Growing in Grace

Grace For The Journey

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16June  What comes to mind when you read the phrase “growing in grace”?  Most Christians immediately think of growing in Christ-like character and displaying the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  And those same Christians would likely state that “growing in grace” further consists of consistent participation in the disciplines of grace: Bible study, prayer, church attendance, service, Christian fellowship, and so on.  These answers have great merit, and we all desire to see these actions and character traits increasing in our own lives and the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters.

But there is something more fundamental that lies behind all of this visible growth; “growing in grace” is growing in our understanding of the truths of the Gospel.

  • We grow in our understanding of the sinfulness of man.
  • We grow in our understanding of the holiness of God.
  • We grow in our understanding of the price Jesus Christ paid on the cross for our forgiveness and redemption.

As our understanding of the working of God’s grace in our lives grows, we are said to be growing in grace.

What we believe about the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is far more important than how we behave.  Remember, the Pharisees were always on their best behavior when it came to obeying the Law of Moses . . . yet that did not “score points” for them with God; instead, they were confronted by the wrath of Jesus.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” He thundered.  “You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”  (Matthew 23:27).

The Pharisees imagined that they were made righteous by what they did;

but the truth is that we are declared righteous because of what we believe.

As we walk further in and further up into our understanding of our own spiritual bankruptcy and fallen condition, the more we find ourselves growing in grace.  Growing in grace is understanding the fact that we are sinners by nature and by habit.  And as we comprehend our awful moral bankruptcy, we are drawn more fully into our understanding of the unearned and undeserved mercy, favor, and blessing of God.  This is what it means at the deepest level when we are said to be growing in grace: when we have a deeper appreciation for His amazing grace!

So . . . how much have you grown in grace over the past few weeks, months, and years?  As our understanding of the Gospel grows, our motivation for new obedience also grows.  The more we rejoice in what Jesus has done for us in the past and promises to do for us in the future, the more we are motivated to walk by faith and not by sight, living in gratitude and thanksgiving.  This mindset is crystallized by Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians.

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”  (2 Corinthians 7:1)

This is life.  This is liberty.  This is growing in grace!  Paul is telling us that growing in grace is growing in our gratitude and reverence for God.  Simply because God is who He is, He is worthy of our praise and obedience.

Let me ask you a question: when you combing the truths of who God is with all that He has done for us in the past and all that He has promised to do in the future, could there be any greater motivation for doing what God has called us to do?  Certainly not!

When the grace of the Gospel has seized us, we are motivated purely out of a sense of reverence and thanksgiving.  We are not driven by what we hope to receive from God, but rather because of all that we already have received in promises fulfilled and those which will be fulfilled in the future.  God has never broken a promise in the past and He will not break any of them in the future either.  “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind” (1 Samuel 15:29 NIV).  And this is the greatest motivation the world has ever known to live a life that is pleasing in His sight.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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G.R.A.C.E.

Grace For The Journey

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15June How would you define the word “grace”?  For most Americans, grace is synonymous with words like kindness, goodness, charm, good manners, or some other attractive characteristic.  Some people might call to mind a picture of a Southern belle with flawless social skills; others might think of an accomplished dancer or figure skater.  These are perfectly good definitions of grace for those who are not Christians . . . but what about those of us who have been saved by grace?

A Christian child might connect the word “grace” to the short prayer said at mealtime, giving thanks and asking for God’s blessings upon the meal.  Someone has defined Grace with the acronym G.R.A.C.E. – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  This phrase comes very close to a workable, textbook definition of grace.  Simply grace from a biblical understanding is: “the unmerited favor of God lavished on undeserving sinners, thanks to Christ’s suffering and death.”

But we can’t stop there.  The truths of the Gospel demand we go further.  Any definition of grace that does not include the Gospel-truth of what we actually deserved is little more than a quick sketch, rather than a portrait of what our loving Lord has done for us.  Let’s make a brief study of what we HAVE earned from God.

In Genesis 2:17 God declared, “[B]ut you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

The Bible teaches in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. “

The Bible states in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In Ezekiel 18:4 God declares, “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me.  The soul who sins is the one who will die.”

And in Romans 6:23 the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death …”

“God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” is a good beginning to defining grace, but to this we must add: “freely offered to those who deserved only death, hell and the eternal wrath of Almighty God.”  Martyn Lloyd-Jones summarized it powerfully: “Grace is favor shown to people who do not deserve any favor at all.  We deserve nothing but hell.  If you think you deserve heaven, take it from me, you are not a Christian.”  WOW!  Now that is an accurate picture of who we are and what we deserve apart from the grace of the Gospel.

