Tag Archives: grace

Dependent on Grace

Proverbs 9:11

“For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.”

Health and Safety

Before the days of VCRs and DVDs, ships were supplied with movies on large 16mm reels of film. Each movie usually involved three large reels. Crews could expect to receive a supply of six movies at a time, which could be changed in port several times a year. Every movie began with a short safety feature covering different aspects of shipboard life. It wasn’t possible to skip these items in the way that a cassette or DVD can be fast forwarded, but the makers attempted to make them interesting so that they would be remembered.

The wisdom involved in operating a ship safely cannot be obtained simply from watching movie clips. There are many dangers at sea. While it is wise to educate seafarers in any way possible, training must be supplemented by experience if accidents are to be minimized, and loss of life avoided.

Grace

Wisdom that multiplies our days and extends the years of life cannot be found in a training movie. There is no earthly wisdom that can stand in the presence of God’s grace. In 2 Corinthians 1 the Apostle Paul writes; “We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom.” Paul recognized that earthly wisdom and years of experience are overruled by God’s grace, which exists outside of all human experience.

Human wisdom considers it folly that God would send Jesus Christ to walk upon this planet. Human minds find it difficult to understand why God would allow created beings to torture and murder His precious Son. But He did. Why? Because of grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)

Wisdom may be required extend our days on earth, but it is grace that takes us beyond earth into the presence of our Creator. He alone offers the gift of eternal life.

Advertisements

Swift to Mischief

Proverbs 6:18b

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,”
Thinking of Nugget

I was sitting and thinking about the above verse, the one about “swift feet” running to mischief, and one thing came to mind – our little dog, Nugget.

Nugget is a little Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkie) with a desire to run, and run, and run. Not only does he like to run, but he likes to run away! Any time he can get out of the house without a leash, Katie bar the door (which is ironic, because if Katie had barred the door, he wouldn’t have gotten out).

Normally, when we let Nug out on a long string, even though he has 50 ft., it’s not enough. As a matter of fact, he could run all over our front yard, but he doesn’t. Usually, he just looks sad and depressed. He knows what lies just out of reach – freedom.

“I’m Free!”

When Nugget gets loose, his little feet turn into a blur as he tears up the grass. Like a little streak of furry lightning he takes off for the back yard, to the same place, right where there’s a hole in the neighbor’s fence. Believe me, he knows he’s not supposed to go out of our yard, but the temptation to play with bigger dogs is too much.

When he does get loose, a tiny smile becomes visible, exposing his tiny little underbite, as his feet run swiftly to mischief. Freedom from restraint causes him to bark, “I’m free!” as I begin to chase him through the neighborhood (in our car).

Yard Dogs

My dad used to have a saying. Whenever he talked about people who had no moral restraint, especially in the area of promiscuity, he would say, “They’re no different than a bunch of yard dogs.” In his mind he equated people who run to sin with dogs having no restraint, no morals, and an animalistic desire to fulfill the flesh.

Surely the above verse applies to those who, like Nugget, like a dog, are immediately drawn to cross every boundary. Like “yard dogs,” people with feet that are “swift in running to mischief” do so no matter how much the Master calls. Is it any wonder why He gets disgusted?

“I’m Constrained”

The difference between an unbeliever who runs to evil, and a Christian who doesn’t, can be found in the words of the Apostle Paul: “the love of Christ constrains me” (2 Cor. 5:14).

When a person truly makes Jesus Christ Lord of his life, he no longer needs to be tied down by external restraints. He doesn’t need a leash around his neck – there’s a leash in his heart (Jer. 31:33). The Christian, reflecting upon the manifested love of Christ (1 John 4:9), keeps his feet planted on righteous soil.

When the big dogs call; when there’s a hole in the fence; when we are tempted to run to mischief; the love of God within our hearts cries, “I’m constrained! I’m constrained!” Without a leash, we play with our Master in fields of grace.

He loves that.

UPDATE: Nugget disappeared in August of 2017. He is still greatly missed by all. 


Has Grace Got You?

In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice. –Proverbs 29:6, KJV

When we get in trouble for doing something we should not have been doing, we sure do feel bad.

When we get away with something wrong, we are relieved, but the snare of guilt refuses to let us relax completely.

When we are forgiven, golly gee, are we happy!

It is just like MercyMe’s song, Grace Got You.

It combines these last two points and explains them very poetically, and it is how Christians should feel!

Sing,
So the back row hears you.
Glide,
‘Cause walking just won’t do.
Dance,
You don’t have to know how to,
Ever since, ever since grace got you.

Laugh,
‘Till your whole side’s hurting.
Smile,
Like you just got away with something,
Why?
‘Cause you just got away with something,
Ever since, ever since grace got you.

We essentially get away with all of the times we rubbed our sin in God’s face, all because He sent His Son to die on a cross in our place of punishment.

The question then becomes, how do we respond when others wrong us?

