Freedom in Grace

Romans 6:14-18 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace. What then” Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means… But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient form the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having even set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Do you know the freedom you have in the grace of God?

Grace frees us from the bondage of sin. When we are chained to a sinful life we are slaves to unrighteousness. But when Jesus died on the cross, He offered each of us robes of righteousness. His blood washes away our sin as we confess Him as Lord and Savior. We can be cleansed.

So if we are covered by Jesus righteousness, what does that mean for us? It means freedom, not freedom to do whatever we please but instead it means freedom from slavery to a life of sin. Instead we no have become saves to righteousness. Righteousness meaning rightness with God. When we live in sinfulness, we are not right with God, because God is a holy God and does not tolerate sin. but grace through Jesus blood covers us in righteousness.

Galatians 5: 13 says, “For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve on another through love.”

So, we aren’t to use our freedom to just satisfy our flesh or satisfy our selfish desires. Instead we are to use our freedom to serve each other out of love.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:16, “As God’s slaves, Live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil.”

We are to use our freedom to serve God. Bother of these verse are saying that we should allow our faith to be the diving force to holy living, to loving others.

It sees that we can see an important correlation here; to the level we understand and know the gracious heart of God is the same level to which we know how our sinful ways measure up against His holiness. And, in knowing that, our hearts should be prompted to live a life that pleases God. Not because we can earn our way to heaven, but because we love Him so much that we desire to please Him by living for Him.

It is in this freedom through grace that we find permission to stop striving.

We have freedom from condemnation. 

Romans 5:1 give us this hope: “Therefore there is now no condemnation from those who are in Christ Jesus.”

We have freedom from sin.

Romans’ 1:22 tells us: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life.”

We have freedom from fear.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, Abba! Father!”

We have freedom from the fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15 explains: “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death–that is, the Devil– and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

This is our hope: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

We no longer have to live in fear. we are free to rest and trust in God’s love for all of life.

Yer, we so easily become entangled and become slaves to shame, to expectations, and to self-doubt. Do you find yourself in any of those? We are so easily enticed by what we see and want. We have been set free for the purpose of focusing on God’s grace, His love, and His Son Jesus.

 

Are you living free in the grace Christ bought with His blood? Where do you find yourself enslaved? Take time to talk with the Lord about this and ask Him to help you know your freedom in Him.

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The Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Doesn’t that verse just make you sigh a breath of relief? It’s like you have been walking around carrying a boulder on your back and then God tells you that He can take that boulder off. And beyond that, He offers to help you with whatever else you need. So you dump it off and breathe. Thank you Lord.

We can come to God’s throne. Really! How awesome is that.

“A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a Sovereign seat to dispense mercy and pardon.”

God is sovereign, He is in absolute control. So if it were just any throne, we should not be able to approach without invitation. And I can’t imagine why any king would call me to his throne. But we as believers have access, and it isn’t just any throne, it is a throne of grace. Jesus has given us access to our Creator God.

We come to the throne “not depending on our own merits but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt, and where we are assured God is merciful.”

We can come to the throne boldly, with confidence because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

“It is easy to be forgiven. All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our Great High Priest and God is ready to pardon.”

Jesus is our Great High Priest. A priest in the Old Testament would make sacrifice for the sins of the people. But Jesus changed all of that. Jesus became the sacrifice for all of our sins. A sacrifice does not have to be done again and again. Jesus did it once and for all.

So we come to God’s throne of grace with confidence because of Jesus. And there at the throne “we received mercy and find grace.”

We are sinful people. There isn’t a day that goes by that we live without sin in our lives. We are in desperate need of forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So we come to the throne and tell the Lord of our sin.

We come with a deep realization of our deep need for forgiveness whenever we come to the throne because we are approaching a Holy God. We remember what Jesus did for us and in humility stand before God desiring His mercy on us.

Our Sovereign God grants us mercy out of His amazing love for us, the love that gave us Jesus (John 3:16).

Then, once we are pardoned, we stand there before God in our desperation and we find grace for all of life. We find “strength, help, counsel, direction, support” and so much more.

