Meditation–ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER

Earlier this week, we devoted this column to promoting other blog sites written by writers who promote a Christ-based, biblical message. Here is a summary of the other blog sites mentioned. As I continue to learn about more Christian writers, I would be honored to share them.

Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at TwitterComments 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?


“So let us try to do what makes peace and helps one another.” Romans 14:19 (NCV)

“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” Hebrews 3:13 (CSB)

“Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” Philippians 2:3 (NET)


OUR GOD CONTINUES TO AMAZE US!

Earlier this week, this column was devoted to promoting other blog sites written by writers who promote a Christ-based, biblical message.

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To present 15 or so recommended sites required far more work than I had anticipated, but the reward for doing so also exceeded anything I could have imagined.

I have been thanking the Lord for giving me the opportunity to learn more about the wonderful work He is doing through other hands. As time goes on, I would like to continue to promote and encourage fellow bloggers who love the Lord and have answered His call.

Here is a summary version for quick reference of the websites presented in the original blog. You can find the original one here: (http://bit.ly/2Q8dB7j). Note below the corrected website link for “Focused and Free.” (Please attach no significance to the list order.)

  1. Heather Quiroz — who writes To Declare His Glory (heatherquiroz.com)
  2. Karl D. Rhoads — who writes Focused and Free (https://www.focusedandfree.net) – please note the correction from the weblink supplied in the article. Karl migrated his blog to a new platform.
  3. Karina Lam — who writes Karina’s Thought (https://karinasussanto.wordpress.com/)
  4. Dee at Sealed in Christ — The ministry name for this blog (https://sixthsealministries.wordpress.com/)
  5. John Eli-Garay — who writes a column of the same name (https://john-eli.com/)
  6. Jess Kidding, found at (jesskidding17.wordpress.com)
  7. Rip-Roar Get High on Life — He’s at (https://riproarghol.wordpress.com/)
  8. David Istre writes Bible Exposition (https://bibleexposition.blog)
  9. Ian Michael writes Jesus Our Deliverer (https://jesusourdeliverer.wordpress.com/)
  10. Elle, who writes Elle’s Everyday, (https://elleeverydaysite.wordpress.com)
  11. Liz, who writes Adventures in Grace (https://childofgrace10142001.wordpress.com)
  12. Ryan Callahan, who writes Ryan Callahan’s Blog, (https://authorryanc.com)

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SEVERAL WRITERS WHOSE BLOGS I wanted to showcase, but who are more established, are:

      1. Godly Chic Diaries – She is at https://gcdiaries.wordpress.com/
      2. Beauty Beyond Bones —She is at https://beautybeyondbones.com/
      3. David Fischer — He is at https://damarministries1991.wordpress.com
      4. Inmate Blogger — They are at https://inmateblogger.com

Since posting this recommendation, I received an e-mail giving a history of the inmates’ website. You can find the story of how Steven & Suzie Jennings established this website in 2013. In February 2014, they were married.

This explains the riddle for me: So many of the inmates thank “Suzie” for their opportunity to reach the outside world. You can read about the website here: https://inmateblogger.com/2018/11/01/a-brief-history-of-inmate-blogger-the-co-founders/.


PRAYER

68. Holy_Bible_CrossOur majestic Lord and Savior, the Creator and Sustainer of all life. To You goes all the praise, honor, and glory. You are an amazing God, filled with love and grace, justice and mercy. Thank You for claiming us for Your glory. Thank You for giving us eternity. In Jesus’ powerful name we lift this prayer. AMEN


 

Meditation — LIVING BY FAITH, NOT REASON

God’s promises to mankind are based on His good provision but require our acceptance. Why? Because He graciously gave us the gift of free will. That means we can accept — or reject — life. We cannot reason our way into salvation, where we take control, connect the dots, and conclude that salvation is possible and that we possess the means to attain it. It is a matter of faith, where we place our total confidence in the Lord to provide for our needs. Because we cannot attain salvation on our own, we also cannot lose it on our own. God keeps us for His glory.

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?

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (CSB)

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NET)

WE COME TO GOD T56. Prayer-Partners-menHROUGH FAITH, NOT THROUGH REASON.

Our sinful natures and finite minds cannot combine to produce within us a saving power apart from the grace of God. It is His will that we may be reconciled to Him. It is not of our own doing, that we might boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

LET’S SEE HOW THIS WORKS.

