The Word Full of Grace and Truth

Today’s Bible Journaling is from John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (KJV)

The amazing part of this verse for me is the whole idea that God’s Son became human, walked on the face of this earth, and became our avenue for salvation. John says in the very first verse of this book that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (KJV) The study Bible I looked at said that “the idea behind the title embodied God’s revelation of Himself to humanity.” Jesus is the Word! In order for Him to help us relate to Him, He needed to become human, experience the things we experience, and that helps us know that He understands the things we deal with on a daily basis. He also had to become man in order to provide the perfect sacrifice for our sin.

Our verse says that He is also full of grace and truth. He embodies grace and truth. If you are looking for a definition of grace or truth, look to Jesus. Grace is what God extends to us in forgiveness and in healing (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). Because of His great love for us, He made a way for our salvation and He brings healing. Our verse says also that He is full of truth. When Jesus says He will do something, or when He says something, we can fully rely on it. He does not lie, He IS truth. He IS grace.

How awesome to think that everything He endured here on earth was for our benefit! He desires a relationship with us, one that is close and everlasting. He wants us to rely on Him for everything. He wants us to come to Him in every situation…in pain, in sorrow, in confusion, in a steadfast certainty that He will be with us, in joy and exhilaration, in peace! He wants to rejoice when we are rejoicing, and He wants to cry with us and bring comfort when we are in pain and agony. He wants us to tell Him everything! When life is bringing us joy and it seems like nothing could go wrong…He wants to hear about how awesome it is! When we are grieving and feel like we are in a dark pit, He wants us to tell Him how we feel. He even wants us to question…yes, question…why? It’s ok to ask why. He’s right there to provide the answer and to comfort us.

God’s grace has been described as unmerited favor. He offers us grace for salvation when we do not deserve it. But I think grace can be more than that. Grace is God’s way of showering us with His love. Whether it’s blessings that fall on us and cause us to be grateful for His provision, or His holding back on punishment we deserve, He extends grace to us daily. He is truly full of grace and truth, and we can trust Him for everything. There is nothing in our lives that He does not already know about and has control over. That is a comfort…to know He holds the reins of our lives and is in control, even when life seems to be spinning out of control. We can rest in Him.

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Grace – God’s Gift

Today our Bible Journaling takes us to Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” (CSB) As I was doing the journaling in my Bible, I was drawn to the little mouse band. They are so full of joy and thoroughly enjoying making music! I can relate! I play my flute on the Worship team at our church, and sometimes I will sing. My heart is so full of gratefulness for God and His goodness that it must come out in my music!

Our Scripture today explains why we as Believers are filled with gratefulness and joy. His grace to us in saving us from our sins is a gift to us. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, nothing we can do to secure a place in Heaven, nothing! The Apostle Paul writes to Titus that we are justified by God’s grace. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines justification as “the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal …” I have heard justification defined as “just as if we had never sinned.” This is God’s gift to us. We are washed clean, totally transformed (regenerated), and made an heir of Jesus…we are brothers and sisters of Christ. My little mouse band is playing it’s heart out for the joy of knowing our sins are forgiven by God’s gift of Grace.

God showered His mercy upon us by offering a perfect sacrifice for our sin! That is the most awesome gift He could ever give us. So, how do we show our gratitude toward God for what He has done for us? Must I do works to ensure that I maintain that place in God’s family? No, the works I do are an offering of gratefulness and love for everything He has done for me. Works also show others our faith. James tells us that we are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. (James 1:22) Our works are not to show off to others how good or holy we are, but to reveal the love for God in our hearts. We must be careful however; because we can slip into the trap of deceiving ourselves in thinking we are righteous before God because of our works, when in fact, we are just showing off to others, and we end up playing at religion and not exhibiting a faithful walk with the Lord.

