Grace Limerick

Hey fam., this is my first attempt at a limerick. It’s inspired by Revelation 5:9-10 , Ephesians 2:8 and  2 Corinthians 8:9; all quoted below. Hope you enjoy it.

Through one act of sovereign grace,

My eternal fate sealed for all ages,

With hope to see His face,

And forever live as His race*

Hallelujah what a Saviour!

*Race in the sense of being a part of a group of people related by common ancestry or parentage- God the Father!

Revelation 5:9-10: You (Jesus) are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.

Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

2 Corinthians 8:9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

I pray  that you grow in understanding, experiencing and sharing God’s grace.

Shalom fam 🙂

 

This is OUR God!!!

One of my current favourite songs is called ‘This is our God’ by Hillsong; I love the chorus, which goes:

‘Freely you gave it all for us, surrendered your life upon that cross,

Great is your love, Poured out for all- This is our God,

Lifted on high from death to life,

Forever our God is glorified,

Servant and king, Rescued the world – this is our God.’

I love the triumphant cry at the end of each phrase, the qualifier which follows the description-This is our God, it makes me feel like thumping my chest and screaming at the top of my lungs, THIS IS MY GOD!- The God who is not aloof, ostracized or helplessly observing us from a distance -no! If we had to identify our God from a line-up, He won’t be the one waiting cross-armed for us to come to Him, rather He’s the one who proactively provided the cross, who laid aside His awesome, fearsome majesty, stripped Himself of His rights as God, became one of us and by so doing made a way for us to be like Him (Ephesians 4:24, Philippians 2:7). He is God who set the example for the prodigal’s Father and ran with glee, compassion and fierce love to our rescue (Luke 15:11-32). The God who got involved in the muck and mire of our lives; came down and was ‘touched’ with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).; who feels our pain and has literally walked in our shoes- This is Our God!

I cannot tell you how much comfort and joy that gives me; it makes Philippians 2:1 all the more real for me, I am encouraged by being united with Christ, I am comforted by His love, because I know He’s indeed my forerunner, who walked in my shoes and can therefore empathize with me.

According to Tim Keller (in his book The Reason for God), Christianity alone among the world’s religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 (MSG) says we don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality; he’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all…and therefore knows first-hand our highs and lows; our despair, rejection, pain, lack. At the heart of Christianity is the story of God himself taking on flesh and blood, taking upon Himself the suffering and punishment we deserve, and so offering us both physical healing and spiritual restoration. On the cross Jesus went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced pain that exceeds us as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours, and His only ‘crime’ was His unrelenting love for us!( 1 John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

People go to support groups because it helps to be around folks who have been through the same experiences and have overcome, there’s a certain kind of reassurance in knowing that you are not the only one going through an issue. Knowing that others have faced the same challenges and overcome gives us hope that we can as well. In times of trouble, people often say, ‘I can only imagine what you are going through’, without the capacity to actually do that so I find it tremendously encouraging to have someone who’s walked that same road ‘comfort me with ‘the same comfort with which they were comforted’; and that’s what Jesus offers. First of all He assures us that nothing we are going through is unique to us alone, that others are going and have gone through it (1 Corinthians 10:13) but better yet, He assures us , He’s experienced it all and that because He overcame, He provides a way of escape for us, and will lead us out triumphantly (2 Corinthians 2 :14).

During Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal, he taunted them to scream louder as their gods might be asleep, or otherwise indisposed – that’s not our God. Unlike Baal, He doesn’t wait for us to cut ourselves in desperation before he hears us, rather our God foresaw our greatest need (spiritual separation from Him), way before we recognised our need; and orchestrated a plan for our redemption through the sacrifice of His son even before the foundation of the world(Ephesians 1:4, Revelations 13:8).

Fam., no matter what you are going through, please remember we have a personal God who is not distant and passively observant. God is not immune to your pain, He feels it deeply and just as it hurts a Parent to see their kids in pain, God feels ours, and substantially more. He is the God who is close to the broken-hearted and rescues those crushed in spirit;  If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. The God who is the all-powerful, ever-present help in times of need, who promises never to leave or forsake us; who assures us that because He did not spare His only son, but sacrificed Him for us, He will also graciously give us all things… the God who was with Daniel and the Hebrew boys in the fire, who shut the mouth of the lion, who enabled David kill the lion, bear and giant, who delivers us from bondage to sin and Satan, who conquered death and darkness…that God-is OUR God.

