Jesus Does ONLY GOOD To Us!

Jesus never burdens us - He removes burdens!

Jesus never forces or pressures us - He releases us to real freedom!

Jesus never harms or hurts us - He takes away our pains!

Jesus never makes us feel worse - He makes us feel better!

Jesus never shames or condemns us - He affirms and accepts us!

Jesus never puts conditions on His love - He loves us freely!

Jesus never withholds good from us - He freely gives us all things to enjoy!

Jesus never hides or withdraws from us - He is always open and approachable and ready to talk to us!

Jesus will never leave alone or abandon us - He gives us His heart and His loyal friendship forever!

We've Had and Identity Exchange!!

It is hitting me all over again how the Christian life is NOT about trying to change, improving, getting better so we can FINALLY be a successful Christian, worthy, and qualified for God's favor and blessing - NO!

The Christian life is a life that has already been EXCHANGED - at the point of salvation, our old life was exchanged for His resurrection Life! We have been exchanged, had a heart transplant!  We've had an identity exchange!

We are ALREADY changed, not trying to change!

We are ALREADY new, not trying to improve the old!

We are ALREADY God's Best, not trying to get better!

We are ALREADY worthy, qualified, favored and blessed!

All because we have the very Life of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ, as our actual life now! You can't improve on that! You can't get better than the perfect Life of Christ!

Thank You, Lord!

Merry Christmas!

Silent Night, Holy Night
Son of God, Love's Pure Light
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face
With the dawn of Redeeming Grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

Merry Christmas with love to all, 
And peace on earth, goodwill (grace!) towards men!!

We are in Christ, Thus We are FINE, Not Lacking in Any Way!

 His gift to us is CHRIST, and in Christ we have it all!  We are complete, filled full with the fullness of God!

"In Him dwells all the fullness of God in bodily form, and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.."  Col. 2:9-10

You are not lacking, not needy, not empty, not broken..

You are not hopeless, not ruined, not set aside, not disqualified..

You are not ruined, not sinful, not guilty, not condemned..

You are not sickly, not weak, not lost, not incomplete...

You are in Christ, and He is none of that! 

He is your life, the most real and true and deepest thing about you! 

He is Perfect! 

He is Righteous! 

He is Full!

He is Strong!

He is Fine!

And "as He is, so are we in this world!"

Thank You, Lord, I needed to hear this! I so needed to remember this, after being down on myself, condemning myself for so long for not being a 'better,' 'more successful' Christian! I am successful in Christ! I am not better, I am at the level of BEST in the BEST One there is!

We are all FINE in Jesus today!!

Is It Okay To Just Think About Grace and the Finished Work of Jesus All the Time?

Have you ever felt like maybe some people might think you obsess over grace?  Haha, I know I do!  I'm a grace addict!  I can't get enough of God's grace and love for me!  I can't get enough of thinking of my glorious Jesus and all He has done for me!  I can't get enough of the glad good news that seems too good to be true, but actually IS true!  Grace is what keeps me from going spiritually crazy!  His unconditional love and acceptance of me are what make me get up in the morning and face the new day!  His wonderful presence within me, and the way the dear Holy Spirit delights in me and fellowships with me, even right after I have a slip into sin, is like water in the desert to me, it's so precious and valuable!  Wow, grace is just sooo good and HE is sooo good! 

(I know that's a lot of exclamation points in that paragraph, but I just get excited talking about His grace, because He has brought me out of such depression and fear and anxiety in recent times, all through a fresh revelation of His I just really need to use those exclamation points, and I hope it's okay!)

But anyway, I'm getting carried away here and need to get back to my question:  Is it okay to just major on grace and make that the main thing I think of, ponder on, and fill my mind with?  I think so!  I think it is not only okay but essential to focus on Jesus' work and His grace!  For that is the gospel!  And just focusing on the main thing, the good news of the gospel of grace, causes everything else to fall into place spiritually for us.  Thinking about Him and His grace just fills me up, makes me happy, causes faith and trust to rise up in me, puts my focus on Jesus and not me, puts my focus on His ability and not my inability, puts my focus on His provision and not my lack, puts my focus on His answers and not my problems.  It causes me to praise and worship!  It makes me feel bold and free!  It makes me remember I have Christ's authority over the devil and that this enemy is totally defeated and can't touch me!  It makes me want to go love somebody or pray for them or bless them! It makes me nice to my kids and my husband!  It makes me feel all is well!  It makes me patient and understanding!  It even makes me sleep well and not feel worried or fearful..

That's what grace does!  It's like just thinking of Him and His love and grace, and what the finished work of Jesus has really done - made me righteous (seen as sinless by God!), acceptable, new, pure, good-hearted, strong in the Lord, included, secure, whole and holy - just releases the glory of heaven in my life!  Thinking with the Lord about His grace just fills me with the Spirit and His joy and peace and love!  It just fills me with joy over Jesus and makes everything seem to flow in my life, makes everything make sense again.  This is the only thing that has ever really made a difference in my Christian life or brought about holy living in any way!  And it's a great by-product of just being caught up in His love and grace!

So to me, to focus on holy living never works to produce holy living!  But focusing on the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus and all He has done for me just fills me up, satisfies my deepest longings for love and understanding, floods me with His invigorating life being manifested, and then as a side benefit, produces holy living! 

I love how He has set it up in the Christian life, making things easy..not burdensome..We get to just feast on grace and on Jesus' love and work, having our love needs just met in abundance, and everything else - good attitudes, the fruit of the Spirit, ministry, etc., just flows from that!

"I Receive" - Wonderful Grace Song from Hillsong London

Here is a wonderful song about God's acceptance, love and grace that I just is by Hillsong London...hope you enjoy it! 

As I think about Christmas and the gift of Your Son, dear Father, I think of all that He did for us and the wonderful gift He gave us of His own life to be within us in perfect union, His Spirit joined with our spirit, for eternity!  I thank You for that wonderful union relationship You have brought us into, all through the death, resurrection and ascension of Your Son!  Now we are bonded to You in perfect intimacy and we are fully known and loved and cherished.  There is no shame, no condemnation, no anger or struggle..all is well between us!  We are completely, whole-heartedly taken into Your embrace forever!

Thank You, Lord, that we are accepted! 

Accepted, accepted, accepted, what a beautiful relief to be accepted with NO possibility of being rejected, accepted as we are, accepted with our struggles and weaknesses (all our sins are GONE anyway and remembered NO more!), accepted once and for all, included in the inner circle of Love of the Trinity, enjoying the love of the Father as it washes over us for all eternity! 

This is what we were made for, this perfect relationship of love, this unreserved acceptance, this transparent relationship where we are valued and special, enjoying perfect intimacy, sharing and union with the One who loves us like no other ever could or will..

Thank You, Lord, for grace and the free gift of that right relationship with You, that wonderful union relationship where we are accepted and taken in forever, never to be left alone, never to be mistreated, never to be forgotten, never to be anything but His dearly loved child!

No Obligation

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free!"  (Gal. 5:1)

God is wrecking me again, in a good way, over the truth of not being under law!

