Freedom to be you … the real you

January 4, 2018

“It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.” Ephesians 1:13-14 The Message

What a relief to know in your heart and in your spirit that your life is home free. It’s not made up of the things you’ve accumulated or achieved. Not only that, you’re not carrying the weight .. the everyday weight .. of having to keep everything aligned. God’s given you His Spirit to remind you of who you are in Christ. That’s important because you face a relentless stream of mixed messages everyday of who you are and what will lead you to freedom. The worst freedom you could ever discover is the one where you believe that real freedom is being secure on your own. The freedom that Christ brings into your life is not even the opposite. It’s a completely new life based on a God who is completely dependable. It doesn’t always feel completely new. There’s always an old habit .. ingrained over years .. hiding behind attitudes and circumstances. But it is new .. signed .. sealed .. and delivered. It’s not up to you. Jesus has taken full responsibility to make you holy and whole. He’s staked His life on finishing what He started in you. He’s even given you a complete picture of His finished work: a praising and glorious life. No one else can promise that kind of life.  It’s no longer you having to figure it out. Christ is your life .. your freedom .. and your promise that God won’t ever be distracted or half-hearted with you. You get all the freedom of learning how to love the life Christ is living in you. He’s working on those habits and attitudes right now. He’s good for it. It only takes a moment…

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to followers of Jesus living in freedom. kchesterp1@gmail.com

 

Advertisements
Posted in 1 Thessalonians, completely dependable, Ephesians, faithful, freedom | Leave a comment

The New Normal..

January 3, 2018

“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message

Practical. God made you to fit into the world He made. The Problem? This world you live in is dysfunctional .. diseased .. and destructive. It’s broken in every area of living. Your world gets turned upside down everytime you try to make this world fit into your plans. A Jesus Follower knows what God has done inside of him/her. He’s changed you from the inside out. You see the world differently. The world on the other hand is determined to keep life as it is .. broken .. confused .. and misdirecting. This is where you come into the picture of God’s incomparable power stepping into everyday life. Jesus always worked according to His Father’s plans … doing what the Father was doing. It’s the same kind of life He has for you. On one hand you look normal and on the other hand everything about you is defined by Jesus. You’re not the same as you were. What was once broken is now healed in Christ. What was once beyond repair is the Father’s restoration. What was once out of reach is indefatigably gripped in grace. The world’s broken and God has you on display of what He can do and is doing through His Son.  What will you offer the world today? It only takes a moment…

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 The Message

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Mobile Clay Pots stamped with the life of Jesus. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Romans | Leave a comment

A Better Way to Live…

January 2, 2108

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 New American Standard

One life … who consumes every sin in your life. It’s not just the things you’ve done. His life takes away the very nature of who and how you’ve tried to live on your own terms. You aren’t just trying to live a better life or model it after Jesus. You’re actually living life  through Christ’s indwelling life in you. It’s impossible on your own. Although you may find yourself trying to live that way .. holding back just enough .. in case. What are you living you for? Your response becomes abundantly clear when your life is placed next to Jesus. It’s not meant to shame you .. embarrass you .. or expose any flaws inside. What His life shows is just how far He had to go to take away the “sin” of your world. It’s the same sin in everyone, but it manifests itself so differently. It steals love .. sows lies .. and promises good but always delivers misery.  The surrender is always the same for everyone. And it’s always all for everyone who would follow Christ. There just isn’t any other way. He came for all and He gives His all. Is there a better way to live today? It only takes a moment ..

“For to me, to live is Christ, to die is to gain.” Philippians 1:21 New American Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Lives-Being-Changed because of a Lamb.

Posted in everyone, everything, John, Philippians | Leave a comment

Want to know what Jesus thinks of you?

December 26, 2017

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6 The Message

It all began with a flourish: an ancient promise .. a long silence .. blood lines and obedience .. birth in a barn .. angels meeting with shepherds .. wisemen following stars .. and everything happening exactly as God said. God keeps His word. This has always been the battle behind the scenes of your life: God being faithful to His word in a broken world relentless to prove His redeeming rule unworthy. Isaiah made it clear when he said: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains forever.” What God has begun carries His promise. Jesus came for your life. He knows what you are all about. He knows all about everything that has to do with who you are. He knows what your life will be about when His life is the real start and finish of who you are. You will spend the rest of your life filling the wonder of who Christ is but living freely out of His grace. There’s faith .. trust .. hope .. and love. There’s a daily moment of whether you will offer all of who you are to all and anything that Christ desires today. Jesus isn’t demanding you be or act like someone you aren’t. He’s only after one thing: to complete what He has started in you. That’s it. There is no secret plan. There is just this day to day very real .. very personal .. and very purposeful life that Jesus wants to live in and through you today … tomorrow .. and until. Nothing is going to be overlooked regarding your life. Your struggles become His struggles because He’s willing to meet you at any level. He’s offering a trade: your scars for His. It’s all part of the great work that God in Christ has started in you. And today .. it only takes a moment.

