God’s Mercy and Grace (part 1)

Mercy and grace, two wonderful gifts that Jesus has given to us. His mercy and grace are always available to us, and they are always active; never dormant or stale. Yet oftentimes we find ourselves feeling as though God’s mercy has somehow left us. Sometimes we think that His grace has abandoned us in the midst of a crisis. I understand those thoughts and feelings, and I’ve felt them myself many times before. I know that it can be very disconcerting, frightening and even depressing; again I have experienced all of that.

But is it actually true that God’s mercy has left us? Is it true that God’s grace has abandoned us? It can be difficult to even confront that thought, because on the one hand, we are uncomfortable even contemplating it. Yet even so, no problem of any significance is ever solved by ignoring it. We can and should approach the problem directly, and we shouldn’t be fearful about it. For if we do indeed believe as we proclaim that “God is good all the time”, then whatever answer we find, we can be certain that it will be good and beneficial for us.

So today I’d like to have a discussion about the mercy and grace of God, and perhaps tackle some of the more palpable aspects of it, both negative and positive.

The Amazing Blessing of Communion (part 3)

Welcome back to part three of our series looking at the amazing blessing of communion. In part one, we began by examining the personal aspect of the body and blood of Christ. How communion is not merely a corporate ritual, but a personal gift representing our individual union with Jesus Christ.

We also began to see how the body and blood of Christ each represent a distinct gift which Jesus has made available to us through His sacrifice.

Then in part two, we saw what it means to judge ourselves rightly in Christ as we receive and partake of His sacrifice for us. And how the rightly judging ourselves in Christ is a fantastic blessing in Him.

Now today in part three we are going to be examining the cup, which Jesus says represents the New Covenant in His blood. As we look at the cup of the new covenant today, we will see even more aspects of the amazing blessing of communion.

The Backwards Mentality of Religion

I had a conversation with a gentlemen once who asked me what I did [for a job] – and I told him that I was a Gospel minister – to which he paused awkwardly, and then said “Oh, I’m not religious”. So I chuckled and said, “That’s okay neither am I!” – after that we each went our separate ways.

It wasn’t until three days later, that we met again and he said to me in a puzzled voice: “What did you mean, when you said that you weren’t religious?!”.

You see, religion is not at all the same thing, as having a relationship, a union with Christ. And sometimes I think that we use the words and say these phrases, but haven’t really stopped to consider what they mean, or what the implications of them are.

It may also surprise you to hear that a great number of Christians also do not understand these differences. And so we are going to explore this today, and look at how the mentality of religion, is actually quite backwards to the truth of the Gospel of Christ taught in the scripture. And right-away I need to mention that when I say “backwards mentality” – I am not using that term as slang for stupid or unintelligent; not at all…

What I am saying, is that there is a religious mentality among many Christians, that is actually 180 degrees opposite to what the scriptures actually teach, and what the Gospel of Christ actually says. And this is what we will be exploring (and exposing) in today’s study.

The New Covenant Perspective on Guilt and Shame

There is a persistent idea, and ideology among some Christians, that has been around for quite some time actually, which says that as believers, we must maintain a certain level of guilt and shame. That every time we fail in our behaviors or fall short in our performance, that it is right and proper to feel guilty, and be ashamed, and that to not feel these things indicates some level of depravity – or worse that we have a seared conscience, and God has given us over to a carnal mind (whatever term they use, it’s the same underlying idea).

I have heard these ideas over and over again. They often seem as though they are “holy” and “right”, and anyone who doesn’t agree is a heretic.

However is this what the scriptures actually teach? Is the perspective of perpetual guilt and shame based on our behaviors and performance, truly biblical? Is this the abundant life and freedom and peace that Jesus died for us to have? That’s the question that we need to answer – and we will answer it today in this study.

How to Handle Emotions, Thoughts and Feelings

The title of this study today, is honestly a topic that people have struggled with from the very beginning of time. When a thought, emotion or feeling comes your way, especially a negative or even oppressive one, what do you do about it? How do you handle it?

For some, thoughts, emotions and feelings can be controlling and even rule their life. Some people are held captive by their emotions, and allow their feelings to rule their life. But what can be done about it?

Well, in-fact God has quite a bit to say on the subject, and we are going to answer these questions today, as always by looking at Jesus, and seeing the reality of His finished work for us.

What if God Wasn’t Recording Your Sins?

I invite you to look at the title of today’s study, and ponder it deeply for a few moments. What if God wasn’t recording your sins? How would that change your life? How would that change the way you think, or the concerns of your heart? How would that affect your conscience, or the guilt and shame that so easily burdens us? How would this change your relationship with God and how you view Him?

