While we do grow in the grace of God and understanding of the Scriptures, there is no new message. If you are being taught that Jesus’ death on the cross cleansed/forgave you from ALL sins past, present and future, regardless of your actions, you are going to be robbed of receiving all that the Lord desires for you. The truth is, that for those who believe, His blood paved the way to the Kingdom of God by justification. In order to receive that justification we had to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. That is not a one time action. We were at that point forgiven of our past sins. As we go forward we must continue to seek the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins so that we can ask for forgiveness and turn away from that sinful behavior on a continual basis. This is repentance and Jesus and the apostles spoke of repentance often. Repentance is so important to God that He sent John the Baptist, as the forerunner to Jesus Christ, to preach repentance! Repentance is not just asking for forgiveness but turning AWAY from the sin to not return that way again. This is the process of sanctification. “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18) “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9) “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7) “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” (Romans 6:19) “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22)
Scripture is very clear on the importance of the act of forgiveness which, of course, should lead us to repentance. We need only look at the Lord’s prayer to be reminded of the Lord’s teaching for all of His followers. “Give us each day our daily bread.  `And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." (Luke 11:3-4) "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15) The Apostle John reminds us of the words of Jesus in the following passage, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The Apostle Paul beautifully describes the heart that touches the heart of God, “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss…” (2 Corinthians 7:9) God’s grace...wanting to bless us with all that He has provided for us, but as you can see there must be a proper response on our part according to the will of God. We don’t “do” repentance and forgiveness and obedience for the rewards of the crowns at the Judgment, but those rewards are based upon our transformed life that produces righteousness because of the blood of Jesus Christ that has washed us clean and we walk in the newness of life. There is a Scripture that has always stood out to me that reminds me of my freedom to make choices. “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” - (Romans 6:6) We always have a choice of how to behave or respond, but those choices always have a consequence. Our choices can produce righteousness or unrighteousness. Either way the Lord will deal with them at the Judgment when He rewards us with crowns that we will place back at the Lord’s feet. Can you imagine standing before Him and not having any gift (crown) to give back to Him? That is why it is so important to divide the Word of the Lord correctly. A grace message that does not include ongoing repentance is not a message of grace, it is really a loss in so many ways.
When we stand before the Lord at the Judgment we will be judged on anything in our lives that is “outstanding”. Continual unconfessed sin will be dealt with at the Judgment Seat. It doesn’t mean you won’t be saved but it will have an effect on the rewards you will receive and your eternal life. It would be worthwhile for us to stop and digest these words of our Lord, `I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  `So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  `Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,  I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.  `Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.  `He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  `He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' " (Revelation 3:15-22)
If you look closely at this false teaching of the grace message you will actually see that it is “cheating” the believer out of God’s grace. They are being cheated out of the gift of freedom and deliverance of things keeping them in bondage. They are being kept separated from an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are being deprived of the blessing of the fullness of God’s living water, not only cleansing and healing one’s soul, but they are being denied the gift of being a vessel that God would use to bless others.
God’s grace has always been with us and we began looking at some of those Scriptures in the last devotion Are You Playing With Fire? which is found under The Way of the Cross/Holiness. God’s grace was demonstrated in all of creation. His grace was evident in His discipline and forgiveness toward Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God’s grace drew Abraham into His presence and we see His grace demonstrated over and over again as Abraham and Sarah learned to walk with Him, learned obedience and trust and most of all to love Him with all their hearts so that they believed Him and it was counted to them as righteousness. (Romans 4:3,9; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23) Can this be said of you? Do you see His loving hand guiding your daily life? Does your love for the Lord grow daily? Do you desire to know Him more intimately? Moses met with the Lord face to face (even though Moses could not see His face for it was hidden in the cloud) but yet he cried out that he wanted to know God as he was known by God. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend…” (Exodus 33:11) "Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight…” (Exodus 33:13)
We see God’s grace in giving Joseph dreams into what was to come and grace to keep him alive in spite of the harm intended by his brothers. Joseph understood this only after he was reunited with his brothers and saw God’s hand directing his life those many years to prepare him to deliver the children of Israel from starvation and death. "Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.  Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8) Joseph repeated three times that God had been in control of all the circumstances of his life and that time of testing was now over and His revelation was now being seen by all of Israel’s sons. One of the many things they were to learn from this period of tribulation was God’s sovereignty and His holiness.
While working on this devotion God has taken me on that same journey. He has had me revisiting the circumstances of my life and revealing to me why it seemed I was always on the difficult road. I’ve been given a great gift of seeing God’s hand on me even when I was in rebellion. Those times were in no way God’s desire but He allowed it knowing that when I reached the end of myself He was going to use it for His glory. There were other times that I seemed to choose the more difficult path but it was actually Him preparing me for the future.
