Grace

Colossians 1: 11          NLT

We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

If I could say this better than Paul did, I would. However, he so wonderfully hit upon exactly what we all need. This struck me as something he could have written yesterday as he was thinking about the Corona Virus crisis and all its attendant problems from supply shortages to economic fluctuations and the rest. I suppose, each generation has its challenges, and we are all in need of the same grace, comfort and divine strength as the previous generation.

Has there ever been a season when your patience was stretched further than it has been in the last two years? Endurance?! You bet we are in need of endurance. We certainly need strengthening. I’ve seen so many who are run down to the last ounce of their endurance, but God picks them up and off they go again. We have all been tried in what seems every possible way these last two years which is why we need a prayer like this, and I do pray this prayer over you all today.

There is a word which encompasses all the blessings Paul prays for. It is grace. Grace is hard to define but you sure know it when you see it. One definition for it is courteous goodwill. I like that. It shows the poise and kindness of a Father who could deal out punishment but chooses not to. Goodwill represents the Fathers consistent best intention for you. I think of courteous as well mannered, elegant and classy. It is that kind of goodwill his grace shows us. He empowers and sustains us with the gentleness of a Victorian gentleman. His words are kind and gentle, a balm for a troubled spirit. His grace isn’t demanding but it is uncompromising. Father’s grace picks us up when we stumble. It treats the wound and restores us. Grace is a beautiful thing.

One might also be intrigued that Paul would preach joy and thanksgiving considering he wrote this letter from prison. He had a personal revelation of God’s grace coming on the scene to meet needs. Paul experienced God’s power strengthening him, giving him the patience and endurance he needed. We, too, are in need of the sustaining power of grace. May it overwhelm your problems and refill your tank today.

Weakness to Grace

Proverb 25: 21 – 22

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

What do you think of this passage? Is this counsel about heaping guilt and shame on your enemy or is it about showing kindness because that is God’s way? I have always thought it was the latter and that the heaped coals are simply a by-product. Seeing what we now learn in the New Testament, seems to confirm this idea.

God saved vengeance for himself (Romans 12:19) and Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5: 44). Today’s verse, then, is right in line with New Testament theology. Most of you know God calls us to be charitable towards those who persecute us, so that is not the revelation of the day. It is a good reminder, though, because none of us wants to pray for the person who is a thorn in our flesh. This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. This is grown up Christianity.

Paul had the same problem. You see, he had a thorn in his flesh as well (2 Corinthians 12: 7). He asked God to remove the painful impediment, but God taught him that the solution to life’s challenges is God’s grace. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9 TLV). So, I am not trying to tell you, today, to do what you already know God has told you. I am trying to help you find the means to do the impossible because if you are like me, and many others, praying for your nemesis is a hard thing to do, especially when they continue to be a thorn in your flesh. God knows what He is asking of us and knows it is impossible in our strength, so He has blanketed us with His grace so that we may do all things. The theme, then, of this Word of the Day is more about God’s grace as He supports you than about feeding your enemy. I think it is timely too because I know many of you are more challenged during the holidays than any other time.

Here is my prayer for you: Father, cloth these, your beloved, in tapestries of grace and mercy. Comfort them and embrace their hearts with your love. Help us all, Father, to do as you direct us. Pour out your grace upon us and manifest your power through our surrender. Cause your strength and will to shine through our weakness so that your glory fills the visible spectrum. Help those who hinder us. Show them your grace and give us favor in your sight and in the eyes of all people.

Changed Heart?

Psalm 77: 10       TPT

Lord, what wounds me most is that it’s somehow my fault that you’ve changed your heart toward me and I no longer see the years of the Mighty One and your right hand of power.

Yesterday we saw the angst of Asaph. He groaned at the mere thought of the Lord because He felt that he had lost favor with God. What he felt was real chagrin. It pained him to think about where he stood with God and this verse explains why that thought pained him so. In his heart of hearts, he suspected that God’s coldness towards him was his own fault. I think we can all relate.

There are times when we feel very close to God and times we don’t. There are times I know He is with me in a very real sense and other times when it seems He is in heaven looking down on me. I would much rather have Him with me as I know you would too.

