Fruit stands everywhere …

November 17, 2017

“I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.” John 15:5 Christian Standard

Because you can do nothing without me: It is such a simple statement .. easily overlooked .. dismissed even. How many endeavors will you undertake today without Christ? Does he really get top bidding for your schedule .. the way you treat others .. the meetings you have planned .. phone calls .. errands run .. and even those moments when no one is around? It’s not that you forgot him. It’s more likely that all those little things you do seem beneath his attention. Does He really mean for you to include him in everything? When Christ is your real life, you realize that everything you do  .. work and words .. are all opportunities for giving thanks with your heavenly Father. The world wants you to think or act like all these daily actions are unrelated. Jesus promises you that all that you do with him, has a forever connection. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see how all your plans fit together. The most important truth he wants you to see and know is that you are doing all these things with him. It’s not your effort that produces fruit. You’ll produce some kind of fruit. It’s just whether that fruit shows you are a follower of Jesus .. or you’re following your own plan.  Sometimes concentrated effort is required. Jesus places the greatest emphasis on abiding in him .. walking with him .. working with him .. and living life with him in everything. Fruit growing is the Father’s specialty. He doesn’t intend for you to bear the weight of producing fruit. He knows how fruitful you will truly become when you are walking and abiding in Christ. Have you made time to place everything in his hands today? It only takes a moment …

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 Christian Standard

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Time scars

November 16, 2017

“One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:5-6 The Message

It may be one of the hardest questions you face: “Do you want to get well?”. It erodes all barriers and defenses. It washes away all blame. It exposes composted anger. It strips away all pretense. Jesus doesn’t confront the man or try to convince him. He doesn’t simply heal him and walk away. Who dares to ask such a question to someone in pain .. suffering .. living day in and day out with no expected recovery or healing? It could even appear cruel on the surface. But Jesus was in fact clearing away all distractions and disabilities to speak to this man whole. He probably hadn’t been addressed as a whole man in years. The same faces saw him everyday .. but really didn’t see him. He was just part of the day’s landscape. It’s easy to become that person when pain and scars offer nothing new for today. It’s easy to see a person who suffers as less-than. Affection and affirmation run dry. Prayers go unanswered. Hopelessness waits because there is nothing else. And time doesn’t bring relief. Thirty eight years is a long time to be stepped around and passed around. It happens physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Jesus takes all the time needed until you hear His voice speaking to you as whole: “Do you want to get well?”. He asks marriages run aground. He asks the dismissed, discounted, and diseased. He asks you the same question. Why now? How much? What do I have to do? Our defenses instantly push back against the One who knows what sickness really is. He asks the question because He wants you to be whole. He knows the true value of your life. It’s why He’s come. “Do you want to get well?” It only takes a moment …

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him.” Isaiah 53:3 Christians Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Jesus Followers (kchesterp1@gmail.com) Notes from The ScarFinder

 

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Steel vs. Steal

November 15, 2107

“A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10 The Message

Jesus knows what your dreams look like. He knows the distance between dreams and nightmares. He knows because He had to cross that distance to rescue and give you an un-dream-able life. In today’s world the thief steals with minutes and moments accumulated until there is no way back. At least it seems that way. This thief tries to steal the hearts out of relationships and unmoor hope from all foundations. Bankrupt hearts and minds are his prize. And then Jesus steels what has been stolen, lost and broken. It would have been enough if He had bound and subdued the thief. Life could have been made normal again … at least the illusion of normal. But God let the thief steal His Son so you could have real and eternal life. Only this thief didn’t realize what the power of steel would do through a stolen Son. Death has been made impotent at the cross. Standing at the door of unimaginable loss and paralyzing hopelessness is Jesus, the ransomed Son of Man. He’s come to claim all the stolen lives who hear His voice calling them back to life in His name. They come with every story imaginable. They come with lives ruined. They come with destroyed dreams. They come out of addictive nightmares. They come with everything and nothing. “How did you get out? How did you get here? How is this possible?” Your response will be unique. No one else has your story or journey. There are similarities but no life resumes are perfectly aligned. But the ransom share one DNA: Divine Nature Activated. You’ve been given life where death claimed sovereignty. You’ve been given eternal life in exchange for all you’ve stolen. What an exchange! All shame .. all humiliation .. all addictions .. all brokenness .. all the lies, blame, and sorrow exchanged at the door where stolen lives are bought free and clear forever! The stolen Son has the steel scars as proof of purchase. You’re free. It only takes a moment …

