Grace For Today

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You don’t have to wait for the right conditions in your life or until you have more time or money.

You don’t have to wait until you are stronger or smarter or better behaved.

The grace God has given you has nothing to do with how strong or smart or well behaved you are but you have it nonetheless – it is yours.

Grace that allows you to change, grace that inspires you to become who God created you to be.

Grace gives you strength and wisdom.

“God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.

He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.”

‭‭Titus‬ ‭2:11-14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

The same grace that saves you for all eternity transforms your life today.

Today, you can begin to live differently, think differently, love differently.

Not tomorrow, or later-when-everything-is-easier but today.

Don’t wait for one more second to live in the grace God sacrificed to give you.

Start Today.

Strong

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God will give you strength to fight the battle before you.

“He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.”

Psalm 18:34-35 NIV

My prayer for you today is that you would know His love as He pours His strength into you. I pray that you would know His peace as you lean on Him. That you would rest in God’s grace as you walk by His guidance. That you would trust Him with the future and and leave the past behind you.  I pray that you would be released from the restlessness within you and receive a new determination to go forward in faith.

 

Pruned

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A couple of years ago our family was taking a road trip from Sacramento to Anaheim California. On the way down we passed vineyard after vineyard.

After about the third one, I thought, “the vineyards look ready to bear fruit”.

Why? Because they had been pruned back, braced up and almost stripped bare.

That is what Jesus said happens in the life of a believer. Not just once but over and over.

When God wants to grow you, He will prune you.

I’ve seen vineyards in all the seasons:

  • Full and heavy with fruit in the summer.
  • Rioting wild with leaves after the harvest in the fall.
  • Barren and unkempt in the winter.
  • Pruned back, braced up and almost stripped bare in the spring.

The most fruitful vines are those that are cared for and pruned back.

You may not equate being cared for with being pruned back but the best Vine Dressers do.

They lovingly get the vineyard ready to bear fruit by cutting all the dead branches off. They sweep up and clear up the dead leaves that have fallen to the ground. They strip down the main vine to its essence.

They have braced up each one with wood or wire so that it will not break under the weight of its fruit later in the season.

Jesus called himself the vine, you the branch and the Father the vine dresser:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If you feel like God is pruning you, it is because He is preparing you.

He is getting you ready to bear more fruit.

He is caring for you and nurturing you.

He is cutting off dead things that will rot and bring disease to your soul.

He is simplifying your focus and prompting you to define more clearly who you are in Christ.

He is pruning you, even cutting off some good branches that are stealing nutrients from the main one He wants to grow.

Your Heavenly Father loves you just the way you are and loves you so much that He won’t leave you that way.

He wants to see you grow into your full potential and knows that dead things must be cut off and good things that distract must go as well.

Don’t panic because you’re being pruned, stripped bare and braced up. Recognize it for what it is- God preparing you for the next season of your life.

It’s going to be good, my friend, so hold on and trust God!

Your Faith

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Your faith in God is more precious than the finest of gold. It will last longer than your job, your goals and your body.  It is the eternal life inside of you that sustains you through the trials of the temporary outside life.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

Job 23:10 NIV

When God tests your faith to purify it. To clarify it. To clean it from dross and impurities. He will use the smallest irritation or the greatest trial to do it. He does not send the trial but He will use it.

The same fire that destroys wood purifies gold.

God can use the very thing that you feel is destroying you to purify you.

He will use the disappointment you are experiencing to make the dross of your heart rise to the surface so He can skim it off.

You have a promise here that God knows where you are, what you are going through and He knows how to use it to do an important work for you.

You will come out of it shining.

Hold onto God during this season because He is most certainly holding onto you.

God Doesn’t Give up

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Love doesn’t give up.

One of my oldest and dearest friends got a call from her twin brother late one night. He was calling from jail with his third DUI. Before he even began to talk, she felt God drop a message in her heart for him. She told him that she wasn’t mad at him but that he would keep finding himself in that kind of situation until he realized how much God loves him until he stopped running from that love.

When her brother told her he wanted to change, she didn’t believe him anymore. He had told her that too many times to count.

She didn’t believe her brother anymore but she believed God.

That night her brother believed God too.

He got involved in Celebrate Recovery, quit drinking and now goes to a church he loves.

My friend told me this story with tears running down her beautiful face and said, “God doesn’t give up.”

I had tears running down my face as well because in the twenty years we have been friends, I know one of her most fervent prayers was that her twin brother would know Jesus like she does.

I want to remind you today that God doesn’t give up on people.

Sometimes it takes longer than you want it to but God hears your prayers and loves the people you are praying for more than you do.

Jesus doesn’t give up.

You may stop praying about it.

You may stop believing it can ever happen.

You may have lost faith in a person.

You may have lost faith in yourself and your own ability to change.

But God doesn’t.

“Love never gives up.”

1 Corinthians 13:7

Never.

God is not asking you to believe in others or even yourself anymore, He is asking you to believe in Him.

He is the faithful Savior who paid the ultimate price to redeem the lost, reinstate the prodigal and recreate the unrecognizable with the unrelenting love that flows from his heart.

What do you need to believe God for today?

Who do you need to believe God for today?

You Are in a Battle.

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The battle is not to be good, or look good or feel good.

The battle is not achieving a version of life that you have imagined, been told or been sold.

There is a war that is waging and it is more than just between you and your expectations.

The battle is for souls: lost souls, happy souls, good looking souls, sad souls. Unredeemed souls that the enemy would like to keep unredeemed at all costs.

Unredeemed souls that have already been paid for by the great cost of Christ’s on the cross, they just don’t know it yet.

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. ”
2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭4‬ NIV

For those who are redeemed, the battle is set to destroy your light, bit by bit, by turning the focus from God to what you don’t have, what you used to have or what you wished you had.

In other words, to keep the focus all on yourself so you will be rendered useless and powerless as a warrior of the light.

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”   ‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭5‬ NIV

When was the last time you talked to someone about what God was doing in your life instead of what you are doing (or not doing) in it?

The battle is fierce. When you recognize what the real battle is- you are able to really engage in it, instead of being a victim of it. God did not redeem you to be a victim.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”  ‭               2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬ NIV

He created you to be an image bearer, He redeemed you to be light revealer,
He has empowered you to be a cross-carrier and gospel bringer.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”   ‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬ NIV

How will you reveal God’s all-surpassing power in your life today?

While You Wait

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Sometimes you have to wait. You have to be patient. You have to let go of your need to control and jump in to fix it your way and satisfy your need to push forward and make something happen just because you want it to.

Sometimes, Jesus asks you to chill out and trust him. To wait and to not do anything as he prepares the next step, the next place, the next relationship, the next ministry, the next thing.

Wait for His salvation instead of trying to manufacture your own.

Wait…but don’t just wait.

Wait in hope.

Wait in faith.

Wait in love.

Wait for God to do what only He can do and meanwhile do what only you can do.

Pursue the direction He has already given you and feed hope.

Be faithful to what He has already given you to do and feed your faith.

Work hard to love those around you because they need to be loved.

Waiting is not passive but an internal expectation of hope for the future while actively working on what God has already given you to do today.

Trust Jesus enough to not know what is going to happen.

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God is not done with you. He may have put a pause on things but you can trust him to complete what He has started.

Wait.