A Life Giving Component

by Steve Eden
While it is true Jesus lived, died, and rose again; there is one component that must be added: AND He lives in us through the gift of His Holy Spirit. When we emphasize His life, death, and resurrection without His indwelling it produces a limp, intellectual, and objective gospel. One that lives IN HISTORY instead of IN US. Once you have a gospel that lives in history and not in us, you have something decreasing in its relevance with each passing day. ‪
Steve Eden is Pastor of Grace Church in Choctaw, OK

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We Praise According To..

by Steve Eden
Psalm 48:10 says, “According to YOUR NAME oh God, so is Your praise.”
Notice it does not say, “According to my circumstances”, “According to how I feel”, “According to my personality”, or even “According to my tradition”. We are to praise God according to His Name~ According to Who He is.

Psalm 48
So who is He?
He is our Waymaker, Chief Shepard, Bright & Morning Star, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, First and the Last, Fairest of 10,000, Jehovah Jireh our provider, Our Shield, Our Fortress, Our Ever Present Help in Time of Trouble. He is Adonai- the Lord our Master, El Shaddai- the God who is more than enough. He is the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords. He is Mightier than mountains yet He lives among the weak; He is Ruler Eternal but Lover of each one of us. He is the One True God. ‪#‎Selah
Steve Eden is Pastor of Grace Church in Choctaw, OK

Do You Ever Feel Like Giving Up?

by Bill Loveless

“Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this NEW way, we NEVER give up.”  2 Corinthians 4:1 (NLT)

You may be at that place today where you feel like giving up on God or giving up on the Christian life. If you are not at that place today, have you ever had thoughts before like these: “When is God going to come through?”;”Why hasn’t He done something to deliver me from this situation or relationship?”; “How long am I going to suffer or be in this conflict?” If we are honest with ourselves, we can all admit to having thoughts like these at some point. We may have never overtly said “I am going to give up on God or give up on my Christian life”, but I wonder if we don’t subtly or covertly say this through our thoughts and actions.

give upThere are times that we, especially in times of great pain and/or disillusionment, feel like giving up. However, what does God say in the passage above?: Since He “has given us this new way” we never give up. I don’t know about you but the word NEVER jumps out of this verse at me. How can Paul be so adamant about “never” giving up?

To answer this question, we need to first look at what Paul means by the “new way.” Is it possible that Paul is talking about Jesus being the “new way?” After all, Jesus Himself in John 14:6 says He is THE WAY. If this is what Paul is referring to, the next question is: “Do we understand what it means to live from “this new way?” I suspect that many of you reading this do understand but for those of you who may not, here, in part, is what it means:

1.   Living in total dependence on Christ as a branch depends on the vine. (John 15:5)
2.  Living from the fullness of God’s life and power in us to be transformed into Christ-likeness.(1 John 5:12; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 1:19, 20; 2 Corinthians 3:18)
3.  Experiencing freedom and victory, and being healed from past woundedness. (Galatians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Psalm 147:3)
4.  Believing and living out of your true identity in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Now that we understand, at least in part, the new way, let’s go back to our question: Why is Paul so adamant about “never” giving up?

One reason is, that if you give up on God or give up living from the new way where does that leave you? It leaves you going back to yourself as the source to live life. It leaves you going back to using your finite intellect and ability to try and resolve your impossible problems or to try and produce a satisfying marriage or to try to find joy and fulfillment outside of Christ. If that is where you are today, how is that working for you?
Secondly, and more importantly, Paul is saying that if you walk long enough in dependence on Christ as the The (new) Way, you won’t give up because you know that to go back to self as the source is not an option. You have experienced enough “death of self” that to go back to self is just more “death.”
The truth is that we never can give up because there is NO other option than God. Because there is no other way but THE WAY. Because to go back to ourselves as the source will only result in more misery, more conflict and more of the same.
Therefore, my encouragement to you is that if today (or tomorrow) you feel like giving up on God, take another step of faith and continue living dependent on Christ as “the (new) way.” Why? Because each step of faith will be used by the Spirit to further persuade you that God will do what He promises to do to transform your life and that giving up on Him is really not an option.

Bill Loveless can be reached at http://www.christislifeministries.com

What is Grace?

by Frank Friedmann
I used to believe the church had a good theology of grace, but a poor application. I no longer believe that. Now I have the conviction that the church has a poor theology of grace which is why there is such a poor application of grace. People desperately need to understand what grace is before they will ever be able to appropriate its freeing power in their lives.

What is grace? Is it “the unmerited favor of God?”
Or is it
“God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense?”

It is so much more than that. It is the economy of the very Person of Christ living in our own lives!”

