Tag Archives: 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.

Numbers 28-30; Old Testament Sacrifices and Jesus

I’m sure I say this every time I read passages describing the required Old Testament sacrifices but… there was so much blood! Thirteen bulls one day, twelve the next, then eleven, etc. Not to mention two rams and four lambs a day for a week. Oh, and don’t forget the daily goat sacrifice.

That’s a lot of blood being shed there at the temple.

We talked about the cross yesterday in Sunday School. Jesus did what the blood of millions of bulls could not do. His precious blood was shed once and for all. He laid down his life willingly, intentionally, painfully, and gloriously for the forgiveness of every sin every person has ever committed or will commit.

“It is finished,” He cried. Debt paid. Period.

All the requirements of Old Testament sacrifices were fulfilled in that one amazing act. The Old Testament sacrifices paint a picture of what Jesus did there on the cross. Sin is serious business. The consequence for sin is death, and without the shedding of blood God cannot forgive sin.

Praise Jesus! His blood was shed so that you and I can know the freedom that comes from accepting His grace, receiving the forgiveness He bought, and walking with the God of Creation, having Him living right in us.

Thanking God for the cross today.

 

Exodus 30-31; Five Bucks. Five Bucks.

Each Jewish adult was required to pay a ransom for his or her life. (30:12) The price was half a shekel, or about 8 grams of silver. So by today’s standards, a life was worth about five bucks. (chabad.org)

A rich person wasn’t worth more than a poor person. A poor person’s debt wasn’t simply forgiven for lack of funds. Men didn’t pay more than women. Healthy not more than the sick.

Five bucks.

This says two things to me. 1) We are all equal in God’s eyes. That may give you warm fuzzies, but the reality is we are all equally guilty in God’s eyes. We all have sinned. We all are his enemies. We are all in need of redemption. But…

2) Jesus paid it all!!

Jesus went to the cross and died once for all. My ransom cost Him exactly what yours did. The wages of sin is death. Jesus died. I’m no more special than you, no more chosen than you, no more loved than you.

Jesus paid my ransom at the same time and in the same way He paid yours. I am forgiven because I’ve accepted His work on the cross and claimed it for my own. I pray you have done the same.

December 24 – Treasure The Gift

2 Timothy

Twice in chapter one, Paul says something to Timothy that got my attention this Christmas Eve morning. First, in verse 6 he tells the young preacher to “Kindle afresh the gift of God.”  Then in verse 14 Timothy is told to “Guard… The treasure which has been intrusted to you.”

Are your presents wrapped and under the tree waiting for the family gathering when those things, bought with those special people in mind, will be revealed? I finished wrapping my gifts yesterday and I’m looking forward to going to church tonight, then going to my sister’s house where we will open those treasures and enjoy watching the grandkids’ excitement.

What if you’d spent everything you have on a gift for the one you love? Wouldn’t you hope they’d at least appreciate it? You’d probably want them to love it, cherish it, protect it, show it off. You’d want them to use it correctly and carefully. You wouldn’t buy it expecting them to discard or abuse it, or set it aside and neglect it. Would you? I mean it cost you everything.

This weekend we are celebrating the most precious gift you’ve ever been given. And yes, it cost Jesus everything to buy it for you. He bought it wanting you to receive it with joy, to treasure the gift of forgiveness that cost Him His own blood.

Paul tells Timothy in chapter two to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”, to be a good soldier, a fit athlete, a hard working farmer. In speaking to Timothy he tells us not to be ashamed, to be diligent, avoid worldly and empty chatter. I hope you read this letter to Timothy. It contains the owners manual for the gift God gave you through His Son.

We’ll celebrate the birth of the Savior this weekend. But we are celebrating not just a birth. We’re celebrating a life, and a death. We are celebrating the free gift of salvation this Baby was born to purchase for us. My prayer is that we will guard this gift, treasure this gift, use it and share it just like God intends for us to do.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

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.

