Meditation–GOD’S GRACIOUS LOVE

God’s gracious love extends beyond what we can imagine. He is supernatural; we are natural. He is infinite; we are finite. His love generates our love; His compassion generates our compassion; His mercy and forgiveness generate our mercy and forgiveness. Praise God that, through Jesus Christ, we are His family. Let us praise Him and share the Good News!

God’s gracious love extends beyond what we can imagine. He is supernatural; we are natural. He is infinite; we are finite. His love generates our love; His compassion generates our compassion; His mercy and forgiveness generate our mercy and forgiveness. Praise God that, through Jesus Christ, we are His family. Let us praise Him and share the Good News!

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“What shall I render to the LORD [For] all His benefits toward me?” Psalm116:12 (NKJV)


HOW GOOD THE LORD IS TO US!

The Lord’s goodness and mercy are magnificent … they are daily … they are without number.

How would we know or how could we calculate each blessing He has bestowed on us?

Our days are numbered, yet each breath we take is a gift from God. Each sunrise is His 43. God's-Gracepromise of another day; each sunset is a time to reflect on His goodness.

Each open door offers us possibilities; each closed door keeps us from disaster. When we pray, He hears our voice; when we come to Him, He answers; when we repent of our sins, He forgives; when we praise His name, He restores.

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THE PSALMIST SINGS PRAISES TO THE LORD:

      • “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1 ESV)
      • “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.” (Psalm 100:1-2 NLT)
      • “I will praise the LORD at all times; my mouth will continually praise him.” (Psalm 34:1 NET)

Fellow Christian blogger Heather Quiroz in her Dec. 31, 2018, post (“Yes, God Loves Failures Like You and Me”) said this: “I see a faithful, steadfast,  immovable, loving God who does not give up on sinners like you and me. I see a love that draws people in, not to shackles and shame, but to freedom and deliverance. Truly, it is love that sets people free and it is God’s enduring love that reminds me that I am not who I used to be, but I am being made into His image and He’s sticking with me through the process.”

How can we possibly take those words in without crying out in praise to a holy God Meditation-God's Gracious Lovewhose love and mercy abound!

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WHAT MORE COULD I WANT than to be with the Lord, to walk where He walks and lie down in His presence?

Again, the psalmist captures this desire: “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!” (Psalm 84:10 NLT)

This wish is fulfilled by the LORD’s own promise to us: They shall be My people, and I will be their God.” (Jeremiah 32:38 NASB)

Paul tells us that whether we live or die, “we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8 NIV), so that, for us who believe, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 BSB)

The psalmist again in Psalm 145:1 (NET):

“I will extol you, my God, O King! I will praise your name continually!”


PRAYER

50. Open_BibleOur Father God, Your love for us is so amazing. It extends beyond what we can image. We know we are not worthy, yet You have called “righteous” and “sons of God” if we believe in Your Son, whom You sent. Thank You, Lord, our Father. In Jesus’ name, AMEN


 

Questions for Personal Meditation and Discussion Groups:
  1. Do you believe that the Lord is good to us, even when we are in pain, or do you believe He is good to us only when He “answers” our  prayers the way we want them answered within our preferred timeframe?
  2. Do you believe the Lord has a plan for our lives and that His good plan and good timing are in our best interests, even if we do not understand at the time, even though we could be blinded with fury and pain at the “unfairness” of our plight?
  3. Can you comprehend the intense abiding love that God has for His creation? Or does it seem so unreal as to be the stuff of dreamers and charlatans? Could it be that the very creation itself cries out in praise to the Creator, that all honor and glory are His alone? If that is even remotely possible for you, what will you do about it? What will your response be?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.

Meditation–OUR FAMILIES WON’T LISTEN

Even our Savior felt the sting of His family’s rejection. When we pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help us encourage family and close friends to experience God’s saving grace, we find hardened hearts. Yes, we know we’re planting seeds and can console ourselves with prayer that God will sent an agent who’ll water those seeds, and then, at the right moment, God’s light will shine on those watered seeds, and they’ll begin to grow. But it won’t be while we’re standing there, pouring our heart out. Our families and closest friends may be receptive to the Word coming from someone else, but not necessarily from us.


