Few days back, I had to endure some severe pain in my body. No medication, no pain killer, nothing worked. I was in tears because of the intensity of the pain. My entire family did not know how to deal with the situation. Though some suggested that I should be admitted to the hospital right away, I was in no condition to travel.
In such a severe pain, I wanted to divert my mind and opened my email, and there was this email I receive daily from gracegems.org, with the title, “HE cannot love you more – and He will not love you less.” As soon as I saw the heading, to be honest, my mind thought that it is going to be a devotional, where it says, God loves you so much and He would deliver you from this affliction… apparently, my mind has become so tuned to this century Christian teaching. But it was a devotional from Spurgeon and it was exactly opposite to what I thought… and it brought tears into my eyes… tears of joy and tears of love. And I surrendered myself, with all the pain and affliction, to the love of God and soon, the pain became tolerable. This is the devotional.
He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less! – Charles Spurgeon
“Having loved His own who were in the world–He loved them to the very end!” – John 13:1
Christian, God’s love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less!
Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten you or when your distresses abound–does God’s love falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you–the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke, is full of love! Judge not the Lord by feeble sense–but trust Him for His grace. Whether He brings you down into the depths of misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight–His faithful love never varies or fluctuates–it is everlasting in its continuity!
“His faithful love endures forever!” – Psalm 136:1
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love!” – Jeremiah 31:3
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” – Lamentations 3:22
Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. – Romans 5:20
Many years back, I was talking to a pastor and when we were talking about the grace of God, he looked straight at me and made a startling statement: “Patrick, I care a lot about my congregation. I don’t want them to go to eternal damnation. So, I never preach them about grace.”
Okay, “startling” is a mild word to express what I felt. Even today, when I think about it, I am not sure if I know the exact word to express how I feel about this statement. Preaching Christ without any mention of grace, at least IMHO, is an impossible task. And isn’t it by grace, we receive salvation?
Anyways, I asked him to explain and he used the above verse, Romans 5:20, to explain why Christian preachers must not speak about grace. Apparently, there are certain “Christian” preachers who say that since grace abounds much more than sin, it is okay for a Christian to continue sinning. Actually there are some preachers who encourage their church members to sin more, so that the grace of our Lord abounds much more. So, this pastor hates the concept of grace, since it leads to a sinful life, and hence does not preach about grace.
Honestly, it left me at a loss of words. Later I came to know about the false doctrine of “hyper-grace”, but that was the first time, I have ever heard that the grace of our Lord was being abused to continue in sin. It is wrong, but it is also wrong not to teach about grace. All both the preachers have to do is to read further. Because the first two verses of the 6th chapter in the Epistle to Romans clearly contradicts the “hyper-grace” doctrine.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? – Romans 6:1-2
If a Christian received the grace of the Lord at Calvary, when he or she realized that while grace is freely given, it cost our Saviour Jesus Christ so much suffering, then they will not continue to sin. Let us go back to Calvary. Let us look at the sufferings and afflictions of our Lord and let us grow in the true grace of our Redeemer, so that we live a holy life – by His grace. Amen.
Once I heard a song of sweetness,
As it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness,
Like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer,
Whence the wondrous song was borne;
And I found a bird, sore wounded,
Pinioned by a cruel thorn.
I have seen a soul in sadness,
While its wings with pain were furl”d,
Giving hope, and cheer and gladness
That should bless a weeping world;
And I knew that life of sweetness,
Was of pain and sorrow row borne,
And a stricken soul was singing,
With its heart against a thorn.
Ye are told of One who loved you,
Of a Saviour crucified,
Ye are told of nails that pinioned,
And a spear that pierced His side;
Ye are told of cruel scourging,
Of a Saviour bearing scorn,
And He died for your salvation,
With His brow against a thorn.
Ye “are not above the Master.”
Will you breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient,
When your heart is pierced with pain.
Will you live to bless His loved ones,
Tho” your life be bruised and torn,
Like the bird that sang so sweetly,
With its heart against a thorn?
Read this recently in “2000 + Bible Illustrations” and thought of sharing it.
Nicolaus Copernicus was a famed astronomer born in Poland on February 19, 1473. He was a mathematician whose accomplishments changed men’s ideas of the universe. Also he was a well-known writer. Although highly educated in astronomical science, he was much more – he was a child of God who had learned to know and trust his Savior, Jesus Christ.
When he was critically ill with his final illness, his book, On Resolutions of the Celestial Bodies, just off the press, was laid in his arms.
At the close of his life, he did not think of himself as an astronomer or scientist, but as a sinner who needed the forgiveness of his Savior. He asked that the following epitaph be written on his gravestone:
“Lord, I do not ask the kindness Thou didst show to Peter. I do not dare ask the grace Thou didst grant to Paul; but, Lord, the mercy Thou didst show to the dying robber, that mercy show to me. That earnestly I pray.”
|James 3:13“[Two Kinds of Wisdom] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
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There are so many things in the Bible that are so misunderstood. It comes because of ignorance and most importantly, taking a Biblical verse out of context. And one of the important things that is so misunderstood is the grace of God.
