Tag Archives: faith

Relationship pt 4

But what about sin? Does sin separate us from Jesus? No! Jesus conquered sin in our lives and destroyed the effects of sin. Sin makes us feel separated from Him, but once we realize that we have wandered it is easy to come back. Remember that not one of your sins has ever surprised Him. If He was not surprised, then He was not disappointed. He knew what you would do from the moment He conceived you in His heart. He loves you and He accepts you. Isn’t that amazing? It isn’t about sin, it’s about the love of God!

So, in a relationship with Jesus you live with the full awareness that He is real, He is present, and He loves you. You know in the core of your heart that He has taken into account all your inadequacies, all your wandering, and all your fears. He still loves you. He has still chosen to be your Life. He is still your strength, hope, righteousness and more. Whatever you need, He is.

You can get up in the morning with the fullness of joy in your heart. You are just as acceptable to God as you will be 10,000 years from now in Heaven. He is with you and He smiles at you. He wants to walk with you through your day. You talk with Him along the way and you listen for His voice. Whether you go to work or stay home with children or whatever, He is there. His gentleness and kindness is part of your life, easy to access because there is so much of it. When you don’t know what to do, you ask and you trust that He will lead. You don’t need to be afraid of what lies ahead because He is just as much with you in the future as He is today… no matter what.

And when you go to bed at night, you sleep with the rest of someone who is loved beyond any earthly love by a real Person who is strong and trustworthy; Someone who accepts you without reservation and loves to be with you; Someone who has promised that He will never leave you and who has prepared a wonder-filled future for you. It is all good!

Finally, if I were you, reading this, I would ask, “So, Dave, is this what your life is like?” I wish! But it is moving in that direction. The old ways are hard to overcome. The fears and challenges still seem real. But, honestly, more and more I am learning to trust Him, learning that He loves me, learning to live in relationship with Him. I share my heart with Him and He not only listens, but He speaks. Many times He has led me to say the right thing, to be there for a friend, or to know the peace of His acceptance by speaking to my heart. I know without doubt that the day will come when all hindrances will be gone forever and the relationship I have with Him will be complete and perfect. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

One more thing: Relationships are personal. One person’s relationship, even with the Lord, might not look like another’s. Samson’s relationship with God was different than David’s, whose was quite different from that of Moses. It would not be appropriate to prescribe a certain look or style. My concern is simply that God wants to have a personal relationship with each of His people.

Comments?  Questions?

1 Comment

Filed under grace, Relationship


Grace 101

High blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart attacks—all of these serious health issues are related to or seriously affected by stress.  There are many more, of course.  Some of the more “modern” diseases, those which are difficult to diagnose or cure, may be caused by stress.  Add to that the health issues that come from behavior precipitated by stress—smoking, drinking, over-eating, etc.  Stress is hard on us.

The Lord designed our bodies to respond to attack or danger in certain ways.  Blood pressure, digestion, conversion of sugar to energy—these things change so that we are better prepared to fight or run or endure.  But when our minds see danger where there is none, our bodies still prepare.  Stress is usually the perception of danger.

Think about the last several times you suffered stress.  Was there real danger?  Did your body need to prepare for fight or flight?  You might have had to make decisions, even serious decisions, but did your blood pressure need to go up?  Probably not.

A good deal of the struggle we suffer comes from our perspective on the things of life.   We can look at the same situation different ways.  From one position, a job loss feels like we are being thrown into the sea without a life jacket or raft, doomed to failure and death.  From another, that same job loss opens the door to a whole new life, one with more opportunity to fulfill our dreams.  Much is affected by how we look at these things.

So, if you continue to sort through what was given to you in salvation, you will find a precious, but under-valued and under-utilized gift, the gift of peace.

Over and over God says that He gives peace to His people.  Yet, I have found so many believers who live without peace.  They live in fear of the future, fear of God, and anxiety because of sin.  They long for peace, but live in stress.  Sadly, they go to church and, instead of being told of the peace that is their gift, they receive more stress.

But the Lord offers peace.  Peace in the midst of any trouble.  Peace for the future and the past.  The call that some teachers bring, the call to worry and fear, is a lie for believers.  We are called to peace.

And this is not the deceptive peace of the world.  You know what I mean.  Just don’t think about the trouble.  Just focus on the good in life.  Block out all negative thoughts.  That’s what the world offers.  In fact, that’s about the best the world offers.  And we always know the trouble is still there.  And we are still inadequate to face it.

The Lord gives us peace in Himself.  We face a world bigger than us and trouble bigger than us.  But nothing is bigger than He is.  He doesn’t push us out into this difficult world to fend for ourselves.  He is with us—always.  He is with us Himself, in person, in relationship.  We face nothing alone—ever.

So we have peace concerning our future because our future is secure in Him.  We have peace concerning our past because He has healed and redeemed our past.  We have peace in the most difficult of circumstances because He is with us.  That’s the amazing promise He gives to His people.

