Tag Archives: God’s grace

October 19; Sounds Like A Plan

Luke 10:21-24, 38-11:13, 27-12:21; Matthew 11:25-30

I read Luke 10:22 and Matthew 11:27 and understand why there are those who believe God is selective about which individuals are chosen for salvation, and which are chosen for hell. But God’s Word is more than a verse.

In the context here, Jesus is talking about wise men and children; the fact that God’s plan is hidden from the learned, and revealed to the simple. God does not reveal Himself through intellect, but through childlike faith.

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary on the Whole Bible in One Volume, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1961; page 1262) asks the question: why was Matthew, a lowly fisherman, chosen to be a disciple when Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leader of the Jews was not? Both men believed in Jesus.

Henry says, “this honor (was) put upon those whom the world pours contempt upon,” to magnify the mercy of God. What might make sense to us humans, doesn’t come close to what what makes sense to God. By choosing the disciples He chose, Jesus is demonstrating His great mercy and grace, revealing Himself as merciful and full of grace.

In the very next verse Jesus open Himself up to “all who are weak and burdened.” “Come,” He says to everyone, “and you will find rest for your souls.” I believe He chose those particular twelve to be His disciples to demonstrate His mercy, and to be the ones through whom He would use to get His Church going; and He chose the people of the world to save.

Jesus began this discussion by praying and thanking God for this plan. (verse 21). And I certainly thank Him, too! If God revealed Himself only to the intelligent, scholarly, big shots of the world, I’d be “chosen” for hell.

Henry reminds us that God “resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Grace – God’s grace – is freely given to everyone who humbles themselves before Him.

So I will give thanks to God for choosing this plan of salvation. The highest IQ, the most successful businessman, the most important and famous come to God and are saved exactly the same way as a child, a homeless person, the average Joe – me. We might think God should be a bit more selective, but God selected all.

“Whosoever” believes in Jesus will receive eternal life. That’s His will. That’s His plan. That’s how He chose to redeem us all. And He is faithful to forgive anyone who comes to Him in humility, and repents of sin.

Sounds like an awesome plan to me.

August 25; Terminal Until…

Jeremiah 30-31; Ezekiel 26

Have you ever heard the frightening words, “There is nothing more we can do?” The disease has progressed too far, the heart is too badly damaged, the brain is no longer functioning, the wound is too deep. God said these words to His children:

Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you… Why do you cry over your wound, your pain that has no cure… (Jeremiah 30:12-13, 15a)

I love how often in Scripture the three letter word, “but” is followed by such wonderful truth. God tells his people they are incurably wounded, facing total annihilation…

BUT I!

Listen to how many times God assures them: I will restore you, I will restore the fortune, I will add to their numbers, I will bring them honor, I will bring him near, I will come to give rest…

Then God tells his children: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. (31:3b)

The thing is, there is nothing more any of us can do about our sin problem. We are terminal. Our sins are a death sentence hanging over our heads.

BUT GOD.

Only God can heal us, restore us, bring us to Himself and give us rest. When we confess our sin, when we repent and ask our Holy God to forgive us, He does. And only by His grace and mercy will we ever get out of this life alive.

We are all terminal… until God.

Hebrews 9-13; Make It Stop

Have you ever felt the sting of God’s discipline over a sin you were holding onto? Dishonesty costs you your job. Infidelity costs you your family. Alcohol or tobacco costs you your health. Sin costs you peace of mind, you cannot feel joy. Conviction bring anxiety, depression, anger, or confusion.

Then you cry out to God, “Make it stop!” “Why is this happening to me?” “I can’t take this any longer.”

When I read Hebrews 12 I hear God say, “I love you as sons and daughters. Therefore, I will discipline you when you are wrong. Don’t expect it to be pleasant.”

I think sometimes when we are experiencing those painful consequences for sin, we pray the wrong prayer. Instead of praying, “Make it stop,” we should be praying, “Help me to stop,” Instead of praying for God to make us comfortable, we need to pray that He will make us clean.

“…God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” (12:10b)

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the very real privilege of going to God Himself through our mediator, Jesus Christ. We can boldly approach the throne of grace and know that we will receive that grace to help us in our time of need.

God doesn’t discipline His children because He likes to see us suffer. He disciplines us to drive us to our knees, so that we can share in His holiness, so that one day we will be able to spend eternity with Him. He disciplines us because of His great love for us.

 

 

 

Luke 4-7; Deserving

Often, when Christians or just really good people go through awful circumstances, you’ll hear someone say, “He doesn’t deserve this.” That’s the case here in Luke 7.

A centurion whose servant was deathly ill, sent some Jewish elders to Jesus, asking Him to heal the dying servant. They implied that, because this particular centurion was a friend of the Jews, he didn’t deserve the heartache of losing this valued servant.

In fact, the elders suggested Jesus owed it to the man for his good deeds: “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” (7:4-5) From the world’s perspective, this centurion was one of the good guys. And bad things should not happen to good people.

At least that’s what the elders are saying to Jesus. But the centurion had a different take. When Jesus was almost at the man’s house, He was met by a few of the centurion’s friends who had a message for Him. “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” (verses 6-7)

This “good” man knew he wasn’t good enough.

Here’s the truth of the matter: when you are tempted to think, or you hear someone say “He or she doesn’t deserve this whatever it is,” know you are exactly right. They deserve much worse.

We all do.

None of us are good enough or religious enough to make up for even one of our sins. None of us. It is by the grace of God that we are even breathing, much less enjoying the blessing that are ours here in 2018.

Do you think God owes you a carefree life because you go to church, or because you tithe, or because you haven’t murdered anyone yet today? You might look like one of the good guys to the world, but God sees your heart. He hears your thoughts, sees what you do when no-one is looking. God knows you are a sinner deserving of hell.

