“Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” – Titus 3:7 “

Thank heaven for grace. Titus 3:7 tells us we are made right by His grace. It’s not that we are suddenly holy and righteous. It’s not that we never sin. Basically, God is going to make us acceptable by His grace, not on our qualities or achievements.

Think about that for a few moments. The Bible says that God chose to accept us. He chose to accept us and make us acceptable to God. It’s totally undeserved. But, He chose to do it. You may say, “Wait a minute! God chose me?” Yes.  God accepts you, loves you, and created you. God sent his Son to die for each of us. He chose us. We matter to Him. So it really doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.  Romans 15:7 “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”

Jesus Christ accepts you completely. That doesn’t mean He approves of everything we do. He doesn’t, but He accepts us. If we want to accept people like Jesus accepts us then we need to accept someone without approving of what they do. Without approving of their lifestyle, without approving of the way they’re living. Or they have a different opinion on important subjects.

A good example of acceptance is the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Some religious leaders who were trying to trap Jesus brought her before Jesus. The woman was caught cheating on her husband and her accusers wanted to know what Jesus was going to do about it. Jesus looks at all of the accusers and says, “…let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7)  One by one, they leave, because none of them were without sin. What is Jesus doing here? He’s giving acceptance, not approval. He didn’t approve of what she was doing, but He accepted her.

Then in the private, one on one, after everybody’s gone, John 8:10-11 tells what happened in that moment: “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Is that it? Could we have experienced that and not had some kind of reproof, blame, or judgment? Would we not be tempted to minister some sort of reproach for the sin of adultery?  Wouldn’t we at least give that disappointed look? Probably… but not Jesus. He didn’t make her feel guilty. He told her to go sin no more, but He accepted her. He showed her grace and mercy and love.

Can we do the same?

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does Jesus treat those who are given to Him? Read John 6:37. What makes God’s acceptance of us amazing?
  2. How should we accept others as stated in Romans 15:7? What are some ways to show acceptance to people?


Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” – Ephesians 5:2 (MSG).

It does not matter if you are a new Christian or a seasoned believer, it is very likely you will ask this question: “How do I really know and feel God’s love for me? Answering that question requires us to reflect on how Christ loves us. His love was not cautious. In fact, it was extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. We are to love like that.

Loving like Jesus is the best way to live or as 1 Corinthians 12:31 says, “… the most excellent way.” When we love like Jesus, we’re lifted outside ourselves. We shed self-interest — with our spouse, our kids, friends, everyone. If we love like Jesus we can be over the walls of resentment and rise above petty demands and a sense of entitlement.   

But can anyone really love like Jesus? Really? That is an extraordinarily high bar. Love your enemies? Walk the extra mile? Turn the other cheek? Can we bring perfect love into our imperfect lives? Yes, the bar is high, but if seeking a reasonable level of love, you’ll miss out on extraordinary love.  If you want to love like Jesus you have to be more approachable and less detached. You need to be more patient and less in a hurry. You will need to exhibit more grace and be less judgmental. You have to be more bold and less hesitant or fearful.

If you’re thinking that is a pretty tall order you are right. It is impossible for us.  Our human nature gets in the way.  We judge others’ faults and can act selfishly and spitefully.  We store our hurts away until those hurts lead to resentment. Even with our best efforts to love like Jesus, we fail. Jesus knew this, and He generously provides us the key to our problem and some encouragement: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27

The power to accomplish the impossible comes only from God. We need the power of God to love as He does.  The power comes from the Holy Spirit living within us.

We can become better at loving like Jesus. This love isn’t illusive. It isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It isn’t out-of-reach nor relegated to untouchable saints. It’s real. Is it difficult, yes?  Will you and I fail in living them out? Absolutely. But don’t be discouraged. For it’s in our failed attempts that we learn to love as Jesus loved.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for others? What things did He do? Can we show this type of love?
  2. What can we do this week to live more like Christ?


“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  – Matthew 6:33.

