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.

Grace race or rat race?

CCB Cross - 1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

What if we were to approach our Christian walk as an athlete? Would we lose some weight, get some lighter running shoes, schedule hours each day to work on our technique and form? Christians are athletes to a certain extent. Some of us are balance beam experts. We have one foot on the world’s beam and one in the air towards heaven.

I don’t know about you, but my technique needs some work. I’m running the race, but sometimes, it’s the rat-race instead of the grace race.

Keith and I are going through the Your Sacred Yes Workbook and DVD by Susie Larson, and I’m learning to get rid of the weights that aren’t on God’s plan for me. It’s difficult, but as an athlete adjusts her diet, focuses upon the end result, the medal or prize, I am trying to look towards Jesus and the prize, eternal life with Him, the joy set before me.

Jesus focused on the joy that was set before Him, looking at the cross and shame to His place seated at the right hand of the throne of God. That joy was χαρά, gladness, calm delight, blessedness.

Matthew Henry writes of the joy of Jesus:

He had something in view under all his sufferings, which was pleasant to him; he rejoiced to see that by his sufferings he should make satisfaction to the injured justice of God and give security to his honour and government, that he should make peace between God and man, that he should seal the covenant of grace and be the Mediator of it, that he should open a way of salvation to the chief of sinners, and that he should effectually save all those whom the Father had given him, and himself be the first-born among many brethren. This was the joy that was set before him.

Suffering was part of the race of Jesus. Although He prayed that there was another way to accomplish the joy that was set before Him, there was no other way, and he accepted the pain of the cross, the shame, the isolation for an eternal moment. He knew what was waiting for Him, and it was worth it. It was joy unspeakable.

Imagine, the Author and Finisher of our faith, our Creator, our Comforter, our Savior, loved us so much that He set aside His glory, and suffered pain, shame and His Father turning away from Him for an eternal moment, all for us!

Let’s rid ourselves of anything that holds us back from the race that God has planned for us, and let’s train like we’ve never trained before. We have the joy of the Lord set before us.

My prayer

Jesus, thank You for Your great love, for Your endurance, for Your focus upon the joy that was set before You. Teach us how to be so focused that we will run the race You have given us with endurance, looking to You and the joy set before us. We love You, Jesus.

Tell us about your grace race

Christ in You, a Book Review

ChristinYouEric Johnson has written a powerful book that Christians need to read, with Berean discernment, searching the Scriptures as they read this book. Johnson examines the last section of Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you” sometimes adding “the hope of glory.”

Johnson’s premise is that Christians limit themselves because they do not understand the depth of what it means that Jesus dwells in them. Healings, miracles, and mighty works should follow Christians as they followed the early church.

Johnson writes,”After you turned your face to God, you were grafted into His bloodline and became His son or daughter. So rather than saying, ‘I’m a sinner saved by grace,’ a more accurate statement would be to say something like this: ‘I was a sinner, and grace is what has transformed me into a saint.'”

John writes to Christians, saints who have been saved by grace in 1 John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I wonder how Johnson would respond.

Yet, there is great truth in Johnson’s book. We sometimes define ministry as the work done through “the church” rather than considering our professions as a venue for ministry. He urges us to remove the compartments of our lives and consider it all ministry.

Johnson writes that our Christian walk is like setting a person with musical talent in front of a piano. Before that musical talent is manifested, the person must practice hour upon hour, month upon month, and year upon year. Finally, the person is playing at Carnegie Hall. Finally, the Christian is doing greater works that she ever imagined.

“When you realize who lives in you, you will be shocked at what can take place because you are not limiting yourself to what you think you can do.”

Johnson urges readers to consider their position in light of the fact that Christ lives in them, and to step out in the power of Jesus working through them.

I recommend the book to those readers who will search the Scriptures as they read it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Chosen, for an honest review.

My prayer

Father, thank You for Pastor Johnson and his desire to free Christians from the limitations that they have placed upon You and upon themselves. Guide readers as they ponder Your greatness and their walk with You. Thank You for loving us and for dwelling within us.

Are you truly free?

