Waiting on Thanksgiving

November 23, 2017

“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 Christian Standard

What is the good work that God wants to do in you? Does He want you to live with an ever deepening knowledge of who He is? Does He want you to live in an ever deepening fellowship with His Son? Would He really allow so many different pressures and overwhelming circumstances in your life so you would discover the inadequacy of trusting yourself to find the the right answers?*  Yes He would .. and does. He’s not a God who just aims to show you how weak you are or how easily tempted you are to lean on your own understanding. He knows how broken and flawed all of us are. He knows our tendency to try and fix what is broken and unrepairable. His aim isn’t to force you into a corner to surrender. Surrender is His gift .. freeing you from having to try harder .. to do more .. and exhaust yourself to achieve in order to win acceptance and approval. What the Lord has started in you is a work of grace: the depth of His saving love for you and the wild invitation to live everyday in fellowship with Him. The problems you face .. the circumstances surrounding you .. and the prospects of a future don’t even enter the picture of what God has in store. HIs purpose is His Son living complete in every area of your life. The hardest work you will undertake is wait. Waiting surfaces all your insecurities .. fears .. and uncertainties. It surfaces doubt in God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness. Thanksgiving is a celebration of waiting .. watching .. and walking with Jesus. It’s the with Jesus part that fills in all the gaps. It’s received and shared with thankfulness. And with Jesus … it only takes a moment …

We wait for the Lordhe is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him
because we trust in his holy name. May your faithful love rest on us, Lord,
for we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Scattered-Good-Works following Jesus. (thanks to J.I. Packer with thoughts on grace and waiting. )

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The Holy Spirit .. Pregnant .. and Prayer….

November 22, 2107

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Luke 11:13 Christian Standard

Jesus describes a picture of a friend helping a friend in time of need. That’s who you turn to … a friend .. someone who knows you .. someone who will help because you have a need. He then describes the type of friend your Heavenly Father is. He knows your need, maybe even your desperation. Instead of being cruel He gives you more than you can imagine … the Holy Spirit. And this Spirit is right alongside to help. He untangles your words and deepest wordless thoughts and shapes them into prayer. And prayer is where the Father listens to his daughter or son pour out their hearts. When you can’t wait any longer and your strength has run out .. the Holy Spirit keeps you present before God. You can’t form the words? You can’t believe that God, your Heavenly Father, will understand what you are asking? Can God really work out all the details of your life into something good? This is where Jesus has already walked those steps before you. He knows what you are feeling .. what you long for .. and what your life is with Him in the center. He’s working out the details in love because that is the only way it will truly stick inside you. And like pregnancy … there is pain involved. That Father knows what you are asking. The Son has opened the way. The Holy Spirit is at work in you. It’s not a question of whether you are worth it. Will you trust this Risen Friend? It only takes a moment …

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Impatiently Pregnant Followers of Jesus

Posted in Friend: Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Luke, Romans, trust, Waiting, What-do-you-want, worth | Leave a comment

If it were left up to me…?

November 21, 2107

May he give you what your heart desires, and fulfill your whole purpose.” Psalm 20:4  Christian Standard

How we wish God would clear the decks from all the obstacles that get in our way. If  only he would give us what we desire, we could really serve him. In fact, God has cleared the obstacles in our lives that keep us from loving and serving him. The obstacles aren’t on the outside though. There are sin-serving and sin-protecting barriers littered all across this broken world. Our own hearts and desires can become misguided and insular trying to shape God’s will out of our wills. We can make them seem so compatible .. efficient .. and productive. As if that is what the Lord is after. But God’s desires and God’s purposes required nails. We didn’t include that item on our heart’s journey. Truthfully, it is never on our lists when we construct our hearts desires. Left to ourselves and our own desires .. we end up miserable. On the outside where everyone constructs a value from what they see, they miss the inside where miserable breeds with self. But God does want to give you your hearts desires and reveal his purpose in your life. He made you just so you could know the joy of living freely in his care and power. That old way of life had to go. There was no way you could survive the depth of what those nails had to do .. on your behalf. And survive you do .. but way more than just survive. You get a new heart with desires shaped in Christ. The old ones still try to appear workable, but they have no place. The new ones are resurrection delivered .. shaped perfectly for your life. What’s on the inside .. freedom .. is now seen on the outside. You asked .. He delivered .. personally and literally. As for today … it only takes a moment …

“Could it be any clearer? Out old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life — no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection.” Romans 6:6-8 The Message

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

Posted in God's ways, Psalms, Romans, run of the house | Leave a comment

When God goes to work…

November 20, 2017

“He brought me out to a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19 Christian Standard

Who is this One who leads you into a spacious life? He is your strength, your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, your shield, your stronghold and salvation. There isn’t any area of your life untouched by God’s saving hand. The world around you cannot deliver one life or create a spacious place for you to breathe in grace and find rest. Without Christ, it’s up to you to forge your own path .. create your own safety .. and earn your own rest. In the midst of everyday battles and pressures, God’s word brings relief and promise. You are his delight. The God of the universe, the Lord of all creation delights in you. It’s not because you’ve tried your best .. maintained a good attitude .. or remained positive. In Christ you’re life is rescued, renewed and restored. You’re not put back together like you used to be. No, you’re made into something brand new … in the image of Christ. You’ve been given a rescued life .. a delivered life .. and a saving life. That’s the spacious life that is in Christ. To make that happen, Jesus became God’s un-delight .. completely vulnerable to all evil .. and left unprotected for you. It’s why you are the Father’s delight. He sees the life of His Son at home in you now. The Lord sees the believing.. trusting .. surrendering life that opened the door for Jesus to move in. And He brought the delight with Him. Just think of the One who watches over you today. How will you begin this day?  You’re in His grip. He won’t let go. It only takes a moment …

“The spacious, free life is from God, it’s also protected and safe. God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil— when we run to him, he saves us.” Psalm 37:39-40 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent M-F to to Space-in-us Fellowship following Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

Posted in Clean slate, fresh start, Psalms | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Abiding, Colossians, fellowship, finding time, JesusLife, John | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in freed, freedom, John, Matthew | Leave a comment

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)

 

 

Posted in 1 Corinthians, John, life in Christ, life-changing, love, love of Christ | Leave a comment

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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