Tag Archives: Grace & Mercy

Come Boldly

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We have a great high priest, and his name is Jesus.  As we continue through Hebrews, the importance of this statement will become more and more evident.  The writer is talking to people who knew the role and position of the high priest. This high [priest is not just any priests.  He is the one who anoints and swears in all the other priests.  He is the one who instructs the priest on how to do the sacrifices correctly.  They did not just kill the animal, but there was a sequence of events that took place that contributed to the transference of sin from the one giving the animal to the animal.  There was a specific way to kill the animal; The high priest had to make sure this was done properly all the way through, an oversee you might say.

The high priest had another duty as well.  It was the high priest who went into the Holy of Holies once a year with a blood sacrifice for the nation of Israel, to atone for all of Israel’s sin. Only the high priest could do this on the day of Atonement.  No one else dared enter the Holy of Holies lest they die.  In this place was the ark of the covenant, which was the most sacred item in all of Israel’s history.  The tablets of stone with the ten commandments, Aaron’s rod and some manna were in that ark, and they remain there this day.  It would be an archeologists dream to find that Ark. Jesus has atoned for our sins in this same way as we will discover.

Jesus also faced the same earthly temptations as we do.  Some of them are written.  In Matthew 4 we read about his temptations in the wilderness.  He was tempted to walk away from the cross when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I have no doubt there were many other temptations that came across His path as he walked this earth.  But He never gave in to any of those temptations.  This goes to prove that there is no sin in being tempted, as even Jesus was tempted.  Those who teach temptation is a sin deny that Jesus was w sinless sacrifice.  The key is that we don’t give in to those temptations that would cause us to sin.  We must walk away, using the word of God to strengthen ourselves against those temptations.  Jesus sued 3 verses out of Deuteronomy and the devil left him!  We should know the promises that God gave us as well.

Verse 16 is one of the most widely mis-used verses in the Bible, in my humble opinion.  It is often quoted by those who believe in a prosperity gospel message.  They say we can come boldly before the throne of God and claim things are ours, as if God is a magic potion or gift giver of all that we desire in this world.  They say we should come boldly and ask for that Cadillac, or that vacation home, or to have riches or fame.  They say we should boldly hold God to His promises to bless us and give us the desires of our heart.  They say we should boldly proclaim that we can ask what we will and it shall be done.  After all, each one of these is a scripture promise that he has given us, right?

But the writer makes a big distinction in this verse about why we should come to the throne with boldness.  It is not to ask blessing on ourselves, or for worldly goods, or for material things.  It is to ask for mercy and grace.  We come boldly before His throne to obtain mercy.  Mercy for sins, trespasses and iniquity in our lives.  Boldly means confidently.  Paul was telling the Jews that they could come to God’s with confidence when they need to obtain mercy in their lives.  And who among us does not need His mercy.  I need it every day.  There are words that I say and things that I do every day that are displeasing to Him.  But as a Christian, I do not have to worry about those things.  I can confess them to God, come boldly asking for mercy, and He will supply that mercy.  That is one reason to come boldly.

The second reason is to find grace in time of need.  We have no business asking God for grace because it is a free gift.  It was given to us at the cross 2,000 years ago.  It is given ti us every day in the sunrise, the rain, the air we breathe.  Grace is always all around us.  His grace is not what we are asking for here.  We are asking Him to give us grace toward those who have needs.  Grace that we can give out, not Him to us.  As a society in the US, we have such a sense of privilege that we think we need things other countries only dream of.  I need a big screen TV!  I need cable.  I need a great car.  I need, I need, I need.  We confuse need for want way too often.  Then we cry out for God to shower grace on us so we can get these wants. Instead, we should be asking Him for grace so we can bless others with these things!  Let this be your prayer: “Lord, give me the grace to deal with that person who offended me”.  “God give me the grace to offer to help that person financially.” “God, let your grace be apparent in my life to that neighbor who is lonely and full of sorrow.”  These are prayers we can come boldly with! Let us always remember whop God is.  He is not some slot machine where we can pull an arm and have Him give us what we want.  He is the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God of the universe.  He has no obligation to grant our prayers on our timetable or in the way we want Him to.  He will always do what is best for us.  When we come boldly before His throne, We should come in all humility, down on our knees in deep reverence.  Remember, He loves the one with the broken and contrite heart, and He hates pride.  Always keep this in mind when approaching His throne.

