But He Gives More Grace

If you’ve ever sat next to me in church you’ve probably noticed I have no shame toward writing in my Bible. In some books I wish my teenage self had more selfcontrol with the highlighter, but in general I love being able to look back and see my growth, remember illustrations from various sermons, and connect the dots on themes throughout scripture. 
For this past month I’ve been reading in Ezekiel, and it’s been challenging for me to say the least. It starts out with this beautiful image of God revealing Himself to Ezekiel in the brightness and glory of a rainbow after a rainstorm — God’s symbol of peace — and throughout the book it shows God’s wrath being poured out on His people. It seemed conflicting to me. 

But the more I sought the Lord about it, the more He showed me that His grace is scattered all throughout this book. I wanted to see His grace more clearly, so I started to write the word “grace” beside every second chance and show of mercy that God gave Israel. 

Chapter twenty catalogs the journey of God bringing Israel through the wilderness. Over and over He makes new convanants with them, and gives grace when they break the past covenants. He shows grace upon grace. 

He calls them in chapter 18 to “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourself a new heart and spirit.” By grace He offers the means of redemption, and the meathod by which they can follow His statutes — a new heart and spirit. 

Amidst righteous anger there is a gracious heart desiring His people to cry out to Him. 

I am reminded of one of my favorite lines of the bible. “But He gives more grace…” James 4:6

Trusting God Enough to Stay Quiet

My brother is on track to get his learner’s permit soon, and if I’m being truly honest, that’s terrifying for me. I am also old enough to be the adult instructor in the car with him as he learns on the road. Also terrifying. I imagine myself in the passengers seat of my car, questioning everything with white knuckles. “Why are you changing lanes?” “Where are you going?” “Why aren’t you stopping?”

He may become a perfect driver, but this will always be the uneasiness of my heart when I’m in the passenger seat of His car. (Love you, kid!) 

But why is this the state of my heart before the Lord, too? I’d like to say I’m only like this sometimes, but in all reality this is me consistently. Always questioning, always crying out for guidance. 

I’ve always thought it was a good thing to be constantly on your knees asking for guidance from the Lord, but over this past year I’ve learned that it really just shows a lack of trust and steadiness in your heart toward God. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The whole Psalm shows you what it means to be still when the world is ending — but why can’t I have this attitude in all aspects of my life. 

If I can trust God when my whole world is falling apart, why can’t I trust God when my next step is a little foggy? 

God calls us to be asleep in the boat when the storms are raging. Remember Jesus’ complete trust in the Lord in Matthew 8:24? He was asleep when all of the disciples were convinced they were going to die. I know how every one of these stories end (Spoiler alert: Jesus saves them), Yet I’m still a white-kuckled backseat driver with no reason to freak out. 

This morning I had a gentle voice in my ear asking a simple question: When will you trust Me enough to stay quiet?

Sustaining Change Requires Fellowship

Exodus 17:12 — “But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”

There’s this quote by Thomas Fuller which I’ve always chosen to let drive my life over the years — “all the gears in a machine are put in motion by one.” I’ve always loved it because it reminds me that God can use one person to change hearts, and patterns of thinking. One person really can make a difference in God’s economy. But, over this past year He has expanded that idea in my mind to something more.

All the gears in a machine are put in motion by one, but the machine is sustained by the multitude of gears.

Throughout history God has called individual men to be the start of huge movements throughout history — but, he’s never called them to sustain those movements by themselves. Moses didn’t bring the Israelites through the wilderness alone, Paul didn’t make it through His missionary journey without the kindness of local churches, and I’m not meant to walk through life without the support of the body of Christ either.

The one man who could have done it all Himself — Jesus — chose to use ordinary men and delegate the gospel to the 12 disciples. He could have spoken one word and His glory would have been known throughout the earth. He was God in the flesh. Yet He called 12 men to carry His name, which then became 72, which then became us. God never designed us to carry the weight of Christian life on our own, but to share the burden with Him, and those who He has put in our life.

So often we, and I am putting my name at the first on this list, get a charge from the Lord and try to walk it out on our own. But we forget that, through God uses one person to start a movement, He never calls one person to sustain it. His glory is shown through His many believers striving together for personal growth and worldwide change. Not one person carrying the weight of everyone else.

May we become people who grow more into Christ’s image by becoming the reflection of His body together. Lord, help me to put aside pride so that may I come alongside your people and lift up their arms. Teach me to let other people lift my arms up when needed. Let us be more of a body — working in perfect unity.

Psalm 17:15 — “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Over the past few days the Lord has really put it on my heart to move into Revelation after I finished my time in the small epistles. Revelation has always been one of the most intimidating books of the Bible for me. I’ve never been able to understand anything in it, and I’ve always given up before finishing. Lately though the Lord has been showing me that I’m missing so much of the richness of His word by not digging into all of His word.

The Lord is so good to make His word come alive, I didn’t even make it past the first three verses without his Spirit putting something on my heart. 

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servant — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by his angel to His servant John.” Rev 1:1

I always used to call this book Revelations. It is kind of weird to realize its actual name is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” What a difference that makes! It’s not just revelations of little things to come, but the singular revelation of the glory of Jesus Christ. It’s not about predicting the end times, the beast that will come out in the future, or even the view of heaven — it’s the revelation of Jesus.

