$on-traded bargains …

July 24, 2017

“That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” Isaiah 43:4 The Message

What a way to start a day by being reminded of how much you were worth. You were worth God’s one and only Son. That happened a long time ago before you ever realized how much you were worth. And the true value of that exchange only grows deeper with time. You become keenly aware of all the little secrets inside of your life. There is that room inside your heart where you store everything and that is precisely where this one-and-only-Son makes the exchange. He’s the same Son who touched lepers .. collected a group of unremarkable men to follow Him .. fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes .. touched the untouchable .. ate with the disrespected and despised .. and restored one who rejected Him in the heat of a moment. God could have picked the flawless and finest around the world but He chose you .. picked you out of all the faces .. and traded the Creating-Son for one of His imperfect creations. He never doubted His choice of you .. never regretted the price demanded .. and never runs out of patience making you whole. When you weigh your life against the whole world you can’t possibly understand how God could love you so much. He doesn’t ask you to prove what you are worth. He doesn’t demand perfection. In fact, He doesn’t demand anything. He invites you to learn how to love the life that this one-and-only-Son is living in you. Fair trade? Hardly. But you were the only trade worth making. He’ll never refuse a trade like you. Why not? Because Jesus knows what your life looks like whole and lasting. That’s the only way to begin your day: knowing how much you are really worth. He’ll never ask for a refund. This Jesus is in it for the long haul .. as long as it takes. It only takes a moment …

“This is how much God loved the world; He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3:16 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Son-traded lives following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in GOD'S LOVE, God's ways, Son-traded, unbelievably loved, worth | Leave a comment

Exiled One-ders

July 20, 2017

 

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope … Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you … You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart … Jer. 29:11-13

It only takes One Word  .. spoken into your life .. resonating into your ears .. into your heart .. into your circumstances .. into your worries and anxieties .. and all of your life is changed forever. It may not feel like it at the moment .. but it is. The same God who spoke into His exiles .. still speaks into His called. You feel more exiled than called? You wonder how this same God who worked wonders can work in you .. on your behalf? How could He possibly work through all the open lines of your life? “And the Word became flesh” .. Jesus knows all about the limitations of oxygen. One moment your lungs all full of life and wonder .. the next they are gasping in isolation. He knows what you are facing today. You are His workshop and canvas all-in-one. From the darkest and deepest exile the Lord speaks promise .. One Word and everything changes. He unlocks the prisons that terrorize you .. One Word unlocks crucified freedom. Who He is .. Who you are .. What He thinks about you .. and What your life can become in Him?  It only takes a moment …

“For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren, and those whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified, and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Out-of-Exile-Images of the Son. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in Called, Jeremiah, life-changing, Life-words, Out of Exile, promise, Romans, Word | Leave a comment

Right up to this moment …

July 19, 2017

“He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.” Colossians 1:17 The Message

Have you ever tried to hold it all together? At some point you just begin to come apart .. cracks appear .. and you break open. That’s a good thing. You weren’t created or designed to hold it all together. There’s only been One who has never wavered .. slipped for even a moment .. or threw his hands up and walked off. That’s good news for your life. Jesus hasn’t let go of you for even one second. One second! His grip of your life and all it contains is secure. Nothing and no one can cause Him to loosen His grip. If you can picture that with all the broken and dislocated pieces of your life coming together in Christ .. you can exhale now .. and rest in the knowledge that He has your best interests at heart. And that’s just your life. What about all the people connected to your life? What about where you work? They get all His personal attention. (*** A little secret: Everyone in His grip is His favorite.) You’re armed or filled with the knowledge that Jesus is holding your life together right up to this moment. There are times when it feels completely un-together. We lose sight of how far his blood has reached beyond the cross. It happened way back then and is effective right up to and beyond this moment. That’s where you draw strength .. let yourself rest .. and go out renewed. It’s not in yourself that you find an answer. You find it in Jesus .. the last person you once turned to for help .. and the first person you’ll return to over and over because He is faithful and true. What a grace filled grip. It only takes a moment …

“Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.” Colossians 1:20 The Message

Posted in Colossians, faithful, true, unbreakable | Leave a comment

So many choices …

July 18, 2017

“The Gospel is centred in God’s Son, a descendant of David by human genealogy and patently marked out as the Son of God by the power of that Spirit of holiness which raised him to life again from the dead. He is our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:3-4  J. B. Phillips

