Tag Archives: unmerited favor

Trust in the Lord

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him;

God is a refuge for us.  Psalms 62:8

 

Let’s face it: we can’t do it.  We can’t live the Christian life.  We can’t love others the way we should.  We can’t keep the commandments.  We stumble through life, failure after failure, and even the few successes we manage aren’t enough to last or satisfy.  There simply must be something bigger than we are, something that is for us, something that will get us through.  Otherwise, we have no hope.

Now, I don’t believe that the Christian faith is true simply because we would otherwise have no hope.  I believe that God is real and He loves us.  I believe that He is the Creator and Sustainer of life.  I believe that there is plenty of evidence, concrete facts and information, for me to trust Him.

I talk a lot about trusting the Lord.  It isn’t easy for me to just trust Him and I doubt that it is easy for you.  Life gets complicated and even scary.  I forget and I slip back into trying to trust myself or somebody’s idea of a system that might work.  When I fail again or find that the system was just like all the rest of the systems, then I remember that I can trust the Lord.

When the disciples watched everyone leave Jesus, He turned to them and asked if they would also leave Him.  They gave one of the most honest and powerful answers I have ever heard for continuing in the faith.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?”  There’s no one else.  There’s nothing else.  You are it, or there’s nothing.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;   Proverbs 3:5

So we really have no choice.  After all, what else is there?  Crystals?  Astrology?  Other religions?  Some kind of self-centered philosophy?  No, there’s only One who tells me He loves me and will take care of me.  And every time I get a hint of His greatness, every time I see His hand at work in my life, every time I realize—even just a little bit—that He really is trustworthy, that’s the cream on the top.  Those times are so amazing, so encouraging, that I finally get a sense of rest.

So what are we supposed to do under grace?  If we are not supposed to run around in frustration trying to keep the law or do enough good to get noticed, then what is left for us?  Trust in the Lord!  Believe me, trusting Him is far from passive.

Every once in a while, I sit down and utter a prayer: “Lord Jesus, it’s you or it’s nothing.  I have nothing else.  Thank you for being enough.”

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?  Psalms 56:3-4

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Freedom, grace, Grace definition, heart, Relationship

What are you afraid of?

I have often met Christians who are afraid of the future.  Not just afraid of coming evil days, but the eternal future.  Not just afraid of dying, but afraid of facing the judgment of God.  Why are they afraid?  Because someone told them that they would stand before the judgment seat and give an account of all the sins they have ever done.

Man, wouldn’t that make Heaven great? 😦  I have no idea how long it would take to give an account of each sin I have committed.  To give an account sounds like I would have to explain each one.  I have this image in my mind of watching a video of my life and stopping at each sin so that all of Heaven could see and scold me.  Good grief!

Yet, that’s what some people expect.  They quote verses like Romans 14:12, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?  At least before you realize that the only account I could ever give is to admit that I was a sinner.  That’s simple.  Yes, I did all those things.  Yes, I should be held responsible for them.  I can’t blame anyone.  I have already admitted all of that and that’s why I am so grateful for Jesus!

You see, the truth is that none of us will ever deserve Heaven.  Only Jesus ever lived the perfect life.  But He gave His life to me when He washed away my sins.  My only hope—completely and forever—is in Him.

I truly expect that I will stand before the great throne of God someday and Jesus will look at me and say, “That one’s with Me!”  And what a day of rejoicing that will be!

dave@gracefortheheart.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Freedom, grace, Relationship

God’s Extravagance

Sorry for the gap in posts! Our family is in Minnesota right now, enjoying the abundance of nature. Just last night we looked out our window to see a bobcat standing on our bridge looking at the house. We all got to see it as it posed for us. The amazing thing is that all of this wonder goes on whether there is someone to see it or not.

It is almost beyond belief to realize that there are beautiful flowers, whole fields of them, that bloom and shine and fade with no one to see them. Little animals play and interact where no human treads. Butterflies and moths emerge in glorious color to live only a short time. Birds clothed in colors we have only recently been able to reproduce fly unseen in the forests around the world. Someone has wisely noted that God’s creativity is marvelously extravagant.

Is it any wonder that His love for us is so great? He knows every sparrow, every mouse, every mosquito. But He loves us! He calls us by name. Forgiveness is not a hard decision for Him. Patience comes easily to Him. Kindness from His hand is far more abundant than the beauties of nature. He loves us!

That’s what grace is all about.

Dave

http://www.gracefortheheart.org

1 Comment

Filed under grace, Relationship

Do You Lack Assurance?

 Do you wonder if maybe you have blown it – too much this time?  Do you find yourself afraid that you might not make it to Heaven after all?  Or maybe you feel that some kind of penance is in order before you could ever be confident of God’s forgiveness.

If that describes you or someone you know, you should work through this short Bible study.  Even if it isn’t you, you will benefit from the encouragement and assurance you will find in these passages.

