Pastor Scott's Blog

(for more blog entries, go to:  http://jcctracy.blogspot.com )

08/21/18 - Gal 4

Aug 21, 2018

So you are no longer a slave, but God's child... God has made you also an heir. Gal 4:7

Christianity is not a religion, it is family---we obey because He is now our Father & we have an eternal inheritance coming.

At one point in my technology career, I was asked to take on a national role for a company that had just acquired us.  We were honored with the request, but not sure what we were getting in to.  So like the recent TV show Undercover Boss, I asked to be placed into a few different branch assignments as a “new employee”, trying to learn how the operations worked, and what I could do to help.   I was assigned to a technician, who took me around to different sites and had me learn the ropes with him.  There are many life lessons I can share from that experience, but one that fits well with Galatians 4 is the position I played those days:  I was working the role of a first-line technician, even though my position in the company was an executive.  Knowing that I was returning to my position made it very easy to work and serve in the first-line role with all the energy I had.  It was both educational & inspirational.

Paul reminds all of us that we are Executives now!  Coming to Jesus has elevated our position as part of the family of God.  We are heirs to the eternal Kingdom!  Yet our role on earth is also changed to that of servant and first-line worker.  We already know what we’re returning to that executive position later.  So it gives us the strength and encouragement we need to serve in whatever role we are given now.

A few months later, I was leading a management conference for that region of the country, and that same guy came up to me after he realized who I really was.  He was embarrassed and worried that he may have done something incorrect, but after getting past the awkwardness, we enjoyed the connection those days gave us. 

I think that’s the same way it will feel with Jesus when we reach eternity.  It will start off a little awkward, knowing that we failed in so many ways, but once we get past that, we will come to enjoy the great connection we have with Him as our Savior and our Brother. 

Some view Christianity as another religion, but Jesus is not a religion, He is our family!  We don’t believe in a system, we trust in a Savior who is now our relative & friend.  We don’t obey and serve in these roles on earth to earn anything or prove anything to men, because we already know what our future position is. 

We’re the chosen family of God Most High, and the One who saved us is also the one who serves with us.  Knowing that gives us such great assurance, that serving in any role is no big deal.  Remember the promotion you have received, and enjoy the chance you get to serve Him by riding along with others who have yet to know Him.
08/20/18 - Gal 3

Aug 20, 2018

You are all children of God through faith, for all who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Him. Gal 3:26-27

Faith changes our identity to Jesus and baptism changes our conformity to His likeness.

Being the oldest in my family, I only got hand-me-down clothes from others outside the family.  But my two younger brothers were cursed with having to wear my hand-me-downs.  I’m sure they were ruined for life from that experience!   I do recall, however, a few things that they were not ready to wait for the annual closet cleanout to start wearing.  For some reason, it was open season on my clothes when something I had was considered cool to wear. 

I vaguely remember one shirt that was given to me for Christmas.  It was stylish and had a cowboy look to it, and I wore it the day after receiving it.  But that was the last time!  My brother seemed to always find it (even after trying to hide it), and the shirt was always on him or in the laundry.  Needless to say, it was a bit frustrating for me then, but I gave up trying to wear it because I didn’t want to look like my brother after he had worn it so many times!  (Guess it was his way of rebelling against hand-me-downs!)

When coming to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, He opens His closet for us to wear His clothes!  We get to wear his Royal Robe, try on His shirt of righteousness, fit into his pants of power, and slip into His belt of Truth.  Amazing thing about Jesus’ clothes, in spite of our differences, they form to fit!  We get the chance to wear the holiness of God in spite of our dirty souls and deformed bodies.  Jesus doesn’t mind, because He wants us to be clothed like Him.

Yet SO MANY PEOPLE prefer to reject Christ’s clothing like they are hand-me-downs.  Those clothes look old fashioned in today’s hip culture.  They seem a bit restrictive compared to the so-called freedom of movement our current fads offer.  They are VERY RECOGNIZABLE, and often ridiculed by friends or associates around us.  Yes, we have access to Jesus’ closet, but don’t really care for the clothes.

Friends, isn’t it time to appreciate the blessing God has given us!  He has offered us access to the Royal Wardrobe!  Don’t waste it because of the public opinions of your friends.  Put on the clothing that will permit us to be ushered into the throne room of heaven!   Celebrate that these clothes were given to you and are free of defects.  Put on righteousness, truth and power – and forget those old rags of popularity, selfishness and pride.  Enjoy the hand-me-downs, because they are help-me-ups!
08/17/18 - Gal 2

Aug 17, 2018

We have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law. Gal 2:16

Good works don't save us... Surrendering to Christ in faith saves us and results in good works.

People tend to view work in one of two ways:
1.       Work is necessary to accomplish our dreams or pay for our desires – so I will do what is required to get what I desire.

2.       Work is my purpose – it is the measure of my success in life – so I will work to prove myself.

God didn’t create work to be our identity, or to be our necessity.  Work was created as a gift to be connected with the Creator, and a tool for worshipping God.  Adam was given the assignment of work to not only provide purpose & pleasure, but to help him know the Father and be a part of His Family.  Work was a blessing – but it wasn’t the purpose – it was a method to support man’s purpose: to Worship God.

