Daily Archives: October 9, 2020

Come To God and Receive Mercy

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A Crown without Jewels

A Crown without Jewels
by Ryan Duncan, crosswalk.org

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

Like most kids who grew up in the church, I was enrolled in Awana the moment I had the ability to memorize John 3:16. Not that I’m complaining, I enjoyed the evenings of games and Bible stories. However, like every Bible club for small children, Awana had its share of speed bumps. One such bump appeared during a lesson where a young woman was sharing her testimony. She had just finished telling everyone the story of how her grandfather accepted Christ on his deathbed when a hand shot up in the back of the audience.

“Does this mean we can do whatever we want as long as we say sorry before we die?” asked the child. I can vaguely remember the look of panic that came into the woman’s eyes when she discovered her class was trying to cheat the system. Torn between theology and a group of minors, she opted for the easiest answer.

“Well, yes, God will forgive you if you ask him,” then reaching down to her jacket, she pulled out the tiny crown pin reserved only for the best children in the club, “but it also means you will have fewer jewels in your crown when you get to heaven.” I’m not bothered that our leader chose to use this explanation; it’s hard to describe the grace of God to a room full of third graders hopped up on gummy bears. What does bother me is the number of adult Christians who still believe this idea to be true.

“I grew up in a Christian household.”

“I accepted Christ when I was only seven.”

Many Christians will take these statements and present them as proof of their superiority. Proof that the person who just gave their life to Christ is somehow “Second Class.” Thankfully, Jesus didn’t see it that way, and said as much in the parable of the vineyard

“So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:10-16

It does not matter if you spend your entire life ignoring God or trying to build a stairway to heaven, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of Christ. But when we accept him as our savior that all changes, regardless of how old we are or how we’ve spent our past. The whole, wonderful point of grace is that it cannot be earned. How else could it be called grace?


When You Get Off Track

When You Get Off Track
By:SHARON JAYNES, crosswalk.org


“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (NIV)

Rachel and I sat on weatherworn steps leading down to a pristine beach. We had a front-row seat as the morning sun stretched its arms over the horizon. Rachel was hurting. I was attempting to love her back to health. Salty air. Salty ocean. Salt-of-the-earth friend. It is hard to beat that combination when you’re soul sick.

Rachel’s life had taken some unexpected turns. Let me rephrase that. It wasn’t that her life “had taken” some unexpected turns, as if she had nothing to do with it. She had strayed from God’s path, and she had taken some unexpected turns. She had given in to sexual temptation, and as a result, lost her marriage as well as the trust of her children and many of her friends. Rachel had lost her true self.

As we sat on the bottom step with our toes buried in the cool sand, we stared out at the glassy ocean. It was as if Jesus had spoken, “Peace, be still,” and the wind and waves obeyed. The sand, airbrushed smooth by the night breeze, had not yet been disturbed by vacationers’ feet, kids’ buckets and sunbathers’ chairs.

“We all make mistakes,” I breathed out. “Just different ones.”

Rachel turned her eyes from the ocean to a set of tire tracks running close to the water’s edge. Two shallow ruts. Parallel indentations. Ruts that never deviated in distance one from the other, as far as the eye could see. If one swerved, the other swerved in union.

“I wish life were like that,” she whispered.

“Like what?” I asked.

“Like those tire tracks,” she replied. “Us and God. Me and God. Always moving in tandem. Side by side. Hooked together. Moving in the same direction. Connected. Easy. Perfectly aligned.”

We sat in silence, staring at the tracks, both knowing the reason why most deviate from God’s path. They detach themselves from the Master and make tracks of their own. They willingly let go of God’s hand and walk away.

The Christian life is often referred to as our spiritual walk. “for we walk by faith, not by sight,” Paul encouraged the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 5:7, NASB). Another version translates this same verse, “For we live by faith, not by sight” (NIV).

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25, NKJV). Again, the NIV says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (verse 25, emphasis added).

I love the idea of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful way to live: walking in step and keeping time with the Holy Spirit’s pace in everyday life.

Rachel and I rose from the steps, placed our feet in the tire ruts in the sand and walked in their path. Singing, worshipping and praising God that no matter how far off His path we may veer, He always welcomes us back to walk with Him.


Streams in the Desert – October 9

Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t

Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you (Isa. 30:18).

Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose the fogs and mists of Ireland make it “the Emerald Isle”; and whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful verdure of the comfort and love of God.

O Christian, do not thou be saying, “Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are dead.” They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by.

Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their heads again, and will be alive very soon.

Say not, child of God, that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah, no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers.

And oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late.
–C. H. Spurgeon

“Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

“When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders’ veins turn crimson–
And the birds go north again.

“Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

“‘Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over–
Why, the birds go north again.”


Practical Examples

by Inspiration Ministries

“Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.” – Matthew 13:34 NLT

Bruce Catton was known as a storyteller. Some wrote dry, dull history, but Catton mastered the art of writing memorable stories. He listened carefully to men and women and then sought to capture the drama and details of their experiences.

Born on this day in 1889, Catton employed this approach while listening to veterans of the American Civil War. This process helped him produce factual books that were also fascinating, filled with vivid events and characters.

For example, his account of the Battle of Fredericksburg focused on the time when the rival armies camped on opposite sides of the Rappahannock River. He didn’t just describe the fighting, but he also explored the human dimension.

He told how men on both sides exchanged food and gossiped about events. Soldiers united in spontaneous song with Northerners singing songs of the South, and Southerners singing Northern favorites. Bands from both armies together played “Home, Sweet Home.” In those unforgettable moments, the war seemed to mean little to these 150,000 soldiers as they sat in an emotional silence. In the pen of a master like Catton, stories like these added color and depth to his accounts.

Jesus knew the importance of stories. Stories were central to His ministry. He sought to communicate principles in practical ways.

He provides an example for us of sharing the Gospel, so people understand what is important. Seek to tell the story of Jesus in ways that impact lives.