Dec 10

Because the King Says So

2 Samuel 9:8 says, “Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?’”  Through the years religion has taught us a response not unlike Mephibosheth’s response.  It teaches us that, even though we’re in Christ, we are still evil, and we’re unworthy.  In essence, like Mephibosheth, we see ourselves as “dead dogs.”

But thank God for King David!  His treatment of Mephibosheth is a picture of God’s grace, mercy, & unconditional love, based only on a covenant. For us, it is the New Covenant made between the Father and His Son, of which we have been made partakers.  We can eat at the King’s table because He says so.

Religion says to be fearful of an angry, judgmental God.  Religion says “keep short accounts with God.”  Nowhere is that phrase found in Scripture, but it sounds right and feeds our natural mind’s logic that says surely we’re not really forgiven.  “Surely there has to be a part for us to play to keep our spot at the King’s table.”

Yes, we do have a part to play.  And that part is to believe, to gaze upon Him and be transformed by our minds’ being renewed in His grace and love.  “His grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness.”  It is amazing how simple it is.

Mephibosheth thinks David wants to kill him when David wants to bless him.  Mephibosheth saw only his brokenness and unworthiness.  Many times we look at ourselves and see the same brokenness and unworthiness.  But through Jesus’ horrid sacrifice on the cross, the Father has forgiven everything!  He beckons us, “Come boldly to the throne of grace!  Rest your head on the chest of Jesus like John did.  Rest and eat of Heaven’s best!

Like Mephibosheth, we are lame.  We are lame yet we are eating at the King’s table.  Though we are unable to “walk” in perfection, we are eating at the King’s table.  Why?  Because the King says so, that’s why.  It really is amazing how simple it is.

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/because-the-king-says-so-2/

Dec 09

Eyes to the Blind

Job 29:15 – Job in defending himself said as part of his discourse, “I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.”  This verse can brand our hearts with God’s intention for us.  He wants us to be “eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.”  Eyes to see His love & help others see, and in seeing, standing and helping others to stand on the rock of His grace, truth, & love.

Hebrews 12:12,13 – “Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.”  We have a greater call than we can fathom, to open blind eyes and heal the lame, simply by proclaiming, preaching, even sharing over coffee, the simplicity of Christ & His finished work.

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/eyes-to-the-blind-2/

Jan 17

The Fire of the Holy Spirit – a Divinely-Inspired Thought

The following is a divinely-inspired thought that came to me as I was driving to one of my son’s soccer games last Fall.  I recorded it into my phone as I drove and have transcribed it here.  I hope it encourages you.

“The fire of the Holy Spirit consumes the flesh.  The sacrifices in the Old Testament were burned.  Why were they burned?  Fire consumes, it devours.  It encompasses, it destroys.  And as we are consumed with fire of the Holy Spirit, our flesh is consumed.  This doesn’t mean that our skin is suddenly a raging inferno.  But what does the Holy Spirit do?  He speaks of Jesus.  He speaks of Christ.  And as we allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit, our minds, and our attention, and our affections, and our thoughts, turn to Christ.

We want to have a little bit of the Holy Spirit.  We want to have the emotional rush that comes from being in a service and feeling His presence.  But, to be consumed with the Holy Spirit consumes religion.  It consumes the thought that there is anything other than Christ, that there is any other way than Christ.

He does not whisper in our ear that we have failed, that we have done wrong.  He can’t do that because He is whispering in our ear that we are loved by our Heavenly Father, that we are saved, that we are made new in Christ, that we are a new creation, that we are born again, that we are seated with Christ with Christ in heavenly places!  He’s not “speaking out of both sides of His mouth.”

So as we allow ourselves to be consumed with the Holy Spirit, we find that our minds are beginning to be more and more set on Christ.  This is where we are to live.  It is a mind thing.  It is a mentality.  What are we thinking about?  Are we thinking about our skin, our body, our flesh, – our members?  Or are we thinking about the reality of the new creation – that we are in union with Christ, that He has cut away the flesh, that we have been made new in Him!  This is the message of the Holy Spirit.

