Grace Isn’t Cheap
There is no more marvelous word in the Christian faith than “grace.” It’s what Jesus provided for us when He died in our place. It’s God’s gift to us. God’s unmerited favor! Kindness we don’t deserve, or could ever earn. Grace is the divine assistance given to humans for their rebirth and sanctification, allowing us to actually become holy. It’s our “Get Out Of Hell Free Card,” but it didn’t come cheap. It cost Jesus His life! But, there is something we can do to miss all of that marvelous grace. The Bible says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” (Hebrews 12:15, ESV) Who wants to flunk being forgiven? Forgive those who have hurt you!
Don’t Be Creative…Be Obedient
When it comes to obeying God, “stopping” may be as courageous as “starting.” No action is more heroic than another. All that matters is, what is God asking you to do. If God is saying, “Go forward!” then go forward. But, if He’s saying, “Stop,” then stopping is the most-gutsy thing you can do at that moment. This is why I have no preference when it comes to God’s will. I don’t know enough to have one. I’d have to know the future and all possibilities. I accept that the wisest thing I can ever do is “obey God.” I don’t even need to be creative. I just need to submit to the will of the only Person who knows what really should happen. And this obedience has truly allowed my life to be blessed.
Dying To Live
Are you prepared for the future? I’ve found in my own life, nothing jars me more than a left-hook from nowhere that rocks my world. So, it’s important to ask, “Am I merely preparing my heart for success, or am I getting ready for the inevitable reality of facing some measure failure…setback…or severe struggle?” Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, ESV) Am I practically, tangibly, daily, preparing my heart to take up my cross…dying to myself…dying to my will? Is there really such a thing as a cross-less resurrection? The truth is, the cross is not an option if I’m truly going to follow Jesus? There is no cross-less resurrection. I accept the reality that I am dying to live.
The Least of These
We all know the admonition of Jesus, that as much as you’ve done it to the least of these you’ve done it to Me. It is in constant reminder of the reality that everyone, the matter how weak or seemingly insignificant is important to God. We have a special needs man named Michael who comes every week with adult supervision to clean our church. When he found himself in an ICU ward, word came to me that he had asked for me in particular to come. It broke my heart and made me cry when I realized I was more excited about him contacting me and requesting my presence then if he had been a well-known public figure. From God’s perspective, we must never forget, everyone we meet is, to Him, a well-known public figure.
Backstage Pass With God
I have a backstage pass with God. But don’t be jealous, if Jesus is your Lord, so do you. Because God’s heart is for me, I can jump into His lap any time I want to. He’s always excited to see me. He enjoys me infinitely more than I could ever enjoy Him. Because He created me to be a fascination to Him there is nothing I could ever do to turn His heart away from me. Jesus died to insure that I always have right standing before my Heavenly Father. I am a delight to God, and He’s promised me, if I delight myself in Him He will grant me the desires of my heart. Desires I guard, so that they come from Him alone, and not from my shallow understanding.
The Most Trust Worthy Person of All
God brings each of us to the end of ourselves! But don’t be discouraged. It’s the safest place to be. For only there can we meet God, when we have no other recourse but to turn to Him. Often it’s after we have tried every other option but Him. We find ourselves with a deep dissatisfaction, that frankly is Heaven-sent. So, the question is, are you desperate enough to want God—first and foremost? I’ve found it’s the healthiest place to be. Where Jesus plus nothing is everything! Where we finally accept that only what God authors will He finish. Where at last I learn to trust, the most trust worthy Person of all time. The Bible says, “…those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10, ESV)
Prayers That Move Mountains
It takes God to love God. We have never initiated anything eternal. Either God authors it or it will eventually cease to exist. What is God initiating in your heart? What cloud, the size of a fist, is on the horizon that will bring the rain your heart longs for and will help those around you? Our prayers merely affirm what God has already started. Our prayers are meant to agree with what’s on God’s heart. That’s when we commune with Him as a son and daughter, a beloved member of His family, and not some disconnected part of Christ’s body. Pray with the power of agreement that moves mountains, raises the dead, shake cities, and brings Heaven to Earth. Our prayers help fulfill God’s will on Earth.
Getting Healed and Whole
Some people get healed, but are still not whole. Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one got whole, and returned to glorify and thank God (Luke 17:15-16). Ironically, he was a Samaritan: half-Jew and half-Gentile, but a whole follower of Jesus. In Acts 3, the man unable to walk from birth at the Beautiful Gate, not only got healed, he became so whole he went away walking, leaping and praising God. (Acts 3: 8) I’m not looking to God for a quick fix. I’m trusting in Him for the long haul. He doesn’t want to date me. He wants to marry me. Getting my temporary, natural body healed would be wonderful, but what is infinitely better is my spirit communing with my Creator, and my eternal soul, mind will and emotions completely restored.
Emotional Safety Nests
Do you have an emotional safety net? I believe it’s vital in oder for us to thrive in life. An emotional safety net is that place I go in God when I’m overwhelmed about what’s happening or what could happen to me. It’s the perspective that brings me peace of mind. I’m not talking about donuts and drugs or fantasy and other false comforts. It’s confidence in God that is so secure, so unwavering, that it brings me the greatest comfort when I am most fragile. The Bible says experience gives us hope. Initially it was the experience of Bible characters, historic Christ-followers, or people I knew and respected that brought me hope. In time it was my own experience. I just need to remember and take shelter in the emotional safety net that if God is for me, who can be against me?
The Game of Faith
I’ve been playing a wonderful game with God for many years. I call it the Game of Faith. It’s actually quite serious, but fun too. Here’s how it works. When you are absolutely persuaded God has spoken a clear word from Scripture to your spirit, the longer you are able to stand on that word without seeing any tangible answer to your prayers, you win. I try and trust longer and longer without doubting. It builds spiritual muscles, glorifies God, and makes me smile. Why do I play the game? Because I know that God is completely trustworthy, and I’m really tired of not trusting Him. It’s a way to remind myself that He’s worth waiting for. He’s always been faithful, whether I see it, feel it, or know it.
Unconditional Love Requires Conditional Faith
God’s love is unconditional, but accessing His life and grace always requires conditional faith. The Bible says, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.” (James 2:26, NLT) This principle was evident even in the Old Testament story about Naaman, the Syrian general. He would not have been healed of his leprosy if he had been unwilling to obey God, speaking through the prophet Elijah, to dip in the Jordan River seven times. So, yes, God’s love is unconditional, it is freely given to each of us. But, in order to receive this marvelous love, we’re going to have to step out in faith. This will take effort, obedience, and often, great courage. But, the reward for this faith will intimately connect us with the God who is love.
What Do You Really Want?
There’s a question I sense Jesus asking me quite often that doesn’t have an easy answer. He says, “What do you really want? Do you want Me, or just what I can do for you? Do you want to use Me, or get to know Me?” I can answer it quickly, and say I want to know You Jesus! But do my thoughts and actions confirm this? In the Book of John, two disciples were following Jesus. Then He turned and said, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Teacher, where are You staying?” Jesus said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw…and remained with Him… (John 1:37-39) At the end of the day, God doesn’t want to be used any more than we do. He wants a relationship that lasts forever.