Justified by Grace

 

Titus 3:5-7 

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

To get where we are going today, we have to revisit the last verse we discussed yesterday.  This key verse is another example of Paul’s true belief that there is nothing we can do that saves us, but only by His mercy can we come to a place of true fellowship with God.  There are a lot of pretenders out there.  There are still hundreds, and probably thousands, of preachers who subvert the gospel by tying works to salvation.  They say you must tithe to be saved, you must be baptized to be saved, you must do good works to be saved, etc., etc., etc.  While all of these things are good and all should be the result of our walk with God, none of them bring us salvation.  None of them bring that regeneration into our lives that make us a new creation.  It is only by His blood, shed on the cross, combined with our faith, which was given to us by grace (Eph 2:8-9), that we are saved.  We must ask for it.  That is our only duty.  We must ask forgiveness, turn from our sin, and allow His Holy Spirit to take control.  This is not an act of our flesh, but of our inner man crying out for His love, which was so gloriously displayed on that cross.  We must choose eternal life or face eternal death. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Once we have been saved, works of righteousness should follow.  Perhaps not right away but soon thereafter.  Paul says we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-13).  I have always maintained that after the inner salvation that comes from accepting His sacrifice on the cross as a substitute for my sin, this inner salvation must work it’s way out to my flesh.  I may not stop drinking, or smoking, or being gay, or cursing, or lusting right away.  But over time the good works of righteousness will become stronger in the than these works of the flesh.  Good works should be the result of my salivation, and this salvation slowly envelopes my flesh as I begin to learn of His word and His ways, as His light is shed on my path.  And all of us who are mature in the faith must be careful not to push these young ones too quickly.  We can offend them easily, and Jesus told us that if we offend these little ones, it would be better if we had a millstone tied around our necks and we were thrown into the sea (Matthew 18:6).  Our job is to encourage them toward good works, but not judge them as they slowly grow.  In time, as they take more delight in the Lord, the desires of their heart will change (Psalm 37:4).

Each one of us knows the struggle of overcoming this flesh.  Our flesh wants to keep us in our sin and former state.  It does not want to let go of control over our lives. The desires of our heart will always go toward the flesh if we are not engaging with God on a regular basis through reading reh word, worship and prayer.  In other words, we must put Him first.  He must have a central place in our daily routine or we will be much more likely to follow after the flesh.  I know this all too well.  I want to do all that I can to avoid this trap of the flesh in the future.  I must pray, I must worship and I must be in his word to stay out of my fleshly ways.  I cannot defeat the enemy of my life if I have not allowed Jesus to defeat the enemy within.  I also need encouragement from my fellow believers.  This comes through fellowship, especially in a local church.  Hebrews 10:26 tells us we should no forsake assembling together, The reason we should not forsake this is that we need other to keep us on the right path.  There is a lot of deception in the world and in the church today and this fellowship we have will keep us on the straight and narrow way.  I pray that each of you are involved in a local body of believers.

The cross justifies us.  That word justifies means just as if I had never sinned.  Because of His sacrifice, we can stand before God and not face a guilty sentence, He is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5).  He is the one who relates to God that we are free from sin because we have believed in Him.  There is no other way that we can be justified but by His grace.  A great acronym for grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  The richness of Hs salvation of His justification, of His purification, of His regeneration only comes because he shows us grace.  He gives these things to us freely because we love His Son, His only Son.  And when we have made this decision to love the Son, we become heirs to the promises that are contained in the Bible   I am not even going to try and tell you all these promises, but there are literally thousands of them just waiting for the one who will say yes to Jesus.  These promises cover every area of our life, from mental to physical to financial to spiritual.  He has a promise just waiting for you to some and ask. They are all in His word, waiting for you to find them.  Have you found the promise you need today?  Have you gone to God and asked Him to keep His promise, and asked with all faith and belief that He will keep that promise?  We are His children. We are heirs to these precious words that were written thousands of years ago.   May each one of us live daily in this grace that is so freely given to us.

