Meditation—BEING BOLD FOR GOD

While most of us in our walk with Christ know we are called to be His witnesses in this life – both in our actions and in our words – some of us may find the commandment not to be the privilege it was intended to be but a burden, one best left to others – *paid church staff*, for example. For those who feel the burden, let’s pray that God will lift that burden (heart of stone) and replace it with a sense of wonder (heart of flesh), of awe —and, yes, of privilege — to witness for the King.


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?


  • “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” — Acts 4:31 (NASB)
  • “Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” — Proverbs 16:3 (NCV)
  • “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” — John 8:11 (NIV)

GOD CALLS US TO BE BOLD IN SHARING OUR FAITH.

We know this because the Bible is filled with Divine admonitions to walk in faith, to 56. Prayer_corporate-prayerspeak with gentleness, be slow to anger, be ready at all times to explain the joy that is in our hearts, love and forgive others, and store up our treasures in Heaven, where the moths won’t destroy it and thieves won’t take it away.

Yes, we can recite those commandments, but what do they look like in our everyday lives?

After all, we live in a darkened world were even the most ardent church-goers will remind us not to “push” our religion onto people or judge their sin pattern.

+++

RECENTLY, I ENGAGED IN TWITTER in support of Vice President and Mrs. Pence, both of whom are strong Bible-believing Christians unashamed of their faith. My tweet also thanked the Rev. Franklin Graham for his tireless defense of the Gospel and his support of the countr’s Second Couple.

Naturally, response from the Twitter-verse was swift. Most of the responses were favorable — a series of similar comment, “likes”, and some repostings. However, there always is the nay sayers who become personal in their denunciations of my tweets, referencing the Bible as “fiction,” and being relentless in their assaults. They’re like yappy little dogs who grab your pant leg and won’t let go.

All of this raises questions in my mind as to how a committed Christian should respond:

  • Counter every negative response,
  • Ask a question in return, exposing the commenters’ lack of faith, or
  • Ignore all of it after posting the original tweet.

+++

FORTUNATELY, I TRIED TO STAY IN PRAYER and live out the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I figured if I maintained patience and prayed for wisdom – all of which the Bible counsels us to do – God’s Spirit would reveal a better response on my part than I would come up with given my initial instinct.J. Woman.Adultery

The Spirit revealed to me that I should act with the same grace and mercy that Jesus displayed in John 8, when He was confronted with a woman the Jewish elders had *caught* in the act of adultery. Jewish law said that adulterers – both the male and the female – were to be stoned for their transgression, yet the elders only presented the female for Jesus’ rebuke.

Instead, our Lord showed grace, wanting to save a lost soul – the wanton woman’s – over meting out justice. Perhaps He was swayed by the elders’ failure to produce the male culprit and saw the trap for what it was. Until we’re in glory, we’re unlikely to know what it was He wrote in the dust with His finger, but it could have been the entire citation in Leviticus 20:10 that condemned *both* parties, not just the more vulnerable one.

+++

IN THE END, that’s what I decided to do: Find a way in each of my comments to model grace rather than unleash my rapier-like retorts designed to draw the commenters’ blood.

J33.God Holds Our HandsBeing bold for the Gospel clearly required showing grace and mercy and trying, as best I could, to direct the adversary’s thoughts toward the Holy Word of God.

Let His light be the judge of our conversation. Let His grace cover the commenters’ sinful/hurtful thoughts. Let His love turn the commenters’ heart from stone to flesh.

Being bold for the Gospel does not mean that I am taking the authoritative position that Jesus took in His ministry. He is divine and human; I am only human.

Being bold for the Gospel, for me, means turning the other person’s attention over to the Messiah.

Isn’t that what Paul advised us to do in 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT)?

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, we rejoice that You have been so good to us, showering Your grace, 50. Open_BibleYour mercy, Your forgiveness, and Your love on us, even though we, in our sin, do not deserve anything but Your judgment and wrath. Quicken our hearts, O Lord, to seek after You and Your truth and then display that truth in our actions and words with those You place in our lives. Lord, bless those who persecute us. Claim their lives for righteousness. Claim them for Yourself. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN


Questions for Personal Meditation or Small Group Discussion:

1) How do you envision being bold for the Gospel? Does God call you to witness to others about your faith? If not, why do you suppose that is? Have you taken the Gospel into your heart in a personal way, or have you been content simply with listening to the message of love and hope and assuming that was enough?

2) When you witness for the Gospel, what techniques or practices work best for you? What don’t work? Do you rely on God’s Holy Spirit to guide you, or do you handle this by yourself under your own power? Have you seen a different result between those approaches? Why do you think relying on God’s power over yours leads to a better outcome?

