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Grace is a Place

11 May

IMG_6988Lately, I’ve been diving into another study of God’s grace. Because I like to study with a goal in mind, I may make this the topic of my next book.

Basically you can divide grace into two main types:  Common Grace and Sovereign Grace

  • Common Grace is grace that’s given for all.  Flowers.  Air.  Rain.  Sunshine.  The Bible speaks of common grace in  Acts 14: 15 – 17 15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
  • Sovereign Grace is given as God wishes.  

Grace is a place where we stand:  By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.  1 Peter 5:12

Paul is exhorting, or calling to one’s side, and testifying, or bearing witness of the grace in which we stand.  Grace is favor that we don’t deserve and

  • That which gives joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.
  • The merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
  • The spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace.

Oh yummy!  God, in Greek, is theos which includes the sense of being about the Trinity.  All three members of the Trinity are giving us grace that we stand in.  Picture yourself playing in a wading pool when you were a child–spashing in the water, the droplets diamonds against the sky.

But here comes the best part.  Standing, or histemi, means to stand as opposed to following.  It is an upright and active position  As we walk, the wading pool of grace moves with us.  You can sometimes get a better sense of the meaning of a word by comparing it to a similar word.  Another word for stand is tithemi which means in a passive or horizontal position.  And it is written in the perfect active indicative tense—which indicates that it is a completed process.  It is finished!  Finished work!

Stand tall in God’s grace.

Summer Rain

25 Feb

summer-rain-243616

Do you know what a summer rain is?

To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, trapped, ravished, amazed by the bounty of the world…

Just as tear drops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer as it washes away the motionless dust can bring to a person’s soul something like endless breathing.

That is the way a summer rain can take hold in you–like a new heart, beating in time with another’s. ~ Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.  He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.  Psalm 147:7,8

**NOTE:  For those of you in the throes of winter, I’m sorry.  It is clouding up to a nice summer rain in Costa Rica right now.

Photo credit: nature.desktopnexus.com/wallpaper/1179350/

Transparency

3 Feb

ImageGod is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV)

God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP)

Mike has been preaching an amazing series of messages on having fellowship with God.  I leave each service sooo motivated to spend time with God–with the entire Trinity.  The word called means “to invite personally by name.”  He invited us to spend time with Him.  Fellowship means “association, communion, share, participate” and that fellowship is in the light.

When I think about light, I think about how true fellowship requires transparency.  When we keep all our veils on to hide our true selves, we miss opportunities to have heart-to-heart time with God.

Psalm 15:1,2  Lord, who can dwell in Your tent?  Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart.

Rethinking Reckoning

3 Dec
Living on the Life side of the cross!

Living on the Life side of the cross!

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11

I have long realized that reckoning is the key to spiritual growth, but I have to admit that when it comes to reckoning I feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she’s clicking her heels together and reciting, “There’s no place like home.”  When I read/study about reckoning, I occasionally feel that reckoning myself dead to sin becomes a bit of a mantra. A positive thinking exercise.

I’m still slooooowly reading through my favorite book of the year, The Complete Green Letters, by Miles J. Standford.  This book presents spiritual truth about salvation–past, present, and future–in a way that speaks to my heart.  He discusses faulty reckoning, which is what I described in the last paragraph, and then moves on  to a discussion of true reckoning:

True reckoning has its ultimate emphasis on the life side of the Cross; we count on our having died to sin in in order to count on our being alive to God.  Since we are new creations in Christ, death is forever past; we were brought out of it in Him at His resurrection.  As for the old man within, we continually reckon that source to have been crucified, so that it may be held daily in the place of death.  We reckon; the Cross crucifies.

Look carefully at Colossians 3:3:  “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  However, we are not dead, but alive.  Neither is self dead, but judicially crucified.  We have forever passed beyond death.  The NASB brings out the past tense:  “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  All this difference in the world!  Once we see that our death to sin is in the past tense, completed, we are free to count ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus, and to live –in the present tense!

Reckon, logizomai, is really an accounting term.  It deals with facts, not suppositions.  It happened.  It’s done.  Rejoice.

Grace Restfulness

17 Oct

I read this last week and can’t stop thinking about it:

  • To believe and consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
  • To refuse to make resolutions and vows; for that is to trust in the flesh.
  • To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.
  • To rely on God’s chastening (child training) had as a mark of his kindness.
  • To hope to be better (hence acceptable) is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
  • To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.
  • To be discouraged is unbelief–as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.
  • To be proud is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves. – Miles J. Standford

This is the grace life.

(I don’t normally recommend a book after 30 pages, but The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford is [Disclaimer: so far] totally amazing!)

God: The Strength of My Heart

10 Oct

The other day I wrote about Psalm 90:11 which discusses the fear of the Lord.  Let’s take a look at the verse 12 today.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12 KJ

The meanings of the first phrase in Hebrew are self-evident, but the second phrase has some interesting shades of meaning:

The word apply, or bow’, means to lead in, to carry in, bring in, gather, and cause to come.  The word gather reminds me of something that is fragmented, like our heart which needs to be united to totally fear the Lord about which I wrote about the other day.  It sounds like we need a sheepdog to herd the fragments of our hearts together to be able to apply them to wisdom.

The word heart includes all of the innermost parts of us–our minds, our souls, our consciences, our emotions, and our wills.  It is incredibly easy for these parts to fragment, isn’t it?  This verse says that we can apply our hearts to wisdom when we learn to number our days due to our fear of the Lord.  It seems that the fear of the Lord is key to so much.

I can only relate this to the way I felt about my dad.  I respected him totally.  I had him on a pedestal.  I didn’t want to do anything to make him think less of me.  And so I worked and worked hard to gain his approval.  He loved me either way–but I still worked due to fear that I would lose His approval.  I tend to approach God the same way–with work.

Then I read the following verse and I gave a sigh of relief:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever.  Psalm 73:26

God is the fragment gatherer.

Enter a Sinner, Leave Without Condemnation

10 Jul

I just want to share with you this amazing painting by the Russian artist, Vasily Polenov.  It’s called “Christ and the Sinner” from the story about the Pharisees bringing the woman caught in adultery before Christ in John 8:3-11.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”