Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Goodness and Mercy (Psalm 23)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 23

For many of us, Psalm 23 was one of the first scriptures we memorized. It’s a wonderful song of promise, and I absolutely love it.

I encourage you to read through it again … and again.

Our Good Shepherd gives us guidance and restoration. He leads us and guides us through the dark paths.

Because He is with us, we have no reason to fear.

He provides food and protection. He showers us with overwhelming blessings and abundant grace.

We can be assured that He will offer mercy every moment we live on this earth, and praise Him, we can look forward to being in His presence forever!

Amen.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Giving Affection and Mercy (Philippians 2:1-2)

Today’s scripture: Philippians 2:1-2

Just as we have been given mercy, we must give mercy to others.

Paul reminds us that mercy is necessary for “like-mindedness.” We have to be willing to not give others what we think they deserve … just as God has done for us.

This is especially true in our local church and with our closest circles of Christian friends. We’re all human, and others may (okay, likely will) do things that hurt or offend us. A bit of gossip. A careless word.

When we’re hurt, our first instinct often is to lash out or respond in kind. But we’re called to show “affection and mercy.” To offer forgiveness. To give comfort.

And this doesn’t mean we wait until they ask for love or mercy or forgiveness.

No, God offered salvation even when we sinned (Romans 5:8).

We need to show mercy and not give others what we think they deserve.

It’s not easy, but with the help of the Spirit, we can do it.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Trustworthy Mercy (Psalm 13:5)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 13:5

I’ve written before that I was abused as a child and young teenager by three different men. When you’ve been hurt by an adult, it’s often hard to trust anyone … even God Himself.

I didn’t trust men for a very long time, and I didn’t trust God either. Oh, I still believed in Him, but I distrusted His love … for me, at least.

I’m so grateful that I found trustworthy people, and I’m (literally!) eternally grateful I found my way back to the arms of Jesus.

I finally realized that God is worthy of trust, that His mercy is abundant, that His grace is abundant, and that His love is everlasting.

He is the God of my salvation, and I can trust in Him in every situation and at all times.

If you find it difficult to trust, go to the One who is worthy of your trust too. People may let you down, but God never will.

Never.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Saving Mercy (Titus 3:4-7)

Today’s scripture: Titus 3:4-7

We’ve talked before about justification by God’s grace. He sees us as righteous after we’re saved by His grace.

Especially as we focus on the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, I’m just in awe that God, the Creator of all things, loves me enough to have come to earth … for me!

He offers grace and mercy to me.

And even more He has adopted me as His dearly-loved daughter. I’m an “heir according to the hope of eternal life.”

He is indeed kind. And gracious. And merciful. And loving.

He is my Creator. My Savior. My Redeemer. My forever Father.

He is my everything … What is He to you?

Monday, December 04, 2017

Mercy for a Thousand Generations (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Today’s scripture: Deuteronomy 7:9

Eternity is an impossible concept. We on earth are bound by time.

We wake up at a specific time. We go to work at a specific time. We plan according to time. We review a calendar with dates and times. We look at devices that tell us the time.

So to even try to understand a God who is outside of time is … well, impossible. Yet that same God somehow put time as we know it in place when He created this earth. When He created morning and night. When He put the first man and woman in paradise.

He knew the choices they’d make. He knows the choices we’d make. And yet, in His mercy, in His all-knowing, beyond-time mercy, He “keeps covenant … for a thousand generations …” He keeps His covenant with you and with me.

I don’t understand it, but I’m blessed to know it’s true!

Friday, December 01, 2017

God's Rich Mercy! (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians 2:4-7

Ah … God’s rich mercy!

He so delights in not giving us what we deserve; we were “dead in trespasses” from the moment we took our first breaths. In our sinfulness, we deserve eternal death and separation from our Lord and Savior.

But “because of His great love” for us, He offers grace: giving us what we don’t deserve.

Because of His love for us, we are “alive together in Christ.” We are “raised … together,” and we will one day “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus …”

We will spend eternity in the presence of our triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit.

Our God is indeed “rich in mercy”!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Paths of Mercy (Psalm 25:10)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 25:10

As we continue to look at mercy, one thing we haven’t really made clear is that mercy, God’s mercy, is exclusive. It’s only available to “such as keep His commandment and His testimonies.”

If one is not a follower of Christ, then she can’t expect to receive God’s mercy—both that mercy that doesn’t give what is deserved as well as that compassionate treatment we saw on Monday.

Our God longs to shower all humankind with love and grace and mercy, but because He gives free will, allowing each person to choose Him—or not—He will not give the same gifts to those who choose not to follow Him as He does to those who do.

It makes sense. While woman who teaches may certainly love all her students, she certainly would not give them the same gifts as she does her own children.

So while “all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,” only those who “keep His covenant and His testimonies” follow those paths.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mercy and Compassion (Psalm 6:2)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 6:2

We’ve talked a lot about how mercy can be defined as not getting what we do deserve, and this is the mercy that brings salvation.

Today’s verse alludes to another definition of mercy: “compassionate treatment of those in distress” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

This is the mercy that the psalmist cries out for: that the Lord God, Jehovah Rapha (the God who heals), would treat him with compassion.

This is the mercy that I cry out for each day. And God answers this prayer. Each day.

When I am weak, when my “bones are troubled,” I can pray for God’s mercy, His compassionate treatment,” and He meets me in my distress.

He gives me strength and comfort and peace. He gives me mercy.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Merciful God (Exodus 34:6-8)

Today’s scripture: Exodus 34:6-8

The descriptors of God in this passage are listed elsewhere (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15) in addition to each individual attribute sprinkled throughout the Bible. I love this as an overall look at how wonderful God is:

Merciful—not giving us what we do deserve

Gracious—giving us what we don’t deserve

Longsuffering—patience to draw unbelievers to Himself (see devotional on November 20)

Abounding in goodness and truth—pure and holy, and the Author of truth

Forgiving—of those who confess and seek redemption
We serve an amazing and awesome God. He loves us so very much and gives us so much. His blessings are overwhelming

Thank Him today for all He is!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mercies of God (Romans 12:1-2)

Today’s scripture: Romans 12:1-2

These verses may be familiar to many of you. I don’t know about you, but sometimes verses get a little too familiar. So let’s just take a look at them again.

