple.  What happens when we seek God?

  • Ja. 4:8:  “Come near to God & He will come near to You.”
  • Jer. 29:13:  “You will seek Me & find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
  • Ps. 9:10  “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord have never forsaken those who seek You.”
  • Deut. 4:29  “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart & soul.”
  • Is. 55:6  “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
  • Luke 11:10b  “The one who seeks finds, & and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

When we seek God, He is always there.

On Tuesday, my son came up to me and asked me if he deserved a hug.  I told him there will never be a moment when he doesn’t deserve a hug.  He doesn’t have to earn those.  He is my son and therefore he gets hugs, regardless of the circumstances.

If we, being sinful, understand this, how much more does our Heavenly Father love us and desire to show us His affection.  If His Word says it, then He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  How much has He already given to us with His grace and His mercy and yet we wonder if we’re enough and if we deserve what He’s got.  Just like my son, we’ve simply got to come to Him…seek Him, and ask.

Let’s please God today, like Enoch, and take Him at His Word.

jamie

 

Legacy

If you’ve been initiated into a fraternity or sorority then your children, grandchildren, siblings, and in some cases, your nieces and nephews are then considered a “legacy.”  Traditionally, this meant they were given automatic admission into that same fraternity or sorority when it came time for them to join.

This morning I was reminded that I was a member of a sorority back in college.  Unfortunately for me, the memories of that time are not some of the proudest moments in life.  So when I think about my daughter being a “legacy” of those moments, actions, or choices, I cringe.  Those are not things I want to pass on to her or to my son.

It just so happens that I was listening to the song Broken Vessels this morning, before this reminder.  So as I was thinking about what a terrible legacy I was passing on to my children, God’s amazing grace washed over me.  Through His amazing grace, I have a new legacy to pass on to my children.  I have a legacy of hope, of beauty, of eternal reward and eternal life to pass on to my children.

I am so thankful for God.  He took the pieces that I chose to throw down and let be broken and shattered and He gathered them and mended them and made me whole.  He didn’t do it just for me, but for my children, my grandchildren and all the other “legacies” coming after me.  Oh, what a beautiful thing!!  I am truly thankful for His amazing grace!

These aren’t just lyrics to a song for me.  This is my heart’s song this morning!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see!

Leaving a new legacy,

jamie