There’s a party going on ..

August 18, 2017

“..We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.” Luke 15:23-24 The Message

Jesus is now what He was … and has always been. He described what God the Father is like. There isn’t a journey to far that He can’t find you. When you stray the way is wide open .. made open by a stronghold-breaking .. burdens-carrying .. shame-overcoming .. and sin-defeating cross. He’s a party throwing Father. You probably won’t ever get used to that image because it seems too extravagant measured against how far you may stray. Nevertheless, Jesus throws the doors wide open to what a life can look like wrapped up in the Father’s redeeming grace: Lost now found .. dead now alive .. and set free from other’s stifling expectations. Jesus has gone to the farthest lengths possible to break down all the barriers that keep your life from being set free. There isn’t anything in your life that the cross cannot carry. There’s no shame buried too deep. You’ve got a wearying habit that you’ve tried to break or stop? You drift back into the “please everybody” pressures? You can’t make yourself take the first steps to to heal a relationship .. or you’ve tried and the walls grew larger? Then place a cross at that intersection with Jesus dismantling any and every wall that would keep Him out. He’s taken the steps long before you ever asked.  You don’t have all the parts of your life lined up perfectly? He’ll start with the parts you bring Him and begin adding His own parts. You’re invited ..  It only takes a moment …

“For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate.” Galatians 6:14 The Message

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

Posted in Galatians, Luke, returning, Waiting, walking in Christ | 2 Comments

Freed .. now what?

August 17, 2017

“It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.” Romans 14:8-9 The Message

It’s easy to get pulled in opposite directions before the day even begins. Yesterdays have a way of coloring today and your response. A Christ-follower begins today with this promise: Christ lived .. Christ died .. and Christ is risen. Every aspect of your life can be found in His life. If you try to live in this world with your own life as the foundation of truth .. right and wrong .. and looking for fairness .. you will be disillusioned and disheartened very quickly. Your life and all that goes into it is supposed to be different because of Christ. Jesus has experienced everything in this life pertaining to living a life pleasing to God. He’s experienced the full range of what you are facing .. be it good or bad. He’s experienced the temptation confronting you. He’s freed you from the pulling influences of petty tyrannies. Those are anything that reduces your life to you trying to fight battles in your own strength. The battle is real. You will fight in your own strength or choose to drag all those soul weary .. mind robbing .. heart burdens to this Jesus. One of the biggest battles may just be time. You don’t just store it away for later but you make time to give it to the Lord now! Will God find space in you for worship .. space in you for filling with His love .. and space in you for His life? It only takes a moment …

“With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Scattered followers of Christ: kchesterp1@gmail.com

 

Posted in 2 Corinthians, freed, Romans, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grace smugglers…

August 16, 2017

When my life was slipping away,  I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,  walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving. And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” Jonah 2:7-9 The Message

What can turn a life around? What can turn your life around? In only a moment you can find yourself running from a god who seems uncaring .. harsh .. and punitive. And in only a moment you find yourself at the end of your rope giving thanks to the God who is your only true love. What changes inside a heart and restores your thinking? It takes the power of almighty God to redirect your heart and restore your mind with purpose and peace. Jonah ran from what he knew was true about God. He couldn’t stomach the God he loved being the God who would love at drop of a hat and turn punishment into forgiveness.   Jesus is like that as well. He is the ONLY TRUE LOVE that transforms your life and the way you live into a life of sheer grace.He doesn’t hold back when it comes to your life. He’s in the storms and along for the ride when you are running. He becomes the source and object of all your praise. This is the same Jesus that runs straight at your life and never away. There was a “Jonah” named Peter that ran away once. Jesus found him on a beach and changed his life forever by removing any thought or image that He had given up on Peter. He had the scars to prove that no one can outrun His love. They’re your scars found in His hands. They’re His scars that remind you how far He ran after you. If He did that for you .. how much more does Jesus want you to live that way around others today. Maybe they’ll see the One who has come for them. You’re the proof. It only takes a moment ..

