All Posts Tagged: grace

FRAGRANCE OF WORSHIP – 3/4/2018

 

 

 

I will praise the Lord no matter what happens.
I will constantly speak of his glories and grace.
I will boast of all his kindness to me.
Let all who are discouraged take heart.

Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name.
For I cried to him and he answered me!
He freed me from all my fears.
Others too were radiant at what he did for them.
Theirs was no downcast look of rejection!
This poor man cried to the Lord—and the Lord heard him and saved him out of his troubles.
Put God to the test and see how kind he is!
See for yourself the way his mercies shower down on all who trust in him.
Psalm 34:1-10

 

THE FRAGRANCE OF WORSHIP – 1/14/2018

 

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Psalm 63:1-2

 

Jesus I Need You

Hope be my anthem
Lord when the world has fallen quiet
You stand beside me
Give me a song in the night
And Jesus I need You

Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever
Beauty for ashes

You find the weak and contrite heart
Shoulder its burdens
You carry it into the light
And Jesus I need You

Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever And Jesus I need You
Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever Remember love
Remember mercy
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Your loving kindness
Has never failed me
Christ before me
Christ behind me 

 

The Vineyard – Choosing and Following

 

 You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you.
I have set you apart for the work of bringing in fruit. Your fruit should last.
John 15:16

 Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee.
He saw Simon and his brother Andrew putting a net into the sea. They were fishermen.
Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 
At once they left their nets and followed Him.
Mark 1:16-17

  As Jesus went from there, He saw a man called Matthew.
Matthew was sitting at his work gathering taxes.
Jesus said to him, Follow Me.” Matthew got up and followed Jesus.

Whoever serves me must follow me.
My servants must be with me everywhere I am.
My Father will give honor to anyone who serves me.”
John 12:26

 

 

You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you.In theological circles this is called “the Doctrine of Election.” It has been hotly debated since the Reformation. However, because it’s beyond my “pay grade” I shall only focus on the words above.

Mark this! The first words Jesus spoke to his disciples were Follow me!” Jesus’ “choosing meant “following“, two sides of the same coin. The singular purpose of the coin is: “I will make you fish for men!” and “I have set you apart for the work of bringing in fruit.Furthermore, “Whoever serves me must follow me.” Note the MUST! One can’t serve Jesus without following. To use Jack Nicholson’s noted words in A Few Good Men, I think this is “Crystal Clear”!

This is critical for the Kingdom in the western world so I shall be repetitious. Given the primary action of the church today, one would have guessed that Jesus said something like this. The “choosing” is for the sake of “coming.” And the primary purpose is worship. Interestingly, Jesus never said to worship him. People indeed did worship him (Matthew 14:32-33); nonetheless, he never gave that as a primary command! What he did say is this: “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him.” (John 4:23-24) Is this picking at gnats? Observe these words: “You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will BUILD my church.(Matthew 16:18) Jesus was about gathering living stones for his building project. “You are to be as living stones in the building God is making. (1 Peter 2:5) Note the similarity between what Jesus said to Peter and what Peter later said to the church! Obviously, Peter never forgot to “make the main thing the main thing!”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer matured in Hitler’s Germany. He was a premier pastor/theologian. He was a Lutheran and a pacifist. As Hitler advanced Bonhoeffer saw that he was like a drug, selling a little addiction at a time. In light of the fact that the Lutheran Church swallowed Hitler’s lure “hook, line and sinker”, Bonhoeffer was painfully forced to evaluate his mother church. Mind you, Bonhoeffer was a committed churchman of highest repute.

However, above all he was committed to the scriptures. And so, reading the Gospels afresh, he was confronted by the stark difference between “following Jesus” and being a “coming to church” member. You may think this trite; however, I assure for Bonhoeffer it was a matter of life and death. He participated in the failed assassination attempt of Hitler (see the movie Valkyrie). For his participation he was hanged in 1945 at Flossenburg, only days before the American liberation of the POW camp.