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“Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown and with his own people and in his own home.’” Mark 6:4 (NCV)


OUR FAMILIES WON’T LISTEN TO US.

We love them, and our hearts are burdened for their salvation and their *eternal* destiny.

We see our adult children — beautiful, young and vibrant, successful in a worldly way — and yet, when we look into the eyes that look back at us — eyes that look like our eyes set in a face much like our own — we see rejection.

Rejection of the Bible. Rejection of Jesus Christ. Rejection of salvation.

We cannot help but morn.

45. Children_Ignoring_Parents+++

THEY DO NOT SEE their rejection of the Savior as actually *rejecting* the offer of salvation from the Lord of all creation. They see it, more likely than not, as a rejection of people, people like their mother and father, people like some of their aunts and uncles, and rejection of a grandparent or two.

Maybe it’s just a rejection of “those people” — a projection of every negative stereotype they can project onto people they neither know nor associate with — yet, who nevertheless become shields as they protect themselves from the Truth of Jesus Christ.

“It’s a lifestyle choice,” they say. “I’m glad it works for you,” they say. “You be you, and I’ll be me,” they say. “Okay?” they say.

Not okay.

Another translation presents our text source this way:  “Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.’” Mark 6:4 (NLT)

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EVEN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST faced rejection of His message from His immediate family, as well as His neighbors and townspeople. It was not until He was raised from the dead that the family came around.

31-jesusteachingreligiousleadersWe read in Acts that James, Mary, and other siblings of His were gathered with the apostles in the Upper Room. James became a church leader and wrote the book of James, one of the most instructive tomes in the Holy Bible.

The rest of us will not be raised from the dead, so we will not have a dramatic moment of confronting our disbelieving family members, showing them our execution scars and reminding them of the many times we told them about our earthly fate.

We know in Heaven, the Lord will bathe us with a blessing that will wipe away every tear and keep us from sorrow (Rev. 21:4), but that’s for Glory; this is for now, and our family’s rejection of the Messiah’s call (Rev. 3:20) pierces our hearts with pain.

It’s supposed to.

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WHEN JESUS TOLD US, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8 ESV), He wants us motivated to be intentional in spreading the Good News of what the Lord has done for us (see Mark 5:19). It’s that pain for the salvation of our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else the Lord places in our lives that motivates us to share the Gospel with others.

As we try but we fail to convince our loved ones of Jesus’ love for them as individuals, we are reminded over and over again that it never is within our power to convince someone to accept Jesus Christ.72.Family_Bible_Study

The verses of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 tell us that one person sows the seed by witnessing for the Gospel, another one waters the seed, but it is only God’s Holy Spirit that can open a hardened heart and turn it in a new direction (cf Ezekiel 36:26, 1 Corinthians 1:18).

None of that reassurance takes the pain away, of course. The Lord prepared us in John 15:18 that the world (those close at hand and those far away) will hate us because first it hated the Lord, and again in John 3:19 that men (and women) love the darkness more than they do the Light.

We are to do our job, and our job is clear: To witness by our actions and our words (see 2 Peter 1:5-8).

The rest is up to others and their relationship — or non-relationship — with the Savior. We turn the matter over to Him through prayer.


PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, You have burdened our hearts with sharing the salvation story withour loved ones … and even with those we barely know. We confess our inability to 68. Holy_Bible_Crosscarry the message forward with grace and conviction, when we are too aware of our own shortcomings. We feel we are unworthy ambassadors for so great a message. Yet Jesus called  us to be His witnesses and assured us, that with the power of the Holy Spirit, we could accomplish more on earth than He could do in his bodily form. Lord, we believe Your promises to be trustworthy, and we ask Your guiding hand as we seek to live lives — in word and deed, and in thought — that honor You and Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN


QUESTIONS for Discussion Groups:

 

1. Have you experienced this difficulty in witnessing for the Gospel with your family? If not, is it because they’re believers … or because you haven’t tried?

2. If they are believers, how was the Gospel presented to you at home? If they are not believers, what keeps you from sharing the Good News with them?

