Galatians 2:21 Dead In Vain?

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We could preach a thousand sermons on this verse and never exhaust the glory of its truth -

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:21

In brief -

I shall not frustrate (set aside) grace (the teaching of it, the living in it, or the rejoicing about it)

for, it righteousness (right-standing, forgiveness, salvation)

come by the law (my obedience, my ability, my goodness as measured against another, my attention to detail, my religious affiliation)

then Christ is dead (crucified) in vain (for nothing, for no purpose, for no reason).

Bottom line – God had a perfect law – and a world filled with broken, imperfect people. So, he gave his perfect Son – that He might redeem and reconcile those people to Himself. He does so, not based on the goodness of those people – but based on the Goodness of that One Person, Jesus.

If we could have been made right with God by keeping any law – any form of it, any interpretation of it, any rabbinical application of it, any religious permutation of it – then Jesus would not have died. In fact, His death would have been foolish – because He would have done something for us that we could have done for ourselves.

He entered into our broken circumstances – and took upon Himself our sin, our separation, our guilt, our pride, our foolishness, our ignorance, our brokenness – and He died (for us… as us?)

This is grace. This is love-that-has-no-bounds. This is oceans of mercy and rivers of peace. This is awesome, period. This is God.

But… Why? So that we could then, post-salvation, having believed this truth, saddle ourselves with MORE law-keeping, more religion, more stuff-to-make-God-happy-so-He-won’t-get-me? Heaven forbid!

We are to live FREE – both from religion AND sin. We are to recognize, rightly, the harmful things in this world – but we do so with a “sound mind” – and not a “timid heart”. We walk as sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. We have His heart – and He holds our future. We live by the Spirit – and we walk by the Spirit – heirs of eternity – forgiven, graced with mercy, alive… and well!

Family Bible Time – Ephesians 2:8 And Grace

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Today was the first day of school for our crew – which made it a perfect re-starting point for our Family Bible Time.  We have 3 kids – ages 6 to 14 – so I have created some simple, easy-to-adapt, Bible lessons for our family.  I thought I’d share them here, in hopes that they might be beneficial to others.

Before we began, I made sure each child had paper, a pencil, and a Bible.  In addition, we had the computer on hand to look up words – and a couple of Bible commentaries for the older two.  Our kids like to jot down a few notes – and the littlest one likes to draw while we talk.

We started our time together by asking our youngest daughter to read Ephesians 2:8.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. – Ephesians 2:8 HCSB

All three kids used the same version of the Bible, and the older 2 helped the youngest with the longer words.

We then circled the main words in the first part of the verse.  Our pace is deliberate, because we are both studying and learning how to study each text.

They selected and circled: grace – saved – and faith

Awesome!

So, were were off.  We used the computer and Blue Letter Bible look up the meaning of the word grace.

This was a great chance to teach the older two about how to use a concordance.  By the way, grace is Strong’s G5485charis.

Side Note: I was able to discuss (briefly) the fact that the Bible was written in another language and has been translated into our modern languages.  Often, during Family Bible Time, I’ll jot down notes, to remind myself to talk to the kids about a particular topic, on another day.  That happened tonight two or three times.

Back to the study -

Our oldest daughter looked up Ephesians 2:8 in one of the commentaries and our son looked up grace in the Bible dictionary.

Our oldest read the commentary – slowly – and we discussed grace – and what it means.  Likewise, my son read the definition from the dictionary.  (During this time, our youngest, who is 6, was drawing a picture of Jesus and writing down the words grace, saved, and faith.  More on that, in a bit.)

Eventually, we decided to write out a definition for grace, using the information we had gathered.  Here’s what the kids came up with -

GraceGod’s beautiful love for us, that we do not have to earn, and cannot lose.

Pretty cool, I think.  They really liked that one of the definitions for the word used the words beautiful and lovely, so they wanted a bit of that flavor in our definition.

Now, here’s the kicker.  Our youngest, who had been listening, drawing, reading ahead, and acting a little disinterested, came up with this gem, just as we were finishing our discussion.

Me:  So, what do you think it means when it reads “by grace you are saved…”

Her:  It means, He saves us, simply because He loves us! (followed by a fist pump)

Man, I love me some Family Bible Time.  Blessings. -Jason

Final notes:  Tonight’s Family Bible Time lasted, oh, 20 minutes or so.  The kids enjoyed it – and asked great questions.  I like focusing on one or two words (or ideas) at a time.  There’s no need to overwhelm – we have all of eternity to figure this stuff out!  :)

Thoughts On Galatians 1:3-5

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Check out Galatians 1:3-5

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.
All glory to God forever and ever! Amen. (NLT)

Often, when I think about salvation, I think in terms of “sin and forgiveness”.  I can understand, in a legal sense, the “transaction” of the cross – the righteous for the unrighteous.

Paul, here, is pointing out something else (something bigger?).

Jesus was on a rescue mission.

His purpose was the rescue of my soul, my life, my future – of me.  And you.