In spiritual terms, the word work is also what we call religion.  Works are the actions and behaviors we do to serve God and bring Him worship.  Get This: Works are NOT separate from faith, and they should not be absent from our life.  They are the flip side of the same coin called faith – one side is belief, the other is works.  A person saying they are spiritual but not interested in religionis just deceiving themselves and has neither.

Some people want to see worksdone BEFORE there is acceptance in the Kingdom of God – i.e. Work is necessary for salvation.  (You hear that out of people who want others to change behaviors before being baptized – as if a sick person must be healthy before going to the doctor.)  Works don’t save us, they are a sign of our salvation.

Other people want to throw out works (religion) and dismiss it as manipulative or unnecessary.  However, that goes against everything God said to His people and all that Jesus taught His disciples.  God saved the Israelites, then called them to show their love THROUGH their works.  Jesus taught His followers to show their love BY their obedience.  Works is not manipulation, it is expression.  The best demonstration of our belief is seen in our behavior.

Paul tells the church in Galatia not to put their security in works, because their works always fall short.  Instead, put their hope and security in Jesus, and allow their works to be a growing sign of that faith.  Likewise, we should stop using works as the method of proving salvation, and start showing our works as an offering of love.  The fact is:  the more we choose to show our love to God, the better and more constant our works will be!

You were saved by Grace, so show your love through your works.
08/16/18 - Gal 1

Aug 16, 2018

He gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age. Gal 1:4

We were rescued from this world, so don't go back to participating in its behaviors.

It was the first chance we had to go to the swimming pool that summer.  Our neighbors had invited us along with their kids, and mom allowed us to go with them while she was at work.  We piled in and headed off to the public pool in the next town over, and all of us were so excited.   When we arrived, we checked in and dropped off our stuff by some chairs, and four of us boys headed straight for the diving board!  No shallow end for us, we were going to make a big splash!  Two went off in front of me, and I ran down the board to jump off, only to see my best friend DIRECTLY below me.  I panicked, but somehow by the grace of God missed him, yet the damage was done.  Into the water I sank, sucking in a chunk of the pool with me.  I couldn’t breathe, and found myself disoriented, trying to figure out how to get out of the water.  I thought my life was over, when the strong arms of a lifeguard grabbed me and pulled me up to the edge.  He got me out, and helped me cough out enough water to breathe again.  About 15 minutes later, I was returning to normal, and ready to go back into the pool --- but this time with a bit more care.  Being rescued, I didn’t want to go through that again.

If only being rescued would have the same effect for our lives beyond swimming!

That story is a good metaphor for Christ’s work in us.  He was our lifeguard, jumping in to our pool from heaven, and rescuing us from the sin that had us drowning.  He not only saved us, but gave us a new chance to enjoy life again after being rescued.  Yet instead of using that life for His honor, we often find ourselves jumping right back into the sins that had caused us to drown before.  Somehow – we think being rescued has taught us how to handle sin – when instead the rescue should teach us to avoid sin!

At the next break, the lifeguard came and checked on me, and gave me some safety tips for the next time I would go off the board.  He encouraged me to swim again, just with a bit more attention to safety.  I was glad to comply!

If you follow Jesus, then you have been RESCUED!  Don’t waste it!  Eliminate the behaviors that were drowning your life with God, and pursue a life that obeys your rescuer.  He will let you in the pool again, but this time, swim in obedience to His purposes and ways.  It will be a safer experience and will be a greater joy to your life.
08/15/18 - 2Cor 13

Aug 15, 2018

Jesus is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 2Cor 13:3

If He has the power to change our circumstances, then He has the right to expect us to change our behaviors.

Ever prayed with a doubt about whether God will do anything?  (Hint: everyone has.)

The interesting thing is not the doubt, but the fact we prayed anyways!  Somehow, built into just about everyone, is the seed of belief that there MIGHT be a God out there, and there MIGHT be a change in our circumstances if we asked Him to help.  (Some might even argue that is a proof that God actually exists.)  The more you believe in a possibility or reality of God, then the more you may pray for a change in your circumstances.

Then, when the results of our prayers surprise us, or are so miraculous and perfectly timed that it had to be from God, we are energized to pray more for our circumstances.  We start to believe that prayer is about changing our circumstances, and our prayers turn into spiritual shopping lists for God to fill.

But here’s the other side of the equation.  If we believe that God can change our circumstances, then it is also right to expect God wants our behaviors to change.  If He has the power to change our surroundings, He has the authority to rule our lives.  So in addition to asking God to change our situation, we should also be asking God to direct our obedience.

Before Jesus taught the disciples to pray “give us today our daily bread”, He taught them to pray “thy will be done”.  Before pursuing change in circumstances, ask God to change our behaviors.  Seek help to be obedient, and it will ALREADY change your circumstances.  In fact, often the fix to our problems COMES THROUGH a change in obedience. 

Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus is POWERFUL amoung you.  He is powerful enough to change your circumstances, but He is also powerful enough to change your LIFE!  In fact, the GREATEST POWER OF ALL IS A CHANGED LIFE!  When Jesus changes a person’s life, it shakes the world and defeats the devil’s efforts. 

Pray for Jesus to change your circumstances, but pray EVEN MORE for Jesus to change your life.  He is VERY POWERFUL among you.