3.  Regardless of your success or failure at home, what experiences have you had sharing the Gospel with neighbors, more distant friends, and even strangers? Are they more receptive to your testimony than family? If so, why is it? If not, why not? Have you tried to share the Word? If not, what stops you?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.

Meditation–SUFFERING IN SILENCE

We suffer in silence when we fail to believe in the God of Creation. He has offered us a life with abundance if we believe in Him, His promises, His Son, but when we — through pride — strive to live life on our own, we fail, sometimes immediately and sometimes over time, but we fail. He remains faithful to pick us up, whenever we repent and call on His name. Will you call on Him today to help you through your pain? You don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Praise God!

We suffer in silence when we fail to believe in the God of Creation. He has offered us a life with abundance if we believe in Him, His promises, His Son, but when we — through pride — strive to live life on our own, we fail, sometimes immediately and sometimes over time, but we fail. He remains faithful to pick us up, whenever we repent and call on His name. Will you call on Him today to help you through your pain? You don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Praise God!


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Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?


“Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.” — Psalm 42:11 (CSB)


WE OFTEN SUFFER IN SILENCE.

Alone. Unrecognized. Unknown.

We feel as though the ebb of life has passed us by. No one knows our name, or our struggles, or our shame.

We hide the truth in our hearts; sometimes, it’s so deeply hidden, we hide it from ourselves.

We want to fix it, but we don’t know how.menarguingatwork

“If only *they* will change, everything will be all right,” we say. “If *our circumstances* were different, this would all go away.”

But it doesn’t. Day after month after year, nothing changes. Yes, there are ups and downs; yes, there are escapes built into our regime, but in the end, it remains the same: missed opportunities, sadness, despair. No hope.

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THE BIBLE RECOGNIZES THIS HUMAN CONDITION and speaks volumes into our hearts. Oh, if only we would let go and let God. If only we could drop our burdens at the foot of the Cross. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28 NASB)

We hear those words, but they ring hallow. How could this be? How could Jesus take away the sting of our affliction? Does He hear our prayers? Does He care about our lives? Isn’t He too busy with more important things, bigger things, other people?

Jesus assures us we’re important to Him. Look at the sparrows, He says, speaking of unimportant members of the animal kingdom. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” (Matt. 10:29 NIV) “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matt. 10:30 NIV).

God knows us. God sees us. God cares about us.

Jesus says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

That’s love. That’s true love.

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THEN WHY DO WE SUFFER SO?

David tells us in the Psalms, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” (Psalms 34:19 ESV).

Paul tells us that “we rejoice in our sufferings” because the experience of going through these troubles “produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character 55.Holy-Spirit-Descends-Bibleproduces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

James, the half-brother of Jesus, reminds us that we should take comfort in our troubles as “nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3 NET)

Endurance, he says, leads us to wisdom; and, if we lack wisdom (which we do), we “should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand.” (James 1:5 NET)

Trials, Peter says, “show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold … and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NET)

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SO, WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF ALL THIS?

Here’s what God says to us through the Psalms:

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May you shelter them, and may those who love your name boast about you. For you, LORD, bless the righteous one; you surround him with favor like a shield.” (Psalms 5:11-12 CSB)

“Protect me, God, for I take refuge in you.” (Psalms 16:1 CSB)

“I always let the LORD guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalms 16:8 CSB)

“I called to the LORD in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” (Psalms 18:6 CSB)

46. Sin_JesusChrist_God

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1 ESV)

 

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THE CASE HAS BEEN TRIED. The jury has come back. Here is it’s verdict:

“We find God’s message to be True; we find it Trustworthy. In it, we find our Salvation.”

Case dismissed. You, the tormented, are free to go.

Go with God.

He will guide you and sustain you. In all matters, He will love you and hold you in the palm of His hand. He will cry tears alongside you (“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 NIV).

He will never forsake you.