There are many who say they are believers yet are battling where they are and what they are being called to do. May you be challenged today to stop and ask God if maybe you are exactly where He wants you (but you are not happy because it is not where you want to be) or to show you where He wants you (which may be something you really don’t want to do). Ask Him to show you what He is trying to teach you. I have found that when I am unhappy with my surroundings and things required of me that I am being very self-focused and have neglected to seek God’s heart in the matter. It is then that I become convicted and see my sin and need to lay down MY will and pick up His cross and ask for His grace to guide me because I know that I cannot do it alone. Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, `Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) Oh yes, I can “put on a good face” and try to do it my way but God will not receive any glory in it and I will miss out on God’s blessing of pouring out His mercy and grace. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
We see God’s grace in the life of Moses. He was spared death as a baby. Even though he was raised in the Pharaoh’s household he knew his mother and his heritage. Many years later it was God’s grace that revealed to Moses that now was the time He had planned to use him to deliver the Israelites from slavery in the land of Egypt. God’s grace flowed through Moses in power and strength to perform miracles. Not miracles by Moses, but by God. Moses was the vessel because he allowed God’s grace to heal his wounded heart. Moses was away in the desert for 40 years, so if you are suffering from a wounded heart please go before the Lord and get the healing God desires for you because He is not finished with you! You may be quite surprised by the way God wants to lead you next. Often it is the very wound that you hate that God wants to use to strengthen you in your trust of Him. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;” (Romans 8:26) “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
We see God’s grace in the life of Joshua and Caleb. They were the only two out of the multitude of thousands that came out of Egypt that entered the Promised Land. Why? They believed God and trusted Him to do what He said He would do. All the other adults that came out perished in the wilderness from unbelief, but Joshua and Caleb entered into the promises of God. Their entrance into the promised land was a type and shadow of entering the Kingdom of God. Do you believe God and trust Him with your life to accomplish His will? Will you enter the Kingdom of God or be left behind because of unbelief? The truths presented in the details of their lives is an incredible testimony of their love of God. Their faith was a stark contrast to the rest of the Israelites. Their concern wasn’t to “fit in” with the rest of them but to “stand” for the truth of God’s Word! It’s best summed up in these well known words spoken by Joshua, "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
We can’t leave this topic until we look at David and Bathsheba. Scandal! Disgrace! Humiliation! Deception! Murder! Grace! WHAT….grace? NO! He sinned in so many different ways, he ordered a murder, he implicated others in his scheme, he committed adultery. Sounds like a story you read about every day in today’s newspapers. There is no sin in which God’s grace is not deeper still! But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." (James 4:6) It is freely given....to those who confess and lay it all down, holding back nothing, accepting the truth of what they have done and willing to lay it all down at the foot of the cross to be judged and sentenced by the Almighty One, God alone!
Do you remember how it all started? With a very simple decision made without consulting the Lord! “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1) Spring, a new season. But David didn’t move into his destiny that spring. He didn’t consult the Lord, he just didn’t go. And by not going he created many problems for himself, as well as many others. It’s interesting, David was called a “man after God’s own heart” yet he displayed no guilt or remorse for all that he had done. It’s amazing how quickly we can become numb to our sin when our flesh is in control! God’s grace entered through the Prophet Nathan. Nathan didn’t go to David with his own message, he conveyed exactly what God had directed. Why? Only God knows how to reach the sinner’s heart! The message that Nathan presented to King David would not have meant anything to you or me, it was specifically for David. Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, "There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.  "The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him.  Now a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."  Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.” (2 Samuel 12:1-5) Notice David’s passionate response, "As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion." (2 Samuel 12:5-6) Notice that David was upset that the person had no compassion. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus, "Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.” (Luke 6:42) We are so quick to judge others but not to consider our own hearts and motives!
