March 22, 2018
“We’re all like sheep who wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong on him, on him.” Isaiah 53:6 The Message
Most people don’t stare into a mirror for very long. Self-conscious? Self-condemning? Self-consumed? You begin to see flaws .. little things .. a line or wrinkle reruns a past memory locked away. A faint scar unlocks the volume of a pain muted. And slowly the image begins to conform to what you see inside .. except nothing has changed on the outside. God sees a different image. He once saw sheep .. wandering off .. impulsive, clueless, determined, stubborn, rebellious even. He saw us .. maybe you .. being choked by our own appetites .. consumed with our own good .. choosing (you thought) your own way. Our choices can only lead in one direction. They can’t make us good enough. You can’t do enough good to erase or even dilute what you’ve done bad .. even destructive .. to yourself .. and others. It’s all stored in that mirror looking back at you. Then the Holy Spirit goes to work. He opens your eyes .. sometimes with the grace-filled help of others .. sometimes all alone .. to see everything you’ve done wrong piled on ANOTHER. He was just like you too .. except there was never a flawed image .. scarred past .. or hidden pile to deny or run from. He exchanged your pile for His life. And it’s not just any life … it’s more life. It’s a life that prospers .. gives health .. restores .. and replaces a flawed image with a perfect one .. forever. You’re God’s masterpiece now. He’s shaping your life into the image of His Son. It takes time .. trust .. and the grace-filled help of others. You can’t grow this new life alone. It’s what God has planned all along. But you don’t have to wear that old image anymore. It only takes a moment ….
“Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it – life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.” Isaiah 53:10
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped.com is sent to incredible images of Jesus living normal lives toward forever. ingodsgrip.org will no longer carry this post after 3/23.
March 21, 2018
“One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.” Isaiah 53:4 The Message
God chose cold benches .. windy alleyways .. and steam grates. That’s not too far off when you notice he ate in grain fields .. asked a scandal-loaded woman for a drink of water .. and spent a lot of meals with you-wouldn’t-catch-me-hanging-out-with-those-kinds-of-people. Jesus always has room for that person just on the outside. He stops .. asks a question .. listens to desperate pleas .. and lived a daily life of interruptions. He was blamed for causing his own problems. He could have unveiled a more comprehensive plan .. at least one you could understand. Isaiah lays out the most comprehensive .. inclusive plan ever revealed. The God-of-Angel-Armies Son would become irreversible sin. He became every disease .. every disqualifying action or thoughts from your heart .. and every possible form of lust .. addiction .. abuse .. and human contamination stretching for all recorded time: past .. present .. and future. If you’re looking to blame someone .. blame Him. He can handle the worst of your life. Actually .. Jesus would love nothing more than for you to interrupt His life with all the things wrong with “you”. Where do you begin? Just start .. He’s got all the time you need. It only takes a moment…
“Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly — the best of everything, the highest honors — Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.” Isaiah 53:12 The Message
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March 20, 2108
“Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this. The servant grew up before God – a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.” Isaiah 53:
What do you value? Do you remember the last moment .. maybe yesterday .. when you didn’t give someone a second look? Their appearance edited your interest of what value they may possess. They didn’t warrant a moment .. a greeting .. a hug .. accepting love? Where do the overlooked .. ignored .. passed-over .. scarred self-imagers turn for help? Ancient words still reach deeply into aching hearts. God’s penmanship of indelible grace seems to move so slowly our eyes droop .. but .. when they pierce a broken heart .. we are breathless at the speed of His lettering. He writes so personal, so intimate, that instantly this scrawny seedling is writing, speaking, and re-creating your life. Remnants are scattered around the world .. passed-over .. ignored .. de-valued .. as possessing no worth for today’s production. God’s saving power is finding the despised, rejected, and suffering one heartbeat at a time. Why not the powerful .. influential .. achievers? Those too. They carry the same scars inside. Sometimes our own scars prejudice us from seeing wounds upon the well-connected .. put-together .. and high-finishers. But Jesus? He knows firsthand from his own life what pain does inside of you. He knows how it distorts your vision .. causes love to turn suspicious and selective .. and why you live like you’ve been turned away. He’s a firsthand savior. Trust Him today .. and you’ll find yourself taking a second look. It only takes a moment …
