Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, 'Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
Matthew 14: 27
"Shall I shrink and be afraid
'I will help thee,' Christ hath said.
Shall I flee before the foe
When His arm can lay him low?
Jesus! Rock of strength divine,
Be my watchword, 'Christ is mine!'
Shall I sigh for cisterns here,
When a fountain floweth near?
Shall I carry life's sad weight,
Weeping over my last estate?
Nay! Salvation's might shall sine
In my watchword, 'Christ is mine!"
Today's Study Text:
"But by the grace of God I am what I am."
1 Corinthians 15: 10
"A 'Whole' Lot of Love"
"Whole" - 1) containing all components; 2) not divided or disjoined; 3) sound and healthy; 4) constituting the full amount; 5) a complete entity.
What does it mean to me personally to be covered by God's grace?
Have I accepted the gift of grace offered freely by Jesus?
"Grace is God's seed of love planted in the heart of each person." - Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author, When A Woman Meets Jesus
"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us --- set us right with Him, make us fit for Him - we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."
Romans 5: 1-5
"Once a monk and his apprentice traveled from the abbey to a nearby village. The two parted at the city gates, agreeing to meet the next morning after completing their tasks. According to plan, they met and began the long walk back to the abbey. The monk noticed that the younger man was unusually quiet. He asked him if anything was wrong. 'What business is it of yours?' came the terse response.
"Now the monk was sure his brother was troubled, but he said nothing. The distance between the two began to increase. The apprentice walked slowly, as if to separate himself from his teacher. When the abbey came in sight, the monk stopped at the gate and waited on the student. 'Tell me, my son. What troubles your soul?'"
"The boy started to react again, but when he saw the warmth in this master's eyes, his heart began to melt: 'I have sinned greatly," he sobbed. 'Last night I slept with a woman and abandoned my vows. I am not worthy to enter the abbey at your side.'
"The teacher put his arm around the student and said, 'We will enter the abbey together. And we will enter the cathedral together. And together we will confess your sin. No one but God will know which of the two of us fell.'"
I love this beautiful example which illustrates the gift of grace - the "wholeness" of grace - given to you and me by our Heavenly Father. A gift we have never done anything to deserve.
When I was growing up, I'd hear people talking about "grace" often in rather oblique theological terms. I finally asked one individual whom I knew was a lot smarter than I, "How do you define grace?"
They promptly responded with this rather routine definition, "It's God's unmerited favor." I thought for awhile about this description and didn't feel comfortable with it. To my young mind, the word, "unmerited," brought up reminders of getting punished when I didn't feel I deserved it - like the time in high school when I was called to the principal's office and accused of something I did not do. All I could remember was that I didn't "merit" the lecture I got.
This negative memory only served to cloud my understanding of what God's grace was all about. Then one day, I saw a book in the local Christian bookstore entitled What's So Amazing About Grace, by author Philip Yancey. On page 70, here's how he defines grace:
"Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more...and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less."
All of a sudden, it hit me: God loves me as much as possible - period. Nothing I do will change that love. And that's what grace is all about. God's unlimited love for me and for you.
As David Seamands states: "God's grace makes us worthwhile and valuable for who we are, and not because of what we successfully accomplish." And I would add to this that God's grace tells me I'm worthwhile even when I don't accomplish what God intends in my life. Even when I fall short. Even when I fail miserably - God's grace, the wholeness, the completeness of it, surrounds me and covers me with Heavenly love. Now that's a gift I don't want to refuse!
And neither did the paralyzed man brought to Jesus by His friends. He couldn't do one thing to get himself to Jesus - he had to depend on others. What's more, he couldn't do anything to make himself better. He had no letters of recommendation. He had no political connection. He just had friends who believed. And they said, "Let's get you to Jesus!"
At the feet of Jesus, this sickly man found enough grace to cover his past, present and future. And in the next few days, we'll see how recognition of the gift of grace changed him forever. And it will do the same for you and me! As Henry Ward Beecher so descriptively wrote, "God's grace is the oil that fills the lamp of love." May your lamp be burning brightly today with God's free gift of grace.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."
Ephesians 2: 8
"Wonderful Grace of Jesus"
"Wonderful grace of Jesus,
greater than all my sin.
How shall my tongue describe it?
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
setting my spirit free.
For the wonderful grace of Jesus -
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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