The next words out of the mouth of Nathan are probably some of the most well known words of Scripture, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7) But let us read the entire text to understand not only the sin but also the consequences of those sins and the extent to which it affected others. God also pronounces His judgment. Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.  `I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!  `Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.  `Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'  "Thus says the LORD, `Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.  `Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.' " (2 Samuel 12:7-12)
Let’s break this down so we truly understand and see sin through God’s eyes. God reminds David that He was the One and only reason David was king. “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalms 100:3) David’s psalms touch us so much because they were personal testimonies of the work the Lord did in his life. They were learned at the feet of the Master and through much discipline and scourging. Most of us will never quite reach that depth of intimacy with the Lord because we will not allow the Lord’s words of discipline and consequences reach our ears. We may be convicted and quickly repent but we don’t want to hear the rest of what God has to say to us. We must be willing to receive the FULL COUNSEL of the Lord! “FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES."  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:6-8) “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
Why didn’t David go that spring? We could give several guesses but God sees unrest and discontentment in David’s soul. God then detailed the destruction caused by his discontentment. Wow! What would our response be? Would we argue with God’s assessment or would we refuse to even hear God’s message? See, God’s message was a message of grace. God doesn’t just point out our sin, He shows us the problem...the REAL problem. He then lays before us the consequences that our actions produced and then the consequences WE will need to walk through. Go back and read God’s message again, there were some very serious consequences to David’s sin. Did David argue? Did he deny God’s assessment? Did he try to make excuses? Let’s hear what David’s response was, Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." … David admitted his guilt. And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13) God’s grace! David knew he deserved death and was willing to receive God’s judgment. But God poured out His grace.
But there was one more matter to address, "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." (2 Samuel 12:14) David penned Psalm 51 expressing his guilt and what God revealed to him during his time of repentance and sorrow. I encourage you to read the entire Psalm but here we will note a couple of the verses we need to hear. “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.” (Psalms 51:1-4) David knew he needed a savior to cleanse him and wash him clean of all sin. He repented of each transgression and acknowledged he deserved the consequences he was facing. But the greatest truth is found in verse 4, he understood that not only this situation, but every sin committed is against God. Look at the last half of 2 Samuel 12:14 again, “...because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…” Can you now hear God’s unspoken meaning to you and me? Everything we do either brings the Lord glory or will make Him a mockery and cause others to blaspheme His holiness! David understood this truth. There is only one appropriate response. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalms 51:17) I ask you again, PLEASE READ PSALM 51 IN ITS ENTIRETY! You will be greatly blessed, I promise!
Yes, the baby died. David fasted and lay on his face pleading with the Lord to allow him to LIVE but when he was told the baby did not live, he got up, showered and then sat at the table to eat. The servants were amazed! Why the change? David knew something they didn’t. God’s judgment had been served but He was right in His judgment and David had repented and received God’s grace as well as the scourging. Listen to his words, He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, `Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.'  "But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:22-23) Read his last statement again. "But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." David accepted God’s judgment for his sin but he saw God’s grace in taking the child into heaven! The child was in a much better place and was with the Lord. He knew that he would meet him one day, which is another gift of God’s grace.
David then went into Bathsheba’s chamber to comfort her. I can almost verbally hear him sharing God’s great grace with her with tears streaming down both of their faces. God was removing/washing away their sin and they were being washed white as snow! "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) They accepted God’s grace and they were given a son whom they named Solomon. “...Now the LORD loved him  and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the LORD'S sake.” (2 Samuel 12:24-25) Do you know what Jedidiah means? It means “Beloved of the Lord”. God’s grace. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)
There are so many more examples of God’s grace in Scripture and hopefully you will begin to desire to explore each of them to see their circumstances and also learn how to walk with God and allow Him to guide you through all of the difficult things we encounter in this journey here on earth. Before the birth of Christ, God Himself performed miracles of grace through His prophets, through angels and through the Holy Spirit. Many times in the Old Covenant Scriptures we see references to “the angel of the Lord” and many interpret that to be the Messiah. You will often read afterwards when the individuals realized it was a “visitation from God” and would be amazed that they weren’t dead because they had seen the Living God!
We need to have this foundational understanding of God’s grace before I give you the definition that changed my life. When I say that it changed my life, I am saying that I had a solid, clear understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit. But when I heard the following words, the words in Scripture became more understandable and alive to me; it set me on a firmer foundation of faith. Here it is: Grace is the very presence of Christ in me who enables me to be who God created me to be. "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13)
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Won’t you join me? This earth is not my home but it has so many distractions to take our focus off of the Lord. I can only walk upright when I draw near to Him. Hopefully these devotions help you draw nearer to the Lord as well. Every one that is written is a personal journey. I know I still have a long journey ahead of me and I would be grateful for your prayers and companionship as we walk this narrow road together!
My Precious Lord, I want to thank You for Your unfolding message of grace. May it be received as a precious gift from You. I love You so much and yet I find myself not expressing that love as much as I would desire because of distractions. Forgive me Lord and strengthen the weaknesses which I have with Your mercy and grace that I may not fall. Like the Apostle Paul, I too need to hear Your words, And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) When I am weak You are strong. And by that You My Lord and Savior You receive all the glory. How can I not love You more and more as I see the weaknesses in my life? Thank You for loving me enough to reveal the things of my life that are not pleasing to You so that I might lay them down at the foot of the cross! You are my life! I love You with all my heart! All this I pray in the blessed name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!