3) Do you consider it a privilege to witness for the Lord Jesus in your personal life? Or, do you see His command to be His witnesses to be a burden that needlessly complicates your life and is best left to the professionals, however you define them?

4) Do you think your response — consider it a privilege versus a burden — may reflect your own relationship to the Lord? If you see witnessing as a burden, could you pray today for the Lord to lift that burden and fill your heart with the grace necessary to share His Gospel?


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

Meditation–GRACE TO ACCEPT FORGIVENESS

Accepting forgiveness takes humility. Yes, extending forgiveness and seeking forgiveness also require humility, the yielding of selfish pride to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone, but accepting forgiveness it when it’s offered also requires a yielding of pride. We must expose our vulnerability to another person, one who is aggrieved by us and is emotionally upset by our actions or comments. We must be forgiven both by God and by man, not just one of them. Both extending forgiveness and seeking forgiveness require humility, but accepting forgiveness also requires humility … perhaps why God insists on forgiveness.

Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at Twitter.

Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.

  • “Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” — Psalm 32:5 (NLT)
  • “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”  — James 5:16 (CSB)
  • “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.” — Psalms 32:1 (NCV)

 

THE BIBLE TELLS US TO SEEK FORGIVENESS FROM BOTH GOD AND MAN.

God will forgive the eternal consequences of our sin when we confess our sin to Him and repent of (turn away from) our sinful behavior. But He says  His forgiveness is not enough. We also must seek forgiveness from others — family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends — whom we have wronged.53. man-power-of-prayer

Forgiveness is a healing process, both for the one asking forgiveness and for the one granting it. The one asking forgiveness must humble himself to admit wrongdoing — the one forgiving must humble himself to reach beyond the hurt he suffered to extend grace.

There’s a third component: accepting forgiveness when it’s offered. With our veneer of pride, that can be a tough one.

+++

ONLY THE SIN OF HUMAN PRIDE keeps us from granting, seeking, or accepting forgiveness. Failure to grant, seek, or accept forgiveness keeps the hurt inside, building up into a rage that is neither healthy nor helpful.

When we fail to grant forgiveness to another, that becomes our sin toward that person because we stop the healing process, and we need to ask forgiveness for that failure.

When we fail to seek forgiveness from another, that also becomes our sin toward that person because it keeps the grievance alive. We need to ask for forgiveness for that sin, too.

+++

FAILURE TO ACCEPT FORGIVENESS when it’s offered also is a sin against the person with whom we’ve had conflict.

Failing to forgive, failing to seek forgiveness, and failing to accept forgiveness form a repeating cycle.

God offers us a way to break that cycle. It’s called “grace.” He offers grace to us and commands us to offer grace to others … to offer forgiveness, to ask for forgiveness, and to accept forgiveness.

+++

WHY NOT ASK GOD for His help in asking forgiveness from someone … and for extending it to someone, even if he or she has not asked for it? While you’re at it, why not ask Him to help you accept someone else’s forgiveness of your sins against him/her?

Whether you need to ask for forgiveness or you need to grant it or you need to accept it, could you pray with me and other readers of this post the following prayer, asking God to speak into our hearts His message of forgiveness and grace?

Here’s God’s promise if you do: “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.” — Psalms 32:1 (NCV)


PRAYER

O Gracious and Merciful LORD, we confess our sin to You of human pride. We want to live our lives the way we want to to satisfy our desires, not the desires You have planted in our hearts. We confess that all too often we love our sinful ways, even though we cause hurt to others and to ourselves. Change our hearts, O LORD, from hearts that love sin to hearts that love God’s grace. Then, LORD, help us to extend that grace to others needing grace from us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Questions for Personal Meditation or Group Discussion:
  1. Do you need to ask someone close to you for their forgiveness for something you said or did that hurt them? Do you hesitate to do so because you don’t think you did anything wrong? Do you hesitate because that person also said or did something that upset you? When someone offers forgiveness to you, do you find it difficult to accept?
  2. Can you see where this cycle leads? Failure to forgive, failure to seek forgiveness, and failure to accept forgiveness keep the personal grievance alive. Both sins stem from our sinful pride. Can you see that sin for what it is?
  3. Does your hesitation to extend forgiveness — or to seek and accept forgiveness — show you the grace and mercy of a loving God who forgives you when you repent? Can you understand that your sin with God goes only one way? You sin against Him, but He does not sin against you, yet with our fellow man, the sin goes in two directions? How amazing is it that God is so willing to forgive us?

