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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Justified by Grace (Titus 3:7)

Today’s scripture: Titus 3:7

Seekers often comment about all the difficult terms in the Bible: salvation, redemption, sanctification, justification … And yes, it can be confusing.

Today’s verse says we’re “justified by His grace …”

Justified. Justification.

What does it all mean? From my meager understanding (and as I’ve said before, I am not a theologian), justification means that God declares us as righteous and holy. Only He can justify. When we accept the gift of salvation through belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, we are redeemed and justified.

These are one-time events. Sanctification is an on-going process by which we become more and more like Christ Himself.

And it all comes through the incredible grace given by our Lord God.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Sufficient Grace (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9

I love today’s verse. And I think that those of us who deal with chronic health issues find hope in it.

In context, Paul was writing about a “thorn” that he suffered with. He’d asked the Lord to remove the thorn, but He, in His infinite wisdom, chose not to. Paul realized that this thorn was meant to bring him closer to God and to know where true strength comes from.

Being physically weak makes me spiritually strong. What? you ask. That seems counter-intuitive.

I know. But it’s true.

I wake up every morning in pain. Some days are better than others, but pain just the same. And I wake up every morning and seek God’s strength without which I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain.

In His grace, I find strength.

But why doesn’t He just take away the pain? you ask.

I’m honestly not sure. He certainly could heal me completely. But since I’ve dealt with chronic health issues for almost 40 years, I don’t think He will.

What I do know is that my pain brings me closer to Him. I’m confident He has a purpose for the pain, and I know He gives me strength to deal with it.

His “grace is sufficient.”

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Exceedingly Abundant Grace (1 Timothy 1:14)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 1:14

I went through a Bible study a couple of years ago, and the author of the study wrote about “superabundant grace.” Not just abundant. Superabundant.

That’s what this verse says: “the grace of our Lord [is] exceedingly abundant.”

His grace is so far beyond what we can imagine. It is so far beyond what we deserve.

We’ve talked about this a lot over the last few weeks: We do not deserve grace. We just don’t. We are sinful, willful, prideful; we are flawed and broken. And we deserve eternal separation from God.

Yet, God loves us so very much that He offers grace. It would be enough if He offered just enough grace for salvation. But He lavishes grace upon us. He showers us with superabundant grace. Exceedingly abundant grace.

Think about it: How are you blessed? What has God given you?

A home? A family? Friends? A job? Food? All of the above?

Those are just the tangible things. What about forgiveness? Mercy? Comfort? Everlasting love? His never-leaving presence?

Exceedingly abundant grace.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Hope by Grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16)

Today’s scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:16

I’ve written before how grace and hope and faith and peace all seem to go together. Today’s verse focuses on how Jesus Christ’s love for us brings “everlasting consolation and good hope by grace.”

Good hope …

Hope is an anticipation of good things to come. We hope for good weather. We hope for a good job. We hope for a good vacation.

We hope for the best outcome to any situation.

This verse, though, mentions another “hope” Jesus brings: “everlasting consolation …”

Consolation is comforting someone who is dealing with sorrow, pain, or loneliness. And we’ve all been there.

We’ve all suffered loss. We’ve all experienced pain. We’ve all been lonely.

And we’ve all sought comfort … or consolation.

The only real source of true comfort is the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can sooth a wounded soul. Only He can cover the pain and give strength when we have none of our own. Only He can offer a port in the storm.

Are you sad? Hurting? Lonely? Go to the Comforter. Let Him console you … wherever you are and whatever you’re experiencing.

Find hope in Him.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fruit-Bearing Grace (Colossians 1:6)

Today’s scripture: Colossians 1:6

When we commit our lives to God, when we accept the truth of the gospel, God uses us to bear fruit.

As we’ve talked about many times, true followers of Christ have been given spiritual gifts: preaching, teaching, helping, giving, and encouraging—to name but a few. When we use those gifts to serve God and others, we bear fruit. Lives are touched. Lives are changed.

