Monday, July 31, 2017

Perfect Or Pretend?

Sanctification has been the focus of this week’s devotions. Sanctification is the process of growth in holiness; it is how God is making us more like Jesus. Chambers says on July 23, “The one marvelous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my mortal flesh… Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him… Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.”
Once in 1 Peter 1:16 and five times in Leviticus God’s people are called to “be holy as I (God) am holy.” What’s the difference between acting holy and being holy? Holiness is our identity in Christ. Holiness is not simply being sinless; it’s the character of God, demonstrated through Jesus. Holiness is relational. Holiness is not avoiding sin and doing good. It is being like God. What is God like? He is love. He is just and merciful. He is gracious, long-suffering, and kind. God created us in His image, and He is re-shaping us back into the image of Christ. Holiness is what we are in Christ, not just what we do. When I try to act holy, I end up having to cover up a lot of what isn’t holy in my life. I used to cringe at the idea of “holiness” because I knew, as good as I tried to be, it wasn’t going to be enough. I was trying to imitate Jesus, to act holy, instead of resting in the holiness that Jesus wants to (and does!) produce in me.
If Christ Jesus became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30), He is not just a model of what God expects; Jesus is the means by which God will give us the power to become what He desires us to be. That’s refreshing. My life in Christ is not based on my performance. My life comes from Him, and He gives me what I can never be. What is my role in the sanctification process? It really isn’t any different than it was when I first began following Christ: I need to trust Him. I need to give up my rights to what I want to do and submit myself to Him. Ask Him to produce in you what you don’t want to be on your own. Ask Him to love others through you, to be patient, kind, and self-controlled. Ask Him to let His character be reflected through you.
 - Conrad Hake

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15 - "My Life's Spiritual Honor and Duty"

Be Loved - Be Love

First, to understand the love of Christ one must first understand who Christ is. He is the embodiment of love, everything that is done by Him and everything He has done for us, is love. I am reminded of the passage where Paul speaks on love, and then think on how God has shown each of these attributes of love.

 1 Corinthians 13 - 3 I may give away everything I have, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing if I do not have love. 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. 5 Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. 6 Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth.7 Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always remains strong. 8 Love never ends. 

The second part, is to understand who we are. Although we were made in the image of God we chose to break full communion with God, and live a selfish, self-centered, self-serving life. We do not live a life deserving of Christ's love, but rather only in complete need of it! We do not change for Christ to love us, (Romans 5:8) but rather we've changed because of it (2 Corinthians 5:17.) 

The third part, is to understand how much we are loved and this can be summarized with one verse
John 3 - 16 God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 

So today, it is not our charge the love the lovely.

It is not charge to love those worthy of love.

It is not our charge to love only the ones we want to love.

It is our charge to love as Christ loved, and Christ loved the whole world!

- Josh

July 15 - "My Life's Spiritual Honor and Duty" -

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday July 7 - "Will to be Faithful"

Free because of a Cost!
Christianity is NOT something that is inevitable, something that this World promotes, or something that you can "turn on and off." The belief, and then life that following, in Christ comes from a choice to abandon this World, to go against ALL that we have a desire to do, and to be who we were made to be! God is NOT looking for emotionless, will-less, or slave followers. His deepest desire is to have a relationship with EVERYONE, but forces none! He wants all of His creation to be in a deep, personal relationship with Him, but with our choosing to be a part! He loves all of us, but not all of us show that love back. (Romans 5:8)
We MUST openly declare our love for God!
I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son. The father would, everyday, look to sons return, hoping it was then. However, he had to wait for the will of the son to return. But everyday the father was ready for, that day, to be the time! God is this with us! He waits patiently, and His deepest desire is for us to return to Him! But it is our free-will that makes it "the day we returned."
Will today be the day that you return to God? 

-  Josh Burt

July 8 - "Will to be Faithful"

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Saturday July 1 - Free and Forgiven!

Free and Forgiven!

When looking at our relationship with God, we can not look over the COMPLETE forgiveness that we have been shown. God is not a God that waits for our apology, our change of heart, or our acknowledgement to extend forgiveness and mercy to us. God is perfect, and made us to be in perfect communion with Him; however, we have committed an assault on God's purity (made in us) and it was an eternal crime. This crime was one that God still held US accountable for, but we could NEVER payoff! - Galatians 5:19-20

Even though we could not pay off this debt, God had forgiveness, mercy, and showed His grace. This was done by Him paying the penalty of the crime that was committed against Him for us. This was done before we asked for forgiveness before our hearts ever changed and was done only for us. - Romans 5:8

We too often forget God still holds us accountable for what we do and for what we've done with the things we have. But, in a way that only God can do, He sees us through the payment He made. This should not be a relief for us, but it should be the example that we live by and the way in which we strive to forgive. God has chosen to set us free with His forgiveness, but also to allow us to forgive through Him! We now have the option to forgive, not just to be forgiven!

So, today go out remembering that we have been set free and help others to see the same, forgiving in the way that we have been forgiven and loving in the way that we have been love!

 - Josh

July 1 - "The Inevitable Penalty"

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday June 24 - "Reconciling Yourself to the Fact of Sin"

 About 30 days ago we started a devotional program in our church. This can easily be one more program, something to read every day, just writing a weekly message and ... that's it? No, that shouldn’t be it! 
Remember what the Bible says in Isaiah 55.8? "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord”. 

It is unbelievable how God can use simple things like a little devotional to talk to us, to guide us, to encourage us, and to sustain us for that day. Sometimes we are desperate to listen to His voice, to know His direction. Then, we start to look for Him, and because God is big, we just pay attention to bigger and stronger things, but you know, sometimes or even many times, God is not there, God is in a low whisper, 1 Kings 19:9-12 says: "There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”

Don't underestimate God because He wants to talk to you!

