Hand of Salvation

Psalm 109: 26 – 27

Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Your lovingkindness. And let them know that this is Your hand; You, Lord, have done it.

There are two aspects of these verses which sing to me. The first is that our Father saves according to His kindness. The second is that our salvation shall be recognized as the grace which comes from the hand of the Lord God, Yahweh, our Father and deliverer.

The first part is such a relief. God extends His saving grace to us not because we deserve it or have earned it but rather because He is love and kindness. What an important concept this is for us individually as well as theologically. We are relieved of the pressure of earning His many graces. We are expected to turn to Him in our need without regard of our righteousness or lack thereof. Hallelujah! Theologically, doesn’t this make the job of every minister on the planet easier? We do not have to teach you how to earn God’s favor nor continually harangue parishioners to works which will grant them God’s graciousness. I hope that God’s many kindnesses towards us stimulates kindness in us but nothing we can do will help us to earn His kind intentions. No matter how rotten any of us have been in the last week, month or ten years, He still loves us and is willing to help us in all things. Salvation and forgiveness are constantly in His hand.

Some see the glorious touch of the Lord’s grace and still deny His presence, yet our prayer is that His salvation shall be so loud, so glorious and so obvious that no one will be able to deny that it was the hand of the Lord. Father, send your angels with your Word to bring salvation to the earth. Save us, Lord, from our daily perils. Meet our needs by your richness in Christ and shower us with your never-ending mercies. Cause the world and worldly to see you face and your grace. You cause the son and the sun to shine upon the saved and the unsaved; your rain waters us all. Let each person receive of your bounty and be filled. Father, you are the Righteous One. Let us revel in your presence and the beauty of your face. We seek you Lord and beseech you on behalf of all people. Let not our sin fall upon us but rather your mercy. We offer you praise and thanksgiving for caring about us and caring for us. Be praised dear Lord. Amen.

The Crimson Lens

Romans 5:9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

In 2015 I wrote a devotion titled “The Crimson Veil.” The substance of that article is about the effect the blood has on our relationship with the Father. When He looks at us, He looks through a crimson veil, that veil being the blood of Christ. God sees Jesus’ righteousness and worth when He looks at us because He looks through the veil of sacrificial blood. Speaking for myself, that is a powerful image and certainly helps me understand who I am in Christ. And, it is a relief because which of us wishes to stand in our own right?

I had another thought about the crimson veil, though. You have heard that we all perceive the world according to our own filters or through the lens of our world, hence the rose-colored lens. It dawned on me that if I saw the world through a crimson colored lens it would most certainly color my perspective. What if I was able to see other people through God’s crimson-colored lens? I think that would change my world, and that would be a good thing.

Imagine if we all looked at the world through crimson-colored glasses. Think of some of the challenges of 2020 and then put on Dad’s glasses and look at them anew. Does it change our thoughts, our prayers? What does the world look like when it is covered in Jesus’ blood? Oh my!

This one observation shows why God cannot be the judgmental, vengeful God some people make Him out to be. He sees Jesus’ blood everywhere He looks. Imagine if Christians saw every other person through the crimson lens. What if, when we looked at someone who might not even have a redeeming character, we, none the less, saw them splattered with that precious blood? How would that change things? Well, it is something to pray for. I think I would be much more gracious and accepting. Wouldn’t anger recede? What about a sense of betrayal? Think about someone who really gets under your skin and imagine Jesus’ blood covering them. Isn’t it harder to feel the anger and frustration that you might normally experience? Maybe we should all take a deep yoga breath, slowly and fully exhale, and picture our adversaries covered in the sacred blood. I believe this could change the world and in a hurry.

Fish or Snake

Matthew 7: 7 – 11, 12

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

This passage has been on my mind a lot lately, but I wasn’t inclined to write on it. Not every verse that comes to me is for the Word of the Day. Some are just for me. It kept circling around and around though, different parts of it at different times because, as you see, there are several parts to this. It wasn’t until I sat down with my Bible and read through it that I realized that verses 7 through 11 were part of the same message. I was thinking about our Father being a good father who would not give us a snake if we asked for a fish. Then another day ask, seek, and knock came to my mind. I wasn’t putting it all together in my head. Then when I actually took the time to see the words, I found another interesting tidbit, i.e. verse 12. What is going on here? There appear to be at least three thoughts here, yet it seems Jesus delivered all this, practically, in one breath. Could it be these are all related?

