Does God really mean it…?

July 27, 2017

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message

The Lord cannot be more clear about how He looks at you. Every follower of Jesus comes from a place of “nothing”. It doesn’t matter how much you have or what you have achieved. Jesus met you at the hole in your heart that nothing can fill but Himself. You can have so much and yet feel the deepest poverty in your spirit. Likewise you can have so little and feel forgotten and worth even less. God’s economy is unlike anything in this world. In His world where it really counts you are His chosen. You can sort out the particulars when you get home. If that’s true, your everyday life should reflect it. It doesn’t make you proud or feeling above anyone. The opposite is closer to Christ’s kingdom. Your life is to be marked with a carefree generosity. There is to be a gracious availability about your life that stands out in this self-choosing, self-protecting, self-promoting world. Because of Jesus, you are forever different. Everyday is a night-and-day moment for you to live out of His life. You’re being watched you know? You are if Jesus is your life. Because no one living without Christ lives free and forgiven. It doesn’t how much or how little they possess. The titles beside their names are not true definitions of who they really are. When you live this way .. nothing to something .. rejected to accepted .. others will be drawn into God’s story. It’s what they long for. Just like you did. Beware the world’s siren song of lifeless love and heart-breaking choices that birth emptiness. You’re His chosen .. free and forgiven .. God’s instrument for others to see what real grace can do. Yep .. The Lord’s pretty clear about who you are. It only takes a moment …

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” 1 Peter 2:11-12 The Message

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

 

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Ready .. Set .. Let go

July 26, 2017

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 New American Standard

There is only one Person who knows what your life looks like perfectly. It looks like Him because He is the “perfecter” of your faith. He’s finishing in you who He already is. What an incredible God that tells you upfront what your finished life looks like. He could have dangled the “finish” as a prize for great self effort or perfect performance. But He didn’t. Like the cross, Jesus is always out in front of your life. He found you before you were even interested. He loved you when you wanted anything but His love. He died for you even while you clenched your fist and said you didn’t need His help. It doesn’t matter  to God how much time it takes. Everything about your life is part of His story in you. It gets folded in and shaped in a way that can only be explained as Jesus. Your grip on this world will begin to loosen. You’ll begin to discover a strength you never thought possible. You realize that all of your desires have begun moving in the same direction. It happens so slowly that by the time you realize it .. you can’t believe it happened so fast. Your life in Christ has a fixed point. You don’t have to know the details .. you only have to trust in the author. There’s plenty for you to do along the way. You’re no longer looking inward. You’re looking outward where Christ is at work and you find yourself drawn to it. The horrors of what Jesus faced on your behalf has been replaced with the inexpressible joy of the good work He is doing … in you. Time to go to work. It only takes a moment …

looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 New American Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Master-pieces of grace following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in Author, Finisher, in Christ, intended shape, life in Christ, life-calling, life-changing, love, love of Christ, love of God, loved, original design, perfecting life, Totally himself, unbelievably loved | Leave a comment

You’re One-of-a-Kind … yep

July 26, 2017

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

What a Life to have living within you: generous inside and out, true from start to finish. This is the only life that Jesus lives in anyone who trusts Him with their life. He’s just like His Father .. and you’re being conformed into His image. It’s being worked out in your life through all the everyday scenarios facing you. You thought it would be different because of Christ? It is. Jesus said you would live the same life He lived in this world. You wouldn’t be spared .. in fact you’ll face hostilities and suffering because Christ is in you. His life signals that a war has been fought and won. Sin and death have lost their claims on you. Sin steals and withholds. Grace gives generously and knows no other way. That Life moved into the neighborhood .. your neighborhood .. your heart. He didn’t force His way in .. you invited Him. He didn’t wait for you to clean up the place either. He moved straight in and went to work .. restoring broken parts of you .. gently applying truth where lies had once been sown. He won’t quit either. And neither will  you. You can’t because once you’re infected with this generous grace, you can’t go back and live life by comparing. Because who you are now is defined by being: true from start to finish. Besides .. in Christ you are an original. Not a bad way to live! It only takes a moment ..

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:25-26 The Message

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$on-traded bargains …

July 24, 2017

“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 43:4 The Message

What a way to start a day by being reminded of how much you were worth. You were worth God’s one and only Son. That happened a long time ago before you ever realized how much you were worth. And the true value of that exchange only grows deeper with time. You become keenly aware of all the little secrets inside of your life. There is that room inside your heart where you store everything and that is precisely where this one-and-only-Son makes the exchange. He’s the same Son who touched lepers .. collected a group of unremarkable men to follow Him .. fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes .. touched the untouchable .. ate with the disrespected and despised .. and restored one who rejected Him in the heat of a moment. God could have picked the flawless and finest around the world but He chose you .. picked you out of all the faces .. and traded the Creating-Son for one of His imperfect creations. He never doubted His choice of you .. never regretted the price demanded .. and never runs out of patience making you whole. When you weigh your life against the whole world you can’t possibly understand how God could love you so much. He doesn’t ask you to prove what you are worth. He doesn’t demand perfection. In fact, He doesn’t demand anything. He invites you to learn how to love the life that this one-and-only-Son is living in you. Fair trade? Hardly. But you were the only trade worth making. He’ll never refuse a trade like you. Why not? Because Jesus knows what your life looks like whole and lasting. That’s the only way to begin your day: knowing how much you are really worth. He’ll never ask for a refund. This Jesus is in it for the long haul .. as long as it takes. It only takes a moment …

“This is how much God loved the world; He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3:16 The Message

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

Posted in GOD'S LOVE, God's ways, Son-traded, unbelievably loved, worth | Leave a comment

Exiled One-ders

July 20, 2017

 

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope … Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you … You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart … Jer. 29:11-13

It only takes One Word  .. spoken into your life .. resonating into your ears .. into your heart .. into your circumstances .. into your worries and anxieties .. and all of your life is changed forever. It may not feel like it at the moment .. but it is. The same God who spoke into His exiles .. still speaks into His called. You feel more exiled than called? You wonder how this same God who worked wonders can work in you .. on your behalf? How could He possibly work through all the open lines of your life? “And the Word became flesh” .. Jesus knows all about the limitations of oxygen. One moment your lungs all full of life and wonder .. the next they are gasping in isolation. He knows what you are facing today. You are His workshop and canvas all-in-one. From the darkest and deepest exile the Lord speaks promise .. One Word and everything changes. He unlocks the prisons that terrorize you .. One Word unlocks crucified freedom. Who He is .. Who you are .. What He thinks about you .. and What your life can become in Him?  It only takes a moment …

“For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren, and those whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified, and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Out-of-Exile-Images of the Son. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in Called, Jeremiah, life-changing, Life-words, Out of Exile, promise, Romans, Word | Leave a comment

Right up to this moment …

July 19, 2017

“He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.” Colossians 1:17 The Message

Have you ever tried to hold it all together? At some point you just begin to come apart .. cracks appear .. and you break open. That’s a good thing. You weren’t created or designed to hold it all together. There’s only been One who has never wavered .. slipped for even a moment .. or threw his hands up and walked off. That’s good news for your life. Jesus hasn’t let go of you for even one second. One second! His grip of your life and all it contains is secure. Nothing and no one can cause Him to loosen His grip. If you can picture that with all the broken and dislocated pieces of your life coming together in Christ .. you can exhale now .. and rest in the knowledge that He has your best interests at heart. And that’s just your life. What about all the people connected to your life? What about where you work? They get all His personal attention. (*** A little secret: Everyone in His grip is His favorite.) You’re armed or filled with the knowledge that Jesus is holding your life together right up to this moment. There are times when it feels completely un-together. We lose sight of how far his blood has reached beyond the cross. It happened way back then and is effective right up to and beyond this moment. That’s where you draw strength .. let yourself rest .. and go out renewed. It’s not in yourself that you find an answer. You find it in Jesus .. the last person you once turned to for help .. and the first person you’ll return to over and over because He is faithful and true. What a grace filled grip. 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 1:20 The Message

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So many choices …

July 18, 2017

“The Gospel is centred in God’s Son, a descendant of David by human genealogy and patently marked out as the Son of God by the power of that Spirit of holiness which raised him to life again from the dead. He is our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:3-4  J. B. Phillips

Do you realize what is in you? You have the life of Jesus .. raised from the dead .. marked by the Spirit of life .. a life centered in the gospel .. free from condemnation. Nothing will stick that is not centered in Christ. Your eyes have been opened to see the path that is marked sin and death. You wouldn’t have seen it that way before Christ changed you. It would have just looked like a consequence of bad choices .. a life lesson .. and something to avoid in the future. But a life in Christ sees it for what it really is: sin and death. It’s not really a choice. There isn’t a good ending with any choice not centered in God’s Son. The amazing truth of the gospel is that this same Son finds us at the bottom of choices and in the midst of choices. He seems to appear out of nowhere but you realize He’s been there the whole time. What is missing is the condemnation. Just when you expect it a wave of new life hits you. You hear in your heart .. mind .. and spirit that you are free from the power those choices had over you. The one choice that rings over and over is Christ’s choice of you. He became your condemnation so you could freely receive His joy. Otherwise you would alway be carrying the thought in the back of your mind that one slip up on your part would bring all the condemnation you thought you escaped. Your life is forever marked by God’s Son. He never tires whispering into your heart that the same power that raised Him from the dead is now in you. He’s lifted the burden of making the right choices to end up on the right side of life. You’re free to live in Christ and for Christ. It only takes a moment …

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2 Holman Christian Standard

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All .. no more no less

July 17, 2107

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..” Colossians 2:9-10 New American Standard

All of who Jesus Christ is  .. is now in you by faith. The question: What is God like? .. is answered in Christ. He is touching a leper .. healing a blind man .. forgiving a paralyzed man .. uncondemning a condemned woman .. counseling a seeking rabbi .. eating dinner with the socially despised .. letting his feet be touched by a thankful soul .. and letting a doubter touch his crucified scars. There isn’t one “kind” of person left off of Jesus’s invitation list. They are all included. They all receive the fullness of His life. In fact, no one who trusts their life to Jesus gets less than all of Him. His life is your real life. That’s where real freedom is found. Who else has the authority to tell you that your old life is dead? And He doesn’t condemn you or shame you doing it! He releases you to let go of what is not real and realize what really makes your life complete. Without Christ you end up carrying and storing all the old things of your life. No more. If you’ll look closely, you’ll find you in those people that Jesus approached and those who broke all the rules to approach Him. They wanted something more and He gave them the promise of more life. His nail-scarred hands declare that your life is complete .. in Him. In Christ is all that you need today. Does that change what is before your day? No .. it changes you .. or rather reminds you who is your real life today. It only takes a moment …

“You old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life — even though invisible to spectators — is with Christ in God. He is your real life.” Colossians 3:3 The Messagee

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One-of-a-kind lives …

July 14, 2017

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” Romans 1:1 New American Standard

It is incomprehensible how God the Father is able to mould every Christ-follower into a set apart for the gospel life. Your life resume is one of a kind. There are no two histories alike.  And yet, the Lord is shaping disciples who share one name as the common denominator. There isn’t anything about your life that catches God by surprise. But there is one thing that He desires for you: a life set apart for the gospel. Jesus promised to send the Alongside One, His Spirit, to guide you and lead you into a life that aligned with His. You alone know the difficulty and ease of His grace-crafting work in you. You may resist in places knowing that Christ’s way is better .. but you’re just not ready to give in. And yet Jesus is still at work in you. He hasn’t walked away .. given up .. or called it quits. His aim is the same in each of us: a set apart for the gospel life. Real freedom is found aligned and abiding in His life. The apostle Paul went from persecutor to proclaimer. The same ingredient that changed him, changed you … grace. The gospel hasn’t changed in two thousand years. Every life that responds to this grace brings problems .. pains .. and a past. Every life that responds to this grace is promoted to a set apart life. That’s where He longs for you to live.  Will your life be known as being set apart for the gospel?  It only takes a moment …

“so that at the name of Jesus “every knee shall bow”, whether in Heaven or earth or under the earth. And that is why, in the end, “every tongue shall confess” that Jesus Christ” is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” J. B. Phillips

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to scattered Jesus-followers sharing a two thousand year old gospel through their lives. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in gospel, gospel life, Philippians, Romans | Leave a comment

There is no fine print …

July 13, 2017

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message

A Christ-follower walks through each day with a clear job description. He didn’t hold back the calling of your life. You are chosen by God .. a royal priesthood .. and a holy possession. You’re not given that title or calling as a reward for hard work and successful achievements. The day or moment you gave your life to Jesus .. trusted Him .. believed in who He is .. and what He did on your behalf your job description was written beside your name. Your life has a story .. a night-and-day-difference kind of story. The message out of your life may radically alter someone else’s life forever. You became “something” because of Christ. He’s filled in all the rejected nothings of who you used to be. It does take time to grow into this description, but in God’s eyes you all of this already. He doesn’t grow impatient with you. Jesus knows just how subtle and severe the Faith-enemy accuses you day in and day out. He can’t remove your calling but he can try to distract and discourage you not to walk in faith but live in fear. That life was destroyed at the cross .. defeated .. and in its place a “custom-made people” are given new life. How much are you worth? How about the whole world? If you need more, then add in the whole creation “just for you”. You mean that much to the God of the universe. The Source of your life stands generously ready to give you all you need today. There are moments when His supply doesn’t seem enough. Maybe it is because there are moments when this world’s supply seems a better fit. It never is. And Jesus knows this too! It only takes a moment …

“I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. …Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” Isaiah 43:4, 20 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Jesus-messengers living night-and-day-differences. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

Posted in 1 Peter, chosen, Faith-accuser, Isaiah, life-calling | Leave a comment