November 29 and 30, 2007 - Combined


When I fall a day or more behind, I'm going to start posting these in combined threads - less stuff on the new threads tab. Also means a little less work for me to get caught up, and then read the devotional. So since I was at work yesterday, here's 2 devotionals.

God’s Grace Sets You Free
By Jon Walker

“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5 NIV)

In the recent devotional on “practical love,” I described how 25 years ago my sister offered to adopt a baby who was the product of sinful behavior on my part. A few readers thought I was describing a current event, and the responsibility for that confusion is mine. I should have told the story with greater clarity.

The woman who carried that baby is now my wife. On December 18 we will have been married 24 years. The crisis pregnancy is not one of my prouder moments, but as I’ve often taught, God used the circumstances to bring me back to him, and to bring my wife to Christ.

It was then that God began teaching me about his grace – a mind-transforming, behavior-altering understanding of God’s infinite, indestructible, and immovable grace. And after all these years, I’m still in the school of Christ, trying to learn the depth of God’s love, often measured against the shallowness of my faith. Perhaps you can relate?

As I wrote recently, my hope is these devotionals will press us both toward an honest assessment of our faith, a deeper commitment to our beliefs, and most importantly, a sacrificial, wholly abandoned love for our Lord.

It’s a high standard – impossibly high – unless we’re immersed in God’s grace, understanding, “I can’t, but God can.”

Whether we succeed or fail, we’re to fall upon the grace of God. We’re to remain immersed in his grace, knowing we are incapable of achieving holiness – but the spirit of God working within and the blood of Jesus Christ allows us to connect with a holy God.

So what?

· Grace requires faith — Martin Luther taught that embracing God’s grace requires us to walk in constant faith. He said, “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” His point is not that it’s okay to sin, rather that all sins are covered by the grace of God – so we can stop living timidly, afraid to make mistakes. We can live boldly, confident in God’s grace and love.

· God forbid we abuse his grace – God doesn’t give us grace so we continue to sin; rather, he gives us grace so we’re free, here and now. He gives us grace so we can live in relationship with him, no longer fearing separation because of our sin. “So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there?” (Romans 6:1-7 MSG)

· Grace makes way for good works – “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:6-10 NIV).

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

The Great Engineer
By Jon Walker

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

The God-adventure is a sweeping dance of redemption as he moves through history coordinating circumstances and events in order to bring as many people as possible home to heaven.

Oswald Chambers calls God “The Great Engineer,” the one who keeps all things moving toward a purpose, a climax in history (which is his story). God’s tale is a tear-filled romance where he chases after those he loves, regardless of whether they love him back. It’s a nail-biting drama where he launches a rescue mission for his children who are held in captivity, and he arrives in the perfectly planned nick of time.

In God’s story, his children follow him in faith, yet even the most faithful stumble and fail. But the story doesn’t end there! God redeems even the worst mistakes, making all things work together for the good of those he calls his own.

God’s is a story of majesty, power, and infinite grace. It’s about a God who speaks the world into existence and sets the moon and the stars in place, yet he also cares for every detail of your life. God rescued you from captivity, and now he wants you to join him in further rescue missions, bringing more of his children – your brothers and sisters – home to the Father’s house.

Even now, you are part of God’s story. He’s calling you today to see and understand and live according to the scope and magnitude of his grand adventure.

What now?

· God, the Great Engineer – Your whole life has been a sweeping dance of redemption as God coordinated circumstances and events in order to bring you home to heaven. He’s kept all things in your life moving toward his purpose. How would you live differently if you deeply, deeply believed in faith that this is true?

· Jesus writes your story – Jesus is the author and perfector of your story. Let him direct your life, guiding you on your mission, the work that God has given you. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross and its shame; he now sits at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).

· Know what is at stake – Let God show you that the world is so much bigger than your small backyard. In God’s adventure, you’ll be part of the great rescue of men and women across this planet. Through God’s adventure, you’ll experience real life – the way God intended for it to be.

· Question to consider: How will you tell the story of your life differently now that you know you’re part of God’s great rescue mission this holiday season?

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.