I recently read
a profound reflection that begged the scary question: What if God based His love and His blessings for us solely based on our deeds and not His Grace?
The following sends me on my knees in thanks. Thankful that Grace is unmerited favor, that God's love is not a natural reaction to my relationship with Him, that God does not treat me the way I tend to treat others, that Grace is ultimately not a 'deal' I have with the Almighty.
It also springs me back on my feet to serve Him more, obey Him more, love Him more.
This is not a checklist of things I should do to merit His favor. It won't work by my strength alone. I know. I tried.
This is a realization that His Grace is ever present in those easy-to-forget details and edges me on to want to be closer to Him.
What if, GOD couldn't take the time to bless us today because we couldn't take the time to thank Him yesterday?
What if GOD decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn't follow Him today?
What if, we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when GOD sent the Rain?
What if GOD didn't walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day?
What if, GOD took away the Bible tomorrow because we would not read it today?
What if, GOD took away His message because we failed to listen to the messenger?
What if, GOD didn't send His only begotten Son because He wanted us to be prepared to pay the price for sin.
What if, the door of the church was closed because we did not open the door of our heart?
What if, GOD stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others?
What if, GOD would not hear us today because we would not listen to Him ?
What if, GOD answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service?
What if, GOD met our needs the way we give Him our lives?
On this extra day in the year, I am reminded of the graces I recieve every single day, without really thinking about them.
In the Old Testament, during the desert crossing, the Israelites had daily provisions from God on the ground every morning. (WP) In the description in the Book of Exodus chapter 16, manna is described as being "a fine, flake-like thing" like the frost on the ground. (v14) It is also described in the Book of Numbers as arriving with the dew during the night.
The Israelites were instructed to eat only the manna they had gathered for each day. Leftovers or manna stored up for the following day "bred worms and stank" (v20): the exception being the day before Shabbat (Preparation Day), when twice the amount of manna was gathered, which did not spoil overnight; because, (v23-24) "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it."
When I wake up every morning, a whole list of graces are staring right at me as well (Lam 3:23), and all too often I revert to being exactly like the Israelite of old. I think of the problems ahead. I count the things to do. I become scared of potentially damaging (unrealistic) scenarios. I remember my forgiven failings. I recall how others have hurt me. I focus on what I am missing in life and what I think I deserve.
So here's the reminder to myself: look down at the renewed manna, and look up at the Provider. I should be thankful for the breath I take, for the food in my fridge, for the water in my tap, for the clothes on my body, for the roof over my head, for the money in my pocket, for the mobility I have, for the ideas in my mind, for the love that surrounds me, for the smiles on my loved ones faces and most of all for the salvation of my soul and the peace that surpasses my understanding.
Look at Grace. It is right there. Delight in it. Relish it. Depend on it. Share it. Live it.
A close friend of ours has decided to stop chemotherapy treatments because her cancer is too advanced. It was a difficult decision for Giny and her husband Dave to take.
When we were going through similar difficult times in our lives, Giny helped me understand the grace that is wrought in just one day. What follows is a deeply personal letter we have sent them recently for their 35th anniversary. I post it here because I recognise that her wise words started me on my path to understanding God's daily grace.
Giny and Dave,
These 2 words sum up our deepest and hard-to-express feelings we have towards the both of you. You were (and still are) partners with us in our trying times, you understood our pains, you saw pieces of yourselves in us. When the night was darkest for us, you lit a little candle that would help us see our way. Your brilliantly simple wisdom of the value of just one day will remain in our hearts and mind forever.
You see, we had developed the habit of planning our schedules way ahead of time. Juggling family, work, church, friends, sports, etc. had become second nature. But when the 'cancer and chemotherapy' ball was added to the act, everything came crashing down.
You have taught us that God gives us just one day. One day to pray, to laugh, to love, to suffer, to work, to share, to exhort, to teach, to rejoice, to praise, to forgive, to fail, to cry, to ask forgiveness, to learn, to deepen our relationship with Him. One day to depend solely on His grace, to eat the manna on the ground and fully trust that tomorrow, His grace will be renewed again. One day, where yesterday is an experience, tomorrow an adventure and today a clean slate. One day to fully appreciate life and all it's wonders. One day to live in the present moment, with the peace of the knowing that the One who holds tomorrow works all things together for our good.
We stand strong on the foundation that, one day, we will be rejoicing together in His presence for all of eternity. So thank you for helping us see the eternal value of just one day.
I recently heard JD Greear preach at a local conference. He exposed his biblically-based view of how the Gospel affects one's personal life.
Taken from his latest book, Gospel
, JD gave is his 4-point daily prayer which encapsulates deep truths about Grace.
It has since become a daily reminder for me as well. Thank you JD.
