Gospel – Story of God

 

Grace AND TruthI remember hearing about Jesus when I was a very young kid. As I grew, my parents lived out their faith in God. I went to church every Sunday (we had morning and evening services). We also had Wednesday night Bible Study. I also observed my Grandmother (Mammie) read her Bible every day. She was faithful in seeking the Lord.
I remember hearing a lot of rules – some do’s and don’ts from the church teaching. My parents echoed the teaching and it helped keep me scared of going to hell, so I complied. I see things a bit different now that I’ve been studying the Word on my own and listening to what the Lord must say to me. Paul met Jesus face to face authenticating His preaching. Check this out…

11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12 CSB)

I didn’t hear a lot about Grace being part of the gospel when I was growing up. As I study the Word today – it’s not only part of the gospel – it’s the essence of the gospel. I’m reminded by grace that I could never do enough to be worth saving. I could never go to church enough. The Lord is about a personal journey rather than a church journey. I’m not sure just how strong someone is who never fellowships with others are sits under the teaching of the Word. I remember hearing the late Keith Green say that, “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.”

The Gospel is Jesus Christ living in me and through me to show others His Amazing Love and Grace. There is nothing I could do to save myself. He is Mighty to Save and the ONLY One Who can save me.  The Gospel has Power.

I’m simply going to live the rest of my life letting Christ be in charge. I’ve surrendered my life to His Will and His Way. With that surrender comes incredible FREEDOM to live for Him. I “get” to go to church – I don’t “have” to go. I enjoy the fellowship of other Christ followers who are simply trying to live for Him.  In a nutshell: The Gospel is GRACE & TRUTH!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mirror Mirror

 

Young man dressing up and looking at mirrorI look at myself in the mirror in the morning and I must admit it’s scary. My hair is usually disheveled and I look old – wait I am relatively old. I’ve noticed a grayer goatee and my grayer sideburns. I’m not one to whine and moan about getting old, but it’s weird how sometimes when I look in the mirror, I feel like I look younger than others. The mirror is simply a reflection of what I look like, but it’s the perception of the reflection that dictates my behavior. I realize that is a mouthful.

I really want to see myself as the Lord sees me. I want to see myself as others see me. Paul began reflecting on the confidence we have because of Jesus who surpassed the law with the new covenant. If the law brought forth the glory of God in its time, how much more glory the grace that Jesus delivered. Check this out…

12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. 

 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12,17-18 CSB)

I want to look in the mirror and see the Spirit of God in me. I want others to see Jesus in my actions and activities. I want my life to reflect the Word of God living in me. I want people to see my heart which is not physically visible, but is visible through my actions and activities.

As I spend time in the Word of God, He is shaping me and molding me to look more like Him than I currently look. I’m so thankful that He has saved me and is making me more like Him. All I must do is surrender to Him and then He gives me incredible freedom in return. I like the Lord’s mirror better than the ones I look at each day!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Code Is Clear

 

Clicking a redeem button, 3d renderI have walked with the Lord for a long time. I was introduced to the Lord at a very young age and I grew up living off the faith of my parents and grandparents. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I owned my faith. I remember the night that I believed in God for myself. I didn’t make a public display, but the Lord moved in my heart and I still remember it like it was yesterday or last week. I pray that my kids own their faith. I pray that God speaks to them.

I read one of the “Psalms of Accents” this morning that was a bit confusing. It was obvious the writer was feeling frustrated from the oppression that had been upon Israel. I did find a nugget that spoke into my heart. Check this out…

But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.’ (Psalm 129:4 NIV)

I have been picked on and put down by some strong personalities. I confess that I’ve struggled to care about those who hate me. It feels like the wicked and hateful people are dictating how I feel and where I go from here. The Lord directs my path. He will help me experience freedom from the people who wish to harm me. He will protect me from them. He will expose them. The Lord rescues and restores my heart all the time – often daily. He knows me like no one else. He knows when I hurt and when I’m down. He takes my fear and worry off my shoulders and carries it on His shoulders.

When I’m in the middle of struggle and frustration, I must remember that The Lord is ALWAYS strong and righteous. He is mighty to save. He never forgets about me. He releases me from the clutches of the careless and He restores my heart and soul.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Forgiveness & Consequences

 

Time to Move On Clock Acceptance Concede to ChangeI believe forgiveness is a most powerful experience – whether you’re receiving forgiveness or giving forgiveness – It’s release; It’s remission; It’s pardon. Forgiveness is a gift to both the giver and receiver of it.  The Lord demonstrated this first throughout The Word. Giving and forgiveness are closely linked.  Giving is part of the root word. I have experienced first-hand the power of forgiveness. It releases anger, resentment, bitterness, hate and a ton of other emotions that we harbor. Forgiveness means freedom to both the giver and receiver of it.

