Tag Archives: God’s grace

Deuteronomy 30-34; The Law and Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace greater than all our sin.

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

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Deuteronomy 1-3; “Why” Doesn’t Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will you say?

December 19 – Enemies

Titus

One thing that I’ve come to realize during this year in God’s Word is that non-believers are enemies of God. That is a hard pill to swallow because I have loved ones who fit that description. I know some really nice, good people who fit that description as well, for the fact that they refuse to accept God’s grace. I don’t want anyone I love to be considered His enemy when God looks at them.

But here’s how God treats His enemies while they still draw a breath: He died for them. He holds their forgiveness in His hands. He woos them, or strikes them, or blesses them, all the while giving them every opportunity to accept Him. It isn’t until they leave this life that He gives up on them.

Here’s what spoke to me today: Sometimes I think we Christians are too hard on God’s enemies. Some Christians feel pious hatred toward homosexuals, or child molesters, atheists, women who’ve had abortions, Muslims. We have a measure of godly indignation and condemn them to hell because that’s what they deserve.

But Paul tells Timothy to “malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” (3:2) But surely he didn’t mean those awful sinners, did he?

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  (3:3-7)

Have you ever heard, “There but for the grace of God go I”? That’s what Paul wants us to adopt as our attitude toward those who don’t know God. It’s only God’s grace that renders you forgiven, clean, a friend of God. And it’s only God’s grace that will do the same for the vilest offend who truly believes, or for that nice little old lady down the street who has not yet surrendered her life to the Lord.

Christian, let’s determine to reveal God’s love to His enemies. But let’s not forget that their sin is making them an enemy of God.He is not willing that any should die without Him. We shouldn’t be, either.

 

September 4 – I’ve Got Confidence

Ezekiel 24-27

All the cities Ezekiel is pronouncing God’s judgment over were cities that had things going on. They were successful merchants and traders, or they housed mighty warriors. They were sailors. Bakers. Jewelers. People living in comfort.

But they denied God, and God was going to demonstrate what the consequences are for sin. Nothing they had placed their confidence in would be able to save them.

Where have I placed my own confidence? Is it in myself? In having a healthy body? Career advancement? My family? My possessions? What about my reputation, or my generosity?

God would have me see that anything I think I have or am cannot stand against God’s holiness. He is the ultimate authority, the final Word. If I’ve placed my confidence in anything other than God Himself, I will be as devastated as the people I read about today.

Oh, I’ve got confidence. But it isn’t in me! I have confidence in God. I believe He is who He says He is, and means what He’s said. I’ve got confidence that God is going to carry me right into eternity because I have accepted His gift of grace through the blood of Jesus.

I have confidence to face today because God has promised to go with me. God is my confidence.

 

August 31 – Don’t Squander The Gift

Ezekiel 16-17

The analogy in chapter 16 spoke to me today as if I read it for the first time. A baby is born, unloved, uncared for, discarded, thrown into the open field to die, abhorred. It’s a picture of a helpless one without hope.

But God came along. He saw the newborn squirming in its own blood, and said, “Live!”

That’s a picture of me. I was dying in my own filth, abhorrent to my God. But He looked at me who was without hope, and gave me hope. He gave me life. He gave me Himself.

In the analogy, God nurtures the one He saved. “Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments…” (16:7) I relate to that. I have also enjoyed the benefits of growing in the Lord, of getting stronger, of becoming the woman He wants me to be, and I am blessed because of Him.

But, sadly, the analogy does not end well. That baby saved by grace, grew up to become a harlot. She used the beautiful jewels given to her by God, and made idols from them. She used the embroidered cloth, and the bread and honey, for her idols. She even became a harlot who paid her lovers instead of receiving payment for her favors. How degrading. How deplorable. How can that even happen?

I’m just reminded not to get too comfortable in my relationship with God, not to get too confident in my position as His child. I don’t want to neglect to recognize Satan’s attacks, his subtle attempt to lure me away from the One who saved me. And I never want to squander the precious gift Jesus has given me.

