Well it’s been another interesting week on Wall Street. A few good days were all erased by one bad day, and so goes the financial markets of our day. A roller coaster comes to mind with the slow incline to the top followed by the racing bullet straight down to the bottom. Life can feel the same way, relationships, our career—up one day pointing skyward and shooting straight to the earth the next at break-neck speed. Yesterday a friend reminded me of a wonderful verse that describes a much different love, however. Read its words. Let their truth sink in. Contemplate, cogitate a while and them read them again. Be encouraged and allow the Lord to lift your spirit today. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22, 23)
There’s a painting on the wall in my office that was a gift from a special friend. It’s entitled, “It Doesn’t Get Much Better” by Thomas Kinkade. With Kinkade’s brilliant use of light you see a sunrise in the background with a guy fishing in the foreground. On the end of his line is a lovely trout breaking through the top of the water. Running through the painting is a beautiful, pristine river with bright and colorful flowering plants on either side. Even a quick glance conjures up peaceful thoughts, and a reminder that not all days are like this one.
Allow me to ask a simple question—how was your day? Stressful and hurried? Troublesome and detour-filled? While most of us, I’m sure, didn’t spend the day in as peaceful a place as depicted in the painting on my wall, we can be encouraged by the promises of a Great God. I wonder if it was a peaceful day in the life of the psalmist, or a day when he was being hunted down like a dog when he penned these words:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Whatever he became, according to his own statement, Paul owed it all to "the grace of God." When I ponder the words from that grand apostle, I come up with what we might call his credo. We can reduce it to three single-syllable statements, the first consisting of only eight words; the second, ten words; and the third, twelve. Occasionally, it helps to take a profound, multifaceted theological truth and define it in simple, nontechnical terms.
First statement: God does what He does by His grace. Paul's first claim for being allowed to live, to say nothing of being used as a spokesman and leader, was "by the grace of God." Paul deserved the severest kind of judgment, but God gave the man His grace instead. Humanly speaking, Paul should have been made to endure incredible suffering for all the pain and heartache he had caused others. But he didn't, because God exhibited His grace.
That leads us to the second statement: I am what I am by the grace of God. It is as if he were admitting, "If there is any goodness now found in me, I deserve none of the glory; grace gets the credit."
In our day of high-powered self-achievement and an overemphasis on the importance of personal accomplishments and building one's own ego-centered kingdom, this idea of giving grace the credit is a much-needed message. How many people who reach the pinnacle of their career say to the Wall Street Journal reporter or in an interview in Business Week, "I am what I am by the grace of God"? How many athletes would say that kind of thing at a banquet in his or her honor? What a shocker it would be today if someone were to say, "Don't be impressed at all with me. My only claim to fame is the undeserved grace of God." Such candor is rare.
There's a third statement, which seems to be implied in Paul's closing statement: I let you be what you are by the grace of God. Grace is not something simply to be claimed; it is meant to be demonstrated. It is to be shared, used as a basis for friendships, and drawn upon for sustained relationships.
Jesus spoke of an abundant life that we enter into when we claim the freedom He provides by His grace. Wouldn't it be wonderful if people cooperated with His game plan? There is nothing to be compared to grace when it comes to freeing others from bondage. Copied Charles Swindoll Day by Day
Have you ever noticed people’s answers of why they attend a particular church? It usually goes something like this: “Oh, I just love the music,” or “they have such a great kid’s ministry”, or something similar. I sometimes have to laugh at the shallowness of Americanized Christianity. Why? Consider Jonah. He sure didn’t go to Nineveh because of awesome facilities, or the exciting youth program. There was nothing in Nineveh that was compelling to him whatsoever. All that was there in Jonah’s mind was a bunch of people that he hated. Talk about a bigot! But that was where Jonah was supposed to be. And we know what Jonah went through to get where he was going—a whale of a story it was for Jonah! The American church is filled with folks who like to run to something they find enjoyable or comfortable. Perhaps our churches need to pray for hungry whales.