Posts Tagged ‘grace’

  

“John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.'” ‭‭(Mark‬ ‭9:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

On May 29, 2015, Tavin Terrell Price was fatally shot in front of his mother as they were headed to a beach near Los Angeles. According to KTLA 5 News, LAPD arrested 3 men and a woman as suspects in the murder. Their reasoning for the brutal slaying of the 19-year-old mentally challenged man? Because he wore red shoes, the apparent sign of a rival gang. Red shoes…

It’s never an enjoyable experience to be treated badly because you’re not a part of a certain crowd or believe like some group. Even Jesus had to correct His disciples for falling into the trap of excluding people. Jesus, however, was the opposite, desiring for all to come to the Master’s Table and belong. 

Take time today to make sure you aren’t prejudiced in your own thinking. While we may pride ourselves for being color blind, we often fail because we withhold our friendship because someone is from another denomination or religion. Let God’s love help you to build bridges, not burn them all down! There’s room at the table! You are loved today! 

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“O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.” (Psalms‬ ‭69:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

On April 19, 1995, a truck packed with a powerful fertilizer bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 18 children. Ironically, the bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was arrested about 90 minutes later for driving without a license and illegally carrying a concealed weapon. No one knew his real crime!

Days later, as McVeigh was about to have his hearing and make bail, something unforeseen saved the day. The judge’s son missed his school bus, causing the judge to delay the hearing in order to take the child to school. In that short window, the FBI found out McVeigh was still at the courthouse and asked the police to detain him! How close is that?!

While knowledge of our sins may be withheld from others, God still sees. Don’t cover it up anymore! Take it to God for forgiveness and deliverance! Otherwise, it will come out! You are loved today!

  

“Behold, I am vile…I lay my hand over my mouth. I have uttered what I did not understand…therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job‬ 40‬:‭4‬; 42:3,6 NKJV)

Francois Fénelon describes self-righteousness thus: 

“[We] start to mistreat the people we are secretly jealous of. Jealousy, hidden in your deepest inner folds, exaggerates the least faults of others. Then come the disguised criticisms. You deceive yourself in order to justify yourself. There is no end to the excuses we come up with. Even your outrage at the faults of others is a great fault. Don’t you see your own wretchedness? It would certainly level your self-righteousness to the ground.”

Job demonstrates the escape from the jail of self-righteousness. Instead of judging the leaders of his land that were less righteous than he, instead of despising the friends that hurt him wrongly, he instead allowed God to show him his own faults and bring personal revelation: We Are No Better Than They. He repents of presumption, adopts grace toward others, and allows God to keep him truly righteous. 

When we forgive out of the shame of our arrogance and in the joy of being truly forgiven ourselves, we sever the root of self-righteousness. You are only good because of God! Be free and sweet through grace! You are loved! 

  

“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'” (Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭21‬ NKJV)

In the early 1930’s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was so appalled at how many in the church capitulated to Hitler, blessing his evil doctrines that were “shaded” with religious tones, that he wrote a response, his manifesto entitled, The Cost of Discipleship. In it, he warned of “cheap grace”, the teaching that stresses that grace is free, so it really doesn’t matter how we live. There is no cost for holiness. 

As Jesus encountered one who had both riches and a hungry heart, Jesus made him choose. Was that cruel? Not really. But there can only be one Master, one passion, and it must be Him. It says Jesus loved him enough to offer discipleship, but the man didn’t love enough in return to sacrifice whatever it took to follow. 

Grace is freely given, but it isn’t freely kept. There is a cost to be a disciple. But the unsaid is that there is a GREATER cost for disobedience, one we pay later and with both present and eternal consequences. If everything has a cost, then choose the one that leads to life! You will find the price not so bad and the dividends out of this world! You are loved today!

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Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.” (Psalms‬ ‭116‬:‭15‬ NKJV)

My Uncle Kennon was a wonderful Methodist pastor and Air Force Chaplain, but a terrible carpenter. One day he decided to reach the town drunk by repairing a hole on his barn roof. In the process, he accidentally dropped his hammer through the hole, which happened to land on the drunk’s homemade still, destroying it! Consequently, the man decided it was a sign from God, gave up drinking and got saved!

His wife, my Aunt Mary Elizabeth, was just as funny. Having taught classical music and played in numerous orchestras, she seemed to know absolutely everyone. In one story, her and a daughter were traveling out of state. My aunt struck up a conversation with an unknown couple from Japan, because she didn’t ever meet a stranger. In the course of conversation, they were good friends with a Japanese gentleman that she had taught music to in Japan when she lived there shortly after WWII!

My Uncle Kennon went to be with the Lord in 1990. Today, we lay Aunt Mary Elizabeth to rest. If God has a trophy room reserved for His saints, they should be on the top shelf. Always remember that our loss is Heaven’s gain, and our reward will be to join them again in Heaven! Celebrate life today! We are loved!

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Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” (Luke‬ ‭3‬:‭8‬ NLT)

Steven Spielberg is argumentatively one of the best movie makers to ever hit Hollywood. But to experience his early works might make you wonder how. Even he admits that a lot of his early projects were bad, calling one production as boring “as a piece of drift wood ” or “a Pepsi commercial”! Yet, he proved himself capable by staying at it, improving his craft, and letting his imaginative collaborations display his greater caliber of work.

The mark of a truly godly person is their authentically changed life. We can say whatever we want people to believe, but it’s our actions that will actually proclaim the verdict. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes or commit sins, but that we react with humility, repentance, and graciousness. What is seen is truer than what is said.

While Spielberg is no longer judged by his lesser works, neither should we. Allow the world to see your greater genuine works as you live for Christ in front of them! You are His best work of grace!

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And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭12‬ NKJV)

Imagine if the birth of Christ happened today, how would it be written? Maybe it would be something like this:

“And suddenly an angel appeared to the Detroit sanitation workers as they hung out at the garbage truck garage. Frightened, they ran for cover, just knowing that all kinds of badness was about to break out! But the angel spoke peace to them, announcing the birth of the Savior, ‘And this will be the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in a homeless man’s jacket and lying in a shopping cart in a parking garage on Junction Street.’ And suddenly the garage was filled with angels singing and praising God, blending worship with diesel fumes. Once the workers realized that it wasn’t a gang drive-by, and making vows to visit their mommas at church, they scrambled into their garbage trucks and caravanned to the parking garage and found the baby just like they were told, along with a frightened teenage girl and her boyfriend.”

Sometimes we miss just how strange the original story was! But God’s plan was with a purpose, that the Savior would be welcomed by all nationalities and social classes. Take time this Christmas to appreciate the story God created for all mankind and you! You are divinely loved!