I slip so easily into thinking of my performance, seeing my faults, feeling I need to 'work on' certain areas, trying to improve..and it only leads to frustration, failure, self-condemnation, and feeling guilty and ashamed for not being a more "successful" Christian!  All of this is just a LIE and is all performance-based thinking, law-based thinking!

And I am not under the law!  None of us as Christians are under law!  We are free, free, free from the law! 

What does that mean?  I feel like I have needed to learn all over again what that really means..

God is showing me it means that nothing is required of me!  This is what He whispered to me a while back, when I was seeking healing for a physical trouble I was having.  He suddenly whispered, "nothing is required of you, you don't have to do anything." Shortly after that, He ministered His healing touch to me!  Isn't He wonderful?  Everything in this Christian life is by GRACE, no effort from us required, all a FREE gift that is ours already because Jesus' work put it into our hands!  We simply realize it is ours (that's called faith) and enjoy the gift!

So anyway, that really got me to thinking about this idea of being free from the law - that nothing is REQUIRED of us.  There is nothing we MUST do, or else!  There is no FORCE in the New Covenant - just desire - God put a new heart in us, put His own nature in us, and we naturally desire to love and be kind, etc.  We want to!  We don't do it to get on God's good side (we're already on His good side, and anyway, God only has one side, the good side!  There is no 'bad side' to God!!).  We don't do it to get Him to give us the blessing (He's not withholding any good thing from us, has already blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing).  We're not doing it to avoid punishment (Jesus already took our punishment, so there's none left for us!).  We're not doing it to avoid the curse (Jesus became a curse for us on the tree, so the curse has no place in our lives or right to us at all!!  It cannot alight upon us!).  We do those things like loving and caring for people because it's our nature and we want to, and the Holy Spirit in us lives those desires out Himself and it is really Christ living His life in us, loving people through us while we watch!  Wow!

So we really live in freedom!  I was reading about looking into the "law of liberty" in the book of James, and I read that the word liberty used there means "without obligation" - I love that!  We are not under obligation with God.  He's not demanding anything of us.  He's not requiring, forcing, or pushing us.  Nothing is required of us!  We don't have to do anything to get His favor, love, blessing, presence, acceptance, or help.  We have already got all that  - it came with the package when we received Christ!  God freely gave us ALL things in Christ!  With no strings attached, no demands on us to do something in order to keep those gifts, no performance requirements to keep or else we'll lose those things, either. The gift of the Son, and all that He is, His perfection, health, freedom, authority, peace, joy, belovedness, favor, acceptance, victory, abundance, strength, hope, safety, etc. are all ours, too, for free, by GRACE!  By unmerited favor!  To me, that means we don't have to do anything to get them or do anything to keep them - they are just plain ours in Christ, so we can say 'thank you' and start enjoying all He came to give us, without worrying about cleaning up our act, getting it all together, our works not being so great, etc.

I think He wants me to get my focus off my own works and failures (that's sin-consciousness!) and get my focus on Him and His perfect work and love for me, and how that makes me perfect and beloved in Him before the Father (that's Son-consciousness)!  The first way feels like death to me, but the second way is unending joy and life!  What a wonderful way to live!  Free from obligation, free from having to prove oneself, free from having to earn acceptance, free from worry that you'll fail so much you'll be rejected or condemned, free from worrying about your works at all!  He's already put us in life by Christ's work, not our own, and we're kept there by Christ's work not our own!  Nothng is required of us!  We are not under obligation!  We are free to do anything!  Yes, I really wrote that!  So, what do I really want to do??  I want to think about Jesus all day, praise His name, read about His love and grace, and smile and tell the whole world they are loved for free!  I want to be nice to somebody, want to worship, want to look into the eyes of Jesus and tell Him, "My Jesus, I love You! Thank You for loving me so unconditionally!  I love You!"

Forgiven - by Bethel Live


Forgiven - by Brian Johnson

Verse 1:
I will sing for You alone have rescued this life
Jesus, You have set me free
You alone took away all sin and disgrace
When You gave Your life to ransom me

I am forgiven at the foot of the cross
I am accepted by the power of Your love
My every stain is washed away
I am forgiven

Verse 2:
Here I stand in the light of Your glory and grace
Where Heaven’s love and justice meet
Now I live for the One who has called me by name
Who is risen and alive in me

I'm embraced at the foot of the cross
By the love and the mercies You have lavished on us
My every stain is washed away
I am forgiven

How Can I Rejoice When I Don't Feel Like Rejoicing??

Have you ever heard a message like this:  "Always praise God and lift Him up, even when in the worst circumstances and problems and negative feelings.  Just keep praising God, and that that will help us focus on the truth." I have, and I think it's a good message, but...

But what do we do when we honestly don't feel like praising?  what do we do when life is pressing in so much we can barely lift our head up and survive till the next moment?  I think in my own life, I have felt shamed for the times I haven't prayed through or praised down the glory or been always rejoicing even in the midst of my problems.  I have felt guilty for not being a better Christian in those times, not being as triumphant and happy and overcoming as I was "supposed" to be.  I have felt I failed.  And yet, God says we're all winners to Him because of Jesus!   And He isn't expecting perfect behavior out of us, really has NO expectations of us, because He knows that without Him, we can do NOTHING anyway!  He always sees us perfect, because He made us perfect through the Son's work for us!  So we are free to be ourselves, with our messes and mistakes, and just let it al hang out with God!  He can handle it and won't shame us!  So we can be 'real' with Him in those hard times when we just don't feel like shouting 'hallelujah", you know?

I've found in my life that I can just admit that to God, that I don't feel like rejoicing but instead feel fearful or bitter and rotten or doubful or worried or hurt or alone (or whatever the feeling is), and I can have an honest heart to heart with Him.  We don't have to come up with anything alone on our own.  We can ask Him to fill us and take over.  His love and joy will start filling us up.  He will uplift us!  "When my cares overwhelm me, YOUR COMFORTS DELIGHT MY SOUL!"  (Ps 94) And then suddenly we feel ike praising! 

God is always accepting us.  We can bring to Him our honest thoughts and feelings.  He will never reject us.  All our feelings are valid before Him.  He truly understands us and our hurts and how we feel!  He doesn't ever minimize our feelings or wounds or say we 'shouldn't' feel or hurt!  He died for those hurts and pains, they were very real when He bore them on the cross for us!!  He's taken them away and doesn't want us to bear them a minute!  They are illegal, really!  NO negative feeling is meant to be on us!  We have been made whole and given joy and peace, and that's our rightful inheritance that He wants us to experience always.  And He will make us to experience it!  Not us, not by our work but His!

So anyway, I think these awful feelings we can feel are very real and painful yet illegal, things the enemy tries to put on us to make us miserable!  A lot of times the feelings can even be lying feelings from the enemy, trying to make us feel hurt, down, despairing, etc.  Just ask God to fill you with His Spirit and wash all that away, and tell them to go in Jesus' name!  I have had this happen to me, where I suddenly start feeling very depressed and start crying about something, and then I realize from an awareness through the Spirit, that this feeling is a lying feeling from Satan, and when I ask the Spirit to fill me and/or just send the feeling away in Jesus' name, it is just gone and I feel okay again!

