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So people receive God’s promise by having faith. This happens so the promise can be a free gift. Then all of Abraham’s children can have that promise. It is not only for those who live under the law of Moses but for anyone who lives with faith like that of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Romans 4:16 (NCV)

Usually people refer to ‘Cheap Grace’ as grace the people take advantage of. A college professor once said to me, “I have no patience for people who go out and sin because ‘they can ask forgiveness later. It cheapens what Jesus did on the cross.”

I agree with him somewhat of course. Paul says ‘shall we go on sinning so grace might increase?” The answer of course is a resounding NO! As Christ-followers we would never think it’s okay to sin so that we get to ask forgiveness. That’s a preposterous idea!

But there is a more subtle way we cheapen grace. It’s seen every week in our churches, in our families, in Bible Studies, retreats and conferences across the world.

Not all of us are guilty of course, but cheap grace sneaks in the cracks when we least notice it. Grace is cheapened when we measure our Spiritual Maturity by our Spiritual Activity. It’s as though we believe that the more we read the Bible and the more we go to church or Bible Studies, the more God will love us.

Abraham was not a perfect man. He wasn’t a very good husband. He wasn’t a very good father. He wasn’t a good boss. His leadership skills were lacking overall. Still, he was God’s friend. Why? Abraham believed God and God’s promises and because of that he was considered faithful. His faith is what saved him, not his works.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to read and study God’s word because it contains the words of life and liberty. It’s vital that we, as Christ-followers, talk with our Heavenly Father on a regular basis. Strength in living comes as we fellowship with the body. But those activities won’t bring ‘more of grace to you’; they will simply make you more aware of the grace available to you.

There’s an old gospel chorus that goes something like this, “Every promise in the book is mine, every chapter, every verse, every line. All the blessings of His love divine. Every promise in the book is mine.” Those promises don’t come because of anything I’ve done. The promises given me are completely because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Don’t cheapen God’s grace for you by adding all sorts of activity requirements. You have all you need in Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord I have to admit I get a little proud of myself at times. I look at all the things I do for the church, all the songs I sing to you, all the times I proclaim your word. I confess that at times I feel these actions make me more spiritual. I thank you that I have all I need in Jesus. Amen.


All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NLT)

Trust: To place confidence in and rely on the truthfulness of something or someone.

Trust has to earned, usually over the passage of time. The enemy wants you to believe that during those times when God is silent it’s because he is either unable to provide the answers you need or is able but simply doesn’t care. God’s silence leaves us feeling abandoned and questioning why? Why, when he promises to be with us always, does he leave us when we need him the most? Why, when we seek his power to handle life’s most difficult problems does he seem distant or non-existent?

In a word, the lie the enemy wants us to believe is that God’s silence indicates Apathy. The lie comes to us in different ways. Religion tells us that God leaves us because we have sinned. As sinners before an angry God he refuses to listen to us. In order to offer us some relief religion gives us a list of rule and regulations, dos and don’ts that will hopefully appease him.

The humanist version of the lie is that IF there is a God he is only available to those who help themselves. This version of the lie puts the onus of our success emotionally, physically and spiritually on us. We fail to achieve. We try harder and fail more miserably. Once again the negative spiral continues. The deeper it goes the more desperate we feel.

The version of the God is apathetic lie given to us by society is that we are crazy for even seeking him. He’s dead after all. The Bible is nothing but a meaningless set of stories and outdated writings. Society tells us that science and education are the answer, not a distant concept of some supreme being.

The second aspect of trust is that it is earned over a period of time. Take a look a few other people who trusted God when he seemed absent, distant or apathetic.