Someone has beautifully paraphrased Romans 5:8, “When we were at our most appalling, Christ died for us.”  When we hold the truth about grace up to the light of who we really are and what we thoroughly deserve, it truly is spectacular!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Search, Skim or Skip the Scriptures?

Grace For The Journey

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14June  How would you define the way you have been handling the Scriptures lately?  Would you say you have been searching them? . . . Skimming through them? . . . Or skipping them altogether?

The Bible says in Acts 17:11, “The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

The Bereans did not skip the Scriptures, nor did they skim through them.  The Bereans searched the Scriptures and in so doing, set a noble example for every child of the Most High God.  To search the Scriptures is to study them and sift through them slowly, looking for every speck of gold contained within them.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure.  The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence.”

If we really understood the Bible to be God’s love letter to us, would we dare skim through the Scriptures . . . or even skip them altogether?  Heaven forbid!  We confess what we truly believe about the Word of God with our lives, in the way we come to the Scriptures and search them, and the way we consider the Christ, who is revealed within every page.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus rebuked two of His disciples, who were thoroughly dejected after Christ was crucified and buried.  “O foolish ones,” the risen Savior said, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  Then, as He walked along the road with the two men, the living Word held a Bible study: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  Later, the two disciples marveled, saying to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:25-27, 32.)

One of the most amazing things I have learned over the years in searching through the Scriptures is that no matter how often I have read a particular passage, there is always something new to be uncovered!  The reason this happens for every serious student of the Scriptures is because the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).  All other books, no matter how well written, are dead.  Only the Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and alive, and it makes us more alive every time we come to it with a heart set on searching its pages for a fresh encounter with God.

When we realize the truth that every page of Scripture testifies to the truth of our precious Savior and Lord, is there anything that could keep us from searching them often?  If our vision and view of the Gospel is clear, there is nothing that could stand in our way.

The more we read the Bible, the more we see Jesus;

And

The more we see of Jesus, the more we read the Bible.

There is no more compelling motivation than that to cause us to diligently search the Scriptures . . . and keep on searching them.  The truths of the Gospel draw us to its well, that we may drink in all of its living water.

Regardless of where this blog finds you today, open the Book and let it speak into your life.  It will meet you in your place of need.  It will answer your questions.  It will calm your fears.  It will give you the strength to overcome every obstacle that stands in your way.  It will be the death of doubt and discouragement.  There is milk for those who are babes in searching and meat for those who have spent a lifetime doing it.  There is something for everyone who is willing to search and that something is the only thing we really need in both life and death . . . or more accurately, Someone . . .  and His name is Jesus Christ.  As one writer once said, “May [the Bible] be our pillow at night and our guiding light by day.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Grace of God’s Thornbushes

Grace For The Journey

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20June  There is much in nature for which we have all give praise and glory to God for.  We praise God for the beauty of the trees that sway in the breeze and blue waters of lakes and oceans.  We are amazed at the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  The list of what we praise God for in nature is endless.  But when was the last time you gave praise for thornbushes?

The Bible says in Hosea 2:5-7, “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’”

The unfaithful mother in this passage represents the people of Israel, who went after the Canaanite fertility religion to meet their needs and forgot the Lord. Sadly, this is the picture of most of us – perhaps all of us! The beauty of this passage is found in the fact that God pursues every rebel who pursues lesser lovers. And God is pleased to use painful providences (thornbushes) to rescue us from ourselves. For every idol we fervently chase after God has a blessed thornbush that will block our path, get our attention, wall us in, and cause us to lose our way. What love the Lord has for His wayward children! He prevents them from getting what they want when what they want is something they do not need and should not have.

Experience has taught me that the grace of God’s thornbushes keeps us from reaching for more than Jesus (as if there were something “more” than Jesus!) or settling for less than Jesus. Remember, many of the things we chase after come under the heading of “good things,” but, as someone has said, “good things become bad things when they become ultimate things.”  Family is a “good thing” until it becomes an ultimate thing . . . then it becomes a bad thing. Work is a “good thing” until it becomes an ultimate thing . . . then it becomes a bad thing. Church service is a “good thing” until it becomes an ultimate thing . . . then it becomes a bad thing. Recreation is a “good thing” until it becomes an ultimate thing . . . then it becomes a bad thing. You get the picture.

The grace of God’s thornbushes is intended to keep us from chasing and catching lesser lovers, which in the end turn out to be poor, blind, and pitiful. As we are providentially pricked by God’s thornbushes, we are jarred awake from our slumber so that we can return to our first and far better love, the Lord Jesus Christ. So jealous is our God for our affection, He will stop at nothing – even thornbushes – to reorient our hearts back toward Him.

