2000 years of perfect imperfections…

January 30, 2018

“It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.” Hebrews 10:14 The Message

How have we held together for over 2000 years? Our history is littered with endless trails of brokenness, betrayal, and bitterness. And we are God’s church. He’s staked his Name upon us .. upon you .. to be a living witness of what the resurrection of Jesus Christ becomes in an imperfect person. And the great mystery is that the Father sees you in all his Son’s perfection. Yes, he sees all the flaws and imperfections. But he sees something so great in grace that he loves it when we display this life-changing love with abandon. What if you believed this day that your very life is being held together by Jesus? Everything that you do becomes an opportunity or moment for Christ to be first place in your life. You’re not worried or anxious because you heard him say: “Do not be anxious .. Do not fear .. I will be with you always.” You heard it .. read it .. believed it .. and His Spirit empowers you to live it in everything connected to your life. You’re not worried if you fail or travel down a the wrong path. You’re not worried because you know that Christ is your Advocate. The enemy cannot make his accusation stick because Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. He’s covered your life and fills you with His presence and peace. His Church has fought battles on every front. God has not lifted his promise for one second. You are part of God’s kingdom outpost*. What kind of people do you attract? Imperfect people just like you were once. You don’t boast of perfection. You live with an infectious thankfulness of “incalculable” grace. And just like that an imperfect person believes such a perfect gift is available for them. You don’t take credit because you know with such freedom that Christ has done all the work. You’re on assignment for Christ today. It only takes a moment…

“He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:17-18 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to God’s Outpost following Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)*Thanks to EP for defining who we are on this earth.

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Blessed indeed …

January 29, 2018

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. ” 1 Peter 1:3-4 Christian Standard

What a description of a follower of Jesus: new birth .. living hope .. an inheritance imperishable .. undefiled .. and unfading! It’s not burdensome. It’s not probationary. It’s not threatened. And just to make sure, Peter tells you that your life in Christ is being guarded by Gods power. Can you imagine what your life would look like and feel like if you had to find your own strength to guard what has been given to you through Christ? Your new life is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It defines who you are. You are a follower of One who walked out of a grave after dying. His death covers everything about your old life that was perishable .. defiled .. and fading away. His risen life fills you with a life that can never be lost .. taken away .. or defeated. This is the life that begins your day. God’s power guards you as you go out. Christ’s life dwells in you .. an indwelling life of grace and power. That simply means you are living every minute and moment out of His inexhaustible love. And the power? It raised Him out of grave. Why would you think that He will be any less in you?  This is why your response to such a life is to bless your God and Father who has given you an unbelievable gift. Will you let His words and life carry you into this day? It only takes a moment …

 “You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 3:5 Christian Standard

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Priceless space …

January 26, 2018

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. “(“It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” 4:7 MSG) Philippians 4:6-7 New American Standard

God really does want to be part of everything in your life. He sees and knows your smallest thought .. He sees and knows your wildest dreams .. and He sees and knows everything that causes you to lose sight of His care. He doesn’t leave you to figure it out on your own. He tells you upfront that His peace will guard your heart and mind. Aren’t those the two places where anxiety-thieves break in to wreck havoc and cause such unrest? And it’s not just your heart and mind … it is your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. God’s work in you is always connected to life in His Son. Jesus wrestled with every form of space-stealing thoughts. He was tempted in every area of His life. He was ridiculed .. He was wearied by all the broken and hurting people who continually wanted His attention and power. He even struggled in his final hours before His life was stolen with nails. If you want to know what battles you will face today .. just create that space where true — honorable — just — pure — lovely — commendable — excellence and praise will fill your heart and mind … and you will encounter the mental battles .. the eyesight battles .. and the heart battles .. and all the subtle temptations that want only one thing: to get you to focus on yourself .. and leave God’s faithful promises on the sidelines in your life. Dwell on these things. It only takes a moment …

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable —  if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 Christian Standard

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

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A way of life …

January 25, 2018

Therefore Pilate went out to them and *said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”  They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” John 18:29-30 New American Standard

Just what evil did this Nazarene jewish rebel commit? He touched a leper and made him whole. He let a disreputable woman wash his feet with her tears. He invited a tax collector to join his ministry. He fed 5000. He blessed a wedding without drawing attention to himself. He healed paralyzed .. lame .. blind .. bleeding .. sick .. and spiritually diseased men and women. The broken .. rejected .. lost .. shamed .. fear-filled .. and terrorized all found Him to be a friend. And when He could have shut down all his accusers, He turned instead to His Father in complete trust. This is the One you’ve staked your life upon. His life is to become your way of life. You’ll face some of the same accusers .. whispers .. and false condemnations. He hasn’t left you alone to your own devices. He’s given you His Spirit to guide you .. lead you .. strengthen you .. and assure you as you face a hostile world. It is an illusion to think that the world you live in is peaceful and accepting of this Nazarene troublemaker. He acceptable as long as you make Him equal to everyone else. But let Him be made visible through your life with grace and forgiveness, and you may face the same crowd He faced. The same path is open to you: to trust the Father who sees you in the life of His Son … made whole by His scars. As you go out today … 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. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.” 1 Peter 2:21-23 The Message

