Grace

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October 9

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Humility vs Privileged.

Today is my 67th birthday. I am grateful God has blessed me with 67 years-so undeserving, so unworthy. I’m reading through Ecclesiastes right now and even though I’ve never had all that Solomon had, I still feel like I’m reading my biography. For many years I thought I was “all that and more.” Not that I stated that. I didn’t. I pretended humility. I pretended having it all together. But underneath the surface I thought was something special. Eventually though, as Jesus said, what comes out is what is in the heart. My true colors came out and not only was it ugly, it made me want to vomit. How much better it would have been to see myself as “The Preacher” saw himself…eventually. He tried everything under the sun (which I truly haven’t), but finally realized all that mattered was His Creator.

Paul put it another way. In 2 Corinthians 4 he speaks of being jars of clay, of being earthen vessels. That is a stark contrast to the shiny plates, cups, saucers, and dishes we have today. Clay is made of the earth and there is nothing attractive about it. It is dull, drab, and doesn’t catch the eye at all. Unless, of course, the potter does something with it.

I can’t help but wonder the difference if I had seen myself as that all along. Instead of this shiny, glossy, “I’m-for-myself” kind of person, what a difference if I’d seen myself as a simple vessel only worth something because the Master Potter has made me and is using me that way. I saw this quote as I read this morning:

If God could not use poor instruments and feeble voices, He would make no music.” A.T.Robertson

“Father, today I know I’ve matured enough to see what I once was was not what You wanted. I still struggle from time to time with being my own man with the solutions. But I see more and more as I get older and more mature that I’m only a clay vessel. And that’s really all you want. Help me to exhibit humility in all I do and say. I’m not as good as I think I am; nor am I as bad as I once was. I know it sounds like a cliche’ but let me be clay in the Potter’s hands. May the next days and (possibly) years I have left-however many they may be-be useful and fruitful for You.”

If you have the time or inclination, here is an excellent post on this subject, only from a slightly different angle.

August 26

Monday, August 26th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Second Chance vs One and Done.

Secondhand stores. Goodwill. Habitat for Humanity. Salvation Army. Second chance bike shop. Gently used clothing. They all have something in common: second chances. Everyone of those businesses give something used another chance to be used again. We all know about Goodwill, SA, and Habitat. Take something used, refurbish it, and use it again. There is a lady in the church I pastor who for years had a store that sold gently used clothing.

We all need second chances. In late 2016 and early 2017 I was in a bad place. My love for my wife had grown old and stale. Emotionless. Somewhat cold. But a horrific bike wreck woke me up-woke both of us up-to the frigid state of our marriage. Maybe lackadaisical state would be a better description. I had allowed so many things to crowd out what was important. Jo and I gave ourselves and our marriage a second chance. We needed a “rebirth.” I’m forever grateful to God for His grace and unending love. I’m forever grateful that Jo saw something in me and our relationship to work with me to redeem it.  (Note: the “D” word never, ever was spoken. We were not that far gone).

I’m glad God is a God of second chances also. The Bible is littered with broken lives given a second chance by a patient Father. And He is still in that same business today. He doesn’t abandon us because of our sins and wavering. He stands ready with open arms to take us back in and give us that second chance. I read Micah 7:18 this morning: “Who is God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance. He does not retain His anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will against have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (18-19)

“Father, I could never thank you enough for being the God of second chances. You help restore relationships. You restore the relationship with You. Help me never to think that I or anyone else is beyond our reach and ability to restore and renew.”

 

August 20

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Touched by Grace vs Touched by Ugliness.

How do I, how do you, respond to hurt? Whether that hurt is real or perceived, intentional or not, how do I/you respond? Do we allow our lives to be touched by grace or ugliness?

I was reading this morning from Our Daily Bread. The author refers to Leif Enger’s novel Peace Like a River in which Jeremiah Land is a single father of 3 working as a janitor at a local school. He is also a man of deep, sometimes miraculous, faith. Throughout the book, his faith is often tested.