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Ransomed Lives following Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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Living out loud …

November 14, 2017

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:35 Christian Standard

There is no way to anticipate how the love of Christ will define another life. God alone knows the history and potential of all the ‘broken and dislocated pieces’ inside a person. The disciples were hardly ready for such a command: to love as Jesus had loved them. That was to be their definition of love. How would they measure how much love was needed or required?  How could such a command threaten every earthly kingdom and government right up to present day. Yet Jesus didn’t hold anything back from these ordinary men. His words .. His walk .. and the indwelling weight of His life would be the defining characteristics that they were His disciples. It’s the same today.  This same love that Jesus passed on to his disciples hasn’t changed in two thousand years. It’s purposeful: to love just as Jesus has loved you. It’s personal:  No one finds their way to Christ without love. It’s impossible: You can’t love like this unless Christ lives in you. You just don’t have enough inner strength to sustain this simple command. Jesus attaches your identity to how you love: you’ll be recognized as a man or woman who belongs to Him. They will recognize you, just as you recognize it in another. It doesn’t take long to realize that this radical love that Jesus gave away doesn’t work well through half-hearted gestures or good intentions. It’s always going to be a mystery .. but a mystery that leaves irrefutable evidence that a cross reveals how far He has loved you and an empty grave reveals how far your love can reveal Him. You’re to be the evidence: your life .. your walk .. and the weight of His life in you. It only takes a moment …

“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to followers of Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

 

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Jesus loves a good question..

November 13, 2017

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus took up the question and said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. … But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion.” Luke 10:29-30,33 Christian Standard

It’s always the same with Jesus .. with everyone He meets and with anyone who asks. It could have been you asking the question: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus isn’t out to win an argument or drive you away by force. He invites you into a story where you are the Law-keeper and the Walking-wounded all at the same time. You can find your story .. your articulate defense .. and your brokenness all out in the open. Jesus is the Roadside-Healer who can’t help but respond with compassion and all that He has on your behalf. He stops .. kneels .. cleanses .. lifts .. carries .. and provides everything for you to get well. All the rules are broken. All lines between friends, family, and strangers meld into one life in front of you. How are you going to respond? Are you following a list or are you listening to God’s heartbeat? The list leaves you detached. But if you’ve cultivated a listening heart, your life becomes the healing oil of God’s love. Jesus has not only bandaged your wounds, He has made you whole by His wounds. So when you look at your scars you hear Him say: “Go and do the same.” It only takes a moment…

“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” Philippians 3:7-9 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Followers of the Roadside Healer. (kchesterp1@gmail.com) Notes from The ScarFinder

Posted in brokeness, everyone, grace, healing, Luke, neighbor, Philippians, restored, righteousness, Roadside-Healer, scars | Leave a comment

November 9, 2017

Hey Grace-Grippers,

G-G will resume on Monday, November 13. I am on a writing assignment unit then. Ken

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What the world sees …

November 7, 2018

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair;  we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.  We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.” 2 Corinthians. 7-10 Christian Standard

God created you to become His treasure. He could have just cleaned you up on the inside and pointed you toward the goal of achieving this eternal treasure .. one day .. if you lived up to your part. But He didn’t. When you believed .. with all your flaws and imperfections .. “with the full weight, burden, and pressure of your own sins”* .. God exchanged your “treasures” for the treasure found in His Son.  Believing is how you live out this life everyday. Some days are better than others. There are low moments driven by expectations and God-designed circumstances. The temptation is to try and arrange your life the way you want it .. and ask God to bless it. God knows the daily pressures facing you living in this world. There’s always a short cut .. a promising path .. and the safe way of just doing what everybody else does. The world courts “you” to take control. When everything falls in line, trust can be diluted behind a false face. Trusting Christ for you life involves the multi-layered processes of thinking .. praying .. trusting .. implementing .. waiting ..hoping for results .. and living with disappointments. The real treasure of living in Christ is discovering thankfulness. It’s not based on your performance or outcomes. You’re thankful that it doesn’t rest on your shoulders. You’re walking in Christ’s strength and with it comes the intimate knowledge that your Father is at work as well.  When you know that “this treasure” is God’s power through Christ, you’ll quit trying to make this life work for your ends. There is a freedom that comes when you relax and let Christ be on display … in you!  It only takes a moment …