Paul writes to the Christians in Rome that they (and we) should live sacrificial lives in order to be holy and acceptable to God. They (and we) should not live according to the world’s standards, but should seek a true life-change by focusing on God and His word. When they (and we) do these, they (and we) will follow God’s perfect will.

Reflecting on these words is, well, a bit intimidating.

“Do not be conformed.”

“Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

“Prove … that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

How can we do all these?

Paul tells us at the beginning: “by the mercies of God …”

We’re not in this alone! We don’t have to try to figure it out! No, the God of the universe is merciful, and He will give us what we need to be the transformed children He wants us to be.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Patient Mercy (Isaiah 30:18)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 30:18

It always blesses my heart when I read about God’s patience, especially those that speak to unbelievers. Several passages in the Bible speak to God’s waiting in order to be gracious and merciful.

One of my favorite verses of God’s patience—and one that brings hope when I pray for those who are not yet followers of Christ—is 2 Peter 3:9. I first memorized it years ago in the New American Standard Bible:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
A few years ago, I came across this verse in the Contemporary English Version, and I think I like this one even better:
The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.
I, for one, am grateful that our God waits to show mercy for those who still haven’t found Him.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mercy and Truth (Psalm 85:10)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 85:10

I know I’ve said this before, but I do love the psalms. The authors of those 150 pieces of poetry offer praise and worship alongside cries of pain and suffering.

Sometimes, though, I read a psalm—or often just a verse—and my heart is touched by the beauty of its words.

Psalm 85:10 is one of those. Look at these words again:

“Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.”

Beautiful!

We’ve defined mercy as not getting what we do deserve, and when we marry it with truth, it’s breath-taking. The God of all truth, the Author and Creator of all things, shows mercy on His creation. Instead of the eternal death we do deserve, He offers salvation.

But then the words, “righteousness and peace have kissed.” Righteousness through salvation makes us holy in the eyes of God, which brings peace beyond human comprehension (Phil. 4:7).

Meditate on the beauty of these words. And then praise God for His mercy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mercy to Others (Matthew 9:12-13)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 9:12-13

Our Lord deserves all our worship and praise. He deserves sacrifice of our time, talents, and treasures.

But He wants more than that. He wants us to be His hands and feet in a broken, hurting world. He wants us to be His light in darkness.

He wants us to show mercy to the sick, to the difficult, to the (in our eyes) undeserving. He wants us to show love to the unlovable. He wants us to show grace when we receive nothing in return.

Our Lord’s heart is to save sinners, and when we’re “Jesus in the flesh,” unbelievers will see Him and want to know more about Him.

It’s a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mercy for the Rebel (Daniel 9:9)

Today’s scripture: Daniel 9:9

Oh, I understand rebellion. Unfortunately …

I’ve shared much of my story over the years, so you may be familiar with my being raised in a Christian home and asking Jesus to come into my heart as a child. But painful experiences with abuse led me on a very long path of rebellion.

For many years, I did my own thing, made my own decisions, followed my own plan.

Things seemed to be going well … on the outside. But inside, I was depressed to the point of questioning if life was worth living.

Praise God, I found my way back to the Father, and He showered me with “mercy and forgiveness” in spite of my rebellion.

If you’ve rebelled, come back to the Father. He’s waiting with open arms.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mercy and Redemption (Exodus 15:13)

Today’s scripture: Exodus 15:13

We who’ve followed Christ for a while tend to use a lot of words that nonbelievers may not understand … at least not in the same way we do. Grace. Faith. Joy. Salvation.

And redeemed.

Redeem is something you do when you use a coupon; you redeem it and get a discount.

For Christ-followers, redeemed means something very different
. Easton Bible Dictionary defines redemption as “the purchase back of something that has benn lost, by the payment of a ransom.”

This is a great definition. We were lost in our sin. One might even say we were kidnapped and held captive by sin. But in His incomprehensible love, grace and mercy, J
esus Christ paid the penalty for our sins. He paid the ransom.

And so we are saved. We are clean.

We are redeemed!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Mercy and Compassion (Zechariah 7:9-10)

Today’s scripture: Zechariah 7:9-10

Sometimes, mercy and compassion seem to go hand-in-hand.

If I’m going to show mercy toward someone, I also need to show them compassion.

We’ve defined mercy as not getting what we do deserve. Compassion can be defined as “
sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it(Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

So if these attributes are put together …

If someone wrongs me and then shows true remorse, I should “desire to alleviate” the other’s “distress” by not giving him what he does deserve: condemnation.

And this is where a bit of grace comes in …

I need to forgive that “someone” (in other words, give him what he does not deserve).

Mercy and compassion … and grace.

Hand-in-hand. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Great Mercy (Luke 1:57-58)

Today’s scripture: Luke 1:57-58

When the Lord revealed to me that I wasn’t going to have children of my own, I have to admit, verses about God’s mercy in providing children to barren women (and there are several in the Bible) made me a bit melancholy.

Why did He show mercy to them and not to me?

It took a while, but I finally realized that He had “shown great mercy” to me in a couple of ways.

First, He answered my prayer for peace when His will was not for children.

Second, He did give me children—children of my heart and spiritual children. I have great nieces and nephews (and now great-nieces and nephews!) and “adopted” children, those young people whose lives I’ve been blessed to influence. I also have been exceedingly blessed to share the good news of salvation when I speak, and seeds have been planted and watered through God’s words through me.

So, now when I read those stories, I rejoice in God’s mercy … for them and for me.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Mercy ... All Along (Genesis 39:21)

Today’s scripture: Genesis 39:21

The story of Joseph is likely familiar to most of us. A favored son. A slightly cocky teen. Sold into slavery by jealous brothers. Accused of attempted rape. Imprisoned. Forgotten.

Joseph had every reason to give up, to doubt, to reject God.