A man (or woman, if you’re a woman) comes into your life and asks for some help. He (or she) is struggling with life and thinks you might be able to help. Why? Well, because you’re a bit older, more mature, more settled in your life, which is a good indicator that you may have experienced whatever it is that he (or she) is going through now and lived to tell about it.

So you set up shop, share a cup of coffee and a Danish, and sit back to listen to this person’s tales of woe.

You say: “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”

Other person says: “?”

He (or she) is stumped.

He (or she) mumbles something about going to church or having spent a couple of weeks one summer at church camp and, then 20 years ago, memorized a few verses before his (or her) grandmother got sick … and, basically, that’s it.

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NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, you’re unable to get this person to acknowledge, beyond some lame comment, that he (or she) even has a need for such a personal relationship, assuming that such a thing actually exists.

72.Family_Bible_StudyThe Bible is clear that such a thing actually does exist and that we are ~commanded~ by God to seek it. He promises this: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” — Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)

Yes, God draws us to Him first (John 6:44), but we have the privilege — and responsibility — to respond through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

Jesus said to store up for ourselves “treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20), not in this world, because our heavenly treasures are under God’s faithful keeping and will not be tarnished or broken or lost. They will be ours forever.

We then pray with our young charge and exhort him (or her) to begin praying to Jesus Christ to ask that He would intervene in their lives and show them where they have 15 minutes a day they weren’t aware of to spend in prayer and Bible reading. You say that if he (or she) is sincere in that prayer, Jesus will deliver.

You remind them of what the Bible says: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” — 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV).

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AS YOU PART FOR THE DAY and watch this child of God drift away, you raise a silent prayer on their behalf, asking God to give them eyes to see and ears to hear. You know that if he (or she) does not turn to the Heavenly Father, whatever difficulty they may be facing will not end well.

If, however, this person does turn to the Lord, then he (or she) can lay claim to God’s promises to be with them and protect them through the storms of life (John 10:10).


PRAYER

O LORD, our merciful and majestic Redeemer, our Creator and Sustainer,  our Savior, we 44. Cross_on_Biblethank You for the opportunities You give us to reach out to others when they are in need, when they come to us for help. Lord, may we always point them to You, to Your sustaining grace, to Your everlasting love, to Your merciful justice. We pray also, O Lord, that as they ask You in prayer for time in their day to spend personally and intimately with You, that You will shower them with time and desire and so change their lives. In Jesus’ powerful name we pray. AMEN


QUESTIONS:

1. Do you find it difficult, if not impossible, to find a regular time each day for prayer and Bible reading? Do you think it’s even necessary to spend time alone with God every day? Would you feel comfortable asking God to find the time for you, or do you think He’s way too busy with more important stuff?

2. Why do you think it might be a good idea to hear from God’s Word each day and enter into prayer with Him regularly? Do you believe He intervenes in human affairs and longs to intervene in your life?

3. Are you uncomfortable with the idea that our response to God’s gift of salvation is a matter of faith and not of reason? Do you see that faith means we’re placing all of the burden on God, whereas reason means we are the ones who have earned salvation?


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


 

Honoring Jesus–Surprise Blogger Award

A surprise opportunity – via the Sunshine Blogger Award – to nominate fellow Bible-based bloggers whose work deserves recognition.

This is a different blog post than what normally appears here — and might never again! — but I’ve been given an unsought, but wonderful, God-blessed opportunity to learn more about some of the worthy — and sometimes under appreciated — Christian bloggers who pour their effort, thoughts, and prayers into a meditation and then share it (potentially) with the entire world for an unknown number of years. It also is an opportunity to share with my readers some blogs I am starting to read regularly. (This might look like a long post, but it’s written in a way to facilitate scanning. Please enjoy this!)

“For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.” Romans 12:3a (NET)

“So let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 10:17 (CSB)


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A FEW DAYS AGO, a fellow blogger — Ryan Callahan — surprised me and honored me with a nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

LoveAndGrace was mentioned alongside other worthy blog sites.

As a result of the nomination, I was tasked with identifying 11 other sites that I could nominate!

The real pleasure with the nomination, which is not an award itself — just a nod — is to acknowledge the work of some fellow bloggers whose work I enjoy and to bring them to your attention.

