Tag Archives: faith

Grace, Mercy & Peace

I was speaking to someone recently about the old computer operating system DOS. I remember as a kid learning how to write programs for DOS. We were taught to increase each command line by 10 so if you needed to add a line of programming later, you had the room. Another thing they taught us is the phrase, “If this, then that.” It was a way to tell the computer if the user does this, then I want you to skip to another line and run the program from there. It was all about cause and consequence.

The Bible is full of “if this, then that” type phrases. In John 15:7 Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you then you can ask whatever you will.” II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people will humbled selves and pray, then I will hear from Heaven and heal their land.” These are just a couple of examples. God puts conditions on many promises that require an action on our part first in order to activate them just like in the old DOS programming. If we don’t do the first part, then the next part is skipped.

Another conditional promise is found in 2 John 1:3. It says, “Grace, mercy and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ – the Son of the Father – will continue to be with us who live in truth and love” (NLT). If we will continue to live in truth and love we will receive grace, mercy and peace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor which affords joy, delight and pleasure according to the Blue Letter Bible. The favor of God alone is enough, but John added in (through his use of the word grace) that we would also get joy, delight and pleasure by living in truth and love.

Next, he said we would get mercy. One of the definitions of mercy is to have the providence of God. That means that God will order your steps and guide your future. He won’t just let you wander. Your life will be filled with purpose which leads to the last promise of peace. When we live in love and truth, we will also get peace in our hearts, in our minds and in our lives. God wants to give us these three blessings if we will simply live in truth and love.

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My Mentor Job

A friend of mine at “A Mike For Christ” recently asked a question that took me a while to answer. He asked, “Who in the Scriptures besides Jesus teaches you much, whether about God, spirituality, or your own humanity?” I’m not a person who like it when people give me the easy answer, so I don’t like to give the easy answer. A lot of names came to mind when I read the question, but I asked myself, “Which person in the Bible teaches me about all three?” I wondered if there was someone who gave me insight into God, what it means to be spiritual and taught me about my own humanity.

I came up with Job. You may say, “That’s an easy answer. Why didn’t you say Mephibosheth or someone like that?” Job I believe met all three criteria in my own personal life. He taught me a lot about who God is. One of the first things I learned about God is that He doesn’t cause the bad times in my life, but He allows them so that He can prove my faithfulness to Him. Satan went to God and pointed to Job’s righteousness. Satan told God that he only lived that way because of all the blessings. God responded in Job 1:12, “All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence (NLT).

Job also taught me about spiritual things. He proved that you could maintain your integrity in the most difficult of circumstances. Having lost his kids, his possessions, his money and everything precious to him, He fell to his knees and found cause to worship God. When his friends accused him of wrong doing, he did not flinch. When his wife told him to curse God and die, he responded with wisdom, “Shall we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” When he had no reason to hope, to trust or the worship, he did all three because of his foundation found in his relationship with God.

He reminds me of my humanity later on in the book. God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind and asked him some tough questions like, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Do you know where the gates of death are? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons?” I’m reminded that God is in control and my feeble attempts to control my life are out of my hands. The things that happen can be a consequence of my behavior or they can be from God to prepare me for things that are coming. Either way, God has set them into motion and they are far too great for me to understand even if He answered my question of “Why”.

Job is the oldest book in the Bible and it still speaks to me. Every time I read it, I gain insight into who God is and how He sees me. I get challenged to live a life of worship. When hard times hit unexpectedly, they reveal what’s really on the inside. For job, that was worship and integrity. When life’s storms hit my shore, I look to Job for advice and proof that I can survive anything. He was human and he endured Satan’s worst attacks on his life. His humanity was exposed in the storm, but so was his foundation. I want to be that kind of follower of Christ. I want to have that sure of a foundation. I want God to be able to point at me and say, “Have you considered my servant Chris? He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” If Job did it, so can you and I.

So I ask you, who in the Scriptures, besides Jesus, teaches you much about God, spirituality or your own humanity?

