Exploring Grace: The Divine Paradox

Exploring Grace: The Divine Paradox

By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

Think back to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Do you remember how the massive pile of rubble, molten steel and unrecognizable human remains became a focal point of terror’s evil? Remember President Bush ascending a rubble pile with a fireman, and with bullhorn in hand proclaiming for the world to hear our Nation’s resolve, our determination to bring to justice those who were responsible for that horrific attack? That section of destroyed land was referred to over and over again as “Ground Zero”.

What is a ground zero? It is a place of origin, an established point of beginning. Can you think of the “ground zero” moments in your own life? For the Child of God, the ultimate “ground zero” moment happened over 2,000 years ago on a hill called Mt. Calvary!

God is perfectly holy, and His justice demanded punishment for sin. The complete wrath of God was poured out against the rebellion of man, at the cross where Jesus suffered and died for OUR sins! It was there that the justice of God was satisfied through the Lord’s sinless sacrifice.

This is where we see the divine paradox of the cross. In that very moment, God unleashes His unbridled punishment of sin but He also reveals His greatest expression of love, mercy, and grace! (Romans 5:8) God the Father gave His Only Son to die so that we don’t have to… this is grace defined! Yet grace is further revealed in the reality that Jesus was not an unwilling sacrifice. He freely laid down His life to pay your death sentence and mine!

O, what a Savior! We are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb!

The ultimate Ground Zero: Jesus died once for all who will surrender to Him.

Pray that you might fully appreciate the divine paradox of grace and that we all might share the love of God everywhere we go.

Whose Path

Whose Path

By Mark Winchell of National Christian Counselors Association (reproduced with permission)

About 2 years ago, I was hiking down some trails here in Florida. While I was walking, God began to lay a vision out for me, one that greatly impacted my life and I pray will impact your life as well.

God showed me a pathway of large flat rocks and in order to start down this path, I had to wait for the next rock in front of me to flip over, before I could move ahead.

So I waited… and I waited for the rock to turn over, and when it finally did turn over, I saw that there was a word written on the rock and the word was “Faith”.

Well, I kept trying to move from my rock, and stand on the “Faith” rock, believing that this would allow me to move forward, but I was unable to move from the rock on which I was already standing, even though I thought I had great faith.

I was stuck…

…so I did what anyone else would do, right? I looked for another path to take because I didn’t want to be stuck there on that rock. Then in my vision – Oh look, there’s a book. My solution was to pick up this book and read it. Suddenly a path manifested to the right of me, which had many rocks already turned over.

“Great!”, I thought. I no longer had to wait for my next rock to flip. I had a path open to me and I followed all the steps in the book; I followed the revelations and the teachings and I prayed all the prayers and I moved right along this path all the way to the end. I was so excited that I had gotten this far, that is, until I heard God speak to me.

He said, “This is not YOUR PATH”.

I realized at this point that I was not only on the wrong path, but also very far from my rock, and the path that God had actually laid out for ME. You see, the path I had followed was someone else’s path, and it had everything they needed to walk in THEIR God-given calling, but it wasn’t mine.

I have to go back to my rock now.

“Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.”
[Proverbs 4:26 NASB]

God’s Tapestry View

God’s Tapestry View

By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)

‘The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”’
Genesis 12:1-3

Most, I’m sure, have heard the analogy that our lives are as tapestries. Viewing a tapestry on a wall, you may see a beautifully woven landscape of brilliantly intermingled color, intricate design and detailed order. And if it is displayed on the wall, it is likely completed. But, if you look at the back, you will find a different scenario. What you will see is a chaotic and jumbled mess of colored threads, hardly revealing the beautiful design just on the other side.

From above earth and above all the heavens, God sits on His mighty throne, and views our lives in a way that we can’t! He sees the finished product: what we will one day be! But from our viewpoint, we can only look up to see the other side; the countless threads of uncertainty, fear, pain and sometimes despair. We see threads, He (God) sees the tapestry! (Do yourself a favor and look up the song “Threads” written by my good friend, Eric Childers. It will bless you.)

Now concerning the context of the scripture you just read: Abram saw through his “Abram eyes.” BUT GOD saw him as Abraham, the Father of Nations — who he would one day be! Abraham was a man of character and a servant of the Almighty Father. Over time, God molded Abraham into what he became: a man who trusted God no matter what.

What about us? As you view your life and circumstance, remember that you are seeing the back side of the tapestry. But God sees you through His Son’s blood – painted, finished and a beautiful masterpiece of a tapestry. And HE calls you forgiven, redeemed, sanctified, and glorified!!

Trust God’s “Tapestry View” and don’t fear the uncertainty of the jumbled perspective we have. God’s got this!!

More Than A Conqueror

More Than A Conqueror

By Mark Winchell (reproduced with permission)

Recently, while I was sitting by the pond near our office, the Lord ministered to me again. He knew exactly what I needed. You see, I have not been feeling particularly victorious lately, and He reminded me once again, that I am “more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus”.

Romans 8:35-37 says, ”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

I have used, quoted, declared and shouted this verse many times in distress (even in traffic) to reaffirm to myself who I am! This powerful Word would relieve the momentary anguish and give me the strength to carry on.

Recently though, I’ve found it’s been harder and harder to grip the absolute truth of this Word – to know I’m victorious and declare it. Well, as I’m still sitting by the pond, Holy Spirit nudges me and tells me again. He says, “You are more than a Conqueror in Christ Jesus!” So I say, “I already know this!”