Jeremiah’s school is run by Charles Holden, a mean-spirit superintendent with a skin condition.  Despite Jeremiah’s excellent work ethic-mopping up a sewage spill without complaint, picking up broken bottles the super smashed-Holden wants him gone. One day, in front of all the students, he accuses Jeremiah of drunkenness and fires him. It’s a humiliating scene.

How does Jeremiah respond? If he lived today, he’s sue the pants off him.  He would claim some type of abuse or phobia or discrimination. Instead, Jeremiah looks at Holden for a moment, then reaches up and touches his face. Holden steps back defensively, then feels his chin and cheek in wonder. His scarred skin has been healed.

If I had been Jeremiah how would I have reacted? Would I have acted as though my life has been touched by grace or touched by ugliness? Would I have done as Jeremiah did or would I have done what was expected by the multitude?

“Father, may my life today be touched by grace not ugliness. As you have exhibited grace to me, may I do the same to others.”

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Your prayers would be appreciated this morning or today, for that matter. One of our young mothers is having knee reconstruction surgery for a torn ACL and whatever else they find when they get in there. I will be with her and the family this morning after I leave here (the office). Thanks…no matter what time you read this. I’m sure Shelby, her husband, Nikk, and the family would appreciate your prayers.

July 29

Monday, July 29th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Do vs Done.

One of the hardest things-I think-for many to grasp is the relative “ease” to obtain salvation. There is in many of us this feeling like salvation can’t be that easy; there has to be something I must do. So we get into this whole works and earning my way into salvation. We find ourselves in a game we play of “If I do this, this and this then I will be more acceptable to God.”

But that kind of striving takes away the sheer joy of unearned salvation. It’s like at Christmas time. Let’s suppose you as a parent or grandparent give your child/grandchild a present but say, “Now, you can have this for the price of $20 or (name your price) or even $1! No matter how you look at it, that is not a gift. A gift is not something that has to be paid for-no matter how much or how little.

I’ve heard it put this way:

Salvation is not a matter of what you do; it is a matter of what has been done.

Our salvation is not dependent on what we have or can do.  Our salvation is dependent on what Christ has done. The Bible is clear: “By grace you have been saved through faith. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone can boast.” [Eph.2:8-9] I like that last phrase. Actually, the whole thing but that last phrase tells me two things: 1) I have no reason to boast about my goodness; and 2) neither does anyone else. My good works; their good works; will not endear me or them to God. I have nothing to brag about.

“Father, thank you for changing the word from ‘do’ to ‘don’t.’ Thank you that my salvation, or anyone’s for that matter, does not rely on how good I am. I have no reason to boast. I’m a sinner saved by your amazing grace.”

July 3

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

I’ve been in Ohio helping Jo close up and clean up her sister’s apartment so I have been unable to post my devotions early in the morning. Nor have I been able to even post them since there is no internet there. I find myself at McDonalds using their wifi to post the past two days and today’s devotion. I guess I can’t tell people I don’t go into Mickey D’s anymore. 🙂 Anyway, here it today’s devotion.

My title for today’s devotion is Patience vs. Insolence.

I was thinking this morning (I know…dangerous) as I was reading the Scriptures how patient God is when man’s insolence is involved. I’ve been reading in 2 Kings the past few days, and while my head is spinning in my inability to get a hold of all the kings and then they lived, etc, one thing I haven’t had trouble doing is seeing their disobedience and insolence so prevalent in the kings. Just this morning starting at 2 Kings 10:32 and stopping at 13:21, my mind is boggled by the number of kings and their disobedience.

But the fact that God hung in there with them is a testimony to His faithfulness and grace. Then I read these words from Psalm 116:5- “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.” How appropriate a description. 3 words:

  • Gracious
  • Righteous
  • Merciful

They sure describe God during the kings period. And they sure describe Him during this time of our history. I am truly amazed at God’s graciousness with His people.  If it wasn’t for grace we would be toast.  Our approval of abortion, homosexuality, ungodliness and other sins has to hurt His heart. But His grace continues. His mercy continues. His righteousness is everlasting, but someday it will all end as it did with Israel and Juday.

