“Extravagant Grace”

A simple thesaurus search of ‘extravagant’ produces synonyms like:  exorbitant, expensive, fanciful, grandiose, and …. Lavish. Consider those words, and particularly, the last one; “lavish.”  With those in mind read the text for today: Ephesians 1:3-8a
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…” (emphasis mine)
 God has blessed us with His grace. He has blessed us “in Christ”. Blessing that comes from the well of “the riches of His grace!” The grace of God my friend is no small, simple, or common thing! No… it is “extravagant!” And, that extravagance is completely normal within the nature of our Lord. Think about it… At the occasion of Jesus’ first miracle; a wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11) What did Jesus do? Was an estimated 180 gallons of water turned to wine extravagant?! Jesus didn’t think so! How about the feeding of the five thousand? Surely Jesus didn’t miscalculate, so were 12 whole baskets of left overs extravagant?! Jesus didn’t think so! (Mark 6:30-44) What about the miraculous fishing experience of Luke 5:4-11? After following the instruction of Jesus, Peter lowered his nets again and there was such a great catch that the nets began to break and the catch filled two boats to the sinking point! Ridiculously, excessively, extravagant, right?! Jesus didn’t think so!! Our God is extravagant in His love for us!
Listen child of The King… stop letting the enemy of your heart convince you that the Lord’s extravagance is meant for someone else; that God wouldn’t want to bless you in that way considering all you’ve done, and the mistakes you still make! He knows you, He sees you, and yet… (maybe you noticed that I only quoted through the first part of verse 8. What does the second part say? “…which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…” ) You see, He knows with perfect wisdom and insight, with omniscient clarity He knows you. And, nevertheless, He chooses to “lavish upon” YOU and ME His amazing, unfathomable, extravagant grace!! How can we ever choose to do anything but lovingly and completely serve Him?!
“Lord help me to grasp and fully appreciate Your extravagant grace and love today!”
Together in HIS Extravagant Grace,
Pastor Ben

“The Cover of Grace”

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…
Psalm 32:1-2a
Notice the three incredible truths of freedom found in this text! “forgiven transgressions”, “covered sin”, and “sin (iniquity) not held against us”! WOW! What a definition of grace! And that is certainly true for those of us who have been born again in Christ. Yet notice then the second part of verse 2: “and in whose spirit, there is no deceit.” 
Consider the “in whose spirit, there is no deceit” as a sort of an identifier for the person about whom these things are true. If you read the rest of Psalm 32 you will find that the psalmist talks about what is was like when there was deceit present in his heart. It was not a pleasant time for him at all! What is deceit in this case? It is an attempt to “cover up” sin. It is where we are not honest with ourselves OR God about the reality of our sin. For the Believer, we remain redeemed/saved even when we sin, but the Bible instructs us to “confess our sins” (1John 1:9) Covering up or ignoring our sin is, as in the case of the psalmist, causes there to be a lack of blessing, a lack of joy, and that is why the Lord longs for us to come clean before Him, or to be “cleansed from ALL unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). The blessings He wishes to shower on us are unfathomable… how sad that we so often hold on to the deceit of secret sin, or unconfessed iniquity; when the reality is God longs to cleanse, is eager to forgive, and to forgive completely!
When the Lord “covers” our sin, He covers in the sense that it is taken care of, cancelled out by the blood of Jesus. When we deceive ourselves and “hide” our sin from the light of His grace, we try to “cover up” our sin and rob ourselves of the full joy of our salvation! So rather than try to “hide” or “cover up” your sin, go to the Lord as “your hiding place” (Psalm 32:7) and in the honesty of confession allow Him to “COVER” you with His divine blanket of grace!
It is far better to be covered than to attempt to cover up!
Humbly in Him,
Pastor Ben

“Crushed” – A Grace Story

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
 Funny how the simplest and most innocuous things will spin in your mind and, at times, find their way deeper to penetrate your heart. I just had one of those! The refrigerator/freezer in our house is not the quietest appliance, to say the least. Random knocking noises are one of its trademarks, the other is the ice dispenser on the freezer door. Let’s just say it is loud! To use it late at night would be to awaked everyone in the house with a start! The last time I used it, however, I was startled because I didn’t notice that the setting had been changed from “cubed” to “crushed” ice. The unexpected and violent sound of metal blades whirring, pulverizing, and spitting out crushed ice was intense! I looked down and sure enough, the indicator light was on above “CRUSH” instead of “CUBE”… Isaiah 53:5 was brought to mind – My Lord, My Savior willingly subjected Himself to cruel crushing at the hands of men just like me; indeed they might as well have been my hands! God’s perfect love displayed! O what a Savior!
But that’s not the only “crushing” that occurred that dark day that we will soon commemorate on “Good Friday”. Remember God confronting the serpent (Satan) in the garden said:
 “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:1, 14-15
Jesus, in death, effectively de-fanged Satan with a stomp of his cursed head! Sin defeated, death conquered, the grave relegated to nothing more than a symbolic passage way to eternal glory! Yes, the story of the cross really is a story of “crushing grace”! But, remember, the crushing isn’t over; for although Satan still powerfully roams about like an angry lion (1Peter 5:8), and he still wreaks havoc in this fallen world, God’s not finished crushing! This time, through His Spirit, He’ll use our feet to do the stompin’!
 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. — Romans 16:20
Armor up! The battle is real!
In His Amazing Love,
Pastor Ben

Exploring Grace -The Divine Paradox

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. — John 19:30
Think back to 9-11. Do you remember how the massive pile of rubble, molten steel and unrecognizable human remains became a focal of point terror’s evil? Remember President Bush ascending a rubble pile with a fireman, and with bullhorn in hand proclaiming for the world to hear our Nation’s resolve, our determination to bring to justice those who were responsible for that horrific attack. Do you remember that section of destroyed land was referred to over and over again as “Ground Zero”? What is a ground zero? It is a place of origin, an established point of beginning; can you think of the “ground zero” moments in your own life? For the Child of God, the ultimate “ground zero” moment happened over 2000 years ago on a hill called Mt. Calvary!
God is perfectly holy, and His justice demanded punishment for sin. The complete wrath of God was poured out against the rebellion of man, at the cross where Jesus suffered and died for OUR sins! It was there that the justice of God was satisfied through the Lord’s sinless sacrifice. This is then where we see the divine paradox of the cross in that at the very moment God unleashes His unbridled punishment of sin, He also reveals His greatest expression of love, mercy, and grace! (Romans 5:8) God the Father gave His Only Son to die so that we don’t have to… grace defined! Yet grace is further revealed in the reality that Jesus was not an unwilling sacrifice, He freely lay down His life to pay your death sentence and mine! O what a Savior!
Redeemed by the blood of The Lamb! The ultimate Ground Zero: Jesus died once for all who will surrender to Him. Pray that you might fully appreciate the divine paradox of grace and that we all might share the love of God everywhere we go.
In His Amazing Grace!
Pastor Ben