The Limitless Compassion of Divine Grace

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Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
—Luke 23:34

Forgiveness is a hard thing to give and oftentimes even harder to accept. When Jesus spoke these words on the cross, the two thieves on either side of Him and those looking on couldn’t believe what He was saying. He had undergone so much even before He was nailed to the cross to die, and yet this Man could forgive His torturers? How was that possible?

While their ignorance of divine truth did not mean they deserved forgiveness, Christ’s prayer in the midst of their mocking Him is an expression of the limitless compassion of divine grace. (GotQuestions.org)

Beloved, if Jesus could forgive His torturers, He will forgive  you too! Every single day we stumble in our Christian walk because we are not perfect. But God always loves to hear us say, Father, please forgive me for (what I just said or did or thought) and He is quick to forgive us. Unlike us, who sometimes hold grudges against people who do us wrong even after they ask for our forgiveness, God does not. And why not? Because Jesus already took upon Himself the full penalty for our sins on that cross. He paid the price for our sins—past, present and future.

If we say that we have no sin,
we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned,
we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
—1 John 1:8-10

I heard a song again the other day that speaks to this so well, “Drops in the Ocean,” by Hawk Nelson (video below). Two lines in the chorus always resonate with me:

If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

If for any reason you cannot view this video, go here to read the lyrics. If you want to know how to receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, please visit my A..B…C… page to find out more. Or you can email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.

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God Leads a Pretty Sheltered Life

This is a great piece from the Bible Nerd blog that will really make you think.

God Leads a Pretty Sheltered Life

At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame before God’s throne, but with embittered belligerence.

“How can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?” snapped a brunette, jerking back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror, beatings, torture, and death!”

In another group, a black man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing the rope burns. “Lynched for no crime but being black! We’ve suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, and toiled ‘til only death gave release.”

Hundreds of such groups were visible across the plain. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world. How lucky God was, they all seemed to agree, able to live in heaven where all is sweetness and light, without weeping, fear hunger or hatred. Indeed, what does God know about man? What does He know about being forced to endure the trials of life? After all, God leads pretty sheltered life.

Read the rest here.

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Thankful for God’s Salvation

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This is another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving and is perfect for this time of the year as we are contemplating the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.

 

When I want to thank God for His salvation . . .

I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God
for salvation to every one who has faith.

—Romans 1:16 RSV

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.

—2 Corinthians 6:2

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock;
and exalted be the God of my salvation.

—Psalm 18:46 NASB
 

[Peter said] Jesus is the only One who can save people.
His name is the only power in the world that has been given
to save people. We must be saved through him.
—Acts 4:12 NCV

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and
believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9 NKJV

 

. . . I will pray.

Redeeming Lord,

I am always amazed when I consider the depth of Your love for me. You, who created everything in the universe, care for me so much You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. And I will never be able to explain why Jesus came—willingly, determined to rescue me and make me part of Your family. My salvation is more wonderful and amazing than I could ever comprehend.

Lord, You could have simply walked away from Your human creation, washed Your hands, and moved on to a new project. Instead, You walked beyond Your personal disappointment and went to extraordinary, even miraculous, lengths to salvage us. Knowing that moves me beyond words. And then to think that even in the face of so great a gesture toward us, You’ve made Yourself vulnerable by leaving us with the choice to take Your gift or leave it.

I want to be very clear, Lord—I take it! Every bit of it—all You have or want or plan for me! I choose to love You back every day of my life. Thank You for Your lavish gift of salvation.

Amen.

It is not your hold of Christ that saves you,
but His hold of you!
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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Rejoice in God’s Will

Here is a great devotional that is a good addition to my JOY theme this year. I read this yesterday at Crossmap.com titledNot Simply to Endure or to Choose God’s Will but to Rejoice in it.” The author of this devotional is none other than L. B. Cowman of Streams in the Desert. 

I live with several chronic pain illnesses and have often pondered the subject of God’s will, especially during this particular season of my life. Is it really possible to truly rejoice in God’s will, no matter what our difficulties are? Yes it is, and Mr. Cowman’s devotional is a good reminder of this. I especially appreciate this part of the devotional: “the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.”

Not Simply to Endure
or to Choose God’s Will
but to Rejoice in it

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

A stoic person despises the shedding of tears, but a Christian is not forbidden to weep.Yet the soul may become silent from excessive grief, just as the quivering sheep may remain quiet beneath the scissors of the shearer. Or, when the heart is at the verge of breaking beneath the waves of a trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.

It is said that springs of sweet, fresh water pool up amid the saltiness of the oceans, that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes, and that the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.

May it continue to be! Therefore, amid a multitude of trials, souls who love God will discover reasons for boundless, leaping joy. Even though “deep calls to deep”(Ps.42:7), the clear cadence of the Lord’s song will be heard. And during the most difficult hour that could ever enter a human life, it will be possible to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you learned this lesson yet?

Read the rest here.

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How do I make Jesus Lord of my life?

 

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I recently starting following a blog called Altruisco: people healing people. This wonderful blog contains tons of information about the Bible, faith and Jesus, as well as a section on world religions. There are also great videos and a “What Does the Bible Say About” section that covers many subjects from abortion to sin to worship. 

Last week I read his post titled How do I make Jesus Lord of my life? and want to share it with you today. 

How do I make Jesus Lord of my life?