Jesus and my sin met, on a cross, two thousand years ago.  With unflinching determination and fixed purpose, in those three dark hours and during those three dark days, He dealt with my sin, in its totality.

He finished the work of redemption. Period.  Then He arose.

Jesus is interested – in me.  So He did the thing that I could not do – and by His own sacrifice – by His own power – and because of His great love – He rescued me.

This was the Father’s will – my rescue and His Son’s glory – forever.

Amen.

Thoughts on Colossians 2:9-10

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You have to love the KJV wording of these two awesome verses.  Check it -

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power

I’m no Bible-translator, nor do I play one on the internet – but I do love to think about awesome truths when I see them.

Jesus Christ is fully-God.  All that God is, Jesus is.  He is THE revelation of God, about God, to us – in a body.  The character, nature, heart, purpose, mind, and glory of God – the “whole fulness of deity” – lives in Jesus.

Wow.

Now, check this next part.  We are “complete” in Him.  We “have been filled” in Him.  This Jesus, who is above all other powers and more perfect than any other authority – He has declared us, caused us to be, and made us by His death-conquering love, “complete”.  He has released us from our sin, saved us from our death, and blessed us with His life.  He is ours.  We are His.

At a minimum, this verse is stating that we are, at present, in this moment, at this time, right now – complete in Jesus.  There is nothing wanting, lacking, or missing.

That’s grace upon grace.

We can now stop searching for acceptance, based on our own performance, and simply live out of the acceptance, in Christ, that we already have.  Jesus isn’t worried that He might, someday, become “less” like God – and we shouldn’t worry that we might, someday, become “less” accepted by God.

We should trust God, take Him at His word, and live out of the grace-life He has given us.

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Be blessed.

Thoughts On Ephesians 3:8

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I have always been fascinated with Ephesians 3:8

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (KJV)

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. (NLT)
Here’s Paul – PAUL – and He uses the phrase “less than the least of all saints” to describe… himself!
Let that sink in.
Paul wrote half of the New Testament.  Paul carried the message of Jesus throughout the Roman empire.  Paul was beaten, stoned, and left for dead.  Paul went to prison.  Paul was THE man.
Yet, Paul maintained a spirit of real humility.
How is this possible?  When comparing himself to others, no doubt, Paul could have pulled the “do you know who I am?” card.
Instead, he imitated Christ, becoming of “no reputation” and chose to serve, rather than to be served.
Paul’s motivation – I think it was his sole (soul?) motivation?
It was grace.
He spent his life – preaching it, living it, giving it, sharing it – because He had received it!
No matter the situation, or the time in his life, or the reason for any particular letter, Paul always focused on the grace of God.
Sure, he had to write about other topics, settle a few disputes, correct a few errors – but he always circled around to the “main thing” – grace.
I love this verse.  It’s so cool.
Paul, once a Pharisee, enamored with the law, steeped in tradition, and filled with hate – is saved by grace.  Then God allows Paul the great privilege – to share that same grace – with the world!
Wow!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
If you enjoyed this post, please use the social media buttons below to share with your friends and followers.  Also, if you shop at Amazon, please do so through the The Grace Station Amazon Page. When you do so, Amazon kicks a small amount my way (without charging you anything extra) and that helps me keep The Grace Station up and running.  Thanks so much!  Be blessed.

Thoughts On 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

I love this passage of scripture.  Check it out.  First in the KJV and then in the NLT.

15. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

16. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

17. Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

15. With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.

16. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope,

17. comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

First, Paul reminds them to focus on the teaching that they had received, both in person and in writing, from him.  It is extremely for the believer that we take the time to receive sound teaching – and that we retain what we have been taught.  This takes discipline and practice, but the rewards are manifold!  The word “traditions” in verse 15 has the idea of “that which we gave to you, with purpose, through our teaching, because it mattered”.  Awesome stuff.

Second, Paul, as he always seems to do, reminds them of the eternal goodness of God’s grace – and the hope that all believers have.  He knew that his readers would face days, weeks, months, even years – waiting upon God, learning of him, and dealing with life’s realities and struggles.  He reminds them – God is with you.  He loves you.  He has grace for you.  He is your Father.  Jesus is your Lord.  You possess comfort and hope because of His authority and His grace.

Finally, Paul teaches that God will comfort (come along with us) – and empower us for every good thing we are to say or do.  Notice the progression, in verse 17.  First, these good things are in our hearts, and then in our words, and then in our works.  We must believe and trust Him – and then go about speaking and doing the things that are beneficial (intrinsically so) for our families, friends, and others.

Focusing on sound teaching (doctrine) will lead us to be stable – and will promote good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.  We are His workmanship, created for such!

Thoughts On Mark 1:40-42

A few thoughts on Mark 1:40-42

40. A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

41. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”

42. Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

This event occurs rather early in Jesus’ ministry. Leprosy is a painful and debilitating disease. Those with it were isolated and “unclean”. Apparently, this man had heard of Jesus – and decided to take a chance, cross the street – and ask (beg) Jesus to heal him.