And the day will come when we will no longer need the grace of God’s thornbushes. No longer will the words, “I will go back to my husband as at first” pass through our lips. What God began in us He will one day complete (Philippians 1:6), and when that work is done we will no longer need the grace of thornbushes. We will be satisfied, fully and completely, with the love of our Bridegroom, and never again will we seek after anything smaller than Jesus.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Fathomless!

Grace For The Journey

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13June  I’m going to try to capture the meaning of the psalmist, who describes the greatness of God as something no one can fathom . . .

“I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name forever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.”
  (Psalm 145:1-3)

A fathom is a unit of length equal to 6 feet, used principally in the measurement of marine depths.  To be fathomless is to be too deep to be measured; to be bottomless.   Think about that for a moment.  The depth of the greatness of our God is beyond measurement.  It is, in a word, fathomless!

  • His holiness . . . fathomless
  • His glory . . . fathomless
  • His love . . . fathomless
  • His mercy . . . fathomless
  • His grace . . . fathomless
  • His goodness . . . fathomless
  • His kindness . . . fathomless
  • His forgiveness . . . fathomless
  • His forbearance . . . fathomless

Of course, we could go on forever.  The fathomless Father who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) has given us a fathomless faith.  Faith in Christ is a bottomless sea of unimaginable joy, one that we need only to dip our toes into each day to be swallowed up by it.  Imagine diving in with wholehearted abandon and the fathomless joy that should be the testimony of our lives.  If we would dare to do such a thing: everyone who knew us would know we know Jesus; everyone who lived with us would know we live with Jesus; everyone who worked with us would know we work for Jesus.

Faith in Christ has called us into a fathomless future where our blood is oxygenated by His story and our sweat is poured out for His glory.  It’s been said that “the future is so bright, you gotta wear shades!”  The care of our Lord for every aspect of our lives is so immeasurable that nothing we do is insignificant to Him.  No labor is menial when it is done for Jesus.  No act of kindness goes unnoticed.  No ministry of mercy is ignored.  If the number of hairs on your head matters to God so much that He actually counts them (Matthew 10:30), then surely there is nothing you can do for Him that doesn’t matter, regardless of how inconsequential it might seem to you.

The fathomless greatness of our God should get us out of bed each day, rejoicing over the privilege we have in serving so great a God.  Who can measure the depth of the love that has been showered upon us by the One who took our place on that cross? Shall we return it lukewarm, served up with half our heart?  God forbid!

Whether we find ourselves journeying through sun-filled days or storm-filled nights, may our lament be that we have not loved Him enough, no matter how hard we have tried to convince ourselves that we have done so with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Thank God for the fathomless faithfulness of our Lord . . . even when our faithfulness is only six inches deep!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Going From Studying the Bible to the Bible Studying You!

Grace For The Journey

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Members of our church family will at times tell me after our weekly worship services that, “I’ve read that verse many times but I have never had it speak to me the way it did today.” You may have experienced this yourself, either during a church service or your private devotional time. When this happens, we’ve gone from studying the Bible to the Bible studying us.

The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

The more time you spend in the Bible, the more often you will sense the Scriptures studying you. Because the Word of God is living and active, it is connecting with you at the deepest level and speaking to you in your place of need. Because it is sharper than any double-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it is penetrating into your broken life and showing you how your life fits into God’s story.

The writer of Hebrews went on to tell us that nothing is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and laid bare before His eyes. That truth is not designed to condemn you, but to comfort and convict you. After all, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). But the Word of God is studying those who are studying the Word of God, and it frequently brings the student under a sense of comfort and conviction.

The Word of God will comfort you in your

  •  Sorrow
  •  Pain
  •  Difficulties
  •  Challenges
  •  Doubts
  •  Fears
  •  Guilt

The Word of God will also convict you in your

  •  Sin
  •  Idolatry
  •  Divided affections
  •  Indifference
  •  Procrastination

God’s love is like a “consuming fire,” and we feel it burn intensely deep within our hearts. Even to the amazement of the angels in heaven, God desires to meet us in our very place of need every time we seek Him.

So . . . when was the last time you felt like the Word of God was studying you? When was the last time it had a hold on your heart so tight that you thought your heart would beat right out of your chest? The more get into the Word of God and study it the more deeply you will feel it connecting with you and the more clearly you will hear it speaking to you.