“That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!” Jonah 4:2 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Grace-Smugglers following Jesus into all kinds of territories. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

 

Posted in Jonah, unbelievably loved, Waiting, walking in Christ | Leave a comment

Never on sale …

August 15, 2017

“Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:24 The Message

A fresh start .. created new .. restored .. and generous. That’s the God of the Bible. He suffers  from an incurable case of making new out of old … restoring what has been discarded .. and redeeming what is considered worthless. Maybe you fit in one of those categories ..or used to. If so .. you know exactly what has happened inside of you. Jesus has changed everything. You’re still the same old you .. but old has been replaced with new. There’s room to breathe .. to see hope .. to love .. and start living. It’s a gift and now you know it. You’ll still do the same things you did yesterday but now they are seen inside of Jesus life. That life is in you and some of those things will begin to lose interest. Why now?  Because now you know how much your life is worth and you’re free to start living a life you’ve always wanted to live: free .. really free .. grace free. Those old things? Trying to live by your wits .. wondering how you were going to make it .. putting up a good front? No more. You don’t have to live that way anymore. Jesus is shaping His life in you and inviting you to live out of a life that will never fade .. run out .. or give up on you. Yeah .. it’s that real in a rapidly fading world. What’s real in you can only be defined in Christ. It’s doesn’t matter what the world around you says is important. Christ has claimed you .. made you new .. and given you a gift-life. You can’t walk from that. Why would you? You’re new in Christ. It only takes a moment …

“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!  2 Corinthians 5:17 The Message

Posted in 2 Corinthians, grace-shaped, life in Christ, Never quits, never-give-up, new life, redeemed, redeeming love, restored, Romans, un-cluttered life | Leave a comment

Overturned or Overwhelmed…?

August 11, 2017

“Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” Romans 2:4 The Message

Everybody wants to change something about their life. Why? Because there is that ever seducing thought or image that if I could change “this” .. then my life would be better. You may have even tried to and succeeded in changing something about your life and it did indeed become better. But it can never become whole in God’s eyes unless Jesus life invades and infiltrates every corner of your life. He steps into your past. He works with all the pieces of your present life. And the future..? He’s written it all down for anyone to see: Your life will bear a strong family likeness to Jesus and freedom from anything unlike Him. That is the life God wants you to live out of … the life of Christ abiding in you. Whenever you try to direct anything in a direction not clearly rooted in Christ .. you begin to feel the weight. It’s a weight that the Father doesn’t want you to carry but will let  you. Why? Because He knows that the real changes in your life occur when you encounter His kindness. It’s radical kindness. It’s not found on this earth apart from Christ. It’s so severe that you’ll resist it to the very end until you completely turn over your life to His kindness. You think it is soft .. overlooking .. and even accepting of your disqualifying flaws? Hardly. God’s kindness always frees you from religious rules that constantly make you the center figure. You already know where that leads: Real change .. real trust .. and real conviction are found in God’s grace and that grace is God’s primary and ultimate gift in Christ. You can’t find it anywhere else so freely .. so over the top .. and so deeply personal. It may look different on someone else but on close examination you see the evidence of nail scarred hands working another life into Christ’s whole-ness. Jesus isn’t going to by-pass or overlook one area of your life next to His. You are His .. He is in you .. and He wants you to live like it in everything. It only takes a moment ..

” 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 3:9 The Message

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

Posted in Philippians, Romans | Leave a comment

God’s always hiring …

August 10, 2017

“It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.” Romans 1:16-17 The Message

The world you live in advertises and markets “living” as buying something .. pursuing adventure .. or using a product that promises to change your life. If you do so you’ll start “living”. God’s plan is a little different: you’ll start living when you start trusting in what He has already done. God’s plan begins complete in Christ. You aren’t required to do anything. Even the act of trusting Christ is opened for you. It can’t be that simple? The confusion enters when you try to bring all “your stuff” into God’s plan and try to fit it all in. After all you worked really hard .. maybe even sacrificed .. along the way. Surely God means for this to be part of His blessing. Then again .. you may find  yourself fearing that the Lord will take it all away to punish you or make you begin all over with a clean slate. He does indeed clean the slate and gives you a fresh start. His gift is to unburden your heart and mind from thinking or believing that it is up to you. It’s not. God must laugh at all the stuff we try to sneak into His plan. Jesus wants you to really live. He knows how hard it is to let go of all the world’s measurements. That’s why He made living so spectacularly simple: I am the way .. the truth .. and the life. Anything you use to try and find life apart from me will not work. It will wear you out trying to live life with me that isn’t found in me. Your life .. His plan .. your trust .. His life. It’s good work and He really wants you to be part of it today. Don’t worry … the Lord knows about all your stuff. It only takes a moment …

“He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:10 The Message

Posted in Clean slate, Ephesians, fresh start, Letting go, living, Romans, trust | Leave a comment

Tuned in or tone deaf..?