That is the message I received out of this passage. God is not denying me anything, or you. We should ask expecting to receive, seek expecting to find and knock expecting God to open the door to us. However, the grease on the hinges of the door just might be the way I treat people. Worse, what if the way I think about people or talk about them, even in private, affects my receiving, finding and opening?

I am trying to learn to be much less judgmental and much more compassionate. One person’s acts, thoughts or words can look very wrong from our perspective and not even wrong in a sinful way but just “not right.” That is a hard lesson. Sometimes the world is very different from their spot on the earth and that difference yields different thoughts and choices. So, from my perspective their decisions may look completely ridiculous but be completely rational from theirs.

Even when you know someone to be wrong, there are times you just have to let them be. I am a teacher, so I want to teach. I need, though, to learn not to judge them or their ideas bur rather just accept them where they are. What a challenge! However, I think this is part of what Jesus wants from us. It is not a blessing to others when I judge them.

The judgement and condemnation we pass on others just might be causing our door to remain stuck closed. That is frightening. What do you think your Father has to say about this? Do you journal with Yahweh? This might be a good question to take to Him. What, if anything, does verse 12 have to do with 7 through 11?

Our Father wants to give us good gifts and bless us. He said to ask, and we would receive. Perhaps if we think about and speak about people in a gracious manner it will be easier for us to receive of His goodness.

Cleansing Waters

Genesis 6: 17

I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.

Was the flood an act of grace? Does that sound like a ridiculous question? I received a comment mixed in with the prayer requests this week. The author was perplexed at how God could “kill” so many people especially since murder is a sin. It set me to thinking and hence the question I first posed.

How would you analyze this problem? Well, I began by knowing that God is love. If you believe the story of the great flood is true, then do you also believe 1 John 4: 8, “God is love”? I do believe God is love, that His very essence is this thing called love. I also believe that He can do nothing apart from His essential self, love. How, then, can this loving Father have been responsible for the great flood?

I believe it was an act of grace and as you study the Bible, I think you will see more of this. The earth was in bad shape. In fact, it was on the brink of catastrophic destruction. When Satan rebelled and was cast from heaven a host of angels went with him. Later, these spiritual beasts decided that human women were beautiful and so visited earth and fornicated with human women. The result was a race of people who were violent and evil. They killed off many of God’s people and rained havoc in the earth. They would have destroyed everything God created, including humanity, had God not intervened. Only by destroying life on earth could He save it. Therefore, it was because God loved human beings that He sent the flood.

What do you think? Can you see how grace, love and mercy forced God to act in a dramatic fashion? Had He not acted, none of us would be here today as the entire human race would have been wiped out.

When you try to figure out God and the events in the Bible, look for love. The love signature will always reveal the truth of these events.

The “One” Sin

Romans 5: 20      TPT

So then, the law was introduced into God’s plan to bring the reality of human sinfulness out of hiding. And yet, wherever sin increased, there was more than enough of God’s grace to triumph all the more!

I hear comments, and I know you do too, about how the world, and even our own cities, are falling into greater and greater sin. Some speculate that God is not as active because sin has become greater, or more prevalent. One day when I heard someone speaking in these terms it made me wonder what sin we are engaged in these days that is causing the breakdown of societies. There really is nothing new under the sun. You can read the Bible and see that. The Israelites created idols while God was leading them to the Promised Land. How much more blatant a sin can there be? What is it that is going on today that is any different than in previous times? What is the sin which is destroying us?

As I pondered this question, I sought the one with all the answers, and do you know what, He answered me. He showed me two points: first, the one great sin which is our problem and second, that conventional sin isn’t really the issue. Where sin has increased, God’s grace has increased more. No matter how great a sin problem we have, if we understand today’s scripture then we know that God’s grace expands to even greater volumes. So, there is a sin problem, but then again there isn’t because God’s grace is greater than any sin committed by man.

