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I’m in the middle of writing an article on loneliness as a means to drive us deeper into God’s heart and was just struck by the passage this nugget came from. The context is distress and anguish, feeling the grip of death’s crushing pull. Maybe you can relate. But the author of this psalm lifts his eyes above his circumstances and prays for deliverance. He meditates on the character of God; how He is gracious, righteous, and merciful. He remembers what God has done; how He preserves the simple and rescued him when he was flat on his back, hopeless and alone. Then comes verse seven. Circumstances haven’t changed for the author but, then again, God’s worthiness to be worshipped has never been contingent on ideal circumstances. No matter what our lives might look like right now, no matter how uncomfortable or excruciating our circumstances might be, if we have been redeemed by Jesus, we have every reason to “return to our rest;” for the the Lord INDEED has dealt bountifully with us. And He is worthy of our praise and confidence right here. •••• [Also, 1) this is not a staged photo and 2) you should go read all of Psalm 116 for yourself.]
Happy birthday to the best big sister! 🥳 You are as genuine and intentional as they get; you love deep and feel big, and I’m so thankful for your heart and life. 💜 Additionally, I’d like to know how much you were paid to hug me in this photo.
“Do not despair, dear heart, but come to the Lord with all your jagged wounds, black bruises, and running sores. He alone can heal, and He delights to do it. It is our Lord’s office to bind up the brokenhearted, and He is gloriously at home at it.” -Charles Spurgeon
“Theologians who limit the means of grace to overtly redemptive religious practices miss something about the God who speaks without words in the theater of His creation.” -David Powlison

Follow me as I follow Jesus

Monday Morning Munch No. 112 – Lessons in Grace

grace definition, michael durham

Here are some things about me…

I’m legalistic.
I like the law. It’s measurable. Black and white. I “feel” safe there because it’s easy to see what’s right and wrong.
I’m a natural born grace-resister.

And therefore it’s hard for me to give grace.

I’m like the servant who has been forgiven the enormous debt by the king only to turn around and require pennies from others.

This has been the topic of so many discussions between my pastor and I, my parents and I and, most recently, one of my best friends and I. What’s the deal?

First off, I’m a firm believer in the doctrines of grace.

Grace changed my life.

“…by grace have you been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…” (Romans 3:22-24)

Grace continues to change my life.

Grace softens and makes the heart pliable and moldable while the law, on the other hand, hardens and proves/reveals our need for the most beautiful and excellent grace of God. How? Because under the law we see we cannot measure up, rather we’re already dead in it.

We are hopelessly crushed under the demands of the law.

We need a hero. And our Hero comes through, in, and because of grace.

Grace and love swirl and blend together and spill out on mankind in the most visible way on the cross, where righteousness and peace kiss (Psalm 85:10) as God pours out the wrath we deserve (I deserve) on His spotless Son, the sacrifice for our sins.

Grace brings forgiveness.
Love.
Mercy.
Justice.
Compassion.
Atonement.
Righteousness.
Peace.

It ushers us into the Holy of Holies where we who have—by grace—repented and believed in the Suffering Savior can drink in more grace than we could ever contain.

Theologically and intellectually I will stake my life on grace because Grace, in the person of Christ, gave His life for me.

But applying grace is harder.

Why?

Because I take my eyes off Jesus. When I’m looking at Jesus and remembering the Gospel and all Christ has done to redeem and reconcile ruined sinners, it’s easier for me to give people the benefit of the doubt and extend what I’ve been given freely (grace, mercy, kindness, love, etc.).

BUT when my eyes aren’t looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, well, hello, law.

During those times, the love that covers a multitude of sins and quirks and idiosyncrasies isn’t exactly flowing through me because I’ve dammed up the river of grace with my fleshly demands of perfection and expectations of precise performances.

When someone has sinned against me or if I see someone doing something that isn’t “right” or biblically “correct,” what is my first instinct?

Correction.
Let’s fix this.

Law.
Law.
Law.

But that’s not how grace works. That’s not how God works with His children.

Why is that my default when I’ve received so much grace?

I think it’s because sometimes I’m under this false belief that grace is too soft. I think that grace isn’t what’s actually going to change people. They don’t “deserve” grace, they need the law so they see what’s wrong and repent.

…because that’s definitely worked before. Not.

Recently I’ve received a lot of grace from God through one of my best friends.

They are so patient, understanding and kind, and so great at giving me grace even—especially—when I know I don’t deserve it.

And what happens? Does it make me feel like I have freedom to sin more? 100% no.

It melts me. Humbles me. Challenges me. Unlocks my heart that’s still crusty from the self-imposed demands of perfection and unachievably high expectations.

And not only that, it makes me want to give grace better.

It makes me run to the real Grace Giver, the One whose name is Faithful and True and who rides the heavens to help us. And when I run to Him, He continues to lavish grace upon grace, which frees me to give that grace to others.

Turns out I think about grace all wrong.

Lord, help me give what I need most… grace.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
(2 Corinthians 9:8)

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