The Fruit of JOY

by Mike Daniel
“Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:2

The joy Jesus embraced the cross for was not His own glory – He gave that up for the cross. It wasn’t His fellowship with the Father, He withdrew from that in a tangible way for the cross. It was not a Truth or a doctrine or a movement – all these were true apart from His death on the cross already. The joy Jesus died for was union with His Father SHARED through His union with you! He took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, and endured ridicule and shame and the cross itself, even becoming sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. He did all this so that in Him by grace, His union with Dad would be our union with Dad, too. That was the goal in His sites as He went to the cross, passed through the grave, and returned – with us – to the Father. It was for relationship with you. It was to share His Life with the Father with you!
Jesus lived for joy; He died to share it with you; and right now He is bringing His joy about in your life despite your circumstances as you by faith let Him live it out through you by grace.

joy  My prayer is that you would choose today — with your eyes fixed on Him as the Initiator and Finisher of your Life by faith — to embrace the joy He has in OUR union with Him – that by the indwelling Life of Jesus you can truly enjoy the ride of your life in Christ with the Father.
The world will (and does!) have trouble, but our joy is not contingent on circumstance and was never designed to be gained from circumstance. Like Jesus Himself, our joy is in the life we have through Him with God.
Live from that place with Him, from Him, and for Him today… and by His grace in being your Joy, He will be glorified in you.

Anxiety

by Yolanda Stith

Anxiety is produced by the presence of fear and worry. The fear and worry can be about past events that control our present or over the future, which creates a concern about something that we can do nothing about and that we cannot even be sure about. The one who worries does not live in the moment, but in a state that is not and that may never be. The worrier feels out of control. Though he is in the present, his mind is not. His mind imagines how things will be in the future, and his imagination paints a picture that is never reality or his mind is stuck on the past replaying painful events over and over again.

Prolonged anxiety can manifest itself in the following ways: Panic Attacks, OCD, PTSD, phobias, and Anxiety Disorder. All of these conditions find their origin in fear and worry. The English word for “worry” means to choke or strangle. It is the suffocating feeling of insecurity so intense that one believes there is no way out.

Worry is the result of a person who does not believe that God is in control, or that God will work all things out for a particular good—God’s good and ours. Worry is the product of a misbelief that God is not fundamentally good, that one is alone in the circumstance, and that any wisdom to be found must be found in self.

Anxiety is the inner turmoil produced by constant and prolonged worry. While fear and worry have an object, anxiety does not. It is simply the reaction to the tension and stress brought about by fear and worry.

Anxiety can be accompanied by the following: heart pounding, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, dizziness, chest pains, or a feeling of being smothered.

A state of anxiety is produced by a fear of the future and is accompanied by thoughts of “What if…” and “I can’t…” thinking. Much of what we fear never materializes, but the core belief keeps us stuck on it.

So how do we deal with the fear and worry that produce anxiety? The same way we do with all coping mechanisms. We say no to them. We choose to resist the temptation to walk after the flesh, but before we can do this, we must choose what we are going to believe about God–is He good? Is His goodness extended to me? Can I trust His heart?

Our willingness to trust in our Heavenly Father, our Abba, is directly linked to our ability to stay in the moment and trust Him with our lives…everything in our lives. Reality is now—in the moment—and God’s grace is in the moment, not in the future that has not happened.

“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Painter of Resurrection Life

by Andrew FarleyiStock_000023351644Small

Many Christians struggle to articulate what the resurrection means to them personally. I’ve asked groups of Christians what the resurrection means to them and usually don’t get a response beyond the statement that it demonstrated God’s power over death.

Is that all there is? Paul states that if there is no resurrection, then his whole message is meaningless and we Christians are to be pitied for our beliefs (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). There has to be more to the resurrection than God showing off his power. After all, God has already shown off through creation, the flood, fulfilled prophecies, miracles, and even the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead.

Fortunately, there is more to the resurrection. The life we possess within us is not merely Jesus the Man who lived, taught, and died after thirty-three years on earth. Sure, that’s part of his track record. But the life housed within us is the risen Christ, who now sits right beside God. Hence, we’re not being asked to just imitate the recorded actions of Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, we’re invited to allow Jesus to do what he has always done– be himself. The risen Christ wants to do this through our unique personalities in every moment of every day.

Imagine billions of unique canvases throughout history- different sizes, shapes, and textures. The Master Painter wants to paint expressions of himself on your life. You might say, “Who am I to display God’s life?” But God wants to make his mark on your life with beautiful brushstrokes that only he can fashion together to create a masterpiece. Although God has painted his heart out countless times throughout history, he jealously desires to do it all over again on your canvas and my canvas.

Somehow it is quality art in a different style every time.

(adapted from “The Naked Gospel” by Andrew Farley)