How reassuring it is to know that we have this lifeline in prayer. The Lord offers us grace to help us in time of need.

He will help us :

  • in the good times when we want to believe we can do it all in our self-sufficiency, but find we can’t. We only need to recognize our neediness and call on Him in humility.
  • in the mundane, doldrums of life. He is present. we can turn to HIm and He will help us through. He knows our feelings. He can lead us to know our significance in Him if we only call to Him. He knows our worth in Jesus.
  • in the painful times of loss and grief. He knows the grief and pain we bear. we can bring our tears to Him and share our sorrows. He will give comfort and wrap us in His love. We must only come to the throne.
  • in difficult, troublesome times. He knows those days that nothing goes right and your frustration level is higher than the roof. We can come to the throne and ask for help. He knows our weakness, and can give us strength and counsel.
  • in the moments of desperation, where you don’t know which way to turn. He can lead us in wisdom to help us move forward encouraged.

The Lord is always available. We can come to Him at any time. He listens to the cry of our hearts and will respond with grace to help us. He welcomes our neediness and desires our dependence on Him.

Are you struggling today? You can go to Him right now. He will meet you where you are.  He is faithful and true to His promises. Let’s approach His throne with confidence, He has all we need for life. He gives us the rest we need.

Take your struggle to the throne of grace today.

(All quotes are taken from Albert Barnes Notes on the Whole Bible – public domain.)

Equality at the Cross

Romans 3:23 tells us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 

We find equality at the cross. We find equality because:

  • We all are sinful before a Holy God. Our sin is the reason for our need of a Savior. we all come to Jesus as sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation.
  • We need Him to live through us, because we cannot live this Christian life apart from Him. We cannot live as little Christ’s if not empowered by HIm.
  • There at the cross we all need to surrender our rights and yield to Him as well as to others. Not one of us can do it our way and find that acceptable by God.

The bottom line is we all need God’s grace. We are all guilty apart from His grace. Then why is it that we sometime forget this? Why is it that there are Christians walking away from the church with deep hurts because of what people say and do? Why is so much damage being done in a place that is to be filled with His love?

I ask these questions because of a sadness growing in my heart. I am hearing more and more from other believers about how they have been hurt by their Christian brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters who have chosen to leave the church because of such deep hurt and feelings of abandonment.

Do we accept the grace the Lord extends to us and then refuse to give it to others?

Jesus tells the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) in response to Peter asking how many times one should forgive. This parable tells how a servant whose Lord had forgiven him much (a debt to the equivalent of several million dollars), then turns around and refuses to forgive another servant.

Jesus was painting a pictures of the magnitude of the debt He paid for our sin. He wants us to recognize that, to realize the grace we have received and He commands us to give that same grace to others. He wants us to give grace to those who sin against us or offend us.

Critical and judgmental attitudes hurt many, pushing some away to even question the Lord’s love. Harsh words spoken cause some to leave the church. how this must grieve the Lord.

I know this is a touchy subject. Should we condone sin? How are we suppose to respond? How do we balance grace and truth? God’s truth and God’s grace need to be shared. The problems arise when one gets out of balance. When we either grow legalistic or when we take the cost of grace lightly, either way we can get ourselves into trouble.

We need to remember the truth about our sinfulness, each one of us. We must come daily, sometimes moment-by-moment to the foot of the cross for forgiveness. And we need to remember that the grace given cost Jesus His life. Jesus was given to die for us out of God’s love for us. we have done nothing to earn that grace.

When the Pharisee’s drag the woman caught in adultery before Jesus, He did not condemn her, instead He said that the one without sin should cast the first stone (to begin the stoning as the law required). You can read this account in 1 John 8:1-11.

James 2:10 tells us that if we have broken one commandment, we have broken them all. Jesus wants us to see our own self-righteousness stinks before our holy God. Jesus is our righteousness. He want us to see the sin of others and say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Apart from God’s grace who knows what choices we may make. The Lord has shown each of us amazing favor in our lives.