Our works should be a show of what has happened inside. It should reveal the work God has done in our hearts. I think there should be a time for us to stop and take an account of why we are doing what we do. Are we doing work for God to look good to others or are we working to bring others to know Jesus because of our gratefulness to Him for what He has done for us? All the good works we can do, things like feeding the poor, helping the sick and afflicted, visiting those in prison, etc., must be an expression of our love for Christ, and used as a tool to draw others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

This Blood

I am deviating from our study on grace for a moment, but in reality, God’s grace is plainly shown in our journaling for today. We just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. During our Easter service at my church our worship team did a song called, “This Blood.” I woke this morning with that song running in my mind. Take a listen:

As I thought about the words and heard the song in my head, I began to get an image in my mind, one of my sin being covered by Jesus’ blood, no longer to be remembered or to be charged against me. The image was so powerful to me that I knew I had to journal it in my Bible. So, I searched for a Scripture that would express what I was feeling. I came upon John 19:30, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’; and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (KJV) The thing that hits me is that when Jesus died on the cross, He did it willingly because of His great love and grace toward me. As I am sitting here listening to the song, I can’t help but be completely in awe of what Jesus has done for me. He has forgiven me of every sin I have ever committed or ever will commit. He has welcomed me into His family. He has become my Best Friend, He is my Healer, He loves me unconditionally, and He beckons me to have a relationship with Him.

The Scripture reference highlights for me that nothing more is needed to be done. Jesus finished the work assigned to Him to bring about my salvation. Nothing more is needed, not from Him, and most certainly not from me, because there is nothing I can do to purchase my salvation, only Jesus was the perfect sacrifice! The old hymn, “Nothing but the Blood”, says it all…” What can wash away my sin…nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again…nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

Not only did He die for my sins, He rose from the grave three days later and conquered sin, death, and the grave! That gives me hope (confidence). A hope that one day I will also rise again and be joined with Him in the sky to go Home to Heaven! I have nothing to fear because He will walk with me through death.

What can be more precious than that? To walk through a time that can be fearful, with your Best Friend who will bring comfort and strength just as He has done your entire life. Peace beyond anything we can even imagine overflows our hearts and souls at the thought of being with Jesus.

This morning, my heart overflows with love for my Lord and Savior! I am so grateful for His salvation, His love, His friendship, and His leadership. “This Blood” is so precious to me!

Because of Love

 

Today I’m focusing on the Easter season with this being Passion Week. Friday is Good Friday, where we remember the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. His sacrifice was accomplished because of His love for us, and because of His great grace that has been bestowed upon us in that, He took the punishment for our sins. He was the only perfect sacrifice to fulfil the requirement of death as payment.

As we look at the entire 19th chapter of John, we are taken through Jesus trial, scourging, death, burial, and resurrection. I can’t help but think that the Easter account is not just about Jesus dying for us, but it also is about how He conquered sin, death, and the grave. Jesus loved us so much that He willingly endured the pain of being crucified, the most painful death one can imagine, to take our place so that we would not have to pay the requirement of death for our sins.

John 3:16 is probably the most recognized Scripture in the Bible. Most people can recite it without difficulty. I wonder though how many realize just what that verse means, and do they believe it? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) God’s love for us is so vast, it is hard for mere humans to comprehend. He willingly gave His Son up to die for us. I don’t know many people who would willingly give their lives for another, especially someone they don’t even know. But God loves us all, He created us, and He wants us to have a relationship with Him. Through Jesus death on the cross, that relationship can be achieved.

How? By accepting Jesus as personal Savior. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (CSB) Every person born is born into sin because of Adam, and the relationship with God has been severed. There is a punishment for that sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (CSB) God provided a means of escape, a plan, to save us from the penalty of sin. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (KJV)

I Corinthians 15:3-6 says, “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.” (KJV) Jesus not only died for our sins and was buried, He was resurrected again to life, conquering death and the grave. We have nothing to fear because of this. Death and the grave has no power over those who trust in Jesus as Savior.

The Bible says that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the way, the truth, and he life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (KJV) John 1:12 explains that, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (KJV) When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we become children of God, He takes us into His family.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (KJV) We have no claim to our salvation, because we cannot in ourselves be saved. Nothing we can do can ever pay for our sins. Only Jesus can save us. All we need do is ask Jesus to save us. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (KJV)

The process of salvation is simple, even a child can ask Jesus to come into their heart and save them. All we must do is ask forgiveness of our sins, invite Him into our hearts, and promise to follow Him, make Him Lord of our lives, and endeavor to live a holy life. We can rejoice because we have eternal life because of Jesus! He is Risen!