According to the Webster’s dictionary, the definition of a revelation is something revealed with a sudden inspiration or understanding. This book is the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the hiding of Him. The Lord didn’t cloak this book in big words and confusing images to throw me off. It is revealed for the purpose of understanding Him. And it was signified or sent out to John. This message was revealed to John and intended for man to understand. 

All scripture is God inspired and profitable for teaching. Verse 3 of chapter 1 says “blessed is He who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

I’m excited to begin my journey through the revelation of Jesus Christ resting confidently in the fact that the spirit will make the Living Word come alive and my heart.

To be Poured Out

2nd Timothy 4:6-7

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.” 

I have always kept this verse as a sort of battle cry for my life in ministry — especially for field time. I have said many times before that I want to go to bed exhausted every night knowing that I poured myself out before the Lord. But, now I’m realizing that that’s not what the verse says. It says “I’m being poured out” not “I’m pouring myself out.”

The question for me is, am I hitting the pillow having poured myself out, or having been poured out by God in whatever way He desires? That means allowing myself to be poured out for whoever He pleases, whenever He pleases, wherever He pleases, and however fast or slow He pleases. 

Whoever He pleases means being willing to be poured out for those who don’t appreciate it. That means being willing to be poured out onto what looks like dry ground — I need to trust that He know what he is doing even when my service looks “pointless.”

Wherever means Guatemala instead of Cambodia, working for JoAnns instead of Potter’s Field — simply being poured out where God leads me while trusting He knows what He is doing. 

Whenever means whether people are looking or not, whether I’m tired or not, whether I feel empty or full, knowing that the Lord will supply me with all boldness and strength to be poured out. 

However means I need to be content to be poured out as a trickle or at a dumping speed. Whether I’m actually being poured out of my strength with actual labor, or I’m serving the Lord in the small things, it’s being content with however He uses me. 

So if I’m being poured out by God, not choosing when, where, who, or how, what is my responsibility in this? Look at verse 7: “I have fought…I have finished…I have kept.” My responsibility is to fight, finish, and keep my eyes fixed on Him. I need to sit down, buckle up, and press on and in to Him. 

It’s easy to think of how Paul is the one saying this, and put the idea of being poured out for the Lord high above our grasp. But, when we stop and recognize that God’s the one pouring us out, and it’s His sovereign hands choosing the circumstances, the idea of being poured out becomes words we can all say at the end of our race. 

The Weight of the Word

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Doctrine = A statement of principals or policy.

Reproof = disapproval; to criticize or to admonish.

Correction = the process of making right; an amount adjusted.

Instruct = to educate or edify, to order or direct firmly; to discharge the duties of an instructor; guidance, the imparting of knowledge, or a direct order.

Not to just throw definitions at you, but these words and explanations shined a new light on these verses for me.

The word of the Lord is profitable to (doctrine) base your life off of, (reproof) receive stern correction with confidence, (correction) adjust your compass off of, and (instruction) teach yourself and others the truth.

These definitions really challanged me ask if the word of God is having the affect in my life that it should? Am I reading the bible with the purpose of 1) being moved by it and 2) moving myself based off of what the spirit shows me Or, am I reading it to read it and just hoping something sticks. Am I expecting to be corrected and re-directed (Habakkuk 2:1) or is my heart hard and proud as I begin.

Headstrong Against God

2 Timothy 3:2-5

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

In the last days this is what men will be like — how does it contrast with me? I know I read this list and can remember times, if not multiple ones, where I’ve fallen. Some were before I started walking with the Lord, and some are still struggles now. So, what sets me apart from them?

Verse 7 says these men are “always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” They have a godliness but deny its power. What does that mean? They haven’t come to accept the truth about themselves, then let the truth of the gospel change them. The only power strong enough to change us is the one that renews us day by day, and it only works in the hearts that have humbled themselves before the Lord in recognition of just how sinful they are.

In a lot of ways this list is just the ways I don’t humble myself before the Lord. The ways I walk away from the knowledge of truth. In reality you only see the truth if you look down at your sin first. And daily I choose to be stiffnecked and still walk in these sins. One of the biggest ones for me is headstrong. I very well my be one of the most stubborn people you’re ever going to meet. I was raised in a family where if your opinion wasn’t heard, it was because you weren’t yelling loud enough, and the “winner” of an argument wasn’t the one with the right opinion, but the one who gave up first.

I was raised to be headstrong, but that is no excuse because the Lord has the power to work in and change me. And, If I chose to remain in and walk in that, I have a form of godliness but I’m denying its power just like these perilous men.

The holy spirit doesn’t just have the power to transform lives, it is the power to transform lives. Once you choose to let Him in your heart, and have a personal encounter with Him, there’s no way to walk away the same. So, for the one whose never had that encounter, know that the only way to change and be free from sin is by first looking down at your sin, in humility, and seek the Lord. For the believer, are you pushing the spirit out of control of your heart slowly? Desiring godliness but not the power of real change? The change from the spirit is hard and hurts sometimes, but it’s also gentle and filled with love — it’s the only change that reaches the heart.