So what is the goal of the Christian life? The purpose of the Christian life is to know Christ and to be like Him.  Christianity is not a religion of rules and rituals that we must work at keeping to climb the ladder to heaven. Instead, it is a personal, growing relationship with the risen, living Lord Jesus Christ that results in our growing conformity to Him. It is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the story you’re meant to inhabit. So what is your place in that story? 

Becoming a Christian requires that you know some things about Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points ahead to Christ; the New Testament tells us of His life, His death for our sins, and His resurrection and present reign in heaven. It also tells us of His coming again and future kingdom. It expounds on His teaching and reveals His will for His people. We can never know Him fully because He is infinite and we are finite. But we can know Him definitely as Savior and Lord and we can and must spend our lives focused on the goal to be more like Him. ”

As we come to know Jesus, we will become more and more like Him because we know who to imitate because we see Him more clearly. “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

 We become like the One who stretched out His hand in compassion to heal a leper, who had mercy on the woman caught in adultery and resist the temptations of the devil.  As we see Jesus submit to His Father’s will—“I want your will to be done, not mine.“—we learn to submit to our wills to the Father’s will. And as we gaze upon Jesus enduring all things because of His love for us, we learn to endure the sins and failures of others out of love for them.

 As we see Jesus empty himself and make himself poor so that He might make us rich, we in turn learn to empty ourselves. As we marvel to watch Jesus kneel before His disciples the night before He is to die and wash their feet, the Holy Spirit grows us in humility.

 But where do you start? Transformation in Christlikeness is a process. Try focusing on one change in character at a time, even if the change takes time. Most of us fail in our efforts to change and become like Jesus because we try hard for a while and then give up. We don’t keep our focus long enough, and we don’t go deep enough; we don’t develop a plan for how we can work with God’s grace to change to become like Jesus on the inside in that one area.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the most important step to becoming more like Jesus?
  2. What can you do this week to take that step?  

A Gift Too Wonderful For Words

Emmanuel. God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety.” –  Charles Swindoll.

Wondering about the wonder of God is always worthwhile. But the wonder of wonders is God with us. Two millennia ago in a small, rugged Bethlehem barn, God the Son became Immanuel, “God with us”—God incarnate. He lived as we live, suffered as we suffer, died as we die, yet without sin. And He overcame the power of death in order to give us eternal life.

At its heart, Christmas is the celebration of a promise God had made to provide a Savior and King. That Person is His Son, Jesus—God-Man, conceived miraculously, taking on human flesh, living among us in order to die in our place.  God becoming flesh.

God becomes human to walk among us, teach us, and love us in radical and liberating ways. The beauty of God with us is that God didn’t come to us in the form of a Hercules-type Demi-god, almost human, but stronger, faster, richer, and better in every way. No Emmanuel came to dwell among us, as one of us. God with us came to be in the midst of two ordinary people. God with us came to be in human form through Mary and Joseph. There wasn’t anything special that Mary and Joseph had done, just as there’s nothing we can do, to make ourselves more worthy of God with us. God is with us in spite of our imperfections and our struggles and our sin.  God became like us so that we could become like Him.

Hopefully, we will walk slower and think deeper this Christmas.  Hopefully, we will take a few minutes to wonder as the shepherds wondered and to worship as the wise men did. And hopefully, we will take a few moments to imagine the infinite God in the body of a finite baby. The best gift we have ever received came on that first Christmas—delivered in a Person from God the Father . . . to us.

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you explain “the Incarnation?” Why do you think it’s important?
  2. Do you see grace and truth at work in your relationship with God? How can you experience more of it?

Blessed Are The Merciful

“A man does not get grace till he comes down to the ground, till he sees he needs grace. When a man stoops to the dust and acknowledges that he needs mercy, then it is that the Lord will give him grace.” –  Dwight L. Moody.

The mercy of God is one of the most precious gifts we will ever receive. It is a prominent theme throughout the Bible. If you want to know who God really is, if you want to peek into His heart, don’t dwell on His incalculable power or His wrath. Instead, look at His mercy. We are prone to see God’s mercy as peripheral or incidental to who He is. But if we let the Scriptures have their say, we will see that when God shows His mercy in ways we can only imagine.

