Stories of Grace…

I’ve heard it before: “You are a trophy of God’s grace.” I probably heard that first from Max Lucado, who has written more prolifically about grace than any author in the late-20th/early 21st centuries. But despite reading virtually all of his books, and reveling in their message, I still — somehow — missed it. I missed the real message of grace.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve experienced the amazing grace of God in the forgiveness of my sins. I’ve experienced astounding, restorative grace, after committing adultery in an earlier marriage. I’ve known what it is to fail and to be restored. I know what it is to be a sinner and be forgiven. But somehow I missed the freedom in Christ that comes along with that kind of grace.

It was not until I left my church of fifteen years that I discovered the freedom and liberty that Jesus (and centuries before, the prophet Isaiah) proclaims:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom
for the prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19, NIV)

It is the Good News that says that once and for all, “it is finished.”

Because of The Cross and all Jesus accomplished and fulfilled there…

I can be weak, because He was strong.
I can fail, because He was (and is) victorious.
I can quit striving, because all the work is done.

It is finished. Done. Fulfilled. Complete.

We are trophies of God’s grace, but somehow, we don’t live like it. We don’t act like it. There is something missing. The freedom isn’t there. The joy isn’t there. We continue to strive. The oppressed still carry burdens we weren’t meant to carry. The prisoners haven’t been set free.

But there is more. Listen to a story of freedom in Christ from “Nathan & Kandace”…

http://subspla.sh/LgHCPZ

Have you heard the Good News? I mean, REALLY heard it?

Rediscovering

It’s hard to watch the news nowadays. In fact, news is something that is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, for my generation, it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, it was three networks broadcasting at 6:30 PM, and for me, it’s still that way… mainly because I can’t take much more than that.

The news is so full of tragedies and illnesses and sickness and murder and strife and war that it’s hard to watch. It’s not that I stick my head in the sand; I just can’t be a news junkie who has a news channel playing in the background all day long. To me, it’s somewhat of a poison. I believe in “garbage-in/garbage-out”. The more bad stuff you take in via the eyes and ears, the more poisoned your life becomes. That’s probably just me.

But if you notice all the national networks end their news broadcasts with the feel-good story. They end their news with an upbeat message about someone or something that is good. Because, let’s face it, good news is easier to hear or watch than bad news.

The Good News of the Gospel is just that: it’s good news. That’s what the word “gospel” means. But it’s not just good news for those who find God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness for the first time. It’s good news every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year for everyone.

It’s good news for you and good news for your family. It’s good news for your spouse and your children. It’s good news for everyone around you. It’s good news for the rich. It’s good news for the poor. It’s good news for the destitute. It’s good news for the affluent. It’s good news for the educated. It’s good news for those that can’t even read. It’s good news. Period.

And here’s why: It is finished. (John 19:30) The work has been done. The requirements of a holy and just have been met by His own sacrifice: the Lamb of God, Jesus, slain for our sins. One sacrifice for all. Once and for all.

There’s no more work to do to satisfy God’s requirements. He has redeemed us Himself! What love! It truly is amazing. If you just get that thought deep enough within you, there’s no need to read further.

The Gospel needs to be rediscovered. You and I need to get its liberating truths deep down within us. It’s truths can truly set the captives free, and you and I are still captives. We are captives of all the false narratives that we’ve been taught over the years. Things like:

“You’re not quite good enough to cut it.”
“You need to just try harder. Re-double your efforts.”
“It’s time to suck it up. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.”
“I’ve got to look out for myself. No one else will.”
“Winning is everything.”
“If I perform well enough, I’ll be loved and valued.”
And there are so many more.

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian says:

“Rediscovering the Gospel enabled me to see that:

Because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak.
Because Jesus won, I was free to lose.
Because Jesus was someone, I was free to be no one.
Because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary.
Because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail.”

This is the kind of news that needs to be heard from every pulpit on every Sunday. Jesus came to proclaim the Good News. To set the prisoner free. For the poor, for the captive, for those grieving, for the blind and for the oppressed. For you and me.

It is finished. It has been completed. The work has been done.

I can rest in that freedom. I can live.

Good News indeed.