All posts in “GRACE”

Tony Ducklow lg 2

GRACE -TONY DUCKLOW

GRACE

TONY DUCKLOW

We have done nothing in the way of earning, paying for or deserving God’s awesome and eternal love! We’ve done nothing to deserve His Spirit, and we definitely didn’t do anything to deserve our eternal relationship with Him in heaven. But what an amazing and astonishing thought it is to think about the immeasurable difference between what we deserve and what we as Christians actually receive! God’s grace is available to all who believe with no exceptions. There is nothing you have done that God can’t or won’t forgive, and there is no payment or good deed that you can do to earn his love. God loves you for you, and offers you his free gift of grace today!

QUESTION 1. Have you ever been punished for something you’ve done? (Explain)
QUESTION 2. Have you ever been shown grace by someone when you actually deserved to be punished? (Explain)
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to live as people of grace, to accept the grace that God has given to all believers. And just as importantly, we encourage you to show that same grace toward others today!
allysa olivo 2

GRACE -ALYSSA OLIVO

GRACE

ALYSSA OLIVO

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

It’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to not have it all together. This is completely counter to what the world tells you. The world says we need to be strong all the time, not show any weakness, and have our lives together. But how does one do that? Let’s be honest; life is too hard to do it all on our own.

In the verse above, Paul is telling us that he boasts in his weaknesses because when he is weak Christ’s power shines all the more through him. When you try to do life all on your own and rely on your own strength, sure, you may succeed for a little while, but eventually you’re going to burn out, and then what? And if our lives are about giving glory to our Father, how are we doing that when everything is done in our own power?

Try asking God for enough strength for your day each morning. Not for tomorrow, or the week, but just for today. Today is all we have. When you do this you are declaring your reliance on God, and he will bless you for it. You will notice that you have more than enough strength for your day and God will get all the glory. That is a beautiful thing.

QUESTION 1. Do you try to do life all on your own? Are you burning yourself out?
QUESTION 2. Do you believe it’s okay to be weak? Are you scared to show weakness?
CHALLENGE: Try this week to wake up each morning and ask God for his strength, and see the amazing difference it makes. You’ll never want to rely on your own power again.
Amber Hall 2

GRACE -AMBER HALL

GRACE

AMBER HALL

Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus sounds simple, but if it sounds so simple then why do we have such a hard time doing it? The answer is simple, as well—that is, our eyes like to wander! Our eyes seem to naturally look towards what is instantly gratifying. You may have heard the old adage, your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Have you ever gone through a buffet line and had your eyes pick up on all the amazing food options on display. Before you knew it, you’d eaten so much that you were contemplating buying stretchy pants, feeling bloated and not wanting to move for the rest of the day. Why? Because your eyes picked up on all the wonderful food choices and your brain translated the information to instantly gratify yourself.

The thing is, instant gratification is rarely, if ever, a good thing, whether it’s looking at food in a glutinous way, looking at people lustfully, or indulging in any of a plethora of other things to instantly gratify ourselves. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus. Fixing our eyes on Jesus is guaranteed to bring us the joy for which Jesus died on the cross to give us (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus showed us grace by dying on a cross; he endured being beaten and mocked so we wouldn’t have to. He did it because He loves us and He wants us to experience the joy that comes from fixing our eyes on Him and not the things of this world. It’s not because the food, buffets, sex, or any other thing that God created are bad. but rather that they are meant to be used in the way God intended them to be used. When we allow God’s grace to prevail and fix our eyes on Jesus, we allow God’s joy, the best kind of satisfaction that exists, to prevail in our lives.

