Monthly Archives: November 2013

THE FRUIT OF THE GOSPEL OF GRACE

Col 1:6 The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

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The good news is that the gospel is at work in you and in others all around the world[i]. When we hear and understand the gospel of the grace[ii] of our Lord Jesus Christ[iii] an amazing thing starts to happen. The gospel spontaneously starts bearing fruit in us and through us.

We don’t have to strain and sweat, we don’t have to do and strive, to bear fruit, we simply have to let the gospel do its work within us. An apple tree cannot strive to make apples, it simply happens because of its identity and being… apple trees effortlessly grow apples because something within them brings it about.

Jesus declared that the kingdom of God is within us[iv]. God is concerned with our inner person, what’s at the heart of us[v]. Its from the overflow of the heart that we speak[vi] and do. The good news is that every time you hear and receive a bit more revelation of the gospel of grace it has a profound effect on your heart, your inner person. This is because the gospel of grace always sets up Jesus as Lord inside you and always points to him instead of to you.

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Wow, now that’s a mystery if ever there was one, but it’s true, Christ in you[vii] has made you righteous, has transformed you to be as he is and to bear his fruit. He is the vine and you are one of the branches[viii] . Branches have no choice but to bear bigggg bunches of grapes.  You can’t make it happen, it happens by the indwelling presence of the Word[ix] of grace – Jesus in you.

The fruit of the Spirit[x] is great and plentiful. Picture yourself: Like a fruit cake; all different types of fruit in you at the same time. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control, Jesus has them all in abundant measure.

 Let’s face it when you are a living life full of that kind of fruit you don’t need a whole load of rules, regulations and religious laws. Simply living the fruit fulfils the Law. Jesus in you fulfils the Law[xi] and produces righteousness, holiness and effortless good works[xii].

fruit cake

Talking of “fruit cakes” I can assure you that when you share and live out of Jesus and his grace people will think that you are a “fruit cake”….. crazy. Well you are in good company[xiii].

What gospel have you heard, is it the gospel Paul preached, or is it a mixture of Law and Grace? is it bearing fruit?

The gospel of grace IS bearing fruit – find rest in the truth[xiv] and the truth will set you free. It seems too easy and too good to be true. But it is! Try it, plunge deeper into grace and intimacy with Jesus and see the fruit.

Be blessed.

Garry

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[i] Col 1:6  The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world.

[ii] Grace or “charis” (Greek) is God’s free gift of righteousness, unearned & undeserved favour, blessing and enabling

[iii] Act.20:24  …the Lord Jesus has given me the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

[iv] Luk 17:21  …. “the kingdom of God is within you.”

[v] Act.13:22  ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart. (Strange as David was an adulterer, murderer and liar.. yet God saw his heart!)

[vi]Luk.6:45  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

[vii] Rom.8:10  If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

[viii] Joh 15:5  I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him shall bear much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.

[ix] Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

[x]Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

[xi] Mat 5:17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.

[xii] Eph_2:10  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

[xiii] Mar.3:21-22  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

[xiv] Joh 1:17  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

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LET JESUS SERVE YOU

Jesus said “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).

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Jesus did not come to be served but to serve[1]. Jesus wants to be the greatest in your life, by being your servant. This is mind blowing. God ‘s grace[2] towards us is so huge that he sent Jesus to be our servant, our crutch[3], our place of refuge[4], our strength[5], our helper[6], our counselor[7]… the one we can completely depend on. He is the Suffering Servant [8] that Isaiah prophesied would come.

If Jesus is to be the greatest in the kingdom, which is within you[9], then you need to allow him to be the least [10]. Now this is one of the many mind boggling, paradigm shifting, paradoxes of kingdom life; The first will be last[11], the older will serve the younger[12], give and you will get, to him who has more will be given,  the least will be the greatest.

This may be the first time that you have heard this message about Jesus’ coming to serve you personally. It may seem offensive. Deep down many of us struggle with this concept of  being weak[13] and dependent. The thought of Jesus being our servant – offends me – “I must be his servant” I cry, Yes this may be true but first things first.

Many of us struggle with being served by others or receiving from others. And yet Jesus made it clear to Peter that unless he was willing to be served [14] and blessed by Jesus he could not be part of Jesus’ kingdom ministry to serve[15] and bless others.  Jesus laid down an essential truth that we first have to allow Jesus to serve and bless us before we can serve and bless others. We have to received Jesus’ grace so that we can give grace to others. Jesus the loving, humble[16], servant king is asking you today to allow him to serve you. He loves you deeply and he knows that if you don’t allow him to serve you, refresh you and feed you daily[17], you will burn out and be overwhelmed by the troubles and cares or life and the needs of others.

