God's Grace

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God's Grace

GOD'S GRACE

By Maritza Rivera

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10 (NIV)

I recently had a conversation with someone on the topic of grace. Let’s face it, grace is a deep topic that many Christians fail to understand. We fail to understand grace and its function in our lives. We fail to dig into the scripture deeply enough to have a solid Biblical foundation on the topic, or at times we become utterly confused because so many ‘Christians‘ are using grace as an excuse to live sinfully. Below are a few points that arose from the conversation that will help clarify what grace is.

To dig deeper, we must first define grace…

Grace – The unmerited favor of God toward men. I like to say it is getting something that you don’t deserve. Much like a parent who randomly gives their child the greatest gift ever, or like a random stranger who gives you 10 million dollars even when you are rude, obnoxious, self-centered, etc.

However, grace is a pretty broad definition and it basically has two points. First, it draws us to salvation (turns us to Christ). Secondly, it keeps us in Christ (empowers us to turn away from sin). God created it to be two-fold because He not only wanted to gift you with salvation, but He wanted you to work out and be steadfast in your salvation.

So during the discussion on grace I had with this individual they asked a few questions…

QUESTION 1: If we are sinful beings and we invite Christ into our lives to transform us, is it wrong to give into sin and indulge in the sinful nature if we are moving toward holiness?”

Every Christian struggles to resolve the two issues of striving for holiness/sanctification and falling into sin. There is a Bible verse that has helped me truly grasp the function of grace in my life.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

This verse explains graces two-part form discussed above. So if we are truly allowing grace to function correctly in our lives we are not only receiving the gift of salvation through grace, but we are also empowered to say no to any ungodliness that tries to rise up in our walk in Christ.

So the answer is yes, when we knowingly sin it is wrong. When we do give into sin we are disregarding the sacrifice Jesus made and ignoring the Holy Spirit’s guidance towards holiness. If we aren’t saying no to ungodliness then we are not allowing grace to function in us as God intends, we are just taking the first part of the package and not the second. It’s like eating dessert but not the meal.

 

QUESTION 2: “So then, does grace have the ability to cover sins committed on purpose?”

The answer to this question is actually yes, but only if we follow through with asking God for forgiveness with sincere intentions of avoiding that sin in the future. When I read the scriptures it is clear that God expects us to avoid sinning at all costs.

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.  There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.” Hebrews 10:26-27 (NLT)

 

QUESTION 3: What about intentional sin or habitual sin?”

If we intentionally sin or habitually sin we insult the spirit of grace. It’s like getting a very expensive car as a gift from someone – a car that is not like any other. It is a collectable. It is priceless. You would take care of that car with utmost caution. But let’s say you don’t care for that car. Let’s say you refuse to change the oil, you drive over nails and sharp objects, you never wash it, and eventually you crash into objects. You are insulting the person who gave you that gift. If you really cared for the person who gave you that priceless gift, then you would care for the gift.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“ Eph. 2:8 (NIV)

“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” 1 John 2:3

“If anyone says, "I know Him," but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him:” 1 John 2:4-5

Finally, there are a few points that I use to determine sin in my own life:

1.       Is it something clearly defined by Scripture?

2.       Is it harming me spiritually?

3.       Is it causing others to stumble?

4.       Is it causing bondage in my life?

5.       Am I feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit?

These points help us figure out whether something we are doing is sinful. This is what the scripture is talking about when it says to ‘examine ourselves’ in 2 Cor. 13:5

But before I'm done, I want to clarify that we don’t need to overwhelm ourselves on the do’s and do not’s of our walk in Christ (although it is important to reflect daily), what we need to do is understand God’s goodness which is displayed through His grace. And, understanding His goodness towards us will compel and move us to have a deeper relationship with him – a relationship not based on rules, but based on love which keeps us from doing sinful things that are not part of His plan for us.

 

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What Makes a Good Leader?

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What Makes a Good Leader?

Personal Thoughts From Experience Being Under Ministerial Leadership for Over a Decade


When I joined in my church’s ministries I was around 15 years old. I helped out in various areas. At around the age of 17, I joined the church’s AV team. I came to learn so much. I already had musical experience and had a basic understanding of what instrument should be louder or lower, the song lyrics, etc. The AV and music ministry at my church is very well-organized and the team is well-disciplined and committed.

We still have the same leader that’s been there for about 18yrs — way before I ever arrived. I’ve come to learn and observe other leaders throughout the years and have met many ministry teams from other places. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am speaking from my point-of-view as being under leadership.

Here are just a few of my observations regarding what I feel makes a good leader:

 

1. A good leader doesn’t overwork you.

Our leader encourages to take vacations whenever possible. You need to have that time to be away with your family and rest. Getting away refreshes you. Once you’re back you will have renewed strength and fresh mind. It’s happened far too often where those in ministry have quit because they’ve been overworked and neglected their families.

 

2. A good leader encourages you.

The larger a team gets, the more a leader will deal with different personalities, characteristics, and issues. And with that can come times where some things may become out of order or require some things to be discussed. Despite any issues, a leader will lift you up, won’t look at your differently, and will be concerned about your well-being. A leader will speak truth in love and will magnify your strengths while setting the example himself or herself.

