Grace

Cranberries Thanksgiving Wine Salad Turkey

Enjoy That Turkey Leg

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, take note of you’re bountiful meal and treats that you may be blessed with. Remember the poor and give graciously to their needs, but enjoy what you eat1!

No, I’m not talking about diets or permanent changes to our meals. I am referring to the food we eat during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. I’m a traditional guy. For me, it’s ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, plus all the extras. And delicious desserts: Pecan pie, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and java bombs are always on my list. BTW, my daughter invented java bombs. If I told you how to make them, you’d never make another dessert for Thanksgiving.

Yes, we can enjoy many wonderful meals, and we should, within medical conditions and avoiding gluttony. But I’ve written these two paragraphs to remind us that eating food is temporary for all Christians. It’s true.

Let’s look at a brief verse that the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, tucked away.

You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) 

1 Corinthians 6:13

Enjoy It While It Lasts

Now before you remind me that after Christ’s resurrection, He ate fish2, Scripture confirms this, but God had not yet done away with eating; He still hasn’t. But there is coming a day.

Will we still be eating during the Marriage Supper of the Lamb3? I don’t know. Will God wait until Jesus’ thousand-year reign4? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps, God will wait until He makes the new heaven and earth5. Your guess is as good as mine. But there is coming a day when God does away with food. On that day, God will provide all we need. No longer will there be a sun or a moon, for God will be the light 6.

So, go ahead and take a second helping of cranberry salad. Savor that pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream. Relax with a good cup of coffee and a small bite of cheesecake. It’s ok (within reason). In this life, “food was made for the stomach and the stomach for food.” But don’t become too attached; food is one of those things that will pass away.

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1: 1 Timothy 6:8.
2: Luke 24:42–43.
3: Revelation 19:6–9.
4: Revelation 20:2–7.
5: Revelation 21.
6: Revelation 22:5


Image by Julie Rothe from Pixabay

Man's arm and hand reacting out

Graces

The Scriptures teach us that there are three graces. These are faith, hope, and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) In today’s post, I want to zero in on these three graces in action. Grace means giving something of value to someone when he or she hasn’t earned it. Many of us grew up in households that had someone “say grace” before meals.

Saying Grace

The details of saying grace differ between denominations, but all recognize that their provision comes from God and thank Him for His kindness. And most denominations give thanks to God for His presence with them at their meal. My children were taught to say grace – to thank God for giving us our food. My youngest grandson always wants to say grace: “God is great, God is good, now we thank Him for this food. Amen.” He doesn’t always get the “amen” at the end, but that’s okay.

Something new to me when I prepared this post was that many denominations “say grace” before and after a meal. From Wikipedia, here is an example of a before and after prayer for members of Methodist/Wesleyan churches.

  • Methodist/Wesleyan (Grace Before Meat) “Be present at our table Lord. Be here and everywhere adored. These mercies bless and grant that we may feast in fellowship with Thee. Amen.”
  • Methodist/Wesleyan (Grace After Meat) “We thank thee, Lord, for this our food, But more because of Jesus’ blood. Let manna to our souls be given, The Bread of Life, sent down from heaven. Amen.”

I may start including an after-meal prayer. The prayers I read in the Wikipedia article were meaningful and beautiful. However, today, I want us to consider “giving grace.”

God Gives Grace

Please consider this verse about receiving God’s grace. We find this passage in Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Our loving God gives grace to many and grace to all that are His. We shouldn’t use prayer as our “last” hope. God is our first hope. He works in and through people, and He works directly in people.

We must not omit God’s provision for our salvation. “We are saved by grace through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

We Give Grace

You may have said grace hundreds of times, but did you know that you can also give grace? This truth is woven into the English language. From Christians to atheists, nearly everyone uses the word “gracious.” Of course, this word’s root is the word “grace.” The giver is called gracious when he or she gives something unearned by the recipient. And, when dealing with loans, banks often have a “grace” period where they give a few extra days for the payment to be made.

Now let’s consider this verse:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 4:29

Anyone can give grace, but only a child of God can give God’s grace. With God’s residency in us, the Holy Spirit gives establishes appointments for us. We often call these coincidences, but God is not the God of random; He is the God of order and purpose.

The Holy Spirit guides our speech, so we speak life. I think this commentary note helps us understand our giving of grace:

“We may so speak as ”always“ to do good to others. We may give them some information which they have not; impart some consolation which they need; elicit some truth by friendly discussion which we did not know before, or recall by friendly admonition those who are in danger of going astray.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

How wonderful God is. He uses us to give beneficial grace to others. Wow!

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Deadline Stopwatch Clock Time Pressure Watch

But God

I heard a preacher once say, “The word ‘but’ changes time and circumstance.” I’ve found this to be a trustworthy statement.