Rejoice in that.

Shalom fam 🙂

Clarion Call for all Singles….The Sequel

Hey fam, to say it has been ages would be MY understatement of the week. I have been swamped with my studies but mostly not terribly disciplined with my time (that’s a story for another day, I need prayers!). In my constant scouring of the internet, I came across this excellent article I thought would be an apt sequel, prequel or addendum(however you see it) to ‘Clarion Call for all Singles…

 I hope you are encouraged  by it and recognise that in all things and at all times whether in singleness or marriage, good or bad times, life or death,  irrespective of societal standards or definitions, God works for our good and His glory; and that His ultimate good for us, is that we become more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). I also pray that you are challenged to make enjoying and glorifying God, your life’s paramount pursuit for in no other quest lies joy and fulfilment (Psalm 144:5Psalm 16:11, Psalm 73:25-26 ).

Shalom fam 🙂

 Singled Out by God for Good

by Paige Benton Brown

Had I any vague premonition of my present plight when I was six, I would have demanded that Stephen Herbison (incontestably the catch of the second grade) put his marriage proposal into writing and have it notarized. I do want this piece to be practical, so to all you first-graders: CARPE DIEM.

Over the past several years I have perfected the artistry of escape regarding any singles functions—cookouts, conferences, Sunday school classes, and my personal favorite, putt-putt. My avoidance mechanism is triggered not so much by a lack of patience with such activities as it is by a lack of stomach for the pervasive attitudes. Thoreau insists that most men lead lives of quiet desperation; I insist that many singles lead lives of loud aggravation. Being immersed in singles can be like finding yourself in the midst of “The Whiners” of 1980’s Saturday Night Live—it gives a whole new meaning to “pity party.”

Much has been written in Christian circles about singleness. The objective is usually either to chide the married population for their misunderstanding and segregationism or to empathize with the unmarried population as they bear the cross of “Plan B” for the Christian life, bolstered only by the consolation prizes of innumerable sermons on I Corinthians 7 and the fact that you can cut your toenails in bed. Yet singles, like all believers, need scriptural critique and instruction seasoned by sober grace, not condolences and putt-putt accompanied with pious platitudes.

John Calvin’s secret to sanctification is the interaction of the knowledge of God and knowledge of self. Singles, like all other sinners, typically dismiss the first element of the formula, and therein lies the root of all identity crises. It is not that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but that life has no tragedy like our God ignored. Every problem is a theological problem, and the habitual discontent of us singles is no exception.

Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than he was on that monumental Friday afternoon when he hung on a cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me tomorrow either, because God cannot be less good to me. His goodness is not the effect of his disposition but the essence of his person—not an attitude but an attribute.

I long to be married. My younger sister got married two months ago. She now has an adoring husband, a beautiful home, a whirlpool bathtub, and all-new Corningware. Is God being any less good to me than he is to her? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me because God cannot be less good to me. It is a cosmic impossibility for God to shortchange any of his children. God can no more live in me apart from the perfect fullness of his goodness and grace than I can live in Nashville and not be white. If he fluctuated one quark in his goodness, he would cease to be God.

Warped theology is at the heart of attempts to “explain” singleness:

•”As soon as you’re satisfied with God alone, he’ll bring someone special into your life”—as though God’s blessings are ever earned by our contentment.

• “You’re too picky”—as though God is frustrated by our fickle whims and needs broader parameters in which to work.

•”As a single you can commit yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord’s work”—as though God requires emotional martyrs to do his work, of which marriage must be no part.

•”Before you can marry someone wonderful, the Lord has to make you someone wonderful”—as though God grants marriage as a second blessing to the satisfactorily sanctified.

Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single, The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me.

Such knowledge of God must transform subsequent knowledge of self-theological readjustment is always the catalyst for renewed self-awareness. This keeps identity right-side-up with nouns and modifiers in their correct place. Am I a Christian single or am I a single Christian? The discrepancy in grammatical construction may be somewhat subtle, but the difference in mindset is profound. Which word is determinative and which is descriptive? You see, we singles are chronic amnesiacs—we forget who we are, we forget whose we are. I am a single Christian. My identity is not found in my marital status but in my redemptive status. I ‘m one of the “haves,” not one of the “have-nots.”