Yet, in each situation, Joseph knew that the Lord was with him, “show[ing] him mercy.”

His trust never wavered, so when he was finally released from prison and elevated to the second-highest ruler in the kingdom, he gave all credit to his merciful God. He was able to say with a sincere heart, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (NLT Gen. 50:20).

He saw God’s mercy all along.

Are you in a “prison”? Have you been betrayed? Have you been wrongfully accused? Don’t lose hope in merciful God. One day, you too will be able to see how God intends to use your situation for good … if you don’t lose heart.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Obtaining Mercy and Grace (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 4:15-16

I’ve always loved these verses.

Jesus—God Himself—chose to come to earth in human form. He chose to feel weariness and hunger. Grief. Betrayal and rejection. Pain and suffering.

All because He loves us. All because of His overwhelming mercy and abundant grace.

So we can “come boldly to the throne of grace” in difficulties.

When we too feel weary. Or grief. Or betrayal. Or pain.

And we can “obtain mercy and grace [that will] help in time of need.”

I pray this reminder gives you hope as you walk through whatever storms you may be in now … or will be in someday. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

He Who Has Mercy (Isaiah 49:9-11)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 49:9-11

My Bible study gals are going through a study of the names of God. We’ve learned that He’s our Jehovah Nissi—our banner, protector, and guide. He’s our Jehovah Elohim—our creator. He’s our Jehovah Rapha—our healer.

I’ve probably written before how much I love that God chose to call Himself by so many names. We can call on Him by name no matter our circumstances.

You and I have been looking at another name for a few weeks. While I don’t have a Hebrew word to give you, I think we could call Him: “He who has mercy.”

And in His mercy, He leads us. He guides us. He provides for us. He protects us. He feeds us. He gives us light in the darkness.

He who has mercy … on you … on me.

Praise Him!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Having Mercy (Proverbs 14:21)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 14:21

It’s sometimes way too easy to become complacent.

For example, Russ and I are really blessed to live in a community that would probably be described as upper-middle class and above. There are people who were former mid-level managers and fire captains alongside former CEOs and surgeons.

We don’t want for food, clothing, or shelter.

And yes, it’s easy to be satisfied with our little piece of paradise on earth.

Yet, we can never forget that there are many—so many—who have less than we do, and since we have been given so much, we need to have mercy for those who don’t.

That “having mercy” can be done in many ways. We can pray. We can give. We can go.

I don’t believe God is pleased when we hoard what He’s blessed us with. However, when we give generously, when we pray with diligence, when we put feet to our words, I picture His smile.

And when we do have mercy? Then we smile too!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

God of Mercy (Psalm 59:16-17)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 59:16-17

I’ve memorized several verses that speak to God’s being my refuge, my strength, my burden-bearer. These are my “go-to” verses when everything around me is chaos. I’ve sought these verses frequently in the last few weeks.

Psalm 46:1 reminds me that He is my refuge and help in times of trouble.

Jesus promises to help carry my burden when I’m weary in Matthew 11:28-30.

Paul writes how God’s strength comes through my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

And today’s verses again remind me that God “has been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.”

He indeed is my “God of mercy.”

And I’m so very blessed that I can go to His word and seek His promises.

For strength. For refuge. For rest when I’m weary.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mercy Over Judgment (James 2:13)

Today’s scripture: James 2:13

While God is merciful to those who choose to follow Him, He is not obligated to show mercy to those who reject Him.

Harsh words?

Maybe.

But God reveals Himself to all people. Paul wrote how nature itself is witness to Creator God:

"They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God" (NLT Rom. 1:19-20).

We have all been created with what’s been called a God-shaped hole in our hearts, and many—millions upon millions—have filled that hole with a relationship with God.

And we receive His mercy over judgment.

However, others—millions upon millions—have ignored the evidence around them and have rejected God.

So … how can they expect to receive His mercy?

If you want to receive mercy over judgment, commit your life to Him today. If you’re not certain how to do that, then please send me an email. We can talk more about a relationship with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mercy as High as the Heavens (Psalm 36:5)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 36:5

One of the things I love about living in East Tennessee are the stars. In Southern California, they had to fight with the lights of the city, but here … I can sit on my deck in the evening and look up to nothing but stars.

God’s mercy is as high as the heavens. It reaches far beyond what my eyes can see. It extends to the outermost ends of the universe.

His love for me, His desire to save me and forgive me … It’s beyond my human comprehension.

Amazing.

How could He love me as much as He does? Or as the psalmist asks:
…what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? (NLT Ps. 8:4)
Amazing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Love Mercy (Micah 6:8)

Today’s scripture: Micah 6:8

I love this verse. I absolutely love it!

If we who call ourselves followers of Christ would live by these words, what a difference we would make in this world.

If we did “justly” treating others as we want to be treated …

If we “loved mercy” showing mercy and compassion to others …

If we “walked humbly with our God” each and every day …

Or as another version states:

See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God. (CEV)
It’s a tall order, but if we only lived this way … every day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Forever Mercy (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Today’s scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:34

Forever …

That word means more to me the older I get.

Forever …

As the old hymn says, “This world is not my home; I’m just a’passin’ through.”

Or as a more contemporary praise song asserts:
All I know is I’m not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world, and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong. (© 2011, Building 429)
I can’t wait for forever with my Lord and Savior! He offers us forever goodness and enduring mercy.

The love and compassion He has for me here on earth will be forever.

Forever… I can’t wait!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Blessed Are the Merciful (Matthew 5:7)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 5:7

On Monday, we looked at how merciful God is to us … giving us eternal life when we deserve eternal separation.

So, if we have received such mercy from Him, can we be anything other than merciful to others?

When someone wrongs us and deserves punishment, can we offer mercy? Can we forgive?

We should.

In fact, Jesus Himself said that when we are merciful, we are blessed. When we are merciful, we receive mercy.

Are you holding a grudge? Is unforgiveness keeping you from offering mercy? Go to our merciful God and ask Him to help you show mercy … just as you have received mercy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Seeing God's Mercy (Isaiah 63:7)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 63:7

As I write this devotional, I can’t help but think of all the tragedies our nation has experienced over the last several weeks.

