Posts Tagged 'grace'

The Living Word: The Gate of Grace

The Gate of Grace

John 10:1-6; 19-21

Costco is currently requiring people to wear masks to enter their store: this is NOT a violation of rights, but an UPHOLDING of rights, because Costco gets to determine what conditions exist for their own business. One can’t shop without a membership; can’t shop without shoes: and nobody bats an eye. But add masks to the mix, and people lose their minds! WHO GETS TO CONTROL ACCESS?

The Approach Determines The Access

* An Open Heart Sees An Open Gate ~ John 10:1-6

  • 1 This is a follow-up from 9:28-29; Pharisees THINK they are the shepherd; Jesus knows better
  • 2 a shepherd enters WITH the sheep; he is among them
  • 3 Always remember: God knows us BY NAME: we’re not just a mass of creatures to Him
  • 4 great comfort to me: 1) ALL his own, 2) HE goes ahead, 3) we know His voice
  • 6 they don’t understand because THEY AREN’T LISTENING

* A Closed Mind Only Sees A Closed Gate ~ John 10:19-21

  • 19 “these words” all Jesus said in chp 9&10; “I am the Gate”, “I am the Good Shepherd”
  • 20 Raving: how can a man be a gate? They don’t get it because they’re unwilling to PONDER what He means
  • 21 Those who SEE what Jesus is DOING in the lives of people can understand

cf Ezekiel 34:11: “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

God does all this THROUGH JESUS – JESUS is the GATE, the ENTRY POINT into the Kingdom of God: no Jesus, no entry!

2 Corinthians: Excellent Gifts

2 Corinthians: Excellent Gifts

2Ki.4:38-44; 2Cor.8:7-11

This last year, I participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange. I received one gift up front, a very nice pair of scented candles, and a note that’d I’d be receiving something else over time. I appreciated the candles… but I’m CRAZY about the Sock-Of-The-Month club that sends me weird and brightly colored socks! I occasionally light the candle… but I wear socks every day! Which gift do I appreciate?

How Do We Gauge A Good Gift?

We Value a Viewpoint ~ 2Kings 4:38-44

  • 38/41 miracle or mundane: how your view affects your reading of Scripture (I tend to think that this account is miraculous, because why include it otherwise?)
  • 42/44 seems familiar, right? Notice Elisha’s reasoning: “this is what the LORD says” – the prophet doesn’t feed these people/do a miracle because of what *he* thinks; it’s in response to God’s Word: OBEDIENCE ALLOWS MIRACLES TO BE SEEN

We Trust What We Test ~ 2Corinthians 8:7-11

  • 7 we can choose to excel in means of God’s grace (this is huge!) Growth in God’s Grace is EXPECTED
  • 8 Christian love is TESTABLE – we can *learn* about our love for others by testing its attributes (are we generous to all, or just some? What circumstances cause us to give sacrificially, and what others to only give grudgingly? What attributes are shared among those whom we feel compelled to serve? What attributes among those we feel it’s okay to ignore?)
  • 9 grace works well when given, not grasped (cf Phil 2)
  • 10/11 desire to help should be matched by willingness to work

Can you “test everything” on your own? Who helps you administer that testing in your life, and who holds you accountable for results?

Good Gifts are both GRANTED and GROWING

MEMORY VERSE: I Thessalonians 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”

Sola Gratia: Only by Grace

Sola Gratia: Only by Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10

Many of our most beloved Christian songs involve the word Grace: Amazing Grace, Grace Greater than All My Sin; Your Grace is Enough, and on and on. WHY? What is so compelling about Grace that we’re driven to sing about it? Why do we ask God to tune our hearts to sing His grace? Perhaps it’s because Grace meets a need that we’ve got no other way to fill…

Why We Need God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

We Begin DEAD ~ Ephesians 2:1-3

We’re Given LIFE ~ Ephesians 2:4-7

  • 4/5 God gives us life THROUGH GRACE
  • 6 God raised; God seated – God did the work in us
  • 7 to demonstrate His character; we know that God is loving and merciful because we KNOW deep down – “…deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties…” we KNOW what we really deserve… and God saves us anyway!

We Deserve NOTHING ~ Ephesians 2:8-10

  • 8 Grace is the Reason for the Gift of faith
  • 9 Works don’t work! (the dead can’t do living acts; God brings us to life so we can respond to Him)
  • 10 created EPI=unto Good works (KJV translation is great here)

God PLANNED that we would peripateo – walk around in fellowship with Him. Our chief end in life is to Love God and Enjoy Him forever; to go back to the Garden and walk with Him in the cool of the day.

Posts from 1 Peter: Endurance is Trust

Posts from 1 Peter: Endurance is Trust Sermon Audio Here

1 Peter 2:19-25

Too many “prosperity preachers” talk about what makes the “best life now”. But let’s face the truth: Everyone Suffers SOMETIME. The question is: What do we DO with suffering? How CAN We USE It?

How Can We Respond To Tough Times?

We Endure Through Trusting ~ 1 Peter 2:19-22 It’s not about getting through adversity

  • v19 commendable: org. word is GRACE; suffering not automatically a blessing, but it can be a tool which makes us aware of God’s grace to us
  • v20 don’t focus on the suffering; focus on doing good also a tool for seeing GRACE
  • v21 “an example” a writing copy to imitate, like a PRIMER for kids, to follow step by step
  • v22 HE missed no steps; we can walk as He walked (map through a minefield)
=> scene from football movie: player carries another player on his back blindfolded. Coach convinces the carrier to concentrate on his voice, not his own pain. End result: end zone!