1. In Christ, there is nothing I could do that would make Him love me more, nothing I have done that makes Him love me less
2. Your presence and approuval are all I need today for everlasting joy
3. As You have been to me, so I will be to others
4. As I pray, I'll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection
- JD Greear
In Lam 3:23, God tells us that His wondrous Graces are renewed every morning. This prompted the following question: what exact Graces does He have in provision for me every day ? Does the Bible get more specific about things God does for me every day, even if I deserve nothing ? In short: yes.
Every day, these Graces are there for me:
I am led and guided Ex 13:21-22, 40:38, Num 14:14, Neh 9:19, Ps 78:14
I am watched over 1Ki 8:29, 2Chr 6:20
I am at peace when I sleep Ps 4:8
I am accompanied Ps 23:6
I am shown my sins Ps 32:3-4
I am protected Ps 121:6
I am being accused and defended Rev 12:10
Grace, it's every day.
My prayer for today
- my state of sin and who I am comes from my fallen heart
- Christ's atoning work and the gift of grace and unconditional love
- my being forgiven, loved, and graced
- my calling which is to know and glorify only Him
Today, by His grace only, I will:
...be rigourous with myself
- strive to be more holy
- put God first, then my family, then the church and then my work
- work hard, earn my keep and give Him the first fruits
- pray, listen to His voice and follow His leading
- read His word, meditate on His word and let it dwell richly in me
- resist temptation and do His will
- exemplify the Gospel and show Fruit
- die to myself and take up my cross
- hold my promises
- cry out to Him and sing His praises
- repent, rejoice and be glad
- be controlled by the Spirit
- glorify Him
...and gracious with others
- serve Him and others
- forgive others
Today I will be careful:
- where I get my advice
- what I look at
- where I go
- what I do
- how I walk
- what I think
- what I want
- what I say
- what or how I feel
- what I read
- to talk to God intimately and personally in prayer all the time.
Today He promises me His:
Lam 3:23 tells us that God's Graces are renewed every morning. That means every time I open my eyes in the morning, God has new Graces for me.
So that got me thinking: what else does the Bible say about the morning, the night, the day ?
What did others do when they awoke, during the day and when they went to bed ?
What were the daily rituals of those who felt God's renewed Graces every day ?
May this become my daily guide to experimenting God Graces every day.
GOD CREATED AND CONTROLS IT ALL
Day and night belongs to God Gen 1:5, 14-18, Ps 19:2, 65:8, 74:16, 104:20, 118:24, Jer 33:20, 25, Am 5:8, Mt 5:45
WHEN I WAKE
I will pray Ex 29:38-39, Ps 5:3, 88:13, 102:2
I will praise Ps 59:16, 92:2 (his graces)
I will have joy Ps 30:5, 118:24
I will work Ps 104:22-23, Ec 10:16, 11:6
I will act justly Jer 21:12
I will meditate on the Word Lk 21:38, John 8:2
I am given love Ps 42:8
I am healed Mal 4:2
EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO WOKE EARLY TO
Obey: Abraham Gen 22:3, Joshua Jos 6:12, 8:10
Reconcile: Isaac and Esau Gen 26:31
Worship: Jacob Ge 28:18, Moses Ex 24:4, Israel Ex 29:38-42
Depend on God: Israel Ex 16:21
Correct an evil: King Darius with Daniel Dan 6:19
Pray: Jesus Mk 1:35
Preach: Peter and the apostles Acts 5:21
WHEN I SLEEP
I will meditate Gn 24:63
I will worship Ex 29:38-39
I will praise Jb 35:10, Ps 42:8, 92:2 (his faithfulness)
I will repent Ps 30:5
I will rest Ps 104:23, John 9:4
I will repent Jl 1:13
I will settle my wrath Ep 4:26
I am at peace Ps 4:8
EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO DID THINGS AT NIGHT
Pray: Samuel 1Sam 15:11
Pray: Jesus Mt 14:23, Lk 6:12
ALL DAY (day and night)
I am guided Ex 13:21-22, 40:38, Num 14:14, Neh 9:19, Ps 78:14
I am seen 1Ki 8:29, 2Chr 6:20
I am followed by goodness and love Ps 23:6
I am shown my sins Ps 32:3-4
I am protected Ps 121:6
I am being accused, and defended Rev 12:10
I will talk about God Dt 6:6-7
I will be near to Him 1Ki 8:59
I will meditate on the Word Ps 1:2, Jos 1:8
I will pray Neh 1:6, Ps 22:2, 55:17, 88:1, Lam 2:18, Matt 6:11, Lk 11:3, 18:7, 1Thess 3:10, 1Ti 5:5, 2Ti 1:3
I will not fear Ps 91:5
I will worship Lk 2:37
I will take up my cross Lk 9:23
I will exhort others Acts 20:31
I will work 1Thess 2:9, 2Thess 3:8
God's plan is in motion Mk 4:27
God is being praised Rev 4:8
The pain of God's absence Rev 20:10