Tag: Jesus

Marvelous Grace

On our way out of town for vacation, Julie and I took the kids on a slight detour past our first apartment in Knoxville, TN. It was the first time we had been there since we left in a Penske truck back in 2008. It looked just like we remember it. 

We then drove the winding road back towards the highway, a road I traveled quite a bit for classes, work, and church. We drove up the hill where I spun out the winter of my freshman year. I hadn’t learned how to drive in the snow yet. We drove past neighborhoods where our friends used to live, places we used to eat, and stores we used to shop at. Finally, we drove past the college and church I attended for close to four years.

With memories flooding back of the different places and people from those years in Tennessee, there is one word that explains how thankful I am for this short time in my life: grace.

Those four years were quite difficult to say the least. Everyday I fought the legalistic posture of my heart. I was working so hard to please God. I tried doing everything right and still didn’t feel like it was enough. I couldn’t keep the rules of the school the way they were intended to be kept. I was often scrutinized, questioned, and ridiculed. After an accidental rule breaking, I was asked a question that I didn’t have an answer to at the time: “What would Jesus think of you right now?” 

“He’d think I was a failure”, is how I wanted to answer. But I didn’t. I didn’t know at the time how much Jesus truly loved me. It was around this time I realized I was never going to be able to do enough to be good. I was never going to be good enough. I was never going to be righteous. 

Legalism is a deadly weight. It devalues the finished work of Jesus and elevates our filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It is an unbearable task to earn any favor with God. There is nothing we can do to earn the righteousness of Jesus. No matter how often we keep the rules, no matter how “good” we are, no matter how churchy we appear, legalism is a lie from the pit of hell. Legalism continues to yell, “Do more! Do more! Do more!” while Jesus lovingly declares, “It is finished!”

It had been close to 10 years since I had placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of my sins, but in the Rocky Mountains of Tennessee, I learned and came to appreciate the grace of Jesus. While I was never going to be able to do enough to be good enough, Jesus did. While I was never going to be righteous, Jesus was and now through His grace, His righteousness covers me (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are so underserving of the grace of Jesus. His grace is truly marvelous.

The good news of Jesus reminds us that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. It is faith that pleases the Father (Hebrews 11:6), faith in His Son, Jesus. While our natural tendency given to us from Adam (Genesis 3) is to cover ourselves, there is freedom in knowing that we can’t. Our sin covering, our standing before God, only comes from the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Our joy comes from the victory we have through His resurrection. And none of this was deserving. When we fell short of God’s standard of righteousness, Jesus measured up (Romans 3:23). It is all because of grace. 

As the old hymn says, 

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Yonder on calvary’s mount out-poured, there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!”

If I were to be asked the question again, “What would Jesus think of you right now?” I’d respond with great joy, “He loves me as His own, not for what I have done, but for all that He has graciously done for me”. And it is this grace of Jesus that frees us to live in obedience to all his commands.

What our kids need to know.

“Dad knows everything”. That was my dad’s response to me and my siblings almost anytime he said something impressive. We would be sitting at a red light and somehow, Dad had this incredible ability to know exactly when the light would turn green. He’d count down and say “green” right when it turned and we would, in awe, say “How did you know that?!”

“Dad knows everything”.

I don’t know how long it took for me to realize it was all a schtick and my dad was just watching the crossing sign countdown, but nevertheless, eventually I learned my dad actually didn’t know everything. And now as a dad, I find myself playing the same game at red lights with my kids and giving the same answer when they (for now) are shocked, “Dad knows everything”. Soon, they’ll realize I don’t know everything. Soon they realize that I’m not perfect. And that’s okay. 

While we as parents don’t know everything, there are certain things we do know and we should desire to teach these truths with certainty to our kids. And we should want them to know them deep within their souls. 

 

They need to know how much Jesus loves them.

There is no greater truth than the message of the gospel. The life changing power of Jesus Christ and Him crucified is what I long for my kids to know. I want them to know that they are sinners and God sent His only Son to this earth to die for them, conquer death for them, and to give them eternal life. (John 3:16)

Taking every opportunity to share the gospel message with our kids demonstrates the importance of the message. We share with them this gospel message because it is real to us. We’ve been covered by the blood of Jesus and our sins have been forgiven. This incredible reality is what we long to see in our kids. 

We tell them how much Jesus loves them. Jesus loves our kids so much He gave His life for them. Jesus loves our kids so much that He took on their sin so He could place His righteousness on them. No matter how much we love our kids, Jesus loves them more. Only Jesus can give them eternal life and I want them to know it. 

 

They need to know how much we love them.

While I teach them that Jesus loves them more than I do, I’m going to demonstrate that through loving them like no one else on this earth. Both of my kids are uniquely made by a powerful Creator (Psalm 139:14). They have different personalities and different interests. Loving them means knowing them. It means knowing their little hearts, ambitions, interests, and fears. Loving them means often doing things that are of no interest to me but I know will make their day.