In this study today, we will be looking at these questions, and the truth of scripture that surrounds them. We will be examining all of this through the lens of the grace of God, and in the light of the finished work of Christ – His sacrifice for you, and who you are today in Him.

As you see this truth today, your eyes will be opened to the amazing Grace of God, that we sometimes sing about, but never stop to consider the reality of what it means for us. And many chains of guilt, shame and condemnation will be broken as a result of seeing this today.

Present Yourself Properly

Anyone who visits here, or has listened to me teach before, has probably heard me mention our identity in Christ. I speak about our identity more than any other topic, simply because it is so very vital to understanding our relationship with Jesus Christ. Nearly every day, I end up meeting someone, or having a discussion with someone who fails to understand the reality of who they truly are in Jesus, and who He has made them to be. This literally breaks my heart to see people in such a state, because I know the pain of living that way far too well. I was stuck in that same spot for many years, and there was no one around to help me through it.

So whenever I encounter someone who needs to know this truth, I don’t hesitate to share it with them – and so I end-up talking about it quite a lot here as well in our studies. Yet I don’t always explain exactly why it is true. Most of the time, I mention it in passing, or as an aside to whatever topic we may be studying in-particular, and this sometimes leaves people wondering where exactly I am getting it from, or if I just made it up!

In light of this, today I want to share with you, how we are to truly see ourselves in Christ Jesus, and why it is true. And by seeing this, it is my wish (and God’s wish) for you to stand on the solid foundation of the finished work of Jesus Christ, for you.

How Jesus Changes Your Heart

As believers, we hear a lot about God in our heart; and I often speak a lot about God changing us from the inside, but it occurs to me that we haven’t studied how that actually happens, (at least we haven’t for a while); and this is another aspect of our identity that is vital to our proper understanding and of who God is, and living through the relationship with Him.

So since this question comes up quite often, today I’m going to share with you, how exactly God changes a person from the inside; how exactly a right relationship with Him, actually effects your heart, in the best possible way. And by seeing this truth, you will understand how “religion” has greatly sold your personal relationship with God very short… and how Jesus has done a much greater work than what you can possibly imagine, and He loves you more than you have ever thought possible.

Let Jesus Restore You

I’ve encountered a lot of resistance to the Gospel message over the years. I used to resist it myself before Jesus was really introduced to me. And in mostly every instance, it boils down to one single thing… the unwillingness of the person to let Jesus restore them. And I’m choosing my words very carefully here. You see, there usually is no argument that a restoration needs to happen… most people accept that, but where they have difficulty (and where I also had difficulty myself) was in recognizing who the active agent of that restoration actually is. Again, most people are not willing to simply let Jesus restore them, they usually want to be restored by some other means or method – usually themselves.

This is nothing new however, it has been going on since the beginning in the Garden of Eden; and a lot of people are stuck in the spiritual mud with this mentality that they must achieve restoration some other way before presenting themselves to God. The reasons for this are sometimes fear, and sometimes pride.

The prideful ones want to try and impress God: They want to have a Tada! Moment where they can say to God something along the lines of “Here I am, all nice and clean for you! Aren’t you proud of what I did?”

And the fearful ones are too afraid to approach God at all because they know that they are dirty and are afraid of His reaction.

Both of these are mentioned in scripture, and I have personally lived on both sides of the aisle myself as well. What I want to share with you today is how to truly handle both of these situations, and find real peace with God, not through your own efforts, but by letting Jesus truly restore you.

Relax, God is Not Angry With You

I’ve encountered many people throughout my years, whom I have shared the truth with, that God is not angry with them. And many times, their response, was “I wish I could believe that.” They couldn’t receive the truth of God not being angry with them, because they were measuring His attitude towards them using a different standard. Instead of looking at the truth in scripture, they were looking at their current circumstances, their emotions and feelings of the moment, to gauge God’s mood, instead of what His eternal word says. When things were going well, God was obviously happy, and when things were not going well, God was obviously displeased. And so for these people, thy were constantly living a roller-coaster of ups and downs. Never on a solid foundation, but always on the shifting sand of the present moment.

However, God does not want us to live that way… that’s not the abundant life that He came to give us. He paid a high and precious price to reconcile us with Himself – and that is not a maybe, or a half-hearted reconciliation. Jesus has done a complete work, one that has a sure result; one that we can be confident in, and one that does not waiver back and forth like the wind, or get tossed around by the waters of daily life. What we will be studying today is why you can be absolutely sure of your status with God today. Why you can be bold and confident in your relationship with Him, and know beyond all doubt, why He is not angry with you today.