The power of one name ….

October 16, 2017

“Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.” Acts 4:12 The Message

Jesus died on a cross two thousand years ago. That message has been shared beyond measure .. through every age .. and in the midst of every imaginable situation and circumstance. There hasn’t been one day or moment when the name of Jesus lacked the power to save and transform a life. God could have made sure that was possible by sheer power and threats. No other ruler or government has been able to eliminate this name. And yet the name of Jesus has cut through every form of oppression .. condemnation .. and human folly of suggesting His name would become irrelevant with time. The cross .. the offer of forgiveness .. and the promise of life-forever has never wavered. It reaches into the lowest and darkest places of a man or woman’s life. It reaches men and women at the pinnacles of power and influence. It is the same Name. And every heart that opens to this Name is found longing for THAT place in their life where nothing but this Name will heal .. fill .. renew .. and restore. No other name has that power and promise. Marriages are healed by this Name .. Children find their real identities in this Name .. Relationships are reconciled through this Name  .. and You are being held together by this Name that is above all names. Nothing else is available today that offers unfailing love .. absolute hope .. and abiding faith. That’s why every Christ follower walks a path marked by nail scarred hands and feet. It’s why He has never let go of one life that lives, breathes, and has surrendered to the Name of Jesus. It’s why your life matters today. It only takes a moment …

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 New American Standard

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

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A prayer for today …

October 16, 2017

“But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe — Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.” Galatians 3:25-27 The Message

Your have a story to live today. It’s your story. It’s your message. It’s the message that Jesus is manuscripting in you. Whether you are facing great need or have great supply .. Whether you are struggling with unrelenting monsters or temptations .. Whether you are walking in confidence or feeling dry and defeated .. Whether you are walking in the deep love of Christ or desperate for the Father’s touch: May this Christ-Traveler’s prayer fill you and draw you into the healing wholeness of God’s love for you today:

In the middle of the things that bind me up and restrict my life today, I readily accept the abundant freedom that You offer through your Son.  In the weariness of my struggle to live out of my own resources, I willingly accept the timely help that you have made readily available for me. In the tiredness and frustration of my human effort to simply survive, I humbly receive the endless energy offered to me through the extravagant gift of the Resurrection.  In the experience of my daily weakness to live up to the model of Jesus, I surrender to your boundless strength to carry me to wherever you want me to go. In the mirror that I look into every morning, Help me to see and remember that Christ in me is the answer to all that I face and the way to become all that you desire me to be.  In the freshness of your unending grace for my life today, I will follow the Light and the Spirit that you have freely given to guide and lead me.  Thank you Lord for the light that never burns out of my life. (formed from the rivers of Ephesians 1:7-19)

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Forever-Freed Followers of Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LOVE. ENJOY ALL THE EGGS FROM YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER!!

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Following the savvy horse-trader …

October 13, 2017

“You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” 2 Corinthians. 8:9 New Living Translation

You have the rest of your life to grasp and be gripped by this image: Jesus spent everything He was .. He had .. and He is so that you would know how much you are worth to God. An Anglican theologian once wrote that this same God loves you despite knowing the worst about you. In fact, He sees “more corruption” in you than you could imagine, and “for some unfathomable reason, wants you to be his friend, and desires to be your friend” today as well. And just so you have a guarantee, He’s written your name, carved it permanently on His palms. When you begin to fully grasp this truth, it will change everything about how you live  your life. The world you live in will try every form of subterfuge to diminish or dilute the message your life reveals. They will try to suggest that everyone is made rich by God’s love … without Christ. God’s generosity is on full display in Jesus. Learning to love the life that Christ is living-in-you contains this exchange: Christ’s riches for your poverty. Pretty good trade, huh? He became the “poor” of your life so that you could become the “riches” of His life. Whatever you will be doing today … Wherever you are going … are potential moments of God’s grace on full display. It’s easy to be worn down by this world’s tactics and forget the true riches that your life has become in Christ. You probably know someone desperate for this same trade. How would God use you today to share the extravagant wealth of Jesus Christ? Time? You’ve got all you need, even when there doesn’t seem a minute to spare. Sometimes it just begins by taking a moment and asking Jesus to lead your way today. You can trust Him … just look at the trade He made for you. It only takes a moment …

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:16 English Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Followers of the Savy Horse-Trader named Jesus.  (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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God’s cleaning franchise…

God’s cleaning franchise…

October 12, 2017

“He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they they trusted and believed him.” Acts 15:9 The Message