Sometimes too He does amazing healing within us, bringing His healing to bear on our wounds.  I find that a lot of times, when I just share my feelings, say of anger at a friend, He shows me the deeper wound behind it all that may be triggering the anger - for example, it may be fear that my friend will reject me.  And He just soothes me with His love and shows me in a new way that HE won't ever reject me!  He just fills me with His presence and love and puts His balm of LOVE on that wound!  It isn't a painful experience but a renewing and joyful one!  I love how bringing things to light with God brings healing, not shame, pain, or even fear of being exposed or vulnerable.  We are safe with Him. He won't ever lash out at us or hurt us.  He will heal us with His love!  He won't break the wounded reed or blow out the flickering candlelight!  In His presence is fullness of joy and eternal pleasures, the very bliss of heaven blooming within our hearts!  That's how His healing touch is when He touches our wounds places - like Springtime touching the barren ground and warming it, making life spring up in beauty and brightness!

I am learning that God can always DO something, and He wants to bless us every second!  He is always ready to help and pull us up!  When our feet start slipping, He upholds us! (Ps 94)!  He is always pulling us back to look at the truth!  And our hearts want to look at the truth and they do believe the truth!  So what battle?  God already won and we just enforce the victory, by HIS power and by HIS Spirit - not be OUR might or OUR power!  It's all Him! All glory to Him!  He say that He always carries us along in triumph!  Wow, that's my Dad!

(You know, after reading through this I want to make sure that anyone reading who feels wounded, tired, hurting and defeated would not read this and feel worse, perhaps thinking, "I've tried to give it to God, tried to ask Him to fill me, tried to just rest, but I STILL have the depression, etc."  I do not want anyone to ever read this blog and come away feeling worse.  Jesus never puts burdens, shame, guilt or stress on people - He always takes them off, and I want Him to do that through my words for any reader!  So I hope noone feels that way.  I know depression is terrible, having suffered with it for a solid year after my daughter was born with her complicated heart defect.  Some days I wished I were just already in heaven, I just didn't think I could live another day with the worry and fear.  I was never able to shake it and felt like a failure.  It slowly lifted without me doing a thing, all by God's grace.  And years later, He gave me an encounter with His presence, and I suddenly realized that all along He had been there for me, with me, going through it all, crying with me, through the dark times.  He had never forsaken me, He had carried me and kept anything worse from happening!  He had continually accepted and loved me, that had never wavered no matter how oblivious I was to His care, no matter how ashamed I felt of being so worried and 'untrusting' and afraid rather than 'faith-filled."  HIS faith and trust had carried me through, not my own.  So I just send out my love to anyone going through a dark time, especially here at Christmas, and I just bless you with His love and presence in Jesus' name.  You do not have to do anything - nothing is required of you!  Jesus has taken over your case, Jesus the Great Physician is moving in your life.  No matter what, He holds you in His hands and accepts and protects you.  He has never failed.  He never will!  His love won't fail you now...With love to all, Sparrow..)

Already Accepted

 Here is a wonderful quote from Joshua Tongol that I read on Facebook.  Just wanted to share it here, as God used it to really encourage me today! 


"The GOOD NEWS is that God accepts you even when no one else does. When everyone has rejected you, there you are, ALREADY in God's arms, comforted and safe in His embrace.

"Deep down in your heart, you know, that God's unconditional love is this way. Don't let any theologian or any misinterpreted Bible verse convince you otherwise.

"Your lack of faith or repentance does not change God's BEING as a loving Father.  In fact, it is His passionate love for you that fuels your faith in Him and even changes your mind about Him.

"You don't need to fix or change your life IN ORDER TO BE loved and accepted by God. But once your EYES ARE OPENED to the truth that you're ALREADY loved and accepted by Him, it changes your life forever."
                                                                                                     Joshua Tongol

Nothing Is Holding Me Back From You!! (Brian and Katie Torwalt)

Nothing is Holding Me Back From You
©Bryan and Katie Torwalt 2011
Verse 1
Thank You for the cross that You have carried
Thank You for Your blood that was shed
You took the weight of sin upon Your shoulders
And Sacrificed Your life so I could live
Now nothing is holding me back from You
Redeemer of my soul
Now nothing can hold me back from You
Your Love will never let me go
Verse 2
Thank You for Your death and resurrection
Thank You for the power of Your blood
I am overwhelmed by Your affection
The Kindness and the Greatness of Your Love
The Kindness and the Greatness of Your Love
Verse 3
Thank You that we’re living in Your Kingdom
Jesus You’re the King upon the throne
Thank You for the way You always love me
Now I get to love You in return
Now I get to love You in return
Jesus, You make all things new

Rob Rufus on the Difference Between Law and Grace

I love this comparison of Law vs. Grace!  Rob Rufus shows us how far superior the covenant of grace is compared to the covenant of law!  After finding out about grace, who would want to go back to law anyway?  As I've heard it said, moving from law to grace is "like dropping green baloney when somebody offers you a filet mignon!"  (Mike Fitzpatrick)

Enjoy this comparison! I'm rejoicing in the better covenant today!! 

"The law demands absolute perfect standard of God's righteousness from you. 
Grace gives you God's free gift of righteousness freely. 

The law says, "Do, do, do." 
Grace says, "It's done, it's done, it's done, you're safe. You're safe, my Bride. You're safe, my Beloved. You're safe, my son. You're safe, my daughter. You're accepted in the Beloved. You're righteous forever in his eyes. Your mistakes, your sins, your failures I remember no more." And when the ultimate sacrifice is made, no more sacrifices are necessary. 

The law makes you conscious of sin. Grace makes you conscious of being the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. 

The law always condemns you. Grace never condemns you. 

[The law makes you feel like hiding from His presence.]
Grace lifts you into the cloud of his presence and into the cloud of his unfading glory. 

The law took the disobedience of first Adam and condemned us all. 
Grace took the obedience of Jesus and declared you to be perfectly righteous in the Father's eyes. 

Under the law, God says, "I will by no means forget your sins." 
Under grace, God says, "I will by no means ever remember all of your sins ever again, past, present, and future." 

The law is a revelation of how much is wrong with you. 
Grace is a revelation of how perfectly right with God you are through the cross and through the gift of righteousness. 

Under law sin abounded. 
But under grace, grace super-excessively-far more abounded. 

The law makes you self-conscious. 
Grace makes you Christ-conscious. 

The law makes you ask, "What must I do?" 
Grace asks, "What has Jesus done already?""

Rob Rufus (from a sermon preached in Oct., 2012, Atlanta, GA)

Thank You, Lord!

Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing gift of Your Son to us! 

Thank You for Your grace that sought us out and fixed things up in our relationship with You before we even knew a thing about You! 

Thank You that You have restored our hope and given us new life, Christ's very own life, to swell within us like a rising tide of love! 

Thank You for being You, a Giver, a Blesser, Our Perfect Father and Friend, the One who truly understands and loves us! 

To be at peace with You, to be loved on by You, to be blessed beyond measure by You through Your Spirit of Life radiating within, just makes us want to jump for joy and shout to the world how beautiful and compassionate and amazing You are!

1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
9-11 Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Romans 5:1-11 (Message Bible)

A Grace Blessing!

I bless you in the name of the Lord!

