Archives for posts with tag: faith

To everyone who follows this GraceTribe blog, I hope you have moved over with us to normanramsey.com and our new self-hosted site. Please forgive any limitations or shortcomings you find there. Our new site is a work in progress and an opportunity to move forward to repentance.

What do I mean by that? The way of grace begins in repentance. We are called to believe in the Lord Jesus and share in a new prognosis God makes for our lives when we walk by faith. Then, we build up our most holy faith through prayer and all the means of grace to share in responsibility with the Holy Spirit for being conformed into the image of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is our new coach and director as we are called to bless others. When something’s got to give, we bring life by laying down our lives for the sake of the gospel. We breakthrough into newness of life.  This newness compels us to move forward to further align ourselves with the Lord.

We move forward to repentance now instead of back and forth on the pendulum of a sinner’s disposition. We have been made saints of God who are marching forward under the Good Shepherd’s leadership.

One of those expressions of God’s work in my life is learning how to communicate the gospel through the internet. Thus, this invitation to follow our new website for the daily GraceTribe blog and in the future much more.

I look forward to hearing from you and knowing you are part of the GraceTribe.

signsofthetimes(A Brief Meditation on Psalm 46 and Matthew 24)

The way of grace teaches us that our hope for life begins in repentance. We prioritize out of necessity and for the sake of aligning ourselves with the truth.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because man-made opinions and bubbles burst and the world tries to bustle us into becoming entangled with its causes, wars, and disputes. We believe so our ways might be exchanged for the ways of God, worldly reactions and responses exchanged for the will of God’s Kingdom.

We build up our faith because the systems upon which we lean and depend will be kicked out from under us. There will be divisions along ethnic lines and realms of thought.

We bless others in the power of the Spirit because a spirit of bitterness is taking hold of our society. There is a famine of taking in God’s Word.  We are called to move as free people, willing to let go of our own lives for the sake of those who are locked into their limiting fortresses of unbelief. We know soon all the vain things which leech and consume our attention will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment so while the light of grace still shines we are working.

We bring life in Jesus’ name to those pestered and plagued by sin, seemingly bound to turmoil, chaos, and unrest. We influence this wicked and perverse generation by the rest and stillness we have found in the presence of God. As we allow God to ascend in the midst of what we do, even the ‘fools who say there is no God’ may discover otherwise.

We breakthrough as the One whose name is above all names is exalted in our lives. Everything we know will be shaken including the ground upon which we stand. The confidence we carry is “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46: 7, 11)

beginwiththeendinmindLook to Romans 8: 28 – 30 and the first summation of God’s way of grace I ever observed. The end of all God’s work is for those whom God has called to be glorified.  What does that mean? The Apostle Paul describes it in verse 39 as being unable to be separated from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer describes being glorified as being delivered from evil. (Matthew 6: 13) The path of blessing describes it as receiving peace. (Numbers 6: 26)

As far as the afterlife is concerned, it is as if we are already there. Psalm 23 describes it as dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23: 6)

Putting on the armor of God has us wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6: 17) The picture of us matches the picture of Jesus in Revelation 1: 16, “out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”  Is it any wonder now we are to be called the children of light? “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5: 8)

Begin with the end in mind. Repent. Align yourself with the Lord. Completely surrender to God’s call upon your life in Jesus Christ. Your life from this day forward is for God’s purpose.  God has a new prognosis for the outcome of our lives: “whoever believes in him (Jesus) shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 16)

All of God’s precious promises, the first of which is the Holy Spirit, begin to shape our lives. The Word of God instructs us how to be the handiwork of God, our lives shaped and orchestrated to conform to Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2: 10) Then, as we cooperatively make use of all of God’s means of grace, God calls us again.  This time there’s a ministry into which God is sending us.

We represent the Lord as witnesses and ambassadors. We do not push our own agenda or look for some earthly cause to which we associate. The hand of God is upon us. The influence of the kingdom flows into everything we do and God looks to our activity and it is well pleasing in God’s sight. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing it.

Finally, we “dwell in the shelter of the Most High”, we “rest in the shadow of the Almighty”. (Psalm 91: 1) When we love the Lord, the Lord says, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91: 14 – 15)

Another way of translating, ‘honor’ is ‘make glorious’. Yes, that is the end of God’s work in us. Let’s begin with that end in mind.

cycleofhopeWhen we get the PUSH we need to reach for our goals, we still need to be aware of the nature of the journey. We bump into something unexpected along the way and suddenly we’re not quite sure about our goals or the certainty of reaching them. This is why I want to lay out the cycle of hope the Apostle Paul shares in Romans, chapter 5: 1 – 5.

  1. The cycle begins with us standing in grace, rejoicing that our goals and our future can be aligned with God’s purpose for us. We begin rejoicing, acknowledging that reaching for our goal is another way of reaching for the glory of God.
  2. The second part of the cycle is tribulation. Reaching goals is hard work. Our faith is going to be tested and tried. The whole point of setting and reaching goals is to exchange our old life for the new life to which God is calling us. There is going to be friction between the old, status quo and what we’re reaching for.
  3. The third step in the cycle is patience. There is a reason why we have to build up our faith to follow the pathway of grace and to pursue our goals. There is a new burden of expectation that we are bearing, as well as the drag of inertia. At every stage of the journey, don’t stop. Tribulation is to be expected. The need for patience is to be expected. Keep on reaching for the prize.
  4. Eventually, you realize you are gaining a new experience. You begin to see some proof of progress. The scale shows some of the pounds have come off. You can tell your skill level is improving.
  5. Experience renews our hope. Our inspiration at this point of the journey is Christ crucified and his willing commitment to endure the cross for the joy set before him. At this point, we know the repetition of the steps necessary for success do not rise from our initial weakness and need for change. No, our hope now rises because we sense the strength into which we are developing.
  6. This hope elevates us to embrace the once far off goal. We rejoice again as we near and reach our goal. We love this process of transformation and now look for that next right thing that will enable us to more closely identify ourselves with Jesus Christ.