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

Posted in Philippians | Leave a comment

When God became a seller…

December 25, 2017

“When Jesus heard this, he told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 Christian Standard

Christmas echoes an unstoppable melody: no one is capable of selling all that they have or all that they are. The distance between this little baby lying in a barn and what lies in your heart is why God had to sell. He didn’t sell like you or I would do in such a situation. He gave everything to buy your all. It is the only way you would find true treasure .. and the only way you would follow Him. Otherwise the treasures that choke your life ..  enwrap your ambitions .. and untruly define you would never allow you to see this baby as Savior ..Messiah .. and Lord. So God sold everything and presented it as a gift you could not buy .. just receive. It wasn’t priceless … just un-buyable. God sold everything so you could be free to follow Jesus. When that gift is made real in your heart and life … you are free indeed to follow and find the treasure you were made to seek. Christ is here. Merry Christmas … it only takes a moment…

“Today in the city of David a Savior was for for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you. You will find baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Jesse’s Root Cellars waiting to be filled this Christmas. Merry Christmas followers of Jesus …..

Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An army of One

December 18, 2017

His mercy is from generation to generation, on those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; he has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he spoke to our ancestors.” Luke 1:50-55 Christian Standard

Who would ever think or conceive of one life and one birth containing enough power to completely change your life from the inside out forever? His life and just the mention of His name scatters the proud and mighty. Armies align against Him because He brings hope .. forgiveness .. and redemption. He frees every heart who turns to Him with all that they are. He’s found anywhere by anyone who no longer wants to carry all the mess of their life. And better yet .. He finds every kind everywhere at the end of their rope .. at the end of their strength .. at the end of their love. It’s not that He waits until you are at the end. It’s just that sin and brokenness relentlessly whisper that you can still save yourself with just a little more effort. All you need is a “break”. Who would ever have thought that this one life  would be the answer? Who could conceive of making redemption look so helpless at birth? Who would imagine God sharing a heartbeat? Jesus Christ is the one life that finds the scattered .. feeds the hungry .. loves the lost .. and pours out His grace upon your life today. His life .. His forgiveness .. and His grace .. are a gift. All the He is for all that you are. It only takes a moment ..

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace..” Ephesians 1:7 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to followers of Jesus .. and those He finds along the way. (kchesterp1@gmail.com)

 

Posted in Ephesians, Luke | Leave a comment

When Holy takes hold of your life…

December 15, 2017

And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth. The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips,and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies.” Isaiah 6:3-5 Christian Standard

It happened in a moment. One man finds himself surrounded by God’s audience. He sees and hears the most powerful hymn of his life: Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Armies … . His whole life is undone. There’s nothing in his life that has prepared him for this moment. All he can do is surrender. Then it happens again. Some shepherds, hardly qualified to be evangelists, are interrupted on their  sheep watch. They would run toward a predator but were terrified by the light and an angels voice:  “Don’t be afraid, for look I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Moments are what you experience everyday. Most of them are just normal, ordinary, hardly worth repeating incidents of living your life. But written and imprinted on your heart is a truth that should alter your life everyday. You’ve been claimed by a Holy God. Angels hide their eyes. Prophets confess their utter helplessness, and shepherds are scared to death. The birth of this child, the death of this Son, and the resurrection of this Lord means the everything-that-He-is has been traded for everything-that-you-were. That means you are holy and blameless in His sight. It makes you a messenger of great joy. It only takes a moment..