Then, despite my reluctance, He goes on to say something really cool, “Conquerors suppress and oppress those who oppose them.” The reason the Lord says, “More than a conqueror “ is because you are a destroyer in Christ Jesus!

1 John 3:8 says, ”The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”

This word put fire back in me, the Armor of God back on me, and the Sword of the Spirit firmly in my hands, because in the Name of Jesus I can destroy the works of the devil!

So, we shouldn’t be afraid or intimidated by the world if we truly know and believe this truth!

“For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:4-5

So be more.

Where Are You?

Where Are You?

By Jane Horvath

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

My love of cop shows started when I was 10 years old. The television program name was Car 54, Where Are You? It was a comedy that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The story was about two NYC police officers based in the 53rd precinct of the Bronx. Car 54 was their patrol car. As a child, it was funny to me that no one ever seemed to know where the officers were located. The radio was constantly heard broadcasting, “Car 54, where are you?”

In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to Adam and Eve. He asks them, “Where are you?” Unfortunately, it is not funny in this instance. It is tragic, but also full of grace. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were when He asked. They were hiding from God as a result of deception and disobedience. That is the tragic part. God was calling out to them. He was offering them a chance to confess. The confession of their sin would re-establish the relationship with Him and remove their shame. That is grace.

When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances, God wants to know where we are in our heads and our hearts. He wants to know if we are being deceived by the enemy or trusting in His plan for our lives. We need to be sure we are not hiding in shame and blame. Call out to Him and let Him know exactly where you are. He will meet you where you are. Learn to hide in His shelter, safe from the enemy (Psalm 27:5-6).

Today, God is asking, “Where are you?” He is not asking for a physical address, He wants to know where we are in relationship to Him. He is giving us the opportunity, seasoned with grace, to confess our sins without condemnation (Romans 8:1). He’s providing a chance at forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Give Him the answer to this question every moment of every day.

Staying Connected to God

Staying Connected to God

By Anonymous Contributor

“Life happens.” It’s a very familiar phrase and yet, so true. Our lives in this day and time are so busy with family, friends, school, work, hobbies, sports, social media… the list could go on forever. With all of this on our plates, it can be difficult to take the time necessary to nurture our walk with the Lord. So how do we stay connected to God and keep our eyes on Christ when life is constantly changing and challenging us?

For a moment, consider how storms on Earth can affect nature: they can be devastating, and at times, they can consume everything in their paths, with no exceptions. They present challenges for all that face them. But ultimately, they bring change to the landscape of the Earth. It is from that devastation that nature perseveres and becomes stronger in order to survive future storms. Isn’t this why God allows storms to happen in our lives? He uses the challenges of life to change the landscape of our sinful nature. Through this process, He purifies our hearts, minds, and souls.

I recently heard someone say that our lives are like chapters, with Jesus Christ as the author. This really shook me. It changed my perspective of how we are to react to challenging circumstances. Our knee-jerk reaction as humans is to stress over the least little thing that doesn’t go as planned. We get upset when our expectations aren’t met. I’m certainly guilty of this, as I have looked at past storms in my life as a hindrance. But, everything changed when I realized that those storms were part of the chapters that Jesus wrote. If Jesus is the author, and all that He allows in our lives is for our good, then we should embrace the storms as His way of doing a work in us. His work in us can ultimately bring glory to His name.

At times, staying connected to God can seem especially difficult when facing the “storms” of life. Let’s look at three ways we can stay connected with God and keep our eyes focused on Christ in spite of the situations we may face.

1. Daily crucify our flesh. We can start by crucifying our flesh daily. We have to put God’s will above our own, especially when facing challenges. When we do this, we are submitting to the work that He is doing in and through us and accepting the change that He is bringing into our lives. This can be extremely difficult when our will conflicts with His. But remember, He only wants what’s best for us and He knows the path before us because He is writing that next chapter.

2. Constant communication with God. Staying in constant communication with God is key to surviving the storm. We have to hold every thought captive before God and ask this simple question: Does this bring glory to His name? If the answer is no, then that thought has to be discarded. We can’t hold on to our own thoughts and ideals; we have to make room in our hearts and minds for Him to work through us for His glory. God longs for us to spend time with Him. By holding our thoughts captive before Him, we are allowing Him to speak to every aspect of our lives. Then, even in the simplest things, we can hear His voice directing us.

3. Praying and reading God’s Word. Need I say more? When I say prayer, I’m not talking about the little prayers we say in the moment or blessing the food on our tables. I’m talking about deep meditation and time spent pleading with God, laying the concerns of our hearts before Him, and listening for His voice. Remember, He cares deeply about the things that concern us and wants only what is best for us. (Can you see the recurring theme here?) And when it comes to the Bible, I’m talking about really consuming God’s Word, not just getting a daily verse notification from your favorite Bible app. God’s Word is alive and well and when we spend time reading His Word with the intent of applying what we learn to our daily lives, we will see Him working through us and all around us!

When the storms of life bring challenges and change, we have a choice to make. We can try to run from it and not accept what God has planned for our lives, or we can run directly into the eye of the storm, knowing God is about to do something great in our lives. Yes, the storm may cause us distress, uncertainty, and even pain, but God has a plan for our lives that is meant only for our good!

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 AMP