I’ve been struggling with a fever for days. Today I found myself on the floor at the foot of my Christmas tree, which happens to be a cross. As I looked up at the well-light, decorated cross tree, I considered the goodness of God.
Our God, holy and almighty, stooped down to us. Not only did He stoop down, sending His one and only Son to live life in this broken world and die on the cross, but He continues to stoop down again and again, meeting us where we are in this broken world.
This is grace. Reaching down and lifting up to where you are. No one demonstrates grace like our Father. We cannot earn salvation. We don’t deserve it. Yet He gives it freely to all who believe. When we believe, we are called children of God—and co-heirs with Christ. We go from sinner to saint, from dead to alive.
Every day, we need this reminder of His grace. You may feel down today, but you will not be down forever. You may feel pain today, but you will not feel pain forever. Breathe in some grace today, and then pour it out as well. We all need grace.
“He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.” – Psalm 40:2 [TPT]
Grace is amazing. It has a sweet sound. We read that, “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10 NLT). This is GOOD NEWS! Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are called children of God. We are “called to share in His eternal glory.”
Yes, we will suffer. Yes, everything will not be smooth. But this is for “a little while.” Then we can trust that “He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” God pours out His grace upon grace. Peter notes that everything we “are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for (us).” He encourages us to “stand firm in this grace.”
Today, stand firm in this grace. Understand that there is grace that is for you. Yes, God’s grace for you! It exists. He continues to pour it out to you. Show yourself some grace and stand firm in His grace!
“I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.” – 1 Peter 5:12 [NLT]
We all have heard the phrase, “Bad things happen to good people.” Often it is said when we believe ourselves to be undeserving of what comes our way. Perhaps we are speaking about someone who we deem to be a “good person,” who gets handed a “raw deal,” and we think that should only be reserved for those who are “bad people.”
The truth is that there are no “good people,” so we cannot say that “bad things happen to good people.” In Romans, we read that there is no one righteous – no one who is good. We are all bad. We all fall short. Therefore, the only way this phrase is true is to say that bad things happen to people. We know that to be true. We live in a fallen world—a broken world. Even as we find ourselves following God’s leading, we will find “bad things” will happen. We are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We are promised families will be torn apart (Luke 12:53).
Today, let us remember that bad things only happened to the One Who is Righteous. He suffered a lot of “bad things.” He carried all of our sins on the Cross. He did not deserve the wrath of God. He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15). But the “bad things” that happened to Him at Calvary were endured to the finish so that through Him we could be righteous, redeemed—that we, too, would follow Him to the Cross and the Resurrection to a new life—a life that will be all good when we are called home.
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’” – Romans 3:10 [ESV]
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 [ESV]
Oh everyone makes mistakes. Oh, yes they do; Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too; Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people! Everyone makes mistakes, so why can’t you?
I used to sing that Sesame Street “Everyone Makes Mistakes” song as a child. It was the first song I learned. When I sing that song (and I still do today), I cannot help but consider Romans 3:23, as this song is definitely a song about us all falling short of the glory of God. No matter where we live, who we are, how young or old, etc., we all fall short. We all are sinners. And we often make mistakes.
Some mistakes can easily be forgiven. Some mistakes cut a little deeper. But no matter what the case, a mistake is a disruption of the glory of God for He cannot look at sin for He is holy. Thankfully God made a way to bridge the gap caused by sin. Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose again so that we could have new life through Him.
We will continue to make mistakes, but it is important to not focus on those mistakes. Instead, focus on your God. He is an awesome God. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds more. Though hate and judgment can cause discomfort, His love wins. Where there is only weakness, we see His strength on display. Our mistakes show our brokenness, but the blood of Christ washes us white as snow. Today, let us not focus on the sins and transgressions that have broken us—instead, fix your eyes upon your God. Follow His will. Focus on His purpose.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [NIV]
Rules and regulations are important and certainly needed. If we would not have rules, there would be no boundaries in the world. People could drive on any side of the road. There would be no need to stand in a line. These are only a few examples but it is easy to see things would be very different. Structure would disappear.
Even so, there are two things that are important to remember. We must remember that none of us keep all of the “rules.” We do not follow God’s Law. Read the Law of Moses. Read the Ten Commandments. It won’t take long to see that we fall short. In Romans 3, Paul is quick to profess that we all fall short. Accept it. Second, grace is above the Law. The love of Christ, the grace of God—with this we have salvation because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
In Colossians 2, we read of people who were trying to keep the Law. Though Christ fulfilled the Law, though we no longer live by the Law, people were still trying to submit to the Law. Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch. Do not. Do not. Living with these regulations enslaved the followers. No longer were these people living by grace; instead, these people were slaves of the Law. They were asked if they still belonged to the world. Why? Because those in the world follow the laws of the world, while those who belonged to Jesus lived by grace. By following the Law, they were basically saying that the blood of Christ wasn’t enough. You decide. Where do you belong? For me, I belong to Jesus.
“Why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations? – as] Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them].” – Colossians 2:20b-21 [AMP]
I have two crosses that I wear daily. The one cross I was given as a birthday gift by my dear friend and mentor; the other cross I received from my church when I finished the discipleship program and became an official disciple of the church. One day a fellow saw that I was wearing two crosses and he asked if I could give him one. As we continued to converse, I found that he wasn’t teasing for me to give him one since I had two, but that he felt that I had twice the blessing and protection of God while he was cross-less.
I told him that we each have our own cross to bear but I did not forget the encounter. Later in the day I thought about this man and his request for one of my crosses. He felt it would bring him protection and blessing. He felt it would help him to have one of mine. It was a firm reminder that we cannot save another person—we cannot give someone something that will provide them salvation, we cannot accept Jesus for someone, we cannot save someone.
Remember this truth as you go about your day today. Your unsaved friends and family, you may be the only one who can bring them the Gospel. Those of you who went to church all your life but never independently accepted Christ, stated your belief or have not been baptized, cannot depend on the faith of your family. You personally need to declare that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. Salvation is a beautiful gift, a gift only available from God through Christ Jesus. Do not miss out on this gift. Do not miss out on what God has offered you. It is not about wearing two crosses around your neck—it is about the life you can have through Jesus.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9 [NIV]
I am doing a lesson on Genesis 1 – Creation. I am going to start off showing the children the cross paper and discuss how God knew at the very beginning that we would need a Savior. Then I am going to transition into a discussion on Creation and we are going to cut out our crosses. I am going to read from Genesis 1 and review Creation. As we progress through each day, we will fill in a box on the cross by drawing something that represents what God created on that particular day. After the 6th day, we will fold our cross into a cube and tape it together. Then we will finish with Day 7. Finally, we will split into groups and take turns rolling our cube and sharing something amazing about that day of creation. Afterward, we will gather together and review.
For the cross pattern, simply measure 8 inches by 2 inches rectangular on a vertical sheet of paper. Then draw a line every two inches so that the squares are 2″ x 2″. Then at the second square from the top, put a square (2″ x 2″) on both the left and right side.
When you cut out the cross, fold up the sides at the mid square section and then fold the extra square (the bottom square) up. Use tape to hold the sides together.
This lesson allows the children to use their creativity while learning about Creation.