Responding with grace

2018-06-09
2 Peter 3:18 NIV

At the Last Supper, John’s gospel tells us that Jesus sat down and washed the disciples’ feet. It was a horrible task, after having walked the dusty streets all day in sandals, and it was usually done by the lowest servant of the household. The disciples must have been shocked to see their leader doing such a lowly, disgusting job. Peter even tried to protest (take a look at John 13:8). But Jesus told them, ‘Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow’ (John 13:14-15 NLT). Think about those disciples – there was Peter, who would deny knowing Jesus; Thomas, who would doubt Him; Judas, who would betray Him; and all the others, who would desert Him in His time of need. But that didn’t stop Jesus. He was encouraging them to treat others with the same grace, humility and forgiveness that He was showing them by washing their feet. It didn’t mean He endorsed their sins. It didn’t make it okay for Peter to deny Him, or Judas to betray Him, and so on. When we receive God’s grace, it doesn’t mean He’s turning a blind eye to our mistakes. And when we follow Jesus’ example and show grace to others, it doesn’t mean we’re unaware of the damage and pain that their sins have caused. Instead, grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. Where there’s no grace, bitterness grows. But where grace is abundant, forgiveness grows. So let’s work towards developing a Christlike character by showing grace to everyone we meet, whatever the circumstances.

Ezek 16:53-19:14; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 1; Prov 14:29-32

Accuser vs. advocate (2)

2018-05-08
Romans 8:33 NCV

Paul writes: ‘Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right. Who can say God’s people are guilty? No one, because Christ Jesus died, but he was also raised from the dead, and now he is on God’s right side, appealing to God for us’ (vv.33-34 NCV). Even though we may have read this verse many times, we can often still have that feeling of guilt. It’s important to remember that not all guilt is bad. Guilt can remind us that we’ve stepped away from God’s best and need to confess, repent and seek His forgiveness. The problem comes when we start to define ourselves by our guilt. But doing something that’s not good doesn’t mean that we’re not good. The guilt reminds us to bring it to God, but then let it go. We don’t need to found our lives on it, define ourselves by it or be trapped by it. Every day God gives us a fresh start. The Bible says: ‘The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV). When a woman was brought to Jesus, after being caught in adultery, Jesus said to the people accusing her that the first person to throw a stone should be someone who doesn’t sin. Gradually all the people walked away until it was just Jesus and the woman left. He said to her: ‘Neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin’ (John 8:11 NIV). However many accusing voices we hear and however much guilt we feel, Jesus says the same to us today.

Deut 14-17; Mark 7:1-13; Ps 37:25-31; Prov 12:1-3

Are you becoming more gracious?

2018-04-23
2 Peter 3:18 NIV

Every day you live you’ll be presented with opportunities to “grow in grace.” And you must always be open and receptive to them. A grandmother celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary shared the secret of her long and happy relationship: “On my wedding day I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults, which for the sake of our marriage I would overlook. I never did get around to listing any. Each time he did something I didn’t like, I’d say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the ten!'” Now there’s a very wise lady! Physical intimacy may bring us together, but growing in grace will keep us together. So when someone upsets you, instead of responding with angry words or angry silence, remind yourself that God is giving you another opportunity to “grow in grace.” And if you don’t do too well with some of the opportunities He sends, don’t worry, He will keep sending more until you get it right! Resentment is one of the most expensive luxuries you can indulge in. A deep-seated grudge eats away at your peace of mind like a deadly cancer destroying a vital organ. In fact, there are few things as sad as a person who has harbored a grudge for years. Without forgiveness, life becomes an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation. One of the secrets to a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody, everything, every night before you go to bed. It’s the key to having personal peace. So start getting serious about the Bible admonition: “Grow in grace.”

Soul food: Acts 12-13; Mark 4:10-20; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 10:30-32

Chase grace


2 Peter 3:18 NIV

Every day you live God will give you opportunities to grow in grace. Those who grow the furthest don’t just stay open to them: they chase them eagerly. A grandma celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary shared what made her relationship: ‘On my wedding day I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults, which for the sake of our marriage I would overlook. I never did get around to listing any. Each time he did something I didn’t like, I’d say to myself, “Lucky for him, that’s one of the ten.”‘ That’s chasing grace down, rugby-tackling it to the ground, and taking every point you can get. Intimacy might get us together, but growing in grace will keep us together. So, when someone upsets you, instead of responding with angry words or angry silence, remind yourself that God’s giving you another opportunity to grow in grace. And if you don’t do too well with some of the opportunities He sends, don’t worry. He’ll keep sending more until you get it. Resentment is one of the most expensive luxuries you can indulge in. A deep-seated grudge eats away at your peace of mind at a high cost. There are few things as sad as a person who has harboured a grudge for years. Without forgiveness, life becomes an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation. What makes a long and fruitful life is forgiving everybody, everything, every night, before you go to bed. It’s the secret of personal peace. Get serious about growing in grace and you’ll see.

Acts 12-13; Mark 4:10-20; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 10:30-32

Gift of grace

2018-04-21
Ephesians 2:8 NLT

Celebrations often involve gift-giving. We get presents on our birthday. Our parents might give us a gift when we graduate. When we get married, family and friends give us gifts to help us begin a new chapter of life. And when we make the decision to believe and accept salvation, God celebrates with us by giving us the gift of grace. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul wrote, ‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God’ (NLT). The word ‘grace’ comes from the Greek word charis, meaning ‘pure joy.’ Although none of us deserve God’s grace, He considers saving us to be a ‘pure joy’. In John’s Gospel, the Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery. The law of Moses was clear; she had to be stoned. And the Pharisees were ready to do it. She didn’t have anyone to defend her or to be a character witness. The woman probably thought that Jesus, being righteous, would agree with the Pharisees. But suddenly Jesus stooped down and began to write in the sand. We don’t know what He wrote, but when He looked up, the woman’s accusers had gone. There was nobody left to condemn her. He said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more’ (John 8:11 NKJV). That day Jesus lifted her from a position of undeniable guilt to one of unconditional pardon. She didn’t deserve that grace; she probably didn’t even know it was possible. We could all say something similar about ourselves. We’ve all done things that deserve condemnation and punishment, but God’s amazing gift of grace means that we’re lifted up and receive love and forgiveness instead.

Acts 10-11; Mark 4:1-9; Ps 103:1-12; Prov 10:27-29