    • “God will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6 ESV)
    • “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV)
    • “Every moment you know where I am.” (Psalm 139:3b TLB)
    • “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” (Isaiah 41:13 ESV)
    • “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Finally, this, from the Master’s own voice (Matt. 28:20 ESV):

“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, full of love and mercy, hear our prayer, O Lord. Reach down and wipe away our tears. Take our hand and lead us. Wrap us in your strong arms. Keep us safe. Be with us. Although our faith falters, your steadfastness never fails; although we stumble, you never grow faint; although we’re tired, you’re never weary. Lord, lead us as you promised, that if we trust in You with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding, and in all our ways acknowledge You, You will make our paths straight (Prov. 3:5-6). Lord, we claim that promise for ourselves and give You all the praise, honor, and glory. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ we pray, AMEN


QUESTIONS:

1. Do you find it difficult to believe that the God of Creation knows who you are, loves you, cares for you, and even died for you to pay the debt of your sin? Amazing? Yes, but true! Can you claim this truth for yourself this very day?

2. Do you find it difficult to claim the truth that God’s grace is bigger than your sin, that He can cover your pride, greed, arrogance, malice, and envy, and so much more? He said He can. His Word says He can. Can you claim that truth today and for all eternity?

3. Do you find it difficult to believe that the God of Creation, Almighty God, kind of the universe is calling you today to repent of all your sin and turn to Him for forgiveness? Why suffer any longer with the demons who have owned you for months or years or even decades? Today is the day of your deliverance. Call on Him. He’s listening. He cares. He can heal you.


Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.


 

Meditation–AVOIDING FOOLISH PURSUITS

Jesus mercifully shows us how to guard ourselves from straying into sinful situations. One pastor likens it to erecting “guardrails,” that keep us on the straight path. Others call it a “conscience” or “inner voice” that tells us that what we’re about to do is not a good thing, or will bring harm to us or to another. Yet, how often do we ignore that voice in pursuit of what we, in our pride and stubbornness, want in the moment. Jesus offers us a better way — it’s to place our faith and trust in Him.


“A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself, but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3 (NET)


WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE.

We do something we know we shouldn’t do. We can see disaster coming, yet we persist doggedly in doing something that, even while we’re doing it, we know is wrong.J21.EATING_DONUTS

Sometimes, it’s as little as eating an extra doughnut; other times it’s cheating on our income taxes, gambling money we don’t have, or cheating on our spouse.

Proverbs tells us that it is “naive” or “foolish” — depending on the translation — to see danger ahead and persist in our activity. When foolish actions are repeats, and become a life habit, then we have passed the line from doing something foolish to being a foolish person.

Wisdom tells us to alter our course. It only takes a little will power to leave the jelly-filled doughnut on the tray, but those other infractions — spousal abuse, stealing from the government and community, or risking our children’s college funds — may be illegal and most certainly are immoral.

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LIKE MOST HUMAN SINS, we can lay the blame for our actions on “society,” i.e., “everyone else does it” or “it’s no one else’s business,” but the real fault lies within — it always goes back to human pride and willfulness. We do what we choose to do because … we want to do it. That’s true for the little things, like eating the extra doughnut, as well as the big things, like lying or cheating or showing anger.

J21.STUBBORN_COUPLESo, why throw the doughnuts example in with the recognized sins? Certainly, God hasn’t weighed in on whether glazed or jelly-filled are counter to His eternal and universal laws. Just for illustrative purposes. It’s easier for us to identify the stubborn willfulness we display in the little things, those things that do not violate God’s laws. We can see them and recognize them.

Most people, though, find it difficult to see themselves willfully violating God’s laws, what we’re calling the big things. We would not even consider committing murder, theft, or adultery, yet Jesus gave us a far stricter standard when it comes to violating the Law. Mere speech can violate God’s holy standard. Not even that — but thoughts — those ideas or feelings that we keep inside, never to speak of or act upon — violate the perfect standard of the King.

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PASTOR ANDY STANLEY URGES US to erect “guardrails” in our personal lives to keep us from straying into sinful situations. Our personal guardrails, he says, function much like the guardrails along the sides of our highways to keep us from driving off the roadway into a ditch.

“But where are the guardrails in our actual, everyday lives?” Stanley says. “We have to establish those personal guardrails ourselves so that we can back up and stay on the safe side of a potentially dangerous situation.”