But Jesus recognized the faith of this centurion, and the servant was healed. Not because the centurion was such a stellar citizen, but because Jesus is merciful and full of grace.

Remember that anything good that comes your way is undeserved. If we got what we deserved, we’d be in deep trouble. But we can thank our gracious God that He is Who He IS, that He loves us, wants to bless us, died for us so that we can be forgiven and enjoy the blessedness of walking with Him in this troublesome world.

I hope you know Him, that you’ve accepted what Jesus did for you on that cross. I hope you love Him, worship Him, and serve Him out of a grateful heart. He deserves that.

 

Ezekiel 37-44; Beyond Feet and Inches

Ok. Confession time. When I read chapter after chapter of measurements and building plans, by mind shifts into neutral. I have to continually go back and reread portions because I realize I was reading words, and thinking about something else. Ugh. It’s frustrating.

I’m not even sure why God felt it necessary to go into such detail over a temple in a vision. Well, until I pulled out my friend, Matthew Henry. He revealed to me the glorious truth in these details, and I want to reread these chapters again just so I can see Jesus there. I had been concentrating on the yard stick, and nearly missed the truth.

These details are given us to show the intricate workings of God in the Church, His grace, Jesus’ position as our High Priest. It’s so cool!

From the vastness of the temple itself, to the exact measurements of the doors, Henry suggests is a picture of the grace of God making room for Jews and Gentiles alike who enter the exact same way. The vision of the Glory of God pictures Jesus as the Living Water and the Light of the World. And Henry points out there is no cloud this time!

“for we now ‘with open face behold the glory of the Lord,’ in the face of Christ…” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Zondervan Publishing House, 1961; page 1077)

I don’t usually recommend that you read a commentary, but if you can get hold of a copy of Henry’s, I hope you read what he says about what he calls the “mystical temple” described in Ezekiel’s vision. Then read God’s Word again and get the picture of how amazing God’s Church is, how intricate is His temple (you and me, the places God dwells on earth today) and how glorious His work of grace.

I challenge you to set aside the feet and inches, and see God in all His glory! To think we are a part of that.

Amazing.

Deuteronomy 30-34; The Law and Grace

What is your definition of grace? When you think of God’s grace, what comes to mind? Jesus? The cross? Forgiveness? Eternal life? What about, the Law?

I’ve heard religion criticized for being a list of rules, of “don’ts.” And actually, Moses reminds us it is. The Law is a very big part of this thing we call Christianity. Even though we know the Law is powerless to forgive sin.

The Law reveals sin, though. And in doing so, it points us to our Savior.

I guess God could have left us to our own devices, not defined sin for us, then sat back and watched us unknowingly crash and burn. Like a cop who knows the speed limit sign is missing, then pulls over unsuspecting drivers and tickets them for driving too fast.  Sorry, boys, not knowing the speed limit doesn’t change the speed limit.

Not knowing what sin is doesn’t change what sin is.

But God is full of grace. In Romans 7:7, Paul tells us he would not have known what sin even was if it had not been for the Law. I wouldn’t know what light was except for the darkness, what health was if it weren’t for sickness, what joy was but for sorrow. I wouldn’t know what forgiveness was if I didn’t know I needed to be forgiven.

Deuteronomy 33:3 tells us God loved the people, He held them in His hand, they worshiped Him, and God gave them the Law as a possession, an inheritance. God gave them the Law as something precious, not because they deserved it, but because He graciously wanted them to know their boundaries so they wouldn’t cross over them. Then He could bless them, like He longed to do.

The Law is still in effect today. Those boundaries are still in place. Idol worship is still a sin. Adultery, lying, dishonoring parents are still sins. And because the wages of every sin is death, God wanted to spell it all out so we would not be caught unawares.

He wanted to give us life instead of death. A life, as sinners, we don’t deserve. That’s grace. And in a very real way, the Law plays a big role in God’s grace.

Grace greater than all our sin.

God, thank you for letting me see your Law as an act of grace. You want us to know what sin is so that we are quick to repent of it, to accept what Jesus did on our behalf, and to enjoy unbroken fellowship with you. That’s grace. Thank you for grace that is even greater than my sin.

Deuteronomy 1-3; “Why” Doesn’t Matter

I will admit I am a bit disappointed in Moses. As he is teaching an important history lesson to the children of Israel before they finally go into the Promised Land, he says something that is only partially true. He says it in 1:37, then again in 3:26.

“It’s because of YOU,” he tells them, “the Lord was angry with me and won’t let me go with you into Canaan.” Now, while it’s true the Jews had been whining about not having water, their verbal attacks on Moses were not the reason God was angry with him. It was Moses’ own disobedience that resulted in God’s punishment.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. She shared that her son, a man who is celebrating fifteen years sober after many years addicted to drugs and alcohol, doesn’t want anything to do with church. A while back he attended a service, and an elderly saint said something that offended him, so therefore all Christians are judgmental and unkind.

Now being verbally attacked, whether you’re Moses or a recovering addict, is unfair, embarrassing, infuriating. You may have reason to be upset. But the fact of the matter is, when you stand before God, He’s not going to ask you how you felt you were treated by others in this lifetime. He’s not going to ask any of us WHY we refused to obey Him.

The “Why” won’t matter. But the “What” will.

What did you do with my Son? Did you repent of your sins? Did you accept His grace? Did you obey His Words? Did you live your life in such a way that drew others to the Savior?

When you meet Jesus face to face, the only thing that will matter is, does He know you? No excuses. No pointing fingers. Just you and Jesus.

What will you say?