So, what is the problem? The way the Lord said this to me was, “There really is only one sin, one great sin and though this is not what people refer to when they speak of the increase in sin, it actually is the root problem from which all other sin is derived.” Does this surprise you? Are you anxious to know what the “One” sin is? I was. The problem we have, the one which is destroying the fabric of society is the sin of attrition. Spiritual Attrition is the slow wearing down of our Christian faith, but it is more than that. The core issue is that fewer and fewer of us seek God. The Lord showed me that the real problem is separation from Him. He has grace for the sin, but He does not have a remedy for people who choose not to partner with Him.

The great sin of the world is separation from God! And you can quote me. If you think about it, that is the same problem God constantly addressed in the Old Testament. The people kept turning away from Him. Once they took their eyes off Him, then they fell into all sorts of sins, even to serving foreign Gods. When Israel sought God, they flourished. When they fell away from Him, they suffered lack and hardship. Their sin grew too but sin isn’t the problem. When a people serve God, when they spend time in His presence, they have no desire for the “sins” that we often sculpt into lists. Unbelief and abstinence from prayer and seeking are the problems that undermine society. God can deal with sin when people believe in Him but when the nation turns its face from God, there is no one to pray, no one to intercede. Who heals the land of a nation that does not believe in nor seek God?

Even as Christians, we are forced into some important questions, questions that I had to face in this conversation with God. In what ways or in what areas am I separated from God? Is there a part of my life which I keep separate from Him? Do I go to work everyday without Him or even thoughts of Him? Where is He on Monday? Tuesday? Am I seeking Him in all aspects of my life or have I divorced Him from part of my life? We probably all have little spaces in our lives where we have yet to intertwine with the Lord Jesus. If we have little separations, little areas where a vacuum exists, then who shall lead the uninitiated.

We don’t have a sin problem.  Jesus and Father took care of the sin problem.  Here, world, is the real problem. We have separated ourselves from God and not only is this the one truly big sin, but it is also hell. To the degree we do not involve Yahweh in our lives, we are living in sin and experiencing hell. God would give you encouragement though, because now that we know what the actual problem is, we can individually and collectively take measures to correct it. Ya wanna talk about hell? Or pontificate about sin? They both exist right outside our front door. The good news is that we also have the power to free the world from both. Seek the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul – then teach others to do the same. This is how we save the earth!

Rest in Grace

Matthew 8: 5 – 7

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

Here is the latter revelation, which I mentioned in yesterday’s Word of the Day. Epiphany number two is that there is rest in grace. In fact, I would say, that the ultimate expression of God’s grace is rest. How, you might ask, do we get rest from the word grace? Well, let’s see.

I won’t bore you by going over every word in the dictionaries. Instead, let’s think of it this way. Grace is a gift bestowed upon us by the Lord. One of its keep components is that it is unearned. Interestingly, though, another aspect of the words we translate into “grace” is thankful. Is a picture beginning to form? We also talk about God giving us the grace to accomplish a task. This usage is very much like empowerment. His grace empowers us to do that which God has called us to do. Therefore, it is not in our might, or even in our skill or intelligence that we perform. It is by God’s grace that we can do anything for apart from Him, even Jesus said he could do nothing.

So, we “enter” into His grace being thankful that though we did not have to earn it, He has bestowed His favor upon us so that we will be empowered, through His grace, to do all that needs doing. We do not act in our might but rather in His. We can relax and breathe because He is the power. He is the ability, we but the hands of His labor.

What then is our labor? Well, that is to enter into this rest. Do you remember the verse from Wednesday – Ephesians 2: 8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The way we obtain salvation is the same way we receive His grace. It is by faith. We are to enter into His gates and how ridiculous would it be for us to enter into His abode and then run around all stressed out trying and striving to accomplish anything? That is ludicrous, really. Our task is to relax and listen to the Father. Then we apply faith to what He tells us and, voila, the work is done. I am not saying to lie on the couch and eat bon bons. I am saying that the work is getting to inner part of your and building a fortress of faith and trust. Our labor is in renewing our minds and intertwining ourselves with the Father so that when He speaks, we can respond in faith rather than in works or self-righteousness.

