Prayer and Grace


Grace

Reposted from The Life Project

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:2-6

This is a really neat little passage; there’s so much to see.  As Paul closes out his letter, he reminds the people to be devoted to prayer, and while this may seem routine, after all, Apostles talk about prayer a lot, Paul here seems to bring it to life.  I’m always struck by the idea of prayer being “watchful and thankful.”  Maybe thankful, as in giving thanks isn’t so surprising, but watchful!  How often do you hear someone say that we should be watchful in our prayers?

Watchful for what?  Things you want God to give you, like little favors?  “Oh yes, and Father please send me that new Lexus…” something like that?  Somehow I doubt it. Maybe watchful for someone who needs intercession, maybe an opening for the Gospel, maybe something that is within God’s priority system− yes that seems more like the kind of “watchful” that Paul has in mind.  He continues by asking for the people to pray for him, but again, not in the way we might expect.  Notice, that even though he is in prison, he didn’t ask them to pray for his release, he asked them to pray that he might preach the Gospel effectively.

I don’t know about you, but that gets my attention every time!  When Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:5. He taught us to pray for God’s priorities. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”  Do we remember to do that? Are we watchful for specifics that fit into this category?  Well, I can only speak for myself, but truth be told, I forget or overlook this more often than I’d care to admit. Paul seems to continue in this line of thinking when he advises us to be wise when speaking to “outsiders,” non-Christians.  We are to be ready to make the most of every opportunity, to show them the love of Jesus Christ: Maybe we should pray for those opportunities.  We are to speak to them “with grace, seasoned with salt…” Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor” meaning that we are to deal with them in love; more love than they might deserve.

I have a little secret for you to consider:  Speaking to someone with grace is not telling them that they are wrong, even if they are.  It doesn’t mean calling them names, or being critical of the way they live.  Yes, there is a fair chance that they live as unbelievers, but guess what? They are unbelievers, and that may be just how they are supposed to live.  Our job isn’t to correct the world, it is to save the world for Christ.  This requires grace, not criticism.  Salt is an interesting metaphor; I’ve heard many different explanations for this, so I’ll throw out my thoughts.  When we season food with salt, we add it to bring out the full flavor of the ingredients, and when we speak with grace, seasoned with salt, we are sharing the full love of God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to die to save it.  We need our speech to be so full of His grace, that nobody hears the slightest little bit of condemnation come from our lips!

So, when you put this all together, maybe I should remember to pray that God will bring me opportunities, and give me the words to share, so that some may be saved.  What do you think; do you need to join me in praying this way? If not, I’d love to hear why that is.

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One Act of Grace


one act of grace can turn the WORST MOMENT of someone's life into the DEFINING MOMENT.
one act of grace can turn the WORST MOMENT of someone’s life into the DEFINING MOMENT.

The Fruit of Grace Grown Confidence


Reposted from Learning to be Full of Grace and Truth

danPeople who are living in God’s grace have great confidence in their relationship with God because they know their standing before God is based totally on grace and not for what we do or how successful we are or are not. Not only does God’s grace secure our position before God, it also secures God’s position with us because we are loved for who we are in Christ. And because of the unmatched power of God we can be sure that our confidence will not ever disappoint.

How does this confidence show itself? Let me share with you four ways this God-grounded confidence shows itself in the Christian life.

First, it allows us to relax and be ourselves. We can be honest and transparent about ourselves because we know that our confidence is in the power of God’s grace and not in anything in ourselves. We don’t need to wear masks or hide who we are or pretend we are better than we are, because in God’s grace we are completely accepted and loved by God.

Godly humility, far from contradicting this confidence walks hand in hand with it. In fact, if you do not have the humble spirit we talked about last week that recognizes who you are in light of who God is, you will find it hard to have this confidence! It is a confidence that is totally grounded in the undeserved, unearned, forgiving grace of God!

Second it allows us to focus on God’s work. Because we do not need to worry about succeeding or failing or whether or not we have what it takes to get God’s work done, we can focus all our energy on doing what God wants us to do right now. We are servants who do what we are told, God Almighty is responsible for accomplishing the work.

Third, it encourages us to accept feedback without getting caught up in pleasing people. We aren’t living to please the crowd. We are living to please God. He is our Audience. As Ken Blanchard says, He is our “audience of One.” When we know that, we can listen to feedback without getting caught up in needing to justify ourselves to others.

And fourth, it encourages us to be hopeful and positive, knowing that God is going to accomplish all He wants done through us and in us. This doesn’t mean that Christians are supposed to be a bunch of Pollyannas who are always happy and don’t have a care in the world. But the person who is living in and living out of God’s grace—even in the darkest time—can say with David, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me (Psalm 23:4). The confidence of grace reminds us that the hope we have in Christ cannot be taken from us. It reminds us that, to live is Christ but to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Or as my friend Charlie Jones used to say, “All news is good news in Christ.”

I want to leave you with one question: Where is your confidence? Is it in people, or your talents, or your money, or your success? If that is where it is, you are not living in or living out God’s grace.

There is only one place to stand where unshakable confidence is found. And that is when your life is planted along the riverbank of God’s grace, with your roots reaching deep into the life-giving water of the Spirit of God.