We Trust in Christ’s Endurance ~ 1 Peter 2:23-25 It’s all about HIS work

  • v23 entrusted=committed himself again and again and again; an act of will/choice
  • v24 “might die to sins” KJV “being dead to sin”; the word means that Christ died, and dragged sin’s effects away; it’s NULLIFIED, and only has the power we give it. MEANING: when we remember our SIN IS DEAD ON THE CROSS, it can’t hold onto our life
  • v25 “returned” THIS is the 180 degree turn of “repent”; Jesus is our Watcher Above, our Shepherd

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

When we stop trusting, we wander. When we wander, we waste life. When we return to trust, we recognize again our life in Grace.

The JV Team: Little Brother, Big Impact – Jude

The JV Team: Little Brother, Big Impact – Jude Sermon Audio Here

Jude 1:1-7

Matthew 13:55: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? ~ Jude was Jesus’ brother, but didn’t glory in that relation. Why not?

Jude’s Humility Reminds Us We’re To Be

Compelled by the Call, not Position (Jude 1:1-4)

  • v1 servant to Jesus, brother to James
  • v2 a particularly helpful reminder when Christians face difficult times: may you have Mercy, Peace, Love multiplied
  • v3 “urge you to contend” MORE IMPORTANT for those who have been called
  • v4 Jude reminds us: we CANNOT allow cheap grace to undermine our faithful
  • cheap grace: the idea that since we know God is all-forgiving, then we can just go ahead, disregard God’s call for holiness, and live however we want because we know God is predisposed to forgive.
  • Bonhoeffer: “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
  • Keep in mind: I, {Ed} am not chewing you {Warden Community Church and blog readers} out for this: we are together reading Jude’s warning to early Christians. If we find echoes in our own lives, we’d be wise to pay attention to the solutions brought up in Scripture.

Called to Caution, not Permission (Jude 1:5-7)

  • v5 We MUST NOT assume that family connection can substitute for faith: Jude, Jesus’ brother, knows this better than anyone!
  • v6 Angels have NO FAITH: they stood in God’s presence directly with knowledge and invested authority and they STILL decided to go their own way; if THEY who knew directly will be judged, won’t we?
  • v7 NOTICE “gave themselves up” to be tempted is NOT a foregone conclusion to sin!

We do not NEED to fail in holiness, that’s NOT a foregone conclusion. Jude’s warning is to CHOOSE to stand against cheap grace, lazy living, and groundless faith. Ephesians 3:17-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Shaped By A Savior: Gifted with Grace

Gifted with Grace Sermon Audio Here

Isaiah 64:1-9
The Father is the Master Sculptor our lives. Sculptures are meant to be viewed; different lighting shows different details in the work. The Old Testament shows new light to illuminate the gospel, and helps us to see God at work in us, bringing the image of Jesus to the surface.

There are Three Presents We Must Unwrap NOW:

The Powerful Presence of the Lord
Isaiah 64:1-5a What does it look like when God shows up?

  • v1/3 look at the expressions of power: Nature reacts
  • v4 difference in little “g” gods and Lord Almighty? God Acts.
  • v5 righteousness and remembrance of God is key

The Significance of our Sin
Isaiah 64:5b-9 How do we respond in the presence of the Lord?

  • v6 self-generated righteousness is a bloody filthy mess
  • v7 our sin repels God; our fault, not His
  • v8 He loves us IN SPITE of our sin
  • v9 request: admit relationship AND repentance

The Gain of Grace
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 How does God compensate for our sin?

  • v3/4 Grace is given, not earned
  • v5/6 we’re enriched when Grace is at work
  • v7 y’all don’t lack WHEN TOGETHER
  • v8 He gives us all strength; together, we are un-accusable (not subject to Devil’s lies)
  • v9 fellowship with Jesus shows God’s faithfulness among us

Sculptors & Home renovation shows: both take great care in choosing the correct material for their projects. God, the master craftsman, has SPECIFICALLY CHOSEN YOU (flaws and all) to demonstrate some of His best work!

Unnoticed Grace

Here we are, on the cusp of Fall. As I write this, it’s a beautiful day outside, a pleasant 82 degrees… and that alone shows me how much it is possible to adjust to one’s surroundings. If you’d told me three years ago that I’d consider 82 degrees a pleasant day, I’d have thought you were crazy. You see, when we lived on the West side of the state, a day in the high 70’s was a WARM day… and anything above 80 was a reason to find a location with air conditioning.
Now? It’s merely a pleasant day. It’s amazing what you get used to when it’s around you all the time.
That makes me think about God’s grace. To those of us who live in God’s grace all the time, it can be unremarkable. It’s *normal* to be able to breathe a sigh of relief when thinking about our spiriutal state… because God’s grace covers us. We don’t have to work our way into the Kingdom, or try to earn God’s favor. We understand that earning God’s favor is IMPOSSIBLE – God, after all, is infinite. The love of the Lord for humanity is without limit – and can’t be bought or earned in any way by us. It’s all God’s choice to rescue us.
But we don’t think about that much, because it’s NORMAL for us. We take it for granted because that’s exactly what it is: granted to us, by an act of God’s will.
But what about those who don’t know? There are so many people in our community who don’t really understand the concept of God’s grace, because they’ve never really seen it in action on a regular basis. Personally, I know my family didn’t comprehend grace; there was a much higher emphasis on performance. I see a lot of that in our town – a high emphasis on what one is able to produce. That makes sense in an agricultural community… but it’s terrible when applied to theology.
We, as God’s people who live and move and have our being in the grace of God, need to extend that grace to others who have not yet understood it. “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15). We can extend God’s Kingdom by spreading the message of God’s grace by whatever means are at our disposal. We even have the opportunity to broadcast our services on local television at no charge… all as a way of sharing God’s grace to those who do not yet live in it.
Please pray with me so that others would see Jesus in us; ” in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)
KFJ – Pastor Ed

Pastor Ed Backell

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