Verse 41 states that Jesus was – moved with compassion. And then Jesus does something: He reaches out and touches the man. Rather than turn away from the one who was unclean, Jesus, filled with mercy and love, cares for him.

The same is true, now, for those who come to Jesus. By his grace – his unfailing love – Jesus forgives all who come to Him in faith. Beyond mere physical healing, Jesus heals us spiritually, replacing our broken and lifeless spirit with His glorious and eternal Life. He unites Himself with us – never to leave, never to forsake.

If we ever doubt his compassion – remember those hands – reaching out to touch the man condemned by leprosy – and then see those same hands, stretched out on a cross – reaching out to touch a world condemned by sin.

Side note – This was our family Bible study tonight. When I asked my son, what does “compassion” mean, he thought for a moment and answered, “a love that’s never failing”. I asked where he learned that definition – and he said that he learned it from one of the songs we sing in church – Mighty To Save:

Everyone needs compassion,
Love that’s never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.

-Jason

Free Children’s Church Lesson For Christmas

The following can be used for Children’s Church / Small Group / Sunday School

Let’s talk a little bit about Jesus.

Jesus has always existed – there’s a word for this – Jesus is ETERNAL.

However, to show us how much he loves us, and so that we could better understand Him, Jesus became a man – and was born – just like each of you.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas – the birth of Jesus.

Jesus was not born in a hospital like you were, he was born in a manger.

A manger is a small cave or barn, where animals (sheep, goats, donkeys) lived.

His parents were Mary and Joseph – but you may have already known that.  What you may not have known is that Jesus was born – to save the world!

God loves people – He loves you, your parents, your friends, your classmates, even people that you don’t know!  He loves them all. So, He sent Jesus – His one and only Son – to show people just how much He loves them.

As He grew up, Jesus read the scriptures (what we now call the Bible) – and He was even able to teach grown ups a thing-or-two about what the scriptures really meant.  He helped people, healed people, cared for people, listened to people, encouraged people, and taught people.  Jesus was – and is – awesome!

Jesus lived a perfect life – and He demonstrated God’s perfect love for us.  You can trust Jesus – to be your friend, your teacher, your helper, and your Lord.  (Lord is an awesome word – it means “one who directs and instructs”.)

When Jesus was born, God sent angels (special messengers) to spread the “good news”.  The angels went to shepherds, who were taking caring of sheep, and the angels told the shepherds that “Jesus had been born”.  The shepherds were so excited – they left their sheep – and found Jesus and his family.  Then, after spending time with Him, they went to all of their friends, telling them about Jesus.

Once we hear about Jesus – and spend some time getting to know Him and about Him – we can then share what we know with our friends.  Knowing Jesus is awesome – and so is telling others about Him!

Feel free to print this article and use it as a guide for teaching others about grace.

I Will Rescue You For My Sake

Isaiah 48:11 is an incredible verse -

I will rescue you for my sake—

yes, for my own sake!

I will not let my reputation be tarnished,

and I will not share my glory with idols!

This comes after a section where God tells Israel that He has chosen them, even though they are “stubborn” and “obstinate”, with “necks as unbending as iron” and “heads as hard as bronze”.

He did not save them because they were obedient. Indeed, he saved them, knowing full well that they wouldn’t be obedient. Why? He’s a God of grace. And He declares – “I will rescue for my sake – yes, for my own sake!” Salvation, by definition, is for those who need “saving”.

Like many, the people of Israel had begun to trust in “things” – idols, money, their heritage, their religious-sounding prayers, etc. God steps in, and makes things very clear. They will not be saved, nor were they saved, because of their “things”. They will be saved, by Him – and for His own glory.

Understanding Grace

I can remember, quite distinctly, the first time someone defined the word grace for me.  I was helping to paint one of the classrooms in the back of our old church – a light gray, if memory serves.  I was twelve years old.

My Sunday School teacher, who was leading the painting efforts, described grace as God’s unmerited favor.

I was a pretty bright kid, so I understood what the words unmerited and favor meant – kinda.  I stashed the definition away, ready for the next discussion at youth group or Sunday School.

As with many spiritual things, knowing a definition and understanding a truth are two, entirely different matters.

The definition was important.  The understanding was life-changing.

God loves you.

At it’s core, that’s what grace is – the love of God.  It’s a spectacular kind of love.  Demonstrated on the cross and revealed through the Gospel, grace is a radical truth flowing from the heart of a radical God.

The reality is, our God is a God of relationships – real relationships, with real people.  Religion, despite some good intentions, usually erects more barriers to relationship than it builds bridges.  God is not interested in formulaic prayers, ritualized worship, or choreographed services.  God is interested in people – individual people.  People like you.  People like me.

Once the light goes on – it stays on.

Once you encounter and understand real grace – the unchanging, eternal, forgiving, merciful, beautiful, challenging, grace of God – you are never the same.

The Grace Station exists to encourage you to learn more about God’s grace.

And the Word (Jesus) became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

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