According to His Mercy

Titus 3:1-5

3 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

I see here an area where I am seeing Christians falter on a regular basis, including myself.  We put down and demean the president and vice president, the congress and Senate with jokes and harsh words instead of paying for them on a regular basis.  We think we know better, that we can do a better job, that they are all wrong and corrupt.  We pass on jokes and cartoons and meme’s that make fun of our government and its leaders, those leaders that God has put in place, and we think nothing of it.  Maybe you don’t do this, but I find myself doing this way too often.

This verse brings to mind 2 Chronicles 7:14 to me.  We are all familiar with this verse but so few times do we follow it.  We want God to heal our land but we do not do what God has asked in order for this to happen.  The first thing we must do, before we pray, before we seek His face, before return from our wicked ways, is to humble ourselves.  I love to bake, and I know that it important when baking to add ingredients in the order they appear in the recipe.  There is a reason we mix things the right way – it makes the product come out correctly.  If I leave out an ingredient, the recipe will fail.  Imagine leaving out the sugar in sugar cookies, or the oatmeal in oatmeal raisin cookies, or the eggs in a cake.  The outcome will not be as I desire.  This verse needs to be handled the same way.  Humbling ourselves has to come first, yet we walk in our pride thinking Christians who don’t witness, or who are drunkards, or who curse on a regular basis, or who are only Sunday morning Christians are just pretty, dressed up sinners.  But we don’t realize that in putting down our government authorities and by disobeying them., we are sinning just the same as the worst sinner.

If we want our country to return to God, humility is the only thing that will lead the way.  Humbling ourselves means to fall under the obedience of scripture, not our own thoughts and our own wisdom.  Humbling ourselves means to pray for our governmental leaders even though we don’t agree with their ways.  Humbling ourselves means to not pass on those silly cartoons that circulate through email, or to not speak evil of others around us.  Humbling ourselves means to be gentle to mall, and to allow meekness to lead the way. My definition of meekness is that we always know where the power lies – it lies in God.  Not in my words or strength or ability, but in God.  I conduct myself with all the gentleness, goodness and humility I can muster and allow God to do His thing.  That is meekness. 

We should follow this because we have not always been perfect.  I certainly have not been.  I have broken every single commandment at one time or another.  I was so far away from God, and continue to drift from His side on a regular basis.  I am often ashamed at where my own pride and disobedience takes me, so I turn from my wicked ways and come back to Him.  Then I falter again. 1 John tells us that if we say we don’t sin, we are living a lie.  God has to be merciful to me on a regular basis or I will end up in the lake of fire with the devil himself.  I have been in places that would disgust you, yet God has mercy on me.   I have done things that even disgust me!  In the last month I have done these things.  I have walked down roads that certainly weren’t meant for me.  My pride takes me where I should not go, and yet God still loves me.  He waits outside the house, looking down the road, waiting for me to return to Him with humility.  When I do, His mercy drowns out my sin and restores me to my place in His Kingdom. It’s not my works that get me there, but according to His mercy.  If He has that much mercy on me, don’t you think He expects me to have that same mercy on others? I thank God for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  I thank God for my Senators and my congressmen and women.  I thank God for my governor and state officials, my county leaders and my city administration.  I ask God to bless them and fill them with His Holy Spirit so that they might use godly wisdom to lead this nation, my state, and my community.  I pray that God’s mercy will become evident to them and they will repent of any evil way and bring our country back to His side.  I know that it is not by might, and not by power, but by His Spirit that this country will return to God.  I can only affect the outcome of this country through humility and grace.  May I always display those two things in my discussion of our country and its direction.  God has the power to change the course of a nation, I do not.  God is able to do this.  Do you believe that?  I do.  May my prayers, actions and speech always reflect my trust in God, not in my distrust of man.  May I always act according to His mercy, not my own pride. And may we all come to our knees in humility knowing that we are not perfect, but a perfect God still hears our prayers and responds.  What a wonderful God He is!