I know that there are times when we fear.  Peace is not the absence of fear.  Peace is the security and assurance we have in the midst of fear.  One of the most powerful verses in Scripture is Psalm 56:3 .

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

That’s peace.

1 Comment

Filed under Grace 101

Check the Receiver

Grace 101


“Something’s wrong with the receiver!  I can’t tell if anyone is there.”  Some of us remember when a broken telephone was a big deal.  Today we almost take for granted that some of our calls will drop.  But 30 years ago calls didn’t drop unless they were very expensive overseas calls.  And, to be honest, if you still had a phone from the phone company, very little ever went wrong with the phone.  Telephones were relatively simple appliances and were made tougher than almost anything in the house.  So when the receiver went bad, it was a big deal.

Of course, the idea that something might be wrong with the receiver was not limited to the phone.  Televisions were just fancy receivers—ones that sometimes didn’t receive anything.  Radios had receivers that could go bad.  Even people had bad receivers sometimes.  People?  Well, of course, some can’t hear and others don’t listen.  So, in a sense, the receiver is broken.

You have probably had a conversation with someone who is hard of hearing.  They say something to you and you answer and they can’t hear.  For them, it seems like a one-way conversation.  Sometimes that happens on the cell phone, doesn’t it?  You begin to tell a story and, by the time you are finished, the other person is gone.  The call dropped and you have been talking to no one.  When you reconnect, the other person says, “I lost you just as you were starting your story.”

Many Christians, if they are honest, will admit that prayer is sometimes like that.  They bring their requests, tell their stories, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the other end of the line.  They end their prayers wondering if they were ever heard.

The natural response to this one-way prayer seems to be to try to fix the transmitter.  We assume that something is wrong with getting our message to God.  So we try to be better on our end.  We work harder, confess more, and come up with formulas to increase our spirituality.  Maybe God will hear us if…

And some teachers will tell us that we are praying incorrectly.  We have to use certain words or a certain posture or even a certain volume.  If you really want something, they may say, you have to repeat it over and over.

But the problem isn’t the transmitter, the problem may be the receiver.  If you pray for forgiveness, receive the forgiveness.  If you pray for wisdom, receive the wisdom.  If you pray for assurance, receive the assurance.  The Lord is giving you what you need, but you may not be receiving it.

If I can push the illustration further, I think that sometimes we mess with the transmitters so much that we turn the receiver off.  We assume from the beginning that we have to do something in order to be heard by God, so we focus on what we have to do and we don’t listen for His answer.  The formulas, standards, and rules become so important that we dismiss the love of God in favor of our manipulation of God.

So when Jesus taught His disciples about forgiving others, the disciples were challenged.  They asked Jesus to increase their faith.  They understood that it was difficult for them to receive the truth of His teaching and apply it in their lives.  Their receivers were broken.  So they asked for more faith.  And Jesus told them about the authority of God.  He told them that the things of this world are under God’s authority and they were also.  In other words, the authority and character of God was the key.

They didn’t need a lot of faith.  They just needed enough to see that God was strong and good and wise.  They just had to know they could trust Him.  If they asked Him for something He already said He would give them, they simply had to trust in His authority and power.  If He said He would do it, He would do it.  If they asked Him for something He had not promised, they could come in faith trusting that He would hear them and do the right thing.  It didn’t take a lot.

Do you find it hard to accept that you have been forgiven?  Check your receiver.  Trust in God’s authority and promise.  The problem isn’t in what you do, your transmitter.  The problem is that you are not believing the Word of God that says you have been forgiven.

Do you find it hard to trust for the future?  Check your receiver.  Your future is in the hands of the Lord who loves you.  He says many times in Scripture that you can trust Him.  Believe in His authority and power.  Believe in His love.

Leave a comment

Filed under Grace 101


Grace 101


It is a fundamental of the grace message that what we receive from God we receive as a gift.  That which is earned by hard work or deserved by good behavior is not a gift, but a wage, and is not of grace.

I do not consider the act of receiving to be work, at least not in the sense of earning that which is received.  So to strive to become holy or to work toward forgiveness is something different from reaching out to receive the gift God gives.  Jesus told His followers to consider the birds of the air in Matthew 6:26.  He pointed out that they do not do the normal work of planting and harvesting, yet the Father feeds them.  He pointed out the lilies in Luke 12:27 and says that they do no work, yet they grow in glory.

Faith is trusting or believing.  Faith in the Lord opens our hearts to believe that He loves us and wants to give us what we need.  Faith opens our hearts to God’s grace.  Receiving is an act of faith.  Some would say that obedience is an act of faith as well; but, if obedience comes from a desire to earn or deserve something from God, then faith is not in the love of the Lord but in the effort of the person.  In other words, if you are still working for your salvation, then you are not trusting in what God has done for you.