One of those sites is Ryan’s. Since he nominated me, I can’t nominate him back, but I’ll get around that by introducing him to my readers, anyway. His blog site is at authorryanc.com. He is an energetic blogger, who not only writes insightfully and with great praise for the Savior’s glory but is a consummate encourager. I am indebted to his positive feedback, as I imagine quite a host of bloggers are.

The Rules: 

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him or her.
  • Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions of your own.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

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HERE ARE MY NOMINATIONS, in no particular order. All are worthy:

  1. Heather Quiroz — who writes To Declare His Glory. (heatherquiroz.com) Heather spins an amazingly insightful meditation out of a verse fragment rather than an entire verse or passage. Here’s just one example: “…And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). That is the text source for her post. She ends all of her blogs with a prayer from a place of humility. I feel a kinship with her spirit and have suggested her blog to some of my readers. It gives me pleasure to introduce her to a wider audience.
  2. Karl D. Rhoads — who writes Focused and Free. You can find him at https://focusedandfree.com. Karl humbly confesses his gratitude to the Lord for helping clear him of substance abuse. I, too, was freed from alcohol abuse by the Savior’s love and power, so I can relate to my brother. Karl’s blog pieces reflect considerable thought. When you read him, you know he spent meaningful time in prayer composing his meditation.
  3. Karina Lam — who writes Karina’s Thought. You can find her at https://karinasussanto.wordpress.com/ She is a young woman (I believe of Chinese ancestry) with a husband and son. She lives in Australia. She has attracted a devoted following (392 comments on her About me page!) A recent post, Sept. 22, Always Pray, and Never Give Up, received “likes” from nearly 160 bloggers, in addition to non-blogger readers. Don’t let her English proficiency detract you — she offers deep insight that comes from a heart committed to the Lord.
  4. Sealed in Christ — That’s the group name for this blog, found at https://sixthsealministries.wordpress.com/ I’ve corresponded with Dee (I know her only as DEE@SSM) and found to be a delightfully modest individual, considering the amazing blog site she has composed. I’m reading a five-part series now on “The Day of the Lord,” and I recommend it highly to any of my readers. (Ryan already nominated this site, so I’m “cheating” by double-dipping. I might also be nominating other sites previously nominated, but I don’t have a complete list.)
  5. John Eli-Garay — You can find him at https://john-eli.com/ John is a pastor, who travels between Mexico and the United States. He writes storyline vignettes that take you right into the car with him as he drives, into his mind as he ponders his next steps, and into his heart as he surrenders his will to Jesus. When you arrive at the final sentence and his post his over, you take a deep breath and thank the Lord for servants like him. Well worth reading. Please check out his latest post, “Racism, the Gospel, and I”.
  6. This is a new one for me, but I’m enjoying it already. It’s called Jess Kidding17, found at jesskidding17.wordpress.com. I really liked her whimsical piece, “Why I Choose Not to Post Consistently”. Many bloggers fire up 3-4 posts a day, but she paces herself nicely. Since I also miss self-imposed publication times, I enjoyed reading her matter-of-fact story. She promises readers reader-friendly posts on everything from God’s grace to messy hair days to surviving momhood. Sounds like someone you’d like to have lunch with and lose track of the time.
  7. Rip-Roar Get High on Life — You can find him at https://riproarghol.wordpress.com/. This author of this site refers to himself humbly as ChristDisciple. He is a father of five who strives to be active and involved in their lives. His blog intermingles insightful meditations based on a biblical text source with anecdotes or stories from his personal life, which make him seem like just the person you’d like to share coffee with. One of his recent posts, “Get Your Own Dirt”, is one I have quoted to friends since I read it. You need to see it!
  8. Here’s a website I just learned about. It’s Bible Exposition from David Istre and is found at https://bibleexposition.blog. This site is an extremely well-organized landing spot to learn more about the Bible. It also boasts a conversation thread, called Disqus, which cultivates community. There is a rich amount of content here, emphasizing the history and significance of biblical concepts. It’s a great blog site for those who want to delve deeper into their knowledge of Christ’s eternal message.
  9. Jesus Our Deliverer, by Ian Michael. This very interesting blog, found here https://jesusourdeliverer.wordpress.com/ is hosted by Ian, a 13-year-old boy, whose writing is spiritually mature. In his words, “I made this blog to encourage others in their walk with God and to share about my own experiences.” Here’s a recent post to check out: “God promises to be with you”.
  10. Through Ian’s blog, I just discovered another very good entry that I would like to introduce to my readers, Elle’s Everyday, which is found here: https://elleeverydaysite.wordpress.com. It’s written by Elle Lovett, a 13-year-old girl, who, like Ian, writes with a spiritual maturity beyond her years. In one essay, “The Role of a Christian Female,” she tackles the thorny issue of God’s intended roles for men and women in ministry and does so in a crisp, convincing, and non-judgmental manner.
  11. Adventures in Grace — This is another interesting blog I discovered from Ryan while investigating Christian-based blog sites. It’s written by Liz, a mother to three grown daughters, who humbly proclaims her own life journey with the Savior has been challenging at times, but always covered by His love and mercy. You can find it here: https://childofgrace10142001.wordpress.com. Check out her post, “Grace and the Pedestrian” and see for yourself. Very powerful.