Have you ever wondered at what age one is officially single? Perhaps a sliding scale is in order: 38 for a Wall Street tycoon; 21 for a Mississippi sorority girl; 14 for a Zulu princess; and five years older than I am for me. It is a relevant question because at some point we see ourselves as “single,” and that point is a place of greater danger than despair. Singleness can be a mere euphemism for self-absorption—now is the “you time.” No wife to support? No husband to pamper? Well, then, by all means join three different golf courses, get a weekly pedicure, raise emus, subscribe to People.

Singleness is never carte blanche for selfishness. A spouse is not a sufficient countermeasure for self. The gospel is the only antidote for egocentricity. Christ did not come simply to save us from our sins, he came to save us from our selves. And he most often rescues us from us through relationships, all kinds of relationships.

“Are you seeing anyone special?” a young matron in my home church asked patronizingly. “Sure,” I smiled. “I see you and you’re special.”

OK, my sentiment was a little less than kind, but the message is true.

To be single is not to be alone. If someone asks if you are in a relationship right now, your immediate response should be that you are in dozens. Our range of relational options is not limited to getting married or to living in the sound-proof, isolated booth of Miss America pageants. Christian growth mandates relational richness.

The only time folks talk about human covenants is in premarital counseling. How anemic. If our God is a covenantal God, then all of our relationships are covenantal. The gospel is not about how much I love God (I typically love him very little); it is about how much God loves me. My relationships are not about how much friends should love me, they are about how much I get to love them. No single should ever expect relational impoverishment by virtue of being single. We should covenant to love people— to initiate, to serve, to commit.

Many of my Vanderbilt girls have been reading Lady in Waiting, a popular book for Christian women struggling with singleness. That’s all fine and dandy, but what about a subtitle: And Meanwhile, Lady, Get Working. It is a cosmic impossibility for God to require less of me in my relationships than he does of the mother of four whose office is next door. Obedience knows no ages or stages.

Let’s face it: singleness is not an inherently inferior state of affairs. If it were, heaven would be inferior to this world for the majority of Christians (Mom is reconciled to being unmarried in glory as long as she can be Daddy’s roommate). But I want to be married. I pray to that end every day. I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date and die an old maid at 93 because God is so good to me. Not my will but his be done. Until then I am claiming as my theme verse, “If any man would come after me, let him. . . “

Kids- humans not goats :-)

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog. This will be a classic rambling post, the whole point of it is to share something I found so encouraging, that made my heart rejoice and which I hope you enjoy.

The more I see God, the more I want to see of Him, the more I know Him, the more I want to know of Him, the more I drink of His presence, the thirstier I become. My hearts cry is increasingly as in Psalms 27:4-5:

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

The MSG translation goes: I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway

This is also changing my priorities, as I see the infinite value in Jesus, the more everything else pales in comparison to knowing Him and being known by Him. In recent times, when I think about my future offspring, I pray for kids who are missionaries before they are lawyers or doctors; who above any earthly accomplishments(not to say those are unimportant), know and love Jesus with a passionate intensity that captivates them from when they are really little, and influences every area of their lives. I pray that it would be a natural progression as they go from knowing Him as comforter and friend when they are little, to Saviour and King when they are old enough to grasp that.

In this vein, I would love to share something so precious with you. Its better watched and not described. Please click on the link to read the introduction and watch it.

I found that precious beyond words, I’m usually not a cry baby (my sister would beg to differ, lol) but I cry whenever I see little ones engage with God, perhaps it’s because I was a Muslim growing up so I did not have the privilege of knowing the Lord from a young age. It might also be because  I so admire and crave the unbridled gusto with which kids embrace God (which is why Jesus instructs us to receive His Kingdom like little children Mark 10:15).

If you have kids, I would also encourage you to teach them the bible from a young age. David Helm (author of The Big Picture Story Bible for kids) says we underestimate the spiritual capacity of kids to understand the gospel, and God’s ability to reveal Himself to children. Jesus would not have instructed that little children come to him, if they could not understand him (Matthew 19:14). From my limited experience, I would recommend the aforementioned Big Picture bible, and the Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (They are excellent resources that condescend to children’s doctrinal level, without compromising the gospel message.) For more tips, read the comments in the above post where parents have shared tips on their efforts in this regard.

Whatever you do, remember Gods command to take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master; bringing them up in His training and instruction (Ephesians 6:4). If you are single, that might not be your kid but be a mentor, a role model, an example of a believer and invest in a kid around you like Paul did with Timothy ( 1 Timothy 4:12, 1 Timothy 1:2, see also Clarion Call for all Singles…)

Thanks for reading.

