Tag Archives: grace

Joshua 12,13; Psalms 145; Jeremiah 6; Matthew 20

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’    Matthew 20:9;12

I tend to place myself within parables as I read them (always identifying with the most godly of the story’s characters, of course!).  After I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I instead imagined a scene from my future:

I walk into Heaven after serving God for most of my long life and find myself face to face with a couple of Nazis.

Huh?  This is Heaven right?  What’s going on here?

I suddenly recall reading the testimony of the U.S. Army chaplain assigned to minister to the surviving leaders of the Third Reich during their year-long trial at Nuremburg.  He claimed several were saved, including the chief of the German armed forces and the head of their massive slave labor force.  As I stand in Heaven staring them straight in the eye, I see that he was right.  I’m not sure how I feel about sharing the same eternal fate as men who were personally responsible for the deaths of tens of millions and caused great misery for hundreds of millions more.  They dedicated themselves to God only in the eleventh hour as they approached their executions.  Something doesn’t seem right.  Something doesn’t seem fair.

I look around the golden city and marvel at this, my eternal reward, and then start to wonder anew if I’m really being given nothing more than the reward these reformed killers have received.  Suddenly my eyes fall upon Jesus.  He’s looking at me with an expression that suggests He’s waiting for something to click within my mind.  Finally it does.  I realize that this eternal reward I feel slighted in having to share with the Nazis is a reward that Jesus alone actually earned.  Fairness to Jesus would require that I  take up residence in hell.  I’m only here because of God’s grace.  How then can I be wishing, even for a moment, that He apply a little justice to someone else?

I see Jesus is still waiting, and my thoughts break through yet another wall.  I might be sharing the same eternal fate as men who rebelled against God to a degree that few others in history ever have, but it’s SO wrong to think that God has blessed us equally.  We might be neighbors in Heaven, but I was given something they never were.  They served God only toward the end of lives filled with evil.  On the other hand, God prevented me from committing such levels of evil, and blessed me by drawing me to Him early in life.  These men lived most of their lives in service to themselves.  I was invited to live most of my life in service to the Great and Holy King.  What an unparalleled privilege!

Dear Lord, thank you for mercy rather than justice.  Destroy my lingering love of fairness.  Replace it with an ever greater love of goodness and grace.  Amen.

Michael   (mmattix)

From the archives. Originally published July 10, 2011.

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Deuteronomy 12; Psalms 97,98; Isaiah 40; Revelation 10

The words read like a feast to me: rich, filling, satisfying. It’s all praise, and don’t I want my days filled with a heart song? Before I settled into reading, I was hanging out in some memories of the past year, times with a table full of guests whether a holiday or a poetry tea. Times of closeness, nature, celebration. Such a gratitude welled up in me. Thank you, God. Thank you for beauty, provision, family and friends.

There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:7, NLT)

Even on the days when grief hit hard, or the load was so heavy, or my nerves felt frazzled–it would be the simplest of things that would remind me of God’s great grace–a friend to listen, a timely word of encouragement, the honey sweetness in a warm tea, stunning sunsets after hard days. Thank you, God. Thank you for your presence and reminders everywhere.

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A glowy sunset after a powerful storm

The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
    every nation sees his glory.

11 Light shines on the godly,
    and joy on those whose hearts are right.
12 May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord
    and praise his holy name! Psalm 97:6, 11-12 NLT

And:

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
    break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
    Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! Psalm 98:4-6, NLT

Yesterday I met with a woman who has helped me pack up the business pieces my father’s life. She shared her own story of now listing her home to move out of state to be near her aging parents and help them transition to a facility where they’ll receive the care they need. Two other friends are also managing affairs of a parent who has died or is near death. In all this, I learn from them about heart, priorities, self-care (which I never would have imagined being a regular word in my vocabulary!), perseverance, and faith. There is a peace knowing I don’t walk alone, and that God is with us–each of us. Thank you, God. Thank you for those who walk alongside as help or as example. Thank you for companions in traversing difficult paths.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

Thank you, Lord, for strength you give me on the hard days. You are ever so close, encouraging me and loving me.
Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 27; Psalms 70,71; Isaiah 17,18; 1 Peter 5

Inheritance. Restoration. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies. A prowler and an exhortation.