Do you realize what is in you? You have the life of Jesus .. raised from the dead .. marked by the Spirit of life .. a life centered in the gospel .. free from condemnation. Nothing will stick that is not centered in Christ. Your eyes have been opened to see the path that is marked sin and death. You wouldn’t have seen it that way before Christ changed you. It would have just looked like a consequence of bad choices .. a life lesson .. and something to avoid in the future. But a life in Christ sees it for what it really is: sin and death. It’s not really a choice. There isn’t a good ending with any choice not centered in God’s Son. The amazing truth of the gospel is that this same Son finds us at the bottom of choices and in the midst of choices. He seems to appear out of nowhere but you realize He’s been there the whole time. What is missing is the condemnation. Just when you expect it a wave of new life hits you. You hear in your heart .. mind .. and spirit that you are free from the power those choices had over you. The one choice that rings over and over is Christ’s choice of you. He became your condemnation so you could freely receive His joy. Otherwise you would alway be carrying the thought in the back of your mind that one slip up on your part would bring all the condemnation you thought you escaped. Your life is forever marked by God’s Son. He never tires whispering into your heart that the same power that raised Him from the dead is now in you. He’s lifted the burden of making the right choices to end up on the right side of life. You’re free to live in Christ and for Christ. It only takes a moment …

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2 Holman Christian Standard

Posted in freedom, in Christ, no more condemnation, Romans | Leave a comment

All .. no more no less

July 17, 2107

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..” Colossians 2:9-10 New American Standard

All of who Jesus Christ is  .. is now in you by faith. The question: What is God like? .. is answered in Christ. He is touching a leper .. healing a blind man .. forgiving a paralyzed man .. uncondemning a condemned woman .. counseling a seeking rabbi .. eating dinner with the socially despised .. letting his feet be touched by a thankful soul .. and letting a doubter touch his crucified scars. There isn’t one “kind” of person left off of Jesus’s invitation list. They are all included. They all receive the fullness of His life. In fact, no one who trusts their life to Jesus gets less than all of Him. His life is your real life. That’s where real freedom is found. Who else has the authority to tell you that your old life is dead? And He doesn’t condemn you or shame you doing it! He releases you to let go of what is not real and realize what really makes your life complete. Without Christ you end up carrying and storing all the old things of your life. No more. If you’ll look closely, you’ll find you in those people that Jesus approached and those who broke all the rules to approach Him. They wanted something more and He gave them the promise of more life. His nail-scarred hands declare that your life is complete .. in Him. In Christ is all that you need today. Does that change what is before your day? No .. it changes you .. or rather reminds you who is your real life today. It only takes a moment …

“You old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life — even though invisible to spectators — is with Christ in God. He is your real life.” Colossians 3:3 The Messagee

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One-of-a-kind lives …

July 14, 2017

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” Romans 1:1 New American Standard

It is incomprehensible how God the Father is able to mould every Christ-follower into a set apart for the gospel life. Your life resume is one of a kind. There are no two histories alike.  And yet, the Lord is shaping disciples who share one name as the common denominator. There isn’t anything about your life that catches God by surprise. But there is one thing that He desires for you: a life set apart for the gospel. Jesus promised to send the Alongside One, His Spirit, to guide you and lead you into a life that aligned with His. You alone know the difficulty and ease of His grace-crafting work in you. You may resist in places knowing that Christ’s way is better .. but you’re just not ready to give in. And yet Jesus is still at work in you. He hasn’t walked away .. given up .. or called it quits. His aim is the same in each of us: a set apart for the gospel life. Real freedom is found aligned and abiding in His life. The apostle Paul went from persecutor to proclaimer. The same ingredient that changed him, changed you … grace. The gospel hasn’t changed in two thousand years. Every life that responds to this grace brings problems .. pains .. and a past. Every life that responds to this grace is promoted to a set apart life. That’s where He longs for you to live.  Will your life be known as being set apart for the gospel?  It only takes a moment …

“so that at the name of Jesus “every knee shall bow”, whether in Heaven or earth or under the earth. And that is why, in the end, “every tongue shall confess” that Jesus Christ” is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” J. B. Phillips

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to scattered Jesus-followers sharing a two thousand year old gospel through their lives. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in gospel, gospel life, Philippians, Romans | Leave a comment

There is no fine print …

July 13, 2017

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message

A Christ-follower walks through each day with a clear job description. He didn’t hold back the calling of your life. You are chosen by God .. a royal priesthood .. and a holy possession. You’re not given that title or calling as a reward for hard work and successful achievements. The day or moment you gave your life to Jesus .. trusted Him .. believed in who He is .. and what He did on your behalf your job description was written beside your name. Your life has a story .. a night-and-day-difference kind of story. The message out of your life may radically alter someone else’s life forever. You became “something” because of Christ. He’s filled in all the rejected nothings of who you used to be. It does take time to grow into this description, but in God’s eyes you all of this already. He doesn’t grow impatient with you. Jesus knows just how subtle and severe the Faith-enemy accuses you day in and day out. He can’t remove your calling but he can try to distract and discourage you not to walk in faith but live in fear. That life was destroyed at the cross .. defeated .. and in its place a “custom-made people” are given new life. How much are you worth? How about the whole world? If you need more, then add in the whole creation “just for you”. You mean that much to the God of the universe. The Source of your life stands generously ready to give you all you need today. There are moments when His supply doesn’t seem enough. Maybe it is because there are moments when this world’s supply seems a better fit. It never is. And Jesus knows this too! It only takes a moment …