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Wide open spaces…

January 24, 2018

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. Romans 5:1-2 The Message

Justified: It’s more than just a word. It’s what Christ has done for you. It’s how you are supposed to live and love today. It’s not a word you’re going to hear today. But it declares something about your life that you could never achieve on your own.  The insides and outsides of your life are standing free in the wide open spaces of God’s grace. All your efforts to set things right didn’t set things right. It doesn’t matter how hard you tried .. how sincere you were .. how pure your intentions. Christ’s life was the only way to set you free .. to bring real peace in your life .. and find yourself unbound from sin’s relentless claim upon you. The Spirit of Christ has cleared the air for you to breathe grace .. live in grace .. and freely share this indefatigable gift. You’re set free to live true in everything you do in your life. That’s where you’ll find the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. It’s where He wants to live in you.  It’s how He wants you to live. It only takes a moment …

“A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” … “because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. ” Romans 8:2 The Message/Christian Standard

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

 

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First them … now you

January 23, 2018

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us  lay aside every hindrance and the sin the so easily ensnares us. Let run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-3 Christian Standard

They’ve always been there .. even when you thought you were all alone .. forgotten .. and invisible. They had no where else to go? Where could they go? Their home was a kingdom, promised and guaranteed. Their lives belonged to Another. The worlds they lived in tried every tactic .. ridicule .. disgrace .. rejection .. and persecution. It didn’t matter. The One they followed had already defeated the only enemy that mattered. They were free .. free from sin’s condemnation  .. free from death’s claim .. free from all the lies that this life is the only life you have to live. They were free to live for the glory of God .. free to live wide open for Christ .. and free to share the grace of Jesus with anyone desperate enough to receive. And now you’re part of these witnesses. That means your life is free to live wide open for Christ .. to live all out for Jesus .. to live with your eyes focused on the source and perfecter of your faith. There will be distractions .. discouragements .. and lies disguised as true. The world you live in still tries ridicule .. rejection .. disgrace .. and persecution. But you already know the story. That cloud of witnesses have left you with the same story they lived and shared. They lived their lives for Jesus. Is there any other race worth running today? It only takes a moment …

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” Romans 12:1 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to brothers and sisters following Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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Overflowing…

January 22, 2018

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions.” Psalm 145:13 Christian Standard

God is your Portion .. Provider .. Protection .. and Peace. He is your Freedom .. Strength .. Joy .. and Fortress. The Lord is your Hiding Place .. Rock .. Restorer .. and Shepherd. And because He is faithful, Jesus is the One who comes to you with the scars of grace. He meets you right where you are .. no demands .. no condemnation .. and no lack of all that you need to be made whole in His presence. And in Him you will find help .. mercy .. healing and forgiveness … overflowing. It only takes a moment….

“Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to the Lost and Found following Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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Just another normal day…

January 19, 2017

“It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?” Romans 8:10 The Message

Your life matters because the Spirit of God lives in you .. dwells in you .. inhabits your life .. and reminds you over and over that you are God’s son and daughter through Jesus. He never stops reminding you in this noise filled world that does everything possible to distract you from this truth. Everything of Jesus Christ’s life is yours today. How can that be possible when life feels so ordinary .. so unnoticed .. and seemingly powerless? Didn’t Jesus feed thousands .. heal lepers .. forgive countless men and women? And what about the cross? Does it still reach broken lives two thousand years later? Your life is God’s evidence. That role by itself would be impossible to fulfill or live for even one minute in your own strength.  But God goes one step further than you could ever imagine by filling your life with His Spirit and power. Our struggle is do we .. do you .. really believe and trust in the work that God is doing in your life? It seems unbelievable that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same power at work in your life this very moment. You’re going to face this day with some form of faith. It could be in yourself and your own abilities. It could be based on an accumulation of circumstances that you hope continue in your favor. Or .. it could be based on a supernatural event witnessed in history and lived out by men and women just like you for two thousand years. Your life is a living witness of what ordinary and normal look like when Jesus lives and breathes inside your life. It only takes a moment…

“When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” Romans 8:11 The Message

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

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January 15, 2107

Grace-Gripped is temporarily recovering from flu and crud. Coughing with marshmallow brains is not much fun. Give thanks in all things … huh? Ken

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From faith to sight …

January 5, 2017

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Christian Standard 

Whatever is before you this day … this truth holds your life … you are being transformed until that moment when you will look upon Jesus Christ face to face. Hs Spirit is continuously speaking and working freedom into how you live and serve the Lord. It’s a freedom found nowhere else. You whole life here is being readied for the one day when your faith becomes absolute and pure sight of the One you have loved .. followed .. shared .. and served. It is the highest call upon your life. John wrote to followers of Jesus that his longing was to see them face to face. This is exactly what Jesus has prepared for your life. How can you be sure? Because God always keeps His Word. A dear friend .. Burt Sorensen .. passed away a few days ago. He sees clearly the face of Jesus. He sees clearly all that has stirred his heart. He sees clearly the gospel that he gave away so graciously and generously. He once said in Bible study: The most foolish thought, the most insane idea is that God does not keep His Word.* Praise God that He does keep His Word. It fills you with assurance .. hope .. healing .. forgivnesss .. love ..  healing .. and strength to walk by faith until you will see face to face. God does this. His Word is living and speaks into any situation in your life. Burt Sorensen invested the gospel of Jesus Christ into men and women’s lives generously .. graciously .. and freely. That’s where the Spirit of the Lord rested in his life with freedom. It’s the same freedom that Christ wants you to know and live so freely and fully. No matter how much the world protests … God keeps His Word. Are you walking in this freedom that comes through faith in Christ? Where will you invest such a gift?   It only takes a moment …

“I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” 3 John 1:14 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Jesus Followers. * A special gift of grace and truth was Burt Sorensen. He sees face to face now 88 years young . You have scattered good seed my brother Burt. See you soon …

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