Hurricanes. Floods. Fires.

The tragedy in Las Vegas.

Riots. Conflicts.

Hate.

Where’s the lovingkindness and mercy of God through all of this?

It’s hard to see goodness or mercy or grace—or love—when all hell seems to be breaking loose.

But I do believe in a loving God. I do believe He continues to offer grace and mercy to His children.

We live in a very sinful world. Generation upon generation has turned further from Creator God, and as creation rejects Creator more and more, He’s honoring our choices.

So, a perfect world becomes ever more imperfect. Man’s inhumanity to man grows darker.

And yet … if we commit our lives to the God who is still in loving control, we will see goodness. We will see mercy. We will see lovingkindness.

In spite of everything else we see …

Monday, October 09, 2017

Abundant in Mercy (Psalm 86:15)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 86:15

Since January 1, we’ve looked at verses about faith and grace, hope and joy. We’re going to wrap up the year looking at mercy—both God’s mercy for us and how we’re to be merciful to others.

Today, we look at some of God’s amazing attributes. He’s full of compassion. He’s gracious. He’s longsuffering. He’s abundant in truth

And He’s abundant in mercy.

When we looked at verses about grace, I included a phrase I learned long ago:

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve; mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

We don’t deserve forgiveness and salvation … but through grace, God forgives us and offers salvation.

We do deserve eternal separation from God … but with mercy, God brings us back into relationship with Him and promises eternity with Him.

What a wonderful God we serve. Rich in grace. Abundant in mercy.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Exceeding Joy (Jude 1:24-25)

Today’s scripture: Jude 1:24-25

As we finish up our few weeks looking at the word joy, I leave you with a wonderful benediction from the book of Jude.

I echo these words of hope and peace and joy. I pray you will seek the one who will “keep you from stumbling.” The one who will “present you faultless.” I pray you will enter His presence each day with “exceeding joy.”

And may you praise Him each day remembering that He is our wise Savior. Give Him “glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”

And amen.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Go Out With Joy (Isaiah 55:11-12)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 55:11-12

I feel incredibly blessed that I’m not on this journey called life alone. My God is walking alongside me on the path that He has designed … just for me. His plan is one of peace, with a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11), and He promises that I will “go out with joy, and be led out with peace.

I don’t know about you, but I find this so assuring! The Creator of the universe is in loving control of all things, and that means He is in loving control of my life too. I can find joy in all things because I know He is working for His glory and my good (Rom. 8:28).

As we’ve already discussed in earlier devotionals, joy doesn’t come from circumstance although we all experience those very happy times. It comes from the confidence knowing that our loving God is leading us, helping us, guiding us, protecting us, and providing for us.

We can live every day knowing that He is sending us out with joy and leading us with peace.

Praise Him!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Joy in Christ-likeness (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7)

Today’s scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7

Did you know that as a follower of Christ you are the gospel on feet? That, through you, others see what it means to know Jesus? And that you are an example to other believers?

Does that fill you with joy? Or a bit of fear?

I believe it was St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach at all times. When necessary, use words.” I love that. Some of us are not gifted speakers or evangelists. We won’t fill a pulpit or teach a Sunday school class.

But we can find “joy of the Holy Spirit” when others see Jesus in us. We can live to serve others and glorify God. We can “preach” without saying a word.

What sermon are you preaching with your daily life? Is the gospel being told? Are you an example of Christ-likeness to other believers? Ask Jesus to shine through you so that His story is told.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Joy through Nature (Psalm 98:7-9)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 98:7-9

Okay. I admit it. I’m a sucker for Disney and Pixar films. I love that kind of animation where animals sing and flowers dance. I guess it reminds me of simpler times.

There’s a scene in Alice in Wonderland where flowers serenade Alice. It’s a lovely (albeit sappy!) tune called “All in the Golden Afternoon.” It’s quite sweet. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0lbfEb8MMk if you’re interested!)

I wonder sometimes if the wind blowing through trees or the sound of leaves falling or the roar of a mighty river is actually a song of praise to the Lord. After all, the Bible talks of “rivers clap[ping] their hands” and “hills be[ing] joyful.”

God is the creator of all things, so why wouldn’t His entire creation sing praises to Him? Why wouldn’t every creature worship the Creator?

Maybe it’s that child-likeness I still have that lets me imagine such a chorus.

But isn’t it nice to imagine? 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Joy in God Alone (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Today’s scripture: Habakkuk 3:17-19


We’ve all been through seasons where the “fig tree may not blossom” or the “fields yield no food.”

Times of dryness. Of futility. Of emotional famine.

No refreshing rain in sight.

Where can we possibly find joy during these seasons?

In the confidence that we have no strength of our own. What? How can being weak bring us joy?

Because our strength comes from the God of the universe, the Creator of all things. He is omnipotent—ALL-powerful. And He gives strength to us in our weakness.

Our joy is in Him and in Him alone. When we accept the Lord Jesus as Savior, He instills His strength in us.

So as we pray for rain through the dry seasons, we can pray for and receive any needed strength from the All-powerful God.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Joy with Friends (Philemon 1:7)

Today’s scripture: Philemon 1:7

I love having girlfriends, those sisters in Christ who walk alongside me, who encourage me, who pray for me.

There is indeed “great joy and consolation in [their] love …” I honestly cannot imagine how I would have gotten through some very difficult times without their love and support.

In this season of my life, I have a small group of women who are my support system. We pray together; we play together; we’re genuinely there for each other. I’m fully confident that, if I needed someone, I could pick up the phone, and any one of them would be come to my aid.

I’m even more blessed to have a “sister” who “refreshes” my heart. She is my (in the current vernacular) my BFF, and I find joy in just hanging out with her.

Friends are a gift from God, and I encourage you to cherish those friends with which He’s blessed you.