No More Pain

Today I am remembering my nephew, Brian. He passed away on April 3, 2019. My heart is so broken. He is my sister’s first-born, and he was such a joy to have around. Although life dealt him some painful blows, he tried to survive the hits but unfortunately, his way of dealing with it was drug addiction. My sister and I tried to help him, and he seemed to really be trying, going into drug rehab at the local rescue mission a couple of months before he died. He tried to kick the drugs and was going to the chapel services and studies that are part of the therapy there. He thanked me for sending my blog posts for encouragement to him, and my sister took him to her church once when he was able to go. It seemed like he was finally on the right road.

I find comfort in God’s Word during times like this. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (NASB) God is there helping us through times of sorrow. His arms are lovingly wrapped around us drawing us to Himself. Broken hearts are His specialty! Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NASB) Right now, my family is feeling that crushing of the spirit. My life verse is Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (NASB) When I think of this verse, I see God sitting in an overstuffed chair, not a cold, austere throne, and He is saying, “Come my daughter,” as He pats His leg for me to crawl up in His lap and let Him wrap His arms around me and lets me pour out my heart to Him.
He is my Abba Father, my Heavenly Daddy. When my heart is so full of hurt, He applies the salve to my heart to bring healing. As the salve flows over the hurt and the pain, I feel His love for me healing my heart.

As I was journaling my remembrance page for Brian, I found a sticker that says, “You are worth dying for – Jesus Christ” and that is what I hope Brian finally discovered before he died. I hope through the last couple of months that he found that God loves him despite what he has done. No one comes to Jesus being perfect, we all come to Him in a mess of our own making. In fact, He doesn’t want us to try and clean ourselves up before we come to Him. We couldn’t anyway. Nothing we can do can make up for all the sin in our lives. Only Jesus’ precious blood can cleanse our sin away. Only Jesus can forgive our sins and bring us salvation.

My heart’s cry is that Brian found the way to salvation and accepted Jesus in to his life. That is also my desire for my readers, that each one has come to the realization that there is nothing any of us can do to be acceptable in the sight of God. Only by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, asking forgiveness for our sins, and promising to follow Him and live a life worthy of Him, can we find salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) I am a whosoever, you are a whosoever, and He loves us so much that the only payment for our sins had to be paid by His Son, Jesus, on the cross. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (NASB) Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (NASB) Death is the penalty for our sin, and only a perfect blood sacrifice could pay for our sins. But God showed His love and grace toward us by sending His Son to die on a cross for our sins, so that we would not have to pay the penalty. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (KJV) God’s grace is poured out on us when we ask Jesus to save us and be Lord and Master. God invites us to accept Him, all we need to do is ask. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (KJV) If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, Jesus is lovingly knocking on your heart’s door asking to be invited in. He will not push His way in, He is a gentleman. But He longs to have a relationship with you. He desires for you to decide today. II Corinthians 6:2 says, “…Now is the day of salvation.” My prayer for all of my readers is that they make that decision to follow Christ and find out that a life of surrender to Him can bring peace and joy.

God’s Grace is Amazing

For the next month we will be looking at God’s grace. Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary puts as its first definition of grace, “unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification.” So, grace is favor, “unmerited favor.” In other words, we get what we don’t deserve, and we don’t get what we deserve.

Joel 2:13 says, “Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.” (CSB) To give a little background Joel is talking about the Day of the Lord. Israel has been wayward, sinful, and rebellious. They are to be disciplined by God for their sin and rebellion by being captured by the Babylonians and be in captivity for 70 years. Joel is telling them all the horrible things that will happen during that time. However, this book isn’t just about the captivity of Israel to the Babylonians, it is also referring to the awful judgement during the Tribulation period found in Revelation. Israel was rebellious in Joel’s day and they will continue to be rebellious in the last days.

In the midst of the judgements Joel describes, he tells of how God will deliver them. He pleads for them to repent and turn back to God. In our verse today, Joel is telling the people what God has told him, and God is pleading for them to return, not just in outward appearance, but in their hearts. Today, God is pleading for us to turn from our rebellion and turn back to Him. Joel says that God is “gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in faithful love.” The judgements described are God’s way of disciplining, not hatefully or cruelly, but gently drawing them back to Him.