 - Pastor Denis
June 24 - "Reconciling Yourself to the Fact of Sin."

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday June 17 - "Come To Me"

Several devotional readings over the past week have reflected on coming to Jesus. The call of discipleship is first a call to come to Jesus. We often get the order mixed up. I want to do something for Jesus. Indeed, Chambers emphasized on June 11th that in our stubbornness we would rather do anything than the simple, childlike act of coming to Jesus. This week has been a busy week around Grace with Vacation Bible School. We want to be busy about investing in others, serving in ministry, and loving one another and our community well. But in my own life, busyness often drowns out what God is wanting to do in my heart. Chambers asked a question on June 10th that has resounded in my mind over the past few days: “Are you thirsty, or smugly indifferent—so satisfied with your experience that you want nothing more of God?” Ouch. I’m sure we would all say a loud “no!” But what does my life reflect? Do I allow God to touch my heart? Do I want Him to? Am I satisfied—apathetic—in my walk with God, to the point I’m not letting Him transform my heart? Even spending time in daily devotion can become routine. Am I reflecting on the wisdom of Chambers and the truth of God’s Word?

Jesus’ first invitation in discipleship is to “come, follow Me” (Matthew 4:19, Mark 10:21), and we often reserve coming to Jesus as our initial response in faith to the gospel. My tendency is to come and go, but Jesus invites us to come and be with Him. Jesus doesn’t want us to come to Him and then go about our lives. He continually invited the disciples and the crowds to come to Him:
Come and rest – Matthew 11:28
Come to me and drink, if you thirst – John 7:37
Come and see – John 1:39
Come to me; I will not cast you out – John 6:37
Come away and rest – Mark 6:31
Have you come to Jesus? Will you come now?

Pastor Conrad

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday June 10 - “Growing In Christ”

“Growing In Christ”

Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught...”
(Col 2:6-7a)

I spent too many years thinking the gospel was in my past.  I thought living for Christ today was based on spiritual principles disconnected from the gospel.  

This was more than a simple mistake, it was disastrous.  Things which previously dominated my life continued to plague me.  Insecurity, anger, and discontentment seemed constantly in the background, ready to pounce at the first frustration or disappointment or disagreement.  It was difficult to encourage other struggling believers because I didn’t know what to say other than “read your bible” or “pray” or “trust God.”  Good advice, but it was too general for me and I wasn’t convinced it would help others.  I couldn’t effectively disciple others.  Missions trips, bible school or missions training didn’t equip me to face the constant conflict of my inner man – conflict that left me guilty and discouraged.

In my 30’s I and some other believers studied the gospel throughout the Old and New Testaments. I’ll never forget the process of incremental andsignificant change in my inner man as God’s graceand my new identity in Christ transformed my view of myself and others.  

still have much to learn.  My flesh remainsincorrigible, but today “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

“Growing in Christ to grow others” starts with inner transformation through the gospel of grace.  “In Him” we have “every spiritual blessing,” “redemption through His blood,” “the forgiveness of our trespasses,” and “we have been claimed as God’s own possession.”  (Ephesians 1)

Pastor Andy Kline

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saturday June 3rd - "The Secret of the Lord"

Saturday June 3rd - "The Secret of the Lord" -

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.”   Psalm 61:1

Sometime around 1988 I was given my first copy of My Utmost For His Highest and with that tattered book came a challenge - “Read it everyday!” An older man at Grace had given me a lifetime quest – each day to find at least 5 minutes to spend with God. It seemed simple at first but then life's duties came screaming back and the demands for time were relentless. In great wisdom the man who gave me the book also said that he would ask me each week how I was doing in my readings – O the dreaded hounds of accountability! On Sundays I would see him coming – my gripping fear was that he might ask me about a day I had hurried through or even worse, maybe a day I had skipped. In reality his questions were gentle and his intent was for my growth – I thank God for him to this day!
So I say to you – can you find even just 5 minutes to spend with God each day? A quiet moment to read a short thought and verse from Scripture. Surely we have a few minutes for a devoted thought about God's goodness or His mercy and grace or the love of Heaven and kindness of the Lord – this cannot be too much to ask! Please, take one of the methods we are providing – a book, an app, an email or web post – and give back to our Creator and Life-giver at least 5 quality minutes of devoted time in reflection and prayer – I will be asking you!

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Utmost for His Highest Devotional

Dear Grace Bible Church family,

“What is the one thing I could do that would make the most difference in my faith?”

I will tell you – a few minutes of Bible reading, prayer and reflection.  Daily Devotion!

Psalm 5:2&3
Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Morning may not be your best time but I will tell you that anytime spent each day turning your heart toward God will be the most important minutes of your day.  I can also be sure that if you do not find these precious minutes for your soul it will continue to be parched in the desert of spiritual thirst.

The Pastors and Elders of Grace are willing to support you in this daily drink – we propose the following as encouragements and assistance to this vital appointment:

1.     Make available a high quality devotional in several formats – on line, app, daily email, inexpensive print copy.
2.     A weekly blog choosing one of that weeks devotions and sharing some additional thoughts and verses.
3.     A daily social media feed featuring a quote or verse or encouragement about our quiet time with God.
4.     A Facebook thread for you to share your thoughts as church family.

Hebrews 12:2&3
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Please consider joining us daily as we ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ and then “consider him” for a few minutes of quiet time with God.  It will be the best way to start each day and I promise you it will be the best part of every day!

Pastor Mike

Perfect Or Pretend?

Sanctification has been the focus of this week’s devotions. Sanctification is the process of growth in holiness; it is how God is making us...