I bless you with all the love you can possibly handle, straight from God's heart into yours, to fill every nook and cranny of your being to overflowing!

I bless you with His peace that surpasses understanding, to come over you and protect your heart from harm, because your life is hidden with Christ in God!

I bless you with abounding and overflowing joy because He is delighted with you and proud of you!

I bless you with rest from all your striving because He has already completely accepted you!

I bless you with unending, uninterrupted heart-to-heart fellowship with God forever, for that is what Christ's finished work has brought to you!

I bless you with His keeping power to hold on to you, keep you secure, and complete the work He began in you by grace!

I bless you with grace, the amazing and free-flowing favor of God, His unconditional love to satisfy your heart and bless you all your days!

I bless you with complete well-being and tranquility, safety and assurance, health and strength, gifts and abundant blessings, out of His rich stores of grace in Christ!

I bless you with the joy of His Presence both coming and going, rising and sleeping, when alone and with others, one day and the next, no matter what, forevermore!

His Eyes

Jesus lifts our head away from our downcast glance at the problems and worries of this life - He lifts our gaze to look into His eyes!

A friend made this statement to me recently:  "I have seen His eyes and they are pools of unconditional forgiving love."  I thought that was so beautiful and true, and I started thinking about Jesus' eyes.  I think of how the woman who sneaked up and touched the hem of His garment wanted to be healed from behind, as it were, for maybe she felt too insignificant to even have Jesus notice her, much less speak to her or look into her eyes.  But Jesus wanted to do more than heal her physically - He wanted her to have and encounter with Him, so she could look into His eyes and see the love there for HER!  He wanted her to know His heart toward her, how full of compassion and delight and love He was for HER!  He wanted more than just to give her the wonderful gift of healing - He wanted to give her the gift of Himself, so she could KNOW Him, the Healer, and not just have healing but have the Healer Himself as her Friend!

He wanted her to look into His eyes and see how He felt about her!

He wanted her to experience who He really was and is - LOVE - as she looked in His eyes!

I think it is the same for us...He wants to give us sooo much more than we ask for, wants to give us and encounter with Him, so we can KNOW the love of Christ in fullness and be filled up to the brim with His presence.  He wants us to truly know this giant LOVE He has for us, that has no beginning or end, no top or bottom, this love that will never, ever fail us.  He wants us to know it, and He makes sure that we do!  Just like Jesus turned around and talked with the woman that was healed and let her look deeply into His eyes, so He does with us!  He has turned us toward Him and reconciled us back to Himself at the cross so we can look into His eyes..

What do we see in those eyes?

His eyes are endless pools of acceptance and love!

His eyes are full of understanding and compassion!

His eyes are brimming with strength and affirmation!

His eyes are full of delight and laughter!

His eyes are deep with tenderness and beauty!

His eyes are filled with goodness and grace!

His eyes are upon me, upon you, looking on us with love -

He never has anything but LOVE for us  in His eyes!

This is the love we already have, and these are the eyes that are always looking at us.  These are the eyes that our spirits look into always, where we have found our true home, our true safe place where we can be our true selves and be completely known, completely naked, seen, and totally, unreservedly accepted and loved!

"Jesus, looking at him, LOVED him.."  (Mk. 10:21)

Mercy and Grace

I am trying to understand the nuances of mercy and grace...

Mercy is when we don't get the punishment we deserve..Grace is when we get the glorious wonders that Jesus deserves!

Mercy is when God sees us and loves us in our misery and lifts us out of it..Grace is when He sets us up as rich royal children in His own household!

Mercy means we are pitied in our poverty...Grace means we are made rich in Christ!

Mercy is when we don't get cursed by the law...Grace is when we get blessed with the blessing of Abraham and his seed, Jesus!

Mercy is when we are forgiven..Grace is when we are given the very righteousness of Christ!

Mercy is when God made us to die to the law...Grace is when God made us alive in Christ!

Mercy is when we are not forgotten in our pain..Grace is when we are healed of the pain and wounds!

Mercy is when we are cared for in our brokenness...Grace is when we are made complete and whole!

Mercy is when we don't get hell...Grace is when we get heaven!

Mercy is when God doesn't treat us as our failures deserve...Grace is when God treats us the same as He treats Jesus!

Mercy is God fending off the curse...Grace is God piling on the blessing!

Mercy is when God pities us in our sinfulness...Grace is when God loves us just as much as He loves His own dear Son!

Mercy means He won't reject us even when we mess up...Grace means He accepts us as He accepts Jesus!

Mercy means He won't leave us when we're down...Grace means He'll hold us up and lead us in triumph and keep us to the end!

I'm still learning about the facets of mercy and wonderful is God, who shows us both!

More Answers to Questions about Grace - from Grace Church Orlando

Hey, here are more answers to those pressing questions people sometimes have when hearing about Grace!  These are from the people over at Grace Church Orlando.  Their pastor, Clark Whitten, has an awesome book out called Pure Grace, which I am enjoying right now and would recommend to all!

Enjoy being refreshed by these:

7. Is it possible for a Christian to lose his salvation?

The short answer is an emphatic “No!”  The long answer begins with understanding “what” salvation really is and “how” one obtains it.  Understanding those two things is the key to knowing the answer to this question.  In essence, salvation (or to be saved) means to be “rescued” or “delivered” from a place and brought to another place.  As Paul wrote:  “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13) Paul also writes in verse 14 that in this new place, in the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, we receive the complete forgiveness for all our sins (past, present and future) and an inheritance from God Himself.
When we say we are saved we are really saying that God has placed us in His Son Jesus, and He in us, evidenced and secured eternally by the presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).  We are saying that we are in union with God Himself through Christ by the Spirit.  We are also saying that,
“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

We are righteous as God is righteous – a gift from God;
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Union with God is salvation, and only God can join us to Himself.  We once were in the flesh, fallen and worldly, but now we are in the Spirit born from above, a “new creation” (Eph. 2:1-10).  As God powerfully brought the nation of Israel out of a dark place of bondage (Egyptian captivity) by opening a way miraculously through the Red Sea and later through the Jordan River into another land, a promised land, a land full of milk and honey; so is our salvation in Christ.
How does God do this?  How do we obtain “so great a salvation?”
We simply believe in Him.  Jesus died for all people so that all people could have their sins taken away in order that God could join all people to Himself by the Spirit.  To be joined to God is life eternal, for He is eternal life itself.  Not all people believe Him and because they do not believe they will die in their sins, but whosoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God and that His death completely removes all sins of the past, and all sins of the present and all sins not even committed yet in the future, shall receive exactly that:  the complete forgiveness of all sin!  (refer to Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-10)
As John the Baptist declared:  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  Simple faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on our behalf is what qualifies us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus union with God and eternal life.  Because Jesus was raised again from the dead He ever lives, and through the gift of the Spirit Christ now lives within the believer.  The ancient High Priestly blessing that was spoken over the children of Israel to “invoke the name of God” had this phrase in it:  “The Lord bless you and keep you . . .”(Numbers 6:24-26) As then, so now.  What God blesses He also keeps and keeps forever!  “He is the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2) and though He did not believe for us, for we must choose to believe Him, once that choice is made to receive Him, He is able to keep our faith strong in Him.  As Paul wrote:  “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until the end.” (2 Tim. 1:12)
That being said, one might ask what is meant by the writer to the Hebrews when it is said, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”  (Hebrews 6:4-6)
This passage is written to the attention of the Hebrews with the first verses of the chapter dealing with the necessity of their leaving the elements of their Jewish faith while choosing Christ as the Messiah.  The writer is saying that if they do retreat back to Judaism after hearing the gospel, all the religious “repentance” in the world will be worthless.  To forsake Christ is equivalent to crucifying Him again; especially if they were to express their repentance in Jewish terms (that being a resumption of animal sacrifice) thereby denying the completed work of Christ on the cross.  This passage in question is therefore not for Christians as is evidenced by verse 9 of the same chapter.
Remember, one can have spiritual experiences and still not be saved.  One can perform religious works and still not be saved.  Salvation is a simple and glorious result of placing one’s faith in Christ and the work of redemption He completed on our behalf.  The result of believing faith is the receiving of God’s promise of salvation, both eternal and secure.