The Time of the Jews

There was a point in time when God brought Jacob, the one that held the birthright of Abraham, and his family to Egypt. God used Joseph to set the stage for the time of the Jews.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Genesis 50:20

The Time of the Gentiles

When we read about Peter and Cornelius and the birth of the dispensation of the Gentiles (everyone that isn’t born a Jew), we see in the book of Acts God is changing time and circumstance.

“Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.”

Acts 10:28

That “but” from God has changed the lives of over two billion Gentile Christians! If we go all the way back to when Joseph confronted the brothers that betrayed him, we find a profound “but.”

The Time of Salvation

As for Jesus, our Savior, we have perhaps the most important “but” in all of God’s Word. Satan thought he’d beaten God, but God raised Jesus from the dead! God changed the times and circumstances and defeated the enemy in the process.

And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead,

Acts 13:29-30

The Change of Circumstances

God’s sovereignty over time and circumstances is something we can rest in. I’m reminded of what Mordecai told Queen Esther.

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

Good News

Has God changed times and circumstances in your life for such a time as this? When you think back, have there been moments when your life changed from a “but God?” I rejoice in the “but God” times in my life. I know there were several times when I should have died, but God wasn’t ready for me to leave this world.

I hope you take a moment and thank Him for the “but God” times in your life.


Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

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Man Fall Action Falling Falling Down Adult

We May Fall

A few of you may know that I have a medical condition. One of the symptoms is that I fall a lot. Yes, I have a motorized chair, but for me personally, I want to fight as long as I can against living in that chair. I am determined to use my leg muscles as long as God provides strength in them.

During the handful of years that the chair and I have battled each other, I’ve fallen on concrete, hardwood floors, ice, and frozen ground. Each time it hurt. But after each fall, I did a quick self-check, and when I found nothing was broken, I got up. I may have gotten up just to spite my powerchair, but the point is that I got up. In my mind, I would say, “See! My time for walking isn’t over.”

If We’re Human, We Fall

Falling is part of being human. As toddlers, we fall a lot. If we fall and haven’t hurt ourselves, we just get up and continue to see how many pots and pans we can pull out before we stand on our mothers’ last nerves. When we enter school, we take P.E. classes that often result in falling, perhaps to avoid a wild pitch or from snagging our feet while jumping hurdles during track meets. Every physical sport I can think of has at least the potential for us to fall. Of course, we fall in love, fall for a practical joke, and, for many of us, our favorite season is fall.

We Rarely Fall While Gripping Something Solid

It’s a rarity for a person to physically fall hard while gripping something substantial. We take our most brutal falls when we have nothing close by to grab hold of. Take it from an expert; we fall when we aren’t holding on. Our walk with Jesus has us walking through a world filled with slippery slopes, quicksand, muck, and mire. We may briefly slip while walking in this world, but we will fall if we stop holding on to Jesus.

When a Christian falls, he or she has had a lifetime of experience that should have taught him or her to get up. So, as Christians, why is it that if we fall, our reaction is just to stay put? “Well, I fell, so I’m no good to Jesus,” an embarrassed Christain says. And why do many Christians look at the Christian that fell and judge them harshly? Haven’t we learned from a lifetime of falling that it’s not the fall that defeats us; it’s the not getting up?

Slow is Good

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15.

The word “slow” tells us that God is the God of another chance. We don’t become angry the first time a child makes a mistake or even the tenth time. But there is a point when a parent has had enough—God’s like that. He expects us to learn and grow.

Good News

If we fall and get up but refuse to cling to Jesus, our next fall will be much worse. But if we desire to change, the Holy Spirit will show us, Jesus will call us, and the Father will accept us, when we seek forgiveness with a contrite heart. But we will face a severe lesson if we try to find out how far away from Jesus we can get and still not fall.

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wrapped gift box

You in God’s Kingdom

Imagine God’s Kingdom in You

Here is a painting, in words, of God’s grace to His children.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:3

As one that is born again, imagine that God placed in your heart the kingdom of God as a gift, wrapped in beautiful paper. Your soul looks at this gift and understands it is a gift of great value. You can’t see the kingdom of God because its beauty is hidden behind the wrapping paper. You discover, written all over the wrapping, are marvelous words. These words are living words (John 6:63), handwritten by the Father; they cover the entire gift.

As your soul studies this gift from God, the Holy Spirit says to you, tear off a piece and read it. When you do, you see that it is a passage of Scripture from God’s Word. Where the paper was, your soul now sees a small piece of God’s kingdom. The Holy Spirit tells your soul to eat what your soul tore off. When you do, a small piece of your mind is changed to think and act like a small part of God’s kingdom. You see a small part of your mind living within this magnificent gift.