Shalom fam:-)


 

Clarion Call for all Singles….

My fellow singles, I’m quite concerned about us, someone has fed us the lie that our lives don’t start or make sense outside the confines of marriage. We are subtly culturally conditioned to treat singleness as a handicap; the bridge between where we were and where we are going, so rather than enjoy and make the most of the opportunities singleness presents, we fret and worry about tomorrow-meeting the right person, having a family etc., clearly contravening Matthew 6:34.

This post not in any way to denigrate marriage; there is much to be desired regarding it and I would encourage every single to pray and prepare for marriage. God created it, so it is good, glorious and beautiful to the extent that it reflects Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:22-29). Also two are definitely better than one(Ecclesiastes 4:9), but there is equally and perhaps even more unequivocally a glory that God ascribes to singleness to that is often not discussed or even celebrated.

In 1 Corinthians 7:7, the bible describes singleness as a gift! Elaborating on that, the chapter goes on to explain that a single person is free from the clutter of the world and able to concentrate on serving God. We often treat singleness like the irritating hyphen separating the milestones of adolescence and marriage. On the contrary, we are not in suspended animation till we get married; but in our prime and must commit the season to doing the Master’s work.

Friends, as with all gifts, we will give account to God for how we used it,so please let’s redeem the time, get about our Fathers business while it is today and serve him extravagantly in this time of freedom from family cares and concerns. There is a time for everything, and every season has a purpose and while we are single, our primary mandate is to please God. According to Paul, singleness offers us the freedom to serve and pursue God wholeheartedly, to concentrate on simply pleasing Him, and to be devoted to Him in body and in spirit. (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

This is not to say it is wrong to desire or work towards marriage; absolutely not. The bible encourages us to do that, however in keeping with my subject matter, 1 Corinthians 7:29 instructs us that the time is short and charges even those who are married to be about Gods service as though they were single. If the married are so charged, how much more of a responsibility do singles have to steward this season of life in God’s service?

I heard a heartbreaking statistic, that only about 5% of the over 1 billion people in India have heard the gospel, and I believe singleness offers the perfect opportunity to be out in the trenches spreading God’s good news. I believe we can be a part of the sent-ones, taking God’s word to the nations as we are free from the concerns and imperatives of spouse and kids, and even if we cannot go, free from the bulk of responsibilities that married people face, we can send, sponsor and support the missionaries.

This is also not a time free of rewards; as we maximize the opportunities for service that singleness provides, God rewards every effort (Hebrews 6:10); and interestingly promises all who remain single in Christ blessings that are better than the blessings of marriage and children. In Isaiah 56:5, God promises…. I will give them in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off…So for those who never end up getting married, procreating and having descendants to continue a family name, God promises so much better- an everlasting name that will NEVER be cut off.

Some of the greatest people who ever lived, especially Jesus and Paul, were never married, but they lived passionate, God filled, God fuelled lives. As we run the race of life, looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), we can look to His love and devotion to his friends (John 15:15), his sacrificial nature (Philippians 2:4-11), his deep love for all ; and model our singleness after him and spend our lives doing good to others especially to those who belong to the family of believers(Galatians 6:10).

I am not naïve about the loneliness that could accompany singleness, and our innate need for families or companionship, but the great assurance we have is that even if we never got married this side of eternity, it is only a hair’s-breadth compared to eternity. Marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church. Marriage relationships would no longer matter in eternity (Luke 20:34-35); the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face. Also as great as families are, no family relationship is ultimate; relationship to Christ is-He is the friend who never leaves nor forsakes us and sticks closer than a brother(Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 18:24), so being in relationship with Christ defines the value of life; and all other relationships get their final significance from this.

Also for our concerned married friends, please don’t consistently pepper our talks with pitying looks and frequent assurances that our singleness will soon pass, while this encouragement has its place, and we appreciate the concern, may I suggest that you spend more time shifting our focus back to God, motivating us to be about Gods business, and keeping us accountable in that regard.

I hope you are encouraged by this to enjoy where you are. God says our time and seasons are determined by Him (Acts 17:26), so know that if you are in a single season, it’s because God has a purpose in it, be a faithful steward, use it maximally, do something, improve your education, learn a new language, sport, or craft, travel, serve others, but most of all invest the time in serving God in your body and spirit for that’s why that season was gifted to you. Make the most of every opportunity for soon you will look on that past season with nostalgia (Ephesians 5:16).