Friday, September 22, 2017

My Soul Shall Be Joyful (Isaiah 61:10-11)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 61:10-11

My favorite season is spring. I love it when the first green leaf appears on a backyard tree. When the first flower blooms. When the temperature raises from winter’s cold to spring’s warmth.

Joy feels very much like spring to me. As I ponder how much God loves me and how He “clothes [me] with the garments of salvation,” then joy “spring[s] forth” just as “the earth brings forth its bud” or as the New Living Translation says, “His righteousness [is] like a garden in the early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.”

And although spring is just a few months a year, joy can be found anywhere at any time.

If you’re in a winter-like season, find joy in the “early spring” of God’s salvation and righteousness.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Be Glad and Rejoice (Psalm 32:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 32:11

Life isn’t easy … and this is an understatement for many of us.

And there are days when the last thing we want to be “glad in the Lord and rejoice.” We may want to shout, but not with joy.

But …

This is what we are commanded to do. 1 Thessalonians makes it quite clear: Rejoice always (5:16).

Not often. Not sometimes. Not whenever it’s convenient or when things are going well.

Always.

We talked about this in the first devotional on joy. Joy is an attitude. A state of mind. No matter what the circumstance, no matter the pain, no matter the suffering, we can find joy.

We can see splashes of joy in the smile of a child. The unconditional love of a pet. A sunset. A rainbow.

So, yes, we can “be glad in the Lord and rejoice.” We can “shout for joy.”

Always.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Joy in Song (Isaiah 49:13)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 49:13

I’ve written this before, but one of my favorite ways of praising and glorifying God is through song. There is something that just touches my heart in a way that few other things can.

I really love singing the scriptures. We often think of such songs coming from psalms, and indeed they do, but so many other words of praise could be set to music. And although I’m no composer, I sometimes find myself putting verses I read to a random tune … and those words become a song of praise.

Words like those in today’s verse. I start out loud and boisterous: “Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains.”

Then the meter slows. Forte quiets to pianissimo … “For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.”

If you’re a musician—and even if you’re not—try composing your own songs of praise. And you will find joy!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Eat with Joy (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8)

Today’s scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:7-8


We do a lot of our socializing over meals, don’t we?

One of my favorite things to do with friends is eat. Whether we’re having a few people over for dinner, going out with the BFF, grilling at friends’, I love eating “with joy.”

I think that’s a gift from God. I mean, He gave us taste buds for a reason!

Even the Bible talks about how we’re going one day to sit at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). One day, every person who has committed his life to Christ will feast with Him.

So, it should come as no surprise that eating is so important—beyond what we need to survive.

The next time you sit down for a meal, eat with “joy,” thanking God for His provision—and if you’re eating with friends, find even more joy with them!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Joyful Words (Proverbs 15:23)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 15:23

Are your words always joyful? Are your words “spoken in due season”? Does what you say build up others? Or cut them down? Do others find joy in what you say?

Words can bring a smile to another. Or they can reduce one to tears.

The old playground rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is so untrue. Verbal abuse can be just as painful as physical abuse. And sometimes the scars inflicted by a word spoken in anger can last a lifetime.

Someone coined the phrase THINK before you speak:

Is it TRUE? Is it HELPFUL? Is it INSPIRATIONAL? Is it NECESSARY? Is it KIND?
If you want to speak joyful and good words, then I would agree. Think before you speak.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Enter into Joy (Matthew 25:20-23)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 25:20-23

Each of us is put on this earth for a purpose. For Christians, the purpose is to serve others and glorify God. To fulfill the plan He has for us. To do His will.

Each of us has been given “talents.” It may be money, giftedness, or time. We may have gifts that are being used to touch thousands across the globe … or to those across the street.

It doesn’t matter the number of “talents” we’re given. What does matter is how we use them.

Do we hoard the time, talent, or treasures with which we’ve been blessed? Do we refuse to do what God calls us to do?

Or do we willingly use everything we have to serve others and glorify God?

Someday, we’ll stand before the throne of God to give an account of what we’ve done with the “talents” we’ve been given.

I don’t know about you, but my greatest desire is to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant … Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

How about you?

Friday, September 08, 2017

Joy from Mourning (Psalm 126:5-6)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 126:5-6

I’m a crier. Seriously.

I’m one of those that cry at movies, at books, at commercials, at videos of men and women returning from deployment, at weddings, at babies’ births.

I cry at sad things. I cry at happy things.

Yep. I’m a crier.

Tears can be expressions of joy or sorrow, and they often can be cathartic. I mean, who doesn’t sometimes just need a good cry?

But when someone is grieving, deep in the heart grieving, sometimes it seems like the tears will never end. The loss of a spouse, a parent, a child … how can one ever find joy in those tears?

In the moment, in the heart-ripping, never-ending pain, joy seems so far away.

If you’ve been there, though, you know that joy does come. Maybe it’s tempered with pain, but it does come.

The memories never fade. The good times are never forgotten. The tears of today gradually become the joy of tomorrow.

If you’re sowing in tears today, keep your focus on the Joy-Giver. One day, you’ll reap with joy.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Increasing in Joy (Isaiah 29:18-19)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 29:18-19

One day, every person, past and present, will recognize the one true God. As Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:

… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:10-11)
While this is certainly true, only those who have committed themselves to the Lord God of the Bible will “increase their joy in the Lord.” Those who have denied Him will be separated from Him for eternity.

We who know Christ and have received salvation through grace should be eager to share the gospel. The day is soon coming when Christ will return to receive His church, and we should urgently tell others.

So that everyone we know and love will “rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”

Monday, September 04, 2017

"Barren" Joy (Psalm 113:9)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 113:9

This verse is especially dear to me.

If you’ve been reading this devotional for a while, you may know that the Lord didn’t bless my husband and me with children. Severe endometriosis caused infertility, and we decided against adoption.

However, while I don’t have children of my body, I have many children of my heart. Not only do I have wonderful nieces and nephews of whom I am very proud, but I also have several “adopted” young women whom I have been able to mentor. Even more, I have spiritual children who have come to faith or have grown in faith through God’s work in me.