 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent Wildly-Loved-Clay-Pots on display for Jesus. *JI Packer: Knowing God (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in 2 Corinthians, John, Joshua, trust | Leave a comment

Living Through Scars…

November 6, 2107

“This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9 The Message

It’s easy to think that God expects or at least hopes that you would be able to live parts of your life without His help. After all, isn’t independence the real fruit of freedom? The world would have you believe that poisonous lie. His love for you is so great that Jesus clears away every obstacle and every cancerous sin that would prevent you from finding your whole life through him. His scars make Him approachable. He can identify with anything you’ve ever experienced in your life. And it’s through Him that you find everything you need to live. Those same scars mean He’s available anytime and anywhere for your life. There isn’t a moment where Jesus isn’t going to be the true source for your life. Those scars remind you that Jesus wants to be in a “live through Me now and forever” relationship. Just think what today or this season of your life would be if you could not live through Christ. If you had to manage life on your own? Find your own hope .. power .. and strength to live today? But God never designed life to be independent from Him. It’s easy for the message ‘that God loved us so much that He gave His Son” to become so familiar .. so taken for granted .. and become so diluted in our self-obsessed world. But He has planned even more: that you would “live” your life through His Son. There’s not one area of your life relegated outside of Christ. Not one. More often than not, we are the ones who take a break from God .. erect a wall .. close the door of our hearts .. or choose a freedom that suffocates us from the inside out. Confession is more than a intellectual decision. It’s the oxygen of faith .. inhaling and exhaling all the life we live through Him. Jesus has the live-through-scars of your life. How are you going to live today. It only takes a moment …

“Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God.” 1 John 4:15 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to The Living-Through Fellowship following Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com) Notes from the The ScarFinder: Live-Through Scars #7

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‘Bloods thicker than water’…

November 2, 2017

“Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, I want right now what’s coming to me. … he wasted everything he had . … “I’m going back to my father. I’ll say, Father, I have sinned against God. I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.”. Luke 15:11, 13, 18-19 The Message

Some scars stay close to home .. even if you leave. Jesus describes a family as the backdrop of how extravagant and absurdly wild God is with forgiveness and restoration. It’s a good story because it is about you … or at least someone really close to you. You can get everything you want and never empty out all the anger and resentment in your heart. You can try and blame others, but nothing can heal the darkness of that hole in your heart. The Father does: He runs with absolute abandon to welcome you home .. laughing, crying, celebrating, and shouting out your name for all to hear: My Son ..  My Daughter .. lost but now found …  dead …but now alive. He throws all decorum into the wind. One son can’t believe it .. the other son refuses to enter in. He .. God .. is the FATHER  to both. He is the same Father. He’s your Father. And Jesus gives you a glimpse and a taste of what life restored with this Father is all about. There will be scars but the story and celebration silences anyone or anything that seeks to dismiss and discount God’s scandalous grace healing broken lives. He will out wait you .. but He won’t force you. What Jesus has for you is that good. It’s not hard to find you in the story. It only takes a moment…

“All this time his older son was out in the field. “You’re brother came home. Your father ordered a feast .. because he has him home safe and sound. The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. “Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends?” Luke 15:25, 27, 28-29 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Prodigal-Scarred followers of the ScarFinder. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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Relaxing your grip..

November 1, 2017

“It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?” Romans 8:11… The Message

It’s not up to you any longer. You can put the mental list away. You can let your grip finally relax. You can even breathe knowing that this “alive-and-present God” isn’t keeping score and recording all your mistakes. It might humble you just a bit to realize that everything about you was transferred over to Someone who never came close to doing and thinking like you have … not even once. And if you truly reflect on it, you realize that He willingly accepted everything that has caused you to live defeated until that moment. But who really wants to think that deeply about a cross and remember what was exchanged. God does! He sees your life connected all the way back to Abraham. And He sees it all now. It’s not past tense .. present tense … it’s all now. So what about today.? That’s what really matters doesn’t it? How are you going to live today? Are you going to grip this day with extra effort hoping you’ll get ahead? The Apostle Paul made it really clear: the same life Jesus lived raised from the dead is the same life God has designed for you to experience and live by faith. So you see… it’s not your effort that causes God to look favorably on you. If God could whisper into your heart, He would say it a million times a million: “You’re alive in My Son … now live today with His life in you. You don’t have to pretend any longer.” It only takes a moment …

“Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.” Galatians 3:13-14 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to The Truly-Alive following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmailcom)

 

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