A Godly Grip On Life

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A Godly Grip on Life

I once met a man who was frustrated in seeking a new career. He had gone to dental school to become a dentist, but after spending time and money getting the education, he discovered he lacked the dexterity to be a good dentist. For whatever reason, he lacked the strength and skill in his hands to use the dental instruments.

This problem can affect a person in numerous other endeavors. You can learn all about carpentry but lack the ability to hammer a nail straight. You can learn a sport and not have the ability to perform it well. The coach will tell you, “I cannot put in what God left out; no matter how much you want to play.”

Singing, the arts, and a number of other things can be loved and desired, but never attained because certain natural abilities are missing.

The law was given through Moses but the law did not provide the ability to perform the principles it demanded. It left the devotee frustrated and defeated. Paul’s frustration with the law is indicated in Romans 7:18 (KJV):

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” [emphasis mine]

Paul wanted to paint the picture of the glories of God’s precepts, but he lacked the artistic talent. He wanted to score high in the competition against his base nature, but he was uncoordinated and unskilled. The “how to perform” element was missing.

He lacked a grip on the law of God.

Jesus was also a law-giver, establishing a new covenant. However, distinct from Moses, along with His truth He provided grace. In Christ, truth or law is complemented by grace. In Christ, there is a resource by which truth can be performed. That resource provides the ability to grip truth and to live it out.

If we use the analogy of a sword for truth, then grace provides the grip to wield it effectively. Grace provides the strength and the skill to victoriously use truth in the battles of life. The ministry of the Spirit that Jesus inaugurated enables the truth-seeker and the lover-of-the-law to grip truth for life and living. When we hear the sermon, read the Bible, or read a book with important biblical principles, we can grip the truths that we received and begin living by them. We need not be frustrated by a loose or slippery grip.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)

For Paul, God’s grace was more than something given, idly sitting somewhere; it was something at work within him. He indicates this when he stated,

“… by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (KJV)

It was God’s grace that gave him the ability to grip God’s calling and purposes, holding onto them and laboring by the grace of God.

Memory may slip and character may be weak, but the grace of God will give you the grip you need on His truth — the truth that sets you free and overcomes the bondage of Satan’s lies.

Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

Grace is Greater

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15a (NIV)

How difficult is it to push a button on the dishwasher? My vote is “not very,” but that isn’t the point. What made the whole thing ironic is that I was in the middle of writing a sermon on “happiness.” Let me explain …

My wife and I were staying at a condo we’d rented in Florida. We had to check out by 10 a.m. on Friday. Before checkout the renter is asked to do a few things: strip the sheets off the bed, put all the towels in the hallway, take out the trash, then load and start the dishwasher. My wife assigned me dishwasher duty. At about 10:05, an older man and a couple of women walked into the condo, spotted me, and said, “Ummm, we are here to clean. You were supposed to be out of here by 10.”

I apologized, thanked them and told them we were headed out the door. We grabbed our stuff and made our way down to the car. Just before we reached it, the guy came out of our room and yelled down to us in the parking lot, “Hey! Thanks a lot for starting the dishwasher. There’s only a few <BEEP things you’re asked to do and you couldn’t bring yourself to push the <BEEP button?”

I’d just finished writing a sermon explaining that because we have God, our circumstances don’t have to rob us of joy. So, you might think I would respond humbly.

Instead, I thought, Oh, you want to overreact and get sarcastic? I can speak that language. I yelled up at him, “I’m so sorry you had to push that button. I’m sure that had to be exhausting,” and then laughed condescendingly. He yelled back at me, with a few more choice words, and I yelled back at him.

The last thing I heard is him calling me “a worthless <BEEP <BEEP.” I got in the car and slammed the door. I sat there steaming about how I’d been disrespected.

My wife said, “Let’s just go.” Instead of listening, I said, “Oh, no. That man needs to hear some hard truth.” I got out of the car, and then heard my wife tell me, “Say a quick prayer on your way up.”

I headed up the stairs to confront Mr. “Can’t push the button on the dishwasher in the condo but has plenty of energy to yell at me from the third-floor balcony.” After the first flight of stairs, I felt convicted and embarrassed. By the second floor I was telling God I was sorry, and almost immediately it was impressed upon me that I needed to apologize and give the man a tip for his extra work. I opened my wallet, to realize I only had a single bill — which was more than I intended to give him. I thought, Well, apparently giving the man a tip is not what God wants me to do.

I walked into the condo, and he started yelling again. I sensed a voice inside me saying, One more round!