Loving our kids means we take the time to teach them the truths of the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Family discipleship is the responsibility of the parent. The church is to come alongside the family and help, but at the end of the day, we as parents are to be intentional in making disciples within our homes. We take time throughout the day to point our kids to Jesus. We take moments in the car, at the park, and getting ready for bed as opportunities to teach our kids the goodness of our God. What great privilege then to teach our kids about God! As one pastor said, “The greatest contribution we make may not be something we do, but someone we raise”.

Loving our kids also means there are good and necessary times to tell them no and to stick with it. Parenting is hard work and the good work means we have to do the hard work. That often means sticking with our no’s (Matthew 5:37). God has placed our children into our care and we are to steward that responsibility well. We are to love them in such a way that that brings them up to know the Lord (Proverbs 22:6) and at times it requires a stern voice that knows what is best for them.

 

They need to know that following Jesus in all things is absolutely worth it.

As we have recently learned from our sermon series in Ecclesiastes everything in this world is empty and meaningless and not worth holding on to. There is far more to this life than money and materials and entertainment and status. Yet, we must be careful that we are not raising our kids to find their joy and satisfaction in these pleasures. 

Jesus promised to us a life and life abundantly (John 10:10). It may not be filled with wealth or a nice home or even good health, but a life with Him is far better than a life without. The joy and satisfaction that they will grow up to search for can only be found in Jesus. A life in Christ is worth living, and this is a truth we must remind them everyday. Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer. 

If there is one truth we must instill in our children, it is that Jesus is better. We teach them this and pray the Holy Spirit will bring them to the knowledge of Jesus for the salvation of their sin. I don’t know everything, but I do know that I love my kids and I want them to know how much Jesus loves them and that following Him with their lives is absolutely worth it. Let’s commit to making sure they know Jesus, and let’s pray that we too will know Him more each and every day (Philippians 3:10).

 

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

By Faith Alone in Christ Alone

Welcome to the weekly newsletter for Grace Life Church. Every week, we want to give you a midweek reminder on upcoming events, the sermon text for the coming Sunday, and additional content that will encourage you to continue pursuing Jesus everyday. I’m praying the additional content provided on the Grace Life Blog will strengthen your faith in Jesus. 

This is also my prayer for our upcoming summer sermon series on Hebrews 11. 

The book of Hebrews was written by an unknown author to Jewish believers who were likely slipping back into their Jewish traditions so they could avoid persecution. The author wants to instill in them that Jesus is better. He’s better than angels. He’s better than Moses. He’s better than the Jewish sacrificial system. He’s better than the Old Covenant. Jesus is better because He is the fulfillment of every promise God spoke in the Old Testament. He is our perfect sacrifice, our great High Priest, and the Author and Finisher of our faith.

And faith is what God desires for His people to live by. Right before we read through the list of names in “The Hall of Faith”, we see in Hebrews 10:37-39,

[37] For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; [38] but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” [39] But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (ESV)

Christian people are people who live their lives by faith. We’re not people who “shrink back and are destroyed”, but we are people who have a sincere faith that preserves our souls. That faith is in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. It’s Jesus who preserves our souls. And because of who Jesus is, we live by faith in the Son of God who gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20).

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. The Chrisitan life is marked by faith. By faith, we believe in the Triune God of the Bible. By faith, we believe that God keeps His word. By faith, we believe Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died and rose again, ascended into heaven, and will return. By faith, we believe the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Faith is assurance of our hope in Christ and it is the conviction that all things of God are true. And by faith, we live.

But how are we to do this? How are we to live by faith and not shrink in cowardice? This is why Hebrews 11 was written. Faith is a somewhat difficult concept to define and oftentimes is best understood through illustrations and examples. Hebrews 11 describes people who lived out their faith when God commanded them to do something. The chapter is filled with examples of men and women from the Old Testament who have laid hold of their future reward with God. Chapter 11 is intended to deepen our confidence in Jesus, not throw it away. (Hebrews 10:35) 

We see the examples of men like Abel and Moses and women like Sarah and Rahab who lived by faith knowing that without faith, it would be impossible to please God. By faith, we also draw near to God, knowing He exists and is a rewarder of those who seek him. 

God has called us to live by faith in Him and though we have not seen Him, we believe in Him, and by faith, we live our lives to please Him. As one pastor stated, “Hebrews 11 is full of men and women whose moral and spiritual failings, depravity, and sin give us great hope that only through Christ, in Christ, and because of Christ are we accepted into the kingdom of God!”

As we study Hebrews 11, may our faith be strengthened in the glory of our Savior and our hearts encouraged to walk by faith in Christ alone and not by sight. 

Here’s how you can prepare for our weekly sermons through Hebrews 11.