67.Jesus_Welcomes_AllSo, what “guardrails” do we put into place in our personal lives to keep from inching over, slightly more and more, from respectability to violation of God’s laws?

Just as we grab the last cream-filled doughnut, ignoring the voice that tells us we don’t need it, so, too, we are prone to violate God’s laws because it pleases us. We may well hear His voice, but in our haste to satisfy our immediate desires, too often we ignore Him.

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HOW CAN WE EVER MANAGE to please a holy and perfect God? (This question applies only to believers. Non-believers already fail to please Him because of their unbelief. (see Hebrews 11:6))

The Bible tells us there is a way to please our holy God. The Bible says there is only one way to remain obedient to God. That way is through Jesus. Jesus tells us in John 15:5 CSB: “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me” (emph. mine).

Jesus gives us the power and the strength to withstand temptation. Jesus provides the “guardrails” for our lives.


PRAYER

O Lord, our merciful and heavenly Father, we fall on our knees in praise and honor for 68. Holy_Bible_Crossyour holy name. O Father God, your mercy and patience are more than we can fathom, your forgiveness is more than we deserve. Your love is overpowering. Pour your goodness into our hearts so that we may pour the overflow into the hearts of everyone we meet, and may men and women see that goodness and give you the glory. We pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. AMEN


QUESTIONS:

1. Do you ever struggle with obeying that quiet inner voice that leads you away from something you want to do, but you know you shouldn’t? If you disregard that voice, how do you drown it out? Through a hardened heart? Through substance abuse? Through entertainment and diversion? How do you feel the next day?

2. Can you trust Jesus to fulfill His promise that He will give you the strength to resist temptation, that He cares about you personally and knows your name, and that He has the power to step in? Do you believe Jesus, as a man, was able to avoid all sin?

3. What does God’s offer of eternal grace mean to you? Does it sound somewhat fanciful, like a wish for eternity conjured up by mankind or does it sound to you exactly like what God says it is: an offer to spend forever in His presence? Are you willing to turn your life over to Him now so you can lay claim to that offer? Are you willing to admit your sins and acknowledge your need for His forgiveness?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.

Meditation–GOD’S GLORIOUS GOODNESS

God clearly tells us that earth is not our real home. For those of us who believe in the Lord, that “real home” is in Heaven. Still, our lives on earth are blessed with many moments of sheer grace, where beauty reigns, and smiles are abundant. Yes, they often are followed by the distresses caused by sin, but the sin part is our fault. The blessings are kisses from an almighty and loving Father who cares for us deeply. 

 


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Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?


“Do good, O LORD, to [those who are] good, And to [those who are] upright in their hearts.” Psalms 125:4 (NKJV)

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are very glad.” Psalms 126:3 (NCV)


GOD IS GOOD TO US!

Throughout the Psalms, human emotion is laid bare, as David, Anselm, Moses, and other Meditation.Writing Psalmspoets alternate among pain and suffering, on the one hand, and joyful praise and worship, on the other.

The sum total is that our earthly lives can be difficult (the result of falling out of God’s favor), yet rays of God’s goodness and mercy shine upon us (like the sun’s rays piercing a cloudy sky).

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WHEN TROUBLE STRIKES, we are to call on the Lord. When fortune envelopes us, we are to give praise to the Lord.

The Bible says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” (James 5:13 ESV)

In another place, the Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV)

Paul tells us that he has experienced the full gamut of what life offers, from hunger to plenty, from sickness to health, from cold to comfort. Through it all, he never fails to thank God for His everlasting goodness. Here’s his voice: “I am not saying this because I am in Meditation.Raised Handsneed, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11 NIV)

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IN OUR PASSAGE TEXT, the psalmist calls out to the Lord to provide richness and mercy to those who call on His name by virtue of their good standing.

While it’s an Old Testament tribute to salvation through good works (obeying the Law), it’s still a plea for the Almighty to smile graciously on those who love Him. Shortly afterward, we read that God “has done great things for us,” and we recognize it and rejoice in the Lord’s benevolence.

Those of us who are believers in the Lord, can claim this promise from Revelation 21:4 (NIV): “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Indeed, the Lord has done — is doing, and will do — great things.

Let us rejoice!


