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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The Gift of #Emptiness

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The education of our faith is incomplete
if we have not learned that there is a providence of loss,
a ministry of failing and of fading things,
a gift of emptiness. 
—F.B. Meyer

I’ve been pondering this phrase I read the other day: the gift of emptiness. What contradictory terms! How can emptiness be a gift?

We have all received gifts from family and friends for various occasions. Every so often someone will give us something special just because. Those are my favorite gifts—a card for no reason at all, a special book from a friend who knows my taste in reading, a hug, a fistful of flowers my Rick picked from the side of the road just for me. All of these make me feel special and loved.

My daughter once gave me a purse she hadn’t used in a while. It was the perfect size and color for me (bright pink!) and I loved the feel of the soft patent leather. There was no special reason for this gift; she simply thought I might enjoy using it, and oh, I did I ever! On top of my desk is a sweet teddy bear wearing a dress and pinafore, with a bow and headband around her head. A close friend gave me this gift because she saw it and thought of me.

I was away for a week and before I drove straight home I stopped at the car wash to surprise Rick with the gift of a brightly clean truck. A couple of days later, as a surprise gift to me, he completely cleaned out the inside of the truck. How’s that for mutual gifting?

As special as touchable gifts are, there are some intangible ones that are special too. The one I’m thinking about now happened a few years ago when my son renewed his commitment to the Lord and was baptized. As the tears streamed down my face, I thanked God that He had allowed me to witness this extraordinary event in my son’s life.

Emptiness is defined as an unfilled space; a total lack of ideas, meaning, or substance; a desolate sense of loss. On the other hand, a gift is something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned. How can two such different words occupy the same sentence or thought?

Ecclesiastes 5:7 says “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.” The fear of God is not that cowering kind of dread but rather a total awe, wonder and reverence for a perfect, holy, righteous and just Creator. When we truly fear God, we bow to His awesome power, complete knowledge, overwhelming faithfulness, and unfailing love and mercy for us.

God is our strength when we feel weak, our fortress when people try to overpower us, and our refuge when we need to pull back from the pressures of life. In fact, God is our ultimate security and protection.

There is nothing He is not able and willing to help us with. No matter how far we may stray from Him, He is always ready to take us back with open arms because His love for us is immeasurable. All of these are intangible gifts from God, gifts we experience from Him but cannot touch or feel with our hands. We know these gifts are from Him because:

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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.

10 
For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

—Ephesians 2:8-10

Pastor David Strem, in his sermon “Easter: Emptiness that Fulfills,” shares this:

The empty tomb is about the power of God to overcome death…[and] is God’s promise that physical death is not the end. It displays His power over death and satisfies our hope for eternal life. The world is full of empty promises, but God is different. Instead of promises full of emptiness, God gives us emptiness that is full of promise. Emptiness because He poured Himself out for us.¹

Beloved, God’s ultimate gift to us is the reality of that empty tomb where Jesus was after He died for our sins. God bestows many gifts on us because He loves us so much, but His gift of emptiness tops everything else. If Jesus had not conquered death, leaving us that empty tomb, we would not have the reassurance of His coming back for us. It is this reassurance that comforts and upholds me during my worst days because I know without a shadow of doubt that God has my back. His gift of emptiness keeps me from losing heart. How about you?

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that he had said this.
—Luke 24:1-8

¹ The Last Days of Jesus’ Earthly Ministry

 

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What is salvation?

Shared from the GotQuestions? site.

What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?

Question: “What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?”

Answer: Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19).

More often, the word “salvation” concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer’s eternal destiny (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-25).

What are we saved from? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.

Read the rest here.

To find out how to be saved, check out my A…B…C… page.

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The Throne of Grace

Heb4-16-TiredManTruckCab--AMPLet us then with confidence draw near to the
throne of grace,

that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need. 

Hebrews 4:16

“That will be ten dollars.” Miriam looked expectantly down at her customer, who couldn’t have been more than five years old.

The tiny girl carefully placed several coins on the counter. “Is that enough?”

Miriam could see right away that there was not nearly enough to pay for the pink slippers. What to do now? She looked down again at the little girl. Her simple sundress was clean but neatly patched in several different areas.

“Who are these slippers for, sweetie?”

A bright smile lit up the girl’s face. “It’s my Mommy’s birthday.” She stroked the slippers with her index finger. “They’re so soft. Maybe now Mommy can walk.”

“Oh, I’m sure your mother will love these.” Miriam frowned. “Does she have trouble walking?”

The little girl shrugged. “She sits in a chair with big wheels.”

“You mean a wheelchair?”