God’s grace is extended to us when we ask for His forgiveness and turn our hearts back to Him. His love for us is greater than we can imagine, and He desires for us to be faithful. When we rebel against God, it separates our communication with Him, and He wants more than anything to be in constant contact with us, to have a good relationship with us. God is a loving Father who desires obedience from His children, He desires faithfulness, He desires to show His love to us and give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4)

I love the description Joel gives of God’s character. He is gracious and compassionate. He shows grace to us all the time because of the compassion He has for us. He understands that we can’t be perfect, and so His grace is extended to us. He is “slow to anger”. Boy, I sure can’t say that about myself. That’s a life-long battle for me. So, when I mess up, my only recourse is to repent, ask forgiveness, and endeavor to do better, and God graciously forgives. Joel talks about tearing their hearts, not just their clothes. What God is desiring from us is not just an outward appearance of repentance, but a true repentance from the heart. God is “abounding in faithful love”. His love for us is more than we can even imagine. It hurts His heart when we rebel against Him and the desires He has for us. He “relents from sending disaster”. His grace is extended to us because of His love for us. He holds back from disowning us, if you will, because He wants a relationship with us, one of love and faithfulness.

However, there is such a thing as discipline. He must discipline us when we get out of line, otherwise, He wouldn’t be a loving Father. We’ve all seen children that run amok because their parents won’t discipline them. Those parents usually say something like, “I love them too much to tell them ‘no’”. In actuality, their actions just show the opposite. If they truly loved them that much, they would discipline their children so that they would be protected from harm and be good citizens as adults. Even though we don’t like to be disciplined, it is necessary. Hebrews 12:11 says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (NASB) The result of discipline is to produce godly living. God extends His grace in the way He disciplines us. He lovingly chastises us. He doesn’t come down on us with a heavy fist but guides us with discipline and pleads with us to turn back to Him.

Today, we can be grateful for the grace He shows us. How awesome to know that He loves us so much that He desires for us to stay close to Him, and live a life that is holy, righteous, and redeemed.

Fixing Our Hope on God

Today’s Bible Journaling is from two Scriptures, I Timothy 4:10, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (NASB) and Galatians 5:5, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” (NASB) Now you may look at these verses and ask, what do these two verses have in common? They seem to be talking about two different aspects of hope, but I believe we can see some commonalities in them.

The Apostle Paul wrote both I Timothy and Galatians, and both are talking about hope. On the surface that seems to be the only common issue. But I look at both Scriptures and think about the fact that our hope is in God, and it is through him we can gain righteousness. In I Timothy, Paul talks about fixing our hope on God. It is He on whom we can rely, He is the One who is the “author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV) The Apostle Paul is talking about discipline, that we must pursue godliness because as Paul says, it is “profitable for all things” and “holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (I Timothy 4:8 NASB) As we pursue that godly lifestyle, we look to God who gives us the ability to live that godly life, and He is the One on whom we can depend. Our hope is fixed on Him because what He promises, He will fulfill.

In Galatians, the Apostle Paul is talking about the freedom we have in Christ. We have that freedom as we walk in the Spirit. We are not under a yoke of slavery as we were before we surrendered our lives to Him. The Galatians were having problems with those in their congregation who were trying to force them to live under the law, following the Jewish custom of circumcision, rules regarding the eating of meat offered to idols, and such things. Paul reminds them that if they live under the law, they must be justified by the law, in essence, being judged by and in bondage to the law. But we have freedom “through the Spirit by faith” (Galatians 5:5 NASB) in Jesus. We are justified by the grace God offers us and not by the law. We have hope in righteousness (godly living) by being justified under the law of Grace. We see our faith being worked out through love, the love we have for God and one another, and His love for us.

As we fix our hope in God, we pursue godly living, and live a life full of peace, joy, and love, with the freedom to live in grace. Now, grace isn’t a “safety net” whereby we can “live like the devil” and expect no consequences. Just as a parent must discipline their children when they misbehave, so God must also administer discipline. It is through that discipline that we learn how to pursue godly living. As we become better at living that righteous life and being more disciplined, our hope, our faith is increased and strengthened.