~PRAYER~

O FATHER GOD, our Heavenly Father, we rejoice that You have made us in Your image and 68. Holy_Bible_Crossfor Your glory. We rejoice that you who have made us neither slumber nor sleep but keep watch over us day and night, reassuring us that no one can snatch us from Your hand. We know that You are with us when the times are troubling and when they are pleasant; when we are broken and hurting, and when we are at peace and feel blessed. O Lord, Your steadfast love endures forever. We will wait on the Lord and be renewed like eagles. May Your face continue to shine upon us. In Jesus’ almighty name, AMEN


QUESTIONS:
      1. Is it difficult for you to imagine an eternal God who is bigger than the universe who also cares about you individually and knows everything about you?
      2. Can you trust His word, as revealed in the Holy Bible, that He loves you and wants a personal relationship with you? Can you accept that He wants you to place your trust in Him, and that, if you do, He will give you freely a life that stretches into eternity?
      3. If you haven’t accepted His invitation to grace, can you do that now? All you need to do is confess your sins to Him, repent of your sinful life, and ask Him to cleanse you and come into your heart as captain of your soul. The words are less important than the total surrender.

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.

~Meditation~ OUR LIFE’S WORK

One of the more difficult lessons to learn — besides learning that God’s grace covers all of our sins and that He was willing to let His Son suffer and die to pay our debt — is this: God has done all of the work for our salvation. All we’re required to do is believe Him. So many of us still look for a chore list or tabulation of our good and bad moments. No, God has made it clear: We never can earn our salvation, but, by His mercy, we don’t have to. It’s a free gift of God’s grace. Our job is to accept it.


Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at Twitter. Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?


“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29 (CSB)


HOW CAN WE EARN OUR SALVATION?

That is a normal question that most of us have asked.

Some really don’t ask the question because, most likely, they’re afraid of the answer. It might be along the lines of Jesus’ statement in Luke 18:22 NIV:  “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” They don’t want to give up their possessions or their “lifestyle” for Jesus.

Or else they imagine they’ll feel “called” to some remote jungle where the natives will spear them and feast on their remains. They don’t want to make a life-changing sacrifice.

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STILL, IT IS A normal question because it mirrors our life experiences on earth.

59. Woman-prayingEvery task we perform; every job we’re given; every responsibility we hold requires us to perform at a satisfactory level as judged by someone else. If we don’t measure up, then we’ll lose our position, whether it’s to lose a business we started or a position to which we’ve been hired or appointed, or even to lose a marriage or friendship or even our freedom.

Yet, in God’s world, the equation is turned up-side-down (or, perhaps, it’s turned right-side-up).

God is the judge, but God also is the only actor. In terms of salvation, God is the only one doing anything. There is nothing for us to do; indeed, there is nothing we can do. We are incapable of earning our salvation because the ticket price is too high. We cannot pay it.

So God earned it for us and then gives it to us as a free gift. All we need to do is accept it.

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AHH, SO EASY … yet so few manage to accept God’s free gift.

43. Jesus-Praying-for-MeThe Bible says that Jesus is the only path to salvation (see John 14:6), that He is truth (see John 17:17), that His name is the only one given to us for salvation (see Acts 4:12), that all who call on Him will be saved (see Joel 2:32, cf. Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) and that, once saved, no one can snatch them from His hand or the Father’s hand (see John 10:28-29).

Yet, despite all that Our Lord Jesus Christ says to assure us that He wants us to live with Him always (see John 14:3, John 17:24), it is still natural for people to assume they have to earn salvation, to work hard enough to please God because that’s the way everything is done in this life.

