What Comes After Grace Runs to You

grace

 

We’ve had Good Friday and then a Saturday. Some call it sad, or silent, and for some it’s just Saturday–that day of getting things done. But Sunday comes and with it the recognition and celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. There’s sunrise services, pancake breakfasts, and coffee. Kids and candy. We sing songs celebrating the cross and hear sermons centered on Jesus.

 

But what happens Monday? We drag ourselves out of bed still half drugged by all the delicious food we ate the day before. We stumble and bumble as we take one wobbly step after the other.

 

Do you forget the power of Resurrection Sunday and turn to the power of caffeine to make it through your morning? I stumbled through my Bible reading today and didn’t feel awake until I gulped that cup of steaming coffee. How does the resurrection change your life? Or does it?

 

I’m sitting here, slouched low with a blanket tossed over my lap. The skies are laden with hidden snow and a wind that slips through the cracks of this old house.  I wonder how quickly bedtime will get here and I sigh as I wonder where that resurrection power went. Today felt less than powerful.

 

Is God’s grace only good for when I am full of energy? Is it grace when I’m on top of my game, but have I lost my hold on grace when my speed is that of a sloth?

 

Could it be that we have our understanding of grace misconstrued? What if it’s grace to embrace moving at a slower pace? What if it’s grace to snuggle a little longer with your babies or linger over that cup of coffee as you listen to the birdsong?

 

It’s the start of a new week and we experienced the climax of Christiandom this weekend. The betrayal. The sorrow. The beatings. The grief. And the wonder. It’s all grace because it was part of God’s plan to bring us to himself through his son Jesus.

 

And if grace can include the hard then we must look at our hard through the lens of grace.

 

Remember that morning where you longed for an intravenous line of coffee and it took all day to get your engines going? There’s grace in it because Christ is in you.

 

Yes, we have responsibilities that call us. And we’re going to eat too much and pay for it the next day. We’re going to be irritable and snap at our co-worker, our family, or our friends. That doesn’t mean grace has left us.

 

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:7 ESV

 

It’s in those moments, when exhaustion sets in or irritation rules us, that we need to remember that it’s not our actions that prove grace is in our lives, but it’s God’s mercy that he washes us and renews us by the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t ebb and flow based on your mood or energy or what happened to you today. It’s our response that ebbs and flows and the more we relax into God’s transforming, amazing grace, the more we’re changed.

 

The Takeaway for Grace

 

As we surrender to the washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit our wretchedness gets exchanged for grace, our lost-ness for found-ness, and our blindness for sight.

 

On your next bad day, take a perspective shift and ask God to show you the grace in it. It could be developing perseverance, endurance, maturity, or hope. Today, I knew God as my strength, not just to help me with the physical exhaustion, but emotional strength as I dealt gently with my people.

 

Amazing grace: how sweet the sound.

 

When You Lose Your Song in the Mess

song

 

What do you do when your world goes dark? When you lose your way, your voice, your song? Do you fall in a heap or scramble to busy? Or is it a little bit of both?

 

To tell you the truth, I don’t always handle it well when a shadow passes over and the ground beneath my feet gives way. It takes me a bit to adjust because what was my normal is no longer my normal. I have to adjust to a new normal which at times seems to be an insurmountable mountain to climb.

 

But it’s in the storms that I most see God’s mightiness. There’s something about the light seeming to be brighter in the darkness. The tiniest candle gives off the greatest pool of light in the deepest gloom. It draws me like a moth to a flame, only instead of getting burned, I’m comforted.

 

It’s in the storms that my faith stretches and grows. As the circumstances around me humble me, I bow lower and lower to the ground and find myself reaching deeper and deeper into God’s stores of goodness and grace for me. And then I find something unusual, that as I go deeper, I really am reaching higher. Higher into God’s mountain. Over the jagged boulders and the slippery shale I climb, desperate and hungry for more and more of God.

 

In “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan paired Timorous with Mistrust because one is not absent from the other. Timidity is a lack of courage and mistrust is skepticism. The depth of my courage is bound to my belief in what God says about himself and about me. And my trust in who God is relates to the level of my courage.

 

Will I believe that he is my strength and my song? Will I believe that he is able to save?

 

“Surely God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord is my strength and song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

 

This verse becomes an anthem to the distressed. We read that God is our salvation. He saves. So we don’t have to be afraid. For those who believe in God’s plan of salvation for all mankind, their place in eternity is secured. Our circumstances cannot take that from us.

 

Then we trust and do not give way to fear. The secret to trusting and not giving way to fear is recognizing that you are afraid and anxious, and then speaking God’s truth to your heart. Our faith develops perseverance and endurance in times of trouble.