This takes me back to Ann Voskamp in The Broken Way. She said that everyone is just asking “will you love me?” I think that in our need for love, in our love-hunger, we all commit sinful acts. We commit adultery or idolatry each day as we choose something else above the Lord. We seek to find what will fill us and reach for an empty substitute that looks good. But we so often don’t even recognize it, yet another’s sin is very visible to us. And how quickly we make judgments or criticize. We forget that we are not God, we are not able to judge anyone’s heart correctly. Only the Lord can do that. Only God is holy and omniscient.

As a recipient of God’s grace I am called to be gracious as He is gracious.. The parable of the unforgiving servant makes that very clear. The unforgiving one was thrown into prison.

When we choose the way of grace responding to people with love, we give them hope and power to find the right path. We are to share God’s truth in His love, wrapped in the hope of His grace.  We come to the foot of the cross as sinners, our debt paid by Christ, by Him alone.

O Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart please You. for You alone are holy. Help me Lord to share Your truth and Your grace in perfect balance. Do not let me deterr anyone by word or deed but instead may they see You welcoming them. Amen.

We all must return to the Lord daily to confess our sins and keep our relationship right. He does not turn us away but instead we find His grace and love to lead us to repent. May we treat others as He treats us. Do you know of any hurting brother or sister who needs to know the reality of God’s grace in the midst of a difficult ot painful situation? How are you responding to them? What will you do to help them know the truth about His grace? We are equal at the foot of the cross.

God is Gracious

What does the graciousness of God mean to you?

The word gracious means to show kindness to those who are inferior, and to be filled with compassion. Grace is defined as unmerited favor. These words are a perfect description of who God is and how He has acted and continues to act towards us.

God’s grace towards us is a result of His unconditional love. Our Heavenly Father loves us, His children, as a parent does their own child. A parent desires the best for their child, and the Lord desires His best for us.

The Lord shows us His grace through His gift of redemption to us. He offers us forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Lord has demonstrated His grace throughout the Bible.

In the Old Testament, we learn this about our God and His graciousness:

Joel 2:13 “And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness, And relenting of evil.”

Joel is telling the people don’t just tear our clothes in grief, but tear your hearts. Your sin should make you that sad. He wants the people to recognize what they have left when they turned their back on God. He is speaking to us too, we also turn our backs on the Lord and we also need to repent.

Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness.”

Psalm 116:5 “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.”

The Psalmists in these two Psalms is describing the God each one has come to know.

Isaiah 30:15 “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you, For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Isaiah is explaining to the Israelites, who have been very rebellious, that although God hates their evil ways, He is actually waiting to be gracious and compassionate to them. God loves His people that much. God desires so much to show us compassion and grace, He waits while we walk the path of sin, He waits for us to turn back to Him so He can demonstrate His love to us. His heart longs to do that. Can we even comprehend a love such as this?

In the New Testament, we find:

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” 

Paul explains in Romans that we have justification through our faith, we have been declared just or righteous, we, who believe, have been acquitted. And because of that we are no longer at war with God as we had been when we lived in sinfulness. But, now we stand in grace and can boast of the hope we have in this amazing grace. We have been declared right before God. God knows that we still sin, but he has robed us in Christ’s righteousness. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good words, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Paul goes on to explain that none of this is about us, it is nothing that we have done, it is all God’s gift to us. We cannot take credit for any of it.

Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to earth for all of us, we all are in need of a Savior. He came to seek and save those lost in a sinful life, That describes mankind. He came to bring hope to sinners.

We recently celebrated Easter or sometimes called Resurrection Sunday by believers.

 We celebrate this holiday because:

  • Through faith in Him we have the hope of heaven.
  • Through faith in Him we have Eternal life.
  • Through faith in Him we have access to God (our Heavenly Father).
  • Through faith in Him we have forgiveness of sins.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace, greater than all our sins. All of these are ours through faith in Jesus. Do you want to learn more about God’s grace? My posts for the month of May will center around the grace of God, topics such as the sufficiency of His grace, the equality we find at the foot of the cross, and the throne of grace that He invites us to. I also want to dig into some illustrations of His grace found in Scripture.

