All that truly counts in your heart and then comes out of you looking really good and beautiful is produced as a grace of knowing that God in Christ has justified you, which means He has made you authentically and genuinely good, and that He has given you His righteousness, holiness, redemption, sanctification, and every blessing, because Jesus earned entirely everything for you for entirely nothing from you. In Him you have been given every blessing already for free. That’s going to affect you, and that is His plan!
As you well know, the world considers many people to be "recovering alcoholics," or "recovering anorexics," or "recovering sexual offenders," or "recovering compulsive gamblers." Hidden in these labels are assumptions—"ingredients"—based on lies, fear, greed and the desire for control. If we were to require full disclosure in conjunction with the use of such labels, we would hear and see statements such as ...
When I was in seminary a professor challenged the account of the woman taken in adultery by saying that the Pharisees would not have hesitated to pick up the first stone. Because of their adherence to the law, he said, they considered themselves to be good enough and they certainly would have been bold enough to stone the woman. But, when Jesus said for the one who is without sin to cast the first stone, they all walked away. The professor believed that indicated that the passage was a later addition to the true text.
It is not a very nice thing to say, but just between you and me, does it seem that God is two-faced? A bundle of contradictions? When the subject of God’s identity comes up, conflicting traits are attributed to Him with straight faces, nods of consent, and few questions. But the issue remains: Is God merciful or is He just? Loving or wrathful? Forgiving or vengeful? Holy or understanding? Is He jealous or is He longsuffering?
If you are at all familiar with legalistic doctrine and practices you would know that it was all about do’s and don’ts. Nobody said so but looking back I am inclined to think that the Pharisees must have been our primary role models. As with legalists the Pharisees’ primary concern was the exacting details of personal behavior.
Can you determine whether or not God is pleased with you by evaluating the circumstances around you? If so, then God is pleased and blesses you when circumstances are suitable, and pleasant, and to your liking. On the other hand, if you are in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day - or week, or season - then God is not pleased with you.
Some time ago I was having a conversation with a lady in our community about current events. She shared with me how fearful she was concerning the economy, and was wondering if she would be able to provide for herself. I asked her what she thought the solution to the problem might be. She replied, "well I’m a Christian and I think that the only hope is in Christianity".
One of the great treasures we have is the book, The Saving Life of Christ by Major Ian Thomas. This incredible man has founded Torchbearers centers around the world. In Estes Park, Colorado, for example, there is Ravencrest. Young men and women from throughout the world attend these schools for the purpose of being discipled by one of the Major’s leadership teams.