At times, I thought it was a sprint–times of intensity and the perception of an end … in a week … in a couple of weeks … I’m beginning to understand I can’t look that far ahead. It’s a whole new level of one-day-at-a-time. Sprint turns marathon, and did I exhaust energy early on? I stumble here or there, weary. There are unfamiliar hurdles, and they are harder to clear. Defeat comes from inside.

A post on identity in my inbox encourages me after a fall, and I get back up. I read today of inheritance–and I remember I am a child of God.

An enemy taunts from a new vantage point; it’s too close and I’m caught off guard. The psalms sing:

19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
    You have done such wonderful things.
    Who can compare with you, O God?
20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
    but you will restore me to life again
    and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
21 You will restore me to even greater honor
    and comfort me once again. Psalm 71:19-21, NLT (emphasis mine)

I run through mines that are buried in the course–a battlefield. I will not forget the God who can save me. I will not forget the Rock who can hide me. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11, NLT (emphasis mine)

I am reminded God cares for me and I can give all my worries to him. I am reminded to stand firm against an enemy, and to be strong in my faith. I am reminded that God will restore, support and strengthen me. He will place me on a firm foundation.

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. 1 Peter 5:12b, NLT

Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 12, Job 42, John 3, 2 Corinthians 12

Have you ever experienced an earth shattering, life changing, stop you right in your tracks kind of event that tuned your world upside down? Just a few years ago, my family’s lives were changed when were in a horrible car accident that landed me in shock trauma for a month and another 10 months recovering. It was one of those experiences that will definitely go down in our family’s history book as a game changer.

Just today I was talking with someone about something completely unrelated to our experience and realized that I  think of life as “before the accident” or “after the accident”. It has left a mark on our family mentally, spiritually and physically. Our trials, our pain, the lasting effects of trauma still rear their ugly head on a daily basis. Not too long ago, I was really caught off guard and convicted in my own self pity. You see, when there’s a life altering event, things are never the same again. I was fortunate to survive the accident and be put back together by some great surgeons and we, quite literally, experienced a miracle but there are lasting effects that friends and family don’t always see. There’s the day to day pain, medications for permanent nerve damage, intersections to avoid because it’s too hard to see and difficulties traveling in any type of moving vehicle, bus or plane . I am not the same friend and mom I was before and often tire quickly and have difficulty with even mundane tasks.

In reading Paul’s word, I am convicted and reminded that these weaknesses I now experience in my life are a reminder of how big my of God is. Not just that he saved me from death in the accident but so much more than that.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

We learned so much from that blink of an eye moment in time three and a half years ago. We learned how to rely on the Lord for strength. We learned how to accept help from others and lean on our brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer and support. The good and fruitful things we experienced from the hardship was far greater than bad. When I feel the pain in my neck or the numbness in my arm, I am reminded of my weaknesses. In my weakness, He is strong. And like Job, the Lord has blessed us beyond measure and far greater than we could ever imagine.

Sometimes we don’t understand the things we are going through and there are certain experiences we never will. But we can be sure that the Lord has a purpose in everything.

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you” Job 42:2-5

 

Dear Lord, help me to boast only in my weakness and in your strength. Thank you for having a purpose in everything, even when we don’t understand. May we decrease so that you may increase! 

kateredding

 

 

 

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Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34; 2 Corinthians 4

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, “who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

2 Corinthians 4 is a warm Spring breeze blowing through the open window of a house that has been closed up for the winter. It brings life and renewal, song and sunlight. There’s a new fragrance coming into the house that pushes away the stale air.