  • Noah built the ark and warned a people that had never seen rain that it would soon rain and a flood would come. Finally, God’s promised judgment took place, but only after Noah and his family suffered verbal abuse for their actions.
  • Abraham was promised a son and yet that son didn’t come until he was long after child-bearing age. When the son finally came, God called on him to execute this ‘son of promise’.
  • Joseph waited for God’s promise to deliver the Israelites fromEgypt. He never got to see the fulfillment of God’s promise, yet he never lost hope.
  • David was anointed king but was subjected to humiliation, verbal and physical attack and attempted murder for years until he was finally able to ascend the throne.
  • Job lost his family, his money and his health. He was maligned by alleged friends and his wife. Yet even though God eventually restored him to health and gave him more wealth than he had before, no explanation was given for the struggles he endured.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us all that many have gone through life enduring trials that seem insurmountable. They lived holy lives of faith and trust yet never saw God’s promises fulfilled in their life times. Our human nature leads us to think that God’s promise of blessing will happen in our lifetime, but the real blessing comes after we leave this earthly shell we call a body.

The Truth Statement in the battle for trust is: Trust in God allows us to live at peace in present difficulties with hope built on the future.

PRAYER: Father God, during the times of darkness and struggle I sometimes lose sight of the fact that you never promised my life here would be easy. During the times you seem distant keep me from listening to the lies of the enemy. Empower me with your Spirit to trust you regardless of earthly struggle. Amen.

[From the series: “Lies that Keep Us from Loving Ourselves”


“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NLT)

Some of the toughest choices father’s make are in regards to their children. We, especially as men, grow up with dreams. We play games in which we always want to come out the winner. As we grow older, reality sets in. Sometimes it sets in hard. We can’t keep rewinding the game clock until the ball swishes through the basket or goes into the empty net or splits the uprights.

It’s no wonder then, that when our son(s) come along the dreams start over again. No offense against the women of our world. They have accomplished great things, fantastic things. Even so, there’s something special about the bond between a man and his son, just as there is between a woman and her daughter. Gender doesn’t really matter. Parents grow up with the hope that their children will somehow attain all they had hoped to attain when they were kids. But sometimes life deals cruel blows.

It’s always been that way really. Abraham had the tough decision to send Ishmael and his mother into the wilderness. Later he had to lay his son of promise, Isaac, on an altar. Only the last minute call of an angel and rustling of a ram in the thicket saved Isaac from being offered up as a sacrifice.

David had the tough choice of going to war against his son, Absalom. Even though he pled for the safe return of his son, the young rebel was killed in battle.

But perhaps the toughest test of love came from God himself. From the day he decided to create this world we live on he longed for relationship. He created beauty from trees and flowers, majesty from mountains and valleys, power from weather and the seas and the wonder of life from innumerable life forms, both seen and unseen.

All that he created gave him great joy. He looked and saw it was good. But it lacked the one thing he longed for above all else. It lacked relationship. So God created mankind to bring him relationship the relationship he’d always wanted. But mankind failed. There was only one thing Father God could do to restore that relationship. It was the hardest thing any of us parents would be called upon to do. He had to give up his only son.

He looked down through the ages and saw the pain his son would suffer. He saw the guilt that would be placed on his shoulders. He saw the physical and emotional abuse that would be executed on his innocent son so that my sins could be forgiven. He watched him die on a tree so I could live forever.

That’s love. That’s tough love. Tough love says I’ll do whatever it takes. Tough love says I’ll give up whatever I need to get the relationship I want to have with you. That’s what God is saying to each of us. He gave all he had so he could have a relationship with you. All he asks in return is for your love through obedience to his word.

PRAYER: Father God, as a parent I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to give up a son so others could live. Especially when the ones who benefit have nothing to give in return. I have nothing to offer you in thanks for your salvation. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for sending Jesus so I can have a relationship with you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

Have you ever sat and listened to someone share their passion? I’m not talking about the boring person who goes into a tirade about some issue. I’m talking about the person who is so passionate about something that their words bring life to their topic.

You sit and listen to them and are so enraptured by their words that you lose all track of time. Even if you aren’t personally interested whatever it is they are talking about, their verbal and non-verbal communication mesmerizes you to the point where your entire attitude changes.

I had that once in a small way. A professor I had was so passionate about his class that I left forever changed in my attitude about it. The class? Political Science, believe it or not! I took the class as an elective because it was at the time and day I could attend. I had no interest whatsoever in Political Science. I don’t remember the professor’s name. I don’t even remember what year I took the class. What I do remember is leaving the class with not only a new appreciation for the topic, but even considered running for local office!