 

December 12 – A Clear Conscience

Acts 20:4-23:35

Paul said something to the Council in Jerusalem that got my attention. Paul, as Saul, had persecuted the church. He was responsible for the imprisonment of hundreds of men and women who were guilty of nothing more than believing in Jesus. He was present when Stephen was stoned to death, even approving of the murder.

But in 23:1 he said, “Brethern, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.

Seriously? Paul could say he wasn’t overcome with guilt about his past? Shouldn’t what he’d done give him sleepless nights over feelings of regret?

This week I have struggled with memories of how I treated my parents, both of whom now live with Jesus. Did mom know how much I appreciated the white suit she had made for me for homecoming? Did she forgive me for unkind words I’d said to her in my youth? Why did I choose to go to that jewelry party at my coworker’s house instead of welcoming Dad the night he drove 60 miles to surprise me? Mom had died. He was alone and lonely. And I didn’t stay. Why didn’t I hug my nephew the last time I saw him? Our eyes connected, but we didn’t hug. And he died a few days later. Did he know how much I loved him?

Friends, I have a guilty conscience. I see the faces of friends I betrayed, the looks of people who received the biting words I said, the hurt I caused. And I am sitting here weeping with regret.

I didn’t commit the sins Paul did. Yet he could say he had a perfectly good conscience before God. HOW?

I am reminded that I am forgiven. Jesus took the guilt upon Himself. I can stand before Him with a good conscience because when God looks at me He sees Jesus’ perfection. He’s forgiven me of all those things I did and didn’t do, and He’s forgotten them. I am guilt-free as far as He’s concerned.

So when I struggle with guilt, like I have these past days, I need to recognize that it’s not coming from my Savior. It’s Satan’s attempt to make me a slave to my past.

God, forgive me for falling for that. Thank you for forgiving me. I am a sinner. I am guilty of unspeakable sins. And I can feel pretty bad about them. Help me to remember that Jesus died so that those sins can be washed away, never to be remembered by You ever again. Help me to rejoice in my salvation, to never live another minute regretting what I can’t change. And give me the power to not repeat the sins I’ve committed. I don’t want to miss the joy of living with a perfectly good conscience before the God who gave it to me.

December 7 – It’s A Gift

Acts 20:1-3; Romans 1-3

What is good enough? I know some pretty amazing, generous, loving, honest people who care about the environment, give to the SPCA, volunteer at homeless shelters, and are great neighbors and friends. I know people who never say a bad word about anyone, who are kind and supportive. They are hard-working, family-centered, salt-of-the-earth kind of people. You probably know them, too.

Maybe you are one of them yourself.

So how do you handle Romans 3:23 in regards to really good people? Oh sure, no one is perfect, you might say with a wink. But the people I described don’t commit those blatant, awful sins that everyone recognizes. Their goodness must outweigh their goof-ups.

We are going to read Romans 6:23 tomorrow. And folks, that verse applies to the goof-ups, too.

Many of us memorized Romans 3:23 as children. But verse 24 completes the thought in a really wonderful way:

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Does that make your heart sing? You are a sinner. You deserve the death penalty your sin requires. But here stands Jesus holding a gift with your name on it. Redemption. Forgiveness. He doesn’t tell you to clean yourself up first, or give money to the poor, or quit drinking before He’ll give you the gift. He bought and paid for your salvation while you were still a sinner.

The truth is, none of us can ever be good enough. You don’t erase a sin by doing a good deed. That’s just not the way it is. That sin that you committed deserves death. And Jesus died. That sin requires blood spilt to redeem you. Jesus’ blood ran down that cross that day.

Forgiveness is ours through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It’s a gift. It’s His gift to you.

Dearest Savior, I would imagine most people reading this blog have accepted You as their Savior. I pray that is true. But may we, as we consider Paul’s words to the Romans, have the truth cemented in our minds so that we can share this amazing gift with the people you’ve laid on our hearts. And, Father, if there is one who reads this and has yet to ask for the gift that is their’s, I pray they will do that today. Move in our hearts, Lord. And may You find us faithful.