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Okay, that completes my required 11 nominations (12, really, because I included Ryan’s blog). There are four other sites I want to bring to my readers’ attention. They do not need me to “nominate” them, but they deserve reference for any of my readers who have not encountered them:

      1. Godly Chic Diaries – You can find her at https://gcdiaries.wordpress.com/ She describes herself as a 21-year-old law student with more than 16,000 followers. While I don’t know her country, her spelling of “favourite” things places her within the British Empire. She is unpretentious and dearly loved by her army of adoring fans. With those numbers, she doesn’t need my endorsement, but this is a website you should check out.
      2. Beauty Beyond Bones —You can find her at https://beautybeyondbones.com/. This is a delightful website that is more commercial than most, but the blogger — Name — writes from a place of insight and deep Christian faith. One recent post announced her 40,000th follower: 40,000 and Me! This young woman also posts videos of her short meditations. Among her most delightful postings are heartfelt discussions of her nascent dating life, her faithful desire to remain pure in body and spirit, and the struggles she went through during a bout with anorexia that landed her in the hospital. Often, she posts enticing recipes, with mouth-watering photos.
      3. David Fischer — His blog can be found at https://damarministries1991.wordpress.com. David often posts throughout the day, offering visual encouragement — Bible verses or inspirational quotes placed against an arresting backdrop. He builds community through his personal touches, from family vacations to unfortunate illnesses so that he comes alive as a real person, working for the Lord in an intimate way.
      4. Inmate Blogger — I am not making this up. There is an amazing blog site  at https://inmateblogger.com that takes you right into the prison cells of men and women, some of whom are doing extremely long stretches of time, separated from their children, spouses, and everyone else of importance in their lives. They write about what that’s like. The site allows them to share their individual stories, opinions, talents, and thoughts. Some of the writing is amazingly erudite, some of it is poorly constructed, but all of it impacts your heart.

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ANOTHER CATEGORY UNDER “I am not making this up” is a question-and-answer section, comprised of 11 questions. Recipients are to answer the 11 questions sent to them and then send 11 questions on to their nominees. 

QUESTIONS I AM TO ANSWER:

  1. Favorite holiday and why?  Pentecost.  I know we don’t celebrate it as such, but it’s when the Holy Spirit was given to Christ’s followers.  It’s when Christmas and Easter gained their meaning.  It’s when Christ’s work, through us, began.
  2. Favorite animal and why you chose it?  May I pass on this one?  I have an aversion to household pets, except I’m fascinated by aquariums.
  3. Favorite quote?  I like this one from Paul David Tripp, referencing the life change Jesus brings: “As he changes us, he allows us to be part of what he is doing in the lives of others.”
  4. Words of wisdom for someone?  “Friend, you owe me no explanations. I didn’t walk on water, I never healed anyone, and I didn’t die on the Cross for you. Someone else did. You need to decide what that means for your life.”
  5. A gift that was your favorite and why?  A Keurig one-cup travel coffeemaker. My wife bought it for me as a surprise anniversary gift. (I almost bought it for myself a week earlier. So glad I waited!)
  6. Favorite movie? God Is Alive.” David A.R. White does a great job of bringing Christian themes to life. This one traces a young college student’s faith walk when challenged by a philosophy professor.
  7. Favorite Song?  “Prince of Peace” by Hillsong United (Close second: “Praise You in the Storm” by Casting Crowns)
  8. Favorite lyrics in a song and explain why. “Oh, be still my heart/And my soul will ever know that You are God/And You heard my prayer.” From “Prince of Peace.” Such comforting words, that He is our God and He loves us.
  9. Someone you look up to? Max Lucado. He writes like a charm, both clearly and with spiritual depth. Very accessible. Also, he is dedicated to the craft of writing as a tool to reach people for the Lord. Surely, if I had been a Christian early in life, I would have liked a career path like his; God willing, of course.
  10. Share with us a picture and tell us what it is. Sunrise off Tybee Island, Ga., in March 2017, with my lovely wife silhouetted from the back taking a picture of the sunrise.