He’s not sitting there saying, “Well, today you did this and that and you really disappointed the Father, today you sinned.”  And at the same time saying, “Your sins and your lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  He’s not whispering guilt and condemnation out of one side of His mouth and then saying out of the other side of His mouth, “I have cast your sins into a sea of forgetfulness.  I have cast them away as far as the east is from the west.”

This is the confusion that comes from legalism and religion.  It comes from decades of preaching mixture – that there is somehow that we can fix this body, this dying flesh, – these members.  And there is no way to fix something that is dying.  The way that we are to live is with our minds set on Christ, with our eyes fixed on Him, with our thoughts constantly being renewed to the new creation that we have been made in Him – that we are like Him, that we are in His likeness, that we are forgiven, that we are forgiven, that we are forgiven, that we are made new in Him!

And as we do this, our spirit man begins to take on more and more and more preeminence and prominence in our life.  And we find that our members begin to fall in line and begin to be led by the Spirit.  We can’t be led by the Spirit if our minds are on the flesh.  The mind set on the flesh is dead; the mind set on the Spirit is life.”

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/the-fire-of-the-holy-spirit-a-divinely-inspired-thought/

Dec 13

“Yeah, but…”

Have you ever heard, “I believe in God’s grace, but…” Or, “Yes we are new creations, but…”  It’s like taking the most magnificent part of the Gospel and saying “Yeah, but.” There is no “but” in the Gospel.  Minimizing the truth is a safe way to keep from teaching it. Chances are it’s not something many leaders understand so they gloss over it.

It’s much easier to teach things that deal with the flesh than to share the reality of Christ and His love for us week after week. Painting pictures of the failure of the human condition make bestsellers, and leave congregations chasing after the “carrot” of holiness, feeling like they never quite measure up.  But this is not the truth.

Yes Jesus said we’ll have trouble in this life, but He has assured us that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. He assures us that He has overcome the world.  He assures us that He will never leave us or forsake us.  He’s not standing by talking about our failure, holding the football of holiness like Lucy, pulling it away just when we think we’ve attained.  He has made us holy, the righteousness of God.  We are new creations in Him.  No “Yeah, but…” about it!

It’s time to take the “Yeah, but…” out of what we teach and believe.  “His grace is sufficient” said the Apostle Paul. And, “it teaches us to say no to ungodliness.” Pray for a revelation of the Gospel for yourself and for church leaders.  It is the “power of God unto salvation…”

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/yeah-but/

Jun 28

“Get Them Calves Outta Here”

I remember as if it were yesterday. Sitting across from a pastor friend I had served for years, and still respected and loved deeply.  We were in Selma, NC eating Chinese food for dinner. I had just recently heard the truth of the finished work of Christ, and was excitedly sharing with him the cool things God had been revealing to me.

We talked about my ministry of preaching in other churches, and he shared with me some very interesting advice.  “Mark,” he said.  “If you want more preaching opportunities, you need to change your message.”  Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate.  We had been talking earlier about how the truth of the Gospel sets people free, as illustrated in Malachi 4:2 where it says, “You will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.”  “You see, Mark, the grace message (as we called it back then), sets people free.  Pastors don’t want a bunch of calves running around.”

The implication was clear.  Calves who have been let loose from their stall are excited. They run freely, with no sense of being under control.  They are happy and even reckless.  The joy of freedom runs through them.  They kick up their hind legs and in their own way, rejoicing at being set free.

My pastor friend was telling me through illustration that many pastors don’t want a bunch of “set-free saints” in their congregations.  There is a fear of losing control. Perhaps it is a thought like, “If they are really free, maybe they won’t tithe or serve.”  Or, “If they see the true grace of God, they might start to sin.”

