Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

No More

What holds you back?  What weighs you down?  Our past decisions have ways of wrapping their bony fingers around our ankles and dragging us back into a prison of guilt and regret.  Just when we think we are “through” something, here come the thoughts that have a tendency to leave us feeling worthless.

This morning, a couple of verses jumped off the page as I read.  Romans 8:1-2 say:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Paul reminds us that now, today, in this moment there is no condemnation if your trust has been placed in Jesus as the author and perfecter of your faith.  No condemnation!  Let that sink in.  When we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the Spirit breaks the chain of slavery to sin.  He frees us from the guilt of past decisions!

broken-chainsNo more fear!

No more guilt!

No more regret!


This day, in this moment, remember – – as a child of God you are free.  You are a new creation.  The old has passed and the new has come!

Live into that freedom today!

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My commute to the office each morning takes me past several churches.  One of the churches along my regular route has a marquis with changeable letters.  Often this church uses this sign to make announcements of upcoming events.  But occasionally it is used for a thought provoking statement.

Yesterday I noticed one of those statements and it has circled back in my mind a couple of times since.  The statement read:

Life is full of choices, eternity only has two.

ChoicesThere is truth in this statement.  We are bombarded with options every day – pulled in multiple directions to make decisions regarding everything from what shoes to wear to what car to drive to what music to enjoy.  The truth is, it would be easy to make thousands of decisions in a day without once considering truly important issues.

Is it possible that the enemy uses all the options freedom affords to distract us from considering the most crucial choice of our lives?  Satan is known for taking what God means for good and distorting it into something completely different.

Life is full of options and choices.  But the most important – literally life and death – decision an individual can make is what to do about eternity.  We only have two options – an eternity with God or an eternity without him.  God gives us that choice – and we must choose.  While it is never too late to make that choice while we still draw breath, by putting off the decision we are making a choice.

The best decision you can ever make is to live this life for Jesus.  Don’t be distracted by all the other decisions you will need to make today.  Truthfully, if you make the ultimate decision first, it will drastically impact the remainder of the decisions you will make.

Choose wisely!

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A little over a week ago, I was blessed to minister to a group of ministers in Juarez, Mexico.  It is an annual event for pastors and their wives in the Juarez area.  We meet at a hotel in Juarez and for three days we get to fellowship and invest in the lives, ministries and marriages of these wonderful servants.

This year we were privileged to have thirty-eight couples attend the retreat (which is paid for completely by donations of individuals, churches and organizations here in the United States).  It is a huge blessing to the couples who attend each year and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve them, as well as for all those who give to make it possible.

This year, one of the most meaningful and moving experiences of the weekend was the closing worship service.  We celebrated communion at that service and it was special for our team to be able to offer the elements of the supper to those who normally serve but rarely get to receive.

My sermon that morning communicated the reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to overcome whatever we face.  As the pastors and their wives made their way past the offering of the bread and the cup, they were also handed a small nail to remind them moving forward that Jesus’ sacrifice truly paid all costs.  In that moment, many were moved to tears with the reality.

My writing today is two-fold:

1) To offer a heartfelt thanks to God for making this event possible (our eleventh year) and for all those God uses each year to support this vital ministry.

2) I also write to remind each of us that regardless of what we are facing today, God’s grace is sufficient.

La gracia de Dios es sufficiente!

Jesus’ sacrifice is enough!

Live into that truth today!

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Breaking Free

There are so many things that hold us back in this world – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, poor decisions that lead to consequences.  In a fallen world it is hard to truly live the life God truly wants for us.  In fact, on our own, it is impossible to have the life God created us to live.

The biggest barrier to experiencing God’s best for us is sin.  Because of our sin we are enslaved and held back from all that God has for us.  But God created a way for us to have the life he wants for us.Bonds Broken

In John 8:31-32 we find that Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus came to teach truth and live that truth so that we could be free.

What is holding you back today?

Jesus offers truth and that truth brings freedom.

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Always At Work

This morning I found myself at my usual place at my usual time at my usual table.  I like to arrive early at the Town and Country Cafe on Thursdays – before the rest of the group gets there.  It gives me time to read, think and pray.  As I sat and read from the Gospel of John, I could not help but notice the routine activity going on around me.

One of my readings this morning was the last chapter of the Gospel of John.  The last verse of the chapter (and book) states that Jesus did many things that were not recorded.  In fact, if everything he did while on earth were recorded, “even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  The author of the Gospel was making the point that Jesus was extremely active.

I was reminded that Jesus is still active today.  Maybe his activity is not as obvious as it was when he physically walked the earth – but he is at work in the hearts and lives of people all around us.  We can see him in an encouraging smile.  We can hear him in the comforting words of friends.  We can experience his presence in the humble service others provide for us.

Just as I noticed activity in the cafe this morning, when we stop and look for him, we will see him at work.

Father, give us eyes to see you today!

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A New Kingdom

I was reminded this morning while reading from the Gospel of John, that Jesus came to usher in a new kingdom.  When he was questioned by Pilot during the mock trial he received, his response was that his kingdom is not of this world.

As I have thought about those words, I have reflected on the fact that what Jesus came to do was so revolutionary – so counter-intuitive that it could only be described as something not of this world.

This world would teach us that success is the ultimate goal and success only comes to those who work for it.  And by “work for it” this world would acknowledge that obtaining success by any means necessary is acceptable – even applauded.  The only rule that one must follow is “there are no rules.”

So people are celebrated when they achieve “success,” regardless of how it was achieved.

Jesus, on the other hand, taught that what is truly important in this life is pleasing the father.  What sets an individual apart and makes them stand out is not fighting to get ahead but rather, putting others needs before his or her own.  Jesus illustrated a different kingdom.

He calls us tsurrendero live in this kingdom – to take on this counter-cultural, counter-intuitive lifestyle.  We are to love our enemies.  We are to put others first.  We are to surrender our lives to him.

We spend our lives striving for meaning and fulfillment, peace and happiness.  But my experience has taught me that these things can only be found by following Jesus’ teaching and living in his kingdom.

Live into that meaning and peace today!

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Another Easter celebration has come and gone – or at least that is often how we see it.  We spent much effort and time planning and organizing worship experiences at our church to help each of us reflect with intention on the sacrifice of the cross and the power of the empty tomb.

I believe our time together as a church family was meaningful and it would seem that the effort did, in fact, create opportunities for people to experience God in fresh ways.  I pray that each of you had opportunities in your church to do the same.

But here we are, two days after the celebration of the empty tomb, and I have to ask myself – and you – does today look differently because of our renewed focus on what Jesus did for us?

I must admit, it is easy to now set our sights on what comes next – the next thing on the calendar.  The world, with its challenges, did not change directions while we were focusing on spiritual things last week.  Today could look very much like the Tuesday of three weeks ago.

But it doesn’t have to!

Jesus went to the cross to pay the price you and I could not pay for our sins.  Then he rose on the third day after his death, defeating the one thing the writer of Hebrews says holds us as slaves to fear (Hebrews 2:14-15).  We no longer have any reason to fear death because Jesus has shown us – he is stronger and greater!Empty Tomb

So today, we should live differently with this renewed understanding of what Jesus has done for us.  We should live without fear.  We should make decisions based on the desire to honor Jesus and his sacrifice, not wanting to do anything that would bring shame to his wonderful name.

Jesus rose in order to give us the ability to live resurrected lives ourselves.

All things are new!

Live into that truth today!

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