Monthly Archives: February 2011

Grace

I have fallen in love with the book of Isaiah!  Grace and mercy are woven throughout this whole book of the Bible.  Yes, God is pretty stern & pronouncing judgment in here; but in the midst of that shines His grace and kindness.

This morning I read from chapter 46 “Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness.  I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed.”

As I read that verse, it struck me.  This is the difference between the God I know and the gods of so many other religions!  Other religions require people to be good enough to earn their righteousness.  Other religions require people to do enough good things to earn their way to God.  My God knows that I am stubborn and stupid and far from righteousness, and so He brings His righteousness to me!

My heart is bursting with thankfulness.  My God knows how rebellious I am; He knows how stubborn I am; He knows how awful I am.  My God knows that if I had to get to righteousness on my own, I’d be in deep trouble.  Cause there’s no way I could figure out how to work my way to His righteousness.  And even if I figured out how, I’m not self-disciplined enough and good enough to actually do it!  My God knows this about me.

He knows all about me.  And yet He loves me.  So He brings His righteousness to me.

There it is — God’s grace and kindness smack in the middle of Isaiah in the Old Testament.

And today my heart is full.  My God is so good.  There is no other like Him.  He did for me what I could never do for myself.

And He did it for you too.

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What’s your faith in?

This morning, I came across this video of Rich Mullins.

I love it when God sends me messages through multiple sources to drive a point home.  Last week, while studying Isaiah 40, I was struck by the notion that God presupposes we will be weak and weary and stumble and fall.

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  – Isaiah 40: 28-31

In the middle of reading those verses, I was struck by the contrast between God and us.  He does not grow tired and weary.  We do.  And then if we hope in Him — if we place our confidence fully in Him, rather than in ourselves — He will renew us.

According to this passage, it’s a given that we’re weak and will stumble and fall.  Even the strongest among us will get weak and stumble.  But God does not.

God is not surprised when I screw up.  He is not shocked when I get weary and want to quit.  He expects that.  Because I am not Him.  And I think it pleases God when I realize that and look to Him to fully strengthen me and renew me and uphold me.

So back to the video I came across this morning, here’s Rich Mullins talking about his humanity —

 

I love how he put it.  “I would rather live on the verge of falling & let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some kind of pietistic illusion of moral excellence.”

How many of us live in a pietistic illusion of our own moral excellence?  I know I’ve been guilty of that.

Then he said, “My faith isn’t in the idea that I am more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit.”

Let that sink in.  I have been thinking about it all morning.

When I focus on my own behavior, even my own good behavior, then my focus is not on God.  We Christians can make an idol out of morally good behavior.  We can behave as if our faith is in our own morality.

Whereas, if I live on the verge of falling, then I am constantly aware of my own weakness.  I am constantly aware that I am fully reliant on God.  I am constantly aware of His love that far surpasses the extent of my sins.  And that’s a good place to be.

If I live on the verge of falling, then -to paraphrase one of Rich Mullins’ songs- then if I stand, I stand on the promise that Christ will pull me through, and if I fall, then I fall on the grace that first brought me to Christ.  Either way, my focus is on Christ and He gets the glory.

 

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