So, when I read verses like today’s I know that, although I am “barren” by the world’s standards, I am a “joyful mother of children.” And I can truly praise the Lord!

If you don’t have children, whether by choice or circumstance, know that the Lord can use you to influence the lives of young people. Look for those opportunities to speak love and truth.

Friday, September 01, 2017

The Fruit of Joy (Galatians 5:22)

Today’s scripture: Galatians 5:22

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, it’s hard to live the “fruit of the Spirit.”

It’s hard to be loving, joyful, peaceful, longsuffering, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and have self-control. I mean, I can probably be loving and peaceful today, but you may have to wait until tomorrow for longsuffering and kindness …

But one of the fruit that should be constant is joy. As we talked about when we first began looking at the word, joy is not reliant on circumstances. Joy comes, instead, just because we are God’s dearly-loved children, saved by grace.

So even when I don’t feel like being gentle or practice self-control, I can still be joyful. And honestly, when I feel joy knowing that I’m God’s daughter, it’s a whole lot easier to be loving and kind and faithful … because He is those very things.

Find joy, and you may just find the rest of the fruit.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Shout Joyfully! (Psalm 95:1-3)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 95:1-3

Joy comes from many places. A beautiful sunset. A baby’s giggle. A hug from a friend. An unexpected act of service from a spouse.

But the greatest joy—for me at least—comes from praising God for all He has done.

I am blessed beyond my human comprehension. I have a home, enough to eat, clothes to wear. I have a supportive husband, a loving family, and caring friends.

Most of all, I am the daughter of a loving, gracious, merciful God. My life isn’t perfect, but even in the deepest valleys, I know that He is with me. He loves me unconditionally. He gives me strength when I have none of my own.

And so I can “sing to the Lord!” I can “shout joyfully to the Rock of [my] salvation.” I can “come before His presence with thanksgiving.” I can “shout joyfully to Him with psalms.”

For, indeed, “the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.”

Reflect on the many splashes of joy in your life. And sing and shout with joy and thanksgiving to the One who blesses you abundantly.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Restored Joy (Psalm 51:11-12)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 51:11-12

A few days ago, I wrote of how I sometimes see spending time with God as just another “to do.” I sometimes lack the joy in just being with Him.

How blessed I am that, even when I neglect Him, He never does so with me. He will never “cast me away from [His] presence.” Never will He “take [His] Holy Spirit from me.”

I can pray—as I sadly so often have to do—for a restoration of the joy of His salvation, knowing He will “uphold me by [His] generous Spirit.”

All I have to do is ask. He’s there, by my side, and He lovingly and graciously restores my joy. It may be an answer to prayer. It may be a call from a close friend. It may be a verse that touches my soul.

When I feel His presence even more intimately, my joy is restored. Each and every time.

Are you feeling a lack of joy? Ask God to remind you of His presence, His salvation, and His grace.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Joy ... God Is Good! (Psalm 106:1)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 106:1

Okay. I admit it. Today’s verse doesn’t mention the word “joy.” So why did I include it?

Because the words themselves fill me with joy!

I mean, read them again … and again …

I praise the Lord! I give thanks to Him!

Why?

Because He is good! I did a quick check of synonyms for good: noble, worthy, blameless, trustworthy, valuable, right, excellent, lovely, wonderful, splendid. God is certainly all of these things, and as I reflect on these words, I am filled with joy. God is so good!

I also praise Him and thank Him because “His mercy endures forever”! I’ve written many times that mercy is not getting what we do deserve. We are sinful, flawed, fallen creatures, and we deserve eternal separation from pure, sinless God. Yet, in His mercy, He offers forgiveness and eternal life with Him.

So, even though the psalmist didn’t include the word “joy” in this verse, I trust you agree that it is filled with joy!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

God's Word Is Joy (Jeremiah 15:16)

Today’s scripture: Jeremiah 15:16

Oh, how I want this to be true in my life. I so want God’s word to be the “joy and rejoicing of my heart.”

I read God’s word every day. I read a few devotionals, and for over a decade, I’ve read the Bible in its entirety each year. I really do love it.

But I have to admit that, sometimes, it is just another thing on my “to do” list. I don’t “eat” God’s word as a necessity, something I need, something I crave. And, during those times, I pray that God will give me a hunger and thirst for His word. I pray for a renewed desire to study and meditate on His word.

I don’t want my time with the Lord and time in His word to be anything less than a time of rejoicing, and so I pray again today that He will speak to me, reveal truth to me … remind me of the joy in knowing Him more.

Do you hunger after God’s word? If not, may I invite you to join me in the same prayer?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Shout for Joy and Be Glad! (Psalm 35:27)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 35:27

I’ve chosen to use the New King James Version for scriptures of joy, but as I often do, I like looking at other translations and paraphrases for emphasis or added flavor. I especially like the The Message paraphrase of today’s verse:
But those who want    the best for me,Let them have the last word—a glad shout!—    and say, over and over and over,God is great—everything works    together for good for his servant.”
Each of us has a group of people—great or small—who “want the best” for us. Those cheerleaders who have our backs. When they see God doing amazing things in our lives, they rejoice with “a glad shout!”

And we do the same for others. I know how excited I get and how blessed I am when God blesses my friends and family. I rejoice when He works in and through them. I too want to “say, over and over and over” how great He is and how wonderful are His works.

Take a moment and see what God is doing in the lives of your friends and family. And give a “great shout!”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Joy in Refining (1 Peter 1:6-9)


Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:6-9

No too long ago, we talked about how trials offer refining, just as gold is refined by fire.

The apostle Peter expands on this in today’s scripture.

Gold, when it’s first mined, is full of impurities. It takes a process, whether by fire or by chemical, to remove the impurities. The process is time-consuming and, in the case of refining by fire, quite dangerous:
Refining with flame is one of the oldest methods of refining metals. Mentioned even in the bible, refining by fire is the preferable method for larger quantities of gold. In ancient times, this form of refining involved a craftsman sitting next to a hot fire with molten gold in a crucible being stirred and skimmed to remove the impurities or dross that rose to the top of the molten metal. With flames reaching temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius, this job was definitely a dangerous occupation for the gold refiner. The tradition remains largely untouched today with the exception of a few advancements in safety and precision. (www.gold-traders.co.uk)
Fire bringing purity. Pain bringing joy. Storms bringing rainbows.