Try to read them without the baggage you have learned and just soak in what the Lord is telling you.  (This isn’t really about the theological controversy of eternal security, just a word of encouragement for those with troubled hearts.)

1.  Your salvation is the work of:

The Father – Romans 8:29-30

The Son – John 5:24, 6:37; 10:27-28; Col. 2:11-15

The Holy Spirit – Romans 8:9; 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14; Titus 3:5

2.  The Lord is responsible for your salvation, both for initiating it and for completing it.  The Scripture says that He will do whatever is necessary to get and keep you saved.

Phil. 1:6; Rom. 4:21; 14:4; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1Peter 1:5; Jude 24

3.  There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus, nothing that would keep them out of Heaven once they find salvation in Him.

John 5:24; 1 Cor 1:8-9; Romans 8:1; Eph. 1:6

4.  Those who belong to Him will never be separated from Him.

Romans 8:35-39; John 10:29

5.  Salvation, once received, is forever.

Hebrews 7:25; 10:14; 10:17; Eph. 4:30; 1 Peter 1:23

6.  Jesus is our Life. 

Colossians 3:3-4; Galatians 2:20

7.  The only contrast is with the unbeliever.  If you believe, trust Him, then you are saved.  If you do not, then no matter what you have learned or what good works you have done, you will not be saved.

John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-13

It is my firm belief, based on the plain teaching of Scripture, that Jesus’ work is a completed work, that I am just as saved today as I will ever be and that my eternal life has been secure since the day I first believed.  This is not based on my consistency of action or even faith, but on His promise and His faithfulness. (1 Cor. 1:4-9; 2 Cor. 1:18-22; 1 Thes. 5:23-24; Hebrews 10:23)

Dave@gracefortheheart.org

1 Comment

Filed under Grace definition, Theology and mystery

Can We Earn Grace? Pt. 3

The whole purpose of God in His work on our behalf is relationship.  His desire is for us to live in dependent relationship with Him.  He will care for us and give us all that we need.  All He asks is that we trust Him.  Trusting Him is not earning something.  In fact, even faith is a gift from Him. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

You see, the foundational message of the Scripture is the great love of the Lord for His people.  He has created us to be dependent on Him.  We don’t see this as a negative thing because when we come to Him we find ourselves to be complete and fulfilled.  It was sin that made Adam and Eve feel independent from God and sin that keeps us from the completion and joy offered in Him.  Jesus came to restore that dependent relationship and to restore the joy of those who would come.  All of this is the story of God’s grace.  We could never earn the grace or gift of God because He wants us to know of His love.

Dave@gracefortheheart.org

Leave a comment

Filed under grace, Grace definition, Relationship, Uncategorized

End of Lost

These have been very busy days for our family, getting ready for our annual pilgrimage to Minnesota and participating in a graduation celebration for one of our boys.  Good days, but really busy. 

However, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on the end of Lost, the TV series.  We were a little disappointed.  We live in a culture that truly wants Heaven and an eternally good future, but which rejects Jesus.  You can’t have one without the other.  The same book that tells us of the wonders and privileges of Heaven also tells us the only way to get there. 

No, it wouldn’t be Heaven without Jesus.  It wouldn’t be enough just to have a beautiful location forever.  It wouldn’t be enough to be reunited with friends and family.  It wouldn’t be enough to have plenty of food and time for rest.  There would have to be something much more for it to be Heaven.

You see, our hearts need the acceptance, forgiveness, and unconditional love that only Jesus gives.  We need a person who knows us in every way and still welcomes us into His presence.  We need Him, as a person, as a lover. 

I grieve for those who look forward to some kind of eternity apart from faith in Jesus.  They will find that they have been deceived. 

dave@gracefortheheart.org

Leave a comment

Filed under grace, heart, Relationship, Theology and mystery

A Scandalous Freedom – Steve Brown

I had a couple of people suggest that I review this book and I am glad they did.  Brown hooks the reader in the first chapter with his emphasis on “free means free.”  He says, “if that freedom doesn’t include the freedom not to obey, then it isn’t real freedom.” (p.9) To all those who challenge the grace message concerning condemnation of sin, Brown bluntly admits that God allows us to sin but offers us a better way. 

Brown is pointed and some won’t like reading this book.  He challenges the evangelical who has placed God in a box where He is supposed to focus His heart only on our sin.  Brown reveals the uncomfortable truth that we all still struggle against sin and admits “none of us is probably going to get a whole lot better – and yet Jesus is still fond of us.” (68)

This is a good book, well worth your time.  Brown is pointed, plain, and profound – and it may feel like a little too much of each.  But read it anyway and give it to your friends.

The chapter on pain is worth the price of the book.

Dave@gracefortheheart.org

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Freedom, grace, Uncategorized