PRAYER

50. Open_BibleO Gracious and Merciful LORD, we confess our sin to You of human pride. We want to live our lives the way we want to to satisfy our desires, not the desires You have planted in our hearts. We confess that all too often we love our sinful ways, even though we cause hurt to others and to ourselves. Change our hearts, O LORD, from hearts that love sin to hearts that love God’s grace. Then, LORD, help us to extend that grace to others needing grace from us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Questions for Personal Meditation or Group Discussion:
  1. Do you need to ask someone close to you for their forgiveness for something you said or did that hurt them? Do you hesitate to do so because you don’t think you did anything wrong? Do you hesitate because that person also said or did something that upset you? When someone offers forgiveness to you, do you find it difficult to accept?
  2. Can you see where this cycle leads? Failure to forgive and failure to seek forgiveness both keep the personal grievance alive. Both sins stem from our sinful pride. Can you see that sin for what it is?
  3. Does your hesitation to extend forgiveness — and to seek forgiveness — show you the grace and mercy of a loving God who forgives you when you repent? Can you understand that your sin with God goes only one way? You sin against Him, but He does not sin against you, yet with each other, the sin goes in two directions? How amazing is it that God is so willing to forgive us?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?

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


Meditation–Loving Others As Christ Loves Us

The Bible tells us as followers of Christ to live lives worthy of respect so that we will reflect well on the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts. We’re also to be ready to testify to the life-changing power of Jesus’ love. If we are “salt and light” to a sin-darkened world, people will notice. Those whose hearts are touched by the Holy Spirit will want to join us; the rest will turn away. However, how we act and talk should never be the reason someone turns from Jesus.


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?


“My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring.” 1 John 3:18 (NCV)

“Most importantly, love each other deeply, because love will cause people to forgive each other for many sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NCV)


GOD CALLS US TO WITNESS FOR HIM 24/7/365.

We are to live out the Gospel in how we act, think, and talk. That is not just in sharing a word of encouragement, although it certainly includes that – it’s also about putting God’s Words to use in how we live out our lives.72. Jesus_Teaches

Pastor Rick Warren, in a Daily Hope devotional, said God commands us, as His followers, to show love and compassion for other people. In God’s world, loving others is not an option. Here’s what Warren writes:

“If you are a follower of Christ, you must love everybody — whether you like them or not — in the same way that Christ loves you.That means you are to accept them completely, love them unconditionally, forgive them totally, and consider them extremely valuable.”

Then, when someone asks about the joy we feel, we should be ready to explain how Jesus Christ has changed our hearts. (see 1 Peter 3:15) That’s when we share the Word in personal testimony.

+++

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between being a Christ-follower and a humanitarian.

All of us have the breath of God within us and, thus, the capacity to extend concern even for total strangers. Witness the outpouring of funds and volunteer effort to help victims of tragedies, whether from nature or man-made.

The calculus among humanitarians, which is rarely stated or even recognized at the time, is “enlightened self-interest” or payback — if I help someone today, tomorrow someone will help me.

However, as Christians, our giving is to be modeled after Christ, who said He came to serve, not to be served (see Mark 10:45).

In other words, for us, serving others comes41.FemaleHoldingPlantfrom the overflow of love and mercy that we have received from the Creator, without regard to whether others will pay us back (see Luke 14:13-14).

+++

TO SERVE OTHERS properly, the way Christ calls us, requires a heart for those we help.

Here are a few verses where God makes that point clear:

“A person thinks all his ways are pure, but the LORD weighs motives.” Proverbs 16:2 (GW)

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (ESV)

“God would have known, because he knows what is in our hearts.” Psalm 44:21 (NCV)

“But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.” John 2:24 (NLT)

+++

SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US AS BELIEVERS?

We need to see every moment of every day as an act of worship. We need to take in the words that start every translation of God’s Holy Word, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and celebrate that as a “wow” moment, no matter what is happening in our lives.

Peter neatly tied in this act of worship of God’s splendor and glory with God’s command that we honor Him through our witness (1 Peter 3:15 NLT):

“You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

Are you ready?


PRAYER

68. Holy_Bible_CrossO Gracious LORD, our Heavenly Father, we thank You for being a God of love and a God of. Work on our hearts, O LORD, to turn them from stone to flesh, from hard hearts that are self-centered and prideful into hearts of love, hearts of mercy, hearts of service, hearts of encouragement, hearts of teaching, hearts of testimony. Lead us to serve You, for Your glory. In the name of Jesus. AMEN


QUESTIONS:
  1. Are you ready to share with someone — a family member, co-worker, neighbor, or even a stranger — your faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
  2. If you aren’t, what’s stopping you? Is it a lack of faith, a lack of confidence, a lack of belief? Remember, we are commanded by Jesus, Himself, to spread His Word to all nations (see Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
  3. Does your life — the way you act and speak — reflect well on God’s glory? If not, do you see the need to repent of your sin and accept the gift of His grace and forgiveness?