This conversation took place years ago.  Since that time, I have been blessed to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  What began as “the grace message” has taken root as the truth of the Gospel, the mystery of the finished work of Christ.  The reality of the eternal, unconditional love of God toward us, an incomprehensible, life-changing truth has become my passion, my life’s message.

As I recently pondered this years-old dialogue, I realized that there is a dynamic among some pastors that is really ironic.  It is a lack of faith when it comes to the Gospel.  Oh sure there is plenty of faith for the status quo, to doing things as they’ve always been done, and teaching what they’ve always taught.  But God showed me that it is easier for pastors to yoke their congregations with a mixture of law and grace, then to trust God that He will provide if the people are set free.

It is the nature of Christ Jesus to give, to serve, to love.  Yet rather than trusting that reality, it is easier for some in church leadership to have faith in the control and manipulation of the law.  Take tithing and serving for example.  For decades, statistics have shown that, in a typical church, only 20% of the members tithe and serve regularly.  Why?  Is it because the motivation to do these things is presented as obligations for the believer?

What would happen if the saints were regularly told the truth of God’s amazing love (Romans 8:38,39), and that Christ lives in them? (Col 1:27)  What if they were set free from the mentality of obligation  and encouraged in the truth that God is no longer counting their sins against them? (2 Corinthians 5:19)  What if Sunday after Sunday the saints were encouraged to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, (Hebrews 12:2) instead of being questioned or subtly accused about their lack of pursuing holiness?  Is it possible that giving and tithing would increase as the natural response to God’s love, and if Christ’s nature in the believer was trusted to freely flow?  Would serving increase as an outflow of Christ in us?

If you are a pastor or church leader, pray about what God is saying in this post.  Where is your faith?  Is it in your ability to subtly control your congregation, or in the overwhelming faithfulness of God?  If you are a church member, ask God to give your pastor a fresh glimpse at the beauty and love of Jesus.  Ask that faith in the finished work of Christ would arise in his heart.

Be encouraged to set the saints free!  Let ‘em run  around in the exuberance of their freedom.  So what if something gets messed up (like sacred cows).  Let’s put our faith in Him and His awesome love to work His nature in the saints, manifesting in their tithing/giving, serving, and loving like never before.  Let’s trust His kindness to lead the saints to repentance.  Let’s preach His love and grace like never before, and open the stall doors and let those calves frolic in the joy of their freedom.  For whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

George Barna, in his new book, Growing True Disciples, says it well: “Ignite people’s passion for God and get out of their way.”  Amen!

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/get-them-calves-outta-here-2/

Feb 08

What Do You Do If You Think God is Ashamed of You?

My son, Andy, has a blog at www.tumblr.com It’s really good. You can check it out at http://www.tumblr.com/blog/shekinahgloryfall I was walking through the living room a few nights ago and noticed he was looking at a question someone had posted.  It read, “What Do You Do If You Think God is Ashamed of You?” Immediately I was like, “wow!” First, because I wanted to go into preach-mode, to which Andy quickly replied, “Yes, Dad, I know.”  (Living with me comes with the perk of hearing about God’s love quite a bit.)

The real reason for my reaction, however, was a genuine dismay that this question is even out there.  My answer to it is really quite simple.  What Do You Do If You Think God is Ashamed of You? Rejoice! That’s right, rejoice!  Now many of you may think I’ve lost it, but the simple fact is that, if you have been born-again, if you’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, if you believe, then God is NEVER ashamed of you.  He will never be ashamed of you.

