Light

bookI realize that light chases out darkness and exposes what was hidden. I love light because I can see much better. I don’t have cat eyes, so I need light to see in the dark. I also don’t always like what is hidden in the dark.  Paul is really challenging the church at Corinth about how they should be regarded. He pulls off the gloves a bit and really lays it out.  Check this out…

1This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NIV)

 

The Lord’s judgment is something that I used to fear a lot. I grew up learning truth so intensely that grace was pushed to the side. I was in constant fear because according to the truth, I’m in trouble. I can’t stay pure and holy, as He wants me to be. When I first read this passage this morning, the part that pushed on me is the part that “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness”. This means exposure to the secrets and motives of my heart. I really try to guard my heart and protect it, but I’m often failing miserably at this. I also loved the part where Paul says, “my conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.”  Without Grace, I’m straight up guilty, but with Grace, I’m innocent. I’m so thankful for the cross and the Grace that Jesus delivered. I’m no longer afraid of the light exposing my sin, the light will expose a heart devoted to the Lord!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Tripped Up

Happy surprised manI’ve been one of those people who like to play tricks on others. I have been known to set someone else up to make them look silly or goofy in front of others. I’ve had a laugh at the expense of others. Sometimes, they’ve played along with it and laughed it off. Other times, they’ve been pretty frustrated with me. If I get a laugh at someone else’s expense, I’ve harmed them. Even if it wasn’t my intention to hurt them – my behavior can still hurt.

Paul addresses the problem of sin inside of all of us. Even those who call themselves Christians still struggle with sin. I love the honesty and transparency of this passage, because I’ve been there often. Check this out….

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:14-20 NIV)

The truth is that I don’t always make good choices in regard to my speech or my behavior. I have good intentions of being good and doing good, but still make dumb decisions that are indeed sinful. I get frustrated and exasperated trying to live right and do well and yet I still get tripped up.  It seems hopeless to live my life without sin. Oh but Jesus did come and Jesus did die for people just like me. He took my sin and idiot behavior to the cross and nailed it there. He ushered in Grace and Mercy that I can’t earn and certainly don’t deserve. He made a way for my behavior to be altered. When I make a bad choice I’m convicted not because I broke the law, but because I broke His heart. That hurts deeply. I don’t want to trip and stumble because I hurt Him.

 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25 NIV)

I’m so grateful for Jesus who brought salvation for people like me who try to be good and do good things, but still fail miserably. I’m so grateful for His Grace that picks me up when I’m tripped up.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Work & Wages

smoking gangster holding dollar billsI’ve watched the debate about “minimum wage” go on in this country for many years. As a teenager, I didn’t understand it. As I got older and more educated I realized what a gift that it is to some people. As a business owner, I see it from a quite different position.  This whole thought process came to my mind as I read more of Paul’s explanation of salvation by grace instead of work. He makes it clear that wages are expected when you work. Check this out…

 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those

    whose transgressions are forgiven,

    whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one

    whose sin the Lord
 will never count against them.” (Romans 4:4-8 NIV)

Paul makes a very valid point. If a person is hired to do a job, and they do it – wages are expected because they are earned.  I think Grace that is “earned” is not really grace – it’s work that is honored and credited to the person as righteousness.  I really want to “work for God”, but I’m not working FOR my salvation. I’m working for Him BECAUSE of my salvation. There is a HUGE difference in these two terms.

I don’t deserve GRACE. I deserve my wages after working. This whole thought process makes me try to discern the value of Grace.  It’s like a ridiculous bonus paycheck that makes no sense. As I understand the Word, I receive Grace because I believe in Jesus. I don’t have to “do” a darn thing, but because I believe in God, He gives me this ridiculous bonus called GRACE. I will work out my salvation because this Gift of Grace blows me away. I will keep pursuing the heart of God Who loves me like that.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Finish

Finish Line, Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.When I turned 50 years of age a couple of years ago, I realized that I began thinking a lot more about the “finish line” than ever before. I have good friends that are in their 70’s and going strong. I also have friends who are not a lot older than me, and their health is failing.  I want to make my life count and not just count my days. I don’t want to appear all bummed and sad, I just want to finish strong serving the Lord.

As I was reading Acts this morning, Paul bids farewell to the Elders at the church in Ephesus. He realizes that he’s nearing the end of this race called life. He gives a summary of his life and ministry with them and their church. He then talks a bit about what is in his future. Check this out….

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24 NIV)

 

The first thing that jumped out at me is that Paul is “compelled by the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit that dwells in him leads him. He is clearly focused on finishing strong the task that He was given by the Lord.  His message is about the Grace of God and he can’t quit speaking about it. He is being led to take it places where his life will be threatened. I love his boldness and his strength even as he faces hardship and suffering.

I want my life today to be led by the Holy Spirit. I want to go where He leads me to go. I want to say what He wants me to say. I want to serve where He wants me to serve. I want to live out my life in the open speaking about the Amazing Grace of God to all who know me. I want to finish strong sharing about this Grace that I have showered on me daily. I am still humbled that God would love me this much. I am humbled that He has given me opportunity after opportunity to come back home to Him. His Grace is ridiculous to try to define, contain or measure. His Grace is like nothing else I’ve ever known. I want to keep sharing His Grace with everyone I meet until I cross the finish line!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Powerful Message

Man praying with the BibleWhen I think of the message of Jesus and how He wants to seek and save lost people, I’m blown away by how simple it is. I’m also blown away with how powerful the message.  Jesus chose to disciple fishermen, tax collectors and shepherds. It became obvious that when a tentmaker named Paul started preaching that the message was powerful and far reaching. The message wasn’t about the person bringing it as much as it was about Jesus the central figure in the message. Check this out…

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Acts 19:13-20 NIV)

I believe it’s wise to hold the name of the Lord Jesus in high honor today! I believe that He has the power to save people from their sins. I believe He has the power to heal sick people. I believe He has the power to protect me. I believe He has the power to provide for me.  I believe He has the power to save the most lost person on the planet. I believe He has ALL power and yet He dispenses GRACE is huge quantities. I believe the Power of God is found in His Amazing Grace filled love! He never quits and never gives up on me. I’m brought Peace through the Powerful message of Love!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Breathing In Grace Breathing Out Praise

Sunset worshipWhen I read the Word of God, I can see the beginning of grace at creation in the relationship that Creator God enjoyed with Adam and Eve prior to their sin.  After that time it seems that the stage is being set for the coming of Jesus and the arrival of Grace through Him.  Paul was given the opportunity to speak words of encouragement and inspiration and he chose to give a brief history lesson for the Israelites and then there is Jesus who saves us through grace. Check this out….

 38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38 -39 NIV)

There is no other concept that is more of a gift that the Grace of God – it’s amazing; immeasurable, indescribable and yet I can breath it in to my soul.

Matt Redman, recording artist from London has penned this concept in such a way that is blessing the crap ut of my heart. Check this out..

It’s there in the newborn cry
It’s there in the light of every sunrise
It’s there in the shadows of this light
Your great grace
 
It’s there on the mountaintop
It’s there in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh, such grace
 
From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
 
It’s there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace
 
Same for the rich and poor
Same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
 
Oh, such grace
 
From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
 
There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
 
Your great grace
Oh, such grace
Your great grace
Oh, such grace
 
So I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
Forever I’ll be
Breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
Forever I’ll be
Breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
Breathing in Your grace
For our God, for our God
 
Yes, Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me
(copyright 2013 Matt Redman)

Check the song out on YouTube – http://youtu.be/Mqd8MoiCbcI

I’m so very grateful and blessed to bask in the sunshine of the Amazing Grace of God!

Pressing On!
Dwayne