Praise God that He has lifted the burden from our shoulders and placed it on His own. Paul, as usual, says it right (1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV): “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”


PRAYER 1

Our Heavenly Father, please forgive us when we find it so difficult  to see You as 44. Cross_on_Biblesomeone who can forgive our sins, that You could love us so much that You would send Your Son to bear our punishment, and that You would guarantee us eternal life in Paradise if we would just believe in Your Son. Help those who are struggling with that amazing grace and help those of us who believe to testify to the truth with humility and love. We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, AMEN

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PRAYER 2: O Heavenly Father, our Father God, our Dad, even our Daddy, thank You for Your magnificent love, for Your mercy and grace, for Your eternal faithfulness. You have given us the eternal gift of life, of peace. We endlessly praise Your holy name. Instill in our hearts a measure of love, forgiveness, patience, and grace so we might extend it to others. Lord, may they see Your light shining through us and give You the glory. In Jesus’ name we lift this prayer. AMEN


QUESTIONS:
      1. How difficult is it for you to accept God’s free gift of grace as your sole obligation to ensure your salvation and eternal life in His Kingdom? Does it seem so easy that there must be “a catch”? Does it seem so difficult that you might be required to sacrifice more than you feel you are able?
      2. How important is it to you to know and understand God’s plan for your life? Do you even believe God has a plan for your life? Do you think you could learn more by reading the Holy Bible, His inspired Word?
      3. What, if anything, stops you from learning more about God’s will and His role in human history? Does it stem from a back experience years ago … or does it come from the incredible gift of grace that exceeds our human ability to comprehend?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.

~Meditation~GOD RESTORES LIFE

No matter how bleak our lives look like at certain seasons, God is with us — if we will allow Him. He can turn the lean times into a great harvest, all for His glory. He does the work — we accept in faith.

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Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?


“Remember how short my life is. Have you created everyone for nothing?” Psalm 89:47 (CSB)

“Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.” Psalm 90:15 (NLT)


DURING THE LEAN TIMES, when it appears as if our lives are a wisp of smoke that evaporates and leaves no trail … when misery encompasses us, suffocating us, as we struggle to survive, during those times, it is very easy to wonder if God exists or, if existing, really cares.

The Bible (*see Romans Chapter 1*) clearly states that men everywhere for all time know that God exists, so there is no excuse for not honoring Him. Yet, believer or not, life is a struggle, and many times exist when our faith is tried.

Before I became a Christ follower (November 2010), my life meandered along one rocky path after another, so that, in sober moments, I wondered if there was any point to it.

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AFTER I TURNED  to Jesus Christ, He breathed life into my dead soul and showed me a53. man-power-of-prayer better way to live. He told me my life and conversion were an illustration of His Truth in John 10:10 (ESV): “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

He certainly transformed my life from a wasteland into an oasis. Yes, an oasis of life, water, sunlight, and joy, surrounded by the empty lives of others who still walk in darkness.

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GOD ORDAINED THAT I would read both verses above from the Psalms today, each speaking to me from a different translation. In one Psalm, the author bemoans the futility of his life and wonders if God’s creation amounts to anything. Certainly, I have walked along that road for most of my life.

Yet God, in His boundless mercy, gives us the second verse, where the Psalmist (possibly Moses) prays that God will give us gladness, joy, and life to compensate for the years of suffering.

This Psalm recalls the promise God already made. You can find it in Joel 2:25, 27 (NKJV): “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. … I am the Lord your God and there is no other.”

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CAN THERE BE any response to God’s mercy and love but one: “Yes, Lord, I believe! Thank You, Lord Jesus! You gave me life, and now I can truly live. Lord, save even me.”

From Psalm 89:52 (NASB): 

“Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen”


PRAYER

O Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for Your love and mercy. You have promised to68. Holy_Bible_Cross restore the lost years of our lives — those years when we wondered in the wilderness without Your Spirit in our hearts. Now that the Holy Spirit has sealed us for the Day of Redemption, please use us to further Your Kingdom by our actions and our speech. All the praise, honor, and glory are Yours, O Lord. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray, AMEN


QUESTIONS:

1. Have you ever felt abandoned by God or that, just maybe, you aren’t good enough for Him to bother with? Can you start to believe that the Holy Bible – the Word of God – says you do matter to Him, that He knows you and cares for you?

2. Could you start to explore His Word on your own, reading 15-30 minutes a day whenever you can to see what message of reassurance, of grace and forgiveness, of unqualified love He has promised just for you?

3. If you don’t think you have the time, could you just ask Him to provide it for you? Let Him show you where you have 15 minutes to spend in His Word.

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? Just send a prayer request via the Comments section.