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  • A Place of Grace


    A Place of Grace

    Let those who have never sinned throw the first stones! John 8:7 NLT

    Author Leonard Sweet said it well. The church ought to be the safest place on earth. We are in the family of God entirely because of God’s grace. The most appropriate way to respond to the failings of others is to extend grace. When we do we become the hands of Jesus that help restore our brother or sister. The church should personify His grace.

    When we become a Christ follower our sinful nature is redeemed. Our sin is forgiven and Jesus lives within. That’s the Good News. However we still have human appetites, we have old selfish habits and we have an active enemy working against us. The Apostle Paul correctly calls us, More than conquerors in Christ. But there is still a battle to be fought for holiness on a daily basis. It is a worthwhile endeavor. Although the war is won we don’t win every battle and that is where grace comes in. As the church of Jesus Christ, let’s be a place of healing and grace.

    The list is rather sobering, Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Peter denied he knew Christ. Thomas doubted the resurrection. And the Apostle Paul called himself, The chief of sinners because he persecuted the Church. Yet these are servants of Christ who constitute the Hall of Faith listed in scripture and my Hall of Fame. If they can make a comeback because of God’s grace so can we. The father welcomed the Prodigal Son home, let’s follow His example.

    Our biblical heroes would tell us the key is to get back up equal to the number of times you fall down. Don’t give up on God because He doesn’t give up on you. And we in the Church want to be those who cheer others on saying that God loves you just like you are, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. At the same time God loves you too much to leave you like you are. Grace is not intended to be an encouragement for permissiveness. Rightly understood it creates a thankful heart and spirit that spurs repentance and new commitment to not repeat past missteps. The church is a place of healing and grace when after you stumble, you hear other voices saying, I’ve been there too and here’s how I learned to apply God’s strength. After all it is our role to love and God’s role to empower change.

    God gives us forgiveness for our sin and he gives us grace for our shame. That’s where the healing part comes in. If we focus on our failure we begin to believe we are no good and we can’t live the life of a Christ follower. But grace rightly extended sees the good in us, it sees that Christ lives inside by faith, and it says two steps forward and one back is still progress. If you look back at where you were a year ago you can see you are headed in the right direction. When the Church is a congregation of encouraging voices cheering us on to be the best we can be, it is the place of grace and love God designed it to be. A church like this is the place where a wandering soul wants to return. It is the place where a growing soul always has a hand out to help someone else up. Let’s be a people of healing and grace!

    Gary Kendall

    www.livingsent.net/devotionals

  • Loving God by loving people


    Jesus said, A second [commandment] is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Matthew 22:39-40 NLT

    Jesus makes it plain that it is not enough just to love God. We must love others.

    If anyone boasts, I love God, and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20 MSG

    It can be easy for us to love inanimate objects. We love our houses. We love our cars. We love food. It can be easy for us to direct our love toward a God who loves us and never fails us, but what about His children? Can we love them as we love God?

    I’m learning more about this now that I’m a grandmother. My children, and especially my grandchildren, don’t have to do anything to deserve or win my love. I love them because they are my children. I believe that God desires us to have the same love for one another as He has for us, simply because we are His. This might, and usually does, require some sacrifice on our part.

    Our youngest son, Luke, loves the city! I don’t mean a small town like Kansas City—I mean the CITY like Chicago! He lives there with his wife Rachel and they are a part of the Leadership Team with We are Mission Church.

    Luke asked me one day, “Mom, why is it that I love the cities?” To me the answer was obvious, “Luke, it’s where the people are.” They are dedicating their lives to reaching the city and their new communities with the love of Christ. This was no small choice for them; it required much prayer and sacrifice on their part. They’ve left everything comfortable and familiar to them to follow a prompting they believe is from God. Because they’ve chosen to love God by loving people.

    In the months to come, they will talk with many people who are far from God, and they will have an opportunity to love God by loving people. They will truly be able to love their neighbors as themselves. What about you?

    Think and Act
    Can you commit to reaching those around you—your neighbors, coworkers, family, friends—with the same love that you have for God?

    Belinda Kendall

    www.livingsent/devotionals

  • Day 30 Wrong Song

    Wrong Song

    Day 30

    My Temple will be called ‘a house of prayer for all nations, Mark 11:17 NLT

    If you learned a Christian song in the early years of your life, there is a good chance you learned Jesus Loves Me. If you need a refresher on the lyrics, it goes like this. Sing aloud if you’d like.

    Jesus loves me this I know
    for the Bible tells me so

    Little ones to Him belong
    They are weak but He is strong

    Chorus: Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    The Bible tells me so

    How can you help but smile when you sing that song? There is a good reason we love that song, and it goes beyond the fact that it is true. We love it because it is about us. Jesus loves ME! I am the object of his love.