“Father, may I not be the one who shows insolence toward You-Your grace, righteousness, and mercy. Help me to be true to you.”

May 28

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

My title is Belligerent vs. Favorable.

Question: What do you you when someone whom you thought was a friend turns against you then comes back seeking “reinstatement?”

Question: What do you do when someone curses you and says all kinds of not-so-nice stuff against you then comes crawling back asking for understanding and forgiveness?

I read about those types of situations this morning. In 2 Samuel 19, following the death of Absalom, a cast of characters comes to the stage.

  • Joab confronts David about his mourning over Absalom’s death. His confrontation dealt with David’s mourning taking the victory away from his followers.
  • Then there is Shimei. When David returns to Jerusalem he comes to David seeking understanding. When David was leaving Jerusalem, Shimei, who was from the tribe of Saul, cursed him (2 Samuel 16).  He called him a worthless man. It was obvious he still carried a torch of anger for David.
  • Another who came was Mephibosheth (M).
  • Then there is Barzillai.
  • Finally, in my reading today, there was Sheba.

Shimei comes to David asking for and receiving forgiveness for his insolence (19:16-23).

M comes to David a mess. He had not taken care of his feet, trimmed his beard or washed his clothes. Ziba, his servant, had brought food to David as he was fleeing Jerusalem. David had to have been hurt that M didn’t come with Ziba. In this talk with David he explains that Ziba took off and left him behind and when David understood the situation, he forgave him. He gave Ziba half of M’s land but M was so happy David had returned and understood his predicament that he gave all the land to Ziba.

Barzillai is a great story which I highly recommend you read (2 Sam. 19:31-40).  Funny, I have read the OT several times and never remember reading this story before. Hmmmm.

Finally, Sheba.  He was unlike the others. He was a belligerent man. He spoke against David and rallied the people of Israel against him. He took his party and withdrew from David’s leadership.  He chose to rebel. David send Amasa (his new commander of the army) after him but Joab kills Amasa then pursues Sheba. While laying siege against a city Sheba has taken refuge in, one of the women makes a deal with Joab to bring Sheba’s head. The deal? if she brought Sheba’s head Joab would stop laying siege. It was done.

“Whew! Father, so much drama. So much happening as a result of David’s failure to handle Absalom’s rebellion. David did show a huge heart to Shimei and M. His appreciation for Barzillai is a lesson in humility and gratitude. May I be as magnanimous with others as David was to this cast of character.”

March 8/Weekend

Friday, March 8th, 2019

I apologize for my failure to post earlier. I am fighting this “bug” that is going around and since we will be heading out Sunday after church for Ohio I thought I better sleep in some. Little did I know a 2 hour nap would also be in order for the afternoon. 🙂

My title for this devotion is Deserving vs Undeserving.

Whenever one talks about mercy and grace, the subject always comes down to what we do and do not deserve. It’s only right. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve; grace is getting what we don’t deserve. 

The past week in his book a SHELTER in the time OF STORM, Paul David Tripp had a different approach. It was mediation #42. I’m going to capsulize it.

I deserve:

  • to be forsaken, to be forever cast away.
  • to be rejected, to have God turn away and stay.
  • His anger, to be punished for my wrong.
  • His righteous judgment, the full weight of His Law.

I don’t deserve:

  • His affection, the many things I could not earn.
  • His provision, the daily gifts of His love.
  • the rights of family, to be called His son.
  • the warm reception, tender care and endless help.
  • to call Him Father, to be welcomed in His home.

But I’m part of a family, His family. It’s a family I did not deserve or earn. (End of summary)

There’s a lot I am not deserving of. There is a lot I am also deserving of. None of it from my own doing. The longer I live and the more I study, the more I realize I have to rely on God’s mercy and grace.

“Father, I need your mercy and grace. I need your attention to the details of my life where I need straightened up. Help me to always remember what I deserve and don’t deserve.”