Tag Archive | grace

It’s a New Day: The Choice Is Yours – FaithGateway

I was stopped at a red light the other day and heard a man on the sidewalk having a very vocal discussion with his friend. He loudly complained that he had had no choice. I have no idea what they were talking about, but let me tell you; there’s always a choice. It may not be a choice we like, but there is always one there. You don’t have to do things that are wrong or sinful regardless of the pressure you may feel to do so – you have a choice. Today’s devotional brings that home in a real way. Let’s choose wisely today.

 

 

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice.

Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I read more

Source: It’s a New Day: The Choice Is Yours – FaithGateway

Forgetful Father

Today’s devotional encourages us to reject the slime of condemnation that the enemy seeks to heap on us into the experiential reality of God’s grace and forgiveness.

 

© creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12 NIV).

“You can’t teach a Bible class with your background.” … “You, a missionary?” … “How dare you ask him to come to church. What if he finds out about the time you fell away?” … “Who are you to offer help?”

The ghost spews waspish words of accusation, deafening your ears to the promises of the cross. And it flaunts your failures in your face, blocking your vision of the Son and leaving you the shadow of a doubt.

Now, honestly. Do you think God sent that ghost? Do you think God is the voice that reminds you of the putridness of your past? Do you think God was teasing when he said, “I will remember your read more

Source: biblegateway.com

Ditching the Shoulds

In today’s devotional, reposted from Holley Gerth, the author suggests that perhaps we need to consider the word should and all its derivatives as profanity.  Read on with me to find out why.

“My counselor looks at me with a gentle smile as I finish sharing yet another expectation I’ve placed on myself. “You say the word ‘should’ a lot,” she observes. “I do?” is the only response I can muster at the time.

But over the next few days as I tune into my own language that initial reaction changes from “I do?” to “I DO!” My conversations are laced with the word. My thoughts are filled with it. Its synonym sisters are there as well: “ought to,” “need to,” “supposed to.” If “should” and its variations were cuss words I’d make a sailor blush.

bonnie_listI sheepishly showed up to my next appointment and told my counselor. “You were so right. I do say ‘should’ all the time! What now?” She had a brilliant idea. I was to make a list of all my “shoulds.” Then I was to go to Scripture and find verses to support them.

Here are some examples of items on my list:

I should be more of an extrovert.

I should enjoy getting up early in the morning.

I should write a to-do list every day and complete it.

Y’all—I wrote THREE pages. You can probably guess what’s coming. As I looked through Scripture, I found out that none of my “shoulds” could be found. I was making up laws for myself based on the culture around me (introvert vs. extrovert, morning person vs. night owl, structured vs. go-with-the-flow). And those laws came with expectations that led to shame and guilt when I didn’t meet them. I had become my own personal “Phari-she.”

When someone asked Jesus what mattered most He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” {Matt. 22:37-40}

Here’s the secret in those words: God gives us the “what” but He also gives us great freedom in the “how.” The ways we live out what Jesus said matters most are going to look different for each of us. Every “should” we create for ourselves is a love-killer because it takes away grace and turns what we do from heartfelt service to guilt-fueled performance.

Let’s start treating the word “should” like a naughty word in our vocabularies. And let’s replace it with an actual four-letter word of an entirely different kind: Love. That’s what we’re created for, what we’re intended to live from, what sets our hearts free.

What are your personal “shoulds”? What does God want to whisper to your heart instead today?”

(c)2016 Holley Gerth Used with permission  http://holleygerth.com/confession-four-letter-word/

Not a Free Pass

Today’s devotional is reposted from John Bevere’s blog. It is a positive reminder about what grace really is and is not.

““The Old Testament is filled with dos and don’ts, but the New Testament is all about grace.”

Have you heard that assertion before? I have. It’s even taught in conferences and churches that the grace of God frees us from commandments, and many firmly believe it. Yet look at what Jesus said:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me…I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 14:21 NKJV

When people teach that grace negates the need to follow God’s commandments, they think they’re freeing others from legalism and guilt. But in reality, they’re steering people away from what brings us into the presence of God. That’s heartbreaking!

Jesus said only those who keep His commandments are the ones He will manifest Himself to. They will be the ones who see Him, enter His presence, and come to know Him intimately. A lot of us seem to have missed a critical truth: The privilege of intimacy with God is not promised to all believers. It’s extended only to those who pursue obedience to His Word.

To experience God’s manifest presence is no small thing. The word manifest is defined as “to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly.” The Complete Word Study Dictionary is even more specific in stating that it means “to let oneself be intimately known and understood.”