The key is understanding that Jesus is already Lord of your life. We do not make Jesus Lord. Jesus is Lord. What we are supposed to do is submit to His lordship. Another word for our response to Jesus’ Lordship is “submission.” To submit is to yield to the will and control of another, and, with reference to Christians, it is yielding to the will and control of Jesus Christ. This means that when Scripture commands believers to love one another (John 15:17), that is what is to be done. It means that when Scripture says we are not to commit adultery or steal (Exodus 20:14-15), these things are not to be done. It should be understood that submission, or obedience to the commands of God, is related to Christian growth and maturity, and is not related to becoming a Christian. A person becomes a Christian by faith alone in Christ apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Read the rest here.


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Please and Thank You continued

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My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
—Psalm 45:1

Several years after Rick and I first moved to northern Arizona, I was trying to make money through my freelance writing. Psalm 45:1 was my writing goal, but still God dead-ended almost every one of my efforts. It took me some time to finally realize that even though I said I was writing for God’s glory, in fact I was not. I spent tons of time furiously trying to earn money through my writing but my ultimate goal was to become a well-known writer.

When I came face-to-face with that truth, I was appalled. How could I have let myself be pulled into such a different direction from when I first started writing? I immediately stopped writing for about two years while I spent more time in the Word.

A curious thing happened during that writing hiatus. God called me to contribute to a book titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. I’ve shared several of the prayers I wrote for that book here before. The daunting part of this is that the editor gave me only three weeks to write 30 prayer entries—yes, you read that right: 30!

There was a big problem with this. I was struggling through some massive migraines during all those three weeks. However, God walked with me through the whole thing because I not only got them all written and submitted on time, there was very little final editing that had to be done. And how interesting that the topics I was assigned to write about were “Prayers of Supplication” and “Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving”—in essence, please and thank you!

One of my posts last week was titled Please and Thank You, which was about my first time as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp. During that week, I spent my days and nights in constant prayers of please and thank you. In the same way, my heart was constantly uttering please and thank you prayers while God supplied the stamina I needed to write those 30 prayers.

God used those three weeks to remind me of where He wants me:
close by His side, relying on Him alone to get me through
.

A long time ago I read some wise words from an unknown author. They went something like this:

Don’t get so involved with the work of the Lord that you forget the Lord of the work.

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Sinful Man … Holy God

According to Ecclesiastes 7:20,  Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

That is a real problem with only one solution: Jesus Christ. By His death on the cross, He bridged the gap between sinful man and God.

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God showed how much he loved us
by sending his one and only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love–not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice
to take away our sins.
—1 John 4:9-10

Jesus Christ chose be the bridge between sinful man (all of us) and God. In accepting the penalty for our sins, Jesus’ death on the cross paved the way for us to be able to live in paradise with Him forever. There is one catch: we each need to ask Jesus Christ into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord of our lives.

It is very easy to ask Jesus Christ into your life:

ADMIT that you are a sinner.

BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you.

CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life.

You can read more details about this on my A…B…C page.

I watched this video the other day featuring Chris Tomlin singing “At the Cross (love ran red)” and I know it will bless you as much as it did me:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I’ve ever found,
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

In case you cannot view the video for any reason, go here to read the entire lyrics.

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The Olivet Discourse … Luke’s Version

Last week I shared Jack Kelly’s article, The Three Questions of Matt. 24. I consider this to be a kind of followup to that so I wanted to post it soon after the Matthew piece. Since this one is a Bible study, it is longer but well worth the read.

The Olivet Discourse … Luke’s Version

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelly  

Students of prophecy often pay more attention to Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse because of its greater length and detail. But when we bypass Luke’s account, we miss one third of the Lord’s message. That’s because the disciples asked the Lord three questions and in Matthew 24 He only answered the last two. Also, it’s Luke’s answer to their first question that confirms the whole message as it relates to the End Times.

Here’s why. When a prophet revealed events that would take place beyond the lifetimes of the people he was speaking to, the Lord often provided a short term partial fulfillment to validate the distant prophecy. This is because He had told the people that if what a prophet said didn’t come true, then the people were not to fear him, for he hadn’t spoken for the Lord. (Deut 18:21-22)

Read the rest here.

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Your Stay on Earth

 

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If you address as Father the One
who impartially judges according to each one’s work,
conduct yourselves in fear during the time of
your stay on earth;

knowing that you were not redeemed
with perishable things like silver or gold
from your futile way of life
inherited from your forefathers,
but with precious blood,
as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,
the blood of Christ.
—1 Peter 1:17-19, NASB

Did you know that we are all in a temporary living situation? Our earthly home is just a brief blip in eternity. According to the English language, eternal means:

without beginning or end, always existing, lasting forever

We are only on this earth for a very limited, brief time. I was struck by the different ways “the time of your stay on earth” (the NASB version above) is expressed in different Bible translations:

English Standard Version (ESV): the time of your exile

New Living Translation (NLT): your time here as “temporary residents”

New International Version (NIV): your time as foreigners here

Common English Bible (CEB): the time of your dwelling in a strange land

So, Beloved, how are we spending this momentary period of time? Are we existing just for each day? Do our lives reflect simply our current circumstances? Is there any proof that our lives here are joyful?

Or … are we fully preparing for our eternal home by immersing ourselves in the Word and sharing the Gospel message and telling others about our ultimate Hope?

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
—Philippians 4:4-8

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