There are wonderful examples of God’s mercy in the Bible. Today, we look at one.  This story showcases a God who does not remain “in the clouds,” but is active in the lives of His people.

It is the story of the widow found in 2 Kings 4:1-7. This passage tells us the story of the widow that lost her husband and was faced with debts she couldn’t pay, Debt collectors will take her sons and make them slaves to serve as payback for the money the late husband was owing them. She was depressed, devastated, and frustrated, but God had mercy on her and brought Elisha her way. Elisha asked her if she had anything in the house and she replied “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Elisha told her to borrow all the empty jars she can from friends and neighbors, then she should go inside the house shut the door behind her, and pour olive oil from the flask into the jars setting each one aside when it is filled. She did as she was instructed and soon every jar is full. Elisha told her to“sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” This is a great example of mercy because she had no help, nobody was ready to help her condition nor help her pay her debts, but God looked on her with mercy.

The rest of the Bible takes up this same theme. God is not only merciful, he is “rich is mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). It is because of God’s mercy that we are saved. “he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5)

Mercy triumphed over judgment when Christ died for sinners, to rescue us from the condemnation we surely deserved. That same mercy triumphs still as our Holy Father looks at us and sees the faultless and unblemished image of His perfect Son. It was and still is the most extraordinary display of mercy in history. We are sinful people and we absolutely do not deserve the goodness and love our Father shows us, but each and every time we stray He relentlessly calls us back to Him and shows us incomprehensible grace and mercy.

Furthermore, God’s mercy for the believer isn’t just a single one-off act. Psalm 23 gives us the assurance that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Whatever situation you’re in today, you can rest in God’s mercy.

Discussion Questions:

  1. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”  (Matthew 5.7). How are the merciful blessed? What does this look like? Have you experienced this? When? 
  2. How effective are you at being a conduit for passing on the mercy God has shown you to other people?  
  3. If you were to incorporate mercy into your own life, how would the next week be different?   

The Attributes Of God – The Grace Of God

What are God’s attributes? Each Friday we will look at an attribute of God. This week, the grace of God. Grace is the bestowal of blessing unearned or unmerited. When we speak of God’s grace, we speak of those wonderful gifts, like salvation, that no man deserves but God grants anyway.

“But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ….God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” – Romans 5:15, 20.

While all of God’s attributes should evoke a sense of awe, humility, and wonder, grace is one of the most astounding and life-transforming aspects of God’s character. From the beginning of time, God has chosen to give us grace rather than His wrath. Time and time again, we’ve turned our backs on Him, and yet “ He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7)  

Both the Old and New Testaments describe God’s character as gracious, meaning that He is full of grace and kindness. This is how God described Himself to Moses: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6-7). King David also wrote about God’s graciousness: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NIV). King Hezekiah proclaimed that “…for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate… ” (2 Chronicles 30:9 NIV). The apostle Peter called God “the God of all grace.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Each morning we wake up is a show of God’s grace. If you’re able to drive to work in a car or have money to take the bus, those are displays of God’s grace and mercy. Jesus teaches us that God doesn’t hoard good. He doesn’t hoard His grace or give it out to a limited number of special people. God demonstrates a desire for everyone to experience His grace. This includes “those people who are annoying maddening or just bad.” In Jesus’ time, the so-called “bad people” were tax collectors, sinners, Samaritans, and Gentiles. But Jesus welcomed these people and forgave them. Jesus puts God’s grace on display to humankind.

It’s God’s grace that equips you. It’s God’s grace that holds you. It’s God’s grace that grants you a relationship with Him and eternal life with Him.  

As God’s grace works in our lives, we learn how to extend it to others. Through our actions, the grace of God blesses those who come in contact with us and become a testimony to others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Does grace erase the consequences of wrongdoing? Why or why not? 
  2. How might your life change if you were to accept God’s free gift of grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy?

How Do We Respond To Critics

“But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.” – 2 Chronicles 36:16.

