Tag Archives: grace

The Value Of Grace

I work in an industry where for years we gave our customers free equipment in exchange for a contract. The problem that arose was that our customers didn’t treat the equipment very well. After losing it or breaking it, they would come back and say, “Can you give me another one?” When I would tell them this time they had to purchase it, they would get upset and say, “Just give me another free one.”

I learned during that period that people rarely value what they get for free. I remember valuing my first pair of shoes I paid for. I worked for weeks to earn enough to buy them. I was at an out of town tournament playing basketball with them. One night, someone decided to pull the fire alarm at the hotel. The first thing I grabbed to take with me outside was my shoes. I didn’t care if I lost everything else, I didn’t want to lose those.

Because of this tendency of our human nature, it’s difficult for us to value God’s grace. It is a free gift that affords us salvation. Our minds can’t comprehend how something so valuable could be free, so we often try to earn our salvation by doing things instead of trusting God’s grace. In several of his letters, Paul warns against this kind of thinking. He also warns of the mentality that says, “Since its free, I’ll just do what I want and ask for more.”

I love how in Galatians 2:21, Paul strongly says, “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless” (NLT). I believe you and I have to fight every day against our minds to not treat God’s grace as meaningless. It’s something we should value highly. The cost was high even though you and I didn’t have to pay it. To treat it as meaningless or to try to earn our salvation is to devalue what Jesus did on the cross. May we ever be grateful for God’s amazing grace and treat it with the value it is worth.

Photo by Samuel McGarrigle on Unsplash

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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God’s Good Grace

I’m constantly reminded that it’s not how good I am, it’s how good God’s grace is. No matter how hard I try, I’m incapable of not sinning. Temptation shows up when I’m most vulnerable and begs me to indulge. Immediately guilt consumes me and tells me what a failure I am. When I say, “I’ll just seek God’s forgiveness,” it whispers back, “You just sinned. Do you think He’ll forgive you right now? You’re not really repentant.” The lies try to keep me from the grace God wants to give me. The sin wants to pile up until I feel like I’m not worthy. The goal is to get me to give up without a fight or to keep me trying to create my own righteousness until I give up.

This is a pattern so many of us face all the time. There’s a constant battle going on trying to make us think we can live a sinless life, resist all temptations and make God proud of us. When we lose it, we end up covered in guilt and shame. In Psalm 40:12, David described it by saying, “Evil surrounds me; problems greater than I can solve come one after another. Without you, I know I can’t make it. My sins are so many! I’m so ashamed to lift my face to you. For my guilt grabs me and stings my soul until I am weakened and spent” (TPT).

Can I just remind you that God loves you for who you are and not for who you’re trying to be? I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek help or find ways to break sin addictions in our lives. I’m saying God sent His son to die on the cross to pay for our sins while we were still sinners. He loves us in our imperfect state and makes His grace available to us without a waiting period. Isaiah 61:10 says, “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness” (NLT). Don’t let guilt consume you when you fail. Instead, ask God to clothe you in salvation and righteousness.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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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.

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

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Your Access Privileges

Because of my status with a certain hotel chain, whenever I travel, I get access to a concierge lounge. Every morning they serve a free hot breakfast that other guests can’t get. In the evenings, they serve hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Many times this lounge is in full view of other guests, but it’s behind a locked door that only certain guests’ keys can access. I’m often asked what you have to do to get access to that room. I let them know that it’s reserved for those who are loyal to that brand and stay a ton of nights a year with that hotel chain. While this lounge is great, there are many times when I’m so busy that I don’t take advantage of it.

As Christians, you and I have access to so much that God has to offer. He has given us privileges and rights that can only be accessed by those who have faith and rely on the grace of His Son Jesus. Sadly, many of us struggle through life without taking advantage of these benefits reserved for us. Sometimes it’s because we don’t spend time in prayer, other times it’s because we haven’t read the Bible enough to know what’s available and sometimes we don’t see ourselves as worthy of these gifts. Today, begin to seek God for these benefits that He has promised us access to. There’s more that God has for you if you’ll believe.

Here are some Bible verses on things we have access to.

