Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thought For A New Week

Just As You Are
By John Paul Jackson  
Streams Ministries Online 

            When I ordain men and women as ministers of God, I speak over them the 12-point covenant Streams Ministries and I are making with them. One of those 12 points is our commitment to grace, not legalism. Put simply, grace thinks of us in light of where we are going in God, while legalism judges us based on where we've been or where we are right now. The distinction is vital when it comes to being a leader at any level. It is even more important when it comes to us and our view of ourselves.

            It is horrifically difficult to have a clear, honest view of ourselves. Without God's help, it isn't possible at all. To some extent, all of us see ourselves through a veil of legalism or one of the cousins it often travels with — guilt, fear, shame and condemnation. The roots of these often started when we were a child, and since we've grown up with them, sometimes we can't even tell we have them. It's like having a regional accent; we don't realize we have it until we travel somewhere else and someone tells us.

            The point of this month's e-letter is this: God is committed to grace with us. This means that He will always see us in the light of Jesus' blood — we will never be weighed on the scales alone, in the light of only ourselves. Our Father will always view us through a veil of grace, not legalism. There are no false, lying levels of guilt (2 Corinthians 7:10). There is no fear in His love (1 John 4:18). There is no shame in His arms (Romans 10:11). There is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).

            So we need to stop thinking the opposite! It is a step of faith — a huge one, depending on the entangled levels we've been living at. But don't be afraid anymore.

            All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of ! God (Rom ans 3:23). None of us are as righteous as we need to be. God wants to move in us at greater levels, and I believe we are being asked to address issues that maybe we got away with before. We were allowed to ignore them when we were younger in our faith, but we can't get away with them now. As Paul said, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11). I believe that God is saying to many people, "You are in a place where I want to move, but you have to grow up! In order for you to grow up, this issue must be addressed in your life."

It is time to take a step of faith and seriously take God at His word. When we're at a place of facing — again — an issue that we don't want to face because it's ugly and nasty and embarrassing, we shouldn't be ashamed. Just as it is in the good moments, when we feel like all is right with the state of our soul, God is still King now, even when we feel ugly, nasty, and embarrassing. If we don't grasp this hope, we won't survive long. Truly knowing God means knowing that we are loved. Just as we are. Warts and all. When we know this — truly, truly know this — legalism, condemnation, fear, shame and whatever else will not be able to attach to us — because we will know the truth, and that truth will set us free from them (John 8:32).

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