Let me explain that by something that happened when I was a kid. I was raised Roman Catholic. When I was 10 years old, they had decided its time for me to have my first confession and my first communion. A priest came and we were there, some eager boys, listening carefully about confession. The priest explained how first of all, we needed to repent for our sins and then only we have to go to confession booth. After some 30 minutes of explanation, the priest wanted to make sure whether we have to understood the concept of confession. So, he asked, “So, if you want to go to the confession, what is the first thing we need to do?” I was an eager kid and I raised my hand immediately, shouting, “Father, Father, I know the answer.” The priest was very pleased with my eagerness and allowed me to answer that question – except I don’t think he was ready for the answer I had in mind. My answer was, “If we have to go to the confession, the first thing we have to do is SIN.” (DISCLAIMER: I am not a Roman Catholic anymore. I am a Christian. I do believe in confessing my sins to the LORD Almighty and repenting, but not to a priest and then telling 10 Our Father in Heavens and 20 Hail Mary’s.)
Unfortunately this is the attitude today with some Christians who have misunderstood one of the most beautiful verses in the Scriptures.
Where sin increased, God’s grace increased even more. When we sinned, the LORD’s grace increased much more so that our sins are forgiven. It is such a beautiful verse and has provided comfort to millions of sinners and made them into saints. But then, suddenly people started taking it out of context and started arguing something like this. So, if I sin more, then the grace of the LORD will increase, right? So, I can sin more and more, so that the grace of the Lord will increase further more.
There is a small problem with this. It just means two things. First of all, it tells that we are reading the Bible with a very wrong mindset. If we think that there could be a verse that could be used as an excuse to lead a sinful life, that means clearly that we are reading the Holy Bible with the wrong attitude. It is called the HOLY Bible for a reason. It is the Word of the LORD, the Most Holy, Holy, Holy God. So, when someone puts such an argument with a verse taken out of context, it just shows that they have no or little understanding of the nature of our God.
Second, it also shows that we have not read the Bible properly. Just two verses later, the Spirit of God gives the answer for this question through Apostle Paul in very clear terms. Paul asks this very question in Romans 6:1.
Then, he goes on to answer that question in a very emphatic manner.
God forbid! How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? – Romans 6:2 (KJV 21)
Yes, dear friend, when we sinned not knowing of the Holiness of the LORD Almighty, His grace increased more and our sins were forgiven. Now, by His grace, we are dead to sin, so, may God forbid, let us not sin anymore. May the LORD, in His grace, help us overcome the temptations. Amen.
|Philippians 1:6“… 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.”
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HE (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. – John 3:30 (NLT)
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus Christ says that there is no one greater than John the Baptist, among those born of women. (Mat. 11:11) In the same Gospel, Jesus also proclaims that whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Mat. 23:12) If we consider these two verses together, we will realize that John the Baptist had humbled himself the most, because Jesus exalted him above everyone else. Yes, John the Baptist had only one goal in his mind: “HE (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30, NLT)
When the Bible first mentions Elijah, he starts right away with his mission.
Now, Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years unless I give the command.” (1 Kings. 17:1, NET)
It is clear from the later verses, that it was the LORD Himself who gave this power to Elijah. But in this verse, only once Elijah uses the Name of the LORD, but gives more prominence to himself – note the prominent “I” . Contrast this with how Moses approached Pharaoh.
Moses… went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says, “Let My people go, so that they may hold a festival in My honor in the wilderness.”” (Exodus 5:1, NLT)
The contrast is evident. Moses does not mention anything about how the LORD God has chosen him as the leader of His people. He does not talk about how the LORD has promised to do great things through Moses. All he talks about what the LORD wants. But Elijah was not talking about the LORD. He was talking about himself. He was talking about how powerful he is, but he did not mention who gave him that authority.
Why did pride come into a prophet like Elijah? Elijah was standing before Ahab, the worst king of Israel ever had. He and his wife were abominations in the eyes of the LORD and they were serving false gods. But Elijah was righteous by his deeds. He was not bowing before false gods. He was serving the true living God. See how he proclaims… “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, WHOM I SERVE…”
Oh dear child of God, when you see other Christians who are not as faithful as you are, do you get angry? Do you look down at people who do not share our faith? Remember it is not our deeds, it is the by the grace of the LORD and the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are saved. We stand as righteous not because of our deeds, so there is no place for pride in a Christian.
But the LORD did not forsake Elijah. The LORD understands us. We may not understand why we are behaving in certain ways, but the LORD knows our inner workings. And He is gracious. So comes an isolation for Elijah. The LORD teaches him humility. Dear child of God, are you feeling lonely? Don’t fret. The LORD is with you, teaching things that you did not know before, preparing you for great things. Don’t be anxious; don’t be upset about your loneliness. But, listen carefully. In that loneliness, there is something more valuable than gold. And when you have learned humility, and when you humble yourself before the LORD, HE will exalt you as He exalted Elijah before everyone’s eyes.
After learning humility from the LORD, Elijah is a different man now. And it is evident in the way he supplicates before the LORD at Mt. Carmel.
The prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command.” – 1 Kings. 18:36 (NIV).
What a turn around? From “it will not rain unless I give my command”, “LORD, I have done all these things at Your command.” What a transformation!!! Amen. Yes, dear child of God, the LORD wants to transform you like this, so that HE can use you for greater things that you cannot even fathom. But in all that remember one thing: