Tag Archive | Christian life

Unlocking True Gospel Obedience

faith through loveSome Christians do no more than penance as they outwardly conform to a set of rules. Romans 3:20 tells us that no flesh can be justified by the deeds of the Law for by it is a knowledge of sin. Galatians 5:6 tells us that the Law doesn’t count for anything for the New Testament believer. What counts is faith working through love.Therefore, true  obedience to count for anything must be motivated by love.

We are grateful to know our sins have been forgiven  – past, present, and future and we walk on eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness. However the key to unlock change in your life at this point in the journey is to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that even though you fail, you are ALREADY completely righteous before God. So I ask you, “Do you know you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?” Without such knowledge you will lack the power for permanent change, to respond to others in love, and to pursue holy living. It is trust in the REALITY that you are forgiven, accepted, and welcomed as a righteous child of God that gives you the courage to approach God for the help you need to break free of addictions or a sinful lifestyle. Faith, hope, and courage spring forth from knowing you are right NOW perfect in God’s sight.

Yes, Christ loves you so much that He didn’t just give you a clean slate to start your Christian walk from, but He gave you His record of good works so you can rest and enjoy your relationship with Him. He gave you His righteousness. It is a free gift. It was not given to you because of who you are but because of who He is. This is amazing love that when received, transforms lives!

When we truly believe we have been given in Christ Jesus the gift of righteousness, and we do not have to earn it, we are enabled to respond to our rebellious teens, our grouchy spouses, and our angry co-workers and employers in love. We are enabled because we ourselves have known such amazing love.

This love is the ONLY motivation powerful enough to turn self penance to true gospelized obedience where “faith is working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Do you know it? Have you embraced it? It is your key to unlock true gospel obedience!

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”

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Living & Responding with God-Formed Attitudes versus Religious Ones

The more my heart beats in sync with the heart of Christ, the more I dislike religion and the actions of religious people. When I see it in the church, especially in our leaders, it truly grieves my spirit and soul.

Religion and its attitudes bring death. Religion condemns and discourages. Whereas, living and acting out of relationship with Christ brings life. It offers grace and encouragement. Religion causes people’s hearts to run from Christ whereas relationship increasing their desire for intimacy with Christ.

Christ did not come to earth to establish religion. It was already here when He arrived. He came to establish relationship. Religion is far from the heart of the God of Christianity. The truth of this statement is seen in the compassionate and grace-filled actions of Jesus Christ. It is seen in the way Jesus responded to the religious Pharisees. These religious people were blindsided by their position of power, their focus on the law and their focus on leading people to follow their religious rules. The Pharisees were so blind, they did not even recognize the Messiah of whom they studied and taught.

If we are to prevent ourselves from responding to life and others with religious attitudes, we must stay focused on Christ and His glory instead of rules and regulations. When we do this, we will recognize Christ. We will see Him as He lives in and through His disciples. We will be slow to judge and quick to respond to others’ short comings with grace and compassion. We will be guided by the Lord Himself rather than man’s ideas and opinions.

Are you focused on works – whether your own or those of others? Or, are you focused on the glory of God and being transformed into His likeness? Our transformation which is directly related to how we approach others, my friends, flows directly from what we focus on. What result do you desire for yourself – life or death? What do you desire to bring to others in your midst – life or death? Where you set your focus is the key. Is it on rules and regulations or Christ?

I pray that all of us who make up the body of Christ will become more intentional about keeping our eyes on Christ and His glory where grace and truth abound.

We Walk by Faith

2 Corinthians 5:7, “for we walk by faith and not by sight – “

In this Scripture, Paul is addressing our anxiety concerning death.  Although we may experience some anxiety about what we have not yet experienced, namely heaven, we can have confidence that we will pass from this earth suit into eternal life with Christ. We will continue to live and we will live in a better place. Our hope is not in vain. It inspires us when facing death whether due to the natural progression of our lives from birth to death or due to persecution as experienced by the Apostle Paul.

Although it is not the context in which this Scripture is used, I also believe this verse can be applied to all of our challenging circumstances. We quote this Scripture often and with great confidence as long as things are moving along according to our plans or we at least understand why what is happening is happening. In other words, when we have sight, we have confidence. But when we have sight, faith is not needed.

It is in those times we cannot see purpose that our faith becomes known.  It is in our painful times that make no sense to the natural mind, we must grab hold of God and walk by faith. It is in the times we are clueless to why something is happening that our faith becomes our guide. And how about those times we cannot see what the outcome is going to be concerning a decision we have made? These, too, are times we must walk by faith trusting that God is indeed in control and has us in His hands.

When Jon and I made the decision to move from North Carolina to California, I admit there was some anxiety. Did I say some? Well, perhaps I should say, a lot. After all, we were moving from a place I knew to a place I knew not. I felt like Abraham when God said, “Go to a land I will show you” and Abraham just left the familiar to go somewhere else. He went without having a clue where he was going. Since I had not yet experienced life in the desert of California, I could only guess at what my life would be like there.

Everyone experiences trying times and times of uncertainty. Sometimes our circumstances appear to have no purpose or benefit whatsoever. Yet in these sightless times, we can have confidence that God is with us fulfilling His plan and purpose. We do not need to see what it is all about while in the midst of it. We just need to be able to see our God and know that He is always with us and will never forsake us. We do not need to understand the purpose, we just need to know God and have confidence in who He is and that His character  never changes.