It’s Hard

It’s very difficult to really understand.  The rest of our world doesn’t work like this.  It’s totally counter culture.

You and I have a tough time accepting the fact that when we put our faith in Jesus,  God forgives us for all our rebellion and self-centeredness and attempts to do things our way.  He loves us unconditionally – not because we are good, but because he is good.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift from God – not by works so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2: 8 & 9.

I memorized this verse many years ago and completed several Bible studies about God’s grace until – gradually – the truth sunk into my soul and changed my perspective.  I started to understand God’s grace.  I started to live in God’s grace.  When my heart and mind finally accepted that it was a free gift – nothing I could earn – my relationship with God flipped upside down.  I stopped trying to be good enough and started living in gratitude for everything God has done for me.

I was raised in a Christian family in a small town in Iowa.  There were a lot of rules for Christians in this small town – what we should wear, what we could and couldn’t do on Sundays, how often we should go to church, and the list goes on.  And everybody watched each other very closely.

When I moved away and matured, I realized that this was a fake, man-made way to ‘look like a Christian’.  I now know there is nothing I can do to earn God’s grace – Jesus did it all.  As I learned to love God without rules, he transformed my heart and my thinking which caused many outward changes to my behavior and priorities.  I gradually ‘looked more like a Christian’ because I was growing closer to God – nothing fake about it.

God’s grace was difficult for me at first to understand and accept, but when I ‘got it’, it rocked my world.

Thank you for your grace, Abba Father.

Not ‘Good Enough’

I am not ‘good enough’.

If you haven’t figured this out yet, I’m sorry to be the first one to tell you that you’re not ‘good enough’.

On our own, we will never be ‘good enough’.  No amount of giving love, time or money can make us good enough.   Thank you, Father God, for your saving grace offered to all of us through the sacrifice and resurrection of your son, Jesus.  Because accepting salvation through Jesus makes me ‘good enough’.  I can’t do it by myself.

And it’s out of my love for and gratitude to God that I strive to ‘run the race’ of faith in a way that honors him.  Sometimes I’m able to run the race well and sometimes I fail.  That’s why I’m so glad that God loves me in spite of what I do, not because of what I do.  I can’t earn my salvation and that’s a relief because I will never be good enough on my own.

Every year, as I read through the Bible, I am reminded of God’s unconditional love for me as his child as I read the account of Jesus’ baptism.  Jesus hadn’t started his ministry yet at this point.  He hadn’t done any miracles or told any parables yet.

And God said, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

God was pleased with Jesus before he started his ministry.

Let that sink in.

God has told me that I am his child, the daughter of a king.  This means he loves me and is pleased with me in spite of what is in my head sometimes and in spite of what comes out of my mouth other times.  He loves me even when I don’t listen and just do what I want to do.  He loves me when I’m tired and crabby and no fun to be around.

I am so grateful for God’s grace……..because I could never be ‘good enough’ on my own.

Love you, Abba Father.

The Guilty Will Be Punished

God tells us that those who do Satan’s work for him will experience his wrath.

We may never see it.  It probably won’t be a lightening bolt coming out of heaven – although that could happen.

God tells us through Nahum “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power.”  The vengeance of God usually doesn’t happen immediately…..but it will happen, make no mistake about it.

“The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.”

Yeah!  The bad guys are going to get it!

But – wait a minute – you and I are also guilty, aren’t we?  We have said mean things, we have done other things that are wrong.  We have rebelled – following our own hearts, not God’s.

And – this one really gets me – we have NOT done all of the things we should have done.  I know I haven’t.

But, as believers, we can still smile.  Because this is where God’s grace steps in.  When I accepted Jesus, he saved me from God’s wrath.  Jesus paid the price for my sins and rebellion, making me right (righteous) in God’s eyes.

Jesus did this for me and for you.   Each of us just needs to accept his free gift of grace.  Then God’s anger turns into love and acceptance for us.

I need God’s love and grace every day.  I feel God’s love and grace every day.

Do you?  If not, accept Jesus as your Savior today and live free in the light of God’s love and grace.

Thank you, Jesus.

Really Alive

We are all breathing.

Our hearts are pumping so we are all living.

But are we really alive?  There is so much more to life that just making it through the day.  There’s so much more that going to work everyday to pay the bills.  There’s so much more to life than buying that next new thing or going to that next new place.

Is my heart and mind and soul really alive?

One of my favorite names for Jesus is in John 8 when he calls himself the Light of the World. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Really living is when we have this light of life.

We experience a whole new dimension here on earth when we choose to live in the light of life.  

God is moving.  He is making things happen.  He is loving us and caring for us.  He is moving mountains for us.  When we live in the light, we can see some of what he is doing right before our eyes.

We are really alive.

When we are in tune with God we can understand his strength and we can feel his love.  We can sense his presence right beside us – lighting up our world.

This is what it means to be really alive.

Jesus made his free gift of grace available to everyone – we just need to choose to walk in the light.  If you haven’t made that choice – today is a great day to accept salvation through Jesus.

He is waiting.

Thank you for making it possible for all of us to be really alive, Abba Father.

Persistent Knocking

Our conversations with God are often filled with requests.  And, throughout the Bible, God tells us over and over to come to him with all kinds of requests.  He tells us to lay our cares at his feet and leave them.

One of my favorite parables is the story of the Persistent widow.  She knocked and knocked and continued to knock on the door of the unjust judge until he finally took care of her issue and gave her justice so he could get rid of her.  As Jesus told this story, he then tells us ‘how much more’ our heavenly Father loves us so we should have no doubt he will take care of our concerns when we ‘knock on his door’.

I have used this ‘persistent widow’ method in the middle of several stressful situations in my life.  These were times where I needed to make a decision and I needed an answer from him so I knocked on God’s door until he answered.  This meant that I prayed about this issue every time it entered my head – easily 50 to 80 times in a day.

I found that many of these times, God changed my perspective as I prayed and listened.  He has actually changed my perspective in the middle of these stressful times more often than he gave me a direct answer.  By the end of some of these days, my understanding of what was going on was drastically different at the end of the day from when I started that morning.  That’s so ‘like’ him, don’t you think?

So now I don’t usually pray for a specific answer- I pray for understanding of what is  going on and directions for how to move forward.

In Chapter 9, Daniel reminds us in his penitent prayer that we don’t make requests of God because we are righteous.  We don’t make requests because we have done a lot of good things so now its God’s turn to pay us back.

We don’t make requests because we’re ‘good enough’.

We’ll never be good enough on our own.

We can make our requests of God because he is merciful.  We can make requests because he is full of grace.

We can make requests because he loved us first and sent his Son to die for us.  Jesus makes us good enough.

Thank you, Abba Father.