Grace Be With You

2 Timothy 4:18-22

King James Version

18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Paul had confidence in God.  He had no doubt, and had endless hope, that God would deliver him from the Roman confinement he was in.  I have heard that Paul didn’t really have it that bad.  He was actually in a house and people could come and go.  He ministered the Gospel to the soldiers who kept guard of him and many became his friends and knew there was something special about this man that was condemned to death.  I can just hear Paul telling them about grace, making them try and understand this concept that is so unique to the Christian faith.  Caesar was God to them.  He ruled with an iron fist and any who dared oppose him would be put to death, or worse, thrown to the lions.  But Paul talked of a God who loved His servants.  A God who actually called us His friends.  A God who had mercy, whatever that was, and bestowed grace, blessings, riches, into our lives.  What kind of God is this?

I’m sure the Roman soldiers heard about his experience on the road to Damascus. How he had been on the way to persecute believers in this God, and even put some to death.

How he was knocked off his horse and saw a great light.  Hos God spoke to him and then blinded him.  How he came to the house of Ananias and the scales left his eyes.  How now he could see and understand the truth of who Jesus was, and still is.  I’m sure Paul told them that story.  I’m sure he told them about Jesus’ suffering and death, and why that was necessary.  I’m sure he told them of the salvation that was theirs through Jesus Christ.  And I’m sure many accepted Christ as their Savior,

I think sometimes I want to wait for the perfect opportunity to share Christ.  I want all the conditions to be right, and I want the other person to express something that would lead into the conversation.   Paul never waited for that.  He would preach Christ wherever he was, at whatever time, and under any condition.  He was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for he knew it was the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).  He knew that if one heard, they would never be the same.  In front of hostel crowds or receptive ones, in front of gentiles or Christians, in the midst of shipwreck or storm, Paul preached Christ.  What on earth am I waiting for?  It is this power that will keep me from every evil work, and will preserve me for that heavenly home that awaits.  Why am I so reluctant to share this good news with all those I come in contact with?  Why do I cower and make excuses for my lack of speech?   After all, others need to be delivered from evil works.  They are all around us.  Others want that hope of a heavenly home someday.  They need to hear this message.  I need to give it to them.

Then we come to grace.  Every one of Paul’s letters starts and ends with grace.  There is something about grace that Paul always wants to share with his readers.  Grace – Gods Riches At Christ Expense – is an amazing concept.  It says that the God of all the heavens. The God who created the universe and all that is within it, the God that is all powerful, all knowing and in all places, cares for me and blesses my life.  Grace says that he overlooks my faults and all that I have done against His law and he pours out love, peace and joy into my life.  Grace gives me the fruit of the spirit and the gifts of the spirit.  Grace heals me, delivers me, restores me, cleanses me, watches over me, provides for me, protects me and usually overwhelms me.  I don’t understand this grace.  I don’t understand why He would have grace on my life.  I am a sinner.    I am often consumed by my own life and forget about Him.  I am self-absorbed and often prideful.  How could He give grace to one such as I?  He owes me nothing, I owe Him everything.  I give Him nothing of value, He gives me all the riches of the universe. Grace, grace, God’s grace.  Grace that is greater than all my sin.

It is through Paul’s letters that we come to understand grace.  He explains it in the pages of our Bibles.  He knew this grace, and I know this grace.  Do you know His grace?  Has it touched your life?  Has the longsuffering, kindness, goodness and love of God reached into your heart and touched you?  If not, know that He wants to touch you, be with you, hold you and love you.  He wants your life to be full of His blessings, His riches, His grace.  I think this is why Paul begins and ends every letter with grace.  He wants us to know that God’s grace is always there for us.  It is always alive and vibrant in our lives.  We should never take it for granted.

Praying Night and Day

2 Timothy 1: 1-4

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;

I love the way Paul opened his letters both to the churches and to individuals. He was always so gracious and used words of blessing and words to help people remember who he was. This is a characteristic we should all use if we are inclined to write letters by hand (or type them out on a computer). In this world of email, Facebook, Twitter and the rest, letters are a rarity anymore. I know when I receive one it is indeed a blessing.