QUESTION 1. Are you fixing your eyes on something other than Jesus (e.g. boyfriend/girlfriend, gluttony, lustful images, etc.)?
QUESTION 2. How can you fix your eyes on Jesus, experience real joy and live in the grace that he offers (e.g. think about having an accountability partner, prayer time, devotions, Bible study, etc.)?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to fix your eyes on Jesus and never let go of the joy and the freedom that Christ offers to all who stay fixed on him.
joshua humphries 2

GRACE -JOSHUA HUMPHRIES

GRACE

JOSHUA HUMPHRIES

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

 When I was interning with my church’s student ministries I got asked to preach a sermon. I was excited, but so nervous because I thought if I didn’t do it well then God and my pastor would be really disappointed with me. So I did the talk, and to say it was a train wreck would be an understatement. I fumbled over words, lost my train of thought, said stupid things, and tried to be funny. I saw myself crashing and burning as the faces of the students stared, bored by my demise.

I was upset at myself for so long afterwards, thinking that God was just as upset with me about my butchering of the sermon. But then I read the verse above from Ephesians. It hit me that God wasn’t basing my worth as a Christian on my performance; he was basing it on my worth as his child. I could practically hear God telling me, “That’s my son, and I’m proud of him.”

You see, it isn’t what you do that gains God’s love; his love is a gift and it has been freely given to all. This is grace and it is so freeing. However, this isn’t a free pass to not try hard or do good works; God wants you to work hard for his kingdom. What this does mean is no matter how bad you screw up or fail God still loves you and is immensely proud of you. Next time you start to feel shame over failure, remind yourself of your worth in God. You are His son or daughter and He couldn’t be more proud.

QUESTION 1. Have you ever felt like you failed God? What happened?
QUESTION 2. Did you live in that shame or did you remind yourself of your worth and the grace of God?
CHALLENGE: Don’t beat yourself up or feel ashamed because of failure; instead, know that God will always show grace and mercy and will always love you no matter what.
jackie turner 4

GRACE -JACKIE TURNER

GRACE

JACKIE TURNER

II Corinthians 1:3-4

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

The world can be a cruel place. I can’t even begin to count all the times I have been knocked down by circumstances and then wondered how I could possibly go on. But here is the beauty of difficult times: I can’t remember a single instance where someone didn’t come alongside me in my brokenness and comfort me with God’s truth. And every person who comforted me had been through the same difficulty.

Sometimes God allows us to go through a hard time so we can see him faithfully bring us through and then use us to comfort someone else. The world teaches us that love gives up on others but God teaches us that love never gives up. He will never leave us in our time of need therefore we should never leave others.

Next time you are going through a tough time, remember the promises of God. You are adopted and accepted, prince or princess of the high king. There is nothing that will separate you from His love and comfort. Look for ways in which you can love and comfort others who are going through a similar circumstance. The God of all comfort will comfort us in our weakness so we can go out and comfort others.

QUESTION 1. Do you look for opportunities to comfort those who are hurting?
QUESTION 2. Where do you turn when you need comfort, the truth of God’s view of you or the world’s view?
CHALLENGE: In the same way you have been comforted, go out and comfort others.
conseulo hernandez 1

GRACE -CONSUELO HERNANDEZ

GRACE

CONSUELO HERNANDEZ

Ephesians 2:4-5
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

There are so many times in our lives when we feel like we don’t deserve God’s love or grace. Maybe it’s because you’re caught in a perpetual sin that you just can’t seem to beat and you think that God can’t possibly forgive you this hundredth time. Or maybe you project your relationship with your earthly father onto your relationship with your heavenly Father and think that since your relationship with your father isn’t good that your relationship with God certainly can’t be. But here’s the good news: Jesus died for you and it is through his death on the cross that we have been set free from the awful lies we believe, our seemingly unbeatable sins, and our rocky relationships. There is so much grace!

There will never be a time that Jesus’ grace will run out for you. There will never be a time when He’ll get fed up with your sins and wash His hands of you. No, He will never turn His back. Your heavenly father will keep giving you grace over and over again, and while He does that, He’ll whisper to you ever so gently, “I’m so very proud of you and I love you so much.” But the grace of God is not a free pass to keep sinning. As you fall more and more in love with God your desire to sin will be less and less, and your desire to please Him will be overwhelming.