Just as God forgave us, we ought to forgive others. This is one of the greatest works we can do in Christ’s name. The hope is that they will see this (and other good works) and turn to Christ.

Then, we can all sing together the praise of the One who created and forgives us, rejoicing in His grace and love.

May we sing God’s praises continually. (Colossians 3:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18)


Ransomed and Redeemed

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. -Proverbs 21:18 KJV

I see two ways the wicked can be a ransom for the righteous and the transgressor for the upright.

First, the fulfillment of “you reap what you sow.”

Think of Haman from the book of Esther, who hoped to hang Mordecai, but was instead hung on the very gallows he had built.

Or the men who tried to trap Daniel and were themselves thrown into his pit of lions to be devoured.

In other words, if you plan evil against someone, you may very well find yourself suffering that fate.

Secondly, the ransom is not the payment but the prize.

Think of the kidnapped child. The “ransomed child” is paid for and redeemed.

(You probably see where this is going …)

Jesus Christ is the only truly righteous and upright One, and He sacrificed Himself for our ransom. Praise be to God that we wicked transgressors are the ransomed of Christ.

Likewise, we should go out and be willing to sacrifice everything to bring others to the knowledge of our Great Redeemer.


The Poor Difference

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:20‭-‬21, KJV

There are two different kinds of poor people:

  1. The person who owns little but is responsible and honest: They may be poor in possessions, but also being poor in spirit just means they acknowledge their status and keep striving.
  2. The person who is wasteful and irresponsible: They are poor in possessions, but they are also poor in humility and refuse to accept responsibility for their circumstances. They may even think others owe them.

It is easy to not feel bad (or to strongly dislike or even have hate) for the one who squandered everything and blames others. It is easier to feel sorry for and even be friends with the one who owns little but owns up to their station. (Trust me. I have been there.)

Even a rich person can be poor in humility and therefore be hated.

But God calls us to love the lowly of every type, whether of means or of character. We are not to despise them but show mercy acks kindness.

That may mean a handout (even if we think they may spend or trade it for drugs and alcohol), but it definitely means showing them God’s love, mercy, and grace. For that is what He did for us.


The Two Adams

Proverbs 28:7

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father. (NIV)

The First Adam

A long time ago, God created everything. At the end of that creation process, he made humans, specifically Adam and Eve.

These people were created perfect, and the walked with God.

Then they messed it all up. They sinned. They did what God said not to do, and this rebellion led to generations of death, suffering, rebellion, and selfishness that continues to this day.

Because of Adam and his wife Eve, we all choose to rebel against God … at least in some way, and always in our own way, but always away from God. Too much blood has been spilled and suffering caused because of our sin.

We all shame, disgrace, our Father, God.

The Second Adam

Fortunately, God could not leave us alone. He started with a rebellious people, the nation of Israel. He showed grace and favor they did not deserve, and He showed them the way to live. They still failed, but the story does not end there.

Out of this people, God stepped into flesh: Jesus of Nazareth was born, the Son of God, God incarnate.

Jesus was the only One to ever live a sinless life, and He was killed on a cross so that as we spilled His blood it would cleanse away our sin. Three days later, He came back to life!

If we trust in His death for our forgiveness and believe that He now lives, we no longer identify with the First Adam but with Jesus, the Second Adam. If we heed His instructions to love God, love others, and love each other through the help of the Holy Spirit, we become heirs with Christ as wise sons (and daughters)!

45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49, NIV

Gracious Lord, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness delivered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Help us to live in that truth daily and share it with the world!


Protecting Assets

Proverbs 27:13

“Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”
“Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.” (NLT)
Taking a Garment

The verse today relates to the previous.

There are many dangers which we must be constantly watching out for.

Whether in business (such as banks) or personal life, we have to make sure we are not being taken advantage of in some of our dealings.

For example, suppose you have a friend who is always helping others financially, and he always asks you for help with a promise to repay. Over time you learn that he never makes good on that promise.

To help in such matters, you can ask him for something valuable as a way of urging him to repay.

This item serves as a reminder of a debt that is owed.

Reminder of the Debt

This passage has little to do with spiritual matters, but there is another debt in our lives that a constant reminder.

In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we find a list of things called the 10 Commandments. In Romans (specifically chapter 5), Paul tells us that the Law, the 10 Commandments, was given as a reminder of our sin. It shows us how we fail to live up to loving God.

The Law shows us our debt.

Fortunately, our God has shown us grace and forgiveness. He paid our debt by sending His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to live a perfect, sinless life and die on a cross to pay the debt we could not pay.

To receive the full grace and forgiveness He has offered us, we need only believe that Jesus is God made flesh, paid for our sins on the cross, and rose again to life and now lives with the Father awaiting the time to return and redeem His faithful.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of what You have given us. We admit we are sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. Thank You for offering that grace and forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us the faith we need to live in the light of that truth every day!