Exodus 33:17 ‘So the Lord said to Moses, I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.’
Isn’t that great to know that one day you will audibly hear God whisper your name? The creator of the universe knows your name. The creator of the heavens and the earth wants a relationship with you. The creator of the stars placed each one in the sky just for you to enjoy. If that doesn’t give you chills, you need a spiritual double-check!
In searching for the Bible references to the word grace, Paul probably used the word more than any other writer. It was possibly because of his prior experience with grace and the journey that his life took before encountering Jesus on the Damascus road.
Talking about God’s grace and defining God’s grace are two completely different things. You see, the definition of grace cannot be found in the dictionary nor can words be assembled in a sentence that can give the word justice. I’m afraid that God’s grace cannot be expounded upon. We can use words like good will, favor, lovingkindness….but even those words fail in comparison.
God’s grace was wrapped in swaddling clothes. God’s grace is in His healing touch. God’s grace is in the sunset. God’s grace is in our salvation. God’s grace is _____. We can fill the blank with anything. That is God’s grace. Paul made attempts in the book of Ephesians but he could only use adjectives and descriptive words like ‘the glory of His grace’ Ephesians 1:6 and ‘exceeding riches of His grace’ Ephesians 2:7. The bottom line is that we are not worthy of His grace. His grace is also free. We must only believe that we can put our faith in God for anything at anytime for anyone, period. We can do all the right things, live for Him, pray, minister, teach, do great works, write, sing, worship, but it still isn’t enough to deserve His grace. That is compassion, that is love….that is grace.
‘Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.’
Paul challenged the Galatian church to stand firm in their faith and not to return to the bondage of the law. Deliverance from the curse that law pronounces on the sinners who has been striving unsuccessfully to achieve his own righteousness. Making a commitment to God mean that He demands your attention. Just like any relationship worth pursing, we must give attention, nurture and cultivate those relationships. Our relationship with God is no exception. He demands immediate obedience. When you are told to do something, you must listen and obey. God doesn’t give us suggestions but instead give us commands. It is a privilege for us to do His work. He doesn’t call just anyone to a particular place for a particular task. It is like being a member of a ball team and just standing on the court not playing. We will not be productive and we will not be showing God’s love just standing there in the middle of the court. It is an honor to know that God placed you in a particular place for a particular reason. Enjoy that thought. You were made for a reason. He had plans for you when you were created by Him. When we pray to Him, He promises that He will listen. He wants that conversation with us. There is nothing we can say to Him that He won’t understand. As David told his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9, ‘the Lord searches all hearts and understand all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you.’ Are we really seeking? Are we really committed? Do we really surrender all? If we are honest, you will probably admit that we surrender about a quarter of our lives. That means that we are only about a quarter full. Our cups do not run over. If our cups are dry, how can the love of God overflow onto others? Correct me I’m wrong but isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing here? Filled with Christ and the overflow from our worship fall onto others so that they see His love through us? You see, that is the definition of true freedom, being ‘full’ of God. Keeping the tank on F. Drinking in His spirit from the Living Water, Feeding on His Word. Finding rest in His Peace and becoming a light so that others can see a path directly to Him. Anything else we do in life is unimportant.
Let’s concentrate on the word steadfast. It is an interesting word. It is one of those words that the meaning could be misunderstood. Steadfast means unwavering, firmly fixed, constant, firmly loyal or totally dependent upon. Over 200 times the word steadfast is mentioned in the Bible.
Proverbs 4:26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. I’m reminded of the kid’s song that says, oh be careful little feet where you go. That is exactly what this verse tells us. Don’t go where you don’t belong and be firmly fixed in the ways of God.
Isaiah 54:10 ‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.’ His constant love shall never leave you. He moves mountains and removes hills. Climbing those mountains and hills are daunting. Allow Him to move them for you and you will never be alone.
Psalm 103:8 ‘The Lord is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. Constant – never changes, never stops. Unlike humans who leave us, forsake us and seek to destroy us; God never does. He is merciful and gracious to us always.