No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way. Although you might be tempted to become defensive or angry, remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said. The Bible is replete with people being criticized. 

The Bible does not say anything about people mocking Noah and his family while they were building the ark, you have to assume given the situation, that people ridiculed what they were doing.  Then there is Nehemiah. He got the king to see his point of view. He got all the materials he needed. And he inspired the people to get to work. Then came the discouraging insults: “Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews,saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!” (Nehemiah 4:1-4)

Jesus was ridiculed by everyone present during His crucifixion. The crowds cried “Crucify Him!” before Pilate. The soldiers beat and mocked Him. People who passed by Him hanging on the cross hurled their insults at Jesus. The religious leaders mocked Him. Even the criminals who were dying beside the Lord threw in their own ridicule  Handling criticism and ridicule with grace is possible because Jesus portrayed it and He’s our example to follow.

Something wonderful happens when we take on an attitude of grace toward people who have been malicious or judgmental or spiteful toward us: their criticism can’t affect or change us. We understand that the problem is with them, and not with us. So, instead of being offended and hurt, we are free to joyfully minister forgiveness and grace into that person’s life. The result is that instead of the unfair criticism succeeding in tearing us down, it actually serves to build us up, spiritually and emotionally, as we follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. It’s a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing love to your critic. If he is angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord’s correction.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. How should you respond when your faith and beliefs are ridiculed?
  2. What can we do differently this week when faced with criticism?  

Loving Your Kids The Way Jesus Loves You

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” –   Proverbs 22:6.

Loving our children like the One who is love seems like a daunting task. How do we move beyond ourselves – our selfishness and our busyness – and dig deep into our hearts to access a love that is Christlike for our children. How do we love your kids the way Christ loves us?

God, in such pursuit of us, sent His son to die in our place. And Jesus, in such pursuit of us, agreed to live faithfully, teach the truth as the Word made flesh, and die so we could find freedom. Jesus came to live among us so He could know humanity and so that we could know Him. What a powerful picture of pursuit. I know in order to love my kids like Jesus, I must be in constant pursuit of their hearts. I must learn and understand them so I can give them what they truly need. A heart of pursuit seeks to learn about the unique children God has given us and pursues an understanding of what they need and how they need it.

We need to tap into the ultimate and greatest source of love, Jesus Christ. Our foundation must be built on the Rock. When our foundation rests upon God then we can derive a much deeper sense of purpose and meaning in our parenting. It goes well beyond our personal willpower and strength. And it can and will last for eternity leaving a legacy for generations.  

As John 1:16 tells us, it starts with grace: “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (ESV). The idea of grace, of receiving something we do not deserve, is embodied in the person of Jesus. Jesus is God’s grace personified. A heart of grace gently corrects our children with love as the driving force in order to help them understand the gift that is freely available to them, no matter their state.

Then it is a matter of priority. What gets your time and attention is within your control; you make a choice on where and what you spend your time on. Choose to develop love-powered parenting. Establish goals that you aspire to in your parenting. Love drives it all. Love will be the result of your efforts. Love is the priority from the underlying motivation to the ultimate goal in your parenting.

Everything we need to love our kids like Jesus comes from the truth of who He is and what He did for us. It’s that simple. Now it may not seem simple in the daily grind of parenting but if we can take a step back it will all come into focus. 

There are days we will fail to love our children as Jesus loves us. Fortunately, His mercies are new every morning. The best part of the reality of His love is that we can get up tomorrow and try again.  

Discussion Questions: 

  1. How can you love your kids like Jesus this week? In which of these areas do you need the most grace?

A Little Space For Grace

“Now for a short time, O Lord our God, you have been gracious to us and have let some of us escape from slavery and live in safety in this holy place. You have let us escape from slavery and have given us new life. – Ezra 9:8 (GNT).

If you know anything about the history of Israel, it was a constant series of them sinning, God punishing them, them repenting, and then “little spaces” of grace in between. In the middle of his prayer of confession and repentance in Ezra 9, Ezra breaks out into a psalm of praise. He focuses on the grace of God and realizes that God’s abiding presence has never left them even in captivity. He points out that God is kind and that He is the giver of new life. There is so much that Ezra is thankful for as he contemplates the goodness and sovereignty of God.