Let’s be clear: God doesn’t need us or our gifts. But, in His grace, He chooses to allow us to participate in the building of His Kingdom. He uses us to bless others and glorify Himself.

It’s an honor and a blessing to know that God uses me with all my flaws and foibles to serve others. He uses my gifts—such as they are—to touch lives.

Do you know your spiritual gifts? Is God using you to “bring forth fruit”? If not, take some time to discover how He can and will use you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

His Rich Grace (Ephesians 1:7)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians1:7

A few days ago, we looked at a new definition of riches. Today’s verse talks about how “the riches of His grace” brings some amazing gifts: redemption and forgiveness.

One definition of redeemed is “gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.” Another is “to make (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) better or more acceptable.”

A biblical definition is a bit more complex:

Finding its context in the social, legal, and religious customs of the ancient world, the metaphor of redemption includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, exchanging something in one’s possession for something possessed by another, and ransoming (Bible Study Tools).
When I think of what Jesus did for me to redeem me, to take formerly “bad and unpleasant” me and “setting [me] free from the captivity” of sin, I’m humbled. Through God’s grace, Jesus paid my penalty. He gave His life to save mine.

I am redeemed. I am forgiven.

I have received the riches of God’s grace. And if you have surrendered your life to Him? You have too.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Grace in One Gospel (Galatians 1:6)

Today’s scripture: Galatians 1:6

We live in a world of spiritual “buffets.” Take a bit of this, a little of that. Put it all together and create what works for you.

Even those who call themselves Christians say that the Bible isn’t God’s inherent word or there is more than one road to salvation.

They don’t want truth because it doesn’t line up with what they want to hear. Paul warned of this very thing: “The time is coming when people won’t listen to good teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear” (CEV, 2 Tim. 4:3).

The Bible makes it very clear: There is one gospel, one faith, one way of salvation. (See Eph. 4:4-6; John 14:6).

Follow the Bible or don’t. It’s your choice. But if you choose to follow the Bible, then know that there is one gospel, one way of salvation.

One gift of grace.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gift of Grace (Romans 5:15, 17)

Today’s scripture: Romans 5:15,17

We’ve said this before: Grace is unmerited favor; it’s getting what we do NOT deserve.

Sin entered the world through “one man’s offense.” When Adam chose to go his own way and rebel against God, we all “died” spiritually.

Because of this, we all deserve punishment and eternal separation from God.

But we are so very loved—and I hope you know how loved you are. God, in His infinite grace, through one Man offers salvation and a renewed relationship with Him.

One man brought death; one Man brings life.

That’s what grace is all about.

That’s how loved you are.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:9

If you are reading this devotional, you have some sort of electronic device, which means you have adequate funds to afford it … which means you’re likely wealthier than most of the population of this earth.

But what is true wealth? Money? Things?

Today’s verse talks about Jesus’ being “rich.” I’m relatively certain Jesus has no use for money, so how was He rich, and what did He give up to become “poor”?

He gave up so much more than mere money. He gave up heaven. Heaven! He chose to become human. To feel pain, betrayal, denial, and death.

For us.

And because He was willing to give up His riches to become poor, we, who are spiritually poor, can become rich—in those things that really matter.

We become rich in grace and faith … and we become rich knowing that we’ll spend eternity with Jesus.

True riches!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Grace Through Faith (Romans 5:2)

Today’s scripture: Romans 5:2

This year, we’ve looked at verses about hope, peace, faith, and grace … and it often seems like these words are found together. And this makes sense.

Grace and faith go hand in hand. We have faith in God, and we receive salvation through His grace.

Knowing that we have been saved through grace brings peace.

Even more, as we reflect upon grace, we find great hope in God’s glory. Hope in His everlasting presence and abundant love. Hope in eternity with Him.

Oh, we are so very blessed.

Peace and hope through faith and grace.