Grasp the full definition of steadfast. God is unwavering, He never changes. His is firmly fixed in His love for us. He is constant with His grace and mercy. He is firmly loyal and we can fully and totally depend on Him.
We desire things. Material possessions, money, houses, cars and the latest technology. This passage clearly tells us what we should desire, to seek, dwell, behold and inquire.
- Seeking God – going to church is where we learn, grow and fellowship. Attending worship is a vital part of our growth as a child of God. I believe that this scripture is instructing us to go deeper than weekly attendance. We are to read, study, memorize scripture, share Christ with others and be actively involved in our local church. We are to drink from the Living Well, fill our cups, cast every care and think about Him every moment of every day.
- Dwelling upon God – dwellings are places of rest. We rest, let down our guards and relax. Exactly what we are to do with God. No matter what happens, we are to rest in God’s promises, even when our lives do not make sense.
- Behold – behold the Lamb in all His wonderful glory. The Lamb whom was sacrificed for you so that you can have eternal life. How can you not share this Lamb with others?
- Inquire – Imagine with me for a moment. Streets of gold, lush hills, beautiful scenery, loved ones who have passed, reunions, bountiful feasts, no worries, no cares, no stress and no tears. Overwhelming, isn’t it? In this scenario, one detail is overlooked. One important detail is missing. Where is Jesus? I can tell you. He is looking for you. He is waiting at the gate, rolling out the red carpet, summoning the welcome committee and welcoming you with open arms. He inquires about us, He knows the exact moment of our arrival and He smiles when He sees His children. He welcomes us home. So, a God who does all those things for us, prepares our home and shows us around, He will never forsake us when we earnestly search for Him.
Seek Him, Dwell in Him, behold in Him and inquire about Him in all areas of your life. Our first thought when we wake and our last thought before sleep and every thought in between are moments that we need to be dwelling on Him instead of anything else. I agree, it’s hard, but it’s doable.
Psalm 27:4-5 ‘One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.’
One sweet day, I will dwell in His house all the days of my life, I will gaze upon Him and His beauty. I’m seeking for Him because I know He keeps my safe and hides me from harm.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Trials – The Unseen
If you have ever operated a car, you know that if you see a careless driver, you turn the other direction. You stop at stop signs and lights and you may even yield to oncoming cars. It is because we rely on our eyes and common sense to tell us to detour. When we trust God, we are not steering. He takes us to the unseen and the unbeaten paths so that we will trust Him. Not one of us is exempt from a trial. We are given trials according to His goodness and He gives us the strength to be steadfast. I know there have been many times I’ve wondered, ‘are you absolutely sure that I can handle this God? Cause I’m not sure’. I think I’ve dealt with the same trials that everyone else has, some less and some greater. But you know what? I have survived 100% of my trials and each time that I make it through another one, God is there saying, yes child, I knew you could handle it. The important thing is to not lose heart just like 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us. Everyday our mortal bodies die a little but inward (our souls) are renewed each day.
These verses should give us hope. Every morning His mercies are new and each day we can be renewed if we allow God to penetrate our hearts and souls. Those trials work for us to give us eternal glory and faith in the unseen. God wants us to look past the trial and see Him. Look past the storm raging and cling to the anchor. Whisper His name into the storm, you will find peace there. Do not focus on the temporary but the eternal Godly things. I wish I could tell you that it is easy. I wish I could tell you that life is a cakewalk, but it isn’t. Not even close. Do not place your faith in man but only in Christ.
Put on Righteousness
Isaiah 59:17 tells us, “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” How is a helmet like salvation? How many stories do we hear that state, ‘if only he had on a helmet he would have not suffered a brain injury’? A helmet would have saved their life. Her parents said that she would have been killed without the helmet. Being without a helmet will cause you harm. Being without salvation will take you to hell. Salvation means to be delivered from something. If you are saved, you are delivered from hell. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 62:7 “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” So, by seeking God through trust, faith and hope, we receive knowledge of truth, peace and strength. We have a place to turn in times of trouble and a place to hide when we need rest. I know that I rest in the palm of His almighty hand and nothing can take that away from me. No matter how terrible things can get, we can still rest there because He will protect us from all unrighteousness and His kingdom will prevail.
Roman Soldier and his righteousness….
What does this Roman soldier’s sword teach us about using the Bible to fight our battles? In Roman infantry, the soldier would typically go into battle with more than one type of weapon. Swords, daggers, darts and spears were all used. They were heavily armed because once you attacked during the battle, that was it; there was not a do-over or a time out to pick up your weapon. It was basically a one-shot deal. But interestingly enough, Paul lists the sword as the only weapon here in Ephesians. That is because there is only one weapon we need in our arsenal. There is only one way to the truth. There is only one way to knowledge. There is only one way to the light of the world. Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” His word illuminates our lives so that we can see where we are going. He only gives us just enough light so we can see where we are going one step at a time but He always supplies that light. We got bogged down in darkness that we fail to flip the switch and acknowledge that He lights our path. We fail to look to Him in all circumstances, good or bad, and give thanks in every season. Did you know that God is unchanging? Whether we are on the mountain or in the valley, God is the same and He loves it when we meet with Him each day. He loves to talk to us and He does so through His word. Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
In this life, His Word is all we need. It is the most powerful form of defense that we have in this life. It is our source of life, strength, hope and power. Without it, we are nothing. Swords were also used for close combat not for fighting from a distance. This is because God wants us in the middle of the action fighting battles on His behalf. We cannot fight a good fight from the perimeter. That is the difference between a spectator and a participant. God wants us to participate and spread the Gospel. He desires for s to be the hands and feet of His word. He longs for us to be courageous and be the mouthpieces of truth. He gives us the strongest sword we can carry and the most powerful defense in the world and He will send the strongest army to back us up when we need help. Against His word there is no defense.
10 characteristics of God to encourage and strengthen you.
God can’t get tired.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.
God can’t take on a job he can’t handle.
Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.
God can’t be unholy.
And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
God can’t be prejudiced.
In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him.
God can’t break a promise.
My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.
God can’t remember sins he’s chosen to forget.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins.
God can’t make a loser.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.
—2 Corinthians 2:14
God can’t abandon you.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
God can’t stop thinking about you.
How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you.
God can’t stop loving you.
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Are you spiritually bankrupt? Have you gotten to the end of your rope only to find that the know is untied? Are you fighting an uphill battle with no end in sight? Here’s hope…. Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Our lives are like a car wreck. Sometimes we spin out of control. Our worlds are flipped upside down. We lose control of the wheel because we didn’t see another car coming. Sometimes the music is too loud that we cannot focus on the road. Stopping the spinning is what God does best. He can make sure the seat belt is tightened and readjust our focus. Sometimes we must have the wreck so that He can get our attention. We must rest in the promise that no matter what happens, God is still in control. He doesn’t want to be the co-pilot but rather the pilot. He doesn’t want us drifting around on the water but rather He wants us to anchor to Him. Once we stop and sit at His feet for a while, we can see the other car coming and we can focus on the path that we are on so that the distractions of life do not get in the way of our worship. Because of this, we can have hope in Him. We place our hope in many things. Our family (they will always disappoint us), our friends (some have their own agenda), our jobs (everyone is replaceable). What if we placed our hope in Someone who truly deserves it? Fire, earthquakes, famine, war…. after these take place, what is left? Put your faith and hope in God Almighty. Put your faith and hope in the One who truly deserves of our time and energy. He created us to worship Him. He created us to have hope in Him.
I Will Sing Praise
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.” The Psalms are full of versus proclaiming how we should praise, how often we should praise and how genuine we should praise.
1. How we should praise? Praise can be defined as gratefulness in words or song. You don’t have to be great singer to sing praise. God wants us to admonish Him with our voices. Just simply recognizing that a blessing situation or experience came from Him is praise. In all things praise Him for He gives us things to bless us and strengthen us.
2. How often should we praise? One word…. continuously. Everything we have everything we feel, everything…. comes from Him. He created us to be able to work to supply our basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. He created us to be strong in Him no matter our situation in life if we lean on Him. Every moment of everyday we should praise in some way shape or form.