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

Meditation–PRAYING FOR OTHERS

Jesus set a difficult standard for us to emulate: He prayed for his executioners. He calls on us to love (care for) our enemies and pray for those who would harm us. We are to pray for their hearts, asking the Holy Spirit to exchange hearts of stone for hearts of flesh. Most of us pray daily for the health and safety of our family and friends, but how often do we engage in earnest prayer for those we despise? Gulp. Not often.

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?


“But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.'”  Luke 23:34 (NASB)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Matthew 5:44 (NIV)


THE LORD CALLS US TO PRAY FOR OTHERS.

Most of us find it very easy to pray for others … as long as it involves praying for our families and those closest to us.

Prayers abound to the heavenly throne for wives and husbands, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and the closest of our friends and neighbors.53. man-power-of-prayer

The Bible also tells us to pray for those who are physically sick, mentally unbalanced, emotional distraught, and spiritually lost. We do that, too.

However, there’s more.

We’re also to pray for those we don’t like, and those who don’t like us. We’re even to pray for our government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), both those we admire … and those we don’t.

Oh, yes, we are.

Remember that on two occasions David could have killed King Saul, who was trying to kill him, but he refused to kill Saul because Saul was “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:9). While most of us never face life and death choices from our government, we do face many annoying circumstances.

The Bible is clear we are to offer prayer for our elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, regardless of whether we like them.  (see Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-14)

It is very hard to extend God’s grace to those we despise.

+++

RECENTLY, I TRIED PUTTING THOSE WORDS into practice by listing some political figures I find loathsome.

The commandment to pray for others is far wider than the political arena, but this, I figured, was a good place to start. God knew my list before I compiled it, so I just acknowledged to Him in prayer what He already knew was in my heart.

I gritted my teeth praying for the lowest of the low, but when I was done, I knew I had to keep doing it. God wants to change me; He wants to change my heart; and He does that through our prayers.

God tells us to pray for those officials’ health and safety, for their well-being, and most of all for their salvation. It is God’s grace that gives us the grace to care for others and desire their comfort.

47.Changed HeartsIn those moments, God is more likely to answer our prayers by changing our hearts than He is in changing the hearts of a rude government official or a politician who opposes our wishes, but we don’t know for sure.

He could be doing both. God’s timing is not our timing. Besides, our attention spans are short, so we drift away, while He remains present.

The Bible is clear that we must be diligent in lifting prayer for those God places in our paths. James, the half-brother of Jesus, said it this way in James 5:16b (NIV):

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 

+++

THERE IS EARTHLY COMFORT, and there is heavenly comfort. We enjoy more or less earthly comfort at different times in our lives as well as in relation to others.

But the earthly comfort is transitory; the heavenly comfort is permanent.

The Bible says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18 (BSB)

Or this, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.”  Matthew 6:20 (CSB)

Jesus said we will experience many troubles in our lives, but God is our refuge (see John 16:33; Psalms 46:1). In Him, we find solace. He, and He alone, takes us through the storm.

We are to share that solace with others, both those we love and those we do not love, those we know intimately and those we’ve just heard about, those who directly impact our lives and those who impact us tangentially.

When we feel overwhelmed by it all, by the sheer vastness of prayer requests and the awesome responsibility of caring for the lives and souls of others, let us recall the encouraging words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9a (ESV):

“Let us not grow weary of doing good.”


PRAYER

Our Heavenly and merciful Father, we confess that all too often we fail to consider the 68. Holy_Bible_Crossneeds of those around us, especially of those we don’t know well or don’t like. Our Savior set the example for us when He prayed for those who drove the nails into his hands and feet. At this time, as our nation has elected a new government at federal, state, and local levels, we raise prayer for those elected — and those appointed — to carry out Your will. Soften our hearts, O Lord, when we resist Your command to pray for those we dislike and those who cause us harm. May Your will be done. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. AMEN


QUESTIONS:

1. Has God placed someone in your life who needs your prayer support? Are you reluctant to offer that support because (a) it’s none of your business, (b) you feel inadequate to the challenge, (c) the person hasn’t asked?

2. Being serious in your self-appraisal, do you really believe God will listen to your prayer and grant your request, or do you think (a) God is too busy managing the universe, (b) you aren’t important enough (or good enough) for God to care about, (c) the person you should pray for is not a believer?