If you once enjoyed the power of God in your life, then the absence of it makes life mundane. If you have ever tasted the glory of God, then an existence without it loses its luster. Worst of all, deep down, we know that something in our lives has changed which is impeding those moves of God and even, as in Asaph’s case, God’s very presence. Knowing this truth grieves the heart but, it also empowers us because it means that we have power to affect change and I like that. If I am the problem, then I can seriously impact the outcome. I can change me and the best part of that is that God will help me. He is always waiting to bring us back into closer fellowship. Ain’t that great?

Asaph made an important declaration above and he made it to the right person. He shared his heart and misgivings with God. Once you get to the point where you can share your heart with God, the problem is all but rectified. Expressing those tender emotions, doubts, fear, and even thoughts is the gateway to resolution. Once you get that out, especially when articulated directly to Yahweh, He can move in and begin to help you. “Dad, I might not be where I want to be but I know you are the one who can help me.” With that, the hard work is done. Really!!

If you are not enjoying all the presence of God you wish to, then tell Him your thoughts and desires. Invite Him to help you grow closer to Him. Then listen to the quiet thoughts of your heart. You are going to be so surprised and how quickly He responds and some of the lovely thoughts He has.

And, have fun drawing closer, and closer to Him.

Power

Acts 1: 8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.

We know something about God, and we know Jesus but who, really, is the Holy Spirit? The answer is that He is the power of God, the creative force of God. In the first chapter of Genesis we see that the earth was formless but the Holy Spirit was moving (or hovering) over the surface of the waters. Then God spoke the word and the Holy Spirit responded to that spoken word and created all that God spoke. So, by the Holy Spirit God created the earth.

Then we see in Luke 1: 35 that it was the Power of God through the Holy Spirit that caused Mary to conceive. There is the creative power of God at work. All three persons of the trinity have their place. They each have their own roles and characteristics. We are beginning to learn who the Holy Spirit is. When we do, we will be able to work with Him more effectively.

He is the one who is in the earth right now and who was promised to remain with us forever. He was sent to be our helper, guide and teacher so the more we can understand his role in our lives, the more we can learn and the more we can be led by Him. It is by His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are able to positively affect our lives and the lives of others.

And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving (hovering) over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1: 2

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Luke 1: 35

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Luke 4: 14

And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. Luke 5: 17

And you know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power. Acts 10: 38

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15: 13

…in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit…” Romans 15: 19

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 1 Corinthians 2: 4

[T]o be strengthened with power through His Spirit. Ephesians 3: 16

[F]or our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1: 5

Ashamed

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

To fully appreciate this verse you have to first remind yourself what salvation means to the Jewish writer. Salvation to the Jew is much broader than our narrow view. Many people think of salvation only in terms of not having to spend eternity in hell. Yes, that’s part of it but to God and to Paul salvation would be akin to Shalom. It means that we are saved in every aspect of our lives. And that clearly means the here and now.

To a person that is sick, the gospel is the good news about a healing God. To a person with an addiction, it means released from the bondage of that substance. Salvation is applicable in a marriage, in your emotions, and truly, every aspect of life. So, the good news about any brokenness is the gospel.

Paul was not ashamed to tell people the good news when he saw their lives broken. He knew that the good news about Jesus would save them from financial devastation, from a broken heart, would heal their bodies and their relationships. He wasn’t ashamed to let people know that falling in love with Jesus would be good news for their bodies, souls and spirits.

He also recognized that both the Jews and the Greeks needed to hear the good news about Jesus’ restorative power. To my way of thinking, I could say, we need to share the good news about how Jesus can touch a person right now to both Christians and non-Christians. Too often we think salvation is only for those who have never met Jesus but there are a lot of hurting Christians who need to be reminded that God loves them and has healing power in His wings. The need to be reminded the God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have very present power for everyday problems.

Yahweh is an everyday God. Jesus is the good news about every problem we face this day. His earthly ministry and sacrifice did way more than just assure us a place in heaven. He came to earth to give us abundant life right here and right now. That is salvation, that is Shalom – nothing missing, nothing broken.

When you see someone hurting, whether a Christian or not, share the good news of the gospel with them. It is power. If you can’t quote scripture, just tell them the good news that God loves them, Jesus loves them, and the Holy Spirit has been sent into the earth to help them with their problems today. Pray with them, pray for them. Encourage them to start reading the Bible and hearing the good news for themselves. Don’t be ashamed to share the gospel with them for it is the power of God, it is the power they need for their hurts and injuries.