8. Seeming Contradictions to Eternal Security

Contradictions or Weak Exegesis?

2 Peter 2:17-22

In the context of two scripture passages Peter is not speaking of those who have been truly born again.
Vs. 17    “There are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved,”

These people are not true Christians!  They have a measure of enlightenment but are not true believers.  The whole chapter is about false prophets!
Vs. 22    Peter says these people are like dogs that return to their own vomit and like hogs that return to the wallow after being washed.  Notice the language, it is a hog or a dog that returns, not a sheep!  The hog was still a hog and the dog was still a dog.  Someone who walks away from Christ never knew him.
John 6:66-69

The term “disciple” used by John refers to a “learner” or “follower”.  One cannot know Jesus and be born again without being a disciple, but one can be a disciple of Jesus without knowing Jesus.  These disciples did not know Jesus in a manner that is consistent with regeneration.  Peter responded to Jesus’ question, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” by saying, “we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (vs. 69).  Peter was a true disciple and those who left were not true believers.
Hebrews 6:4-8

This passage of scripture is not referring to true believers.  There is a reference to “those who have once been enlightened” (vs. 4).  These are people who had heard the word and the “unfolding of Your words gives light” (Ps. 119:130).  Everyone who is born again must be enlightened but they must receive the truth and believe beyond mere enlightenment.
The reference to “have tasted of the heavenly gift” (vs. 4) only indicates they tasted but did not digest.  In Ezekiel 2:9, 3:3, God commands Ezekiel to eat the scroll and he begins chewing.  The Lord then commands him to “feed your stomach” (Ezek. 3:3).  He means to swallow and digest.  One who is born again must do more than taste, he must swallow and digest.  He must believe and receive.  These who had been enlightened and who had tasted were not true believers but had merely played around with the idea.
Look at Hebrews 6:9“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way”.  This verse indicates that the writer of Hebrews made a distinction between those who had truly been saved and those who thought about it and considered it, but never believed and received.
Hebrews 10:37-39

Some use verse 38 as a proof-text to say a Christian can “lose” that which Christ died to procure for him.  Verse 34 contradicts such a position, “knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”  This refers to salvation and it is abiding and eternal.
Verse 39 also proves the point that the writer of Hebrews is not saying that a true believer can “shrink back” and lose his salvation, “but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
We (true Christians) will not “shrink back” but our faith will continue!
Remember, 1 Peter 1:5, “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  Our salvation is protected by the power of God!

9. What about some who say they are Christian yet continue in their sin?

To begin with, when approaching this subject we must be careful not to fall into the trap of judging one another.  Who can see the deep issues of the heart other than God?
Jesus taught that we were not to try to judge whether or not a person is a true Christian (Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37).  Paul admonishes people to judge and examine themselves, not others, to determine if Christ is within them (2 Cor. 13:5).  The Spirit bears witness with our “new heart” which is a result of our being a “new creation in Christ”, and we can know that we are the children of God.  Jesus said to let the wheat and the tares grow together and do not try to determine which is “wheat” and which is” tare”, for in that process the wheat will be hurt (Matt. 13:29).  Jesus said to leave that to Him and His mighty angels who will at the end of time divide the wheat from the tares and the sheep from the goats.
Man looks at the outward appearance but only God can see the heart.  Having said that, sometimes it may appear that a person claiming to be a Christian is continuing in sin with little or no change in their lives.  One explanation may be that they are not yet born of God even though they “go to church” and do other religious or good things.  The best thing we can do for that person is to keep loving them and  telling them about our awesome King who died for them.
Similarly, it may appear that a person claiming to be a Christian is continuing in sin with little or no change in his life, and he really is born of God and thus really is a child of God.  Likewise the best thing we can do for that person is to keep loving him and telling him about our awesome King who died for him.  It’s the same answer and application for both situations.
God made this simple!  His Spirit leads the believer into all truth as we trust Him to do so.  “It is the goodness of God that leads a person to repentance” (Rom. 2:4) – changing one’s mind.  The goodness of God shines brightly through Jesus and enriches us to keep our eyes upon Him, while encouraging others to do the same knowing that everything will go and grow as planned.
Jesus said only one thing was needful in this life.  Only one thing!  He said Mary had found the one thing.  Remember, Mary was sitting, resting at His feet, looking into His eyes and listening to His voice (Luke 10:42).  One thing – resting in Jesus (looking and listening).  He is the one thing.
With these truths in mind, don’t fret about what someone else may or may not be doing.  Just do the “one thing.”  Do you recall when Peter asked Jesus about another believer and he said to Jesus, “What about him?  What about this man?”  Jesus answered Peter and said, “What is that to you, Peter?  You follow Me” (John 21:22).

10. What is the secret to becoming more Christ like?

It is truly a “secret” to the religious mind although God has not intended it to be so.  God desires every believer to understand how to become more like Jesus.  The first thing to consider is that His ways are not our ways.  “As high as the heavens are above the earth so are His ways different from our ways.” (Is. 55:9).  The things of God or of the Spirit are foolishness to the natural man so it takes a revelation from God to see this “secret” (1 Cor. 2:14)Who can know the thoughts of God but the Spirit of God has been given to us that we might know the things that have been “freely” given to us through Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:12)
Secondly, one should consider that God works from the inside out, while man works from the outside in.  In other words, God first gives the believer a brand new heart as an act of creation.  The outward manifestation of that new heart will come later and gradually, like a fruit tree bearing fruit.  Paul wrote that in this New Covenant “God raises the dead and calls into being that which did not exist.”  (Romans 4:17) Man, on the other hand, tries to modify outward behavior through fear of judgment or outward pressure or knowledge of good and evil, but that method is not God’s way and it cannot change the heart.
Becoming more Christ like is really a manifestation of what already is.  Did you get that?  That is the key.  A believer is not gradually becoming more and more like Jesus, more and more righteous, more and more holy, etc.  A believer is by an act of recreation made in the image of the risen Christ and inseparably joined to Christ.  A believer is complete in Christ now and nothing is lacking to make him or her fit for heaven.  Physical death, to be absent from the body, will mean the believer is immediately present with the Lord, blameless, complete and in great joy!
In this life it is a matter of the mind being renewed to what is true now in Christ.  As the mind is renewed to the new reality in Christ, thoughts change, words change, deeds change, etc.  Gradually, as the un-renewed mind catches up with what is true in the Spirit, the son or daughter of God produces spiritual fruit which comes forth for all to see – the invisible becoming visible and God is glorified.
The third consideration is that there is a heavenly dynamic which is active in the Spirit during this journey on earth with God.  God’s way in the Spirit is to direct our eyes to Jesus and see Him as He really is, and thereby seeing God as He really is.  As we do, a mysterious thing happens.  As we look to God and behold his countenance concerning us, everything changes.  We begin to see our identity in Him, for we have been created by Him in His likeness as a new creation.  Seeing Him and seeing who we really are in Him releases the power of God to renew our minds.
Paul writes about how Moses’ face began to shine as he simply beheld the glory of God and he writes that this is how it works in the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6-14).  We behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus and are transformed in the eyes of men (although the transformation has already taken place in the invisible – in the Spirit within) into the same image from glory to glory as we put on the deeds of the new man who already is,
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