Above all, I pray that the eyes of our hearts are enlightened so much so that we know and are so enthralled by God, we find completion and satisfaction in Him; that we love and serve Him irrespective of what season of life we are in, trusting that He knows what is best for us and only gives us good gifts (James 1:17, Matthew 7:11).

Shalom fam 🙂

Lecrae’s Boasting

Hey fam thanks for stopping by again. I’ll be sharing a Lecrae song with you this time.YAY

If you’ve had a conversation with me in the past 6 months, or read my introductory post, I thing you would have heard about is my love for Lecrae. This is not about him being cute, even though he is:-). It’s ALL about how totally sold out he is for Jesus, and how that inspires me. It’s about how God used him to shake me out of spiritual complacency, jumpstart my spiritual renaissance and reignite my love for God and passion to live for Him alone.

Lecrae’s raps are filled with a depth of theology that’s doctrinally sound yet sadly so uncommon in modern-day Christianity. His lyrics are often interspersed with quotes from Scripture, and a common description of his music is that they are like ‘4 minute sermons’. The fact that his beats are great simply adds to the appeal.

I love all his stuff so choosing the first song to share was a tough one, but I landed on this one called ‘Boasting’; it really resonates with where I am with God at the moment, and my feelings as I behold His beauty. The lyrics are like a prayer for me; I’m often singing along with arms raised and tearful eyes closed. This is because I realise that my only cause for rejoicing is that I know God and am known by God, that EVERY good thing I have comes from Him, that only by His mercies am I sustained and that the BEST life is one lived with and for Him.(Romans 3:27, Jeremiah 9:24, Galatians 6: 14).

I hope you enjoy reading the lyrics; I have included a link to the song on YouTube. If you enjoy it, do check out his other songs; and no, I am not a paid Lecrae marketer, but when you hear a good thing you want to shout it from the rooftops, don’t you? So enjoy Lecrae’s music, and more than that, I pray you discover the all surpassing glory of our King and Saviour whom He points to.  Here goes…

Hook:
If this life has anything to gain at all
I count it loss if I can’t hear you, feel you, ’cause I need you
Can’t walk this earth alone, I recognize I am not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boast in you alone

Verse 1:
With every breath I take, with every heartbeat,
Sunrise and the moon lights in the dark street
Every glance, every dance, every note of a song
It’s all a gift undeserved that I shouldn’t have known
Every day that I lie, every moment I covet
I’m deserving to die, I’m just earning your judgment
I, without the cross there’s only condemnation
If Jesus wasn’t executed there’s no celebration
So in times that are good, in times that are bad
For any times that I’ve had it all I will be glad
And I will boast in the cross, I’ll boast in my pains
I will boast in the sunshine, boast in his reign (rain)
What’s my life if it’s not praising you
Another dollar in my bank account of vain pursuit, I do
not count my life as any value or precious at all
Let me finish my race, let me answer my call

 (Repeat Hook)

Verse 2:
Tomorrow’s never promised, but it is we swear
Think we holding our own, just a fist full of air
God has never been obligated to give us life
If we fought for our rights, we be in hell tonight
Mere sinners owed nothing but a fierce hand
We never loved him we pushed away his pierced hands
I rejected his love, grace, kindness, and mercy
Dying of thirst, yet, willing to die thirsty
Eternally worthy, how could I live for less?
Patiently you turn my heart away from selfishness
I volunteer for your sanctifying surgery
I know the Spirit’s purging me of everything that’s hurting me
Remove the veil from my darkened eyes
So now every morning I open Your Word and see the Son (Sun) rise
 I hope in nothin’, boast in nothin’, only in your sufferin’
 I live to show your glory, dyin’ to tell your story

( Repeat Hook)

Bridge:
Glory was solely meant for you
Doing what no one else could do
With all I have to give, (With all I have to give)
 I’ll use my life, I’ll use my lips (My Lips, Yaaa)
I’ll only glory in your Word
What gift to me I don’t deserve
I’ll live in such a way that it reflects to you, my Praise

(Repeat Hook)

Shalom fam 🙂

Righteousness? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

Even if a Christian never does another good deed in life, he or she is never unrighteous in God’s sight….Pretty radical statement yeah? Soak it in; if you never did another good thing, once you are declared righteous by God, He doesn’t renege on that declaration. Intrigued? Read on….