Some people ask what our part is in this whole relationship.  They have been taught to believe that God does His part if and when we do our part.  For some, God’s part is contingent on our part.  For others, our part is required after God does His part.  If we fail to do our part, perhaps God will rescind His part.  But all of that is contrary to the message of grace.

If you want to say that we have a part, say that our part is to receive.  To reach out and take what is offered is not a good work, but just an act of faith.  You don’t get spiritual points for receiving what God offers, but you will get what He offers.  I know that even saying this bothers some grace teachers because they want to make the strong point that we do nothing toward our salvation or sanctification or glorification.  But saying that our part is to receive is only semantics.  It satisfies the need for two active sides in the relationship but still acknowledges that the whole work and initiative is on God’s side.

So what if you do not receive?  There are some people today who say that we don’t have to receive what God has done in order for it to be ours.  He just does it for us and to us.  In fact, they say, He has done this for everyone and most people just don’t know it.  After all, they say, if being saved is contingent on receiving, then we have made receiving into a work.  And, if it is a work, then we are somewhat saved by works.

I find that to be an unfortunate argument.  It lacks reason and common sense.  But let’s go back to what Jesus said about the birds and the lilies.  We love to watch birds and it sure seems that they work.  Some of the little ones pick up a seed from the feeder and fly away to eat it.  Then they return for another seed.  We wonder how they can have a net energy gain from what they eat.  The lilies push their roots toward food and water, grow their leaves, and open themselves to receive the sun.  Yet, Jesus points all these things out as evidence of the Father’s provision.  That’s because receiving is not work.  Receiving is an act of faith in the One who provides.

But if there is no faith, then the gift is not received.  Faith moves us to reach out and take what is offered.  If we do not believe, we will not take.  And, contrary to what some are teaching, if we do not receive the gift, then the gift does not become ours.  Those who will not receive salvation, because they do not believe, are not saved.

The work of grace, on our side, is to receive.  I know that is an uncomfortable statement for some people.  The meaning is obvious by now.  The study of grace is to learn how to receive.  The heart of grace is a heart open to receive.  Grace, from our perspective, is about receiving.

1 Comment

Filed under Grace 101, Grace definition

Faithfulness and Worldly Success

Over the past few posts I have been writing about some of the strange ideas we pick up in the church.  One idea that has many forms is that God blesses the faithful with worldly success.  However, the opposite is also taught: Worldly success is a sign of spiritual compromise. 

The idea that faithfulness and success are connected has a flaw.  Who gets to define these terms?  My definition of faithfulness would probably mean far less activity and far more heart connection to the Lord, but I doubt that many teachers today would agree with that.  And success, well that’s something even harder to define.

Let’s say that Mr. X is a Christian businessman.  Let’s say that he makes a lot of money.  He takes home substantially more than you and I do.  So, does that mean that the Lord loves Mr. X more than He loves us?  Or does that mean that Mr. X is more faithful in his walk than we are?  Some would go there.  Some would suggest that business success is dictated by spiritual faithfulness.

But others would suggest just the opposite.  They would say that Mr. X couldn’t possibly make so much money if he was being honest or kind or faithful to the Lord.  They would say the fact that he lives in the big house on the hill proves that he takes advantage of others and is miserly.

Many legalist groups subtly teach that worldly success is a sign of God’s approval.  They teach how to get out of debt, how to be a good employee, how to dress for impression, etc.  They welcome the wealthy businessmen on their boards and committees.  But outwardly they say they don’t trust business success and teach that God works through financial struggles to teach and to bless.

So what’s the solution?  How do we determine success in life?  How do we decide who is successful and who is not?  Maybe we don’t.  Maybe that’s not our responsibility.

I try to be consistent in teaching that the Christian life is walking with Jesus.  My only goal in ministry is to follow Him.  Now, if that’s the case, then what would success be?  I think success would be to be with Him.

That means that He will take care of the money, the reputation, the influence, and the popularity of my life.  As He leads me, He will give me whatever I need to do what He asks of me.  My resources will come from Him and be for Him.  If He wants me to have a great deal of money at a certain time, the money will be there.  If He wants a large number of people to listen to what He tells me to say, the people will be there.  But sometimes I might not need money for what He asks me to do.  And sometimes I may need to focus on a much smaller group of people.  Success will never be measured by the standards of the world, but by His delight in using me for His glory.

Think of the disciples.  What did they have?  Houses, land, bank accounts?  But were they successful?  Were they faithful?  We remember them because they followed Jesus.

Let’s face it: the flesh wants to measure success.  The Spirit doesn’t care what the world thinks.  The flesh compares itself to others and wants to stand in a certain place.  The Spirit knows that this world is fading away.  The flesh sees others as competition and wants to get ahead.  The Spirit longs for relationship and love and doesn’t care who’s ahead.

Your thoughts?


Leave a comment

Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Relationship