Our hope rests in the grace that Jesus has bought for us on the cross through His death and resurrection. Do you have that hope? I look forward to sharing with you about all we have through Jesus. Let’s find refreshment for our souls in God’s word, in His Truths, and in His promises. Without His grace we are left in the hopelessness of our sinful state.

Grace

Is your heart imprisoned by sin? God’s grace can set you free.

What role does grace play in your life? How significant does your sin have to be in order for you to feel the need to repent?

Sin made its way into the human race through Adam and Eve. But before the foundations of the earth God knew that man would turn away from Him in sin, and God had a plan. The Lord gave us Jesus to die for our sins. One’s relationship with the Lord only comes about through accepting Jesus’ payment for sin.  That is grace. Our sins are forgiven in Jesus, no matter what our sin is. Jesus took all of them to the cross. That is huge!

Yet I came to realize that I need to take my day sin much more seriously as I read The Broken Way. Grace isn’t a free ticket to sin. When I sin, I need to take time to talk with the Lord about what I have done, admit my sinfulness and ask for forgiveness. Grace wasn’t cheap, it cost Jesus His life.

It comes down to this,when I sin, do I even consider that cost? I need to keep that cross at the forefront of my mind to help me remember the cost of my sin to Jesus and the incredible value of the grace He gives me.

If I am not living life with a heart of repentance, I probably have no part of grace in my days. What does that say about my relationship with the Lord? What does it say about my love for Him? Do I even recognize the cost?

The Broken Way has made me take this to heart. We often take sin lightly, a white lie here, an angry word, or lustful look. These may seem small compared to sins like murder, adultery, or perjury, but they were all a part of the reason why Jesus died on the cross. They all are the basis of our need for grace.

So, what does it mean day-to-day? For me it means being more aware of how I live, act, and speak. It means being aware of my sin as I commit them. I need to talk to the Lord and receive His grace into my heart and life moment-by-moment.

Sin separates us from God, it causes a distance in our relationship with the Lord. The Lord desires our relationship, it is why He sent Jesus. His grace is always available, He looks for us to come to Him with humble hearts of sorrow about our sins.

When we come to the throne of grace, we come to find deeper intimacy and depth of relationship with the Lord. It means that my heart grows more tender to the things that hurt my Heavenly Father. It means a deeper understanding of what grace really is, leading me to knowing abundant hope in Him who died for me.

Do you need grace in your life today? At this moment? It is so easy to overlook our sins, and as we do our hearts become hardened and insensitive to the Holy Spirit’s convicting us. Realizing the truth of the correlation between my recognition of my sinfulness, my bringing that sin before the Lord and the reality of His grace being poured into my life and my heart, has created a new yearning for a deeper relationship with Him. I guess it made me recognize all the more how desperately I need my Lord and Savior.

So, how about you? What are you doing with the sin in your life? Is your heart hardened to the reality of it? Or is your heart opened to the grace the Lord wants to pour over your sin? We have access to the throne of grace through Jesus, His blood paid the way. Does that truth have any effect on your life? These are all questions I had to ask myself. It is so easy to take it for granted. Is the cross just being a shiny piece of jewelry around your neck? It is so much more. How do you keep this truth flashing in your mind as a reminder of Who you are living for, and of Who you belong to?

Grace greater than all our sin, Thank you, Jesus.

My Response to “The Broken Way”

This month my posts will be my personal response to Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way. I have both read and listened to her book repeatedly. The Lord has used it to transform my heart and change some of the ways I have been thinking.