Energy Drink

Psalm 63: 2             TPT

I’m energized every time I enter your heavenly sanctuary to seek more of your power and drink in more of your glory.

This is another Psalm of David’s. He did not write every psalm, but he did write a good many of them. Verse one reminds us why God said David was a man after God’s own heart. It reads, “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Isn’t that good?  From this beginning point David goes on to expressing two important thoughts. Notice though, that he begins in adoration of the Father. I believe that may be a significant fact explaining David’s success.

Verse two goes on to reveal that David believed he routinely entered God’s heavenly sanctuary. That’s quite a statement! How did he enter the Father’s heavenly sanctuary? It must be that in David’s times of meditation he visualized himself entering the Father’s haven. Selah, pause and consider that. David is matter of fact about this part of verse two. It is just the set up for what he wants to say. That tells me that to David this was routine and nothing worth commenting upon. It is just what he did. He entered into the Father’s presence regularly.

I have noted that modern Christians often pray for God to invade our space. First, it shouldn’t be an invasion. He should be welcome here all of the time. The bigger point, though, is that we seem to be keen on inviting the Father into our space but perhaps not quite as intentional about visiting him. There is nothing wrong with asking Dad into our activities. That’s a good thing. It seems clear to me from this passage, though, that we should regularly visit Him at His house.

Second, it must be okay to seek God’s power. It is right here in a psalm. Father didn’t correct David for going to the throne room seeking more of His power. In fact, He apparently granted David’s request in ever increasing amounts. David drank in the Father’s glory. He looked upon the Father in His grace and majesty and was renewed, physically, but likely spiritually, emotionally and mentally as well. David came away from His time meditating WITH the Lord, energized. Wow! Is this going off as loudly in you as it is in me? We gain energy from hanging out with God at His house. Moreover, we are allowed to go to His sanctuary to stock up on energy and seek God’s power and glory.

I find this an empowering verse and I certainly hope you do too. We don’t have to continually, nor solely, pray for God’s glory to infiltrate the earth. That’s great but any time any of us wishes to bathe ourselves in the Father’s glory, we have a standing invitation to the Throne Room of Grace which is full of mercy and refreshing. You can show up and drink in His glory. That is astounding to me. Are you thirsty? I know I am. Let’s see how God’s glory satisfies.

Highly Combustible

Ephesians 1: 18 – 20         Complete Jewish Bible

I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people, and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him. It works with the same mighty strength he used when he worked in the Messiah to raise him from the dead and seat him at his right hand in heaven.

Although we looked at verse eighteen yesterday, I included it here for continuity’s sake. You might also like reading it from this version. I do.

Paul’s purpose in verse nineteen is to divulge the might of God’s power at work in our lives. There are two very telling items in his statement. First, this surpassingly great power is working IN us. That’s interesting. In other words, the power of God is not external. It is internal. That might be eye opening. God’s power is at work in us. That means we are a party to this surpassingly great power. We have a role to play with His power working in us and through us.

Here is the caveat and the other interesting bit. God’s mighty power is working in those who trust Him. Now wait a minute. I thought His power was on hand and particularly in His hand for all who confess Jesus as Lord. Why didn’t Paul write it that way? Let’s look at the Passion Translation for a clue to answering this question. “I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you!”

Notice the addition of faith. It is our faith mixed, in trust, with the Father’s power that brings about desired results. This surpassingly great, immeasurably vast power is yours by faith. Does that sound like a cop out? Well, maybe a little because it means that we have to mix faith and trust with Father’s power in order to have it working in us but that is why Paul prayed for the eyes of our heart to be opened. God’s power works in our hearts by faith and trust. It is like an internal combustion engine. You see the output of the engine on the exterior, but the power is actually generated on the inside. Within the cylinder of your heart, faith and trust mix and explode like the gasoline and air when the spark is introduced in an engine. The power of God is ready to combust. Just add some belief and trust and you have the workings of a power generator right inside you. The power for every goal to be achieved and every dream fulfilled is inside you right now. Ignite your passion and Dad’s power with a bit of faith and trust and your engine will take you anywhere you want to go.