Yes, Jesus is Lord and King. Yes, he is Almighty God . But is he has to be the one that you feed on, draw strength from and are served by daily?  If we are honest most of us battle through each day in our own strength, following our own ways, our own plans by our own will and determination , sweat and toil[18] – and that’s hard. Why not lay it all down and cast the burdens of life onto Jesus [19] and enter his rest[20].  This is what living in grace is all about.

Servant king

Jesus is the Servant King who longs for us to be reliant on him. He longs to bless and serve you, he longs to carry your burdens, he longs to intercede in your problems[21], he longs to be your health, your wealth[22], your perfection[23], your righteousness and holiness[24].

Jesus came to serve us and yet most of us are obsessed with serving him. But in the kingdom things are always the other way around. In the New Covenant God no longer calls us servants but “sons”[25] – his precious children who have inherited his riches. He does not want us to relate to him as servants or as sinners[26] but as his righteous children who can draw on and enjoy our inheritance as his beloved  “sons”.

Only then we can go as his Ambassadors and share our blessings and serve those around us in love and joy, because we have an unlimited source and supply in Jesus our Servant King. We no longer rely on ourselves but only on Jesus who bears fruit in and through us. Jesus and his grace is always  good news!

Be blessed.

Garry

www.gracelovetruth.com copy this short link   http://gracelovetruth.com/?p=318   or    follow us daily on Twitter or Facebook

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[1] Mat 20:28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
[2] Grace or Greek “charis” is Jesus’ free gift of unearned and undeserved favour that blesses and empowers us.

[3] Psalm 23:4
[4] Psa 119:114  You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your Word (Jesus is the word. Jn1).
[5] 2Ti 2:1  You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
[6] Heb 13:6  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

[7] Joh 14:16  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.
[8] Isaiah 53:1-12  …..surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

[9] Luke 17:21
[10] Luke 22:24-27
[11] Mat.19:30  But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
[12] Luk 22:26  The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
[13] 2Co_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.

[14] Joh 13:8  “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

[15] Joh 13:14  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
[16] Php 2:7  Jesus made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.
[17] Joh 6:57  Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
Joh 6:58  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
[18] Gen.3:19
[19] 1Pe_5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
[20] Mat_11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  (also Heb.4:10)
[21] Heb 7:25  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

[22] 2Co_8:9  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
[23] Heb 10:14  because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

[24] 1Co_1:30  Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
[25] Gal 4:7  Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (This is a legal term of inheritance that applies to male and female alike)
[26] Rom 5:19  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
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The Sermon on the Mount

Many Christian struggle with the Sermon on the Mount  in which Jesus seems to set impossibly high standards for Christian living  (Mt.5:1- Mt.7:29).

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In His famous sermon Jesus seems to be setting amazingly high standards of living, which despite our heart’s desire, most of us know we fall short of. However before we fall into condemnation and are driven to do more good works to prove ourselves, we need to read the whole sermon on the mount, beginning to end and ask what was Jesus’ aim, who was He addressing and for what reason?

When seeking to understand this important sermon from the aspect of grace we see that Jesus’purpose was actually to call us to a dependence on Him, His holiness (1Cor.1:30), His righteousness (Matt.5:20) and His Spirit rather than to give us a list of seemingly impossibly high “do and don’t” to endeavor to live by in our own strength. Jesus is in fact teaching that the wonderful sentiments of this sermon can only be lived out as His Spirit and His grace empowers and free us to be His life on earth.

It is important for us to grasp this deeper and significant theme of the Sermon on the Mount least like the famous writer Leo Tolstoy (of ‘War and Peace’ fame)  we take the sermon simply to be a list of rules for good Christian living. Tolstoy thought this and in the early 20th century he built a movement solely around the teaching and laws of the  Beatitudes. This movement, like most Christianity based on laws, rules and regulations was doomed to failure because rule based living relies on acts of man’s will rather than the empowering and righteousness of the Spirit of Jesus within. The strength, will and obedience of man always falls short unless it is sourced in the grace and empowering of Jesus.

When looking at the Sermon on the Mount one of the critical truths is to recognize is that Jesus preached this sermon to Jews who were following Him as a Rabbi (a Jewish teacher), they did not yet know Him or recognize Him as Lord and Savior.  The context of the whole sermon is that Jesus was addressing the issue of righteousness – how we get right with God (Mat.5:20). He was expounding the very, very, high standard of righteous living expected of those under the Law of Moses who were seeking to be righteous through Law  keeping (Rom.9:31). Jesus was endevoring to being about a paradim shift as to what righteousness was and how it was attained.