God’s loving grace grows a confidence in our relationship with God and in His relationship with us. This confidence is buttressed by the fact that the grace God gives is also a sovereign grace and cannot be overcome by any force in heaven, on earth, or under the earth.

This confidence shows itself by allowing us to relax and to be transparent with others because we know our identity and worth are founded on and secure in Christ. Because of that, it allows us to focus on what God wants us to do today, right now, instead of worrying about the approval of others. And it allows us to always have hope regardless of our present circumstances because we know that God always wins. Again as Charlie Jones encouraged me one time, “Dan, you can run the race with joy, because the race is fixed!”

Grace, Grace, Grace and More Grace


Reposted from Inside the Heart, Mind and Soul of Chris Jarrell

I just overheard someone say, “we don’t talk about sin enough.”

As I read throughout the New Testament (New Covenant), the New Covenant that was set up between the God of the Universe and us His beloved Children, who live in complete depravity separated from Him. As I read through the amazing life giving, redemptive words of our Savior Jesus Christ, what I read is Grace! Yes, Jesus was full of TRUTH and full of GRACE (John 1). Jesus is the one who sets us free from our sins and He is the One that offers the free gift of GRACE!

Too many, well many Christ followers believe, “I have to live up to a certain standard in order to be accepted by God.” This is a lie, and it is a toxic! We will never measure up to the standard of Christ. We will always fall short. ALWAYS.

I think the correct way to think is this, “As I place my trust in Jesus, God completely accepts me into His presence and family no matter what.”

The amazing GRACE that our God offers us is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you or how sinful or sinless you are. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…yes it is that simple. We make it so complicated, because we want to control.

GRACE is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the Lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with the weights and measures. I do think you appreciate that GRACE so much more when you realize how sinful you really are, personally, I am a sinner in need of God’s unconditional GRACE! I don’t need someone to tell me how much of a sinner that I am, that is the Holy Spirit’s job, to convict me and draw me to the AMAZING GRACE of God.

Grace has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts’ (whatever they may be). What it does, it reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves and transforms, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications or for some who think, any disqualifications that the receiver personally hold…Grace is unconditional and it is one-way.

So, let me throw out this thought again, Jesus display, showed, acted, put forth His GRACE to those that least deserve it. While others, the religious, the irreligious pointed out the sin, what did Jesus show and respond time and time again…HIS GRACE!

Here is the point, I think if we are honest we wrestle with, why because we want to take part in it. Again, it is not about us, it may not even seem fair. GRACE doesn’t make demands, it just gives! And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person, those who we think don’t deserve it! It we are honest with ourselves, the one we look at in the mirror doesn’t deserve it, even those that may be “perfect” or “righteous”. Even our “righteousness is like filthy rags” (I challenge you to look up the true context of what that means, seriously, look it up, be a studier of God’s Word – Isaiah 64:6.)

We see all through out the Gospels, the Good News: Jesus is always giving out to the wrong people – the prostitutes, tax collectors, half breeds. The most extravagant sinners of Jesus’s day receive His most passionate welcome and extravagant GRACE. Why do you think others are less deserving? Why do we think we are less deserving of His GRACE.

Grace is a divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. It refuses to play it safe and lay it up. GRACE is recklessly generous, uncomfortably promiscuous. It doesn’t keep score. As Robert Capon puts it, “Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not cheap. It’s free.”

GRACE IS UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE GIVEN TO AN UNDESERVING PERSON BY AN OBLIGATED GIVER!

I love God’s GRACE for me and for others, this is why I preach on it so passionately.

Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up. He came to emancipate us from the burden to get it all right, from the obligation to fix ourselves, find ourselves, and free ourselves. Jesus came to release from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not need to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves.

Listen closely, I know many people who are religiously zealous, thinking you have it all together will say, “God’s demands: “be righteous”;” However, with the New Testament, the New Covenant, God’s diagnosis: “no one is righteous”; God’s delieverence: “Jesus is our righteousness.”

Once this GOOD NEWS grips your heart is changes EVERYTHING!

Because, I know human tendency of those who are all about “religion” and “keeping the law”. I know there are modern-day pharisees who will say, “look how perfect and righteous I am” perhaps you have “all of God and His Word figured out.” Good for you…NO NEED TO COMMENT. Seriously, if you comment to look for an argument I will not publish it. If you “know it out and have it figured out.” Praise the Lord.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The LAST thing that Jesus wanted to do is complicate our lives with religion. That is the last thing, I want to do.

THE YOKE (contextually speaking) – Is a reference to to a way of living of each rabbi, every rabbi had his own distinctive yoke. Each rabbi, would have had a thousand little laws or hedges he taught as his interpretation of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), in other words, his own suggested way of living.

With this address to those Jesus called out to those who were burdened by the impossible weight of the religion of the day, and the religion of today. He calls out, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

See, the Hebrew people had to follow not only biblical law but also the extraneous yoke of the rabbi of choice. This is happening today…we add conditions and prerequisites to being a follower of Christ.

What Jesus invites His follows into is a new way, a way to enter into his GRACE. He invites people to accept His GRACE. The yoke that Jesus offers through GRACE doesn’t add weight to our shoulders it releases it.

It is all about GRACE, GRACE, GRACE and MORE GRACE! Receive it!