Are you trying to make the christian life work …in your own strength … on your terms … trying .. failing .. trying .. failing .. trying .. failing? Life in Christ sometimes seems so unattainable .. unyielding .. and constantly demanding. God found you when you weren’t looking for him. He loved you completely .. totally .. all-embracing .. even though you weren’t really asking. He’s cleaned you up on the inside and patiently keeps working to the outsides of your life. Is it that simple .. really? Trusting .. Surrendering .. Believing .. Receiving .. Releasing .. Forgiving .. Waiting ..Praying .. Praising .. Loving .. and Serving? Do you think that God is really waiting for you to do your part .. wear yourself out trying before He steps in?  Or has He sealed you with His Holy Spirit .. His Abiding Presence .. to change you from the inside out? Yes … it happens through Jesus. Yes .. there was and is a Cross .. big enough and reaching far enough to cover your whole life completely. Yes .. He has risen from the dead so that you can know and experience life firsthand. Without Christ, life takes on a secondhand feel. It requires more of you and you require more from things to fill the hole in your heart. Your life is the most simplistically complicated mess-made-whole-in-Jesus. Do you really think that you can add one layer to what God has in store for you today? He simply invites you to love Him, trust that His way is true and good for your life, and to whom or wherever possible … share what He has given you. He’ll fill in the blanks … It only takes a moment …

“Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things in our lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you.” Galatians 3:5 The Message

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

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God didn’t wait on you …

God didn’t wait on you …

October 11, 2017

“God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” Colossians 1:13-14 The Message

God didn’t wait on you when it came to greatest battle ever fought. He’s watch every dead end path you’ve ever walked .. or even travelled down in your mind. He also knows there is a darker dungeon than anything you’ve ever experienced. But that didn’t stop Him. You were made with 206 pieces of calcium .. formed and attached with incredible love. The world you live in was formed in perfect love as well. But everything broke into pieces .. unfixable. Even the colors of the universe lost some of their beauty and brilliance. But God didn’t ask you to fix it. You couldn’t. Even your best day has a crack or fracture in it somewhere. No amount of effort or resources can cover over it. So the Son became the Rescuer .. misunderstood .. mocked .. marked as impotent .. an imposter. But that didn’t stop God from rescuing your life out of poisoned-good and seductive-evil. No one could conceive a fix out of death and blood. That’s because we never really thought we were beyond reach .. or bankrupted-truth. But you were and anyone not in the grip of this Holy Rescuer still is. That makes your life and message all the more urgent in a rapidly declining world. God didn’t wait on you and now the Son’s life is doing the same through you. If He’s fixed and fitted you together, then you’ll begin to see and feel the brokenness and damage all around you. You can walk down a friend’s path in the knowledge that Jesus is the only Rescuer for another life. You can be a friend of the Friend .. who restores vibrant harmonies within a life. When you’ve been rescued, you never forget the nail-scarred hands that led you out. 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 1:19-20 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Former Pit-dwellers following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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It’s waiting for you …

October 10, 2017

“We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created.” Colossians 1:15 The Message

When you’re trying to figure out what your life looks like and how it fits into this world .. you look at this Son. Why? It goes against everything we’ve been taught in this world. *What do you want to do? *It’s your choice. *You can do anything you put your mind to. The list goes on and on. You don’t find yourself by looking inside yourself. The real you is found starting with Jesus. Why him? Because he was and is the only perfect man who ever lived. When you do this, you find God has been patiently working around and through all the issues .. dislocated parts .. fears .. mistakes .. broken areas .. insecurities .. and longings in your life. How? Through this same Son. His work in you always points towards His Son. Christ has all the room you need. All the sharp angles of your life .. all the wounded places .. and all the neglected areas find their proper place in Christ. There’s room for everything that has to do with your life. God isn’t waiting for you to sort out the good from the bad or the acceptable from the unacceptable. He holds out His Son with the full knowledge of your life and invites you “take hold of” ..  “trust in” .. and “follow” the One Life you long to live. You think you need to be prepared to hear disappointment? What if he condemns how you’ve lived? What he says is “I became all your condemnation”. You don’t need to carry it any longer. And suddenly you discover that this word called faith is simply the God-sized space where you find love ..  life .. and a Son who can’t stop smiling at you. He sees the real you. As one old pastor says: You don’t have to wear those grave clothes any longer. There’s a new wardrobe with your name on it. It only takes a moment …

“So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds it proper place in him without crowding.” Colossians 1:19 The Message

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

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Gloriously out of balance…

October 9, 2017

“… what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 The Message

We constantly seek balance in our lives. It offers hope that we can have some semblance of control, manage or minimize the unexpected. Jesus never used the word balance to describe a life trusting Him. He used the word all. There is no middle ground in Christ. You don’t set aside the parts of your life that you want to keep. There is no halfway point to stop and catch your breath. You don’t get to create the life you want. You don’t get a choice of how much of Jesus you want to move into your life. Of course … many try .. maybe you have .. to manage your new life with remnants of your old life. The world we live in is relentless in trying to shape this sinless-crucified-risen NAZARENE into manageable portions. There’s no faith or religion on earth .. in all of history .. that can compare to this God-of-Angel-Armies, who took on fingerprints and became your sin .. so  you could find new life in Him. The world’s message is “balance”. Christ’s offer is “a new creation”.  He has only one life to give you … His. And the rest of your new life is spent learning to love the life He is living in you. You’ll face battles over good things and battles over un-Son-like things. But the life that Jesus gives you is a life filled with his love, promise and presence. An old major repeatedly said: “only Christ can live the Christian life, because He is the Christian life!” Why not start fresh today … it only takes a moment …