Lastly, the reason I chose today’s verse is because I have been amused and even astounded by how Jesus would change the course of his day at the drop of a word. If ever there was a person who could have used the “busy” excuse for not resting or not redirecting his steps, it was Jesus. However, as I have said before, “busy” is a four letter word. Jesus was never so busy that he could not do as the father directed. He didn’t get stressed out. He didn’t overcompensate, nor did he complain. He stayed in the Father’s perfect peace. I am sure Jesus had a different plan when he arrived at Capernaum but when need presented itself, Jesus responded. He changed his plan and was ready to head to this person’s house. Grace intervened, though, that is the supernatural empowerment to do the Father’s bidding. The centurion recognized Jesus’ authority and told him that he was not worthy for Jesus to come to his house but rather, just speak the word and it would be done. And Jesus spoke. The centurion’s need was met and Jesus barely broke stride. He stayed in peace and God provided everything. Amazing! Jesus didn’t have to work hard, he worked in the Spirit.

One other comment about Jesus and busyness contrasted to resting in God. Jesus often went away to the mountains or the wilderness to meditate and pray. He took his disciples out of the work they were doing and called them into rest. There might be something to all this. Just sayin’.

Grace Extended

Proverb 3: 34

Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

While the simplest, and perhaps most functional, description of the word grace is “unmerited favor” it is far from a full understanding. If you run a search on the word grace and read all of the verses in which it appears, you will see that for yourself.

That which began my look into the word grace was actually an observation about judgment. I wrote in my journal, “there can be no grace where there is judgment.” That was my epiphany at that moment. It began me thinking about this “grace” we hear about. Two outstanding revelations have shown themselves as I have studied this word. The latter will be the subject of tomorrow’s Word of the Day. Today, the meaning of the word “grace” which has me mesmerized is, “acceptance.”

Lying on my writing desk right now is my Strong’s, my Bible, a Vine’s and Nelson’s Bible Dictionary. They are threatening to collapse my desk under their combined weight. The weightiest of all, though, is their exhaustive description of grace. I will refer back to them in a moment but there is another book here in front of me. It is a by Dr. Jim Richards and Chaim Bentorah and features ten words explained in the original languages. In the chapter on the word grace, Bentorah wrote, “There is one other definition of Chen and even Charis other than grace, it is acceptance.” Chen is the Hebrew word for grace and Charis, the Greek. Bentorah identifies one of the other synonyms in English as “acceptance.” That is a stunning, but then again, intuitive disclosure.

As I searched Chen and Charis in this mountain of resource material beside me, I saw that the scholars agree with that assessment. God’s grace includes acceptance. That rings true intuitively because how meaningful is “unmerited (unearned) favor” without acceptance. God called out to each of us inviting us into His family. He accepted us, as we were, and poured the righteousness of Jesus’ blood over us so that we could enter into His peace and dwell in His tent.

This chain of thought leads right back to judgment. It is logically impossible for either us or God to extend grace and acceptance while criticizing and condemning. We must choose. Either God is grace and mercy, or He is judgment and condemnation. Which is it? As applied to me, I choose to accept God’s grace. That isn’t a difficult intellectual question, theologically. The challenge is when I, or we, extend our theology towards others. Then we must either retract our judgmental approach towards others or evaluate if we really believe in a God of grace. Here is where the modern church often comes off the rails. We are challenged to keep the symmetry between ourselves and those “heathen” out there. We forget, sometimes, that we were once they. This is exactly why you hear theology of a God of love coming out of one side of the church’s mouth and a God of wrath coming from the other. We become very schizophrenic in our theology.

Let me make this simple. Our God is not only a God of love, He actually is love. He can do not thing which is inconsistent with love. That is why He is grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance. That is why He put His son on a cross for us. He knew our shortfalls. He knew our ridiculousness. None the less, love compelled Him to take all that judgment you hear about and heap it onto Jesus’ back. Only then could He express Himself towards us. He had to remove the judgment problem so that He could show His acceptance and shower us with favor.

In order, then, to heal the church from its emotional schism, we must extend the same acceptance to others, all others. This is the way, because Jesus is the grace of God. “We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are,” (Acts 15: 11). By grace we have been led to the throne of God. By grace we help others find their way too. Therefore, we will refrain from judgment and extend our hands in acceptance. In this way, we will show, and share, the grace of God.