Tag Archives: Grace

Lent Day #33 | Grace

We will take a theological turn for the next couple of days. I hope it is helpful to you. It tends to be to me.

Theology is the discipline where we study God, who he is and what he is doing. There are a variety if different areas of study in theology. We won’t be looking at all of them here. What we will do is look at a few terms that are foundational to our growth as believers of Jesus. Each of these words are simple to learn and require patience to understand. It is through the process of understanding that we deepen our appreciation of God’s love for us.

Today’s word is Grace. One of the best definitions for grace is “unmerited favor.” The idea here is recognizing God’s gift as something we cannot earn. But, more importantly, it is something we do not deserve, even a little bit. There is nothing that we can do to merit God’s grace. As a matter of fact, we could spend an infinite number of lifetimes and we would never do enough.

The question that often times emerges is, “Why not?” The answer is not always satisfying. The reason we cannot earn and do not deserve grace is due to the fact we can never undo any mistake we have made. Our grade point average will never be a 100% ever again. Even if we only committed one sin in our lives, that would be enough for us to need God to send Jesus to earth to die on the cross.

When we talk about God’s grace we are saying something in particular about how God interacts with us. We are saying God does not line us up and grades on a curve. We each are being measured against the perfect standard of Jesus, not each other. When God offers and gives us grace he does so knowing full well who he is giving this precious gift to. This is both a reason to rejoice and be thankful.

God has never gone back on a promise and he does not intend to start today. I am thankful that God does not change, has not changed and will not change. The consistency of his character is the guarantee of his ability to accomplish what he proclaims to us.

Amen and amen!

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Lent Day #20 | Repentance

This is a word far too often used by those who have not fully understood its meaning (or even experienced its reality). The underlying reality of this word has escaped many of us because we have thought of it in degrees rather than as a simple, completed whole. What does this mean? It means we think we have more time to “get it right,” when the truth of the matter would frighten us. Repentance is not something to get better at over time. It is a pivot point in our lives.

John 8:11 - Image of woman

The original intent of repentance has been described a change of mind. We are not talking about a curious thought crossing through our minds or something to just sit and mull over. When we encounter the truth of the Gospel of Jesus we have a choice to make. We can turn around or we can keep moving forward. Repentance is turning away from anything and everything not in line with God’s word and will. This is what God is expecting and calling us to. We must turn from sin, not with the indifference of an distasteful odor, but with the intentionality and seriousness of a death inducing threat.

jesus-writing-in-the-dirt

Maybe this is the problem. We have lost our fear of sin and thereby lost our fear of God. As I write this I am moved by my tendency to minimize my sin because I know how marvelous God’s grace is. This may be what Paul meant when he said the following in Romans 6.

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

What I have come to see is that repentance is not a one time choice. It is a constant act. One requiring the heart and mind to work toward holiness. What we have to see is that the only reason we do this is due to the work of the Holy Spirit of God as he moves us to such an act of obedience. As we move to closer Easter we must seek as clear an understanding as we can of what it means to be a citizen of God’s kingdom. My prayer is that you will join me on this journey.

When Rules Rule Relationships Suffer

My pastor has been teaching/preaching through a series off the book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Yesterday he spoke on the subject “More than Rules.” As Pastor David preached he said something that just stood out to me. He said,

No body falls in love with a rule.

We all are built with an desire to love and be loved. Rules do not give us this relational reality. We want someone who knows us and accepts us for who we are, fallen and flawed. I guess part of the problems is that we have to see ourselves this way first. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we do something long enough and with enough conviction we will see the love come to us that we want. The relationship has to come first. We have to learn to see one another and received one another first. Then, and only then, when the rules come, we will not use them against each other.

The story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8 reveals this. Pastor David used this story as the back drop for teaching. The gist of the story is this. A woman is caught “in the act” by a group of religious leaders. How they managed to do this is not stated, but we can imagine that it was not lucky timing. This mob drags this woman in front of Jesus and then they put the question to Jesus. “This woman was caught in adultery, what should we do? The law (the rules) say that we should stone her.”

Jesus doesn’t play the game. What does he do? He distracts the crowd from the woman, who is ashamed and terrified beyond description and starts writing on the ground. What does he write? We have no idea, and in the end it doesn’t matter. But, after a few moments Jesus makes his own announcement. “Let any one of you who has never sinned throw the first stone to kill this woman.”

We do not know how it happened, but the image, or rather the sound that fills my imagination is the sound of stone upon stone falling to the ground.

Thud.

Thud.

THUD.

When the crowd is gone there are only two remaining, the sinner, an adulterous woman, and the Judge. Yes, the judge is there. Jesus is the savior, he is the Messiah, he is the greater forgiver of sin. But, what was Jesus question? He said, “Let any one of you who has never sinned throw the first stone to kill this woman.” Jesus was the only one in the crowd who was without sin! He WAS the judge, he had every right to pick up the stone of judgment and strike this sinful woman down for her sin. But, that is not what he did. The judge did not judge because when rules rule, relationships suffer.

This fact in the story is one of the most astounding facts of the event. The one man that could have, did not. If the one man who knew the rules and lived by them did not participate in this execution, what are we supposed to take away from this moment? I think there are three ideas that we can take away from this event in John 8.

  1. When Rules become more important than relationships we have lost our way.
  2. Relationships are hard, but worth the effort.
  3. Just because you could pronounce judgment does not mean you should.

 

Conversations are great. Let me know what you think or are thinking!