The little girl’s face brightened. “Yeah, a wheelchair! I forgot the word.” Then she frowned. “I got enough money, don’t I? I saved it from my ‘lowance for three whole months.”

Miriam looked around. “Did you come here alone?” 

“Yep.” She nodded. “It’s real close. I got a tire swing in front of my house!”

Miriam raised her eyebrows. She knew which house the little girl was talking about, a tiny bungalow a few doors down the street with a wheelchair ramp down one side of the front steps. The house was in desperate need of repair. In a small town like this, everyone knew that the Clarks had been going through bad times since Joe Clark’s warehouse job had been eliminated. He had been looking for work for the last six months.

“I’ll tell you what,” Miriam made a quick decision. “Since this is a birthday present, I’ll wrap them up for you.”

The little girl watched in fascination as Miriam placed the slippers in a box and deftly covered it with wrapping paper and ribbon. “There, all done.” She handed the package to the little girl, who hugged it close to her body.

“Thanks, Lady!” She took a few steps but then frowned and turned back. “It’s enough?” She pointed to the money still on the counter.

Miriam smiled. “It sure is. Now why don’t you get that present home to your mother?”

The little girl’s face lit up and she thanked Miriam again before leaving the small drug store.

Miriam picked up the thirty-seven cents’ worth of coins and stared at them for several seconds. Then she reached into her purse under the counter, drew out a ten-dollar bill and stuffed it and the coins into the cash register.

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Beloved, did you know that You can approach God with the same kind of confidence this little girl showed toward Miriam?

It is somewhat overwhelming to think of God’s throne of grace as being so easily accessible, but that’s exactly what God wants. He yearns for us to be comfortable enough with Him that we will not hesitate to bring our cares and concerns confidently to Him so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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Resurrection Hope

Originally published at Today in the Word.

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Hope in Jesus

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2–10

 His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—
Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. 
1 Thessalonians 1:9–10

 

One biblical scholar describes hope this way: “From a biblical perspective, hope may be best imaged as a line suspended between past experience of God’s reliability and a future that is still open, a line stretched taut between the reliability and the freedom of Israel’s God.” The greatest demonstration of God’s reliability is Jesus: the Son of God who willingly became fully man, who suffered an unjust death by crucifixion, and who was vindicated by God in the resurrection. What a wonderful example for our own hope!

Our reading today is from the introduction of Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica. Throughout these verses Paul unpacks the multiplying nature of hope in Jesus. The Thessalonians had been persecuted since they had accepted Jesus (v. 6). But despite their suffering, they were enduring “inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3). When the Thessalonians looked at Jesus, they saw that He had suffered and been resurrected, and with Him as their model they too could continue to hope.

The hope of the Thessalonians was inspired by the example of Jesus, and then their own lives and hope became encouraging examples for others (v. 7). This is the power of hope in Jesus: not only does it strengthen our own endurance in the spiritual life, it also provides a witness of God’s power for others to see.

Finally, notice the specific hope in Jesus that produced faithful obedience. The Thessalonians had embraced faith in the living God, and the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of His return and ultimate deliverance to live with Him kept them motivated to love and serve the Lord. Jesus endured suffering—and so did they. Jesus had been resurrected to eternal life—and so would they. What a basis for hope!

Apply the Word

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation for our hope—not just the theology we believe but also the hope that inspires our daily lives and sustains us in difficult days. Without the resurrection of Jesus, we Christians should be pitied (see 1 Cor. 15:19). But because our hope is in Jesus’ victory over death, we know that our work for God is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

 

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The Limitless Compassion of Divine Grace

Luke23-34-ForgivenessSin--AMP

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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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

Since I started writing the Marriage Triangle column for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC), I’ve come across many wonderful articles about how to have a great marriage. I’ll be sharing those here every so often, and will add each article to my Marriage Triangle tab here.

This first one is a wonderful article about marriage by Ron Edmondson, who is a contributing blog writer for the BibleStudyTools site. My favorite line from his article: 

Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It’s a 100/100 deal—each willing to surrender all to the other person.

If you are married and want the best marriage possible—in other words, the kind of marriage God calls us to have—please read Ron Edmondson’s article.

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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

by Ron Edmondson

I have an advanced degree in counseling and hundreds of hours experience working with couples. I’ve taught marriage retreats for years. I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert” in marriage—because I’m married—and my wife reads my blog. That would be a stretch. Actually, I know more to do than I have the practice of doing. (Isn’t that true for most of us?)

But I’ve learned a few things. I’ve observed things that work and things that don’t.

I think there are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. That’s the point of this post.

Want a healthier marriage?

Read the rest here.

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