Each post this month will center around a word or concept that I have found key to this books message. Here is a quick preview of what you can expect . The key concepts for my posts will be:

  1. Brokenness.  Ann’s transparency about her brokenness brought me to tears. She was vulnerable and open about the pain she has dealt with in her life. She helped me to see brokenness in a new way. It has been in a way that has had deep importance in my relationship with the Lord and in my response to life. She revealed to me a path that can fills our hearts with hope in the midst of brokenness. It is changing how I interact with others. Brokenness often paralyzes us in traps of fear and aloneness but Jesus draws us into communion, intimacy, and love. We can travel through these beautiful paths together in our brokenness because of Jesus, just writing those words makes me excited to learn more, how about you?
  2. Givenness. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)   Givenness is about surrender and sacrifice. The Lord “gave” so that we as believers could have eternal life. Ann shared a lot about living a given life. Two questions came to mind frequently as I read her book. How can I live a surrendered and sacrificial life? How can I learn to live generously and be open-handed? I want to share some personal insights about givenness. Living given truly is living in Christ-likeness.
  3. Joy. Ann explains in her book that the joy in our hearts depends on the depth of our thankfulness. I am realizing how in order to feel gratitude in my heart it begins with learning to be fully present, fully aware of the Lord, and of how He blesses me. Moment-by-moment I need to be alert to Him. Only when I recognize His blessings can I respond with thanksgiving. And it is in the depths of gratitude filling my heart where I will find joy bubbling over into my life. I want to explore the path leading to joy. I frequently find that what I expect to bring me joy does not do so. The Lord knows what satisfies our hearts and it is so different from what we may be seeking.
  4. Love. We are all desperately in need of knowing we are loved and we all express that need so differently. Ann shares that everything we do and say is a call to be loved. She says we are asking, “Will you love me?” It is funny how you may recognize that feeling or need in yourself, but never really think that anyone else could feel so needy. I realize that I knew/know my cry for love in my life, but I didn’t generalize the reality of this neediness for love to others around me or to people as a whole. Reading about this has caused me to look at people, in general, in a different way. And it somehow changes my response to them. It is in recognizing this truth that my love for others grows in so many ways. It is vital to my life as a Christ-follower, but how will it change me? And how could recognizing this fact change you and your response to others?
  5. Time- A “Pocket of Possibility.God gave us time and each day is filled with opportunities. Some opportunities come in the form of interruptions. The Broken Way helped me to look at time in a different light. I am seeing the importance of considering why the Lord places certain people in my life and what opportunities I have for touching them with His love. I want to dig deeper into my need to abandon selfishness and open up with availability to God’s interruptions. I want to discover how to use the pockets of time I so often determine as mine, not selfishly, but for Him. Do you have these same struggles? Let’s take some of our precious God-given time to look at how God looks at time, interruptions, and what He wants for us.
  6. Grace. Grace, God’s grace is everything to us as believers. The Lord knew that the human race was prone to sin and continues to be. He knew our need for Jesus. His Word tells us our need to repent. We as Christians know this, but what role does it play in your life? Ann made me realize the correlation between my need for repentance and how that gives space for God’s grace in daily life. Ann’s discussion of this in her book ripped my heart open. It made me ask myself some hard questions. How significant does sin have to be in order for it to cause me to repent? And how does that correlate with what part grace has in my life?  The Broken Way made me really think about my sinfulness, my need for grace, and the importance of repentance on a day-to-day basis. What does this mean for me in the course of a day? And, what needs to change in my life? What role does repentance have in your life and where do you find grace in your days? I think that making this real will help us feel the Lord’s love for us more. His grace shows the extravagance of His love. Who wants to miss out on knowing that?
  7. Abundance. How does it all fit together? How can we, the broken, come to know and live out of the abundance the Lord offers us? That is the million dollar question. I want to examine that. What does abundance mean for us as Christians? And how do we find it?
  8. Finally, I want to look at Communion– such a beautiful word, a beautiful picture of union with Him. Our broken hearts and lives shared in amazing intimacy. It is what we all need, what we all crave. It is why Jesus came to earth. What does communion mean for us, the body of Christ, and what are we missing that is so vital? What did Jesus mean for us to have, that we so often overlook? These are some of the questions I want to explore.

There is so much here to digest. I want to take it in and learn to live it out. I hope you will join me as I try to find the path to living this broken life for the Lord’s glory, because it is all about Him.