 

The Lord is your strength when you are strong and when you are weak. He enables you to trust him, to believe him, if you only ask. You cry, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” He carries you when you cannot take another step. He holds you close when your sorrow renders you powerless. He whispers encouragement to your heart.

 

And then he is your song. He enables you to praise him. In Psalm 69, the psalmist states that he is afflicted and in pain, but God’s salvation sets him on high. And because of this the psalmist praises the name of God with a song. When we sing to God in the midst of our pain, it gives our hearts a place to bleed and to heal. The Lord becomes the melody we hear. The melody that he sings over us is his song of deliverance and rejoicing.

 

We trust him and listen for his song and rest in his strength because he saves us. He makes a way through our circumstances either by changing it or changing us. The next time you can’t find your song, listen for God’s melody and then sing. 

 

Application

 

1.Consider the love God has for you. While you were a sinner, Christ died for you. If you haven’t made Christ your savior, confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved.

 

2. Admit your weaknesses and rely on God’s strength to carry you through.

 

3. Listen to these songs by Mosaic and Bethel. Let the truth of the lyrics be the song that God sings over you.

 

 

Do You Have Trust Issues Too?

unshakable trust

 

I’ve prayed like I’ve never prayed before. I’ve reminded God of who He was and who I was. I’ve laid out my devotion and faithfulness. I’ve believed for a miracle. And I got a non-miracle. I got a, “Nope, I don’t think so.”

 

Upset? Yes. Crushed? You bet. Disappointed? Absolutely.

 

But I was determined to trust. Until I realized that trusting God was too dangerous because His love didn’t seem safe. He refused to give me what I wanted. To not answer my prayer the way I wanted seemed mean. So maybe He didn’t love me as much as He said He did.

 

The Flaw

 

My flaw? (Besides thinking I could boss God around?) was this: I was looking at God’s love through the broken glass of my own life. When I view God’s love through my brokenness, I see warped love. But when I view God’s love through His lens: I see a perfect love that casts out fear. I see a love that watched His son bleed a violent death so that I might know Him intimately as Father, Hope, Light and Life. I see a love that gave all so that I might know a hope and peace that defies all human explanation.

 

When I base my understanding on God’s love by what He does or does not do for me, I am doomed to struggle to trust Him. But when I base my understanding on God’s love on His character and His word, I am assured an unshakable trust.

 

Unshakable. Who wouldn’t love that? Who can really, truly understand that? Nothing in our finite world is unshakable. Buildings collapse. People disappoint. Jobs fail. Governments corrode.

 

Steadfast

 

But God. His love is steadfast. Unmovable. Unwavering. Resolute. Constant. Relent-less. Singleminded. Unyielding.

 

We get hit with bad news and our world is shaken. So we question whether God really loves us, but instead of confronting that issue, we decide we just need to trust Him more. We try harder, but then struggler harder when the bad things don’t quit hitting us.

 

We equate love of God with peaceful lives, answered prayers, and clear paths.

 

We don’t equate God’s love to trials, desert experiences, and dim paths.

 

However, God’s love transcends what we see, feel, or experience. It’s something we receive in faith, believe in faith, and grow in faith.

 

He loved us before we knew Him. We love Him because He loved us first.

 

And then He calls us to love Him first.

 

So, lets talk about love before we talk trust. Because the root of trust issues is a love issue.

 

Love & Trust

 

Do you believe God loves you? Really, truly loves you? Not that you feel like He loves you, but do you believe He loves you?

 

The Bible is full of examples about His steadfast love. He loved Joseph and gave Him favor: as a slave, in prison, and as second in command. He loved the Israelites even when they refused to love Him back.

 

He loves us more than we love our favorite people.

 

Sometimes we just have to say, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

 

It doesn’t have to be proven to be true. It just is.

 

Okay, but what about if you need proof? Grab a mirror and smile. See those muscles move? That’s proof that God loves you. Hold the mirror close to your mouth and exhale. Again, that breath? It was gifted to you by God. Find your pulse–that involuntary muscle? Who started it? God.

 

I know what it’s like to ache and wonder whether you’re loved or not. I know the heart that aches and wonders if you’re the only unloveable one in the room. I know what it’s like to wave from the outside and realize that no one is waving back at you.

 

Unloved.

 

Yet, not.

 

The King of the universe has this crazy, unshakable love for you and he lavishes it on you. Do you have a teflon heart or a velcro heart? Does this truth slip right off or does it stick?

 

Application

1. Copy Psalm 21:7 on a card and tape it on the dashboard of your car.

2. If you have a teflon heart, why? Can you point to one circumstance that caused you to disbelieve God’s love? Now, write it down. Then, look at your disappoint with fresh eyes. Finally, use a Bible search tool to find three verses that describe God’s love for you.

3. Repeat: “God loves me with an unshakable kind of love,” 3 times before each meal.

 

 

YOUR FREE GIFT

 

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