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Letting grace move us

Father God, Lord of life, You provide us in every way & for every need. You keep us running, direct our hearts & sustain our souls, body & mind. You bring us life & a hope we can call on every single day. We come seeking You out in all these ways & more every day, because outside of You, we have nothing. On our own we have no hope, no strength, no provision, only empty promises we make to ourselves, but have no power to see through to the end. Forgive us our failings & pride, guiding us to completion in Jesus Christ instead. Empower us through Your Holy Spirit to walk with You today. We need to desperately & deeply. You are our rock & refuge. Restore us & bring glory to Yourself. We bless Your holy Name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do you feel called by God? Can you sense His will at work in your life? Have you ever felt sent by Him to do a particular work? Do you know what that connection feels like & what it is He compels you to accomplish?

Here’s what we find to help us answer those questions. Paul begins by acknowledging these callings in his own life. God has made them abundantly clear. He says that he is called to do these things & that the church in Corinth is called to be a gathering of saints that call upon the Name of Jesus Christ. He acknowledges the call of an individual & the call of the gathering of believers collectively. There are things that we must do on our own & there are activities that we participate in together. That’s not revolutionary or difficult to comprehend, but there are temptations to neglect one of them or both, from time to time.

We often make excuses & tell ourselves it’s okay that we aren’t doing something that God has called us to as an individual, or that it’s not a big deal that we aren’t serving corporately with the rest of the body. But when we look at the second part of the passage today, we find out just what we are missing when we stand apart from this work of God in us.

Paul begins talking about grace & peace that comes to us through Christ. He acknowledges that this same grace is a gift from Christ and how He enriches us in every way through that grace. He blesses our strength. He blesses our knowledge. He blesses our speech & fills us so we do not lack in any gift. This all comes from walking in His will & in being obedient to the call of grace on our lives.

Grace doesn’t call us to simply rest in Him, which it does provide. Grace doesn’t call us to simply know about itself, which is part of how peace works its way in us. Grace calls us to an active participation in the Gospel work in us, it leads us into a new way of living, a movement in the rhythms it provides us, and in those rhythms, we find a new cadence for our lives that brings fulfillment, hope, peace & joy that we can in turn share with others. None of this is passive. None of this is meant to belong only to us. We live this & share in this together. This is what grace does. We are called, provided for & encouraged by grace into a deeper love, a full life & a living hope.

Because of this grace, we can also stand guiltless before God, and that is the greatest gift of all. This is what Jesus has provided for us through His life, death, burial & resurrection. Grace makes the calling & the life of dedicated obedience possible & it brings us to God’s unending well of joy, peace & fulfillment. It’s a wonderful place to be & a deep joy to walk out day by day. Christ is revealed in us through it all. Let Him reveal Himself in your life today. Seek His leading. Walk in His rhythms.

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Mark 12:38-44 // Hypocrisy inside and out

“38 He also said in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes, and who want greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the front seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher punishment.”

41 Sitting across from the temple treasury, He watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. 43 Summoning His disciples, “He said to them, I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury. 44 For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed — all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:38-44 

Here we find two hearts in stark contrast with one another. We find the audacious, bold, arrogant heart of the religious leaders standing in opposition to the quiet, faithful, Humble heart of the widow. The religious leaders, proud of their accomplishments, proud of their position, proud of their wealth, proud of their intellect stand apart from God. They worshipped only themselves, and as Jesus says, their reward comes from men and their praise.

But this quiet widow, giving all she had, trusting in God, she is the one with the heart that honors God. Nothing those religious leaders could do could begin to imitate what she brought to God. The religious leaders trusted only in themselves, they had no concept of grace or of God’s care. Sure, they would have considered themselves blessed, but they would also take the credit for the blessing. God showed them favor because of their genetic forebears and because of their own righteous acts. They earned it. 

The widow comes knowing that YHWH is her provider, knowing that there is nothing in her that buys her love from Him. Instead, she comes wholly trusting and wholly thankful. Out of her poverty, she gave it all. And if you’ve ever seen the Israeli ‘mite’ you know that it is an incredibly small coin. For that to be all you have in the world is to be dependent on God. 

Mark 10 – “23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 24 But the disciples were astonished at His words. Again Jesus said to them, Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

We would all be better to be more dependent on God, trusting in Him, rather than trusting in money, intellect, position or anything else. To GoLove in His Name means to GoLove dependent on Him. Rich and poor, learned and meek, we must come to others humbly through our understanding of Him. We cannot go out proud of self, but instead boasting in Christ. 

Mark 8:34-37

“34 Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? 37 What can a man give in exchange for his life?”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“26 Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world — what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one can boast in His presence. 30 But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God- given wisdom for us — our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.”

No one brags in front of God // Paul’s 1st letter to the church in Corinth

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“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

In his letter to the church, James reminds teachers that we are going to be held doubly accountable for what we say and teach (James 3:1) and that is something that I know I take very seriously. I also stand with Paul knowing that my words are not anything special in and of themselves, and that if anything powerful or good or special or motivating or righteous comes out of my mouth, then it must be God at work, and not me.

There has to be a large degree of humility that comes from handing your life over to Christ. We must admit that we have a problem that we cannot overcome by ourselves, that we are powerless to beat it and that we must have God’s help to even make the slightest motion forward. We admit our weakness, our faults, our failure, and we must be humble enough to admit that anything worth bragging about must have come from Him, and so we don’t even get credit for that…

Instead, we look at what God has done. We examine our redemption and our Redeemer. We study our salvation and our Savior. We learn from our Lord & Master and we humbly follow along in our calling by the One who has saved us by virtue of His own righteousness. We did not contribute to the effort. It was all his doing.

“But I had to…”
No.
“And when I gave…”
No.

We admitted we were powerless without Him and destined for Hell. That is what we had earned for ourselves; damnation (to use an old churchy term.)
Our best efforts had us separated from God for eternity and our most wonderful intentions left us morally bankrupt. Scripture says that ‘there are none who are righteous, no not one.’ (Romans 3:10) and that ‘all have fallen short of God’s glory’ (Romans 3:23) in and because of our sin.

We don’t brag in front of God because He did all the work. We simply submitted ourselves to Him. We admitted our faults. Received His grace and were baptized into His love. Our redemption is all about Him, not all about us. It’s not about ‘our best life now,’ it’s about His glory for eternity. It’s not about us ‘naming and claiming’ anything. It’s about His justice, mercy and grace. It’s not about health and wealth in this life, as if our God is so shallow and that the best example of His love and blessing would be shown through such petty, worldly ways.

God’s love, grace and mercy is best shown when His children live as His church, dead to self and living to serve others in His Name for His glory in the ways that He has gifted us to do so, and again so that He would be glroified.

Dead to self.
Alive in Christ.
(Romans 6:11)

He must become greater, we must diminish.
(John 3:30)

It’s not about ego. It’s about proper respect and the acknowledgement that God’s glory over us, in us and through us is the highest calling we can recognize or ever be given. It’s not just for ministers, priests and guys who wear robes on Sunday mornings in front of groups of people. It’s about taking the love that was first shown to us and glorifying the One who loved as we GoLove others in His Name, for His sake. We share Jesus, who was given for us. Be bold. Speak out. Say _something_. Consider your calling and live it out humbly in love and under grace.

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