August 9, 2017

“You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah.” Romans 1:6-7 The Message

You are who you are because of Jesus and everyday greets you with the generosity of the Father’s love. He doesn’t hold back because of how you feel .. how you “performed” yesterday .. or how long its been since you’ve really soaked your life in His presence. How’s that for generosity? And amazing still is the supply of His love and life that He wants to pour through you today. Does it ever feel like you are faking it? Then stop .. turn your heart .. your head .. and even your whole life towards this Jesus. It’s certainly not his plan for you to step into this day devoid of knowing His love and living on the outside. Loving deeply may cost you something today. You may not be noticed for how well or deeply you love. You may even be rejected for trying to do good for another life. You may be treated like a “servant” .. someone who is dismissed or rarely acknowledged. Your Father sees. Jesus knows exactly how you feel being brushed aside with such burning truth in your heart. Evil doesn’t alway appear as something dark and destructive. It’s often content simply to divert your life away from leaning on Jesus for today. Living out of your own strength always leaves you vulnerable. With Christ your supply runs deeply out of the Father’s scandalous generosity. There is somebody in your path today that needs to be loved deeply. You are who you are because of Jesus and that is a great gift to give away. It only takes a moment …

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Romans 12:9-10 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Second Fiddles tuned by the Master (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in Called, gift, Inside and out, intended shape, Romans, turning back, unbelievably loved | Leave a comment

Suppers on the table …

August 8, 2017

“They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” Acts 2:46-47 The Message

There is only one problem with the Bible: it rearranges every area of your life. One minute you are calling the shots .. setting your own schedule .. and planning who is a priority. And in one moment life is changed because of Jesus .. how he lived and how he died. Your whole life is summed up in His life. And now His whole life .. holy .. is being summed up in your life. No one lives like this in real life .. worshipping everyday .. celebrating meals with other changed-by-Jesus people .. and living in such a way that people around you want in on it. But we’re supposed to. We’ve just let the world tell us over and over what is real … and it is all broken. And we keep trying to fix it and it can’t be fixed. What is real about your life is the kind of life Christ lived. That’s what is being made real in you. And He is so patient about it. Because one day you will live this way. Worship .. a meal with others .. Jesus in the middle .. and others wanting an invite. He could force His way into all the areas of your life. Instead, Jesus is there when the wheels run off .. you’ve run out of rope .. and the pain is unrelenting. You see His hands, scarred, weathered, and open. The only way to grab hold of His hand is to release your grip on everything that is pulling you under … and grab hold of His. He’s been there and will see you through. Besides, there is another meal and others are waiting for you to join them today. They’ve got a story and so do you. It only takes a moment …

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.” 1 Peter 2:21 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Holy Table Guests celebrating around Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There isn’t an on and off switch..

August 7, 2017 “And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 The Message

The Lord is not vague about any point in your life. He doesn’t leave you wondering or guessing how to live life in His will. Jesus makes it very simple about following Him: “you will be able to be my witnesses”. That’s your life. Your whole life is to be on display. Even your off hours are on display. There isn’t to be a public you and a private you. Your whole life and everything you do is on display. That would be formidable if it were left up to you .. but it isn’t. Jesus said you would receive power to be his witnesses. The Holy Spirit empowers you to live and love the life that Jesus is living in you. It’s not a one time power surge but a life long presence restoring and renewing you. What gets in the way are all the little side roads you want to pursue. So you spend days trying to convince Jesus that you will give Him all the credit if only He would bless your plans. Doesn’t God know the urgency  of your life? If He really cared about “me” .. then He would ……. (fill in the blank). But the Lord didn’t wait to find out how you would turn out. He simply describes what your life will look like: Christ is in you. How easily we under nourish the Son’s life within us but make sure our life is cared for. It’s why we find so little rest in our lives. If you’re a Christ follower .. you remember a time when you came to a moment and the choice to go forward meant staying in control or turning over all control to this Jesus. You couldn’t believe how extravagant His grace was for your life. And Jesus never tires inviting and reminding you that the life He desires is one where He has the run of the house. There is only one kind of you He wants: All of you .. today … yielded to His life. It only takes a moment …

“The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.” Colossians 1:27 The Message

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

Posted in Acts, Colossians | Leave a comment

Grace space

August 1-4, 2017

Grace-Gripped will return on August 7. Away for biking .. fried haddock.. beach walks .. and hops varieties. Shalom.. Ken

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment