Being available…

October 4, 2017

“… and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:20 English Standard Version

Who would ever imagine that the power of the cross would reconcile us to Christ? Every trespass .. every mistake .. every sin .. everything is reconciled .. restored .. renewed .. recreated new in Christ. The cross is often recognized as a religious symbol. It’s not viewed as a symbol of hope and promise. Some say it is too narrow .. too divisive .. too restricting. But is it really? Is there any other image that restores relationships and makes people whole?  Why does Jesus reconciles you first to himself?  Because it gets you out of the way and allows his life to be the foundation for healing. It’s Christ’s life that unites hearts and lives back together. The cross removes all the barriers and obstacles that keep you away from each other. You can’t blame someone else when the cross is between you. It calls you to allow God to make something brand new out of what was once broken and seemingly beyond repair. Then God does the unbelievable: He says that you are now qualified to be a reconciler in His Name. What qualifies you? Simply this: your life was reconciled to Jesus on that cross. You know it was a gift underserved.  Then and only then are you ready to reach across the hurt .. confusion .. unforgiveness .. distance .. silence .. and even resentment to another hurting life. It’s offered as freely as it was offered to you. Just think what the reconciling message of Christ could be around  your world today?  Are you available?  It only takes a moment …

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself….” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 English Standard Version

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to God’s Repair Agents following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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You clean up nicely …

October 3, 2017

“I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life…” I Corinthians 1:2 Message

This letter has lasted almost 2000 years. It was written to Jesus followers .. just like you .. and still has WORDS for us today. You’ve been cleaned up by Jesus. He’s cleaned up everything inside of you that kept you from believing. He’s cleaned up your past by forgiving it. All of it. He’s even cleaning up all those places in your heart that you wear yourself out trying to throw out unsuccessfully. The great lie is  trying to convince yourself that carrying your past helps make you a better person. What a lie! Whatever your past .. your today .. and your future are part God’s new adventure in the life of his Son. He’s running the show now. Or are you still trying to manage part of your old life? The Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about the God who never gave up on him. He could have carried his past guilt his whole life. He could have disguised his shame as humility. He could have simply denied that he was that person in his past.  But instead,  he spent his life speaking and writing to all and any who would listen about the ‘inexhaustible riches of the generosity of Christ’. Christ exchanged all of who He is for all of who you were. So, you’ve been “set apart” for God’s business. He takes into account all your plans and all that is expected of you. He knows how many other voices are vying for your attention. Jesus won’t compete. There really is nothing that can compare to what He has done for you on a cross. He’s cleaned you up with His Life so you can share about the Son who never gives up or forgets about you … ever! You can send this letter to anyone else who needs a reminder.  It only takes a moment …

“God, who got you started in the spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” 1 Corinthian 1:9 Message

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

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When the problem is too big…

October 2, 2017

“Gideon said to him, Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter. God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:15-16 Message

The ask was too big. Gideon knew his place. He wasn’t someone of influence or power. But God had picked him and armed him with: “I’ll be with you.” The great enemy of faith isn’t not-believing. It’s believing that God is Less. He’s less than you need. He’s less than the urgent circumstances. He’s less than all the opposing voices. The temptation is always there to add something to God’s word .. to God’s assurance .. and to God’s promise. You add something so that if He doesn’t come through, you won’t be to disappointed.  The Apostle Paul just wanted the Lord to take away his struggle. After all, it would help hm be more effective .. a better servant .. and not be so distracted. It seemed like a reasonable ask. He just wanted to serve the Lord with all his faculties intact .. undiluted .. and fully available. But God gave the best gift possible: grace to face tomorrow .. and grace to live today. The Lord had the same word to Gideon as He did to Paul: “I’ll be with you .. Believe me.” Gideon had a fleece. Paul had a cross. And you have a cross behind you and before you. It’s God’s word to you: I’ll be with you. Grace is God’s gift for you to let Christ move in and take over. You don’t have to focus on you. That’s what Jesus does: He focuses on his life living in you. Grace for tomorrow .. Grace for living today .. in Christ. It only takes a moment …

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Message

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

 

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With…

September 29, 2017

“From the very first day; we were there, taking it all in — we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. … We saw it, heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1,3 The Message

It’s easily taken for granted .. easily neglected .. and more often than not .. less than a daily priority for living: Fellowship with the Son.  There is no other faith that provides such intimate friendship. No other faith speaks of such family-likeness with the one they worship, follow, or obey.  There’s nothing that can compare to the moment by moment presence of Christ in your life. It’s so easily neglected because He doesn’t demand of your time. Jesus doesn’t yell or threaten when you take Him for granted. He knows just how lonely life becomes when He is not central to your life. You can fill it with activity and He doesn’t walk away. You can hide among possessions and He doesn’t condemn you. What Jesus wants from your life is your life. He wants to share His life .. all of it .. with you. Too often, we tell ourselves that time feels like it is slipping away or passing too quickly. But in reality, it’s not time but Who we are filling time with. His life will literally begin to shape how you live with yourself and others. Because you’ll begin to see how vital Christ’s life shapes everything about your day to day life. The old part of you wanted fellowship with options. The new you begins to realize that there are no terms .. just an intimate friendship .. love .. and presence that cannot be found anywhere else. God doesn’t demand. He invites you to share life with His Son. Your day won’t be the same. It only takes a moment …

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 New American Standard

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

 

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Never let you down…

September 28, 2017

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 The Message

Your life is covered when you are a follower of Christ. His grace fills your life over and over .. never-ending ..  and continuously new. You’ll never reach a time in your life where His grace is common or unneeded. God’s love finds you at every corner .. every low point .. every moment .. and you discover again and again that He never gives up on you. You can take Him for granted .. neglect Him .. and even try to shove Him out of your life. But because of Jesus .. the cross and an empty grave .. you’re faith seals you with the love of God. You’ve already received God’s guaranteed deposit of His love. He won’t quit or give up on you. And then there is the Holy Spirit .. Christ’s Friend who has come alongside your life. He’s the Holy Resident of the Godhead who has moved in .. taken up residence .. and is shaping your life in the image of Christ. Yes .. He’s using all the life materials that has gone into you .. influenced you .. and all the stuff you think has little value. He’s there to heal the deepest loneliness .. whisper strength into those moments of temptation .. convict you when you stray .. and comfort you when you return. The Holy Spirit never competes with what the world is offering you. He simply reminds you of who you are in Christ. He fills you with the power and strength to live the life Christ is living in you. God doesn’t play favorites. He keeps His promises and always keeps His Word. What is amazing is what your life looks like because of Jesus Christ. The scars .. memories .. joys .. disappointments .. and longings are real. His grace is never less than amazing .. even for the smallest details of your life. He’s not going to let go. It only takes a moment …

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to the Never-Let-Down Fellowship following Jesus (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

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2G’s that last…

September 27, 2017

“Hallelujah! Thank God! And why? Because God is good, because his love lasts.” Psalm 106:1 The Message

God is good and the Gospel is real. It’s the message we need everyday .. at the start of the day .. during the day .. and at the end of the day. We need to share it in the worlds we live in and we need to hear it in our lives. It’s that simple. How do you start a day if God is not good ..? Why would you share this message if you really don’t believe it is real? But they are. God is good .. over your life and everything that involves you today. His love lasts through all the winding paths and seasons of your life. Your life may be this message for someone today. You may need this message  yourself at some point today. Underneath the goodness of God is a peace .. a wholeness that only God can give .. real rest ..  and a renewed life. The Gospel is real .. for your life and for everyone around you. It is your message. You don’t have to have all the answers .. just a willingness to let Christ be seen in you today. All you can do is give a reason for the hope you are living. Christ is in you .. it is the message of a ChristFollower. You may see all the blemishes and flaws .. but Jesus doesn’t. You aren’t perfect .. but He is .. and He is loving you this very moment in all of your imperfections. Because His love lasts! And all you have to do today is love the Lord with all of your heart — soul — mind — and strength … and your neighbor (your world) as yourself. That’s a God directed focus for your life today. So you get to share this message all day long: God is good and the Gospel is real. It only takes a moment

“And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent … The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message” John 17:3/Colossians 1:27 The Message

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

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Everything means everything…

September 26, 2017

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people — free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!. He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such great delight in making,” Ephesians 1:7-8 The Message

Your day begins with everything  covered. Everything you’ve thought about. Everything you’re carrying. Everything that you have to do today. In fact, everything that has to do with your life has been covered at the cross. You’re freedom wasn’t won because you fought really hard. You didn’t earn it because of all the effort you made. No, it was earned for you. There isn’t one area or item in your life that was left off the Messiah’s list. He didn’t want you consumed or distracted thinking that you still had to do your part before you could be free. It wasn’t a begrudging freedom either. It is Christ’s great delight to see you walk free .. live free .. and love abundantly free. A long range plan with a even longer reaching cross. Your life and everything else has been summed up in Christ. You don’t take this for granted. That’s not how freedom in Christ works. Real freedom enlists you in the freeing mission to reach others. How could you not? You don’t have to carry around all that mess any longer. You’ve been brought into His plans … now you’re an ambassador of the Freedom Maker. Do you have everything ready for today? It only takes a moment …

“He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven , everything on planet earth.” Ephesians 1:9-10 The Message

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

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When love goes to work …

September 25, 2017

 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.” Ephesians 1:3-4 The Message

Imagine that at this moment the love of Christ is flowing through your veins. It’s working a miracle inside of you. That simply means that the love of Christ is producing in you something so great that it cannot be explained apart from Jesus. It reaches deeper than any darkness. It washes over any despair. It purifies any doubts. Christ didn’t just show you his love then leave you to figure out how to make life work. No … He chose you before the earth was even formed (incomprehensible really!) .. and designed you to find your true identity and purpose in Him. He didn’t design you with incomplete information. The real you .. who you really are .. and how you are really meant to live can only be found in Christ. You can live a counterfeit life productively. But it’s not sustainable. God isn’t going to fight you over the details. He knows the end of every life not abiding in Christ. If His love is indeed flowing through your veins, everyone you meet today has an opportunity to encounter the love of Jesus through you. It means nothing is random when it comes to your life. He’s going to be involved in everything you are doing today.  Are you ready? It only takes a moment …

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11-12 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent where the love of Christ can be found. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

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The Meal of your life…

September 22, 2017

“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I’ve prepared a wonderful spread — fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the  street to a life with meaning. Proverbs 9:4-6 The Message

It’s right there when you wake up everyday: Life: with two real paths. Which one do you want? It goes to work with you. It is waiting for you when you come home. One path is made with your footprints. You earn in order to eat. You keep what is yours. You do your best. The other path is an invitation. You’re invited to walk a path you don’t have to clear. It’s a confusion-free road. It’s a road with meaning made clear by Jesus. The world you live in pretends to offer life through self effort .. determined striving .. and good intentions. Why do you try so hard and exhaust yourself with so much striving? Do you think the Lord values all of that? He stepped into a sin-weary world where all the strivings and self-determinations left people starving for something more. The Father’s invitation is wide open and you’re invited … The Son has cleared the road with his life … You are offered that life with meaning infused with real strength and purity. It is the Life that God wants for you today. It’s a banquet that you invite others to join as well. Some will … others settle for their own efforts.  Don’t worry about mistakes. God loves to splash things!  It only takes a moment …

“May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 The Message

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

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Helps on the way…

September 21, 2017

“So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call in the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do.” Hebrews 3:1-2 The Message

Your calling is to follow Jesus and walk in his steps. That’s true of your life whether you’ve followed Jesus for years or it’s all brand new. It’s not about being religious or being someone you’re not. Jesus knew who he was “calling” when he said your name. He knows your personality .. background .. struggles .. longing .. determination .. and finally the very “thing” that drives you. There is nothing hidden from him. That is .. He’s not surprised by anything you do or say. That’s what makes His call upon your life both incredible and everyday real. It can feel frustrating at times because his steps are often just slightly off from ours. He is teaching us .. showing us .. and growing us into his steps. Some find that call early. Some wrestle with a nagging sense that Jesus is drawing them in a direction they would not choose on their own. (But end of realizing it’s what they wanted the whole time.)  His call encompasses your whole life .. your whole heart .. and whole mind. He’s been though all of the .. struggles .. battles .. loneliness and testing. He was faithful to God in everything.  That’s why He is so ready to help you  walk through everything you are facing in your life today. You don’t have to guess .. He’s all ready to give. Jesus knows the true reality of your life .. what you have faced .. what you are facing … and what he longs to pour into you. With Him … it only takes a moment …

“Now that we know what we have — Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God — let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through the weakness and testing, experienced it all — all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:14-16 The Message

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

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