Ezekiel’s analogy has me wanting to protect what is mine through grace, by protecting my relationship with the One who saved me.

June 14 – Lovingkindness That Lasts Forever

2 Chronicles 6-7, Psalm 136

It’s kind of hard to read about God’s lovingkindness after the murder of 49 homosexuals in Orlando over the weekend. It’s understandable that people who don’t know God might look at Him as cruel in situations like this. And sometimes Christians say things that really don’t help.

I’m taking a chance here. Not wanting to make matters worse, I think we need to look at God’s lovingkindness, especially in light of this tragedy.

The 136th Psalm is like a congregational reading. The leader reads a phrase, and the people respond with, “For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” But look at some of the phrases that received that response:

Verse 10: To Him who smote the Egyptians in their firstborn

Verse 15: But He overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.

Verse 17: To Him who smote great kings

How can God’s lovingkindness be seen in the deaths of babies and kings, or 49 homosexuals?

I think God’s lovingkindness is revealed in the fact that we all haven’t met the same fate. There isn’t a one of us who deserves ANY good thing from God. He is holy. He has given us rules to live by, and we’ve broken every one. We’ve ignored Him. We lie about Him. We serve other gods, and have placed ourselves as gods.

We deserve God’s wrath. But His lovingkindness has me still breathing today. And His lovingkindness wants to use this Orlando tragedy to speak to your heart, to draw you to Him.

Some of you will step further away from  Him out of anger. Don’t do it. God didn’t kill those people. An evil man did. Satan would have you focus on the situation, and ignore God’s love to you, personally.

Here’s a picture of God’s lovingkindness: It’s Jesus, bruised and beaten, hanging on a cross because YOU sinned. He died because YOU deserve death. He offers Himself to YOU today because of His everlasting lovingkindness.

I heard someone say those 49 people got what they deserved because of their sin. But wait. If that’s how God works, you’d be taking a bullet, too. And so would I.

Here’s another example of God’s lovingkindness: It’s found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. It says if we repent, God promises to heal our land. It’s the same promise we find in I John 1:9. If we confess our sins, if we repent, He WILL forgive. He WILL cleanse us.

And that’s a lovingkindness that lasts forever.

Dearest God, Thank You for who You are. You are good. You are kind. You are full of grace. You love us with an enduring love that sent Jesus to the cross. I pray for the families and friends of those who were killed in Orlando. Dear Father, wrap your arms around them. May they be drawn to You, find strength in You, recognize Your lovingkindness even in their pain. I pray that many people will come to Your saving grace because of this tragedy. May we who know You represent You in a way that honors You. I also pray that we who know You will humble ourselves, repent of sin in our lives, and open the path for You to heal our land.

December 8

Romans 15&16; Acts 20:7-38

Some of the people Paul greeted are people we only meet here at the end of his letter to the Romans. I love how he attached a description next to each name.

Phoebe, a servant of the church. Priscilla and Aquila risked their lives. Epenetus was the fist convert in Asia. Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis all worked hard. Paul loved Ampliatus and said Rufus’ mother was like his own mother. There are others. I hope you read the list.

Then there is poor Eutychus whose claim to fame is falling asleep in church (see Acts 20). Well, that and the fact that Paul raised him from the dead.

Once again I am reminded that we all leave a mark on the hearts of people we meet. I wonder how I am described. God is asking me to look at my life and consider the impact I have. Is it for good? Am I pointing people to the Savior?

Acts 20:24 spoke to me as I read this morning. May Paul’s desire be my heart’s desire as well:

‘However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that Paul’s words to the Romans can speak to me so clearly thousands of years later. I want to be as focused as Paul was. I want to be as burdened for the lost. And I want my life to leave an impression of your grace on everyone I meet. Help me to be a hardworking woman for your kingdom.