Today, of course, we live in the age of grace in which God promises that “whosoever will” may come and receive His Son.  There are no little spaces followed by moments of punishment. Grace was given to us as a gift of love from God, not because we earned it, but because He loves us.   

How can we make sure there is more room for God to speak, direct, and move in our lives? The answer is to walk in the grace of God.  We do that by “making room” for God in our life by creating space in our day to talk to Him and read His Word. I make room for more of God’s presence when I honor Him in my actions and attitudes and “move over” by submitting my will to His. I create more space for God and grace when I choose to accept the love He offers above my feelings of inadequacy that seek to crowd that love out. The good news is that God’s presence is always available to me. And to you.

When we are in His presence, we can experience the joy that safety and security in Him bring. His presence helps us experience His grace and peace, regardless of the circumstances surrounding our lives. God’s presence can bring us to a place of calm, comfort, confidence, and rest.

So we just have to make room, diligently seeking Him and trusting in His love. And knowing that His presence makes a difference. Just like you make space in your house for a guest. Just like you make space for dessert. Just like you make space for something new you want in your house.

God wants us to know that during this time He is making a little space for grace for us. So, take full advantage of what God has to give to you.

God’s grace is truly indescribable. I hope that each day we see, understand, and are overwhelmed by His grace as we were when we accepted Him into our life as Savior. And I hope we not only understand God’s grace but make all the space needed for God’s grace to work in our lives.


Discussion Questions: 

  1. How can grace be summarized?
  2. How can God’s overcoming, or irresistible grace be part of our lives this week?

Change For The Better

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” – Roman 11:6.

Very few people want change in their lives. We don’t want change because we don’t like it. But no matter how much we dislike change it is  inevitable that we will experience change sometime in our lives. Change for the Christian is usually a good thing. God’s plan is to make us new and to be more like Him and that requires change. But change is not the end game. Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.

That is not to suggest that change is easy.  It isn’t. How often have we been angry because of our lack of change. We react in frustration: “I can’t believe I’ve done it again,” or “why can’t I get over this hurdle?” We are disappointed and discouraged in our inability to make progress in spiritual matters. Change is painfully slow. Making our relationship with God better is not as easy as we thought it would be. 

The reality is that from time to time, we all see areas in our lives that we struggle with; areas that we wish could be different. It might be moral failures or habits that have us discouraged. It could be relationships. It could be our inability to affect lasting change. How does God want us to approach those areas? Is there a way to find freedom and real change? I believe the answer is yes and it involves God’s grace. God’s grace can make a powerful difference in your life.

It is God’s grace that enables us to change. We have the ability to change when we are  overwhelmed with His love and His grace instead of being overwhelmed with our problems and trials. When we switch our focus and perspective, change just seems to happen. Change so dramatic and so real that the problems that defeated us in the past are replaced by the peace, contentment and joy that we find in Christ. Is anything deeper in its love, or more compassionate, or more humble, than the grace God shows us daily? God’s grace pours out love, kindness, favor to all who will trust Him. You don’t have to earn it. You just have to be in relationship with Him to receive His grace. Every believer is a witness to God’s overwhelming grace. 

We most need God’s grace when we become aware of aspects in our lives we know are wrong—things like: poor decisions, habits, behavior that we are ashamed of, areas we want God to change. If we have received Christ into our hearts, we have been declared His own, forgiven, and now under His grace. It is His grace that frees us and changes us. Instead of feeling like a failure or condemned, use your shortcomings to remind you of God’s love and grace. 

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

Discussion Questions:

  1. Change can be difficult. Why or why not?
  2. What does the word “grace” mean to you? What amazes you about God’s grace?
  3. What are some of the ways in which the life of a Christian should be changed by having experienced grace?
  4. How can I be a demonstration of grace in my family, in my workplace, in my church and in my community?