Think about this for a moment: the All-knowing, All-powerful God of the universe desires to make a direct, intimate, and personal connection with you. And He has decided to do it through His inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word. Our joyous response should be, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

“Stuff” Doesn’t Just Happen

Grace For The Journey

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9June  We have all heard the phrase “Stuff happens!” This slang phrase is intended as a simple, existential observation that life is full of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. It implies that bad things happen all the time and for no particular reason.

But is it true? Does stuff “just happen” to us by chance or a random roll of the dice?

The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God had given the prophet Jeremiah a vision that was diametrically opposed to the wisdom of the world, which insists that the events that surround our lives are merely “C’est la vie”—that is, “Such is life!” Jeremiah had confessed, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Not even a bird falls to the ground apart from our Father’s will (Matthew 10:29), and Jeremiah knew that full well.

When God promised to give Israel a hope and a future, things looked pretty hopeless for Israel! A great many of the people had already been taken captive and exiled to Babylon, and Jeremiah knew that Jerusalem was doomed to be overrun and the temple of the Lord destroyed. Jeremiah could have stubbornly insisted – as many of his countrymen did – that this disaster was a result of chance, but of course he did not. Jeremiah knew that the judgments on Israel came from the hand of the Creator; he also knew that God’s discipline was ultimately delivered for the prosperity of His people, not their punishment.

It is no different for you and me. To be sure, God will discipline us, just as a loving father does with His children. But the discipline of God is never designed to harm us or crush us. It is always designed to prosper us – to help us grow and mature in our faith and to encourage us to call out to Him.

The Bible makes it clear: what the world calls “coincidences” are actually God’s providences, which He delivers for the good of those who are the called according to His purposes and for His glory. It is a wonderful comfort for the people of God to know that “stuff” doesn’t “just happen” and that there is no such thing as “happenstance” in heaven above or on earth below. This is exceedingly comforting when we find ourselves in painful providences. To know that nothing happens to us that doesn’t first pass through the nail-scarred hands of our loving Savior is to know a truth that is as comforting as it is centering.

To know that sovereignty happens – not stuff – is to know the truth that sets us free to live out our faith with unspeakable joy and unwavering security. God plans to prosper His people, not paralyze them with the fear of uncertainty. God plans to give a holy hope and a future to the hopeful and the faithful. And knowing that this is the promise of the Almighty is to know all we need to rise above the circumstances of life and see God’s hand in everything.

One final point: there would not be a single painful providence that would be for our good if Jesus had not completed His mission. Only Jesus is the “Yes” and “Amen” to every promise of God (2 Corinthians 1:20), including the one given us from Jeremiah. We build our hope on the truth of the perfect life of Christ, His sacrificial death, His resurrection from the grave on the third day, and His ascension into heaven. God’s stamp of approval, assuring us that our debt had been fully paid and thereby cancelled, is found in the empty tomb. Gone is the gnawing guilt and faithless fear.

Jesus paid it all, so we can have joy unspeakable even in the face of all the “stuff” that is causing us pain. The truths of the Gospel have turned our groans into gladness, our sighs into songs, and our hurt into hopefulness. What God has promised He will most certainly deliver!

So . . . what stuff have you been dealing with in your life lately that may have you disoriented and disrupted? God is at work and He will not stop one step short of completing what He began in you. And you would not want Him to do that for a minute . . . even the painful ones.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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GRUMBLE … or … HUMBLE?

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8June  Let me ask you a question: “As it relates to God’s providence – especially painful ones – do you grumble against it or humble yourself under it?”

Here is wise counsel from the inspired pen of the apostle Peter:

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)

By nature, you and I are far more likely to grumble under God’s mighty hand of providence than to humble ourselves. We resist, rather than receive, what God delivers to us as part of His perfect plan for our lives. We are very much like the children of Israel in their Exodus experience, who rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled through the wilderness, grumbling every step of the way!

But this is not what God wants us to do!  God gives grace to those who humble themselves, regardless of the circumstances God sends their way. In stormy seasons, humility is the mark of the surrendered Christian. If we believe that what is happening to us is the result of random chance, we will not be able to humble ourselves. We will believe we have every right to grumble against our God.

But when we understand the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and know beyond a shadow of any doubt that God is ultimately in control of all things (Romans 11:36) – in other words, that nothing happens to us that first doesn’t pass through His nail-scarred hands – we can surrender our will to His will and humble ourselves under His mighty hand.

There are many wonderful examples in sacred Scripture of giants of the faith who understood this truth and humbled themselves under God’s hand of providence. Joseph saw God’s hand working behind his wicked brothers, who hated him enough to throw him into a well, thinking to kill him, and then decided to sell him into slavery.