From an eternal perspective, faith is absolutely more important than gold, and if I must go through difficult times to purify my faith, then I believe it’s well worth it.

Are you in the refiner’s fire right now? Then be confident that the Refiner is stirring and skimming to remove the impurities or dross to make you the person He created you to be.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Joy Comes in the Morning (Psalm 30:5)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 30:5

Over the last few weeks, several of my friends have lost loved ones. A husband. A father. A child.

They’re in mourning … and rightfully so.

Others have experienced some godly discipline with consequences from poor choices or pain from the choices others have made.

They’ve wept … and rightfully so.

We all go through seasons of pain, of suffering, of sadness. We all experience times of godly discipline.

But we’re promised that these seasons are temporary. We don’t live in perpetual, never-ending mourning or pain.

Joy does come in the morning. It may not be today … or tomorrow … or even in the next few weeks. But each of us begins to find those splashes of joy as God offers comfort and peace.

If you’re in a night of mourning, be assured: Joy will one day come … one not-so-distant morning.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Joy in Salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 12:2-3

A couple of days ago, I wrote about making a “joyful noise” and praising God. Today’s verses give another reason for singing for joy.

God is our salvation. Salvation comes from no other. He saves us from our sins, and He saves us from harm. And even if—or should I say when—we experience trials, we can be confident that He will give us strength.

We can indeed “trust and not be afraid” no matter what comes our way because He has been so faithful in the past.

I often write about the gift of hindsight. It’s usually when we look back that we see how God worked. The more we see how He worked then, the more we can trust now … and in the future.

So sing along with the prophet: He is my salvation. He is my strength and song. I can joyfully “drink deeply from the fountain of salvation” (NLT).

Amen!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Worshipful Joy (Psalm 66:1-3)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 66:1-3

I’ve written this before, but one of my greatest joys is worshiping the Lord in song. There’s something about music that touches my soul.

That’s one of the things I love most about the psalms. So many of them are love songs to the Lord. Readers are invited to:

Make a joyful shout to God …
Sing out the honor of His name …
Make His praise glorious …
We can sing of His grace, love and, mercy. We can tell of His “awesome works.”

And hymns and contemporary praise songs remind us of His love for us. Hymns like “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “It Is well with My Soul” speak of His faithfulness and care. Favorite songs can touch our hearts with words of hope and peace.

So even if you can’t carry a tune, make a “joyful shout” or, as the King James Version says, a “joyful noise” and praise the Lord in song!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Joy of the Whole Earth (Psalm 48:1-3)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 48:1-3

When I pray, I often begin with the first sentence of today’s verses: Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.

And He is!

He is the sovereign Creator of the universe. He is the beginning and the end. He is the giver of strength, peace, and comfort. He is merciful and gracious.

He loves us everlastingly and abundantly.

He is everything!

So, how can I be anything other than joyful? I am a daughter of the Most High King! He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my Comforter, my Refuge. He is my Abba on whose lap I can crawl.

I find so much joy in knowing Him, in learning more of Him, in knowing He has a plan for my life.

Stop a moment. Think about how very blessed you are to know the Great God. Find joy and give praise to Him.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Joy in Trials (James 1:2-4)

Today’s scripture: James 1:2-4

We’ve already talked about how counter-intuitive it seems to find joy in pain or in trials.

James, the brother of Jesus, certainly knew what it meant to experience trials and suffering. Those following the new “Way” were ridiculed, arrested, beaten, and martyred for their faith. Tradition holds that James was arrested and martyred around 69 AD.

Yet, he wrote that his readers (including you and me) could find “all joy” because he knew the end result of trials was Christ-likeness.

Just like gold is made pure as it’s refined through fire, we are also refined and made “perfect and complete” through trials.

I’ve written many times of the various trial I’ve experienced throughout my life, and I know—beyond doubt—that I’m a much stronger, compassionate, and kind person than I would have been had I not gone through storms.

So, I can truly find joy in trials knowing that God continues to refine me into the woman He created me to be.

Are you going through difficult times? Ask God for strength—and joy.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Joy in Trust (Psalm 5:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 5:11

Our God is infinitely worthy of trust. He has proven Himself over and over as He provides, protects, and guides.

He loves us with an everlasting love, and His grace and mercy are superabundant.

Rejoicing in Him is the act of expressing the joy we find in knowing that the God of the universe is our Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Refuge, Strength … and so much more!

Because He is so worthy of our trust, we can “shout for joy”!

Because He loves us so much, we can “be joyful” in Him!

How often do you shout for joy, rejoicing in who God is? Take some time now, and raise the roof with those shouts!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Joy in Chastening (Hebrews 12:11)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 12:11

It’s really hard to equate joy with pain. We just aren’t wired that way.

In human minds, joy equals happiness, but as we talked about a few days ago, that’s not always true. Sometimes, we have to find joy in the pain … joy through the pain.

God sometimes uses the pain in our lives to chasten us. Chasten is synonymous with discipline, and indeed, we all have times when He needs to discipline us for wrong behavior. We need to be reminded that we’re heading the wrong direction.

And that discipline isn’t fun. Discipline rarely is.

So the writer of Hebrews is absolutely right when he says that “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present …”

So where does the joy come in? When we realize that God will use that chastening, that discipline, to “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness …”

We become more like Christ when we rid ourselves of sin, and often, that comes through God’s discipline.

Are you feeling “chastened” right now? Ask the Lord to reveal areas of sin that need to be confessed and find joy in becoming more like Christ.

Monday, July 31, 2017

See God's Face with Joy (Job 33:26)

Today’s scripture: Job 33:26

The story of Job never fails to amaze me.

This faithful man whom God has abundantly blessed loses everything … just because Satan, the enemy of our souls, challenges God saying Job will curse God if he loses all he has, including his health.