What a great God we serve! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Grace in Vain? (2 Corinthians 6:1)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1

It breaks my heart when I hear people say something like, “Well, I can live however I want as long as I ask for forgiveness.” They really don’t understand what grace is. And what Jesus did for us to receive grace.

They “receive the grace of God in vain.”

For us to have grace—unmerited favor—Jesus died. He died. He gave everything so that we could have everything: salvation, justification, eternal life.

When we think of all He did, we should want to live differently so that He is pleased, so that He receives glory and honor.

Grace isn’t a “get out of jail free” card to be used over and over. It’s a gift, an amazing gift from the sovereign God of the universe.

Be grateful … and don’t take it in vain.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Mystery of Grace (Hebrews 2:9)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 2:9

I’ll never completely understand this side of heaven why God’s plan for salvation included Jesus Christ’s having to die for us.

Jesus, the Son of God, and in truth, God Himself, came to earth, took on flesh, was betrayed and denied, was beaten and bruised, and died a horrible death.

According to God’s grace.

This is the mystery: God took grace away from a very part of Himself and gave grace to us. Jesus did not deserve death; we do not deserve grace. Yet, He died so we could live.

It is a mystery, but it is the greatest truth! We are saved, redeemed, and justified through the undeserved death of Jesus … God Himself.

Amazing …

Monday, June 12, 2017

Grace and Wisdom (2 Corinthians 1:12)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:12

“Fleshly wisdom” is very, very different than godly wisdom.

The flesh says, “I can do what I want … as long as I don’t get caught.” Godly wisdom says, “I must do what God has called me to do.”

The flesh says, “It’s just a little white lie; no one will know.” Godly wisdom says, “God sees the heart.”

The flesh says, “No one cares what I do.” Godly wisdom says, “God, who knows the number of hairs on my head, wants me to serve Him and others.”

When we live “in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity,” we represent the One who created us and the One who saved us. We honor Him and shine the light of Jesus.

Fleshly wisdom may seem great for today ... but it’s foolish for eternity.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Imparting Grace (Ephesians 4:29)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians 4:29

I find it rather tragic when I hear a follower of Christ use vulgar words or gossip maliciously … from that same mouth that praises God on Sunday morning.

What must nonbelievers think when they hear Christians speak this way? How are we any different? More importantly, how are we examples of Christ?

Before I recommitted my life to the Lord, I had quite a mouth on me. Four-letter words were not uncommon. But when I surrendered my life to Him, I prayed that I would speak words of encouragement and, as today’s verse says, edification. I wanted—and I want still—to speak words that lift people up, words that please my heavenly Father.

Think about what you say and how you say it? Are you representing Jesus with your words?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Building on Grace (1 Corinthians 3:10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:10

Fifteen years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to watch our then-home be built from the ground up. It was fun watching it grow from a bare plot of land to a foundation. Then framing. Then a roof. Then doors and windows.

And finally … a completed house.

We too can lay foundations of faith—or build on foundations others have laid. By His grace, God has given each of us gifts and talents to be representatives of Him and to share the good news of salvation.

Some are pastors and teachers, and many learn of salvation through their teaching. Others are encouragers or have the gift of hospitality, and they represent Jesus in the flesh. Still others are prayer warriors who lift up many who have needs.

Each of us who follows Christ have a part in building His church.

Are you doing your part?

Monday, June 05, 2017

By Grace Given ... (Romans 12:3)

Today’s scripture: Romans 12:3

A few days ago, we looked at how grace should make us humble. Today’s verses share similar theme.

By grace, we are saved.

By grace, we are children of God.

By grace, we are given gifts to serve God and others.

Everything we are, everything we have, everything we can do … these are all gifts of grace.

So why do we think that we are so important? That we accumulated all we have? That we can do what we do?

We are nothing without God. We have nothing without God. We can do nothing without God.

It is only by God’s abundant grace and overwhelming love—both so underserved—that we experience the amazing blessings we do.

