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]
These past two weeks, I continue to be reminded of floods. As we continue our series through Genesis, we were discussing Noah and the Flood, and the aftermath. As well, Facebook has reminded me of the flooding we had in 2011, with photos of local areas flooded from Tropical Storm Lee. I cannot fathom the view Noah would have had from the Ark as the earth was destroyed by flood waters.
When I look back on these flood photos from Tropical Storm Lee, I still cannot believe the area was flooded. I remember seeing photos of Knoebels Amusement Park underwater and thinking I would never again get to take a family visit to the park. Two years ago, I found myself walking around at Knoebels as if the place was never flooded. Some of the photos of the roads flooded by Lee I have driven on just last week. It was as if nothing ever happened.
All of this talk of flooding these past few weeks reminds me of the restoration of God. He is Jehovah Rophi, God who heals, Who restores. In Exodus 15, God proclaims this to the Israelites as they cry out because of the bitter water at Marah. Still today, God restores. Yes, we will suffer a little while; however, “He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” Keep pressing forward. Restoration will come!
“He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.’” – Exodus 15:26 [NLT]
“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]
In John 5, we read about the healing at the pool. There was a man that was there for 38 years in need of healing. He said he never had any help to get into the healing pool to receive healing. Jesus commands Him to get up, to carry his mat, and to walk. The man was at once is healed and he rose to his feet and walked.
Later we read that Jesus and the healed man meet up again at the Temple. This time, Jesus notes that the man is well, followed by a command. He tells the man to “sin no more.” Even though the man was healed, it didn’t mean he could continue along on a path that was opposite what God intended.
At the end of the day, it is important for us to realize that anytime we sin, we are going again God. As we walk closer to God, as we receive healing and restoration, we should always keep our eyes fixed on Him. Sometimes when we get a bit of healing in an area we wanted badly to change, we revert back to old ways. God wants to continue to make you a new person—to continue to restore every part of you and grow you into the person you are meant to be in life. It is by your continual obedience that this will be fulfilled.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ …Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’” – John 5:8, 14 [ESV]
When Elisha gathered around with the sons of the prophets, there was a famine. Barrenness, sickness, affliction and famine were seen as judgment from God for sin. As we read again and again, the curse of sin is judgment and death.
These people were in search for food. When they went around to gather something to eat, they gathered wild gourds. From the text, it did not seem that they knew what the food would bring. They simply wanted to fill their need for food. But when they added this unknown item into the stew, it became deadly. They cried out, “There is DEATH IN THE POT.” Elisha had to add flour to the stew for it to become safe to eat.
We often try to add things into our daily lives to fill voids. We are facing a famine – the curse of sin. Through Christ alone the curse is no longer. We grab anything we can to fill our needs; however, we do not always understand what we truly need. Elisha poured flour into the deadly stew. In the same way, we can seek to eat from the Word of God, and become blessed by the “meal” of Christ. Through prayer and God’s Word we are sanctified. In 1 Timothy 4:4-5 we read: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (NASB). It doesn’t matter how deadly the stew of your life has become; nothing is too dead for God to raise back to life. He will repair. He will revive. He will restore. He will redeem.
“One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, ‘O man of God, there is death in the pot!’ And they could not eat it.” – 2 Kings 4:39-40 [ESV]
There were different offerings given to the Lord including the Grain Offering. The Grain Offering was to show honor to God. Recently when I was reading Leviticus 2, I read about what was involved with the Grain Offering. There was choice flour, olive oil, and frankincense. But there was something else. Something else was added to the Grain Offering. Salt.
The salt was used to season the Grain Offering. That might sound strange to us because we think of salt as a seasoning for food that we will eat. Why would a person salt an offering that was going to be given to God? This salt was to remind the people of God’s covenant with them. Salt symbolized preservation. Salt symbolized healing. God offers us preservation and healing. This salt reminded people that God was active in their lives. He was active and he was offering preservation and healing and restoration.
Today we are still offered preservation and healing and restoration through Christ. Like salt, God can penetrate our lives and preserve them. He can offer us healing. He can offer us eternal preservation. But have you added the salt? Have you allowed God to penetrate your life? Are you allowing Him to be active in your life?
“Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.” – Leviticus 2:13 [NLT]
As I was driving home from work, the sky looked scary. A storm was nearby and the sky was gray up ahead and promised a nasty storm. There was a rain shower that quickly passed. I drove toward the gray area after a long day at work. Third Day’s song “Lift Up Your Face” was playing on the radio. I was in pain and only wanted to get home and put my feet up.
I turned the corner and listened closely to the song lyrics: “Lift up your face / Salvation is calling.” I looked up and before me was this beautiful rainbow. I considered what the rainbow symbolized and remembered His promises. I thought of a day He promised where I would feel no pain—when things would be different. I considered His love- His salvation- His mercy – His forgiveness. I started to feel a lot better.
Today lift up your face. Focus on God. Remind yourself of His promises to you—His Word—His mercy—His love. Remind yourself that He makes all things new. Remind yourself that things will not always be like this—He has promised us restoration.
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [ESV]
Today I took a walk and the lake I walk by was frozen. What was interesting was the fact that you could see all the garbage, all the trash that had floated to the top of the lake was all standing out. The first thing you would see was the garbage; it stuck out like a sore thumb. It reminds me of how when we sin, a lot of the times that sticks out like garbage too. When we are Christians, people think we can’t do this and we can’t do that. Even so, Christians aren’t perfect and we slip up here and there. That’s what everyone sees all the time. They always see those slip ups. They always see when you do something wrong– when you let a naughty word slip out of your mouth, when at a moment of weakness you start gossiping, when you get in danger of bragging about something, or when you get jealous. There are so many different things and it’s so easy to fall into sin. I am not making an excuse for it, but we all do it and it sticks out.
The thing is with that trash, it was there before. Some of it you could see and some you could not see. Now that the lake is frozen, you cannot get it out. It’s stuck until the ice melts. It’s a long process for it to melt so we must wait. In the same way, we are a work in progress. When you accept Christ, don’t expect the next day you are not going to be sinning at all and you’re going to be the perfect little thing. Romans 3:23 states that we all fall short. We all sin. We all fall short. That’s not something that anyone can argue. We can pretend, but no one is perfect. Verse 24 states that it is by His grace alone that we are justified.
After we accept Christ and we allow Him to chip away at the things that need fixed in our lives and we allow Him to move in our lives and do wonderful things and we transform and we stick to reading the Word and doing the Word, it ends up that there are not so many things floating on top of the water. Perhaps we all have some things that are frozen on the top right now that we are working on. There is great hope in knowing that God loves us anyway and He is right here with us trying to help us to get all of that stuff fixed in our lives, to repair the brokenness.
God is working in our lives as the ice is slowly melting. He is there right with us. He doesn’t turn His back and say He is done dealing with all of our garbage. He sticks there right with us. It’s a long process. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time. There is no greater time than the present to allow God to help you with the trash in your life. He’s willing to help, it’s just a matter of will you have Him or not. There’s no way to get rid of the trash without God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:23-24 [NASB]
The leaf hung on the tree
So many together
All so different
But all so green
It was in a moment
So easy to pass by
As quick as a flash
Missed by their eyes
The bird broke the leaf’s stem
Just enough to sever it
Slowly the leaf died
The wind blew, it spun ‘round
Until it hit the ground
Met no soft landing
Just left alone
At this point it was dead
Or so one would believe
But God had a plan
He was not done
This half-dead, broken leaf
It had a special job
One filled with honor
One filled with grace
God sent a special one
To swoop down, to pick up
To bring the leaf back
Simply to care
We cannot plan it all
We don’t know when we’ll fall
We can only trust
Only trust God
As the leaf sat up high
Used for a special nest
The leaf spent it’s days
The leaf was good enough
Others could not see it
God gave someone eyes
The bird reached out
This bird, very diff’rent
Not one to sever things
One to share God’s love
A special touch
And so the leaf remains
Greatly serving the nest
Helping the new life
God’s plans are never known
Trust in Him, Him alone
And peace be with you
Till we get home.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31 [NIV]