Job receives dubious “counsel” from so-called friends, and even questions and cries out to God himself. Yet, never does he “curse God and die” as his wife claims he should (2:9).

Amazing.

Now, even though his friends’ counsel is not always helpful, one does give a splash of wisdom in today’s verse, and this wisdom is true for us as well.

When we “pray to God” with sincere and repentant hearts, God does “delight” in us. That too amazes me. The God of the universe delights in each of us! Even more, we can “see His face with joy …”

Imagine gazing into your Father’s face. Your Abba, who adores you. Imagine looking at that loving face with joy.

How can you feel anything less?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 16:11

We serve such an amazing God! I am continually in awe of how He blesses and works even through the darkest times … as long as we keep our eyes on Him and seek His will.

A favorite song of mine (one that I sing almost every time I speak) includes the lines:
Our Father knows what’s best for us, [But] His ways are not our own. So when the pathway grows dim, And you just don’t see Him, Remember, you’re never alone. © Babbie Mason
We’re on a journey—from the cradle to the grave—and as we follow that “path of life,” we can trust that God will always—always—give us “fullness of joy” when we trust Him to do His perfect will.

No, life won’t be easy; we all know that. But when we surrender our lives to Him, we can find joy … we will find joy.

We just have to ask Him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Joyful Prayer (Philippians 1:3-6)

Today’s scripture: Philippians 1:3-6

So far this year, we’ve looked at what the Bible says about faith, peace, hope, and grace. Now we’re going to spend a few weeks looking at a word that is sometimes misinterpreted: joy.

Sometimes joy is synonymous with happiness, but I read a long time ago that happiness is dependent upon circumstances while joy is a state of mind. Therefore, we can find joy even when times are rough.

Let’s begin our journey through joy today with a prayer from one of my favorite books of the Bible. Paul wrote this prayer to the church in Philippi, and I echo its words today:

I truly thank the Lord for each and every one of you. With great joy, I pray that your faith in the gospel will grow as He continues the “good work” He is completing in you.

May you be blessed super-abundantly this day!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Prayer of Grace (2 John 1:3)

Today’s scripture: 2 John 1:3

We’ve spent a few weeks looking at the word “grace,” and as we move onto “joy” on Wednesday, I leave you with a prayer from the apostle John.

I pray that you too will find grace, mercy, and peace from the triune God.

May you experience His unmerited favor, His abundant mercy, and the peace that is far beyond your understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

May you revel in His love for you, His never-ending, abundant love.

May you seek His truth through study and meditation of His word, and grow in faith.

Amen.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Representative Grace (Esther 2:17)

Today’s scripture: Esther 2:17

All the other passages we’ve seen over the last few weeks about grace focus on God’s grace to us; however, I couldn’t help but include this one reference to grace because it is from one of my favorite stories.

I love how Esther was so faithful to the God of her people; she truly represented her God as she “obtained grace and favor” from the king.

She was in such a precarious position: a young Jewess living in the palace of her people’s enemy. Yet, she was so humble—a Christ-like quality—that she was chosen to be queen.

And when her people were threatened, she had God-given courage to approach the king even if she lost her life in doing so (Esther 4:16). She knew God would be gracious to her people, and her trust Him led to an overthrowing of the plan to annihilate her people.

May we be both humble and courageous both to represent “grace and favor” to those around us and to do what God calls us to do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grace Abused ... (Jude 1:4)

Today’s scripture: Jude 1:4

We’ve talked about this before, how some use grace as a “get out of jail free” card. They live as they like, thinking that they’ll just ask for forgiveness whenever they feel the need.

That’s so not what grace is about.

Grace is a free gift for the one who receives … but it was very expensive gift—a priceless gift—for the Giver.

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, gave everything. Everything.

He suffered betrayal and denial, torture and ridicule … and an excruciating death. All so that we can receive forgiveness and eternal like through God’s grace.

So to take that gift, to treat grace lightly ... well, it’s like slapping Jesus in the face. It’s like saying, “I don’t really care what you did, but I’m going to take advantage that you did it.”

Oh, may this never be!

Let’s never take grace for granted. Instead, let’s fall to our knees in gratitude!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Grow in Grace (2 Peter 3:18)

Today’s scripture: 2 Peter 3:18

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a women’s conference at my church. The theme was being rooted in Christ.

The analogy is sound: When a tree is firmly rooted, it grows; it withstands strong storms; it bears fruit.

We too, when we are firmly rooted in Christ, grow, withstand storms, and bear fruit.

On the other hand, a tree with weak roots doesn’t grow. It may be pulled up when the storms hit. And it is fruitless … and it is the same with faith.

Oh, but by grace, we can grow in our “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

How? By spending time in His word, studying and meditating. By internalizing its truths. By praying and listening to God’s voice.

Only then can we be firmly rooted in Christ.

So … how strong are your roots?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hope Upon Grace (1 Peter 1:13)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:13

Rest …

This seems to be a sadly-lacking commodity in our world today. Everyone is just so tired.

Physical rest. But also spiritual rest.

So many people are busy trying to find salvation or work for grace. They go, go, go and push, push, push … so much that they’re spiritually exhausted.

Salvation is not about us and what we can do. Salvation is about God and what He has already done. We are invited to “rest [our] hope fully upon … grace …”

Did you see that? “Fully on grace.”

Grace has paid the penalty. Grace has covered the sin.

Remember Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-29? He invites us all:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (NASB)
All you have to do is “come”; Jesus is waiting.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 4:16

When I’m feeling down, I imagine myself crawling onto my Abba’s lap. I feel His loving arms around me, and I know I’m going to make it through one more day.

Our God is the King of kings, and He sits on His throne. And yet, He also invites us to call Him Abba—Daddy. Because we are children of the King, we are princes and princesses, and we are welcome to “come boldly to the throne of grace …”

We don’t have to be shy. We don’t have to wait to be invited. We don’t have to fear.

No, we can be bold and confident.

And we can know that the King will listen to our pleas, and He will shower us with mercy through His grace.