QUESTION 1. In what ways or with whom do you feel unloved or unworthy? Make a list.
QUESTION 2. Do you truly believe that God has enough grace for you? Give that list to God through prayer and then tear it up and throw it away.
CHALLENGE: While you go through your day today, any time that the lie creeps into your head that you aren’t worthy or aren’t loved, stop where you are. Then speak these truths out loud over yourself: I am redeemed by grace, I am God’s beloved child, I have been set free, and I am loved unconditionally by my Father.
hannah swift

GRACE -HANNAH SWIFT

GRACE

HANNAH SWIFT

2 Corinthians 12: 8-9

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

There is something about physical pain that can alter everything. I know, for me, I have had many injuries that have altered my mood, my ability to do everyday tasks on my own, and even my view of my own self-worth. One of the many times I messed up my knee, I had some friends ask if they could pray for me. These friends had seen God perform miracles of healing before so they knew he could do it. After they prayed, the pain was still there. I was slightly embarrassed to admit that my knee still hurt. Then my friend asked “Do you believe that God can heal you?” In complete honesty I said, “I believe that He can, but I believe He has a lot of internal junk to heal first.”

You see, my injury brought to light a lot of my internal pride. I wanted to do everything on my own. I didn’t need anyone’s help…not even God’s. Paul was the same way. Before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, he thought he was doing God a favor by killing all the people who followed Jesus. In his mind he was helping God; he didn’t need God to help him.

Paul, just like you and me, was still human. He thought he could do life well on his own, but he later learned through his weaknesses that he really did need to rely on God. Sometimes God chooses to heal and other times he chooses to use pain in greater ways than we can comprehend. God works in mysterious ways to show us the power of his grace that is more than enough for all of us!

QUESTION 1. How have you seen God present in the areas of your life that were hurting? How have you searched for Him in the midst of your weakness?
QUESTION 2. Who or what is your identity being found in right now?
CHALLENGE: Allow God to show you his power by accepting your weaknesses and turning to him for strength. Live like God is enough for you today!
tommy olmsted 2

GRACE -TOMMY OLMSTED

GRACE

TOMMY OLMSTED

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Growing up in the Church, I heard the word “grace” a lot. I always knew it must have been something good because it came from Jesus. However, it honestly just became another church word I used in the presence of other Christians because it sounded right. I did not understand grace.

I know I still have a lot to learn about grace, but I remember so clearly the moment I truly started to understand grace for the first time. I found myself feeling so guilty for something I did that I knew would hurt someone I cared about and the heart of Jesus. As I spent time confessing to God, I wanted so badly for Him to confirm the bad feelings I had about myself. I was not ready to give myself grace, so I sure did not want it from those whom I had hurt. I knew what I deserved and it was not what I was given.

Sin is so easily watered down in our lives. I know I sometimes spend more time trying to justify my sins than I do trying to turn away from them. However, the Bible says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), so it is a very big deal. God did not want to leave us to suffer the consequences of our sin. Instead, His love draws Him to offer us grace–a gift we do not deserve in place of the punishment we do deserve. When we understand the weight of our sin, we can see more clearly the beauty of grace. Romans 6:23 continues on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We get a beautiful gift, one that is more than enough to cover all we have done. There are no limits to what God can save us from and forgive us for through His grace.

A wise professor once told me, “When you hold on to the sins you have committed without allowing God to heal or forgive you, it is as though you are looking Jesus in the face and telling Him that His death on the cross was not good enough for you.” As Paul points out in his letter to the Corinthians, God’s grace is more than enough for each of us. We do not have to be ashamed of our weaknesses and our mistakes because God’s hands are at work in every situation. Let your life be full of His grace as you walk in His freedom!

QUESTION 1. What sins are you currently holding on to and are not able to forgive yourself for?
QUESTION 2. What does it mean to you for God’s grace to be enough for you?
CHALLENGE: Turn away from the sins in your life and run straight into the gracious arms of Jesus.