 “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. ” Galatians 2:19-20 The Message

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

 

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Playing in the mud…

October 6, 2017

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message

God’s put a treasure in you. It’s right there for all to see. Most of the time you don’t even know it’s there. That’s probably a good thing. He could have just cleaned you up on the inside and pointed you toward the goal of earning this eternal treasure .. one day .. if you live up to your part. But He didn’t. When you believed .. with all your flaws and imperfections .. He put the treasure of His Son in your life. Believing is how you live out this LIFE everyday.  It shows how you treat others .. conduct business .. and love your spouse. Some days are better than others. There are overwhelming moments and God-designed circumstances. That’s to show you or help you realize that it really is God’s incomparable power and not your own that you are living on. 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 you face in your life. The world whispers: ‘It’s up to you .. it’s your life’. Jesus says: “I” will be your life .. let’s face this together. Life in Christ is you trusting Christ for everything about you. When you know that this treasure is God’s power through Jesus, you’ll quit trying to make life work for your own ends. You’re no longer trying to force life because now you’re free to live it. It frees up a lot of space on the inside. That’s because you aren’t gripping everything so tightly. You don’t have to. It only takes a moment …

“But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may life in His name.” John 20:31 New American Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to wildly loved mudpies showing the world what Jesus can make out of a little grace. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

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Following the ScarFinder…

October 5, 2017

“..Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant.” John 20:19-20 The Message

No one can compare to him. And yet, when you encounter him, you realize that he’s just like you. You’re not sure what to expect .. condemnation .. disapproval ..  maybe just silence .. or furrowed disappointment? The walls crumble in your heart and all the defenses come down .. why? Because Jesus simply opens his hands and you see his scars. One look into his eyes and you see how much he understands you .. loves you .. and wants you back. It’s not like he went anywhere. It’s more like you’re the one who turned away .. looked in another direction .. or decided that He must have had enough of your stumbling around .. asking for another chance .. or heard one more do-it-my-way. So you expect his rejection and  maybe even judgment. You deserved it. You’re all ready to walk away .. defeated .. dejected .. and desperate … AND THEN IT HAPPENS. Jesus reaches across all the pain .. brokenness .. struggles .. failures .. addictions .. and lies .. and grips you with his scars. They’re just like your scars, only deeper .. and healed. Your scars are too real .. too painful .. too filled with fear. His scars invite you to know over and over that He’s come for you. Your scars are exactly what he is looking for. Then he asks you to join him .. to follow him .. to be a scar finder. No religious words are required. No formula is expected. No amount is demanded. Instead, written on his hands are everything you ever did or will do! It’s unlike any tenderness you’ve ever heard or expected. There is a terrible sound of raw power in his voice and yet it falls on your heart like softness. Is it really Jesus? Why now and not way back when you really needed him? Why now when it feels too late? Why now when you’ve quit asking .. quit praying? What answer can he possibly give? Again, he looks at you without defense .. without anger .. with two hands open .. hoping you will reach for one .. the one with scars. He says you’ll be scar finder now. They’re everywhere. It only takes a moment …

“..Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness”. 1 Corinthians 1:25 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to the fellowship of scars following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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Being available…

October 4, 2017

“… and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:20 English Standard Version

Who would ever imagine that the power of the cross would reconcile us to Christ? Every trespass .. every mistake .. every sin .. everything is reconciled .. restored .. renewed .. recreated new in Christ. The cross is often recognized as a religious symbol. It’s not viewed as a symbol of hope and promise. Some say it is too narrow .. too divisive .. too restricting. But is it really? Is there any other image that restores relationships and makes people whole?  Why does Jesus reconciles you first to himself?  Because it gets you out of the way and allows his life to be the foundation for healing. It’s Christ’s life that unites hearts and lives back together. The cross removes all the barriers and obstacles that keep you away from each other. You can’t blame someone else when the cross is between you. It calls you to allow God to make something brand new out of what was once broken and seemingly beyond repair. Then God does the unbelievable: He says that you are now qualified to be a reconciler in His Name. What qualifies you? Simply this: your life was reconciled to Jesus on that cross. You know it was a gift underserved.  Then and only then are you ready to reach across the hurt .. confusion .. unforgiveness .. distance .. silence .. and even resentment to another hurting life. It’s offered as freely as it was offered to you. Just think what the reconciling message of Christ could be around  your world today?  Are you available?  It only takes a moment …

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself….” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 English Standard Version

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to God’s Repair Agents following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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