Passionate people breed passion in others. It’s no wonder then, that when Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus he instilled passion in them for God. He talked about Moses. He talked about Elijah and Daniel. He smiled as he reflected on the life of David. And why not? He walked with those men. He watched them grow in faith. He felt the pain of their failure and rejoiced in their victories. When Jesus talked about these men, he wasn’t just talking about stories. He was talking about friends of his.

I imagine when Jesus talks about us he is just as passionate. Sure, we fail. Some of us fail miserably. We rebel almost daily. We worry when he says don’t worry. We get angry when he says trust. We get lonely when he says he is with us always. While we grumble and live in defeat he looks on us with pride and, yep, you guessed it, PASSION.

If you didn’t know me and Jesus was talking to you about me, once he was finished talking you’d be passionate about me. Why? Not because I’m something special in your eyes, but because I’m something special in Jesus’ eyes. When you’ve been with Jesus you can’t help but feel passionate about life.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for being passionate about me. I confess to you that I don’t feel like I’m much to be passionate about. But I’m thankful that you love me so much. I ask that you would empower me to be so passionate about you that my passion will breed passion for you in those I meet. In your name, Amen.

 


Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:14 (NLT)

You can’t do it. You know you can’t. It’s impossible. You’ve tried before and failed and you’ll fail again. Why bother to try? You really need to be more realistic about your abilities. You’ve prayed about it. You’ve done everything right and it hasn’t happened. Why not just give it up now. Move on. That’s one dream that was never meant to be.

We’ve heard it all before. Those voices that remind us that we’ve failed. Those not-so-gentle reminders that we’ve fallen short of our potential or expectations. We’ve wasted yet another opportunity for success. We haven’t measured up, we don’t measure up, and since it seems to be a pattern, we probably don’t have much of a chance to measure up in the foreseeable future.

Words of gloom and doom can come from the expected sources; the people who seem to have as their goal in life to be our enemies regardless of how we try to live in peace with them. These remarks can come from those who are so-called friends but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s especially painful when they preface their remarks with “I’m telling you this in Christian love”. (Yeah, right. I can feel the love oozing from your pores.) Even parents are guilty of the destructive tongue, those who are supposed to nurture us and care for us.

Some people should be given the benefit of the doubt I suppose. Their intentions may be noble; it’s just their method that has the diplomacy of a fox gone wild in the chicken coop. Well intentioned attacks are still attacks!

But the most painful voice we hear, the most destructive one that has the most impact on us is the voice that comes from within. We are often our worst critic. We are the ones that can do the most damage to our own possibilities. I can imagine Sarah’s frustration when God said she’d have a baby. She’d heard God promise this before but the promise had long been drowned out by the women at the well who constantly asked “So, you pregnant yet?” It wasn’t always a verbal question, but there was no denying it was there.

The words ricocheted from one side of her skull to the other. “Is nothing to hard for the Lord? No, of course not. But where’s my baby?” Then one day it happened. There were stirrings inside her that she’d never felt before but longed for since she was a young woman. A few months later the midwife handed her a little pink bundle of God’s fulfilled promise!

Never give up. Never listen to the voices of the nay Sayers and the speakers of gloom and doom. Your Heavenly Father, the God of the universe, Creator of the seen and the unseen, loves you. God’s promises may come in ways we don’t expect, but they will come. His promises may take longer than we’d like, but they always come in his perfect time.

Never stop believing in God’s ability to give you the victory you desire. Never give up on you. Losing faith in yourself will keep you from the blessings God so earnestly wants to give you.

PRAYER: Father God, all my life I’ve been running from the voices that tell me ‘I can’t’. Some of those words have come from people I loved and trusted the most. Their words have left a gaping wound in my soul. Some of those words have come from me. I ask that you would fill the wound in my soul with your love and forgiveness. Empower me to believe that your word is true and your promises will be fulfilled in your time. Grant me the patience to wait. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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