Faith Is All It Takes

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Galatians 2:15-18 15 We are born Jews—we’re not Gentile sinners. 16 However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law.17 But if it is discovered that we ourselves are sinners while we are trying to be made righteous in Christ, then is Christ a servant of sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild the very things that I tore down, I show that I myself am breaking the Law.

In this passage today, Paul is still confronting Peter in his hypocrisy because Peter stopped eating with Gentile (non-Jewish) people when people from the Apostle James (Jews) came to meet with him.

This is a passage we all should remember. Maybe this could help remind us of the joy that Christ gives. Here is the basic message of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ: we are saved and made righteous by faith not by our good works. In other words, it is not something we do that makes us earn grace. This is something that God freely gives. The only part of this done by us is believe it. That’s it.

How does this sit with you? How do you like to receive a gift “just because?” This is how God is. We tend to think that we need to prove ourselves and the gifts are the reward. God does not work this way. We need to stop trying to make ourselves look good and realize God is not concerned with what we do, but what is in our hearts (our motivations).

So what is “righteousness?” According to Webster dictionary it is “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin, morally right or justifiable.” Do you feel this way everyday? I don’t. There are times where I do not feel I deserve to be in God’s presence as well as there are times I do not feel I am good enough to do what I am doing. Both of these are lies that stop people from doing what God calls them to live.

We do not have to have everything perfect, because God has made us righteous because of Jesus Christ. We all, like Paul, have a sullied past; but God sees us like he sees Christ. You and I are made holy and righteous because of Christ.

Now, it is possible to have this knowledge and our lives are not changed. We can tell is we are allowing Christ to work within us to transform our lives when we exhibit more and more the fruits of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23. Going back to living for ourselves and not allowing Christ to reside in our hearts rebuilding a wall that we need to tear down. This means we lose time for God to make transformations in our hearts.

We do not need to “earn” God’s favor or grace, we simply accept it. Then we should allow this grace to live in us to make us more and more like Jesus Christ.

These are all things I am continually striving for with God’s help.

#LiveFreeInChrist

Advent Devotional 2014: Prepare (December 10)

Luke 1:57-66 When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a boy. Her neighbors and relatives celebrated with her because they had heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy.  On the eighth day, it came time to circumcise the child. They wanted to name him Zechariah because that was his father’s name. But his mother replied, “No, his name will be John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives have that name.” Then they began gesturing to his father to see what he wanted to call him. After asking for a tablet, he surprised everyone by writing, “His name is John.” At that moment, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he began praising God. All their neighbors were filled with awe, and everyone throughout the Judean highlands talked about what had happened. All who heard about this considered it carefully. They said, “What then will this child be?” Indeed, the Lord’s power was with him.

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What stands out to you when you read these verses? If we remember what has happened before this time, Zechariah and Elizabeth have been prepared for this day their son would be born, They were given a glimpse of how the child’s life would be and what he would stand for. They trusted the Lord to provide in their circumstance and that his word would come true. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s heart was prepared and ready for this day.

This is part of the journey we are in this Advent (season of preparation and expectation) as we examine our hearts to see how the story of Jesus’ birth will continue to shape and transform us. Zechariah and Elizabeth were different after the meeting with the angel, and we should be different (being able to stand out from the crowd) after any meeting we have with God.

They were able to confidently tell the people around what their child’s name would be even though it did not make sense to the rest of the crowd. What is God asking you to do that seems other people don’t understand? Will you be bold and confident in your faith and the calling God has placed on your life?

Dear God, You have guided us to this place and this time. Help us in any unbelief we might have so we can celebrate this season of Christmas with boldness and confidence of your presence and your calling in our lives. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Faith vs Fear

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When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm. The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!” ~Matthew 8:23-27

Look at what’s happening here…Jesus was asleep and at peace during the storm but the disciples were afraid! The disciples were in the middle of a storm and didn’t know what was going to happen. They were afraid and Jesus was right there with them! Jesus is also right here with us in the midst of the storms of our life.

How do we react when things go from bad to worse? Do we trust and realize that Jesus is here with us? Or do we, like the disciples, feel the fear filling our spirit which causes us to diminish our faith in the God who loves us, walks with us and is always working within us to transform us to the people we were created to be? Should we trust that we can call out to Jesus when we do not have the resources or the waves are piling on us, AND that we can trust Jesus is right here with us to help us even before we ask? The awesome thing is that God, in Jesus, is with us always and is guiding us, all that is asked of us is that we simply trust the Living God and do not fear or worry.

“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?” ~Matthew 6:25-26

So, what are the storms in your life right now?
Do trust Jesus is right there in the boat of life with you?
How can you show yourself and those you’re around your faith and trust in Jesus’ love and protection?

Why?

There is a simple question most children will ask and it consists of three letters–“Why?”. They are curious and are simply seeking out answers so they can try to learn what’s going on or the reason behind a particular question or statement,  etc.

As I have grown older, “why” has become a favorite question for me to ask simply because I enjoy learning the “behind the scenes” instead of what’s shown. Seeking answers to this simple, three worded,  question has helped me understand people and situations with a clearer view than just taking it at face value.

This question also teaches me and reminds me I do not know it all and that I still have much to learn. This excites me that I get to learn something new all of the time!

How often do you ask “why?” and listen to the answer? This simple question also helps us keep a childlike attitude when it comes to viewing the world and seeing people as they are. Not just their skin color or what they have; but as someone we can learn from and see how much value they have.