Paul was telling us that when we behold Jesus as if He is a mirror reflecting back to us who we really are, and that we look just like Him!  As John wrote, “As Jesus is so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)
Through the Old Covenant of law came the knowledge of sin, the scripture teaches.  The law can only show us our sin in the flesh, but that sin in the flesh does not dictate the true identity of the believer anymore.
“by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,” (Eph. 2:15) 

We have been cut away from the body of the flesh in a great mystery, a spiritual circumcision, the true circumcision of which the Abrahamic circumcision was but a picture, and have been raised from the dead to experience union with the risen Christ.
“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”  (Romans 2:29)

“The mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

That’s it!  That’s the secret.  No wonder they call Him “Wonderful Counselor”, for His counsel is not of man or of this world.  It is full of wonder!  How can these things be?  Because nothing is impossible for Him!  As He says, “Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you know not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Grace Church Orlando 

Questions About Grace - by Grace Church Orlando

Grace Church in Orlando, FL has a really neat article on their website featuring answers to common questions people have about the Grace Message.  The church has graciously given me permission to post the article here on my blog.  I have put it in my Pages section on the blog sidebar, but I also wanted to post the Q and A here. It really helped me to read through these, and I hope this encourages others as well!

Here are the first few questions:

1. Does it matter to God how we act?
Of course it matters. God is a God who starts everything in the invisible for the purpose of manifesting His glory in the visible. As the writer to the Hebrews says,

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3)
And Paul wrote,
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20)
God is into bringing the invisible reality into the visible creation. Also Jesus said,
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
It matters to God how we act, but the more important question is: “Does it matter to God how we glorify Him?” God is only glorified when we believe in Him and in the work of His Son that He sent to take away our sins. Without faith it is impossible to please God, no matter how good we are acting.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)
God cares about how we act but even more He wants us to know that apart from Him we can do nothing. All our acting or works is but “filthy rags” to God if those acts or works are not the fruit of our union and abiding in Christ Jesus. Jesus said a good tree would produce good fruit. It will happen. In Christ we can rest in the good news that God no longer counts my sins against me because of the death of Christ and that the same Jesus who gave Himself for me has given Himself to me to live inside me that I might bear much fruit and thereby glorify God.

2. Does Grace give us a license to sin?
No, we already had a license to sin from the flesh (an illegitimate license that God does not recognize). Grace cancels that fleshly, illegitimate license and gives us a heavenly permit to be free. Free from condemnation.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)
Free from the power of sin…
“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6)
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)
Free from fear of judgment….
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” ( John 5:24)
“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17)
Free to know God as our Father. Free, indeed!
“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” ( John 8:32)
‘So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)
The law is the strength of sin, the scripture says,
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
But, grace is the strength of Life – His Life living within the believer!
“to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)
“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17)
When we sin, we know that “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.”
“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20)
When we sin, we know that sin is not imputed to us because we are not under law, and where there is no law, sin is not imputed.
“for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13)
But this freedom from the dominion of sin, which is at its core the power to condemn, does not lead to more sin. On the contrary, because we no longer serve God after the letter of the law, but rather by the newness of the Spirit where we find the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus putting to death the deeds of the body as we simply walk in the Spirit.
“for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13)
Paul writes simply and profoundly that if we walk in the Spirit we would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16)
3. Why does the New Testament say so much about our behavior?
As mentioned above, God desires to manifest His glory in the earth among men and one way that is done is by our words and deeds – by our behavior. But, He also wants us to experience a rich, full life – life abundant and full of joy.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)
God understands that selfish behavior or self-centered behavior (or any behavior that isn’t loving behavior) will make us miserable. It will make us miserable and everyone around us miserable.
True freedom isn’t being able to do anything you want. Freedom according to God’s design for His children is being able to do anything you want, because what you want is what God wants! He changes our “want-er” if there is such a word.
In every case where the New Testament talks about the behavior of the saint of God (you are a saint and not a sinner if you are a believer in Jesus) the message about behavior is always preceded by an awesome message on how God has removed our sin from us through Christ, creating in us a brand new identity (in Christ). We have a new heart, not an evil heart anymore, and as we put off the deeds of that old man who is now dead through the death of Christ, we put on the new deeds of the new man who is alive in Christ.

“Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited” (Hebrews 13:9)
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18”
We are encouraged by the apostles to simply be who we already are in Christ. Be the new man that you are in word and deed, by depending on the life of Christ within to live His Life through you.

4. What is the balance between law and grace?
Well, how do you balance death and life? You don’t. What men call balance, God calls mixture! The scripture is clear that we are no longer under law but under grace,

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)
that the law is the “strength of sin”,
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
that the law is the” letters of death engraved on stone”
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was” (2 Corinthians 3:7)
(yep, that’s the Ten Commandments), that the law is not of faith, that the law made nothing perfect, that the law was weak, that the law made sin increase, etc.
How do you balance that with “grace” which makes you righteous, that gives Life, that brings you into union with God, that reveals the heart of God , that is of faith? God did away with the covenant of law to bring us a new and better covenant of grace. The law is not the rule of life for the believer, rather the Life of Christ is simply the life of the believer. The writer to the Hebrews says that as long as you try to live under law and grace you will never be established in grace.

“But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed” (Galatians 3:23)
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law” (1 Corinthians 9:20)
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14)
You will always live a life of condemnation accompanied by a sense that you are never measuring up to God’s standards. What does the scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman (the law) and her son (the flesh) and receive the freewoman (the new covenant of grace) and her son (the gift of righteousness and life) and be not entangled again in the bondage of the law. (read Galatians 4:22-f)

5. What role should the law play in the life of a Christian?

It is important to know that the law was given as an intermediary to the advent of Grace. While it revealed an aspect of God’s holiness, it did not reveal His mercy or redemptive plan. Just as importantly, the law did not have the power to change the heart.
When Christ fulfilled the law, and atoned for our sin through His death, the holiness of God as well as His righteousness and purity became engraved upon the hearts of all who would believe (notice the scripture does not say “of all who would behave”).