Years later, when God had raised Joseph up to be the prime minister of Egypt, his brothers came cowering before him, offering themselves to Joseph in slavery. Joseph could have spoken a word and had his brothers executed or sent to a hideous dungeon. Instead he spoke kindly to them, saying:

“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)

Joseph understood that God was the decretive first cause behind the painful providence, which was delivered through his self-righteous and sinful brothers. He knew God had the power to stop them in their tracks if He so wished . . . but He did not. So instead of grumbling under God’s mighty hand, Joseph humbled himself.  I’m sure he did not understand the “why” all along the way, but He knew God was in control of all of it and would ultimately work all things together for Joseph’s good and God’s glory. And that is exactly what happened!

Only a firm grasp of this truth will allow us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, rather than grumble when things don’t go our way.

Humble or grumble? The choice is always ours.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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When No One Seems To Be Home In Heaven

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7June  When was the last time you were on your knees before the throne of heaven, only to feel like no one was home? Have you ever felt like the prophet Jeremiah who believed his prayer was a one-way conversation?

The Bible records Jeremiah’s thoughts in Lamentations 3:44, “You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through.”

To be sure, one of the great trials for the Christian is the trial of the silence of heaven. The years have taught me that often those with great faith are given even greater faith through seasons of silence from the throne room. Charles Spurgeon explained it this way:

“The Lord, when He has given great faith, has been known to try it by long delaying. He has suffered His servants’ voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. True saints have continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased Him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to His own pleasure. If it pleases Him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall He not do as He wills with His own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials.”

When no one seems to be home in heaven, you can be sure that God is preparing you for a greater good than an immediate answer to your requests. Make no mistake, unanswered prayers are never unheard. God hears all of our prayers and knows which answer is best to give to us: YES, NO, or WAIT. Our God does not hear our prayers and then forget them over time. Can you not testify to prayer answered long after you had forgotten the prayer request itself? I certainly can testify to this truth.

You see, God knows what is best for everyone of His children.  Sometimes His child needs a rapid response of YES and God is delighted to give it. At other times His child needs a firm NO, and God is so pleased to give that too.  And there are times His child needs a solid WAIT in order that faith might be strengthened and God would be glorified.

So . . . what prayers have you been praying lately?  They never “fall on deaf ears” in the eternal counsel of the Triune God.  God hears our every petition and will deal with us according to His sovereign purpose and plan for our lives.

When Solomon said, “I called Him but He gave me no answer” (Song of Solomon 5:6), he was simply experiencing what every child of God experiences from time to time. Solomon knew God had not departed, even though the answer to his prayers was delayed.  And you too must never forget that God cares so much for you that He will only give to you what He knows is for your ultimate good and His glory.  Let that Gospel truth carry you through seasons of silence from the throne room of heaven.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Shrinking Your Salvation

Grace For The Journey

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6June  I remember when God saved me in September of 1957 – I was so excited about the personal benefits of my salvation!  Jesus was going to give me my best life now – better relationships, better production, optimal health, better, more influential friends, and an abundant life.  I made the rescue Jesus had provided for me all about me, not about Him, and during the next few years I began shrinking my salvation.  Does this hit home with you?

Thankfully, God did not leave me in my short-sighted self-absorption.  Through a variety of grace teachers, God graciously shifted my focus from mtrself to His Son.  During that process I began to see that my redemption was about so much more than what I had imagined to be a “good” life.  Jesus didn’t save me to make me good, but to make me His; and as His child I am to be more concerned about His kingdom than mine.

God not only rescues me from my sin, He rescues me from myself!  Self-focused living was never the goal of my redemption.  I am delivered from my slavery to self and circumstances so that I can focus on the One who saved me.  I am set free to live a life that is bigger than my own life.  God is on a mission of “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5), and He raises me from death to life to be part of this incredible restoration process.

When we understand God’s purpose, we can begin to see beyond the constricted borders of our own little lives.  We can shift our focus away from what we want to what God wants . . . from what we desire to what God desires . . . from what we love to what God loves.  This is when where our salvation stops shrinking and begins stretching – through daily surrender to the Lord Jesus and sacrificial service to God and others.

When we are wrapped up in our own lives, we utilize our time, talent, and treasure to serve ourselves and advance the cause of our own kingdom.  But when we are wrapped up in the life of our Savior, we pour out our time, talent, and treasure to serve Him and advance the cause of His kingdom, regardless of the cost or circumstance.  When we are living at this level, we can be assured that we are not shrinking our salvation but God can use us to share His salvation..

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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