The Cost of Discipleship was Bonhoeffer’s response amidst this tumultuous time. This is not the reflection of a theologian, sitting in the hallowed walls of a seminary. Quite the contrary, Bonhoeffer was knee deep in the quest for freedom from the monster. Most of all, it was a call to the Lutheran Church to follow Jesus rather than Hitler. This is what he wrote. Grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” On the other hand, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship!In other words, Bonhoeffer saw that, in the midst of the fray, what is most important is “following Jesus” rather than merely “going to church“!

You may think this superficially simplistic! I guarantee: neither for Jesus nor Bonhoeffer was that the case!

The Vineyard – The Master’s Business

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends, for everything
that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
  I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—
and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
John 15:15-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning …” (Genesis 1:1) Father started a manufacturing business (for those into theology it’s called “the Kingdom”!). Every manufacturer has the same MO: MULTIPLICATION. For example, in 2016 Apple sold its one billionth iPhone. McDonald’s sells“more than 75 hamburgers per second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day of the year.” That’s multiplication!

“‘Then God said, ‘Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then PRODUCE the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.’ And that is what happened.'” (Genesis 1:11-12Then God said, ‘Let the earth PRODUCE every sort of animal, each PRODUCING offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened.(Genesis 1:24-25)  Finally, humankind is created. “So God created human beings in his own image, male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY. ‘” (Genesis 1:28)

 

Sometime later a deadly virus caused a massive product defect. (Genesis 3:1-7) The Creator quickly responded with a product recall. (Genesis 3:8-13) To fix the problem Father chose an antiviral drug called GRACE! (Ephesians 2:8) Due to its exorbitant cost, humankind was unable to pay a dime for the medication So, the Father flipped the bill (1 Peter:1:18-20). That’s why John Newton, the hymn composer, wrote:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.

To commence the therapeutic process God began with a trial group, the Jewish race. Nothing special about this group except that Jesus was to come through that hereditary line. Similar to many medications Father began with a small, test dose to prepare for that which was to come. Finally, the Great Physician (Mark 2:17) arrived to deliver the requisite dose.

But it was our sins that ripped and tore and crushed him!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get
healed.
Isaiah 53:4-6

 

It may appear that I got sidetracked from the subject of multiplication. Not so! “The Gospel is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.” (Bonhoeffer) Here’s Jesus’ grace-filled call to the disciples to become his business partners! 

“When Jesus finished teaching, he said to Peter,
‘Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.’
Peter said, ‘Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow.
But if you say so, I’ll let o
ut the nets.’
It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity.
They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them.
They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.
When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Peter and everyone with him. 
Jesus said to Peter ‘There is nothing to fear.
From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.'”
They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.
LUKE 5:1-11


 

The Medicine of Life – The Grace Of Jesus

 

We are saved by grace through faith—a gift from God.Ephesians 2:8

God is love.” (1 John 4:16)  Humans were designed to love and be loved! Jesus confirmed this: “Love God … and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:34-40) 

Observe both Europe and the Middle East today! Obviously, humankind is NOT loving! The Manual renders this diagnosis: “Everyone sins! Everyone falls short of God’s glorious design! (Romans  3:23)

The virus of sin has caused a major malfunction in the human spirit so that we “fall short” of loving God, others and self. We’re dis-eased and the disease is deadly! “We were dead because of our sins….” (Ephesians 2:5) We exist but are unable to fulfill our destiny! 

“How helpful it is to see sin, like addictive behavior, as a dis-ease, a very destructive dis-ease instead of merely something that was culpable, punishable, or “made God unhappy,” If sin indeed made God unhappy, it is  because God desires nothing more than our happiness. and wills the healing of our dis-ease.” (Breathing Under Water, p xv, Richard Rohr)Though our prognosis is extremely bleak, we’re not hopeless! Father has a medicine to cure our dis-ease

Blood is red in appearance; yet it contains white blood cells. When your body is under a viral assault, white blood cells attack the virus. However, in gaining victory they die. Healing is won via death! 

 

 

Father’s medicine is called GRACE: God’s Restoration At Christ Expense! “We are saved (the meaning of this word is “made whole”) by grace….” The old hymn calls it “amazing.” Why? Whereas grace is extremely costly (“You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19), yet, it’s “a gift from God

How does one obtain the Medicine Of Life? Jesus said, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” (Mark 2:17)

Have you been to the Doctor yet?