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By God’s Grace

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Image result for path to heavenMercy is God’s compassion–His loving desire to free us from the bondage of sin and to lighten the burden of the sinful world on our lives.

But grace goes beyond mercy, granting us life though the wages of our sin is death [John 3:16; Romans 6:23]. Granting us adoption as God’s very own children though we were once His enemy [Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:5; Colossians 1:21]. Giving us a glorious inheritance, though we crucified His one and only Son, Jesus [John 3:16; Galatians 3:29; 1 Peter 2:24].

Grace is rewarding us when–not only haven’t we earned the reward–we actually deserve to be punished instead. And then, the reward isn’t just a participation trophy or a thanks for playing memo. By God’s grace, through our faith, He richly lavishes on us the reward of the victorious.

Though we fall short of His glory and don’t deserve heaven, by God’s grace, Jesus Himself–the one we crucified with our sin–is preparing a room for each one of us who believe on Him [John 3:16 & 14:2-3; Romans 3:23].

Right from the beginning, God determined by His grace that when sin entered the world He would not leave or forsake mankind, the apple of His eye, made in His image and for His good pleasure [Genesis 1:26-27; Deuteronomy 31:6; Zechariah 2:8; Ephesians 1:3-10; Hebrews 13:5]. By God’s grace, He made a way to redeem us from the prince of this world [John 14:30].

Though sin burned more rampant than wildfire through the hearts of generation after generation, He preserved a remnant [Genesis 6:5-8], called a people to be His own [Genesis 18:18-19], and brought forth a God-man-Son to atone for the sin that we chose over Him to begin with [John 3:16; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17].

God’s grace is inconceivable by human terms. It is undeserved yet also immeasurable. Most importantly, it is attained by faith alone. There is no good thing that we can do to earn it. No way to work our way into heaven.

By God’s grace, salvation comes through faith alone.

Are you trying to work your way into heaven? Do you stand on the merit of your own goodness or God’s? Will you accept God’s grace through faith–being absolutely sure of who He is and what He promised, though invisible to the naked eye [Hebrews 11:1]?



Patterned after Mercy

“David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 2 Samuel 24:14 & 1 Chronicles 21:13

Image result for heart patternGod is merciful. And we were made in His image to love one another and to do good works [Leviticus 19:9-18; Mark 12:31; Ephesians 2:10]. Not the least of these is to be merciful and compassionate with our fellow human beings [Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31].

Mercy is the deeds accompaniment to our faith [James 2:17 & 26]–giving a cup of cold water [Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41], doing more than just wishing someone warm and well fed [James 2:16].

Mercy extended to the people around us reflects our love for God. How we treat the apple of His eye is how we treat Him [Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8; Matthew 25:31-46].

How ironic that the eternity in our hearts calls to the mercy we were made for yet rejects He who is our mercy [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. How many decry God’s mercies because the people in their lives are not merciful? How many insist that because human beings can be ruthless and wicked that therefore God cannot be merciful?

When we recognize wrong, it is because of God’s justice patterned deep in our image. When we recognize foolishness, it is because of God’s wisdom calling to the eternity in our hearts. When we recognize apathy and cruelty, it is because of God’s mercy woven intricately into the fiber of our being.

We were made in the image of the All-powerful, All-loving and All-merciful God. We were made to compassionately meet needs. We were made to love those who hate us [Matthew 5:10-12 & 44; Luke 6:27-28]. We were made to take up the cross of Christ and to daily forgive the multitude of wrongs visited on us [Matthew 16:24 & 18:22; Luke 9:23].

And when we do not do what we were made for, the world accuses God for our unfaithfulness. The world rejects God, because His light is dimmed or dirtied by our sinfulness.

Will you live out the mercy you were made for?


From The Student Question Board: How Many Sins Are Too Many? Is There a Specific Number of Sins that Will Disqualify You From Heaven?

“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20b

Image result for infinite loveGod is infinite. In every way. He is not bounded in by anything.

In the long war between God and Satan, God is patient, not wanting any human being–who are the apple of His eye [aka the central object of His affection]–to perish [Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8; 2 Peter 3:9].

Yet in the midst of God’s infinite patience, sin increases. Every minutia of sin manifests and grows. Arrogance, abusiveness, disobedience and ungratefulness increases [2 Timothy 3:2]. Exchanging God for self increases [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14]. Wickedness, evil, greed and depravity increases [Romans 1:29].

But God’s grace is boundless.

There is no amount of sin that can disqualify you from God’s love. And if by grace through faith you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are forgiven. Period.

That’s fantastic news! Because we all sin every day, we all fall short of the glory of God in every way [Romans 3:23].

But there is a caution.

If we can’t out-sin God’s grace, then why not just keep on sinning and asking for forgiveness? Paul wrote to the Roman Christians who were struggling with this very question. The answer? By no means! In other words–absolutely not!

As forgiven believers, we died to sin just as Christ died for our sins. And we live in God’s freedom. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace, [Romans 6:12-14].

