Tag Archives: grace

October 23; The Truth Will Set You Free

John 7:53-9:34

If you know someone who is unsure whether or not Jesus is really God, point them to these passages in John. Because not only does Jesus repeat the Truth, He demonstrates that Truth in amazing fashion.

Jesus told the Jews that His testimony is true because He stands with the Father who sent Him. He told them He is not from this world, but from above. They asked Him, “Who are you?” and his reply was, “Just what I’ve been claiming to be all along.”

He even told them He not only knew their father Abraham, He existed even before Abraham was born. Then He used the words, “I AM,” which really got the Jews’ attention. That was the name God gave Himself in the Old Testament.

I hope you’ll read these verses in John today. There is so much here!

Jesus told the Jews if they hold to His teaching, they “will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God’s Truth is not subjective or fluid. God’s Truth is Jesus; the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is Jesus only who is able to set anyone free from the chains of sin. And, friend don’t kid yourself. If you are living with sin, you are a slave to that sin. That’s the truth.

But holding to Jesus’ teaching, believing He is who He says He is, and accepting the forgiveness of your sin, is so freeing! Have you experienced it? It is life-changing.

Sometimes I think we talk ourselves out of sharing our salvation experience because either we think it wasn’t dramatic enough, or we just wouldn’t know what to say. I love what the man born blind said to the Jewish leaders after Jesus gave him his sight. They were pressuring the man for details, looking for something they could pin on Jesus to get rid of him.

“How did he heal you?” they asked.

“He put mud on my eyes. I washed. And now I see.”

“Impossible,” they insist. “Don’t give credit to Jesus. He’s no better than any of us. He’s a sinner like everyone else.”

Then the healed man said something so profound: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.”

Period.

Friend, there is only one Truth that can set anyone free. His name is Jesus. You might not be able to explain the “how” He saved you. But if you know He did, that’s all you need to know. Tell it.

People couldn’t help but notice the change in the man who had never seen a day in his life. It was obvious something had happened. He could see!

And people will see a change in you, too, when God takes up residence in your life. It will be as obvious as a seeing blind man. And when they ask you how, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know. One thing I do know, I asked Him to forgive me, and He did.”

“Once I was lost, now I am found. Once I was blind, now I see. Once I was dead, now I am alive. Once I was a slave to sin. Now I am free.”

That Truth, dear one; the Truth that is Jesus Christ, and only that Truth will set you free, too.

 

 

 

July 16; Stop Trying So Hard

2 Kings 18:3-7, 20:20-21; 2 Chronicles 29:2, 32:32-33; Isaiah 24:1-27:13

When I read Isaiah’s words I see Jesus, the Rock eternal, the upright One whose life, death, and resurrection makes the path of righteousness level, and who makes salvation a wall and a rampart that protects His children.

So many religions require their followers to do certain things, to suffer in certain ways, to make sacrifices in order to attain favor, or god-likeness, or whatever the goal of that religion is.

On the other hand, Jesus says: “Here, let me do that for you.”

In other religions people can be at different levels, different stages in their pursuit of heaven or actualization or enlightenment.

Jesus says, “Believe in me.”

Salvation Jesus’ way is a gift, not something you strive for or earn. In Jesus’ economy we are all equal. No one is saved more than someone else by virtue of a series of completed tasks.

Ask.

Receive.

That’s it. No matter who you are. And if you’ve done that you know there is such peace and rest given to us. When we finally stop trying so hard to earn that unattainable goal, and allow Jesus only be our goal, we can rest in His grace.

Isaiah has so much to say about this. I hope you’ll read it and see Jesus, see how He cares for His children, how He shows grace to the wicked in order to bring them to Himself. Let Him speak to you about your relationship with Him in 2019.

Then rejoice with me in the truth of 26:3,

You will keep him in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

July 4; Evil Didn’t Have To Be A Thing

Isaiah 13-16

We read of Satan’s fall from grace. This angel, a created being with the ability to think and choose, decided he wanted to be his own god. That, not what happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is the first recorded sin.

God didn’t create Satan evil. In fact, this angel we know as the devil was once known as the morning star, son of the dawn. But he took what God had given him, and twisted it until it died, and he was thrown out of heaven never to return.

Some people ask why a loving God would place evil in the world, why He would create sin. The answer is: He didn’t.

Ezekiel 28 seems to indicate that Satan made his decision to sin after the world was created. It would appear Satan enjoyed the garden as a perfect creation of God – until “iniquity was found” in him. Was Satan jealous of the relationship God had with Adam and Eve, and wanted them to worship him, too? (thoughts taken from “When Did Satan Fall From Heaven?” by Eric Hovind, creation today.com)

God didn’t create evil. He created choice. And with the ability to choose Him, we have the ability to choose to reject Him. We have the ability to choose to follow the Truth, and we have the ability to choose to follow our own twisted interpretation of the Truth. That’s where evil comes from. From me. And you, when we choose to deviate from the Truth of the Creator God.

When God created us with choices, He knew some would choose against Him. He knew there had to be consequences for that choice, serious consequences. And before day one of Creation, He knew He would do everything possible to help people choose Him, even as far as going to the cross in a human body to pay the ultimate price for sin Himself so we wouldn’t have to.

So no, evil didn’t have to be a thing. It still doesn’t. But it will continue as long as we who have the ability to choose between right and wrong, between evil and good, continue to choose sin.

You are going to make choices today. Are you going to make evil a thing?

 

June 24; The Truth Hurts

2 Kings 14:7-14, 5:1-7a; 2 Chronicles 25:11-24

The truth really does hurt sometimes. Especially if the truth reveals a sin or proves us wrong. It’s like looking in the mirror first thing in the morning. You just don’t like what’s looking back at you.

So often in the Bible we read about God’s prophets proclaiming the truth, then being persecuted for it. But what spoke to me today as I read God’s Word is that the men of God didn’t back down or change their message to make life easier for themselves. The truth was more important than their comfort, or acceptance, or even their lives.

We might look in that mirror in the morning and throw it crashing to the ground. But breaking a mirror doesn’t change what that mirror revealed. You still have that sleepy morning look. You just don’t have to look at it.

Being angry at God, or throwing out His Word doesn’t change what is revealed there, either. That sin God laid a finger on is still a sin. And until you repent of it, you will pay, whether or not you want to admit it or not.

Dear Ones, we need to know what the Truth is. We need to know what the Bible says. And we need to keep proclaiming it, even if it makes us uncomfortable, or results in persecution.

Because the Truth also heals. It is life-altering, wonderfully beautiful, and worth any grief we might receive in sharing it. God hates sin. God loves sinners. Sin comes with a death penalty. Jesus died. Grace is ours for the taking.

Speak the Truth, even if it hurts. Let’s be as faithful as the prophets we read about today, no matter what.

June 9; Good, Bad, and Trust

Ecclesiastes 7-10

Bad things happen. Good things happen, too. We have successes, and we have failures. Some days the sun shines, and some days the sun hides behind clouds. Let’s face it. There are just some things that are out of our control.

Solomon says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecc 7:14)

We who have placed our faith in the Lord know that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. We count on that with assurance.

Some people question why God allows sin, or tragedy, or hardship. Honestly, I don’t see how He could have done it any other way. If it wasn’t for the night, would we even notice the day? If it wasn’t for sickness, would we appreciate health? If it wasn’t for bad times, we’d take good times for granted. If it wasn’t for sin, how could we understand grace?

Solomon seems to be saying, let God be God. “Who can straighten what he has made crooked?” Quit fighting against God, or wasting your time being mad at Him. He is God. And He’s got this.

King Solomon has a dismal view of life. I don’t. And you don’t have to, either. Do you trust God? He absolutely can be trusted with every detail of your life. You can rest assured that, whether the sun is shining, or if you are in the middle of a storm, God wants to show you what He can do, He wants to draw you to Himself.

Good things happen and bad things happen. Trust God in every circumstance. He can be trusted.

March 16; By The Grace Of God

Deuteronomy 9-11

Moses is reminding the Jews that God had blessed them, not because they were this great, upstanding, cleaned-up family, but because of who God is. Moses called them a stiff-necked people, and then proceeded to recall the many times they had blown it. Did they think they deserved God’s favor? Think again, folks.

But God had chosen the Jews to show the world who He is. God chose the Jews to demonstrate His holiness, His power, His grace to the people of that time, and to us. Which reminds me of what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Our salvation, God’s blessings on our lives have nothing to do with our being this great, upstanding, cleaned-up person. It’s God. Period.

Now, if you read all three chapters today, you’ll hear God tell us that as His children, we need to be obedient. Our obedience leads to blessings which translates into a window through which the world can get a glimpse of Jesus.

But what we do is a result of who we are in Christ. Sinners forgiven. Lost found. Dead alive.

By the grace of God.

February 8; Rules

Exodus 19-21

We come to the part where God lays down the law. Verse after verse of rules and regulations for EVERYTHING. Some of the punishments for breaking the rules are harsh – like the death penalty for cursing your parents. Many include some sort of retribution.

In fact, in regard to injuring a pregnant woman we read, “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (21:23-25)

In regard to your neighbor’s bull, you break it, you buy it.

Now  I am aware we live under grace. But does that mean we should throw out the rules? Does God’s grace negate consequences?

A while back I was talking to the 3-5 graders in our Good News Club about rules, and asked them what our club would be like if there were no rules. It was an interesting, lively conversation. After trying to picture what a club with no rules would look like, we decided rules aren’t such a bad thing after all.

Rules are boundaries that make life better.

But we live in a society that’s nibbling at the rules. In fact, we are encouraged to live by our own rules. Can a society survive without rules, or with an infinite number of rule-sets? Can you picture what that would look like?

Oh yeah. I saw it on the news last night.

God gave the rules we read here in Exodus for a reason, so that the Jewish people would enjoy a safe, and caring lifestyle. God’s rules made life better for them.

And they still do for us. I don’t have a bull, or a slave. But if I read these rules God specified, and apply the principles to my life and in my dealings with people, my life and theirs would be better.

Rules are not meant to be broken, but rather followed, and taught. Without them, our world would be nothing but chaos. Without rules, our society will crumble.

Thank God for rules.