To think “more highly” of ourselves than we should is basically saying that grace is meaningless.

How tragic …

Friday, June 02, 2017

Sin Under Grace? Never! (Romans 6:14-15)

Today’s scripture: Romans 6:14-15

When a person sincerely accepts the gift of grace—salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection—she is changed. She is a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). She is different. She becomes more and more like Christ.

Or at least she should.

Those who follow Christ have been given an incredible gift—that grace we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. And it is an incredible gift.

So why would someone continue in sin? I have to wonder …

I know we are not to judge others, but I have to wonder if someone who continues to live in habitual sin really knows God. Does she really understand grace?

Grace should make her want to serve God, to strive to be more like Christ, to manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Grace should never be thought of a license to sin.

Never.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Grace for the Humble (Proverbs 3:34)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 3:34

Ah humility. Not a word that many of us like.

For some of us, humility speaks of weakness, of being a doormat, of being a pushover. And this is something few of us want to be.

But humility has a different connotation in God’s economy.

When one is humble, he considers others and their needs. Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi that they—and we—should not “be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than [ourselves. We should] care about them as much as [we] care about” ourselves (CEV, Philippians 2:3-4).

And our greatest example of humility is our Lord Himself: “Christ was truly God. But he did not choose to remain equal with God. Instead, he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross” (6-7).

Being humble means to care for others. To serve them. To look out for them.

And when we are humble in this way, God gives us grace.

How can you be humble to another today? How can you show Christ-like humility?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Justified Freely by His Grace (Romans 3:23-24)

Today’s scripture: Romans 3:23-24

It continually amazes me that grace is a free gift … a free gift. Even though, as Paul wrote, “all have sinned” (and that does mean all, by the way), every single person can be “justified freely by His grace.”

Later in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death [what we do deserve], but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord [what we do not deserve]” (NASB, 6:23).

That’s grace.

We are “freely justified,” which means we are righteous in God’s eyes. Once we accept forgiveness of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, He no longer sees our sins. Jesus has paid our “wages,” and we are gifted with eternal life with our Lord and Savior.

How amazing is that?  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Encouraging Grace (Acts 11:23)

Today’s scripture: Acts 11:23

You’d think I’d be tired of writing about grace … but you’d be wrong!

I’m continually awed by the thought that our all-powerful, all-loving God loves us so much that He offers grace. Grace for salvation. Grace for daily life.

Today’s verse comes just after Peter spoke about God’s grace to the Gentiles and those in the early church heard of how a “great number believed and turned to the Lord” in Antioch. Barnabas went to Antioch, and he saw the “grace of God.”

Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say this, I imagine Barnabas was greatly encouraged by the number of new believers. It does say, however, that he “was glad, and encouraged them all with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”

This is how the church (i.e., the body of Christ) should be today. We should be “glad” when we meet new believers; we should rejoice with new members of the “family.”

And we who have been following the Lord for a while should encourage them in their faith. We should teach and disciple them. We should pray for them and with them.

We should celebrate the grace of God.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amazing, Abounding Grace (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:8


“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.”

I love that old hymn. Perhaps, you do too.

Grace is such an amazing gift … that our God would give us what we don’t deserve … amazing.

And grace continues to abound throughout the life of a Christ-follower. When a person surrenders her life to God and accepts the gift of salvation, she will be used by Him to do “good work.”

Each follower of Christ is given at least one spiritual gift. Teaching or hospitality. Giving or mercy.

I’m blessed with the gifts of encouragement and teaching. I love seeing others grow in faith and learn more about the Lord God Almighty. It brings me such joy.

Because of the weakness of my body, however, I don’t always feel “sufficient” to do what God’s called me to do. But, praise Him, I don’t have to be sufficient … He is sufficient, and, through His abundance grace, I’m able to do those “good works.”

Amazing grace, indeed!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Full of Grace and Truth (John 1:14)

Today’s scripture: John 1:14

It’s a mystery beyond human comprehension. God, who created the universe with a word, chose to come to earth and take human form.