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. It’s a day to reflect on the cross and the price Jesus paid for our sins. I’ve heard it explained that we owed a debt we could not pay. He paid a debt He did not owe. Because of His sacrifice, we received God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. Its important to remember that no man took Jesus’ life from Him. Out of love for us, He willingly laid it down so that you and I could spend eternity with Him. While those who watched Him die didn’t understand what He was doing, you and I have the gift of hindsight. We know that He didn’t stay on the cross, nor in the grave. He resurrected from the dead to give us new life.

The cross that took Jesus’ life that Good Friday became the symbol for our faith. It reminds us of what Jesus did and that you and I are to take ours up daily and crucify our old life to it. Through the cross, we have been made a new creation. Our old life has passed away. Our sin, the thing that separated us from God, was nailed to the cross that day. He who was sinless, took on our sin that day so that you and I could become the righteousness of God through Him. Because of that, today is a day of reverence and reflection, but also a day of thanksgiving.

Here are five Bible verses that tell the story of Good Friday.

1. When the chief priests and the Temple guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “You take him, then, and crucify him. I find no reason to condemn him.”

John 19:6 GNT

2. When they came to the place that is known as The Skull, the guards crucified Jesus, nailing him on the center cross between the two criminals.

Luke 23:33 TPT

3. By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 NLT

4. Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.

John 19:31-34 MSG

5. I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

GALATIANS 2:20 AMP

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Delayed Answers

One of the most frustrating things for me is to leave on time and to arrive at work late. This recently happened several days in a row. When I turned on my app, it showed I would arrive at work 30 minutes early. As I drove, it kept rerouting me and delaying the time. It would beep and say, “Found new route. No time saved.” Then it would beep and say, “Delayed eight minutes.” I went through side streets, back roads, highways, and freeways to get to my destination. In the end, it was about 30 minutes after I was supposed to start my meeting. I came in, apologized, and delivered the content.

As I read Daniel 10, it made me think of that day in traffic. Each of us has been delayed trying to get where we are going. We’ve all tried to get somewhere important only to have to take alternate routes. It turns out, these things happen to angels too (on a whole different level of course). They have places to be and messages to give, but are delayed as well. Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks, but hadn’t heard from God. It turns out, the angel ran into traffic and was delayed in bringing the answer.

In verse 13, the Angel said to Daniel, “But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (NLT). He wasn’t delayed by 30 minutes, he was delayed three weeks! He had to fight rulers and principalities of the air in order to bring Daniel the answer he was seeking. If it happened then, it happens today.

I love what the Angel said just before that in verse 12. He said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” It’s a great reminder that when we begin to pray, our prayers are heard in heaven immediately. Sometimes there’s traffic in delivering our answer though. We can’t give up praying because we haven’t been answered yet. There is a spiritual war raging that we don’t see, and it can cause delays. Daniel’s answer took 3 weeks of fasting and prayer. Imagine if he hadn’t been fasting or had quit praying.

Don’t quit seeking God for the answers to your prayers. We have no idea why answers don’t come as quickly as we would like. I wonder how many times I’ve blamed God for not answering my prayers, and I quit praying not knowing He had sent the answer and it got delayed. Just as God’s Angel was determined to get to Daniel with the answer, we need to be determined to keep praying and fasting until we get God’s answer. We can’t control how long it takes for the answer to arrive, but we can control how long we seek God for answers.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Trusting God’s Character

Psalm 10:1 says, “Lord, you seem so far away when evil is near! Why do you stand so far off as though you don’t care? Why have you hidden yourself when I need you the most?” (TPT) I love how honest David is with God. He says things and asks questions like this that are how we feel at times, but seem too irreverent to think or say. Every one of us have felt the same way this psalm starts off. We’ve wondered where God is and why He isn’t there to rescue us in our time of need. We’ve wondered why we feel alone when our world comes crashing down. It seems sometimes as if God doesn’t care what’s going on. That’s normal to feel that way and God is big enough to handle these tough questions.