    To capture the full spirit of the song, we might as well wrap our arms around ourselves when we sing it. Jesus loves me. What a comfort that is! Try it. It makes you feel good. Please don’t burn me for heresy. I like the song. I really do, but it can be a problem too. If I’m honest, I want everything to be about me. Me, me, me is the song we like to sing.

    The whole idea of this book, backwards, is that to make everything about me feels so appropriate. Here is the problem, we naturally make ourselves the center of the story. Our first filter in life is the one that judges something good or bad, right or wrong, by how it affects me. We all do it. And it is backwards to the way that God designed life.

    This truth, that Jesus loves me, is a basic building block for life. And remember, with God it IS all about you—that is why He sent Jesus die on the cross—to pay for your sin. But once you followHim—it is no longer about you, it is about OTHERS. Jesus wants everyone to know Him. Once you join the family of God, it is the pre-occupation of this family to live your life on mission, on purpose, all the time for others to know Jesus. It’s not about you. That is the plan, and it is a good thing.

    Trust Jesus to meet your needs as you serve. Trust his love as you go through your life. It will always be there for you. When you live the life that is SENT there is a divine return cycle that is better than any you could create on your own. You become your brother’s keeper. And God becomes your keeper. To the extent that we live with this perspective life makes sense.

    A better theme song for living SENT would be a different children’s song:
    Jesus loves the little children
    All the children of the world
    Red and yellow, black and white
    They are precious in his sight
    Jesus loves the little children of the world

    It’s fine to sing both if you want to live SENT just don’t sing the first song, Jesus Loves Me without also singing the second, Jesus Loves the Little Children.

    What is God asking you to trust Him to do? To whom is He asking you to serve? Will you live ‘backwards’ for His glory?

    Gary Kendall

    www.livingsent.net/devotionals

    Devo 30, Week 6, SENT, Day 5

  • Day 29 Arrows

    Arrows

    To watch the video click here

    Devo 29

    Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. Psalm 127:4, 5 NLT

    This is a scripture that warms the heart of most parents. They get warm fuzzies just thinking about a quiver full of arrows with multiple colors on the end of the shaft which represents the pictures of their children on the mantle. I love them so much, the thinking goes, I won’t let anything happen to them!

    But that is not the metaphor the Bible is using. The purpose of an arrow is to be sent. Arrows are for shooting. How else would the man confront the accusers at the city gate? The Psalmist isn’t glowing over his accumulation of arrows or children. He wants to win the battle.

    The enemy doesn’t play fair, and he doesn’t care about what is important to you. His one mission is to overthrow the plan of God, and he is hell bent on undermining it anyway he can. The battle will come right to you and your home.
    The safest place to be on earth is the center of His will. Many parents are over protective of their children. The lie that we, as mere parents can ultimately protect our children from all problems in life does the children more harm than good. It doesn’t teach them to depend on their Creator who alone can protect and provide for them. Neither does it allow them to develop problem solving skills.

    Safety in this world is mostly just an illusion. This is a painful truth! However, it is also true that in Christ you are safe enough. It is better to put your children in places where they will learn to trust God and fight for themselves in a spiritual way than to send the signal that the most important thing in life is their safety.

    Are you trying to protect your children against faith risks? If so, you will find yourself working against God. When your life is in His hands, there is no better way to live than to live SENT.

    Gary Kendall

    www.livingsent.net/devotionals

    Week 6, SENT Day 4, Devo 29

  • Day 27

    Faith

    Devo 27

    Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT

    Living SENT requires that we venture beyond the safety of our comfort zone. Don’t put God in a box. He is God, and you are not. Practice trust and dependence on God by regularly allowing God to stretch you.

    Take time to read Hebrews 11, and you will find a Hall of Fame for those who have responded to God’s call by saying, ‘Yes’!. My guess is that they didn’t have all the answers but they excelled at faith. By faith Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain…by faith Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before…by faith Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home…and without faith it is impossible to please God.

    My experience with following God tells me God will continually test any places I’m unwilling to yield to Him. If there are places where I want to be in control, I find He regularly moves me out of my little box to help me think like He thinks.

    Life here on this earth is not about our comfort, and the sooner we realize that the better. Are you willing to allow God to break your heart with the things that break His heart?

    Be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Sometimes I get it wrong but don’t be afraid to be wrong. The more you act on what you think God is saying the better you will become at hearing. And if you are faithful with what God trusts to you, He will give you more.

    Conversely, if you ignore God and tune Him out, you hear less and less. We don’t always have the benefit of carefully contemplating every option life gives. Opportunities sometimes appear where time is of the essence, if you miss the moment, you don’t always get a second chance. They disappear. And you are left asking, Why doesn’t God use me more?

    Exercise faith today!

    Gary Kendall

    www.livingsent.net/devotionals

    Week 6 SENT, Day 4 Devo 27