 

One of the biggest lies of the devil is that Christian righteousness is attained (earned) rather than obtained (received). That we have to work to ‘qualify’; that our good deeds impress God and increase our value in His eyes. That if we do good deeds, obey all the commandments and are good citizens, we win God‘s approval.

 

The bible reveals different, it teaches us that all our very best intentions and deeds are at best filthy rags compared to God’s righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). His standards are so much higher than anything we could attain (Isaiah 55:9). Discouraging huh? Wait for the good part…

 

The bible describes the righteousness of God as beginning and ending with faith and acquired through faith for all who believe in Jesus (Romans 1:17, Romans 3:22). In Galatians 2, Paul corrects the notion that we are made right with God by anything we do. His argument culminates in verse 21 where he asserts that if righteousness God could come by anything we do then Christ died unnecessarily. Imagine that, he says that to claim righteousness as earned by works is to defeat the very purpose of God’s grace and Christ’s death.

 

 

This part of the argument is probably familiar to you if you are a Christian. Back to my introductory ‘punchline’, the more astounding part is that the bible also assures that once you become a Christian, even if you never do another good deed in your life, you never lose God’s approval, you are never declared unrighteous by God. I can hear the defences rising but gimme a minute to make my case.

 
For starters, God assures us that his gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:29); He never takes back what he gives us. Secondly, since we do not become righteous on the basis of our works, but receive it as a gift based on Jesus’ death and resurrection, how can we then think our actions affect it?. Paul attacks the notion ferociously in Galatians 3:3, and describes as foolish the tendency to begin in faith and seek to continue by works.

 

My point is not that we need not be good, upstanding citizens, the bible tells us we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  We are instructed to live such good lives that people, particularly unbelievers see our good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12) so our works do count as a testimony and a witness.

 

What the bible emphasises however is that works are secondary and simply a response to God’s righteousness which He bequeathed to us. According to Romans 4:4, the worker’s wages are his due and not a gift, but since this is a gift, the extent of our participation is to simply receive it. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that without our involvement, and prior to our existence, God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin, for our sake, so that through Him, we would become the righteousness of God.

 
I hope this excites you as much as it does me. I pray that the Holy Spirit illumines your mind to this truth. What this releases us from is the tendency to either condemnation or self righteousness. Condemnation, when we do not do what we should and self congratulation when we do good works, as though we did it in our strength. It has been most freeing to realise that my works don’t commend or make me acceptable or unacceptable to God (1 Corinthians 8:8- this refers to eating but the same inference can be drawn).

 

As Pastor Tullian* says, God’s free unconditional grace irritates us because it takes the focus off us and our hard work, and puts it on Jesus and His generosity. It is so extremely liberating to know that God approves of me because and only because of the work of Jesus, irrespective and independent of anything I ever did, do or would do. Once I have made Jesus my Lord and Saviour, God sees me as absolutely righteous, as righteous as Jesus, as righteous as God, WOW!!! Talk about looking through rose coloured lenses, these are more like diamond encrusted lenses.

 
As liberating as this is, the beauty and counter-intuitiveness of grace is that, a true understanding of God’s gift doesn’t make you want to take advantage of and abuse it but to rejoice in and respond to it in reckless abandon (Romans 6). Like Jesus says, he who is forgiven much ends up loving much (Luke 7:47).  Knowing we are righteous before God, no matter what is not an invitation to sin;  what it does is reassure us that rather than lower his standards because we could never measure up , he empowers us by His Spirit to desire and to work what pleases him (Philippians 2:13). Knowing that God approves of me irrespective of my works, makes me want to just reciprocate His love that I am so unworthy of and respond in obedience to His oh so gracious gift.

 
I hope this brings some clarity and hope to you. If you consider yourself a moralistic and good person in and by yourself, I hope you realise that God is not impressed by anything we do, and accept His gift of righteousness. If on the other hand, you have done abominable or bad things, know that all you need to receive this gift is to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf. He promises that even where your sins are figuratively blood-red, your slate will be wiped so clean, that By Jesus’ atoning work, God makes you snow-white.( Isaiah 1:18).

 

Shalom fam 🙂

 

*One of the most doctrinally sound and revolutionary blogs (in my opinion), is Pastor Tullian’s, you can read that on http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/ .

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