Livable Inexpressible …Joy

June 6, 2017

“You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1Peter 1:8-9 Holman Christian Standard

The gospel infects you with joy. No one who has received this message .. believed in Jesus and .. loved Him into their lives can escape. Jesus intended for you to know His joy. It’s the same joy He had with the Father. The very same. And He wants it be made full in  your life. He didn’t hide clues where to find it. He said very clearly you’ll discover it by abiding in His love. The love Jesus has for you is the very same love the Father had for Him. It gets passed along .. freely and fully. And how do you abide in His love: by keeping Jesus’ Word in your everyday life. There is nothing mechanical about it. Jesus doesn’t compete for your love or time. He’s after your heart .. what makes  you come alive .. and where His joy will find fullness. That’s where you get sidetracked and distracted. The world can only fabricate joy. It cannot produce or make it full in your life. It can only try to convince that their version is enough. You know it never will be. Look at what Peter says: you can’t see Jesus in person but believing in Him produces inexpressible joy. He’s not wasting words or trying to make you feel good. He’s sharing with you what Jesus had done in him and wants to do in you: give you joy. Joy inexpressible ..  Joy unsearchable .. Joy unfathomable .. Joy in the most unnoticed tasks of the day. Joy in the midst of interruptions and even at those moments when your patience is stretched and about to snap. His joy is there to fill you and reminds you that Christ abides in you. Joy isn’t a reward for good work or extra effort. Joy is Jesus living His life in you. He only has one kind to give you today: the kind that fills you up and makes you solid for the kingdom. It’s found in every condition of living in this broken and fading world. It only takes a  moment …

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11 New American Standard

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

Posted in 1 Peter, John, joy | Leave a comment

Freedom’s Heartbeat …

June 5, 2017

“Could it be any clearer? Our 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

God has gone to great lengths to make sure you know what Christ ended on that cross. He ended your “sin-miserable life”. That’s not a popular topic in today’s world, because great expense and energies are expended to convince you that sin is not the problem.  You did what you felt like doing and tried to convince yourself that you were living in freedom .. at least you told yourself that. But at some point you realized that freedom had to be different because you knew you weren’t free. The freedom that Christ brings into your life brings healing.  The cross has broken sin’s suffocating grip. Christ’s resurrection breathes new life into every part of your life.  Can it be that simple .. that basic? No one is immune from sin. It still sets traps .. still pollutes .. and still twists the truth into darkness. God won’t stop until you are living in the real freedom of Christ’s risen and indwelling life. He’s described what life going forward looks like: “healed and expansive in holiness”. You remember what life was like without Christ? Well today is life with Christ. That means His love meets you as this day begins and no matter what you face He is not going to forsake you.  He will use all the ingredients around your life .. the pressures .. anxieties .. worries .. doubts .. fears .. and more. Because He wants you to walk in this new life of freedom. He wants you to live free in Christ. You’re no longer alone. You don’t have to control what’s in front of you. Christ is risen .. and has moved in. It only takes a moment …

“I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you. how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing – not caring about others, not caring about God – the worse our life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness.” Romans 6:19 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Men-and-Women-who-no-longer-do-what-they-feel-like-doing. They belong to Jesus.(kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in freedom, resurrection living, Romans, sin | Leave a comment

Want to impress God today…?

June 2, 2017

“If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life!” Romans 5:10 The Message

Everything you have ever thought the worst about yourself was taken by .. went into .. and became the worst in Jesus. In a very real sense your life is no longer your own. A Damascus Road Christ Follower summed up your life this way: “Christ lives in me”.  Everything about you and how you live today has Christ at the front of it. You can see how the day gets bumpy when you run out ahead of Him. (As if you really could!) He is going about the business of expanding and deepening your life. It takes a lot of patience .. generous helpings of grace .. and continuous assurance that indeed your life is no longer your own. Your life has become a whole lot more because Jesus has moved in. Yes, you’ll wrestle with old storage items in your mind and heart, things that lie dormant and suddenly demand you take back control. And you may at times. But you’ll find out how miserable life is when you are driven rather than led by Christ’s Spirit.  Your real freedom today is found by walking in faith of who Christ is in you. It is not a comparison of the worst of you and the best of Christ. It is all the worst of you exchanged for all of Christ. And Jesus loves you in the farthest corners of your heart and mind. Those places in you that you never thought were reachable. They are .. and He isn’t going to change His mind and move out. “The life you see me living is not “mine”. That’s His gift for you today. It only takes a moment..

” 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. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 The Message

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

 

Posted in assurance, changed life, Christ in you, crucified, exchanged life, Galatians, generous, grace, in Christ, life in Christ, Resurrection Life, resurrection living, Romans | Leave a comment

Life is going to be the same..