To manifest means to bring from the unseen into the seen realm, from the unheard into the heard, and from the unknown into the known. It’s when God makes Himself known to our minds and senses. He gives intimate understanding, knowledge, and insight into Himself and His ways. Isn’t that what we long for?

I’ve often experienced the presence of the Lord in services, during prayer, while reading the Word of God, or while just going about my day. I can understand why Moses left everything for this magnificent presence. There’s nothing on earth that compares.

There have also been seasons in my life when God’s presence has been aloof. Sometimes this was due to my not keeping His words. Other times I was in the heat of trials. The latter is unavoidable, but the former is preventable. I never want my choices to be what keeps me from experiencing God!

It’s a fact: Jesus gives us commandments. He commissions us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV, emphasis added). He doesn’t say “all things I’ve suggested to you.” He says “commanded.”

Peter makes crystal clear God’s command that we walk in holiness, for he writes of those who “reject the command they were given to live a holy life” (2 Peter 2:21 NLT). We are indeed given commandments in the New Testament, and they specifically fall under the label of “the command…to live a holy life.”

In these days, many take lightly God’s words that call for godly conduct. Without realizing it, we can reach the place of viewing His commands as mere suggestions. Yet there is a way that is infinitely better. We can embrace God’s commands, for His grace empowers us to fulfill them. We can honor Him and live rightly before Him—and in so doing, enjoy the intimate experience of His manifest presence. Which way will you choose?”

(c)2015 John Bevere Used with Permissison http://goodorgod.com/gods-grace-isnt-a-free-pass-and-thats-good-news/

Regret

I don’t know about you, but there are many things that I wholeheartedly regret that I’ve done in the past. Today’s devotional by Francis Frangipane brings an encouraging message to those who struggle with regret.

 

“Removing the Burden of Regret

“Why did I disobey the Lord?”

“If only I had kept my mouth shut.”

“If only such and such hadn’t happened, my life would be so much better.”

Regret. Nothing so chains us to our past failures like regret. I know too many Christians who were running well yet at some point fell into sin. The worst thing is they knew better. They were not ignorant of Satan’s devices yet they fell. The outcome of their failure was that in the very place where their joy once shone brightly now a wearisome oppression exists. This oppression looks like an aspect of repentance, but it is not. It is demonic. It is a vision-stealer forged in the fires of hell.

I’m not saying that we should never have regret or that regret doesn’t have a legitimate place in our contrition. Yes, we should have remorse and godly sorry for the things we have done wrong, but there is a difference between godly sorrow and demonic oppression. If we have repented for our sins and truly grieved over them, then it is time to cast the burden of regret onto the Lord. It is time to let it go, even as the Scripture commands us to cast our care upon the Lord “for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7 NKJV).

Let us never forget: Jesus is not just the Savior of new converts; He remains our Savior, committed and faithful to the end throughout our lives.

To Set Prisoners Free
Still, we cannot allow regret to become a demonically manipulated weapon used against us. It will paralyze our walk with God. I’m thinking of parents who feel they failed in raising their children, or church or civic leaders who have stumbled and fallen into sin. There are great people who have fallen — who have been buried spiritually under the weight of self-condemnation and regret.

Christ came to set captives free, even when those captives have created a mess of themselves. Consider King David who, in reflection upon his life, wrote, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” (Ps. 37:25). Remember, this is the same man who, between the seasons of having “been young” and now becoming “old,” committed the most heinous sins of adultery with Bathsheba, and then to cover his sin, he ordered the murder of Uriah, her husband.

Yet looking back on his season of repentance, David realized that, though disciplined and judged as he was, he was not “hurled headlong.” Through it all, the Lord had held firmly to “his hand” (v. 24). Consider: even in David’s sin, the Lord did not him let go!

Instead of rejecting David, the Lord worked to restore him. Yes, there were consequences. The Lord warned that because of David’s sin “the sword shall never depart from [David’s] house” (2 Sam. 12:10). Evil would be raised up “against [David] from [his] own household” (v. 11). This was fulfilled by David’s son Absalom.

Yet even as David fled Jerusalem — even in his brokenness and grief and being cursed by his enemies (2 Sam. 16:5-15) — we see a remarkable quality to David’s heart. Grieved and humbled before men, David strengthened himself before the Lord. In his cleaving to the Lord, he wrote a song that was full of confidence in God. For all the struggles and pain that he brought upon himself, here was a man who sinned but was not living in the grip of regret.