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. (“who knew pain firsthand”MSG) He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him.” Isaiah 53:3 Christian Standard
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March 19, 2018
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:5-8 New American Standard
God isn’t going to leave any corner of your life un-touched or out-of-reach. A water basin and towel hardly seem like surgical instruments .. but in His hands? The disciple’s feet hardly seemed like the parts to make unforgettable .. but in His hands? That’s where He left grace imprinted on their hearts … and yours. You could probably imagine something more obvious to wash in your life. Feet? Jesus doesn’t hesitate to wash your feet knowing everything about you: your struggle .. failures .. addiction .. repeating condemnation .. silent judgment .. and hidden crevices of guilt or shame. We more often than not respond like Peter and divert the attention away from ourselves or claim to be able to take care of it. We’d rather not bother Him or admit we need His grace for those areas. But how we do .. and how gracious Jesus is to wash us clean. It’s only later that we realize how desperate we really were for His care. But Jesus doesn’t leave us there. He told them they were to be like Him .. a servant of grace. What qualifies you? Dirty feet .. dirty heart .. dirty past .. or a dirty mind? It’s offensive to find out you’re so qualified to become a foot-washer who follows Jesus. There wasn’t one look of condemnation on His face with those disciples. It’s the same with you. How far did He go to find you? “What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” If you’ll let Him .. He’ll use your life to be His hands .. for somebody just like you. It only takes a moment …
For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:15-17 New American Standard
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped.com is sent to foot-washers scattered everywhere.
March 16, 2018
“Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”—Psalm 51:16-17, The Message
Shattered pride .. heart-shattered lives .. starving for love .. offering your life to God without conditions? These hardly seem like God-defined qualities for a fruitful and productive life. But they are. The Kingdom of God is an upside down, inside out life compared to this present life. The materials we give the Lord are not completed-works .. extra-efforts .. good-intentions .. and overflowing-praises. They look the opposite beneath a cross. They contain broken-promises .. self-efforts .. blame-it-on-others .. and self-rejections. Everybody’s list has something unique to them. God’s indefatigable care over your life will never run out. He mends the broken places .. cleanses the self-inflicted wounds .. pours out a love so pure it leaves you speechless .. and throws a party for anyone who offers just themselves with all their mess in tow. Then the Holy Spirit informs you that Christ has pre-qualfied you for Kingdom employment: “You’re Hired”. When you look down at all those disqualifying descriptions of your life you see a blank page. Every one of those marks against you is erased and forgotten. If you look closely you see the faint outline of some scars that remain. Jesus knows about the power of scars. He knows how attractive this world’s offers can be at fragile moments in your life. The great discovery is finding out that God really does care about all the things that concern you. He doesn’t rate your life in difficulty or triumph. That’s where His Son stepped in on your behalf. There’s no triviality in God’s heart about your life. Jesus made sure of that. Looking for work? It only takes a moment …
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”— 1 Peter 5:6-7, Christian Standard
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Thanks for your encouragement and suggestions.
Grace on … Ken
“But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—” Isaiah 43:1-2 The Message
God’s all in when it comes to your life. He’s not holding anything back. He’s declared it .. written it down .. and wrapped it with skin and bones. Your life will never be whole until you hear your name being called by your Heavenly Father. You can achieve everything you’ve ever imagined and still not hear your name. Something will always be missing inside of you. God knows exactly what is missing. He sees all the broken pieces .. broken promises .. and broken payments you’ve made to try and look normal .. happy even. He sees the veneer-upon-veneer holding you together. He could have held back … kept something in reserve in case you failed again. That’s when the Least Expected One showed up in your life. He knew your name long before you had any interest in HIs voice. It didn’t stop Him. And no matter how far you’ve wandered .. wasted .. or wallowed.. Jesus traded everything for you. Everything! That’s who He is. He is everything that will ever matter. He is the only true meaning and explanation of your life. He’s all in. It only takes a moment..
“Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in. 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 43:3-4 The Message
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In HIs Grip, Ken
February 13, 2018
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 Christian Standard
It is recorded with just a few lines. It’s never used to beat you over the head or cause you to shrink into a corner. It is so underwhelming: Jesus experienced everything you have faced in your life … except He didn’t give in .. didn’t override His own will .. and doesn’t hold back anything helping you when you need it .. want it dearly .. and ask without conditions attached. He’s there with mercy and grace … all you need. You can’t believe He would give something so valuable in exchange for what you’ve done. But He does … because it is who He is. He was pierced and crushed and we were healed. One translation says “he knew pain firsthand”. That is the Jesus who found you .. who calls you to follow Him .. who washes away all your sin and guilt .. and who lives in you so fully and freely that you are no longer the man or woman you used to be. Grace is a game changer. There is nothing like it. There never will be. There’s just more grace than you can ever imagine! So if you need grace today .. need help in anyway .. need Jesus to carry your burdens and blunders …… then ask .. ask with a grace-filled boldness .. ask with a thankful and grateful heart. But don’t hang back thinking you’ve blown it … used up your grace .. beyond His reach. Run .. walk .. crawl .. cry out .. sigh with surrender .. close your eyes and fall into His hands. It’s that easy. It only takes a moment….
Grace-Gripped is undergoing a complete web redesign. This will be the last GG on email delivery until this redesign is complete. Thank you for your words of encouragement and prayers going forward. Yours in Christ …. Ken
February 5, 2108
“Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Moreover, keep your servant from willful sins; do not let them rule me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed from blatant rebellion. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14 Christian Standard
How many you’s exist inside of you.?There is the one-you that longs for the Lord in all the places of your life. You’re aware of flaws .. failings .. and fears. You know just how stubborn you can be. You know that trusting yourself to guard yourself is a broken way to live … no matter how successful it may appear. There is another-you that carries things that are long passed and powerless. You still carry them even though they make you weary at times. There is One who can free you from carrying unneeded baggage. Then there is the other-you that wrestles with old things and new things that promise what only God can give you and do in you. You know the battles are real. You’ve got the scars to prove it. That’s a lot of “you’s”. The real-you can only make one offer: complete surrender. You don’t have to worry if you covered everything because you know that Jesus has covered every-you in you. That’s where you’ve placed your trust. That’s how you’re going to live. That’s who you know will search .. cleanse .. know .. test .. and lead the real-you in the only way that way lasts forever. That’s who will lead you today. That’s who will work in the deepest unseen places of your heart. That’s who will supply you with real hope .. real grace .. and real faith to live in Christ. And knowing you are alive in Christ and He will not let go is only way to start the day .. walk in it .. and end the way you started … in Christ. It only takes a moment …
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24 Christian Standard
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Christ-in-you .. Christ-for-you .. Christ-through-you followers of Jesus. (email@example.com)
January 31, 2018
“But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. …. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth … He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.” Isaiah 53:4-5, 7, 9 Christian Standard
He was accused of being too dangerous to leave alive. Isaiah described exactly what kind of Messiah he would be: An Accused One. His healing was demonic. His compassion was lawless. His teaching was blasphemy. His life was too inclusive of unwanted and unworthy people. Every victim in this fallen world finds him at the bottom of their pain .. brokenness .. and sorrow. He alone has the power to wash away shame and bitterness and replace it with indescribable joy. He pays for the abusers crimes and suffers for the abused. He can identify with any background. He doesn’t condemn because he knows just how condemning sin truly is in your heart. He’s found wherever pain, despair, addiction, loneliness, shame, fear, and brokenness imprison men and women. He could easily keep his distance but instead moves toward hurting lives with hope. He has never overlooked your sin or excused your flaws and struggles. He doesn’t take into account your background, where you’ve come from, or whether you acted with good intentions. Once you see his nail-scarred hands extended on your behalf, there are no more excuses available. The only thing he has to offer you is all of who he is. The only thing he wants is all that you have been. The one title mockingly written above his head is the One Title that you will worship forever. You are Christ’s ambassador. Wherever you go today, you represent Him and all that He has done. It only takes a moment …
“Above his head they put the charge against him in writing: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Matthew 27:37 Christian Standard
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Christ’s Ambassadors following in His steps. (firstname.lastname@example.org)