June 1, 20178

“As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 The Message

If anybody knew about a dead-end, empty-headed life it was Peter. He had an honorable job as a fisherman. But when he met Jesus, everything he knew about living a God-shaped life went out the door. From water-walking to tongue-tied denier to fish-fry reconciliation, his life changed from simply observing God to being ransomed and purchased by God for one life: to follow Jesus wherever He sent him. He knew how much it cost. He was there. Then he tried to run .. to deny that those three years were worth anything. And Jesus? He was on the run too … straight at Peter. He wasn’t letting Peter go just because Peter reverted back to dead-end thinking. He just hadn’t experienced resurrection-living. Jesus promised him he would. (He’s not letting you go either. It’s the same promise to you!)  Peter’s not just writing religious words. He’s telling you that how you live your life for Christ makes a difference. The world doesn’t care .. God does. Your life was paid-in-full .. ransomed .. claimed by blood so pure .. your sins are no more. It’s easy to take that for granted and slip into your former way of thinking that you can handle this life. The words “ransomed” and “paid for” don’t fit todays narrative about living life on your terms .. anyway you want to. And holy??? It’s not your choice. It’s God’s command. No one knows how to be holy. So, you are just better off staying close to Jesus and letting Him show you how to live. It’ll affect everything about your life: how you love others .. how you spend your time … how you spend your money … and actually how you do anything. Because your life counts for Christ. And He isn’t going to waste anything about your life. It only takes a moment …

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. 1 Peter 1:18-20 The Message

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

Posted in 1 Peter, paid-in-full, ransomed | Leave a comment

2 Breaths Around the World …

May 31, 2107

“It is good to praise Yahweh, to sing praise to Your name, Most High, to declare Your faithful love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night ..” Psalm 92:1-2 Holman Christian Standard

It only takes a moment. That’s all it takes to inhale and exhale the truth that God’s faithful love is at work in your life. You don’t know what the day will hold. What will be demanded of you. Who will interrupt your day. What struggle you will face. What person may push your limits. God’s faithful love will not be absent for one moment of your day. It’s so true we take it for granted until THAT moment happens and you run desperately to Him. He never left. His love never quits or runs out.  His very name is “Faithful and True”. You could begin in the morning and never run out of all the places and moments where Jesus set your free. There isn’t a corner of your life left untouched by His faithfulness. And your job is simply to declare His faithfulness in the morning and at the end of the day. That’s all it takes to inhale and exhale the truth about what the Lord has done in your life. There was a moment when He exhaled for the last time so you could breathe His faithfulness forever. You have around 23,000 breaths in a day .. some use less .. others maybe a little more. All you need is two to give thanks to the Lord for His indefatigable faithfulness over .. in .. and through your life today. What you say about the faithfulness of Jesus Christ may just reach around the world. His reach is that far .. simply because you took two breaths to give thanks for this day. It only takes a moment …

“Oh, thank God — he’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world! Tell how he freed you from oppression, Then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas.” Psalm 107:1-3 The Message

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

Posted in faithful, faithfulness, indefatigable, Psalm, Psalms, Time | Leave a comment

When the HouseKeeper shows up ..

May 30, 2017

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 The Message

This is what God sees everyday: men and women determined to redefine what it means to live life on their terms .. and  .. still maintain a relationship to God when they need help. He has seen that everyday since truth was exchanged for a piece of fruit. You wonder where you fit in all of this drama? Haven’t the years and all of our advantages improved the human heart? No they haven’t. Your heart has to be big enough to live a kingdom life .. not a pretend life. Something deeper has to take place inside of you. You have to be changed “from the inside out”. Only God can do that, and specifically Jesus. He’s only the One who can replace the rotten fruit in your heart with abiding truth. You’ll only make a mess of things if you try to fix it yourself. It is amazing all the scar tissue we’ve created on the inside by trying to redefine life on our terms. Jesus sees the root of the problem and the brokenness you’ve carried all on your own. Or, to put it another way: He became the trash of your life and let Himself be put out to be burned. Because there was no way you would survive. Your life isn’t going to be the same if you let this Holy HouseKeeper clean house. You can trust Him to get to the heart of things in your life today. It only takes a moment …

“..The main character in this drama — compared to him I’m a mere stagehand — will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house — make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” Matthew 3: 11-12 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Followers of The Main Character (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in brokeness, Inside and out, Jeremiah, life, life in Christ, life-changing, Matthew | Leave a comment

Trusting Who You are Leaning On …

May 29, 2017

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Ps. 91:1-2 English Standard Version