The cycle of hope is a recurring cycle as we and God work together for a miraculous life transformation.

What is that one goal right now if sought and reached would bring glory to the Lord?

What step in the cycle has been the obstacle/barrier most difficult for you to overcome in the past? How could you address that using one of the means of accountability we spoke about day before yesterday?

How does finding out all of us go through the same kind of struggle/cycle to reach our goals help you?

 

onethingWhen God first calls us, Romans 8: 28 tells us we are called to live according to His purpose. Most just want to be energetic in their love for the Lord (and that’s important) but our will has a short shelf life. To achieve the calling of being energetic and entrepreneurial in our love, we have to undergo a shift from trying to empower ourselves to being empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches and discloses and provides the energy for living according to God’s purpose in our lives.

The way of grace 1) Begins in repentance, 2) Believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, then 3) Builds up that most holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1: 20-21) Notice, to keep ourselves in the love of God, there has to be more than just our energy in play.

Think for a minute on the words of Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in their blog, 3 Commitments that Lead to Extraordinary Results. “It’s the difference in mindset between ‘get it done’ and ‘get it done effectively,’ and it’s important because the ‘E’ approach will bring us to our limits very quickly. We all have natural ceilings on our ability, time and energy, and when we try to push through relying just on our natural tendency, we end up burning out or bumping up against challenges we can’t solve.

Shifting to the ‘P’ approach helps us take a step back, prioritize and think outside of our normal boxes to find innovative, effective solutions that take us to the next level.”

The next level in the pathway of grace is the place of 4) Blessing, then 5) Bringing Life, then 6) Breakthrough. If you are to reach those levels of mature service to the Lord, your mindset needs to shift from self-empowerment to Spirit-empowered.

Left to our own energy, it is almost inevitable that we will fall back into the way of sin. We will 1) Betray and fall short of our calling. We will get locked into a blind, 2) Biased way of doing things. When that doesn’t hold up we will move to 3) Blame and when our energy runs out short of fulfilling our purpose we will become 4) Bitter and get stuck replicating our own limitations.

• Are there any indicators in your life right now that you need to move from “E” to “P”, from self-energizing yourself to being empowered by the Holy Spirit?

• Have you put in a child-like request to the Father to give you a fresh experience of being soaked by the Spirit?

• Can you imagine yourself having received the Gatorade® shower of grace and being carried across the field as the winner and victor God wants you to be?

• Have you committed yourself to keeping God’s call and purpose being what continues to move you forward rather than the level of energy you have available at the moment?

masteryAs I grew up on the farm, we learned many things. The number one lesson we learned was if you want to develop a skill, follow someone who has already mastered that skill. The second point of that lesson is follow someone who believes you can master that skill. In other words, don’t take piano lessons from someone who can only play chopsticks. But, equally as important, don’t take lessons from someone who believes that your greatest level of performance will be chopsticks.

How were we taught this lesson? In countless ways. We were taught to master ourselves in simple games of Mother May I and Red Light, Green Light. We had a game we played with a ball on the front porch that went from simple coordination to performing a complex set of movements involving twisting and jumping off the porch, while catching the ball as it bounced back off the wall, while still ending up upright and in a ready position when you landed on the ground (with the ball in your hand, of course).

I don’t know who came up with these things to do. All I know is, if you learned to do something, whatever it was, you were expected to improve and speed up over time.

When we were young and went to the country store in the evening, we were expected to watch the card games and observe how each person played. Eventually, we would get to play at home and sharpen our skill.

All the while, whatever we were learning or making choices about, we heard our parents say, “whatever you decide will be good.” This basic belief was repeated and affirmed over and over again.

This is the way God calls us to follow Him. In the beginning of our disciple’s journey we are commanded to repent, to align ourselves with the Master of Life. We are also called to believe and trust in the God who is for us, who believes we can become holy as He is Holy.

The Apostle asks, “What shall we say in response to this?…  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”(Romans 8: 32 – 33)

Have you committed yourself to the One who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life?” Have you confidence the Lord has confidence in you?

Have you committed yourself to mastery? In The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, they list committing yourself to mastery as the first of the Three Commitments that Lead to Extraordinary Results. In this blog post, they are echoing the pathway of grace and I’ll share in the next couple of days how the other two commitments reflect the path, too.

Until then, ask yourself a One Thing kind of question, ‘What’s the ONE Thing for which I can commit myself to mastery that by pursuing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’

P. S. I highly recommend you read the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Knight and Day“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3: 12 – 13)

If Jesus tells you He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (and He does) and He tells you He is the Door, the narrow gate through which you access life, why are you still walking around looking for an entrance?

How many miracles does Jesus have to do to prove to you who He is?

How many people does Jesus have to forgive before you would call on him to forgive you where you have missed the mark with him?

How many people would Jesus have to restore, heal, and redirect before you would say, that’s something He is really good at doing?

How is God supposed to make things new in your life when you don’t accept anything new into your belief system?

What are you predisposed to believe: God is out to help you or God is out to hurt you? God is out to bless you or God is out to burn you?

Why do you think Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead? What if it directly applies to you?

Which is more important: your opinion or the truth?

Thanks for reading. Had to ask.

P. S.  I am reminded of the scene in Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz where Cruise’s character, Roy tries to explain to June her chances of survival: “with me or without me”.  This is why I had to ask these questions today. With Jesus or without Jesus?  Have you got peace, forgiveness of sins, joy, eternal life, an abundance of grace with which to move, breathe, and live?

Had to ask.