Tuesday, January 27, 2015

God's Grace

The grace of God so beautifully displays the love of the Father. His love for His people is according to divine reasoning, sovereign purpose and most of all, mercy and grace! God’s love for His people exists ultimately for His own sake. When we look into His heart we see that - He loves because He is love. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us! God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” John 4:8, 16

He loves you because love is His nature and character. He cannot NOT love you, God ties His love for the Jewish people to the oath He swore to them. He unconditionally binds Himself by His word to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It has been said that love is spelled C-O-M-M-I-T-M-E-N-T.

Sovereign God loves Israel because of His covenant commitment to her. With that, His commitment flows from His amazing love. In other words, God loves Israel because He loved Israel, because He committed to love Israel.

Therefore, if you are a son or daughter of the Lord God, He loves you, unshakably. According to 1 Corinthians 13, without love we are nothing. Without love, even the priceless gifts of the Spirit and His mantles for ministry add nothing to our worth. If we speak in tongues or prophesy without love, we make only noise.

Lacking love, our faith may move mountains but fail to bless. Love is the greatest gift and most excellent way. It never fails; it lasts forever. Love is the most valued substance of the universe. Jesus cautioned that in the last days evil would increase, humans would be embittered and hardened by increased iniquity. As a result, the love of most would grow cold.

Jesus’ true followers, however, will stand firm to the end! They will not just endure the times, but engage with His strength in the intimate communion of His love. At the center of God’s grace stands LOVE.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Do Our Works Matter?

Ephesians 2:8-10 - “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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

So the question is, do our works matter? The answer is yes! Notice vs.10 “for we are His workmanship.”  The word “workmanship” POIEMA emphasizes God as the master designer, the universe as His creation and the redeemed believer as His new creation. Before conversion our lives had no rhyme or reason. Conversion brought us balance, symmetry, and order. We are God’s poem, His work of art. We are now saved TO DO good works! We are not saved BY good works, but FOR good works! Isn’t that simple? And by the way, good works are...GOOD! Let’s look at some other verses:

Ecclesiastes 12:14: “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” 

1 Cor. 3:13: “Each ones work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

Revelation 20:13: “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.”

1 Peter 1:17: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.”

Matthew 16:27: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father, with angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

Revelation 22:12: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

So what are these scriptures saying? Two words are very important: BELIEF and BEHAVIOR. To distinguish between our belief and our behavior is the answer. Our belief determines where we will spend eternity and our behavior determines how we will spend our eternity.

Belief determines whether we go to heaven or to hell. Our behavior determines how many rewards and the degrees of responsibility and the treasure we will have in heaven. You need treasure in heaven! Jesus said store up for yourselves treasure in heaven. He didn’t say store up for My Father and Me, hey we are running short on gold up here for our streets! NO, we are to store up, and we do that through our good works here. Did you notice in 1 Peter 1:17 it says “...throughout the time of your stay here in fear.” We are here but a blink of an eye and then poof!

Lastly, unbelievers are treasuring up for themselves wrath. Take a look at Romans 2:5: “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds.”   So now, let me ask you a question: Do our works matter?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Purpose of the Law

As we go through the series on Understanding Grace, it is important that we remember the purpose of the law (truth). Grace and truth go together, as Jesus said “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill!” Matthew 5:17

Four Purposes of the Law

1. The law is a master: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Galatians 3:24, 25

2. The law is a mirror: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23-25) “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” Romans 7:7

3. The law is a map: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105 We are all inexperienced in too much of life to be without a guide. The law gives direction, wisdom, instruction, correction, and teaching.

4. The law is a measure: The law shows us how we are doing. There is a popular term today called subjective morality, particularly in the universities. One Christian instructor was asked why he didn’t believe in subjective morality. He responded by asking the student, “Do you lock your doors at night?” The student answered “Yes I do.”  “Well then you believe in objective morality and you should!”

God’s truth is for the good of His children. The reason He is against lying is because it hurts people. The reason He is against abortion is because it hurts people. The reason He is against stealing is that it hurts people. Just as He spoke and the earth was created and is sustained, so He has spoken regarding His laws for living.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Understanding Grace!

The dynamic of God’s grace speaks these truths:

1. That God has been reconciled to the world through Christ’s sacrifice. Romans 5:10

2. The unmerited favor, the unconditional acceptance that we receive from God - Ephesians 1:6

3. An empowerment for a task - 1 Corinthians 15:10

Taken together, these truths bring believers to a place of genuine freedom, where we are free to obey God, not to obtain His favor but because He has already given us His favor. Within His unconditional acceptance given us because of what Christ has done, we are freed from the need to monitor our behavior and loosed into the joy of knowing His friendship!

Focusing primarily on our righteousness only diverts our attention from His loveliness—which ultimately erodes our dependence on Him to produce in us the beauty of His character.

Grace underscores the generosity of God’s love, highlighting the truth that God does not coerce change by threatening us, but instead he conquers by lavishing His love upon us. His grace frees from wearying, self-generated endeavors and releases us to allow His Holy Spirit within “to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

As we journey through these next 4 weeks, may God give us all a special revelation of His wonderful grace.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”