The Holy Spirit tells you, again, to tear off a piece of the wrapping and eat it. When you do, another piece of your mind is transformed to act and think like a citizen of the kingdom of God. That piece moves to live inside the kingdom of God. God warns you to consume all of the Living Word. This process continues throughout your life. Scripture by Scripture, the Bread of Life feeds you on God’s hidden mana (Revelation 2:17).

Bite by bite, morsel by morsel, your mind lives inside the kingdom of God. By this, you are changed to think and act more as a child of God, and less of your mind participates in worldly thinking. You find you love people, you seek out joy in sacrificing for people, and your focus is shifting from the Bible as a book of instructions to Words that invigorate you and stir your heart to acts of great sacrifice and humility.

You cannot imagine having been transformed without the Living Word of God. And you cannot imagine living as His child without offering yourself as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:2)

Coming to Live Within God’s Kingdom

Having been reborn, when you die and go to heaven, you find that it is not foreign to you, for you have had some of God’s kingdom in you for many years.

To say this another way, when we ingest God’s Word we discover more of His kingdom, and with each verse, we are changed to truly live more completely as a citizen of God. We live in a process of consuming and being consumed.

I do know that for me, I need to do a “health check” from time to time to ensure that I am still being transformed. The greatest loss I fear is that I desire too little from God.

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

– CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory accessed on June 27, 2022

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compass

Grace Not Place

A few months ago, my wife and I watched a British TV series, “Fake or Fortune.” We were sucked in because art experts were analyzing paintings that had insufficient documentation, commonly known as provenance, that could confirm the authenticity of the artwork. Was it real, or was it fake?

It was a fun show because each owner of a painting was sure it was worth a fortune, but they couldn’t prove it. And many times, the experts couldn’t establish the painting’s provenance, so the artwork was deemed worthless.

There were a few times the TV team made astonishing discoveries. When that happened, everyone’s faces burst into smiles, and there was a joy that swept through the group.

I am so easily deceived by a person’s “provenance.” I know the history of their dad or mother or relatives. I know the place where they were born, the place where they grew up, so I make a mental note, categorizing them. Shame on me! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)”

A person’s worldly history is expunged when they are reborn. Each one of God’s children is born the same way – by grace, through faith, as a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) It matters not who someone was. What matters to God is that person, His child.

In closing, I encourage you to take 3 minutes and listen to this old hymn, Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin.

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Rusty old car in the woods

Rust

My grandpa was a carpenter for the North East Oklahoma railroad. Their inside joke was that they worked for NEO (any old) railroad.

Since he was a carpenter he had carpenter stuff in his garage. I once found a bucket full of rusty old nails in there. They were probably new when he put them there. But when I found them he had been retired for quite awhile and any time he had he spent fishing so the nails no doubt stayed in that bucket until he passed and someone else cleaned out his garage.

Nails forged from iron will remain iron for as long as this world exists, if they are protected. But exposure to corrosive elements and iron transforms into rust which is corrupted iron; iron which has no strength and cannot be used for the nail’s intended purpose.  

Evil Can’t Exist Without Good

Evil can be compared to rust on an iron nail. Just as iron rust can’t exist without iron so the corruption of evil can’t exist without good. We find in Genesis 1:31 (ESV), “God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good….“. Only when God’s good came could evil come forth and cause corruption.

As I mentioned previously, a rusty iron has no strength. Similarly, evil in a person steals their moral strength, making them weak and unable to do what is right. Also, a rusty nail can’t be used for its designed purpose. So, too, a person corrupted by evil is unable to fulfill God’s purpose for them. 

No Fear of Rust

Yes, corruption is active all around us but as Christians we are as protected iron for we have this promise in Galatians 1:3-5 (ESV): “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Jesus has immersed us in grace and peace, sealing us with the Holy Spirit. While we live in this corrosive world we need not be afraid of its rust.

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Little Red Riding Hood

Did you know that the story of Little Red Riding Hood is from Romanian folklore? The mountainous regions of Romania still have a high population of bears, wolves, and creatures that are higher on the food chain than livestock or people!

Because of the threat from predators, it’s common in Romanian villages to see cows meandering down the village streets, unattended by anyone, in the mornings and evenings. Cows are kept in pens behind the houses at night to keep them safe, but when the sun rises, the pens are opened the cows are set free to graze in the open fields. 

People have been the prey of the devil for thousands of years. But when the Son arose from death, our pen (the law) was opened by Christ Jesus. Jesus poured out upon us His grace. Everyone is free to accept God’s salvation which is only found when we place our faith in Jesus. All are free to receive salvation by grace, through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God’s kingdom is available for His children to graze in His open field and be safe both day and night. John 8:36 (KJV) says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” 

That’s good news!


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