3. How genuine should our praise be? Don’t straddle the fence. 1 Kings 18 talks about Elijah and Ahab. There was a famine in Samaria possibly caused by Ahab and his family’s practice of idolatry. Elijah stood on Mt. Carmel proclaiming God and His provision. IN the face of adversity, Elijah stood firm and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him”. V21 The people didn’t answer. It is so easy to straddle the fence. We are caught in a world where we flip from one side to another. The pressures of life can easily find us on the “greener” AKA easier side. So, what does this fence story have to do with genuine praise? Everything! Elijah, in the middle of a struggle, in the middle of pain, in the middle of heartbreak; or on the fence, so to speak, spoke out for God! His praise was proclaiming the source of his strength. Ours may be the same. Ours could be teaching, singing, writing, raising your hands, building, giving…. if you believe with all your heart that you are living on the right side of the fence all the time and every time. With God, there is no in-between. Honestly, praise doesn’t come natural. Praise and thanksgiving should bookend our days. First thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. We should thank Him and praise Him for everything. Our praise is music to His ears and He rejoices when we rejoice. Others need to see His love through us. Drink in His spirit from the well of Living Water and find rest and freedom in His peace.
Take Heart Dear Daughter
One of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 9:20-22. We find a woman who suffered for 12 years. For 12 years she bore a burden that she thought she would have to endure for the rest of her days. She was so ashamed of her condition that she approached Jesus from behind crawling on the ground. Ridicule and insecurity became a way of life for her. The look upon her face was heart-wrenching. No friend would associate with her. Her family disowned her. She hears about this stranger with healing powers and thinks to her, “what more do I have to lose?’ She thought, “if I don’t take the risk, I will forfeit the miracle.” She believed. She had hope. With all her strength she had left in her, she reached for His hem. She was healed instantly when she reached for His cloak but because God is God, He gave her so much more that day. He questioned, “who touched me?” Even though He knew who did, He still questioned. He desires for us to reach to Him in faith and when we do, He wants us to be bold enough to proclaim His power and use it for His glory. Her faith made her complete. Imagine running a 5K. You are exhausted but suddenly you see this finish line. Your pace picks up and you focus on the finish line and run with determination. That is exactly what she did. She focused on God, pushed forward with faith and crossed the line. She had exhausted all her resources and rested in the fact that Jesus was her only hope. I love that Christ called her daughter. It confirmed that He desires to be our Father and we can go to Him for every need that He will supply according to His will. Can you imagine something so powerful that it could completely change your life? Her life changed, her gait changed, her body changed, her face changed and her heart changed. We carry burdens too. Sometimes for 12 years or longer. How does carrying that burden affect your life? When we keep carrying that burden, we limit God. He desires to take it away but we won’t let it go. She showed up expecting miracles and walked away the daughter of a King. She came to Him broken, empty, physically ill, shattered, unloved, discontented and frustrated. She left complete, full (not to the rim but overflowing), well, loved, satisfied and whole. That’s what our faith does. Faith takes us to the Rock and heals everything. Mere words are just words when it comes to this healing power. This power is at our fingertips if we would just have the courage to touch the hem of His garment. Have the courage to make the change. Reach out to Him in faith.
Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Contentment is being satisfied with who we are and where we are at this particular moment in time. We miss so much in the present because we are worried about tomorrow or looking back to yesterday. Luke 9:10-17 isn’t just a story about Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5000 but a story about teaching the disciples about being content. The journey had been long and weary. Jesus told the disciples to give the multitude something to eat but they only had 5 loaves and 2 fish. In their mind, the best solution might have been to send the people away. Jesus equipped the disciples, we are also equipped with everything we need to minister to others. Jeremiah 1:5 ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.’ 1 Peter 2:9 ‘ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ The power of God is inside of those who know Him. A content person will bless it, break it and it will multiply. Our journey can be weary but we are equipped and because we are equipped, we should be content. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to your circumstances and ask Him how you can use it to minister to others. If you feel there is no hope, read Luke 9:17, the leftover fragments were taken up by the multitude (12 baskets full, one for each disciple). Not only does God give exceedingly, abundantly above what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), He is always on time and will give us the peace that we need to be content.