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    Tybee Island, Ga. (March 2017)

11. Share somethingI was a “seeker” after the Lord for four years (11/01/06-11/10/10). I don’t know if there’s a dubious record for the longest time of approach-and-resist, but, in the end, Jesus showed me that He is stronger than the Enemy, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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Okay, now I have to send 11 questions to each of the bloggers I have nominated. My list does not include the question about pets!


PRAYER: 

O glorious and merciful Father, we praise Your holy name. We give You all the glory. We are so grateful for Your love and patience with us. Most of all, O Lord, we are thankful for the saving work of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us for eternal life. Lord, hear our prayer, heal our hearts, and lead us to live out the Gospel for Your glory. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN


 

 

 

 

Meditation–GOD’S SAVING GRACE

God created a perfect earth—the Garden of Eden—and placed His most treasured creation—a man and a woman—in that Garden to glorify Him in fellowship, but through their disobedience, sin entered the world. God intervened in human affairs to reclaim us. He did this as an act of unmerited favor—called “Grace”—and, for that reason, we sing praises. When we compare our sin-filled lives against God’s glorious standard, we clearly see that salvation is a gift from God.

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?


“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.”  Romans 4:5 (NLT)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)


WHEN WE DIE, WE WILL MEET JESUS.

The Bible is clear that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Lord (Phil. 2:10-11; Romans 4:11, etc.).

J13.God's Saving GraceFor unbelievers, that moment will be a terrifying one, in the words of Pastor Francis Chan, but for believers, it will be a moment of exquisite pleasure, when the Creator of life welcomes us into His Kingdom.

He will apportion heavenly rewards based on our merit, and Jesus was clear that every stray word we utter will be judged, that He sees into our hearts and knows our motives.

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BY THAT ACCOUNTING, I surely will be found wanting. In even the best of moments, I have botched my end of it by uttering an inappropriate comment or feeling an ungracious thought.

Those around me sometimes notice, often don’t, but He takes note and will remember.

It pains me to think of Jesus smiling to see me, reaching His hand out to embrace me, and then whispering into my ear, “I love you, but too often you  let me down. You came up short. I couldn’t count on you to finish the job. Nevertheless, enter my rest.”

One anonymous Christian writer, expressing dismay with his own sordid condition, praised God this way:

“Yes, I’m a Christian. Yes, I can be the biggest hypocrite ever. I backslide. I stumble. I fall. I stray onto the wrong path. But God is working in me. I may be a mess, but I’m His mess.”  —Anon

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SOMETIMES IN MY WALK with Christ, I need to feel the pain of my sin, for it’s only by feeling the weight of my transgressions that I can gain even the glimmer of what J13.Gracesalvation means or the sacrifice our God made when at the right time “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV).

The Bible says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NET)

It is so true that we humans do not merit salvation based on our good works — not our actions, not our thoughts, not our words, not even the unspoken feelings in our hearts — none of which could pass a merit test, even with a healthy dose of leniency thrown in.

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HOW GRACIOUS AND LOVING our God is to see all of that mess, all of that sin, all of that wickedness and still love us so much that He would allow His Son to be sacrificed for our redemption.

He did not do this just for our sakes, as an act of divine magnanimity. He did it for His glory, to demonstrate that He alone is God and there is no other. That act of self-glorification, which in humans is hubris beyond the pale, in the realm of the Almighty is our certain seal of redemption — that trait is what guarantees our future in Paradise.

He alone is God, and there is no other.