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 2 Corinthians 3:7-8

The second time Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, his face shined because he had spoken with God.

The Israelites now had the Law. James wrote that if one commandment was broken, the entire Law was broken. God gave the Israelites a way to cover their sins–the sin offering, an offering of unblemished bulls, lambs, goats, doves, or pigeons. There was also a provision if the Israelite could not even afford a pigeon.

Jesus was the only man who was able to keep the entire Law. Jesus became our unblemished sacrifice. This Son of Man who knew no sin was beaten and nailed to a cross, and the sins of generations past, present, and future were placed upon Him. Jesus paid the price of the world’s sins.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:15-18

The veil hid the glory of God. A veil hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the temple. When Jesus released His Spirit and died, the veil ripped in two from top to bottom, and believers gained access to the Holy of Holies, gained direct access to God.

When Jesus recruited followers, He said, “Follow me; learn of me.” Jesus told the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he had, give the money to the poor, and follow Him.

In Jesus, there is freedom. Freedom from being a slave to sin. Freedom to approach God in the most intimate manner possible. Freedom to meditate on the Lord’s glory. Freedom to be transformed into His image. Freedom to be what God formed you to be … His poem.

Are you truly free?

My prayer for you

Glorious Father, thank You for giving us freedom in Jesus. It is amazing that You, Creator of the Universe, have given us direct access to You. You have given Your Son, Jesus, as the Perfect Sacrifice to pay the price for our sins, all we need to do is turn to Jesus and follow Him. Thank You, Father, for giving us complete freedom in Jesus.

 

 

One way love … belovedness before loveliness

OneWayLove

If you eat your spinach, you will be healthy. If you study, you will get good grades. If you smile, people will like you.

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian points out that Christians often approach God in the same way. If … then.

Sure, we recognize that we have broken the Law of God, and that disqualifies us for eternity with God. That’s why we have Jesus, right? Jesus paid the penalty of my breaking the Law. Salvation. He paid the ultimate price for our sins.  Thank you, Jesus.

Then, we go right back to what Tchividjian calls performancism. We acknowledge that we can’t get into heaven on our own, and Jesus paid that price, but there are treasures for us to earn, a smile from God to get, a cheer from the angels to spur, stars to reach.

We’re exhausted.

The Gospel heralds a great reversal in which acceptance precedes achievement and mercy comes before merit.

We get caught up in our works and have not understood the greatness of the Law. Somehow, we revert back to works and legalism, performancism.

… a low view of law always produces legalism; a high view of law makes a person a seeker after grace. J. Gresham Machen

Preoccupation with our performance stifles our creativity, our energy, and our relationships. When we turn our focus on the grace of God, we naturally serve others with abandon.

This is very similar to the dynamic, we saw at work with the apostle Peter and with Zacchaeus, the same one we see with many of those that Jesus heals.

This is the freedom a Christian experiences when at the end of all that is possible, Jesus takes that person by the hand, lifts that person to her feet, breathes new health, new hope, new possibilities into her, and says “You are Mine, My child. Nothing is impossible for you through Me.”

Grace. Belovedness before loveliness.

Have you forgotten?

Read this book and bask in His One Way Love.

My prayer for you

Father, thank You for Pastor Tullian. Bless him, we pray. Empower us to understand the greatness of Your Law and our powerlessness to please You without Your great Grace. Show us our depravity and turn us away from performancism to Your inexhaustible grace.

Jesus died for you; will you live for Him?

Baby Jesus

And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Luke 2:21-22

Heaven’s perfect Child,

Messiah.

Presented to the Lord.

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

King of the Jews,

Savior.

Offered on the cross.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

Broken, pain-filled,

Sinner.

Presented in hope.

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

Transformed, renewed, healed

Living stone.

Offered through mercy.

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

 My prayer for you

Jesus, our Savior, thank You for presenting Yourself to the Father as an obedient Son. Thank You for offering Yourself as the perfect sacrifice to pay the price for all the sins of the world, so that all who receive You can enjoy eternity with You. Teach us to present ourselves as continual living sacrifices to You. Teach us what is a pleasing offering to You and empower us to live for You as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You.