Category Archives: New Year

New Year – Unforced Rhythms of Grace

New Year’s Eve
Matthew 11:28-30
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [The Message]

This contemporary paraphrasing of the words of Jesus from The Message was the first version I read. Then I read the same verses in the NIV and the NASB. I feel the need to compare versions partly out of curiosity, looking for a kind of unity of thought between them and often because they make me think in new ways about familiar verses. Any of the three versions are a really good beginning place for a brand new year but two sentences from The Message really spoke to me. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

The familiar desire of most Christians is to know God’s will.  That phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” made me think of that in a new way.  God’s will is a big part of daily life, more than you might imagine.  Our effort to live within that will can be part of the struggle these verses are addressing. Tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Weary and burdened? Exhausted?

We are fooled into believing the will of God is something to be learned. We study the Bible for helpful hints from the the prophets, the Old & New Testament heroes and historical records. We listen to sermons and we pray for “thy” will to be done. It’s no wonder Matthew had to address weariness and our need for rest. Trust me, no matter how brilliant your brain is, no amount of mental gymnastics can accomplish what God already has already done in you.

Here is a radical idea that I’d like you to ponder: If you have placed your life in Christ, you are “living” the will of God.  Here is the assurance of your repentance and acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ as your complete restoration to God.
• “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:” 2 Corinthians 5:17
• “We have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16
• “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” – Galatians 2:20
• “You are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in…” – 1 Corinthians 3:16
• “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13
• ”All things that I [Jesus] have heard from My Father I have made known to you” – John 15:15
• Nothing…”will be able to separate [you] from the love of God” – Romans 8:38

These Scriptures ARE the will of God and they’re built right into you.   There is not a moment, a thought, an action or choice – right or wrong, at the most elemental cellular level of your being that the will of God is not at work within you.  You won’t always make the right decision or the right choice but you can depend on this truth; your life in Christ has placed you in the will of God.  Now take Jesus at his word. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn to live “freely and lightly” in “the unforced rhythms of grace.”  Rest.

“A miracle has happened. You are new. You are a new creation in Christ. And on that glorious, confident basis, rooted in Christ and his saving work for us, now we have some work to do. And we do it with joy and with confidence [of] children of God. We are not trying to be children of God or get into God’s favor, we are in his favor rock solid through faith in Christ.” [read more from John Piper at https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-know-the-will-of-god

Limitless Then…

Back in Genesis God tells Abram in Chapter 17 “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!…”

The definition of a covenant is “a solemn, and binding agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.”  Maybe a covenant is not a static, one-step, New Year’s resolution kind of thing but more like a cycle renewed each year?  That concept makes sense to me.

That first step across the line from unbeliever to believer is only one step, but a momentous one, all  based on the awareness of “if’s.”    That’s when the cycle of “then’s” begins.   It’s the beginning of God’s personal covenant with you: his promise he will move the “if’s” to “then’s.”
If…God, Then awareness…
If…awareness, Then the Holy Spirit…
If the Holy Spirit…Then truth…
If truth…Then grace…
If grace…Then forgiveness…
If forgiveness…Then mercy…
If mercy…Then love – 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us…
If love…continuous renewal and Limitless Then…