Grace in time of need

What if you had no control? What if darkness swirled so thick around you that it felt like you could not see your hand in front of your face? What if the silence in your head was so loud that you could hear your own heart beat and wondered what was in your future?

Have you felt that way before? Lost– bewildered–alone? Or worse, witness the horror of suffering or smell the sting of death?

When I first think of a time of great suffering my mind races to World War II and the horror stories that have been shared by the Holocaust victims and I shudder. But I know that suffering has taken place in different parts of the world and different times in our history over and over. Even today people are going through horrific experiences. Just listen to the news.

I simply do not understand pure hatred and violence on a level where humans care so little about another human life. But then I do not understand the evil that the enemy of our souls possess, nor of his bitter rage to destroy anything that represents joy, life or peace.

On the other hand I also don’t pretend to understand nor comprehend the love that our Lord has for us, so much so that he sent his son into this sinful world to defeat sin and death. He could have easily destroyed the world in a combustion of fire.

The Word states that before Jesus took on all the sins of the world he was beaten so brutally that he was unrecognizable. You see crucifix emblems that portray a sweet man wearing a crown of thorns on his head while being nailed to the cross. That is bad enough, but I dare say that the real visual was FAR worse!

He didn’t even look human.

Isaiah 52:14 -“But many were amazed when they saw him. (Jesus.). His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” (NLT)

On top of the physical degradation; every piece of hatred already spewed out and the hatred that had not even existed in the eyes of those born, he paid for; as well as sickness, lies and sin and even death. All those things were unseen in this dimension. But if we could have seen beyond the physical world into the spiritual realm it would have been a more horrific sight as he carried them into hell.

Isaiah 53:3-6 “He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted  with deepest grief. We turned our back on him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care. Yet it was OUR weakness he carried; it was OUR sorrow that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for OUR rebellion and cursed for OUR sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. We have left God’s path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us ALL.” (TLT)

Powerful. The suffering that he endured so we might have an abundant life is a gift of sacrificial love beyond what we can imagine. Yet we quarrel about having to give up sinful lifestyles and think that perhaps he might wink at our sins. Listen! He suffered unimaginable pain and sorrow to set us FREE from the very things we don’t want to give up and lifestyles we have pushed as acceptable.

Or look at the sorrows we see around us; death, brokenness despair. We live in this sinful world where innocent lives are destroyed unmercifully. It’s a world where the thirst for revenge or the thirst for power supersedes all else. The evil filth is sometimes too much to ignore and can weigh us down. Hebrews 12 encourages us to NOT give up.

“We must focus on Jesus the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him so he endured the death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.”
Hebrews 12:2-4 (GWT)

Remember what John 10:10 says. It is one of my favorite verses: “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Often in this world you will face heartaches, some that may seem unbearable. But nothing catches God off guard or is hidden from his view. He knows the beginning of your life until the end. He knows the beginning of this world until its end. He would not have allowed his son to die such a wicked death for nothing. He came to give us abundant life, in this life and into eternity.

Sometimes our circumstances do not seem to dictate abundance. But an abundant life is one that is surrendered to the Lord. It is like Paul who said, “God’s grace is sufficient”. He knew. He suffered for him yet tasted God’s goodness. When the darkness of evil creeps across the land and you cannot seem to see your hand in front of your face– you can still know that the Lord will pick you up and his grace will fill your soul. That is what he does as a loving Father.

Hebrews 4:16
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find GRACE TO HELP US IN OUR TIME OF NEED.” (NIV)

Do you need God’s grace and mercy today? Your Father is willing to pour it into your lives. Ask. He is a great God despite the darkness, because HE is the light that destroys it! AMEN!

God bless.



Are you a perfectionist?

I know I’m not, at least not in most areas. After writing my last blog and publishing it I saw mistakes I hadn’t seen when I first sent it. I must have gone through it several times to make changes. (So possibly I would like my writings to be as polished as possible.) But when it is all said and done, perfect or not — it is what it is.

I once heard that you can tell about how organized an individual is or if a person possesses a perfectionist attitude by looking through their pots and pans cupboard. I’m sure that isn’t a “perfect” measurement. It reminds me of all those silly quizzes on Facebook to find out what movie star you resemble or what kind of flower you are (?) or if you’re an optimist. But I looked anyway. Apparently if it is messy you are definitely NOT a perfectionist. I opened my cupboard already knowing it would be in disarray and it was.

But I’ve also heard that a lot of those people who are not perfectionist have artistic talents. I am sure that many have painted exquisite modern art.

Perfectionist, on the other hand, seem to have a harder time starting many projects and/or completing them because if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t happening. How do I know this? Because I am married to one of these people. When he DOES complete a project it really IS close to perfect.  (The colors might be off because he is color blind. But that is another story.)

I would rather just get a project done. I recall hanging a huge wooden picture above our fireplace. I simply pounded in a lot of nails and/or screws into the wall and then crisscrossed wires on the wall to make sure the picture was somewhat attached to the wall. When we moved it was such a mess that we sold the house with that huge picture still strung up to the wall. I wonder if it was ever taken down.

I said all that to say that when those people who do not consider themselves to be a perfectionist read what Jesus said at the sermon on the mount they might be a little bit frustrated.

You therefore must be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt 5:48 (ESV)

And the perfectionist might take it to the extreme; always striving to be that better person and yet finding themselves falling short of their expectation. What does that verse even mean? Of course we cannot be perfect, we are only human and destined to fail.

Some people have stated that they believe that statement was intended to teach people to love unconditionally as our Heavenly Father loves unconditionally. And since the surrounding verses are speaking of love, that might be so.

But the question I faced was HOW do we become perfect as God is perfect?

This is what I believe:
I believe that Jesus was setting a standard. That standard wasn’t to be like those around us. It wasn’t to be as good as our favorite pastor, as nice as that sweet neighbor that brought us cookies at Christmas, or as kind as our closet friend that is there for us night and day. He was setting a higher standard. That standard was to do as God does, and to only compare our lives to his.

But how do we obtain that ability to be perfect?

Well we actually can’t in and of ourselves. This is where the blood of Jesus comes to play. Because Christ died for our sins and covered our imperfections, we can now come boldly before the throne of grace.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

So we can boldly come to God because of Christ’s blood and ask for his grace to help us live the life he desires and that we desire. Our Heavenly Father sees Jesus in us as we stand before him. He sees us perfect because of the blood of Christ that covers our sins.

Remember the last plague in Egypt when the angel of death struck the first-born in all the land? But they passed over the houses of the children of Israel because they obeyed the Lord and put the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the door post.

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”  Exodus 12:13 (NIV)

So though I am imperfect…Christ’s blood has perfected me. So when Jesus stated that we must be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect we can rest assured that it is HIS perfection shining through us. We do not need to struggle with being perfect outside of him. And he has granted us his grace to accomplish what he has put in front of us, whether it is to be kind to our neighbor, forgive those who have harmed us, start a new business or preach in front of thousands.

Remember: Because he IS LOVE, his love is perfect.

If God IS love and perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) than God will cast out any fear or doubt we might have about how we can accomplish the tasks he sets before us. He will help us to see ourselves differently, help us to treat others better and teach us to be more like him.

Thank you Lord for your perfect love and for teaching us to be perfect even as you are perfect. Amen.