PRAYER

68. Holy_Bible_CrossLORD, you are great and powerful. You have glory, victory, and honor. “Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you. The kingdom belongs to you, LORD; you are the ruler over everything.”1  You told us since the dawn of human history, “I, and I alone, am God.”2  For LORD, it is Your Holy Spirit that seals our hearts and souls “for the day of redemption.”3  Thank You, LORD Jesus. Amen

1. 1 Chronicles 29:11 (NCV) / 2. Deuteronomy 32:39a (GNT) / 3. Ephesians 4:30b (NIV)


QUESTIONS

1. How would you describe God’s gift of grace in your life? Have you claimed that gift for yourself or is this not something that interests you?

2. Can you see how salvation is an unmerited gift from God, that you cannot earn God’s favor because of your sin nature, or do you think that, based on the people around you, you’re basically a good person and God certainly knows it?

3. Does *salvation by grace* sound  like a secure thing, or is it too tenuous for you? Can you lay claim to God’s guarantee that salvation comes from your repentance and acceptance of His saving grace?


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


 

Meditation–SEEING GOD CLEARLY

We long to see God. The Bible says God talked to Adam and Eve and walked on the earth with them, but when sin entered the world through their disobedience, man’s relationship with God was altered. Moses begged to see God (Exodus 33:18), but God told him that no one could see His face and live (v. 20). God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and promises a golden future when He again will “walk among” His people (2 Corinthians 6:16). Until then, our hope is to believe in what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1) for He has promised to be with us in Spirit (John 14:16).


Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at TwitterComments 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?


“Then Moses said, “‘Please let me see your glory.'”  Exodus 33:18 (GWT)

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”  1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)

“Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”  2 Corinthians 3:17 (CSB)

GOD HAS REVEALED HIMSELF TO MANKIND.

All of nature — from the vastness of the universe to the complexity of our bodies, from the perfect positioning of our planet to sustain life to the unseen world of nano-technology — screams the presence of an intelligent source of life, affirming that our existence is not mere chance.58. Holy-Spirit-Shines

Paul tells us, “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has ben made.” — Romans 1:20 (NET)

Not only that, but God, Himself, put on human form and came to earth as a man in the person of Jesus, whose life was foretold by the prophets and recorded in Scripture.

All of the prophecies pointing to the First Coming of Jesus were fulfilled.

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THE PROPHECIES ALSO STATE there will be a Second Coming, and many of the events that must take place before that time, including the reestablishment of Israel as a country, which occurred in 1948, have taken place or are occurring.

While it is true that we, as mere mortals, cannot hope to understand the mind of the Almighty, we can take solace that He has assured us that He will be with us through the storms of life and that, if we persevere, we will spend eternity in His presence.

68.Woman_Praising_GodThe Bible says, “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” — 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NCV)

Do idols belong in the temple of God? We are the temple of the living God, as God himself says, “I will live with these people and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16 (CEV)

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SOMETHING AMAZING IS HAPPENING.

The God of the universe reveals Himself to us through His creation and through His written word, plus He broke into human history by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem our souls … and He promises to return.

He also created us with a desire to know Him. Those who do not believe in  the one true God often fill that void by creating their own religion, with their own rituals, spirits, and beliefs.

This amazing story of God creating us with a desire to know Him, and His decision to reveal Himself to us, is what prompted the psalmist to proclaim: “LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your name through the earth!” — Psalms 8:9 (CSB).


PRAYER

O Lord, who was and is and is to come, have mercy on us when out of our pride and ignorance, we doubt You or wonder where You  are or even if You are real and care about 68. Holy_Bible_Crossus. You have placed eternity in our hearts and a desire to know You. Throughout the ages, men have created their own gods, sensing the need to worship. Often — too often — when confronted with the reality of the one true God, they reject that truth, preferring to embrace a lie. Lord, may we never make that mistake. May we come to know the one true triune God, who self-exists beyond time. Lord, You have told us that when the Holy Spirit is present in our hearts and lives, there is freedom. Please give us that freedom, both today and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen


QUESTIONS: 

1. Are you convinced that God, as revealed in the Bible, is the one true God and that His creation testifies to His existence? Can you believe that He created mankind in His image?

2. Do you hunger to know God, to see Him and feel His presence in your life, or do you see Him as a detached being who seldom, if ever, intervenes in human affairs?   

