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.

Healing is Easier Than You Think

Throughout my years in the ministry, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people regarding healing. Healing and finances are actually the two most popular topics – and we have numerous resources on both because of it.

What I have experienced in my time, is that people place healing on a strange pedestal, as if it were somehow more difficult to receive than other blessings, or even more difficult than receiving salvation itself!

This is another classic example of our human mind, reasoning and theology complicating what God has made simple. Healing is not as complicated as we make it out to be; and it’s actually easier than we think!

Join me today, as we explore, how to easily receive healing, as a gift from God, in Christ Jesus.

Death to Sin: Your New Life in Christ

Spend some time listening to Christian leaders and you will probably hear them say that we must continually “die to sin” and “die to self”. They will typically say that this dying is a process that we must continually strive towards, focus on and work hard to achieve.

This leaves many people stuck in the spiritual mud of legalism – spinning their wheels furiously to get ahead, but never actually making progress – because progress can not actually be made in this fashion.

So today in this study, we will be taking a look at the idea of dying to sin, and dying to self, as well as what it actually means to have new life in Christ, because all of these ideas and terms are actually related… and sadly through generations of religious indoctrination, we have forgotten the foundation of the finished work of Christ, and begun to construct a faulty foundation of works and self-effort in-place of the cross, and that is not only foolish, but it is flat-out deadly.

The Kingdom is Within You

Jesus made several interesting statements regarding the Kingdom of God, and as we have studied previously, He even tells us to seek the Kingdom of God first, and all the other things would be added to us.

Yet if you ask the typical believer what the Kingdom of God is, many of them will struggle to give an answer. Simply put, most people aren’t sure what the Kingdom of God is. How can we seek for something if we don’t know what it is? How do we know when we’ve found it, if we don’t know what we are looking for?

Today we are going to answer these questions. We will begin by examining what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God; we will begin to form a picture of what the Kingdom looks like, and then we will see what it actually is, and we will see an amazing picture of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us, and what he has Given to us.

You Have Every Gift in Christ

Most people enjoy receiving gifts. For believers, this is also true of spiritual gifts. Now the term “spiritual gifts” has been somewhat misunderstood over the years to mean spiritual realm only with no earthly effects; when in-reality, spiritual gifts are actually gifts from the Spirit of God, which have very great earthly effects. In-fact, the gifts which the Spirit of God gives can completely transform your life, and the lives of those around you as well.

The trouble comes in when people start chasing after these gifts, as if they do not have them; and some have even been taught that the gifts are no longer active and that they are no longer being given.

What I want to share with you today in this study, is how because of the finished work of Christ, in Him you already have been given every single gift. You do not need to strive for, beg for, or plead for God to give you any gift. You do not need to sacrifice in an attempt to merit the gifts, because the sacrifice has already been given – Jesus Christ Himself.

Receiving Divine Power

Divine power. Supernatural ability. Going beyond human strength, human limits. Being something more. For years we have been infatuated with the idea of having power – even from the very beginning. It’s one of the reasons we like super-heroes… because they have strength and abilities beyond regular humans.

If we are being honest, “regular” human beings are rather weak on their own. Relying on devices and machines to accomplish most of our advanced tasks… not even the strongest among the animals when compared strength for strength and speed for speed.

Yet we have access to something that these others do not have, we have access to divine power which would actually put our favorite comic book heroes to shame – the kind of power that makes evil forces run and hide in terror. It has been given to us by God Himself.

This probably sounds to good to be true, and you’re doubting it in your mind right now… but I’m going to prove it in scripture, and by the end of this study today, you’re going to realize just how strong you truly are, and how to receive divine power; not just a nice thought or a warm fuzzy feeling – but real and effectual power that makes a difference.

Know That You Are Completely Clean Forever

One of the biggest hindrances (if not the only hindrance) to intimacy with God, is sin. Almost every single believer, and even most non-believers know this to be true. With that said, what is to be done about it?

This is where most people tend to branch-off into different directions regarding the solution to the sin problem. Some people set-out on a grand life-long quest to try and rid-themselves of wrong behaviors, wrong thoughts, and to “clean themselves” up, always reaching but never truly attaining perfection.
Others become so confused and intimidated by the whole problem that they become discouraged and defeated and just shut-down on the whole thing.
Still others accept their sin and decide that since they can’t do anything about it anyway, they might as well indulge it all the way.

But are any of these ways correct?

Must we live a defeated and striving life here on this earth dominated by sin and beaten-down with sin-consciousness?

Today in this study, we are going to answer that question, and through the finished work of Jesus Christ and His New Covenant of Grace, you will be able to have assurance, and confidence in your position from this day onward.

Without Jesus, We Can Do Nothing

The name of this ministry ThrivingBranch, comes from the discourse that Jesus makes in John chapter 15, about Him being the Vine and us being the branches. We have done studies in this discourse before. Today however, we are going to focus in on one specific area of what Jesus said – one specific point which often gets overlooked; that without Him we can do nothing.
I emphasize that last part, because it is actually very important to our understanding and perspective of our relationship with Christ, and it’s also a point that is devastating to our own human pride.

You see, we tend to not really believe that Jesus meant what He said… that without Him we truly cannot do anything. Surely, He was exaggerating a little bit, right? Of-course He didn’t mean that we can’t do a single thing without Him, did He?

Indeed He did. And this is what we will be taking a look at today in this study. And by seeing this, we will be able to truly embrace our relationship with Christ, and understand the necessity for Him and everything that He provides to us.

The Fullness of God, Through His Love

When people think about receiving the fullness of God, many things might come to mind. Usually involving some type of sacrifice, work or effort on their part. They might think that receiving more of God requires diligent and prolonged periods of study, fasting, or other types of sacrifice. They may think that it comes from attending lots of Christian conferences, or reading a lot of Christian books or articles, or any number of things.

Yet the scriptures tell a different story. That the fullness of God, the totality of His righteousness, His holiness, His peace and all of His blessing, comes a different way, one that we don’t really expect.

What I want to share with you today, is the true vehicle by which the fullness of God comes. Not the religious man-made ideas about how to receive the fullness of God, but rather the truth directly from scripture. And I believe that as you see this today, the burden of religion and the self-effort of trying to reach for God will be lifted away, and you will be free to simply enjoy what Christ has accomplished for you.

Don’t Fear the Shadows

When I was a young child, I used to be afraid of the dark. I would look at the walls, or outside my window and see shadows which I presumed to be monsters. I didn’t recognize the shapes, and the sizes of the things seemed to be very large. It was a troubling sight to my young mind.

Later in life, as I became more mature, I understood that those things were just shadows without substance, and they could not actually hurt me in any way. The perception of danger was a false perception, and that the fear of them was doing me more harm than anything else.

This simple realization carries with it a spiritual truth as well – more than one in-fact, as many believers today are held captive by the fear of things which also are just shadows. Spiritual shadows that cannot actually hurt them; yet just as when I was held in bondage to fear of the shadows as a young boy, these precious believers are likewise held in bondage by fear of things which are just as false and empty as the shadows on the wall.