It’s like quitting smoking because you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, getting healed, and then continuing to smoke. Smoking destroys our health, just like sin destroys our spirit man. People who have been healed from cancer, are best advised to live a healthier life so that the cancer doesn’t move back into their bodies. And Christians are called to come out of the culture we live in and be Godly so that the destruction of sin doesn’t move back into our lives [2 Corinthians 6:17].

God’s mercy is infinite, just as all of Him is infinite. Sin is limited by human imagination, ability and longevity [or lack thereof]. Choose this day which one will shape your eternity. Finite sin, with even more limited moments of pleasure that lead to death and rejecting God, therefore bringing eternal condemnation [James 1:14-15]? Or infinite mercy, with abundant life now and forevermore [John 3:16]?


Makeshift Light

“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.'” Revelation 22:3-6

Image result for lamps at nightThe curse of sin will be wiped away [Genesis 3:14-19; Zechariah 14:11; Revelation 7:15-17], because God will dwell there with us. And where He is, sin cannot be also [1 John 3:8-10]. And in ancient times, criminals were banished from the presence of the king. They could never hope to have an audience with him.

But the New Jerusalem is the true Holy of Holies that was foreshadowed in the earthly tabernacle and temple, and, this time, everyone will be able to stand in His presence and live–not just a sanctified priest making a right sacrifice.

For only the pure in heart–the forgiven–will enter heaven and see God [Matthew 5:8]–we who have believed on His Son Jesus [John 3:16] and, by God’s grace, have been made righteous through that faith [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We will bear Christ’s name on our foreheads just as the one’s who were sealed in the Great Tribulation [Revelation 14:1]. And just as God commanded His chosen people nearly 3,400 years ago, we who love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength we who have His commands written on our hearts and bound to our foreheads, we who make our earthly dwelling with God will have our eternal dwelling with Him as well [Deuteronomy 6:4-8; John 14:2-3].

God Himself is our light–here on this earth and forevermore [Psalm 119:105; John 1:4-12; Revelation 21:23-25]. Every other light source is just a makeshift copy and pattern of God’s true splendor. And just as the shards of precious gems and gold in the earth should turn our eyes to the heaven for which we were made, so also should the sight of light turn our hearts to Him who is light. It should call to remembrance the eternity that God set in our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11] and, understanding, draw us closer to Him.

Everything points our attention back to our Creator and loving Father God, the Almighty, the Sovereign of all. Everything from rocks to light are here to remind every human being who we truly are–God’s Holy people, set apart from the Creation [Daniel 7:27] with the express intention that we should rule the earth [Revelation 20:4]. Instead, sin gives Satan the authority that is rightly ours. He becomes the prince and ruler of the air [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. In deceiving us to think that we can be our god [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14], the devil has actually set himself up as the god of this earthly age [2 Corinthians 4:4].

But the faithful will and have already overcome by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. We will no only inherit eternal life, but we will rule and reign with Him forever and ever, just as He always intended. And, these word are true, spoken by the One Who Is Truth [Revelation 19:9 & 21:5]. You can take them to the bank of heaven and live [Matthew 6:19-20].

Do you see by the makeshift lights of earth–lamps and torches, sun, moon and stars? Or are your eyes full of the light of truth [Matthew 6:22-23]?


Living Olive-Wood Doors

“But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. They are the ‘two olive trees’ and the two lampstands. ‘They stand before the Lord of the earth.” Revelation 11:2-4

Image result for tree carved doorsIn addition to the Temple proper, John is also told to measure the altar and to count the number of people who are worshipping therein–with the exception of the outer courts, the court of Gentiles. This area was quite large, approximately 26 acres. It was all the area surrounding the Temple since the Gentiles were not aloud to enter the building. However, the great mystery of the gospel is that Jesus came to save the Gentiles too. So why would they be excluded here?

Remember that 144,000 Jews, living during the end times, have been sealed and that the church–Jews and Gentiles alike–have been raptured into heaven [Revelation 7]. So these Gentiles are those who have rejected God. And they will continue to defy Him in all their earthly power by trampling His holy city of Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years. A similar historical trampling is mentioned in Daniel 7:25, and Jesus prophesied to this end times trampling during His time on earth [Luke 21:24].

While all this religious chaos is happening, God will empower two witnesses for a period of just about 3 1/2 years. And they will prophesy in sackcloth–the dark, itchy clothes of mourning or great grief. These two witnesses were foreshadowed in the construction of Solomon’s Temple. He had two olive-wood doors constructed to enclose the inner sanctuary [1 Kings 6:32]. Here also, a golden lampstand was kept full of oil and burning night and day. The inner sanctuary was where the ark of the covenant–an image invoking the very throne room of God–was kept. So the olive-wood doors–or twin witnesses–allow access to the mercy seat even in these late End Time days.

Again, Zechariah 4 first mentions these two End Times witnesses and calls them both olive trees and lampstands [verse 1, 3 & 11]. These witnesses are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth [Zechariah 4:14]. Anointed meaning that they were chosen, set apart, prepared and empowered for their specific ministry–to preach the gospel when the people of God have been removed from the earth. Without doubt the most harrowing experience in the history of the planet if not for being imbued with God’s Spirit from on high to carry out the work.