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid,for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Holy Wonders of Jesus. *To God be the glory for the life and ministry of R.C. Sproul. Dec.14, 2017)

Posted in Holy, Holy life, Isaiah, Luke | Leave a comment

The One of a Kind God

December 13, 2107

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

If you want to know what God looks like .. how he acts .. and can you trust him .. then let your grip take hold of Jesus. His friendship began with an invitation: Follow me. His instruction introduced you to your real Father. He guaranteed intimacy by a cross. His promise of life .. a true life .. a freed life was rejected by everyone but the desperate .. rejected .. dis-eased .. unimportant .. tormented .. despairing .. love-starving .. and law-crippled folks. He could only live one way .. generously. He offered everything that-He-Is for everything that-you-were. The same life that the Father lived through the Son is the same life He wants to live in you. That offer alone can cause you to close your grip while you’re gasping for such grace. Will Jesus really be this way with me? Can I trust him with all my secrets? How can I be sure? What will God be like with you? Generous inside and out. Why will He be this way? Because that is the only God he can be! Your life in Christ becomes a  gift of grace. He’s not in a hurry to change you or hide your blemishes. He’s not ashamed of where you’ve been .. strayed .. or struggled. He knows the true value of the real estate where he’s making his home. You can relax your grip … Jesus won’t let go. It only takes a moment …

“For was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:19-20 Christian Standard

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

 

Posted in Colossians, everything, Follow Me, freed, generous, grace, grace-filled, grace-shaped, Inside and out, Intimacy, invitation, true | Leave a comment

The moment you became dangerous…

December 12, 2107

For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.” Isaiah 9:6-7 The Message

Why was Jesus such a threat? Everything written about him ends with hope .. a future .. redemption .. a fresh start .. restored lives .. forgiveness .. homecoming .. and promise. All injustices will be sentenced. Everyone and everything will receive what is due. What is owed is incalculable. You don’t have enough to cover what you owe. It doesn’t matter how well you have done or how much you have accumulated. God decided to level the playing field. It was just your normal ordinary miraculous birth. How could one baby expose such chaos? One child .. holding everything together .. holding you together .. defines what kind of life you are going to live. He grew up and conquered without an army. You never saw the battle but you’ve experienced and felt the war. It was inside you all the time. And if you multiply it by everyone you see, you begin to glimpse how this child-Son could threaten every system on earth. Something had to be done …

We had to have him put away, For what if he’d grown vicious? To play faith healer, give away stale bread and stinking fishes! His soapbox preaching set the tongues, of all the neighbors going. Odd stuff: how lilies never spin and birds don’t bother sowing. Why, bums were coming to the door— His pockets had no bottom—And then-the foot-wash from that whore! We signed. They came and got him.*

This Son is your hope ..  future .. redemption .. fresh start .. restored life .. forgiven .. homecoming .. and promise.  Believing makes you dangerous.  It only takes a moment…

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17 Christian Standard 
Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Ordinary followers of Jesus. *A Scandal in the Suburbs by X.J. Kennedy

 

 

Posted in Believing, Colossians, dangerous, forgiven, forgiveness, fresh start, Isaiah | Leave a comment

Carrying extra weight…?

December 11, 2017

“Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready.” Romans 5:6 The Message

There was only one way to put your life back together. It didn’t matter that you weren’t even aware that your life was all in pieces. God’s ways are so wild that you could never imagine how he would come after you. As a country preacher put it: the God of the universe moved the whole earth around just to place his-son in a food trough in a backwater town.* Why he did that at that time is really beyond your capabilities. You can recreate some facts and dates but you can’t create how far off the mark your life was before Christ arrived on time for you. Maybe you can imagine yourself helpless .. pulled apart by various forces .. inner and outer .. struggling to keep it all together .. guarding with disguise all that you have .. pretending .. crippled by never ending memories that won’t be erased or washed away. God didn’t have any distractions when it came to your life. He wasn’t pulled in a hundred directions at once. He didn’t weigh comparable options. His ways and thoughts contain every second of time that will ever exist. No matter the situation ..  no matter the players .. no matter the rebellious or the enslaved .. Jesus arrived before anyone was ready.  He didn’t wait until you were partially put together. He doesn’t ask you to pull your own weight to keep up. He isn’t comparing levels of ungodliness. His birth announces that God’s ways and thoughts are beyond your reach .. but your ways and thoughts were never beyond His. He’s never going to re-think the trade He made for your life. He had already thought it through before you were ready. His life is the only weight he wants you to carry from now on. It only takes a moment …

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.  For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 Christian Standard

Ken Chester: Grace-Gripped is sent to Right-on-time followers of Jesus *(Thanks to Brian Biggers for explaining how God plays chess.)

Posted in Isaiah, Romans | Leave a comment