Giving Thanks for Given Grace

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus…” 1 Corinthians 1:4

Before Paul started to address the issues of the early Corinthian church, he deliberately and lovingly reminded the church in Corinth of a truth that perhaps has once again slipped through the cracks of our basic Christian foundation.

One of Paul’s first priorities was to let the believers in Corinth know that he was always thankful for the grace of God in their lives given to them by Christ Jesus.  Before he would address the issues that were present in the church, he wanted to remind them of the common ground that they shared found in the saving grace of God.

The common ground we have as true believers is that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  That grace is a gift given to us by God.  It is that blessing of saving grace, that common ground, that true believers share and like Paul, it should be a touchstone in our mind as we live and serve our risen Savior together.  As redeemed believers we share the truth of our salvation and we should thank God always for that truth.

Take time today to thank God for the joy, the blessing, and the truth of the grace of God given to us as believers in Christ Jesus. Then let other believers know that you are thankful for the grace of God that was given to them by Christ Jesus! Then go out and share the truth of the grace of God with someone else!

 

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The Death of Integrity

When did integrity die in our country? Was it a slow death? Or did we just wake up one day as a nation and decide that integrity had no social, personal, or moral value so we chose to discard it like most other consumable things we toss in this society?

When did the standard of being a person of integrity stop applying to those individuals who would seek to serve our country in government? Why does our nation tolerate individuals that serve or wish to serve in public office, when they demonstrate patterns of behavior such as dishonesty, misrepresentation, corruption, and fraud? Where is the personal integrity and where is the accountability from the people of the nation?

How is it that individuals like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and others in the political arena today can rise to such a high level of public favor in the polls when their official and unofficial behavior, their record of questionable decision making, and pattern of deliberate evasiveness is seen day after day, week after week?  Where is the personal integrity? Where is the professional integrity?

The actions and decisions of many public officials clearly demonstrate a lack of integrity and a self-preservation and self-satisfaction that will not be deterred. And yet our nation applauds these people and raises them to a position of honor and acclaim that is unparalleled.  Are these really the kinds of people that we as a nation want to have in a place of leadership? Do we really want them in charge of our nation’s finances? …Our nation’s military? …Our nation’s laws? …Our nation’s future as an international superpower?

A candidate’s positional support for programs, issues, and forms of leadership are borne out of their integrity. The moral standards in our country have devolved to a state of undefined personal preferences and relativistic self-centeredness and as a result the standard by which we hold government officials has been lowered to a similar level.  So it is not surprising that our elected officials demonstrate that same level of offense and deflection when called to give an account for their actions.

Could it be that by becoming a moral, social, and sexually relativistic and tolerant society that there is no room for integrity? Integrity in and of itself implies a standard…a measure of character that is worthy of achieving and that is held in high regard and sought after.  There are few standards in our society today, so it becomes a vote based on the “lesser of two evils”, rather than an election based on character, qualification, and integrity.

To take this train of thought a bit further, consider what has happened to our national integrity.  We are not united as a nation against the evil in this world because we are not united as a nation…PERIOD.  We no longer have a national integrity based on a common set of morals, values, and intentions. Frankly, “One nation” can no longer be our claim because in losing our individual integrity we have forsaken our national integrity.  Our national integrity was formed and evidenced in the integrity of our character as individuals which at one time not so long ago, was founded on the moral precepts found in Scripture.

In the Bible, in Psalm 7:8 it says “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.

Similarly, in scripture Proverbs 2:6-8 record these words “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

Integrity is honored by God. Integrity is highly esteemed by God. Just consider the record of the life of Job in the Bible and you will see that the only thing he had left and that he would “hold fast to”, when all else was stripped away from him, was his integrity.

So as you listen to and observe the actions the candidates, consider their integrity…is it above reproach? Don’t measure it against the world or even yourself, measure it against the standard of Scripture and then determine where they stand.  Perhaps the idea of separation of church and state is not such a foreign concept…but that is a blog for another day.

Compelled, Controlled & Consecrated

What is it in your life that not only compels you to do things, but also controls how you do them?  What is the ultimate “why” that is the reason for your doing things?  What is it in your life that governs the intent and purpose of your innermost being, your soul?

We might eat or drink to satisfy a natural need of hunger or thirst.  We might exercise to stay fit or lose weight.  We might study or read to increase our human understanding or seek entertainment.  But what is it that would drive you if all else was taken away, if those things were removed from your life.

Why do you “run the race”?  Why are “in training” for?  What is the “prize” you are seeking to win?

In his second letter to the church of God in Corinth, Paul writes in defense of his purpose, mission, calling, and passion.  In chapter 5 verses 14-15 he responds with these simple yet deeply powerful words to declare the “thing” which compels him, that controls him in all that he does.  He writes: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  cross logo 2

In the surrounding verses Paul explains what “the love of Christ” is.  It is his salvation.  It is all that Christ did for him.  It is the dual truth of Christ’s justifying work on the cross to make payment for the immeasurable weight and cost of Paul’s sin, and at the same time the imputation of Christ’s righteousness in his life.  It is the personal, real, immediate and eternal affect and effect of the Gospel in his life.

In the unmatched, undeserved light of the truth of the personal working of the Gospel in Paul’s life, he says that nothing else has preeminence in determining the code by which he will live, the prize to which he strives, and the standard of measure by which he is driven. It impacts the why, the what, and the how of his life.

In our lives we need to adopt a similar singularity in our hearts and minds. The love of Christ should compel, control, and consecrate all that we do, think, and say. With the love of Christ as our locus we are certain to stand before God and hear well done, good and faithful servant.