3. Do you believe that Jesus is who He said He is, the Son of God and Son of Man and that He will fulfill His promise to return to earth, this time not as a baby but as God, with all of the heavenly glory that is His?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?

If so, just indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

Meditation–LIVING WITHOUT GOD

Living without God is a gruesome thought … and, fortunately, for us, is entirely our doing. That is, our God created us to be in fellowship with Him, so, if we have strayed from that fellowship, that is totally our fault. The fix is easy. Go to God, ask His forgiveness, and repent of our sins … then bask in His love and fellowship. Once restored to God’s grace, who would want it any other way? Not me!


Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at TwitterComments 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?


 

“They rejected the LORD’s laws. … They worshiped useless idols and became useless themselves.” 2 Kings 17:15 (NCV)

LIVING WITHOUT GOD IS NO LIFE AT ALL.

It’s like brown grass, with all the potential for being a vibrant green but, instead, lying dormant, covering the ground like an ugly carpet.J10.ABANDONED PLAYGROUND

It’s like a dried up well, once a symbol of life-giving water, but now just a mass of bricks, a pulley system with ropes and a bucket, and a mucky hole in the ground.

It’s like an empty promise, once a commitment to engage in something meaningful with someone — a spouse or child, maybe a sibling or friend, or possibly an organization — and now just words in the air, devoid of all meaning.

Life without God is going through the motions of life. It’s mere existence. It’s the shell of a human being waking up each morning to replicate the daily grind of a sea of days called “life” without really living through it.

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WITHOUT GOD, THERE IS NO PURPOSE to our existence except for the fleeting joys we manufacture — love of working, enjoying our families, taking vacation trips, joining a health club, following a professional sports team, meeting with friends — all of which leave us empty inside, so we have to manufacture another event or diversion to calm the ache, to quench the longing, to fill the void.

Inside, our souls scream for more.

We hear snippets of hope from the Bible …47.Open_Bible1

  •  “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
  •  “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
  •  “For I know the plans I have for you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  •  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4)

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WHEN WE REJECT THE LIFE-GIVING message of God’s love and the rules He establishes for our welfare, we’re left holding an empty bag, a broken toy, a keyless ring.

We’re left with a snippet of despair: “Let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we’ll die.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15; Isaiah 22:13)

When we reject God’s purpose for our lives, we worship artificial made-up non-existent gods who can do nothing … and then we are stuck with the useless lives we have created.

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THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT GOD broke through human existence with a message of love and compassion and forgiveness. He offers living water, the bread of life, and a counselor to guide us.

All that’s left for us to drink deeply of that well, to gorge ourselves on that bread, and to hold that counselor in our hearts is to believe, believe that God is who He said He is and then worship Him.

When we do that, we can have it all — Life Abundantly and Eternally.


PRAYER

O LORD God the merciful and mighty, how majestic is Your  name in all the earth. I look to the hills to see where my strength comes from and see it comes from the Lord, maker of 68. Holy_Bible_Crossheaven and earth. Lord, you have made man little less than the angels. Who are we that You would care about us or take note of our activities, except that You were the One who created us, who called us out of the dust and fashioned us in Your image, man from dust, woman from man, man born of woman, interlocked in common need of being reunited with You. Lord, forgive us our errant ways and shower us with Your blessings of grace and mercy, forgiveness and compassion, and most of all of Your love. Lead us, O Lord, to believe in Your Son, to fellowship with Your Son, to worship Your Son, to follow Your Son. We lift this prayer in the holy name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen


 

QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is who He said He is, God Himself in the flesh? Doesn’t that statement just make you want to bow down and worship Him and thank Him for His love and mercy? If not, what holds you back? What are you afraid of?
  2. Have you felt the emptiness of life, when there seems to be no purpose beyond whatever meaning we can give it? How well has that worked? How long does that last? Have you ever wondered if maybe God placed that emptiness in your soul to draw you toward Him?
  3. What would it take for you to ask God in prayer to show you His glory and His purpose for your life? Would you take that moment now and just ask Him?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?  If so, just indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

Meditation–Bearing Fruit: Obedience or Performance?

God has commissioned us to bear fruit on His behalf, to be the shepherds of His flock, the teachers, the helpers, the baptizers, and even the foot washers, if necessary. But unlike men and women who see our outward acts of service as, perhaps, godly and obedient, God sees into our hearts and judges our motive. Are we acting out of graciousness and a desire to contribute — or are we just fulfilling an obligation we made or looking for commendation? The difference is important to God … and should be for us, too.


