Grace & Freedom when we Lay It Down!

Freedom. Freedom to be what God intended us to be. Freedom to rest in Him. Freedom to let God work. Freedom.

Lay It Down is about Gospel freedom.  Lay It Down is not about performance … it’s about freedom to live abundantly in all that we were created to be … it’s about freedom to live in Christ Jesus.

Bill Tell, a leader in The Navigators for decades, writes of his walk from burnout to freedom in the Gospel. Tell had to unlearn certain beliefs he had about the Gospel, and in his reconsideration, he found the true grace of the Gospel.

He found that

… the Son of God lived and died so we could begin experiencing the glories of eternal life now and the radical life-changing freedom of the gospel today! It is a freedom that changes everything about us; it’s a change we desperately need. p. XV

Tell writes of three miracles about our relationship with God.

  1. The unconditional Good News. God views His children differently. That means that our performance does not win God’s love. God views us through the performance and sacrifice of Jesus. God views us differently than some have been conditioned to view themselves.
  2. The transformational Good News. God makes His children different. His children are free to obey, love, and bear fruit. 
  3. The relational Good News. God relates to His children differently. Because God’s children are free from shame, they are free to be loved and to accept that love.

In Lay It Down, Tell demonstrates what Jesus told His disciples.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Those who belong to Jesus, must lay down their performance, their independence, their shame, their ego, and let Jesus work in them.

My prayer

Father, thank You, that You have completely taken care of the Good News and that there is nothing that we can do except lay down our performance, our shame, our brokenness at the foot of the cross. Thank You that You have delivered us from our sin, and You have transformed us to live in Your freedom of the Gospel. Lord, bless Bill Tell as he points people to You.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of Lay It Down: Living in the Freedom of the Gospel for my honest review.

The Gospel of Happiness, a review

http://images.randomhouse.com/cover/9780804141000?height=450&alt=no_cover_b4b.gif

In The Gospel of Happiness, Christopher Kaczor writes, “I hoped to write a book that would be helpful for Christians by providing a glimpse into an exciting new development called positive psychology which can significantly enrich their lives and provide surprising new justifications for practices recommended by Jesus himself.”

In 1998, Martin Seligman, president-elect of the American Psychological Association, launched a new movement called “positive psychology.” Instead of focusing upon people’s problems, Seligman sought to focus upon what makes people happy and more resilient. For example, scientists have discovered that those who practice religion experience less depression.

Kaczor explores the principles of “positive psychology” that parallel Catholic practices and Scripture. In addition, he discusses empirical studies that support the teachings of Jesus.

  • A Stanford University study found that flyers detailing the consequences of binge drinking were less effective than flyers that identified those who binge drank with a group of students who were “social lepers.” The dormitory where the identity-based flyers were displayed (naming the group of “social lepers”) experienced 50% less drinking than the dormitory that featured the flyers detailing the consequences.
  • Kaczor relates the outcomes of this study to Jesus identifying types of people in His parables: “Lazarus and the rich man, the tax collector and the Pharisee, the persistent widow and the unjust judge.” The Good Samaritan parable is used elsewhere in the book.

Although Kaczor acknowledges that God can bring growth from negative experiences and the fact that there are unhappy Christians, he emphasizes that happiness is a natural outcome of Christian practice and that “positive psychology” can provide powerful techniques.

Kaczor points out that perfect happiness is the result of a perfect relationship with God and only possible in heaven.

Interestingly, Kaczor does not discuss the Beatitudes, Jesus’ teaching to His disciples on blessedness or happiness.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12

Jesus was a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” Isaiah 53:3, and yet, Jesus endured temporary unhappiness for the joy set before Him Hebrews 12:2.

Kaczor has written a practical book that blends portions of psychology with the principles of the Christian walk, and “… many of the findings of positive psychology can aid a Christian in living a Christian life by suggesting new empirically tested ways to practice forgiveness and gratitude, by providing empirically tested ways to increase happiness by forgiving those who have trespassed against us, by exploring the power of prayer, and by helping to strengthen willpower.”

First, the Gospel of Salvation, a Gospel defined as “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; 1 Corinthians 15:3-6a. Then flows the happiness or blessedness that Kaczor describes.

My prayer

Thank You, Jesus, for dying on the cross for our sins and for conquering death through Your resurrection. Through Your pain and sorrow, through Your great sacrifice, we experience Your true love and blessedness. You have shown us that through all our efforts, we cannot achieve ultimate happiness. You alone give it to those who are called Your followers. Thank You for Dr. Kaczor and the practical helps he has provided. Fill him with Your perfect wisdom and guide him as he teaches others Your principles.

I received a complimentary copy of The Gospel of Happiness from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Possess heaven

Cooking Class - 1

Ever step back and question what an instructor is saying?
Ever question God’s outrageous promises?

He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:2-3

Continue reading Possess heaven

The Holy Land Key … A review

HOLYLANDKEY

 

 

In The Holy Land Key: Unlocking end-times prophecy through the lives of God’s people in Israel, Ray Bentley brings to life end times prophecy like no other pastor I’ve encountered. He shows us his friends and colleagues in Israel who are living it out.

“For Jews living in Israel today, prophecy is their present as well as their future.”

