THE GRACE OF GOD (PT 4)

THE GRACE OF GOD (PT 4)

By Scott Martinis “But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.” John 3:21 NET One topic I have consistently discussed with God is our works; living like Jesus in the world. Our works don’t gain us righteousness, acceptance, or approval with God. At the same time, Jesus loves to bless us when we choose wisely, and while His grace always restores us, He does discipline us but letting us experience negative consequences. How do grace and works mesh together? If we only stand in Christ by the grace of God, then why work in the kingdom or in the world at all? In college, during a global economics class, I distinctly remember asking God for a powerful gift of understanding and excellence. I knew that God had granted people in the bible supernatural grace to create, understand, and think in ways that were not naturally possible. I wanted to change the world by living in the mind of Christ. I knew that I was His son and that He wanted to bless me, so I asked boldly. I still remember His response. He told me “If you receive this, you can’t take credit for anything from this day forward.” I just graduated from UCSB, and I’m reminded of what I felt God show me back then. I can’t take credit for anything I did at UCSB, not really. My best and brightest works? Gifts, all gifts. My moments of hardest effort, purest focus, and most radical discipline? Impossible without grace. I...
CREATED FOR GOOD WORKS

CREATED FOR GOOD WORKS

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) One of the paradoxes of the Christian life is that to find our lives, we must lose them. Specifically, it is not possible to grow in Christ without serving others. I am not saying that we ever are saved, forgiven, or accepted on the basis of works. God always has and always will love us unconditionally, and nothing we do (fortunately) will ever change that. There are even times and places when it is extremely productive not to do or serve very much, because when we receive the love of God we are empowered to give more away. However, I have never seen someone grow long term without serving others in some capacity. This can look like anything: children’s ministry, being a parent, doing scientific research, starting a company, or just working a retail job. God doesn’t just call us to do good works inside the walls of a church or within the confines of a ministry: part of our identity in Jesus is that we were actually created to make the world better. If we aren’t loving others, we aren’t ourselves. On numerous occasions I have depressed or confused about my life in God, but instead of letting me continue endlessly in introspection, God will thrust people with needs in front of me, and gently ask me to love them. When I do, I often find my own problems are much easier to handle. Serving and loving others isn’t the only reason we were...
THE CROSS (THE CURSE)

THE CROSS (THE CURSE)

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17b) When Adam left the garden, mankind’s way of life changed. God put humanity into a garden where our fundamental needs for food and human contact would be met, but when we chose to live by our own understanding, by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then we left the peace and rest God prepared for us. Instead of our needs being met, we needed to scratch out a living, fighting the earth to produce what we needed. Jesus came to take the sins of the world, and restore humanity back to our Father. His Cross did more than save us from sin, however, it opens us to the presence of God in for every parts of our lives. Specifically, our work. Last year at UCSB. I received a 2000 word page paper assignment, which equates to 7 or 8 pages double spaced. I remember asking God when I should write the paper. “Oh, the day of should be fine” He responded. I was surprised to say the least. Initially I resisted the idea, I asked to at least do it the night before. But eventually I decided to trust. I woke up at 6am the morning my paper was due, ready to work. Then I hear the Father talking to me again: “Could we play some video games Scott?” At this point, I was living on faith. God needed to show up, and this wasn’t that much crazier than asking me to...

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