Unearned Kindness

How far will God’s kindness go? His mercy and graciousness toward me is so undeserved, and sometimes I wonder, when will it stop? I can’t do anything to deserve it. And yet sometimes I fear that if I don’t “do better” in my Christian walk, He’ll take it away.

I still have so much to learn of Him, and I recognize that these thoughts only expose how much I don’t know of His grace or of His character.

Because really, does our good works earn us the grace and blessing He pours into our lives?

There is no doubt that God rewards those who seek Him, so I’m not advocating a spiritual laziness because God’s grace will cover our lack of discipline. But in no way does our attempts toward holiness merit His grace or kindness or mercy. Rather His kindness and mercy is meant to lead us toward greater holiness.

I feel increasingly undeserving of His goodness; and I am undeserving. But because of His goodness, I am led continually toward repentance. I hope that as we realize the magnitude of His grace, we do not trample on it in pride or hardness of heart, but we repent, turn to Him, and love Him because He first loved us.

“…Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

“…[He] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” 2 Timothy 1:9

Thank you, God, that you alone are worthy. And that your kindness to us through Jesus has changed us and given us hope beyond compare. I pray we’d look to you and respond to your kindness and give glory to the work of Jesus who has clothed us with His righteousness. Amen.

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Rags to Riches

I am unworthy to glance upon your Glory. I am unworthy to bow before your throne, O Holy God. I come before you as a tainted rag: stained, undignified, and lowly. A guilty sinner unable to wash what’s been stained, and there is no place for filth in your kingdom, for sin in your holy presence.

And yet you beckon me…

You beckon me into the inner courts of your kingdom, to approach your throne of Grace. Not because of who I am but because of who you are. Though I stood as a tainted rag, you washed my filth and you covered me with the righteousness of Jesus. You gave me life when I deserved death. You made me rich with the knowledge of Jesus, my Savior.

And that is the astounding and unparalleled grace of God.

He ate with the lowly. He embraced the lepers. He visited the outcasts. He gave sanity to the demon possessed. He stopped everything to heal a peasant girl without a name. He didn’t condemn the harlot. He forgave the sinner. He called us heirs and gave us life.

He bore our cross, and we wear His robe.

Jesus – I love you because you first loved me. I give you my life because you first gave me yours. I humble myself because you humbled yourself, and you are God. Though what I have to offer is nothing, I give it to you.

Christians in a Godless World

“God, where are you in the world?” I heard three unrelated people ask this question recently as they each elaborated on different issues.

“Where are you when children are sold into modern-day slavery and prostitution? Where are you in the lives of those who are poor and hurting and sick? Where are you when men, women, and children are fiercely killed in genocides at the hands of evil men around the world? God, where-are-you and why-aren’t-you-doing-anything?”

It’s a valid question. If you’ve ever heard the stories of genocides around the world, of young girls trafficked and forced to have sex with several men every day, of the evil people who are rewarded and the righteous people who are suffering, then you know that it’s a very valid question.

God answered all three individuals with the same response: “Where are you and why aren’t you doing anything?”

We are God’s hands and feet. We are His servants to do His work. And yet we are so wrapped up in our lives, schedules, electronics, and TV shows that we remain egocentric and apathetic Christians. As Christians who carry on the Name of Christ, our lives must leave behind His handprints and footprints in our communities and in our world. We must care because He cared. We must respond because He responded.

Ultimately, Jesus’ love caused Him to offer His life as the sacrifice for our sins. Are we willing to be Christians even when the cost is great? If not, I can’t help but question whether our Christianity is self-based or a true response from a relationship with Jesus. If it is indeed the latter, it will cause us to be others-based as we follow in His footsteps.

As Christ followers, our hearts must break for what breaks His, our feet must walk where His walked, and our hands must get a little—or a lot—dirty. Though I say this statement in a spiritual sense, it is meant quite literally in a physical sense. We must respond.

“‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy…Is that not what it means to know Me?’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 22:16

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure & faultless is this: to look after orphans & widows in their distress & to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

“If anyone has material possessions & sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions & in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

Steps toward an others-based faith

  1. PRAY for the people on God’s heart: for lost souls (Luke 19:41-44); for the poor and needy (Prov. 31:8-9), for those who are in bondage and oppressed (Luke 4:16-21), for those who are sick and disabled (Matt 11:4-5), for His Church (John 17). This will align your heart with His.
  2. ASK GOD what your part is.
  3. GO in the power of His Spirit and do what He’s commanded you to do.

Abandonment

I had to share this video with you, and I hope you take 10 minutes to watch it. Misty Edwards is a worship leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. Her songs have led me into the presence of God over and over again.

What she says in the short video…it’s what life is all about. If we don’t understand this truth, then we’re missing the entirety of God’s Word — and the purpose of our lives.

I hope we grasp this truth.

I hope we wrestle with it.

And I hope…I so hope…that we surrender to it.

The Love Affair

I heard his voice yesterday. He said that he loved me. He spoke it confidently, certain that nothing could take away his love. He spoke it gently, hoping I’d receive his affections. He spoke it joyously, knowing that nothing could compete against the passion in his heart.

My body collapsed in the assurance of his embrace. Like a flash flood, his words quickly and fervently rushed over me and filled a part of me I hadn’t known to be empty. I longed to hear him again, O say it again! My soul longs for his love; I am in dire need of his love. It completes me in a way I had not known to be incomplete. As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs for him. Needs him. Wants him.

“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5

“I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness & justice, in loving-kindness & mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness…” Hosea 2:19-20

And then, like a flash flood, the rain stopped and the waters subsided. Where was he? I re-imagined the sound of his voice, and what it felt like to hear him proclaim his love and affection for me — me, a lowly peasant girl, and he a king.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3

Though his voice faded, his love remained. And no love can trump the true lover’s love. In his kingdom is life, and had I not known him, I would have died. But he saved me. My beloved saved me and rescued me from the depravity of my soul. Unknowingly, I had sought for his love. I sought after wholeness and fulfillment. Now I know: It is only found in him.

“We have known & believed the love God has for us…we love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:16,19

I know now what I had not known; I believe now what I struggled to believe. Though his quiet voice faded in the distance, I walked away confident in the love of my king, who loved me, who pursued me, who found me. One day soon, I will be his and he will be mine. I will stand before him, a bride who has prepared herself for his return. I will wait in purity and holiness for him to come. Because I have tasted his love, and now I am satisfied.

I heard his voice yesterday. And He said that he loved me.

The Day LOVE Will Save

We’re waiting on Him. When will be the day that He will save us? Life is full of trials. But God can make the poor man rich and the weak man strong. He can turn sorrow into joy and ashes into beauty. He can take the struggles of this life and bless us with His presence, His promises, His hope. Why? Because…

There is no sin that the grace of God cannot forgive

There is no hardness of heart that the love of God cannot tenderize

There is no obstacle that the Conqueror cannot conquer

Nor poverty that the richness of God cannot satisfy

There is no sorrow so great that the Comforter cannot comfort

Nor wound so deep that the Healer cannot heal

There is no destruction that the power of God cannot restore

Nor life that the Risen One cannot redeem

Nothing is impossible with God

And His love reigns

…But He will not do it unless you first surrender…

Surrender the sin and the pride, the obstacles and the chaos, the sorrow and the pain. We all have something to surrender today. And there is an unprecedented POWER that is released when we surrender to the LORD. It is extraordinary. Friends, our God is able to do more than we can even imagine. He can meet you where you are and transform the otherwise non-transformable. BUT you must surrender. It opens the door to His Spirit and allows Him to move and work in your life. If you don’t surrender, you are locking the door; you are denying the Spirit.

Nothing is impossible with God. And His love reigns.


Love Came Down

It is the early hours of the morning and I’ve been soaking in the love of Jesus. I am so filled with gratitude for His compassion, His sacrifice, His love. Take some time this morning (the song is about 5 minutes) to focus on His love that came down for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!