“Now He (Jesus) said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
The Old Covenant “law keeping” became nullified for the Christian under the New Covenant. We are no longer under the law, but under grace.
Paul said that the law is not for the righteous. He was referring to those who are made righteous in Christ by faith. Paul also instructed believers to consider themselves to be dead to the law.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4)
Thankfully, it is the role of the Spirit living within each believer, not the law, to lead the children of God in their new identity as the “righteousness of God in Christ”. Behavioral changes reflecting the standards required by the law would now be out of a motivation of acceptance and love, rather than a fear of judgment and condemnation for failure.
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7-9)
Where the law says, “thou shalt not kill”, or “thou shalt not steal”, or “thou shalt not commit adultery”, the Spirit not only leads the believer to not commit murder, but to be willing to lay down his life for a friend; instead of stealing, giving; rather than committing adultery, choosing to love sacrificially while receiving one’s spouse in a manner which brings them to a place of security, comfort, and joy.
The law set a standard outwardly that the flesh was simply unable to satisfy. This was not a mistake. God intended for the law to instruct us by means of our failure so as to trust God’s perfect provision for all aspects of life, including holiness and happiness. Christ is our life in all its fullness, living in our hearts by faith.

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4)
Therefore, the law serves to bring us to Christ, while continuing to reveal our utter dependence upon the indwelling life of Christ, serving to make us holy, righteous, justified, and eternally secure before the Father.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4)
When reading and studying the Old Testament, it is important to remember that in order to unearth its incredible wealth and value it must be interpreted through the spiritual-lens of the “finished work of Christ”. It has been said, “the Old Testament is the finished work of Christ concealed, and the New Testament is the finished work of Christ revealed”. It is good to be reminded that we are built upon the foundation of the prophets (Old Testament) and the apostles (New Testament), with Jesus being the “chief cornerstone”. (Luke 20:17)

6. Are there consequences to sin for a Christian?
Yes, and on two levels. In this natural world a Christian will be arrested and go to jail if they are caught robbing a bank. Peter writes that we believers should not suffer as an “evil-doer” by stealing.

“Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15)
Paul writes that the courts and police officers are there by God’s design, and that “they bear not the sword in vain.” Natural man must have law in order for there to be a measure of peace in this world and that law is designed to modify the behavior of the unbeliever through fear of punishment. So in this world there are consequences to sin for a Christian if that sin is a violation of the laws of this world.
On another level, in the spiritual world, the believer will experience the corrupting power of sin in spiritual matters as a consequence of a lifestyle of sin. As Paul wrote the Galatians,
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8)
Notice that Paul does not say that if a believer sows to the flesh he shall reap “judgment” – just corruption. There is no judgment from God for the sins of a believer. God’s judgment for all the sins of the believer, past, present, and future, fell fully on Jesus. That is the Gospel in its essence. That, dear saint, is the good news!
The sins of a believer are no longer counted against the believer because of the death of Jesus. But there is a corrupting power that sin, or the flesh, has on the mind of a believer. While the Spirit seeks to renew the mind to unseen realities in Christ thereby releasing the “new creation” in Christ to manifest his righteous identity in word and deed, it is the flesh and the power of sin in the flesh that seeks to corrupt the mind and causes a spiritual “blindness or near-sightedness”. While the “new creation in Christ” can be hindered from manifesting his/her identity by means of sinful behavior, inwardly the corrupting power of sin in the flesh is powerless to affect the inward, invisible reality of the “new creation”.
Bottom line? Sin is trouble! Yet, God has set us free from the power of sin as we are positioned in Christ, and the believer’s new heart desires to be like the Father in word and deed. The believer has been made a partaker of the “divine nature” and that new nature desires to walk in righteousness, not because of the fear of consequence like the unbeliever, but rather from a motivation of love and knowledge of who we really are.
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4)

 By Grace Church Orlando

Who Can Compare (Jesus Culture)

Here's a wonderful song I found recently - noone compares to You, Lord!  You show me the way to Life - You showed me who You are - Love, Grace, Goodness more than I could ever imagine!  You are all I've looked for and there's noone who compares with You!  When others leave, You stay!  When others don't care, You understand!  When others reject me, You accept me!  When I am confused about my life, You are the Way!  When I hear lies from the enemy, You are the truth!  When everything else is empty, You are Life!

Thank you for lifting my head to look into Your eyes and see the love, healing and grace there!  Your eyes are full of acceptance and life!

"Who Can Compare"
 Jesus Culture - Emerging Voices

Who can compare to You, my King
Who can compare to You, my Lord
Who can compare to You, my Friend
I looked and I've found that there's no one like You in all the earth

And You take my hand, and You call me Your own
You show me the way to life
And You lift my head, and You give me hope
You show me the way to life

No one compares to You, my King
No one compare to You, my Lord
No one compare to You, my Friend
I looked and I've found that You're the One I needed all along

You are the way
You are the truth
You are the life

He Is Always Near, And That's REAL JOY!

"I always see the Lord near me,
and I will not be afraid
with him at my right side.
Because of this,
my heart will be glad,
my words will be joyful,
and I will live in hope.
The Lord won't leave me
in the grave.
I am his holy one,
and he won't let
my bones decay.
He has shown me
the path to life,
and he makes me glad
by being near me."
Acts 2:25b-28
(quoting David in Ps 16)

I'm realizing there is a big fear Satan has tried to push on me most of my life - the fear of being rejected and left alone.  We all crave that unconditional love, to know we're known, understood, and completely embraced and delighted in...accepted.  And it seems the reverse of that is the fear of being misunderstood, uncared for, ignored, and abandoned....rejected.

But God says in the New Covenant of Grace,  "You ARE accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6) and  "I will NEVER leave you or forsake you!"  (Heb. 13:5b)

In the good news of grace, God is promising us that He accepts us without the possiblitly of our ever being rejected and left alone/forsaken.  He has so rigged the New Covenant that it is based on Christi's faithful work in His perfect, once for all time sacrifice, and also based on Christ's undying presence before the Father as High Priest of the New Covenant.  We have a perfect sacrifice, a perfect righteousness given to us, and a perfect High Priest standing up for us against all the accusations of the enemy!  We can't be condemned because we have HIS own righteousness! We have been perfected forever through HIS perfect sacrifice!  And this stands forever because HE ever lives to intercede for us!  And what's more, He has sent His own Spirit into us to be the life source within us, a life that is eternal and CAN'T be destroyed!  The Spirit is in us as a law, HIS nature has been given to us as our new nature, and that nature CAN'T sin or turn away from God, for He's the HOLY Spirit who always believes, thinks, and acts right! 

We are a clean temple with the Perfect God of the Universe dwelling within, and it's all set up in such a way that it can't be revoked, changed, or ruined by us!   That's because the whole New Covenant is based on HIM and HIS work, and therefore it's settled and done forever...Wow!  We have really been brought into perfect union with God forever, in an unchangeable way, for it's impossible for God to lie, and He said, I will NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU; instead, He promises with an oath, even, that Surely I will BLESS YOU!

He will never leave us.  He is always near us.  He is within us, Spirit bonded to spirit!  Our spirits are ONE!  You can't get any closer than that! 