Even though I didn’t feel like it, I said, “I want to apologize. I’m sure it’s frustrating to come in and clean up after someone who doesn’t do the little things. I’m sorry. I want to give this to you for the extra work you have to do and as a way to say thank you.” I held out the money. Almost immediately his eyes welled up with tears. He said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” and began to apologize. Now my eyes were filled with tears. I think we both wanted to hug it out, but instead we just shook hands.

I walked back down the steps, not feeling proud of that moment, but instead brokenhearted it had reached the point it did. I asked myself, How many similar moments had I forgotten about the wisdom from Hebrews 12:15, and missed God’s grace because of my pride?

I wondered: How many times had God wanted me to show grace and humility but I was too arrogant and self-righteous? I sat down in the car, teary-eyed. My wife asked, “What happened?” I told her. She patted me on the leg and said with a smile, “Oh, it’s so cute. You’re growing up.”

It was her playful way of letting me know she was proud of me, but the truth is, when it comes to extending grace over the little things, I should’ve grown up a long time ago.

Maybe you’ve heard countless sermons about grace. Or even read books about grace. But my prayer is that you’ll see this word again for the first time. I tend to think grace is best and most fully understood not by way of explanation alone, but through experience. Otherwise, it really doesn’t have much effect.

I’ve sat through several seminary classes on the subject of grace. I’ve memorized Bible verses that describe grace. But what’s taught me the most? My own story and the stories of others who’ve fully experienced grace.

It’s my prayer you won’t miss grace, but rather will powerfully experience the grace effect in your life — and no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you will personally experience the truth that grace is greater.

 

A Godly Grip on Life

By Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.org

I once met a man who was frustrated in seeking a new career. He had gone to dental school to become a dentist, but after spending time and money getting the education, he discovered he lacked the dexterity to be a good dentist. For whatever reason, he lacked the strength and skill in his hands to use the dental instruments.

This problem can affect a person in numerous other endeavors. You can learn all about carpentry but lack the ability to hammer a nail straight. You can learn a sport and not have the ability to perform it well. The coach will tell you, “I cannot put in what God left out; no matter how much you want to play.”

Singing, the arts, and a number of other things can be loved and desired, but never attained because certain natural abilities are missing.

The law was given through Moses but the law did not provide the ability to perform the principles it demanded. It left the devotee frustrated and defeated. Paul’s frustration with the law is indicated in Romans 7:18 (KJV):

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” [emphasis mine]

Paul wanted to paint the picture of the glories of God’s precepts, but he lacked the artistic talent. He wanted to score high in the competition against his base nature, but he was uncoordinated and unskilled. The “how to perform” element was missing.

He lacked a grip on the law of God.

Jesus was also a law-giver, establishing a new covenant. However, distinct from Moses, along with His truth He provided grace. In Christ, truth or law is complemented by grace. In Christ, there is a resource by which truth can be performed. That resource provides the ability to grip truth and to live it out.

If we use the analogy of a sword for truth, then grace provides the grip to wield it effectively. Grace provides the strength and the skill to victoriously use truth in the battles of life. The ministry of the Spirit that Jesus inaugurated enables the truth-seeker and the lover-of-the-law to grip truth for life and living. When we hear the sermon, read the Bible, or read a book with important biblical principles, we can grip the truths that we received and begin living by them. We need not be frustrated by a loose or slippery grip.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)

For Paul, God’s grace was more than something given, idly sitting somewhere; it was something at work within him. He indicates this when he stated,

“… by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (KJV)

It was God’s grace that gave him the ability to grip God’s calling and purposes, holding onto them and laboring by the grace of God.

Memory may slip and character may be weak, but the grace of God will give you the grip you need on His truth — the truth that sets you free and overcomes the bondage of Satan’s lies.

Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Streams in the Desert – January 22

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

He withdrew… to a solitary place (Matthew 14:13).

There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolisly believe we have come to the end fo the song. God sends us time of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymns of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there.

God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rests. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or to change the key. If we will only look up, God Himself will count the time for us. With our eyes on Him, our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, “There is no music in a rest,” let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!
–John Ruskin

Called aside–
From the glad working of your busy life,
From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by your Heavenly Guide
For a brief time you have been called aside.
Called aside–
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not alone, when you have been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say:
“Child, will you not with Me this still hour stay?”
Called aside–
In hidden paths with Christ your Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perhaps, to feel your Heavenly Home.
Called aside–
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learned in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.
Called aside–
We thank You for the stillness and the shade;
We thank You for the hidden paths Your love has made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank You for our dark Gethsemane.
Called aside–
O restful thought – He doeth all things well;
O blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Your cross to hide,
We thank You, Lord, to have been called aside.

 

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