He chose to walk among those He Himself created.

He chose to experience what we do: weariness, pain … betrayal and rejection.

He knew He would … and He did it anyway.

For flawed, fleshly us. For those who accept Him … and for those who don’t.

I don’t understand it. I honestly don’t. If I were Him (and we can all be really happy I’m not!), I would have had a much different plan. Certainly, not one where I’d sacrifice myself for … well, for someone like me.

But that’s grace. That’s how much He loves us. Even knowing who we’d be, our God—“full of grace and truth”—came to earth … for us.

It’s a mystery …

Friday, May 19, 2017

Grace and Glory (Psalm 84:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 84:11

Today’s scripture reminded me of a play I was in last year called Grace and Glorie. I played a character called Gloria (aka Glorie), a New York professional reluctantly transplanted in rural West Virginia. She becomes the care-taker of a crotchety 90-year-old hospice patient.

By the end, these two completely different women become friends—even family. The play is about the love that grows between them. It’s about the grace they offer to each other.

In a much bigger way, our Father loves to lavish grace upon His children. He finds joy in our joy.

He sees beyond our barriers, our fears, our pain, and He loves us unconditionally. He provides for our needs. He protects us from danger—or carries us through.

Today’s verse says He withholds “no good thing.” And He doesn’t. We may not get everything we ask for, but we do get good things. And the greatest is grace.

Grace for His glory.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Perfected Grace (1 Peter 5:10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 5:10

Oh that word … “perfect.”

We all know—or we should know—that we are not perfect. Far from it. Only one Person who walked this earth was perfect: Jesus Christ. And He is God, so of course He’s perfect.

So how can we be “perfected”?

We become “perfected” here on earth by becoming more and more like Christ as we grow in Him. God—the “God of all grace”—is working in and through all of us who call ourselves by the name of His Son.

He molds us, refines us, encourages us, and guides us, and as we become more like Christ, we are “perfected.”

While we will never reach perfection this side of heaven, we can be “perfected.” We just need to devote our lives to the “God of all grace.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grace for Grace (John 1:16)

Today’s scripture: John 1:16

Before I delve into today’s scripture, I wanted to let you know that I’m adjusting the frequency of these devotionals. I began this devotional blog 11 years ago as a resource for my speaking my ministry. As I transition into a new season and speak less often, I still feel led to write, but not quite as often. So, I’ll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the immediate future. Please feel free to review past posts, and I look forward to “meeting” with you three days each week.

Now … onto today’s devotional:

 “… we have all received … grace for grace.”

While I have my “go to” translations of the Bible (usually New American Standard Bible, New King James Version, or New International Version), I often like how some of the paraphrases (like The Message, the Contemporary English Version, or the New Living Translation) render God’s words.

For example, “grace for grace” is:

“undeserved kindness and truth” (CEV)

“unfailing love and faithfulness” (NLT)

These are all gifts by grace.

We are loved by our Savior who gives us kindness and everlasting love, who is faithful, and who blesses us with His truth.

Grace for grace … or, as I would paraphrase, grace upon grace.

Revel in the grace you’re so freely offered … today and every day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Testify to the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24)

Today’s scripture: Acts 20:24

I’ve probably written about this before, but if you had the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you go to everyone who needed this cure? Wouldn’t you share this “good news” everywhere and anywhere?

Grace is the cure for sin. It is the ultimate good news!

So why do we hoard this truth? Why do we keep it to ourselves? Why do we fail to share it with those who need it (which, by the way, is everyone!)?

Grace is … well, amazing! Grace offers salvation and ensures eternity with God. Grace assures us of daily strength and provision. Grace showers us with blessings.

Those of us who have been super-abundantly blessed by grace should be eager to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Joyfully, we should share the truth of salvation.

With whom can you “testify to the gospel of the grace of God”? Who needs to hear that “good news”?