First, he says he is an apostle by the will of God. Do you view your life and calling that way – that it is only by the will of God that you are engaged in a particular ministry? That it is not because of your talents, or knowledge, or wisdom or any other characteristic you might have. It is by God’s will alone that you are doing this work – buy His good pleasure. He has given us life through His Son Jesus Christ and we should make the most out of our lives. The way we do that is by enveloping ourselves in the will of God and following the course Her has laid out for us. Anything else will cause us to run into resistance in life and we will not have the blessing of God we could have if we did follow His course.

Timothy is Paul’s son in the faith. Paul looked at him as his own son, and I imagine Timothy looked at Paul as an earthly father. There is no mention of Timothy’s father in scripture, just his mother and grandmother. Paul probably served as a father figure for him and brought him up in the faith the way a good father would. He was a mentor, as we would call Him today. One of the gr3eatest honors we can have is to be a mentor for someone else. Not only does this grow their devotion and faith in God, but it will build ours as well. We grow as we take part in their life, showing them the correct way to discipleship. Paul said “Follow me as I follow Christ.”. (1 Corinthians 11:1) What would someone else’s life be like if they carried out this word toward you? Would they grow in their relationship to God, or would they have trouble keeping the faith? We need to examine ourselves.

At the same time, we all need to have someone who is mentoring us, feeding truth into our lives and challenging us to grow in our relationship to God. Personally, I have several. My Pastor is a wonderful mentor. He is kind a compassionate and teaches me what grace and mercy are all about. We regularly talk about various subjects and how they relate to the human condition. He has been such a blessing to us. I can honestly say that most of the pastors I have had through the years were mentors for me. I am one who submits to that authority and helps wherever needed. In turn, I learn a lot from each one. We should give them that place in our lives. God has appointed and anointed them to be in a [position of authority over us. Honoring them by being a mentee is a good thing!

Paul then wished grace, mercy and peace to Timothy in his typical greeting fashion. I would love to get into the habit of starting out emails and correspondence with that statement. Imagine a world where each of us wished grace, mercy and peace on one another. There are few attributes of God that are more powerful than these three things. Some of the others we could use are love, joy and hope. Love might be taken the wrong way and joy might come at a tough time in a person’s life. Hope is a by product of our faith. But grace, mercy and peace can come into our lives at any time and are always working on our behalf. I think that’s why Paul chooses these three things to use in his greetings. I desperately need each one of them every day.

Then Paul says something that really interested me. He said with a clear conscience he could say he prayed for Timothy night and day. I have a confession to make. Sometimes I tell people I am praying for them when I haven’t been really diligent in doing that. A passing thought is usually what I am referencing, not a heartfelt prayer. I am often disappointed with my prayer life. I don’t spend the time I want to in prayer, and when I do spend that time I get too easily distracted. I even wrote a book on prayer and have trouble following the insights God gave me to write the book.

But Paul could say with a clear conscience that he was praying night and day. That means it was the absolute truth to me. He had no reservation about saying it. His conscience would not bother him for saying it. It was something he truly did do. I have no doubt that his prayers were heartfelt and meaningful; not just thrown together at the last minute like a chore he had to do. We should all approach prayer that way. Our prayer lives should be a constant state of mind. Paul write more than once about being in a constant state of prayer (Phil 4:6, 1 Thess 5:17).

In a way, I follow these two verses. I think following these verses is to be ready to pray at any given moment. God will bring things into our spirit that need prayer and we should be ready to pray for that situation when we hear His voice, Whether in our prayer language or our everyday language, we should take time out of whatever we are doing to talk to God and interceded for those in our lies who need prayer. At this I do well. How about you?

Lastly, Paul shares his overwhelming desire to see Timothy. I do not have a lot of knowledge of church history, but I don’t believe Paul ever got to see Timothy again after sending this letter. Paul wrote it from a Roman prison and I doubt Timothy ever made a trip to Rome to see Paul. So, Paul’s hope was never fulfilled and he probably knew that when he wrote this. Why even say such a thing then? So that Timothy would know of Paul’s affection for him, that’s why. We should never shy away from telling people of our affection for them. We never know when it is the last time we will communicate with them. Make sure you tell your loved ones just how much you care today!