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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?


“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)

“[Jesus] did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:25 NIV)

JESUS MUST HAVE BEEN SO FRUSTRATED!

67.Jesus_Welcomes_AllJust imagine: He created the world and everything in it. His greatest creation was mankind, which He made in His own image. Now, He watches with dismay as His creatures, filled with pride, disobey His various commands, all intended to help them live lives of abundance.

Then, in earthly form, He joins His fellow Jews in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, where He performed “miraculous signs” to show His divine nature and saw, in response, that “many people” believed in Him.

But Jesus was not fooled.

In the account that John gives us, we read: “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (John 2:24-25 NIV).

While the rest of us are buying into the superficial, Jesus is drilling into the core. While we see the smiles and handshakes, He sees the darkness and doubt.

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THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR: God knows our hearts, even though our compatriots are fooled by the veneer we project and often hide behind.

Susan Maycinik presented in Discipleship Journal a comparison chart between “Obedience” and “Performance,” where Obedience meant following God’s plans for our lives and Performance meant the rote carrying out of tasks, mostly to please others or convince them of our holiness.

“The line between obedience and performance can be a blurry one,” she wrote, but we know from reading Scripture, such as the passage from 1 Samuel 16, cited above, that while man sees the outward show, God sees the inner workings. We see the performance; He sees behind the curtain.

In this adaptation of her chart, where do you see yourself?

      • Obedience — Joyfully seeking quiet time with God
        • Performance — Reading a quick devotion to avoid guilt
      • Obedience — Meditating on God’s Word and using it in prayer
        • Performance — Scanning a Bible passage quickly to check it done
      • Obedience — Inviting guests to your home for dinne
        • Performance — Fretting over how well the evening will go
      • Obedience — Following God’s prompting to start a small group
        • Performance —Reluctant to share leadership with anyone in the group
      • Obedience — Doing your best
        • Performance — Wanting to be considered the best
      • Obedience — Saying yes to whatever God asks of you
        • Performance — Saying yes to whatever people ask of you
      • Obedience — Following the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit
        • Performance — Following a list of manmade requirements
      • Obedience — Springs from fear of God
        • Performance — Springs from fear of failure

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I NEED TO CONFESS SOMETHING.

Many times — more often than I should admit — I cross that thin line between acting with a servant’s heart and acting out of self-righteousnessJ10.JESUS_WASHING_FEETjpeg

Yes, I can tell the difference. When I am acting as Jesus did when He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet, I can feel the love in my heart and the joy of making a difference in someone’s life.

But when I’m busy serving my self, I’m looking for the applause, the acclaim, the recognition, and I lack the joy. I’m focusing, instead, on the sacrifice I made.

The Bible says,

“Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!” (Psalm 128:1 ESV)

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THAT IS WHERE I WANT TO BE.

I want to give my all to the Lord as He calls me into service. I want to do so because He gave His all to me to reclaim me — my life, my future, my eternity — for His own.

That is where you want to be, too.

If you don’t know Him yet as your Savior, please ask Him what He wants of you and then open your heart to His unending love.

If you have done that already, then you know exactly what I mean by saying, “I want to be obedient to the Lord, not to perform for man’s approval.”


68. Holy_Bible_CrossPRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, please forgive me when You’ve called me to a task and I give it half-hearted energy or complain while at task or look for commendation from other men. Lord, You are the One who called me to task, and You are the One who will judge my heart. I owe all to You, my Savior. Thank You for the gift of life. Please lighten my heart as I seek to obey You. In the name of Jesus, Amen


QUESTIONS:

  1. How often do you fulfill an obligation for a good and noble cause and (a) wonder if you’ll get the proper recognition you deserve from the organizers  and fellow volunteers or (b) feel the joy in your heart because you’re helping out where you believe God is calling you?
  2. Do you ever feel like Jesus can see right into your soul, and He knows that you really don’t want to be doing this job right now, even while you’re trying to convince everyone else you do?
  3. Can you fully embrace the instruction Jesus gave us in Matthew 25 when He said that however we treat “the least of these,” those who cannot do for themselves, we’re doing for Him? Does that give you greater joy in the task at hand?