In my life, I’ve learned to trust the character of God more than my present circumstances. Yes, they are real and they put serious pressure on me where there seems to be no way out. It’s a lot of sleepless nights and stressful days when I can’t move the mountain bearing down on me. I’ve learned though that God uses those time to produce in me things that can’t be produced any other way. One of my nephews likes to say, “No pressure, no diamond.” It’s not that God doesn’t care or that He has abandoned you. He is producing something valuable in your life in those times that He can use over and over again for the rest of your life.

My pastor recently said, “Put your trust in who God is, not in your plan for God.” You and I get disappointed when God doesn’t do what we think He should do, but if we focus on who He has always been, we’ll trust Him in hard times. That’s what David reminded himself later in Psalm 10. Verse 17 says, “Lord, you know and understand all the hopes of the humble and will hear their cries and comfort their hearts, helping them all!” God hears your silent prayers and sees your hidden tears during these times. He hasn’t abandoned you. In fact, even though you can’t see it, He’s working everything out for your good.

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Readjusting Your Course

Every time I fly, I think about a friend of mine who is a pilot. I’ve asked him many questions about the process of flying and what it’s like to be in the cabin. I’ve even questioned him about autopilot. He told me that before a flight, he plots the course based off of information he gets from others who are flying that route. Once the plane is in the air and cruising, he turns on autopilot. I wondered if it was really that easy. He then explained that at the cruising altitude, the winds can blow us off course and he has to readjust to get the plane back on course. If he doesn’t, the plane could arrive miles from its destination.

Our walk with God is a lot like that. We love to set our lives to autopilot and think that will get us directly to Heaven, but the Christian life is more than autopilot. In order to be successful at living this life, we need to have people in our lives who are ahead of us and have walked the path we are on. We need to listen to the information they’re giving us because they’ve seen first hand where turbulence lies. It’s important to have people in our lives who can give us guidance and the information we need to make the right decisions. Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be around wise people.

The next thing we have to do is be aware of how the winds of life shift us from our course. Things happen. Problems are going to arise. We need to be in a constant state of questioning if we are still on course for where God has us headed. Reevaluation is an important part of your Christian life. Asking if we are where God wants us when God wants us to be there is important. Are we still on the path that God put us on? That path is hard to see sometimes. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Applying God’s word to your life and taking advice from others will help you to live the most impactful Christian life you can. When we know what God says in His Word, we are able to defeat temptation that would take us off course. If we do get knocked off course, it’s not the end of the world. God offers forgiveness and course corrections. He makes a way to get back to where He had us heading. Don’t quit because you’ve been blown off course. Take the advice of someone who has been blown off course and been given a path back. God will not abandon you or the plans He has for you no matter how far off course you get. There’s always a way back.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Counting On God

Years ago, Tracy Lawrence sang a song called, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”. The chorus said, “You find out who your friends are, Someone’s going to drop everything, Run out and crank up their car, Hit the gas, get there fast, Never stop to think, “What’s in it for me”, Or “‘It’s way too far”, They just show up, With their big ol’ heart, You find out who your friends are.” It’s a good reminder of the people in your life that you can count on for just about anything. God is One in whom we can count on in times of need.

King David had some incredible insight into who God is. He was a man after God’s heart, but he was also a man who lived a life of faith and trust. His psalms hit home with us because he was constantly in situations that required great faith and he wrote out his prayers. His desperation often matches our own and he gives words to prayers we need to pray in those moments. He found God to be a true friend who would never turn us away in our time of need. In Psalm 9:10, he wrote, “May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you” (TPT)

You and I can go to God in our time of need and He will not neglect our need. I can tell you that He doesn’t answer each prayer the way I want Him to, but then again I don’t give my child everything he asks for either. Just like I look at the whole picture and make a decision for him, God does that with us. He meets our needs and never turns us away when we go to Him. His plan for our lives is greater than you or I can even imagine. For us to fulfill that plan, we’ve got to learn to trust Him the way David did. It’s not an easy path and things won’t always go your way, but if you keep trusting in Him, you’ll find that you can always count on Him no matter what.

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