“I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. …Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” Isaiah 43:4, 20 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Jesus-messengers living night-and-day-differences. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in 1 Peter, chosen, Faith-accuser, Isaiah, life-calling | Leave a comment

The secret places …

July 12, 2017

“As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30 New American Standard

What a great image the Lord gives you for today: He is a shield and refuge. There isn’t one moment of your life where Christ is not present. That is the great message of knowing and following Christ: He is present in every area of your life. He is the only one who can join all the incompatible parts of you into a whole in Him. Harsh circumstances and smooth waters are simply parts of a fallen world where Jesus is at work. And for you today are the ancient words: “Nothing is too difficult for You.” There isn’t one area of your life out of God’s reach. Jesus invites you to abide in His life. It’s His invitation to share His life with you. There is no other agenda. The Lord who made heaven and earth wants you to know that there is nothing in your life outside of His reach and purpose. He really wants you to live with real hope grounded in who He is.  That means you bring everything about who you are into this relationship. Just imagine this day with “Nothing is too difficult for You” at the beginning and end of what you are facing. You have to place everything in His hands. You have to trust that Jesus really does have your best interest at heart. The world’s message is to always protect your own interests. Jesus asks you to trust Him. As an old YMCA Chaplain in WW1 said: “The battle is won or lost in the secret places of the will before God.” It only takes a moment …

” ‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,” Jeremiah 32:17 New American Standard

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

 

Posted in Jeremiah, Psalms | Leave a comment

No Clearance Sales …

July 11, 2017

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 New American Standard

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” The Message

Inside of you is something good. God chose a soft-spoken man to speak over and over these words into your heart: “I like you just the way you are.” Mr. Rogers spoke with the same grace that God is perfecting in your life in Christ. The good that the Lord sees is the good that He is. It’s not our definition of good. Good is what nail-scarred hands form inside of you. His Spirit is at work in your life .. in and through all those incomplete pieces .. crafting something “holy through and through”.  It’s His life that is being perfected in you .. His life that is the “great work” in you .. and His life that is utterly faithful to you today. Your confidence may slip on some days. You may even doubt at times just what good work God could possibly be doing in you. But two-thousand year old words have been true of every follower of Jesus: God began a good work in you and He is going to see it perfected .. a flourishing finish. It’s all His work. Your life is a display of His generous grace. He’s not going to quit .. walk out .. or give up on you .. ever! It only takes a moment …

“May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in soul and mind and body in spotless integrity until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do.” 1 Thessalonians. 5:23-24 J.B. Phillips

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

 

Posted in 1 Thessalonians, good work, grace-shaped, Philippians | Leave a comment

Outrageously offensive …

July 10, 2017

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:4 New American Standard

It is who and what you are in Christ: blameless Who would make such a statement?  Would you in your wildest thoughts ever consider your life blameless? And if you are, then what does that mean today? It’s already written upon your heart. It’s permanently declared over your life. It’s what makes the life of Jesus so outrageous in this accusative .. condemning world. You don’t earn it. You can never take credit for it. You can only receive it with indefatigable gratitude. It is a cross-sized promise made before you were born. Every blame .. every accusation .. and every blemish has been exchanged with Christ. It takes a lifetime to believe it .. and even then you will probably shake your head in absolute amazement. How could God make such a claim about you?  Every transaction in your life has been scored through Jesus. It’s been said that His Voice silences every accusation against you in the heavens. There isn’t one blemish .. one unknown-to-be-announced-later violation .. or one molecule of sin that can be attached to your life. You’re free in Christ. You know what it cost. This world cannot stand or tolerate freedom found on a cross and no longer buried in a grave. To be blameless defies this world’s jurisdiction of justice. It’s no longer about right or wrong .. trying to be good enough .. or hoping to atone for your mistakes. Your life has become a corridor of grace .. open to all  .. giving freely and generously to anyone. Today is but one moment where the life of Jesus-risen can be made real in you. It’s already true .. and it only takes a moment.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” Jude 24 New American Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Stumbling-Bumbling-Fumbling saints standing blamelessly with great joy. “Are you kidding me? Nope!” (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in believe, blameless, Ephesians, exchanged, freedom, generous, grace, indefatigable, joy, Jude, true, Way of life | Leave a comment