There are consequences to sin even though there is forgiveness. I know of people who have made some disastrous choices and are forgiven, but still must pay huge consequences. I believe there are some godly and forgiven people in prison for crimes that were horrifying, but the consequences may possibly be a life sentence in prison. Check this out…

Lord our God,
    you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
    though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his holy mountain,
    for the Lord our God is holy. (Psalm 99:8-9 NIV)

Both the offender and the offended need forgiveness. I’ve encouraged people to give forgiveness in their heart long before they ever have an opportunity to verbalize. It is so cool to see people who have held grudges and hurt for years’ release that and move on. In forgiveness, there is a new start even with the consequences looming. I’ve seen so many lives destroyed by bitterness and hate and the harm done to them was long gone. Holding on to hurt can lead to bitterness. Bitterness leads to literal death or certainly death of all sorts of relationships. I believe when I make a dumb choice or stupid decision, I should own it; make amends, accept the consequences and move on.

I’m no longer a slave to my dumb decisions and profound mistakes – I may have consequences to face because of them but I now know the amazing forgiveness of God. I’m not afraid of what is to come because I’m a child of the Most High God!

No Longer Slaves

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Escape

 

EXIT STRATEGYOne of my favorite movies when I was a kid was “The Great Escape”. The word escape is generally used in terms of getting away from something to that is holding me down or to evade capture from something or someone. In general when I escape something or someone I run to something or someone else. There are times that I simply want to be alone and I need to escape from the noise of my day.

One of the things I enjoy about the early morning in my chair is the quietness of the moment to allow clear study, thinking and preparation for the day.

Saul is full on ready to kill David and he narrowly escapes. Check this out…

11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, ‘If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.’ 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped.

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. (1 Samuel 19:11-12,18 NIV)

I love the fact that when David fled from Saul, he went straight to Samuel. He sought out spiritual help in this most desperate situation. I remember a situation a long time ago when I felt personally attacked in a public place. I was very upset and angry about the mistreatment. I remember that all I wanted to do was go sit by a lake and try to calm down. I’ve learned that if I fight fire with fire, I could get burned. I was trying to seek the Lord and His wisdom and counsel.

I think that an escape from certain situations is completely necessary. I’m not a quitter and I don’t just run from trouble on a whim. I have found great help in stepping back (escaping briefly) to reassess my options and gather my thoughts. If I’m going to step back and escape from a situation, I need to be sure and run to the counsel of The Lord. He gives me wisdom, strength and courage to navigate through any situation.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Freedom

 

House and money on scalesThe year of Jubilee in the Jewish culture was in fact a year of freedom. The people who had become poor and had to sell their “family land” were allowed to redeem it. There was indeed no exchange of property. It was much like a “land lease” today. The price of the “lease” was in direct proportion as to how long it was from the year of jubilee or how many years were left until the year of jubilee.

This is a cool concept but unfortunately we don’t practice it today. If I sell some family land – it’s gone and there is no year of jubilee. Check this out…

8 ‘“Count seven Sabbath years – seven times seven years – so that the seven Sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then sound the trumpet everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

13 ‘“In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.

17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 25:8-13, 17 NIV)

As I read this passage I was reminded of the feeling of freedom from debt. I look back over the years at some of the stupid things I’ve done with money and how it caused me great debt. It is painful to recall. I’ve had a “year of jubilee” of sorts when I declared that I don’t want to be a slave anymore to a bank to whom I own money. I don’t want to be a slave to a plastic card. I don’t want to be a slave to a friend to whom I’m borrowing money. I came into contact with Dave Ramsey a few years back and started listening to this common sense approach to handling my money. The first thing was to quit borrowing money. I had to learn to live within my means. I will even counsel a young family buying a house to make sure they are married to each other and not their house payment. We live in a culture that mostly lives outside our income instead of within our income. There is always “too much month at the end of our paycheck”.

Freedom from debt is an incredible feeling – it’s empowering and exhilarating. I want my heart to be devoted to the Lord NOT to creditors. “I want to live like no one else so that I can live and give like no one else”. (Dave Ramsey) I needed a year of jubilee in my financials as early on I borrowed and lived above my means. I’m now trying to live differently – to give differently – to save differently. It seems to me that so many people in our culture are “trying to keep up with the Jones” – people they don’t even know or like. I want to live to serve my God and my family. I don’t want to try to impress others with what I have or own. I want to work with integrity and honesty and earn money to serve the Lord and my family instead of myself. I want to live like I’m having a Year of Jubilee every year!

Pressing On!

Dwayne