3. Whatever your answers to the above questions, can you take a moment and ask God to fix the problem you see: in your heart, in the other person’s life? Can you ask God to show you how much He cares for you?


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


 

Meditation–WE NEED JESUS IF WE WANT LIFE

Jesus made it clear in His earthly ministry that our salvation was a free gift of God in response to our faith, and that we must be “born again” to experience Heaven. Left out of the equation was rejection of God’s message, failure to believe in His saving grace, and our attempts to earn salvation through our good works. We are totally dependent on the Lord Jesus for our eternal life. When we accept that truth, we give all of the glory to God, which is where all the glory belongs.

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?


 

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 (NIV)

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3 (NIV)


WE NEED TO BE SURE WE HAVE JESUS IN OUR LIVES.

It’s really that simple.

Jesus … and no other.

Pastor Louie Giglio, in his book ~Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants~, lays it out this way:

“Yet this kind of belief is more than simply mentally ascribing to something as true. It’s putting all your trust in Jesus to be all he says he can be in your life.”

Have you done that? Have you come to grips with the single most important decision you can make in your life, whether you have latched onto a saving relationship with the Creator of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Savior of the world?

72.Jesus_TeachesHave you told him, “I believe”?

+++

JESUS ILLUSTRATED THIS POINT one day with His disciples. After asking them about the chatter in town as to who men (and women) thought He was, He drilled down to the essential question for all of our lives:

“Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15 NCV)

The Bible tells us that Simon Peter immediately gave the correct answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16 NCV)

Later, another one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, gave a different answer: “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” (Matthew 26:15 NIV)

Those two answers are polar opposites, and yet they represent the totality of possible answers:

“You are who you say you are” … or … “You aren’t.”

“I will follow you” … or  … “I won’t.”

+++

GOD’S WORD TELLS US that He gives life to those who believe in Him and follow Him, but that those who do not believe will not be rewarded with the abundance that God intended for everyone.

Here are just two examples, one each from the Old Testament and the New Testament:

“Today I ask heaven and earth to be witnesses. I am offering you life or death, blessings or curse. Now, choose life! Then you and you children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NCV)

“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10 CSB)

Is there a greater shame in all of life than that many of God’s creatures — men and women fashioned in His image — willingly choose to have little or nothing to do with Him?

In Noah’s day, they were wicked and thought only of evil (Genesis 6:5).

In Jesus’ day, they called out to Roman authorities: “Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21)

+++

HAS ANYTHING CHANGED?69.Love_God

What about today?

Today, God’s people are called “bigots” for calling out sin among the populace.

No, that does not mean that all of God’s believers are without sin — only Jesus holds that honor — but God’s believers are called to turn from sinful ways and show their good works before men that men will give the glory to God (Matt. 5:16; Titus 2:7).

Remember the prophet Amos’s litany to the ancient Israel? He called out their sin and God’s response to their continued sin. You can read it in Amos, Chapter 4. God kept saying, “Yet you have not returned to me.”

As a people individually and collectively, we have failed to “return to [God]” with the obedience and humility to which we are called. If we do, the Lord has promised to hear that prayer:

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)

For those who do not believe, there will be judgment (2 Thessalonians 2:12). For those who do believe, there will be life (Romans 8:1).

Our Lord said it this way in John 3:36 (NET):

“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.”


PRAYER

Father God, maker of heaven and earth, please hear our prayer of repentance. We need 44. Cross_on_Bibleyour love and grace to experience life with all the abundance You intended when You created us. Forgive us, O Lord, for our sinful ways, for our disobedience, for our unbelief. Turn our hearts toward You and toward life. We pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen


QUESTIONS:
  1. What does being “born again” mean to you? Does the Lord’s use of that phrase in John 3:3 mean something special to you? Does it sound different coming from Him than from someone else — a family member, neighbor, pastor or Bible teacher? Can you take Jesus’ statement at face value and believe Him when He says you must be “born again” to experience life?
  2. Do you believe you have turned from your sinful ways, the natural ways we tend to act because sin is in our hearts? Do you base you answer on your personal effort or are you dependent on the Holy Spirit living within you? Do you accept that your salvation is determined solely by God’s grace and not by your works?
  3. Do you see a difference between “head knowledge” and “true faith” when it comes to salvation? Do you understand that simply knowing that Jesus is Lord is not enough to be saved? Can you ask Him into your heart now?

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

 

 

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.

+++

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).

+++

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.


 

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.

+++

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

+++

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.

+++

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.