1. Now we’re no longer living like slaves under the law, but we enjoy being God’s very own sons and daughters! And because we’re his, we can access everything our Father has—for we are heirs of God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Galatians 4:7 TPT

2. Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

1 Corinthians 1:4-6 MSG

3. And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.

Matthew 16:19 MSG

4. This is in accordance with [the terms of] the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him [that is, our faith gives us sufficient courage to freely and openly approach God through Christ].

EPHESIANS 3:11-12 AMP

5. Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory!

Romans 5:2 TPT

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

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Led By God’s Love

I grew up seeing things very black and white. I believed I had a firm grasp on all the rules in the Bible. The way I interpreted those rules was simple, if you broke any of them, you were going straight to Hell. There was no room for mercy or grace in my mind because those things don’t follow the rules very well. They aren’t easily definable and didn’t fit into my black and white world. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to make room for those in my mind and in my life. The more I looked at the things Jesus did, the more I saw that He wasn’t about the rules as much as the Pharisees were.

One of the stories that helps me to see differently is in Luke 13:10-17. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. There was a woman listening who had arthritis so bad that her body was twisted and she couldn’t look up. Jesus saw her, laid hands on her and healed her. The head person was furious with Jesus. He said, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.” But Jesus shot back, “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?” (MSG).

Jesus was telling them and us that it’s not just about the rules. We’ve got to have compassion, mercy, love and grace too. As I said, those don’t always fit into our predefined understanding of the rules, but Jesus constantly showed us that those things trumped the rules we try to force people to live by. Jesus was constantly at odds with the legalism of the Jewish leaders and did things like this to help open their eyes to what God really wants from us. A life led by God’s love for others will always yield more fruit than one bound by legalistic thinking. Yes, we need the rules, but without compassion we miss the point.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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Under Construction

When I was a teenager, I got a summer job working construction. It was hard work to do in the Texas summer heat. I got to see how houses are built. Everything had to be built in order. The foundation crew had to set the form for the foundation, then the plumbers would come put their pipes in, the concrete would then be poured, the framers showed up after it cured, electrical would then show up before the dry wall and so on. Each crew had a part to play and a time to do their work so the house could be move in ready.

Our lives are constantly under construction as well. There are things going on that have to happen in order for God to build His master plan in us. Just like building a house, there can be delays. Things don’t always go according to the plan the way we think it should either. Working in construction and being under construction can be difficult and trying at times. The great news is that God is still working in you and in me. He still has a plan for our lives and He’s working it out. He’s not just building our lives as individuals either. We are being built together as one.

Ephesians 2:22 says, “In union with him you too are being built together with all the others into a place where God lives through his Spirit” (GNT). We are each a part of the same construction project. Knowing that, we need to give each other some grace. We’re all under construction and we’re all being built together. Your life may be farther along in the process than someone else’s. Be a person who helps them through the processes you’ve been through. Look for ways to edify others instead of slowing their progress. We’re all a work on progress. Let’s give God and others patience because we need it too.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

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Earning Heaven

In Mark 10, there’s a man who runs up to Jesus and asks, “What do I need to do to receive eternal life?” Jesus knew his heart, so He listed off the Ten Commandments and said to obey them. The man replies back, “I’ve kept those my whole life!” Then jesus changed things up in verse 21 and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me” (GNT). The man left upset because he wasn’t willing to do that.

I’m sure you’ve heard this story a hundred times, but I want us to look at it a little differently today. One of the things I notice is that this man wanted to know what he could do to receive eternal life. We have to be careful not to think our salvation is based on anything we do. Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” This Man was trying to figure out what boxes needed to be checked off to get to Heaven because he wanted man’s approval and not God’s.

We live in a performance based society. If you do certain things, you get promoted and make more money. We have to be very careful to not let that infect our faith. Jesus’ response to the man was reminding him, and us, that God looks at our heart, not at our works. We cannot earn salvation or favor with God By doing certain things. He loves us because of who we are. There’s nothing you or I can do to make Him love us more or less. If you are truly thankful in your heart for what Jesus did on the cross, it will show up in how you live your life.

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

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