This gives me great relief and joy.  We will never be abandoned or left alone to face this world on our own.  We have Big Brother Jesus backing us up, the dear Comforter Holy Spirit guiding and reassuring us and being with us through it all, and Father God carrying us in His arms at ALL times - we are safe, secure, found, hopeful, cherished, free from fear - His perfect love won't ever be removed from us, and it's a love that ACTS on our behalf to move mountains, calm storms, heal broken bodies and hearts, and change circumstances to always bring us through in victory.  His is a love and a life that always conquers, always wins, is always over all!

Grace reigns through Jesus Christ in my life!  All because of Him, and I need do nothing - He has done it all and will carry it to completion!  Thank You, Lord!  Your nearness makes me rejoice and sends the fear of abandonment away!

Rob Rufus - the Holy Spirit Tells Us We Are Righteous!!

What a wonderful thought by Rob Rufus on what the Holy Spirit is telling us:

"The Holy Spirit isn't telling you that you are a sinner - He is telling you that your sins are gone and that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

"The Holy Spirit testifies...that your sins are forgiven!  That you are perfect forever and that God doesn't remember your sins anymore.

"Give your testimony:  'I am the righteousness of God.'"

                                                                                           Rob Rufus

Wow!  How awesome to be able to stand and say, "I am righteous!  I am the righteousness of GOD in Christ Jesus!  I am not evil but righteous!  I am not a slimy wormy sinner but a clean and pure saint!  I am glowing with the glow of Christ and my heart has been cleansed and is now good and pure, for I am righteous and have Christ's very own divine nature in me as my very nature!

I read recently that righteous means without sin, sinless - SINLESS!  That is what we are because of Jesus!  God has MADE us the righteousness of Christ in Him!  At our rebirth, we were recreated and remade that way, and we will be righteous before Him forever!  Righteous before we do anything right today!  Righteous even if we blow it today!  Righteous once for all, righteous forever, right with Him, pleasing, in right standing before Him, accepted and acceptable!  We please His heart!  We make Him smile, sing and shout over us with love-shouts of joy!  Wow!

Thank You, O dear Father God, for Your marvelous grace shown to us through Christ!  Thank You, Jesus, for being MADE sin for us, so that we could be MADE righteous with Your righteousness!  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for telling us it is SO, especially when the devil attacks us with lies and tries to make us ashamed.  Thank you that whoever believes on You, Lord, will never ever be put to shame!  You lift our heads high to look at Your face and see the love and acceptance in Your eyes!  And You lift us up to look in triumph on the enemy!  We are living in the freedom and joy of GRACE!  Living in Your perfect right standing before the Father!  Thank You, God!  I felt like a failure today over something I felt I'd done wrong, and You reminded me of all this wonderful truth that we are forever RIGHT with You through Jesus!  Thank You!  Amen...

More Great Quotes from Rob Rufus

Here are more great words from Rob Rufus on His wonderful grace toward us and our new identity in Christ:

"I am His son because I have the DNA of rebirth."

"[God says to us:] Everything I have is yours! You are My son -it's automatically yours!  Irrespective of your behavior - it BELONGS to you!"

"[What we have] all day, every moment of every day, every second - is open heaven fellowship closeness with the Father - no condemnation - even when [we] do wrong.."

"At the cross, Jesus identified with you at your worst so that in Him you can be identified with Him at His best."

"Grace is God's total and absolute acceptance of you unconditionally..Grace is also God's empowering presence of life!"

"Your identity is forever settled and God gave it to you and made you in His image and likeness."

                                                                       Rob Rufus

Rob Rufus on What the Gift of Righteousness Means for Us

Here is a great quote from Rob Rufus that I read recently.  It is so uplifting to think of this wonderful gift of righteousness God has given us and what that really means  for us!!

"What does the gift of righteousness mean?  It means 'right standing with God!'  The gift of righteousness gives you permanent, unconditional, irreversible, from first to last right standing with God.  Now what does right standing with God mean?  It means that there is nothing between you and the Father.

"Right standing - nothing separating us!  Does the Father have any problems with the Son?  Is there any conflict between the Father and the Son?  Does the Father pint out the Son's faults?  No! You are in Christ and through what happened on the cross you are actually ONE with the Father!  So actually friends - every second of every moment of every day you are actually as close to the Father as Jesus is!"

                                                                                         Rob Rufus

O God, You are an Endless Ocean (Jonathan Helser)

What a beautiful song!

He and His love are an endless ocean, infinite in scope.  We will never come to the end of that love, that goodness, that joy and peace, that Presence!  We are floating in His presence, and His waves of love constantly flow to us and over us. Whatever our need, He is an infinite supply for us, meeting our need out of His riches in grace, out of His boundless sea of kindness and favor toward us!


Me:  I am the biggest failure this planet has ever seen!

Him:  You are beautiful to Me!

Me:  How can You say that when I act and seem and feel so very ugly, inside and out!?

Him:  It's the way I MADE you..I MADE you beautiful, inside and out, when I regenerated you.

Me:  I don't see it..I look at myself and see faults and uglies..

Him:  I look at you and see the image of My Son!

Me:  Really?  He is so beautiful and lovely, so perfect and wonderful.  I wish I could be like Him..

Him:  I see Him every time I look at you.  And I am so proud of you!

Me:  God, how could You love me and be proud of me when I don't even love myself and all I feel sometimes is shame about who I am?

Him:  That's not who you are, that's who you were without Me.  Look at yourself through My eyes are perfect to me!

Me:  Let me see myself through Your eyes!

Him:  Snuggle up close and I will show you..I love these times together, and I love YOU so very much!

Me:  I love you, too, dear Daddy!

The Real You (Dan Stone)

Here is a wonderful quote from the book The Rest of the Gospel, by Dan Stone.

I read this recently when I was down on myself because of a failure in my life.  As I read, my sense of condemnation and shame over how I'd failed just melted away!  All the vague feelings that the enemy tried to put on me - feelings that God might look on me with disappointment or displeasure -  just disappeared!  The fog of confusion lifted, and I could see once again that His face had always been and was still turned toward me with a loving look and a smile!  That is the power of the good news of grace, isn't it?!  It is the power of God to save - deliver - us from the devil's lies, sinful confusion, feelings of doubt, etc. into the glorious freedom of being unconditionally loved and perfectly RIGHT with God!!  The good news of grace is so powerful in my life, and I love how it brings me right back to reality, the new creation, Spirit-reality that God has brought about in my life..and in the lives of all of His dear children!

I love how in the quote below, Dan Stone describes the real, true self, the real and true US that we REALLY are because of Christ!  He has regenerated us and made us a new creation, and that person, our true self, the deep-down spirit-self within us, is complete and perfect - that is how we've been MADE!

"You are a righteous person...

When He look at you, He sees the nature of His Son.

He sees you as love.
He sees you as joy.
He sees you as peace.
He sees you as righteous.
He sees you redeemed.
He sees you justified.
He sees you perfect.
He sees you complete...

This is the real you.

Your false self - your flesh and its independent efforts to cope in the world - is not the real you.

The real you is a new creation:  righteous, holy, blameless, acceptable, beloved."

                                                                                    Dan Stone
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14