And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. John 1:16
A famous hymn says, “When sorrows like sea billows roll.”1 But John 1:16 talks about another kind of billowing reality—“grace for grace.” The idea seems to be drawn from the picture of ocean waves. Out of the fullness of Jesus Christ, we constantly receive one wave of grace after another. Just as a wave swells, curls, and crashes to the shore, then recedes as another follows, so the grace of God comes with endless waves of blessings.
God cares for us so deeply He records our sorrows. Psalm 56:8 says: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”
In some way God captures our tears in His bottle and our pain in His Book. In other words, He cares for every heart pang. If He has captured your tears in His bottle, then let the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit bring comfort to your heart. And if He has written your hurts in His heavenly book, open His earthly Book and find a promise. You will receive one wave of divine grace after another.
Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah’s court and are numbered with “the most sublime strains that reach the majesty on high.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
Jesus: Glory, Grace, and God (John 1:14-18)
Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
You might know what it’s like. The bills keep arriving after a medical procedure—from the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, the lab, the facility. Jason experienced this after an emergency surgery. He complained, “We owe thousands of dollars after insurance. If only we can get these bills paid, then life will be good and I’ll be content! I feel like I’m playing the arcade game Whack-a-Mole”—where plastic moles pop up from their holes, and the player hits them wildly with a mallet.
Life comes at us like that at times. The apostle Paul certainly could relate. He said, “I know what it is to be in need,” yet he’d “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). His secret? “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (v. 13). When I was going through a particularly discontented time, I read this on a greeting card: “If it isn’t here, where is it?” That was a powerful reminder that if I’m not content here and now, what makes me think I’d be if only I were in another situation?
How do we learn to rest in Jesus? Maybe it’s a matter of focus. Of enjoying and being thankful for the good. Of learning more about a faithful Father. Of growing in trust and patience. Of recognizing that life is about God and not me. Of asking Him to teach me contentment in Him.
Reflect & Pray
In what areas of your life do you need to grow in contentment? How might you change your focus?
God, You are good and all You do is good. Teach me contentment in You. I want to learn.
Sin disrupts relationships and separates us from God. We can readily see these consequences in the account of Adam and Eve. Disobedience hurt their relationship with God and caused them to live apart from Him. Later, their son Cain murdered his brother Abel. Today, sin continues to cause this pattern of alienation, jealousy, hatred, and violence.
But by sending His Son Jesus to die in our place, God the Father made it possible for each of us to be reconciled to Him. When we accept His offer of salvation, we move from a state of estrangement to permanent adoption as His children (John 1:12; Eph. 1:5).
And because the Holy Spirit indwells believers to provide guidance and teaching, we can experience a unity with other Christians, which is expressed through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). Since we are all unique, this does not in any way imply uniformity. However, it does point to living in submission to the Father and displaying attitudes and behavior that will strengthen connections with our spiritual family.
Are you already a child of God? Then make living in unity with others a priority (Rom. 12:18). But if you haven’t yet answered God’s call, why not ask Jesus for forgiveness today?
“But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)
These words of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to settle once and for all, for those who take His words seriously, the controversial question of the age of the earth. The earth was created essentially at the same time, He said, as the creation of Adam and Eve. Christ was quoting from Genesis 1:27: “male and female created He them.” This greatest of God’s creative works was “from the beginning of the creation,” not 13 billion years after the beginning of the creation, as modern old-earth advocates allege.
One can understand why atheists believe in evolution and an almost infinitely old universe, for they really have no other alternative. One who believes in a personal God, on the other hand, only dishonors God if he believes such humanistic speculations rather than God’s Word. God is omniscient and omnipotent, as well as loving and merciful, and He would never do anything like this. The great ages assumed by evolutionary geologists supposedly involved billions of years of suffering and dying by billions of animals before man ever evolved. Surely this would have been the most inefficient, wasteful, and cruel method that ever could have been devised for “creating” human beings. Since man’s creation was God’s main purpose, there is no conceivable reason why He would waste billions of years in such a meaningless charade as this before getting to the point. In fact, the only reason He took six days instead of an instant of time was to serve as a pattern for man’s workweek (Exodus 20:8-11).
In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ was not only a creationist but was Himself the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; etc.). Therefore, He is the best possible witness as to when He created man and woman, and He said it was “from the beginning of the creation”! HMM
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
It is possible to work far beyond the normal strength of the human constitution and yet experience little or no fatigue because the energy for the work has been provided, not by the burning up of human tissue, but by the indwelling Spirit of power. This has been realized by a few unusual souls, and the pity is that they are unusual.
Attention has recently been focused upon the fact that ministers suffer a disproportionately high number of nervous breakdowns compared with other men. The reasons are many, and for the most part they reflect credit on the men of God. Still I wonder if it is all necessary. I wonder whether we who claim to be sons of the new creation are not allowing ourselves to be cheated out of our heritage. Surely it should not be necessary to do spiritual work in the strength of our natural talents. God has provided supernatural energies for supernatural tasks. The attempt to do the work of the Spirit without the Spirit’s enabling may explain the propensity to nervous collapse on the part of Christian ministers. SIZ184-185
Lord, today I pray for that pastor who is about to give up and quit from sheer exhaustion. Give him that supernatural enabling. Amen.
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.
Someone wrote to the godly Macarius of Optino that his spiritual counsel had been helpful. “This cannot be,” Macarius wrote in reply. “Only the mistakes are mine. All good advice is the advice of the Spirit of God, His advice that I happened to have heard rightly and to have passed on without distorting it.”
There is an excellent lesson here that we must not allow to go unregarded. It is the sweet humility of the man of God. “Only the mistakes are mine.” He was fully convinced that his own efforts could result only in mistakes, and that any good that came of his advice must be the work of the Holy Spirit operating within him.
Apparently this was more than a sudden impulse of self-depreciation, which the proudest of men may at times feel—it was rather a settled conviction with him, a conviction that gave direction to his enter life. TWP063
The spirit of humility is conclusive evidence of vital godliness. It enters into the essence of religion. Here the new nature eminently discovers itself. The humble spirit is that childlike, Christlike temper, which is exclusively the effect of the almighty power of God upon the heart. DTC130
In Christ we have been released from what once kept us enslaved. People who have experienced this liberation testify with passion to the power of Christ that freed them from bondage. That which once enslaved them is now rendered powerless.
Addiction has been the curse of our age. In reality, however, the enslaving power of sin has always been part of the human predicament. It was in recognition of this that Paul wrote: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… the evil I do not want to do—this I keep doing” (Romans 7:15-19).
The addictive capacity that we each have is powerful. Recognizing our inability to suppress or escape the enslaving power of sin propels us with abandon to the grace of Jesus Christ.
Addiction is defined as any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human desire. We attach our desires to specific objects and become completely consumed by the habitual behavior. It controls us. We want to break away from the object of our craving desires, but we cannot. It rules us. It torments us.
The cruelest dimension to addictive behavior is found in those substances that cause personal physical destruction or injury to other people. For the lives of innocent people—so often children or spouse—to become shattered because of addiction is similarly wicked.
Abstaining from harmful substances and behaviors is not only a decision of principle, it is also sheer common sense. A lament of the addict is the regret that they experimented in the first place.
“I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.” In making this commitment, Salvation Army soldiers strengthen themselves in a very tangible way for spiritual warfare. They engage in the action unfettered and alert.
Richard Munn, The War Cry