Read

Each week, we’ll share the verses that will be covered in Sunday’s sermon. You can find those verses on your Sunday Sermon notes or in the weekly newsletter. The sermon text will be just a verse or two, so do the work and study out the names of the men and women from Hebrews 11. For instance, when we study the faith of Noah, find out what the Bible says about Noah. You can read about Noah’s life in Genesis 6-9. We won’t tell you where to look; we want you to study on your own!

Pray 

Pray for the Lord to strengthen your faith in him as we study together Hebrews 11. Pray for the preacher, that he will honor God’s Word and encourage us to seek the Lord. Pray, knowing God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11) and His Word is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).

Respond

God speaks to us from His Word and when He speaks to us, we must respond. To not respond is disobedience. Throughout this sermon series, respond to the Lord’s leading in your life. Maybe it’s trusting Him more fully or maybe it’s taking a step to serve Him or others in some capacity. Like Peter stepping out of the boat and onto the water, the Lord calls us out and by faith we obey. 

I’m looking forward to studying Hebrews 11 with you and I pray that our faith will be strengthened in Jesus Christ, the One who is at the very center of our Faith.

 

By His Grace, 

Pastor Matt

Jesus is Holding all Things in His Hands

Dear Grace Life,

I want to provide a Covid update, but let me first share with you Colossians 1:15-20, written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Colossae to encourage them to gaze and behold the supremacy of Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The Word of God is sufficient and timeless. Its solid truth is good for our souls today, even as Covid is furiously running through our community. This text is no different.

Just before this passage, Paul writes in verses 9-14 a prayer for “spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him”. He prays we will be “strengthened in the might of God” and that we will remember we are “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. 

He continues by reminding us of the greatness of our King Jesus. There is no one like Him. There is no earthly king, president, or ruler who compares to Him. He is the one who saved us and He is the one who sustains us through all things because “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together”.

The Savior of the world, the Son of God is holding all things together. Your life is included in “all things”. The state of our community is included in “all things”. All of life is included in “all things”. All things are held together in His hands. This is the promise I want you to hold on to today and in the days to come. 

JESUS IS HOLDING ALL THINGS IN HIS HANDS.

Like many of you, I thought we were on the other side of Covid, but, here we are again. This time we are seeing the impacts hit much closer to home. Many of you have now had Covid, and by God’s grace, have recovered. Many of you have lost a loved one or a very close friend. A few of you are working within the overworked and understaffed healthcare system and are tired of all things Covid. To all of us, remember, Jesus is holding all things together

The life we live was never promised to be easy. We were called to abandon and crucify the desires of the world because it is Christ who lives in us. Paul says to another church in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”

And while we face the next few weeks, let us rest in Jesus Christ and not in our frail humanity. We grieve in our loss (John 11:35) and we mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15) and we hope in our future home secured by Jesus Christ. As 1 Peter 1:3-9 states,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Though we do not see Him, we believe in Him and hold to the promise that He is holding all things together for our good and for His glory. What a Savior!

As we continue to deal with Covid, let me provide an update on our church plan and procedures.

  1. We will continue worshiping in person and provide a live stream of our Sunday gatherings. We plan to go online only if there is a situation within our church that prevents us from gathering (i.e. Covid exposure among leadership team).
  2. PLEASE STAY HOME IF: 
    1. You are sick in any way, even if it is minor.
    2. You have had close contact exposure to someone who has tested positive with Covid. (Close contact to COVID-19 occurs when you are within six feet of someone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19, for at least 15 minutes, or an infected person who shows no symptoms but later tests positive for the coronavirus. This is considered exposure regardless of whether one or both parties were wearing a mask.)
    3. You are feeling fine and have no symptoms but you are still within your 10 day isolation period due to testing positive or having a close contact.
  3. PRACTICE SAFE SUNDAYS:
    1. Practice Social distancing with those outside of your household.
    2. Wash and sanitize your hands.
    3. If possible, have conversation with others outside.
    4. Again, stay home if you are sick.

As a reminder, let’s practice grace and patience with one another, thinking the best of our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 14:1, Ephesians 4:31-32) and let’s continue to be an encouragement to one another in word and deed (Hebrews 10:24-25). 

If you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance due to Covid, please let us know HERE.

If you would like to serve on the Grace Life Care Team by providing food and supplies or running errands for members of our church and families within our community, please sign up HERE. (We are also working with Lake Asbury Elementary School and we are prepared to serve teachers, staff, and families impacted by Covid).

If you would like to give towards our Covid Relief Fund, please give HERE. All donations go towards families in our community dealing with a Covid crisis.

If you need to schedule a call with Pastor Matt for counseling, prayer, or anything else, please go HERE

I love you all and I am thankful for you. Be encouraged. Our God is faithful and it’s all in His hands.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Making Jesus-Centered Disciples For God's Glory


Sunday 10am | 3180 County Rd 220 Suite 1 Middleburg, FL 32068

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