What a great invitation to begin your day. You are invited to put your trust in the One who is a refuge and fortress for your life. A refuge for rest and a fortress against evil and all  present-day forces that will seek to isolate and overwhelm you to think that you are all alone.  God’s promise is His presence to cover you day and night. He’ll meet you anywhere you confront trouble. He’ll “be at your side in bad times”. And the most unlikely and unexpected sounds of God throwing you a party will surround you.  The Psalms are your friends in every situation. God comes to meet you .. provide and protect you .. and invite you to run to Him at any moment. We know what shelter and abiding looks like through Jesus. He lived continuously in His Father’s presence. He never fretted or was anxious about where He would find rest. He wasn’t worried about what He would confront each day. An abiding life awaits you everyday .. even today .. if you will only live  knowing and trusting in Jesus care. Jesus himself invites you to come to Him and find rest for your soul and help when you’re at the end of your rope. He even said you were “blessed” when you come to Him out of resources and trust( or lean on) in His life. That’s so different for everyone .. when that moment happens and you realize you’ve run out and feel like you’re going under. “Call and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times.” No other faith is so vulnerable and intimate as to invite you to come just as are in in any kind of situation. Planned or unplanned .. the Lord invites you to live in His care. It only takes a moment ..

“If you hold on to me for dear life, says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation.” Ps. 91:14-16 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Ancient-New Tent Dwellers learning to lean on Jesus first and throughout the day,

Posted in Expectations, trust, work | Leave a comment

The Son and you …Wow

May 26, 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. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank, after rank after rank of angels — everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.” Colossians 1:15-17 The Message

When you take your eyes off Jesus, the world starts spinning and eventually spins out of control. There is just no way you can hold life together .. find meaning and purpose .. and it sticks. You may go a long time, but without this Son holding you together .. holding everything together .. you’ll give up or create what isn’t true. Because you were created to find your starting point .. your purpose .. and the real substance of who you are in this Son. And just so you know how much you are worth, this same Son traded all of creation to get you back. There just isn’t any other way around it. God sold the Son .. who created everything .. for you! That’s not a bad starting point. And then He shaped your life with His purpose. This Son fills up the meaning of your life. That’s why if you take your eyes off of Him, everything starts falling and fading. When life doesn’t make sense, you can choose you for meaning or choose Christ, the Son, the Creation-trader. He is the only One who can truly hold you together. He’s doing it right now. He is the only One who can sort out the pieces of your life. He is the only One who can love you that completely .. all of you. Now about this Son and today … 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! I’d sell of the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” Isaiah 43:3-4 The Message

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

Posted in Colossians, everything, fix, Isaiah, scandalous, unbelievably loved, worth | 1 Comment

Meet your new neighbor …

May 25, 2017

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 Holman Christian Standard

You know what generous looks like when you look at Jesus. What’s inside is what’s outside. What if He really did move into your neighborhood? Would you act differently? You could try to clean up the inside stains .. rearrange the broken pieces so they would look less broken. The outside-you is what it is. You don’t have enough “anything” to rebuild and remake the outside-you. That’s just a lie the world says is true .. or at least the truth you want it to be. But Jesus … He sees and knows your thoughts. He can tell what your intentions are behind the thoughts in your heart. His-Word is that complete. It can separate what is real and what is pretend .. what is true and what is false. Because It and He are the Same. He is the Word and He became the living, breathing Word-Life. Everything about Jesus and your life meet at “true from start to finish”. That’s the work and life He wants you to breathe .. to know .. and love. In between all that is a holy work of sacrificial love on your behalf. You would never have asked for it .. because you can’t imagine something that true having to die for you. But He did. That’s why the “finish” part of you is so incredible. That’s why the Word is living. He’s all about life and making sure your life counts. Don’t think for a moment that what He sees of you would cause Him to move out. You’re exactly who He wants to move into and make true .. a person filled with generous. Jesus knows exactly what His-Word looks like in you. So take a deep breath .. let it out .. and invite Him make himself at home. True from start to finish … It only takes a moment …

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Kingdom Housing Projects scattered around the world.(kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in Christ in you, generous, Hebrews, Inside and out, John, life in Christ, life-changing, Life-words, moved in, neighborhood, Never quits, never-give-up, new work, true | Leave a comment

Consumed by …

May 23, 2017

“Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name, Yahweh God of Hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 Holman Christian Standard

You were designed to consume God-Words. They can be stored .. remembered .. recalled .. digested .. and shared. They comfort .. heal .. help .. strengthen .. protect .. and provide. They shield .. direct .. fill .. correct .. and guide. They lead .. instruct .. sanctify .. teach .. and defend. God-Words are meant to be consumed. They are real food. Jesus reminded each of us how much we need God-Words stored in our hearts and kept fresh in our minds. They keep us alive. They lead you right to Jesus. (You might even find Him writing Words with a stick in the dirt just for  you.)  It is so easy to run out words that can actually hold you together during the day or over a season when life feels like a drought. David sang that God-Words were “sweeter than honey” and “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. Isaiah said that everything will fade but God-Words will last forever. And just think: you were made to consume God-Words. They will last inside of you. You can rely upon them. You can meditate on them. You can find rest in them. God-Words create. Create what? Consume some today and you’ll find out. It only takes a moment …

“Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” Matthew 4:4 The Message

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

Posted in consume, found, Jeremiah, light, Matthew | Leave a comment