God has also empowered us–with His Holy Spirit–to be His witnesses today. We do not need to clothe ourselves in grief and mourning, rather we’re called to put on joy and to wear Jesus like a robe. So that the whole world may know Him whom we have believed.

Are you a faithful witness of Christ? When people meet you, do they see Jesus in your life?


The Measuring Reed

“I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, ‘Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there.” Revelation 11:1

Image result for reedJohn becomes present in his vision again and is told to take measurements. New Testament time readers would have envisioned a bamboo-like cane known as a reed that usually grew to about 20 feet tall. They were straight, light and grew in abundance on the banks of the Jordan so they were a very handy tool. We find similar rods used in the visions in Ezekiel 40 where the Temple is, once again, being measured and in Zechariah 2 in which the city of Jerusalem is measured.

Again, the Ezekiel passage contains a vision given during the Babylonian captivity and a great international upheaval. After prophesying to the exiles that Jerusalem would be sacked and the Temple burned to a pile of rubble, Ezekiel receives a vision of restoration and new life. This Temple measuring is part of the hope that Israel received.

Zechariah’s ministry was to the returned exiles back at home in Jerusalem. He had the joy of prophesying growth into the new life breathing again in the heart of Israel. The measuring line herein showed that Jerusalem would grow until it outgrew itself. Then, only the Lord God of Israel would be able to surround and fortify the city. He Himself would be there protection. However, Zechariah was also given the message that the Messiah would come and be rejected, and then later, that the Messiah would return and be acknowledged as Lord of all by all.

Measuring, then, serves two purposes to show what has been and what will be. To prophesy destruction–a demolition–making way for new construction and new life. So when John is told to measure, we can be sure that God is going to, once again, oversee a heavenly reconstruction project. The earthly Temple, while certainly sacred, was just a copy and a shadow of the real Temple to come in heaven. Heaven will not be limited by earthly measurements, but God wanted the readers of Revelation to wrap their heads around something tangible. Jerusalem would, as it has so many times before, face overwhelming hardship and desecration even, but God already has the renovation plans well in hand. And we can trust Him to do the work that needs to be done. Beyond anything that we could ask or imagine [Ephesians 3:20].

Has God applied His measuring reed to your life? Likely if you’ve read His word and accepted His Holy Spirit, then He has asked you to measure with His intent to renovate your life. Do you trust Him?


A Blazing Mountain-Thingy

“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” Revelation 8:8-9

Image result for mountain and ocean wavesBeat two, trumpet two enters. The result? Something like a huge mountain. Something like? John is seeing things he has to explain with words he knows, even if he has no words for the reality. Though God doesn’t correct Him as He could have.

So a blazing mountain-thing is hurled to the earth–like the censer and the hail-fire-blood mix–but this time into the ocean. Jeremiah 51:25 speaks of a destroying mountain that will repay Babylon for her idolatrous ways, leaving behind a pile of burnt rubble. Remember that Babel first introduced and spread false religions [Genesis 11:4-6], so false religion will be blotted out from the earth in the reversal of sin in the new creation at the end of time.

But Jesus also told believers that, with a mustard seed of faith, we could tell a mountain–an obstacle in our lives–to throw itself into the sea. And if we believe, it will happen [Matthew 11:23 & 21:21]. This something like a mountain being thrown into the sea, could very much represent the faith of believers moving the hindrance of false religion from the world, not by might, not by power, but by the spirit of the Lord [Zechariah 4:6].

And fire is used to refine [1 Peter 1:7]. It burns away the impurities, leaving behind pure gold, silver, and other precious metals. In scripture, a fire coal is also used for figuratively cleansing, in much the same way, the prophet Isaiah’s lips or his words/speech [Isaiah 6:6-7]. Any part of our life that is built on anything or anyone other than Christ will burn away in the refining fire of judgment [1 Corinthians 3:11-15].

Here again, we see a repeat of the first Exodus plague, water turned to blood [Exodus 7:14-24]. Just as in Egypt when the Nile’s fish died [Exodus 7:21], so the effected ocean life will die as a result of the fiery mountain turning one-third of the sea to blood. Not only that, but one-third of all the world’s ships–a creation of human hands–will also be destroyed.

Now you could probably name a dozen movies that glamorize this much ecological and nautical carnage. And many people have no problem attaching this type of thing to governments at war either. But one mention that God is involved and, all of a sudden, He is unjust. On the contrary, it is because God is just and holy and good that false religion cannot continue eternally. It is because of who He is that sin and death cannot exist eternally. And why would we want it to?

But if death is to be destroyed, then its root–sin [James 1:15]–must also be destroyed. And we each are responsible for choosing how the sin is removed from our lives. We can either accept Christ’s sacrifice to cleanse us from sins–as simply as believing in Him–or we can reject His sacrifice and accept the wages of our own sin [Romans 6:23], death in whatever form it takes.

Have you accepted Christ’s sacrifice for your sins? Do you have a faith in Him that moves mountains? Or do you intend to face death without Jesus?