 

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

3. A good leader doesn’t prepare the path for you — a good leader prepares your heart for the path.

I like to think of life as a path. Many have walked through it and unexpected things happen along the way. A good leader will show you what the way is and what you can do should a certain situation arise. Once a leader has your heart, that’s when you can be able to receive the encouragement, rest, or advice you will need in times of triumph or adversity. Out of that, leaders create other leaders for the future.

 

4. Even good leaders need help, too.

I’ve come to notice that there needs to be trust. And if for some reason the leader can’t do a certain task for whatever reason, then someone else on the team can take over without fear and with confidence and know that all will be under control because the team has been well-trained and well-led.

 

These are just some of my personal observations from my own personal experiences and certain things can vary.

Many others may have different lists and opinions. I left out other points, but these points above are the ones that have stood out to me the most in my life. You can surely find them in various articles and blogs. I’m happy to say that I’m part of a great team under great people and leaders.

 

What do you consider good or great leadership?

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When Heaven Touches Earth

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When Heaven Touches Earth

As I dig deeper in the Word of God (The Bible), and read consistently, I’ve come to realize something. From the beginning of creation, God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit always wanted to have communion with mankind.

Because of sin, Our Father sends His Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross and to shed His blood to cleanse us from our sins. In that process, God restores mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus. Then, to ‘seal the deal’, God sends His Holy Spirit to live in us and to guide us every step of the way. WOW! What an amazing love the Father has for us.

When we talk about ‘heaven touching earth’, this is exactly what it means. God through His Spirit touches our lives, everyday, every hour, every moment, for the rest of our lives! All we have to do is be a vessel, desiring God’s Glory. Then we can experience that Glory.

His Glory is available. His Glory is much like His presence, yet it crosses the threshold of just being with God in His presence, to being intimate with God and experiencing His Glory. It’s a more intense level. His Glory will transform you, heal you, mold you, shape you in every way. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Allowing heaven (God the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) to touch earth (You) will cost you, meaning you will have to  separate yourself from this world and its desires. You have to be holy and ready to receive that Glory.

My friends, always remember God created you with purpose. His Glory is awaiting you. Be like Moses; ask God to show you His Glory. Be like Jacob; tell God you won’t leave until you get your blessing. Be like David; desire nothing else but God.

Remember, heaven wants to touch earth….and that (earth) is You.

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In Pursuit

The Biblical definition of the word ‘pursue’ is to follow; to go or proceed after or in a like direction. But the idea of pursuing God is far greater than simply finding God or having a moment in His presence. The idea of being IN PURSUIT of God is seeking Him, allowing Him to PERMEATE everything I once was, so that everything HE is becomes everything I am.

I was created to pursue God. As a matter of fact, my heart burns with a deep desire to passionately pursue God’s presence every moment of every waking day. It is an unyielding pursuit to know Him more and become like Him. And God is faithful when we choose to pursue Him, unlike the looming rejection of others we pursue in our lives. 2 Chronicles 7:14 - “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

"Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us". (A.W. Tozer) When we choose to abandon this world, to die to this world to pursue HIM by bowing to His presence, reading His book, communicating to Him, He rewards us with His manifest presence in our lives imparting the attributes of who He in us. He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair, joy for sadness, and healing for sickness. It is worth it to desert the things of life and this world all for the ONE who quenches my utmost thirst and hunger for Him.

Every day I get up I make a choice to pursue Him. I die daily in an effort to decrease myself so that He may increase. I die to my attitude, my flesh, and my desires because nothing I have can satisfy me. I found Him, but I still pursue Him. I love Him therefore, I am in deep pursuit of HIM. He loves me, so I am always pursuing Him. #dietolive #inpursuit

 

“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.”

― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

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Time to Rise Up

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Time to Rise Up

To rise up is defined as coming up to the surface; to stand up; to arise.

The days that we are currently living happen to be the best days of our lifetime. What we mean by that is that we are experiencing the biggest spiritual awakening ever. The Holy Spirit is pouring out a fresh anointing over His people (the church). We are living in the midst of a revival and it is amazing to partake of this blessing. God is calling His people (man, woman, young person, and child) to RISE UP and stand for Him. He is looking for people of conviction that do not waver and change their position, but instead move forward with the calling and purpose upon their lives.

Rising up? Yes, rising up to the task of taking the Gospel (Jesus) to a generation that is hurting. Yes, rising up with purpose to bind up the brokenhearted. Rising up to proclaim freedom to the captives. And,rising up to release from darkness the prisoners and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

Are you up for the challenge? It is not enough to look around at this culture and say to yourself, "They need Jesus." This world is crying out for people of conviction who will RISE UP above and from the spiritual mediocrity that has become the ordinary. This thinking makes us self-satisfied and unconcerned. But in the midst of the common, there is a generation ready to be mobilized into a cause and effect. ARE YOU ONE OF THEM? 
It's time to rise up.

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