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Jesus was clarifying that if we choose to live by laws and rules, the righteous behavior required by the Law must even exceed that of the strictest Pharisee. Jesus points out that these “righteous” Pharisees that lead Israel,were actually hypocrites (Mat.6:2) and  were in many instances breaking the commandments and teaching the others to do the same .  Jesus taught,  if anyone wants to be righteous enough for God based on the Law, it only works if you live perfectly and are perfect just like God …. like Him (Mat.5:38)….. think about that one.

Thank God that in the end of the sermon Jesus reminds us that the solution  is to seek first His kingdom and HIS righteousness. His righteousness is not based on our keeping the Law & our works but on the cross and His fulfillment of the Law (Rom.3.21-22). That’s the good news of the gospel of the grace of Christ – our righteousness is a gift from God, not something we work for.

Now some may think that I am are implying that we need to ignore the all the good and beautiful things in the Sermon on the Mount and the high standard of living it alludes to – no, I’m not!  But I am are saying don’t think that you can earn righteousness and God’s favor by trying to live out these things – you will never make the grade and ultimately you will fall into self righteousness and /or condemnation. That’s the point of the teaching to show us how we all fall short if we focus on the way we live instead of who we live by.  We live by the Spirit of Jesus within us and in this grace we find ourselves living righteously in a natural effortless way that is full of joy , love and a blessing to all around us, simply because of who we are in Christ and who He is in us (Gal.2:20).

It is good and desirable to bless our enemies, endure persecution as a blessing, never break any of the Law’s commandments, to forgive, reconcile, turn the other cheek, be perfect like God, to stop focusing on money, keep pure thoughts, not to get angry with others, to pray, give, stop worrying, fast,  not to swear, not to get divorced, to bear good fruit and not to judging others. I’m all for it  and I’m sure we all want to live like this, but if the truth be known we just so often fall short (Rom.7:19) –  try as much as we want!

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The good news is that righteousness is the root not the fruit of good works! We will find ourselves doing the things of the Sermon on the Mount once we have found Jesus’ righteousness, firmly established ourselves in it and realized that we are righteous not because of any  good works, obedience, self effort, will or trying. We are righteous purely because we have received the gift of Jesus righteousness (Rom.3:19-24)and for no other reason. Righteous living can only come about as a fruit of knowing that our righteousness is Jesus alone.

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It’s not just coincidence that after preaching all the heavy high standards of righteousness  to the Jews, Jesus next meeting is with an leper and a Roman gentile, both rejects according to the Jewish Law. Jesus responses radically to their faith, not by preaching but showing grace by healing. Amazingly he make that statement that he has never found such faith in the whole of Israel as he experienced in the Roman gentile “sinner” (Matt 8:1-10), could this amazing faith have come about because this Roman was not under Law and therefore faith could operate? The lesson is that it’s hard for those who choose to place themselves under law, rules, regulations and obedience based on self effort and will (the Jews in this case) to please God. However those under grace please God simply because of their trust and belief in His goodness and His Son. That’s what New Covenant living is all about – our dependence on Jesus and His Spirit within us.

Be blessed,
Garry
www.gracelovetruth.com
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Sharing the Bible with a Muslim

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Muslims are taught that the Bible is from God but that it has been corrupted over the years. They have to believe this because the Quran contains many Bible stories but the details differ a lot . Muslims believe that the Quran is the final holy book given to God’s final prophet Mohammed, and that it is without error. This is partly why it doesn’t work having long theological debates with Muslims as they just don’t believe in our source of authority, the Bible.
However, many Muslims have never actually been able to read a Bible as it is considered wrong and in some communities even dangerous to own one.
We believe in the power of the Word and therefore it can help Muslims if you challenge them to read a Bible for themselves, on line, or down load a bible app in their own language. They can then read it privately and compare it to what they read in the Quran. We have faith that the true Word of God, Jesus Christ, will be made clear and will bear fruit in every life.

Here is a Arabic bible app connection you can give them:
الكتاب المقدس by Faith Comes by Hearing – Bible.is  :  https://itunes.apple.com/za/app/alktab-almqds/id437422112?mt=8

It is only the grace and love of Jesus Christ that will set people free, this is our testimony and when we share our personal testimony of God’s grace and salvation, this is something no other person can deny and it is something that will always touch the most hardened heart even if it is not evident at the time.
Be blessed.
Garry

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