Too much of Christian teaching is centered on the topic of sin.  We’re taught to “keep short accounts with God,” to have someone “hold us accountable,” and to examine ourselves for the words, deeds, and thoughts that have been sinful.  The enemy of the faith has very successfully gotten the eyes of many believers off of the reality of the finished work of Christ, off of the reality that we are new creations in Christ Jesus, and the reality that God is not counting our sins against us.  (His words, not mine. 2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 10:17)

Am I saying it is ok to sin?  NO! Like Paul in Romans 6 my answer is NO!  But we have died to sin, buried with Christ and raised with Him.  Let our eyes, minds, and encouragement to one another be focused on Him.  God said it is His kindness that leads us to repentance.  He is not leaving us in a place of shame and guilt because we’ve “blown it.”  There is No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

So if you find yourself feeling like God is ashamed of you. Cut it out, stop immediately, and rejoice! Your Heavenly Father is not and never, ever will be ashamed of you.  You are His beloved child, created in the newness of Christ.  He sings over you, He rejoices over you, He loves you!! No shame, none, period.

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/what-do-you-do-if-you-think-god-is-ashamed-of-you/

Jan 19

It’s the Wind That Makes the Difference

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/its-the-wind-that-makes-the-difference-2/

Nov 13

It’s His Fruit

I feel like the Spirit revealed something to me: it is the fruit, OF the SPIRIT, meaning it’s His fruit, not ours. I think many equivocate a disciplined outer man with the fruit of the spirit, and vice versa. But it is not the fruit of a disciplined flesh, it’s His fruit through us. And it’s not developed through vigilant looking at our sin or our flesh. It is developed by resting & abiding and looking at Him!  It is His fruit.

It is not a disciplined outer man but fruit from within, the fruit of the Spirit, His fruit. There is a  big difference. The military can produce disciplined men but only the Spirit can produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/its-his-fruit/

Sep 11

“Dipped in Blood”

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”  (Rev 19:11-13)

What a picture of Jesus Christ the king!  Much of Revelation 19 is devoted to John’s vision of Jesus as the conquering king.  I am intrigued by the statement, “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood.”  Commentaries are split between the blood being that of his enemies, or that of himself.

In line with the latter, I believe the blood represents the sacrifice of Himself, the laying down of His life.  It represents His having paid the full price for sin, while never having known sin.  He conquered death, hell, and the grave and thereby has the full legal right to be the King of Kings.

I also believe the blood on the robe is a constant reminder for all to see.  It heralds that He gave His life as a ransom for all.  It is the eternal signature of God’s love and forgiveness.  As we gaze upon Him, we cannot help but see that He is not only the king, but also, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  (John 1:29)

His kingship was legally obtained through His having paid in-full the wages of sin.  Because He knew no sin, He rose from the grave victoriously, death could not hold Him.  Sin’s penalty could not hold Him.  And the good news is that He gives this same victory freely to those who believe. “…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 3:24)

Sadly, it is common for many to feel like the rider on the white horse is coming after them.  Religion teaches that He is angry and ready to judge without warning our smallest faults and largest failures.  This mindset says, “Yes He died for our sins, but our human propensity to fall short is really greater than His fulfillment of God’s justice on the cross.”

Let us remember that it is by His grace that we have been born-again into His kingdom.  It is His grace that “teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions…” (Titus 2:12)  And it is His blood, an eternal reminder on the robe of the King, which has redeemed us and brought us to the place where “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”  We are His bride, and He is deeply and passionately in love with us.

The rider on the white horse is the king and lord of all.  He wages war against His enemies and is victorious.  We who believe are not His enemies.  He has redeemed us and called us His own.  His reign is forever, and so is His love.  As it says in Revelation 19:7, “Let us rejoice and give Him glory!”

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/dipped-in-blood/

Sep 06

Eyes to the Blind

Job 29:15 – Job in defending himself said as part of his discourse, “I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.” This verse can brand our hearts with God’s intention for us. He wants us to be “eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.” Eyes to see His love & help others see, and in seeing, standing and helping others to stand on the rock of His grace, truth, & love. Hebrews 12:12,13 – “Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” We have a greater call than we can fathom, to open blind eyes and heal the lame, simply by proclaiming, preaching, even sharing over coffee, the simplicity of Christ & His finished work.

Permanent link to this article: http://fueledbygrace.com/eyes-to-the-blind/

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