This gospel is not about me; it’s not about me clenching my jaw and willing myself to be good enough, effective enough and (the Lord knows) busy enough. This gospel is about Him and his goodness, his love. The gospel transforms the humble and broken; it brings them to life:  life in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I can breathe again.

Here’s my manna from heaven, what feeds my soul: God has deposited within me this eternal weight of glory. It is not of my making nor because I deserve it. It is God’s idea and by his good grace that he invites me to put aside my sorry attempts at self righteousness to be dressed in the very glory of his Son.

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

It’s been the Father’s desire that his people know and enjoy this glory throughout history. He wants us to know and enjoy the peace that only He can provide. In Exodus, God longs for the Israelites to be satisfied, but too often, like me they insist on having their way and refuse his command to honor his provision (they gather too much or too little manna) and don’t embrace his Sabbath rest. This human rebellion grieves Jesus so deeply that he weeps over Jerusalem saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” Luke 19:42.  And then he enters the very city and ministers to those of us who are so insistent on our not needing him; we end up crucifying him.

But anything I throw at Christ has been conquered by his love for me. This is the love that breaks the power of sin and death over me. This is my eternal weight of glory.   When I accept his love for me and rest in it, I am changed. The peace that he longs for me to possess is mine.

O Lord, may I respond to your transforming love with a full and grateful heart. Help me to recognize on this day the things that make for peace. Thank you for your love and kindness towards me, an undeserving sinner who rejected you. But here I am, and you call me yours. You are my glory and joy forever.  Amen

Kathy

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Exodus 2; Luke 5; Job 19; 1 Corinthians 6

Outcasts, aliens and misfits. Moses straddles two worlds. He is the adopted Hebrew son of an Egyptian queen and then a criminal on the run. He has carried the pain of the alienation on his journey; it is heard when he names his firstborn Gershom, for “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.” Exodus 2:22

Job is drowning in sorrow, forsaken by God and man:

“He has stripped my glory from me and taken the crown from my head…He has put my family far from me, and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me. My relatives and close friends failed me; the guests in my home have forgotten me.” Job 19:9…13

He clings to the surety of God’s love; this prevents him from being overcome by punishing waves of sorrow, loneliness and pain:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” Luke 19:25-27

Jesus reaches out to those who are despised and rejected. You can hear the derision in the words of the Pharisees and scribes:

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Luke 5:30

It’s for the rejected and needy that Jesus stands up:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

At one time or another, we are all the middle schooler sitting alone in the crowded lunchroom, the refugee, the homeless, the forgotten. Christ opens his arms and invites himself into our lives and our homes. He was despised and rejected so that I would not know separation from God.

Paul invites me to abandon the crowd mentality and the futile living that threatens to wall me off from joy of knowing Christ. He tells me that I am a temple of the living God. As God said,

“I will live in them and walk among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separated from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean: then I will welcome you, and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 

 

Lord of all creation, thank you that you humble yourself and pursue me. Jesus, thank you for taking the rejection, pain and sorrow that belonged to me so I would not be separated from you. Show me the parts of my life that I hold back so that I might repent and surrender all that I am to you. For you are my Father and  I am your daughter. Show me  what it means to live for you you today. Amen.

Klueh

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Genesis 13; Matthew 12; Nehemiah 2; Acts 12

God’s provision.

14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” Genesis 13:14-17, NLT (emphasis mine)

***

11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Matthew 12:11-13, NLT (emphasis mine)

***

I also said to the king, “If it please the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah. And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.” And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me. Nehemiah 2:7-8, NLT (emphasis mine)

***

11 Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” Acts 12:11, NLT (emphasis mine)

A place, a people, food, restoration, equipment, protection. And that’s just a sampling of these four chapters. (How many of these acts ended in exclamation!)

He is generous. He is merciful. He is gracious. He is strong.

21 And his name will be the hope
    of all the world. (Matthew 12:21, NLT)

Amen!

Courtney (66books365)

 

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