The subheading of the third Psalm tells us it is “the Psalm David wrote when he fled Absalom.”

O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

It strikes me as amazing that, even after all the things David did wrong, the Lord was still a shield about him. And while his head was downcast, the Lord was the One lifted his head.

A New Covenant of Grace
When we come to Christ, we come to the One who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). You and I, even as Gentiles, have been chosen by God, who personally promised to rebuild and restore the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:15-17). For those who are in Christ, He promises, “I will give you the sure mercies of David” (Acts (13:34 NKJV).

I’m saying it is time to rise back up — wiser and more discerning but completely free of the chains that have bound us. I’m thinking also of Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, in the genealogy of David. Naomi suffered the loss of so much, yet in her latter years, she found again the blessing of the Lord so that the women praised the Lord as Naomi’s redeemer and prayed, “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age” (Ruth 4:15).

And this is my prayer for you as well, that the Lord would be a “restorer of life” to you and the One who is your “nourisher,” even in “your old age.” As you grow wiser and more humble, may the Lord remove from you the burden of regret.”

 

(c)2014 Francis Frangipane  Used with Permission  http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.com/2014/10/removing-burden-of-regret.html

Never Ever

your worthToday’s devotional by Holley Gerth reminds us that God will not give up on us. Read on and be encouraged.

 

We all mess up. We all fall short. We all wish we could be a little bit better. And when that happens, we wonder if God still really wants to use us. People comment on our strengths or what they admire about us and we think, “Oh, if you only knew what I’m like in my worst moments.”

But here’s the reality: God does know you in your worst moments. He knows all the things hidden in your heart. He knows what you hide even from yourself. And he picked you anyway.

When he came up with his purpose for your life and formed a plan for what you would do on earth, he knew you would have struggles. Your shortcomings are not a surprise to him, and they’re not going to disqualify you from serving him. The only way that can happen is if you decide you won’t receive his grace.

As long as you are on this earth, you will be imperfect. And if you tell yourself you have to have it all together before God can use you, then you will wait the rest of your life. When you mess up, make it right. Then press ahead into all God has for you anyway.

You can’t disappoint God, because disappointment is about expectations. And expectations are about an unknown future. But God already knows everything, so he doesn’t have expectations. Past, present, and future are all equally real to him.

Disappointment is a distinctly human experience. So while the enemy tries to whisper, “You’ve disappointed God,” your heavenly Father is saying, “I already knew that was in your heart. Now that it’s come to the surface, let’s deal with it and move forward together.”

We all need grace. We all need forgiveness. We all need a second chance (and a third, a fourth, and more). That’s why we have Jesus.

God gave up his Son for you.

And he’s never giving up on you.

(c) 2014 Holley Gerth Used with Permission http://holleygerth.com/never-ever/

 

 

Expectations

This devotional is a wonderful reminder to those of us who live or have in the past labored under the expectation of others. Holley Gerth writes primarily to women, but guys, don’t close your ears and hearts – this message is for you too.

 

“We carry checklists around in our purses and even more in our hearts. On them we silently write what we believe it will take to be the perfect friend, wife, daughter, Christian, woman (or husband, son, man! parenthetical words are mine). We work so hard to keep up, and yet at the end of the day it’s never done.

What if we decided together to shred those expectations? We can, you know. Because here’s a little secret: expectations are nothing more than the modern-day version of living under the law. And you are no longer under the law. You are under grace.

Grace that replaces those lists with love. Grace that sees past our efforts to our hearts. Grace that invites us not to routines and regulations but to a relationship.

We don’t have to prove ourselves. We have already been declared “approved” by God. Not because of how “good” we are but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. All the laws, all the expectations, were nailed there with him. And when he rose again three days later, we were declared to be free forever.

You are accepted. I am accepted. And love is no longer a reward for our behavior but instead a gift offered by nail-scarred hands. So let’s drop the lists we’re clutching and cling to what he longs to bring to our lives instead.

Wherever you are right now, take a deep, slow breath. Let it out again, and as you do, think of all those expectations slipping away too.

Every “I should . . .”

Each “I must . . .”

All the “I have to’s . . .”

Replace them instead with this:

“Because Jesus loves me, I will . . .”

“Because he fully accepts me, I can . . .”

“Because he promises me everything I need, I get to . . .”

When we live that way, our expectations are exchanged for exclamations—declarations from deep within our hearts and lives that tell the world we serve a God of grace.”

 

(c) 2014 Holley Gerth Used with Permission http://holleygerth.com/can-let-go-expectations/