Stories of divine appointments, struggles, successes, and defeats make the prophecies come alive. I connected in a personal way with the individuals Bentley shared.

Bentley shows us the patterns God ordained from the beginning of the world. Patterns that are displayed first in the natural visible flesh, and then revealed in the spiritual realm.

Bentley weaves the seasons and Feasts of the Lord, the riddle of the Sphinx, the Gospel displayed in the Zodiac, and current events into a tapestry filled with rich colors, intricate patterns, and layered meanings.

He reveals a role in end-times prophecy for America. Christopher Columbus believed that his voyage to discover America was his mission. In his Book of Prophecies, Columbus claimed that the discovery of the New World was “the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied” in Isaiah 24:15 and 60:9.

Unlike many end-times prophecy books, The Holy Land Key offers more than in-depth revelation; it calls the reader to action and gives practical steps and resources available to enlist readers to get involved.

This is a book that I will refer to again and again. This is also a book that has spurred me on to learn more about the Gospel revealed in the Zodiac.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.

 

My prayer:

Father, You are such an awesome God, revealing Your patterns and prophecies to those who love Your coming. Thank you for Ray Bentley, his Jewish friends, and all who contributed to the publication of The Holy Land Key. Bless the ministries mentioned in this book, and bless Israel and Your chosen people. Surround Israel with Your grace, love, and protection. We look forward to the fulfillment of Your Word.

 

Are you looking into the Gospel like the angels, or are you all in?

Parakeet Peering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 1 Peter 1:10-12

I’ve always wondered why the angels long to look into the Gospel. This implies that they don’t comprehend the Gospel.  I’m sure that they can recite the Gospel message. The angels who serve God are holy. They have never broken the Law of God.

I have broken the Law of God. I am a sinner. I have stood ashamed before God. I understand my helpless state. Like Paul, I do what I don’t want to do and neglect acting the way I want to act.

The price for sin is death. Separation from God. Hell.

I deserve eternity in hell.

knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21

From the foundation of the world, Jesus knew that I could not keep the Law. He knew that I could not earn my way to eternity with Him.

From before the creation of the world, Jesus decided that he would pay the price for my sins. For your sins.

That price cost Jesus everything. He shed His glory and entered the world as a baby of poor parents. Forever, Jesus became a man. Jesus roamed this earth for a short season teaching, preaching, healing, and serving.

In darkness He was seized. By firelight, He was denied. In courts, He was illegally tried. In silence, He bore the spittle, beatings, the cursings. In judgment, He was nailed to the cross, pierced through.  In agony, He took on my sins, your sins, my sicknesses, your sicknesses. In relief, He declared “It is finished!”

In hopelessness, His followers buried Jesus.

In victory, Jesus rose from the dead.

In Jesus, the price is paid for my sin, your sin.

In Jesus, I choose to live.

Parakeet in

Are you safe in Him?

My prayer for you:

Father, thank You that we can look into the meaning of the Gospel and understand to a small extent the price You paid to give Your Son to the world, so that we might live eternally with You. Thank You, Jesus, for becoming a man forever and then taking on the world’s sin. You who never knew sin, became sin. Oh, what an eternal price You paid! Thank You. Praise God, Wonderous LOVE!

Has Jesus told you to do the impossible?

Pastor Chuck Israel

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee as Pastor Chuck Smith teaches from the Sermon on the Mount Scripture.

When Jesus found out that John the Baptist had been beheaded, He withdrew to be alone. However, the crowds followed Him. He looked at the crowds and had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16

“We have only five loaves here and two fish.”

Three questions about the disciples’ choices

  1. They told Jesus what He should do. Jesus was the Teacher. He was the Healer. Did Jesus need instruction?
  2. They scanned the crowd for food before they went to Jesus. Did they know the nature of Jesus would not allow Him to send the people away hungry?
  3. They responded in weakness, only five small loaves of bread and two small fish. Was anything impossible for Jesus?

Jesus’ compassion

And He said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:18-21

Jesus chose to take the little food that the disciples had found, bless it, break it, multiply it, and give it to the disciples to distribute to the crowds.

The disciples did feed the crowds with the little that they had when they surrendered it to Jesus.

Each time I have read this story, I have concentrated on the compassion that Jesus had on the crowds. I think that there may be a greater compassion that Jesus had on the disciples.

Jesus gave the disciples an impossible task to do in their own strength. I can imagine Jesus taking a long breath, smiling, and looking at them in love as He said, “Bring them here to me.”

He looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

Here was the example. Jesus looked to heaven. He prayed.

Jesus multiplied the little that the disciples had and gave it back to them to feed the crowds.

And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Matthew 14:20

Out of surrender came empowerment.

Out of little came abundance.

Out of prayer came a miracle.

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. Matthew 14:22

Out of obedience came another assignment.

This is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels. The Holy Spirit has much to teach us about the nature of Jesus, total surrender, and the Christian walk through this miracle.

My prayer for you

Compassionate Father, grant Your perfect wisdom to Your children as You teach us the truths in this miracle of provision, this miracle of total surrender, this miracle of taking little and growing it to abundance. We bring what little we have to You. Multiply it and empower us to bless others with abundance and service. Thank You for Your compassion on Your followers and the world.