Category Archives: General

Cosmic Continuance

My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Because the Christian life is a series of ups and downs . . . highs and lows . . . victories and defeats . . . we all must come to terms with the challenging concept of cosmic continuance, because the fact of the matter is that the life of the Christian will continue in a series of ups and downs . . . highs and lows . . . victories and defeats.

In every culture except the culture of Christianity, our identity is found in our performance. In the more traditional Eastern cultures, identity is wrapped up in the family or community. When you are serving the family or community well, you feel good about yourself; when you are not serving them well, you don’t. In the West, identity is wrapped up in the individual. The good of the individual trumps all other goods, including the good of the family or the community. When you are doing well, you feel good about yourself; when you are not doing so well, you don’t. Only in Christianity is your identify fixed, regardless of your performance, creating a never-ending state of cosmic continuance.

You see, in Christ, you are not looking to your performance to find your value and worth. Rather, you are looking to the Person of Jesus Christ, who has fixed your true value and worth in Him. And when you locate your value and worth in Christ, nothing can diminish or discontinue it in any way. You are now living at the level of cosmic continuance.

Look, your performance will always vary, depending on the circumstances you are facing, and so will your settled sense of value and worth — if you are looking to your performance. That lack of continuance in your Christian life will be deeply disappointing to you and a difficult burden to bear. But if you are looking to the person of Jesus, you will be rooted in a cosmic continuance that is unchanging, unwavering, and immovable.

So remember, when you are dealing with the inevitable ups and downs . . . highs and lows . . . victories and defeats in the Christian life, you must look past yourself to your Savior for your value and worth. That is the only way to find yourself grounded in a cosmic continuance that nothing in either life nor death can take away. And if any of life’s extreme downs, disappointments, or defeats are pressing in on you, remember these words from Jesus, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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Look Ahead

Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

On Wednesday we took a moment to look back and ponder all that God has done for us throughout 2022. Today we will look ahead as we prepare to launch out into 2023.

Two days from now, many people you meet will greet you with the words, “Happy New Year!” That’s a nice sentiment, but if that was all that we as Christian believers had to launch out into a new year, it would be a scant portion indeed! May God be praised, we have much more than a “hopeful greeting” given to us by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and we see it in the promise God made to Joshua: I will be with you wherever you go!

You may remember that Joshua was preparing to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land after Moses had completed his ministry of service to God. Joshua knew quite well that he would inevitably face numerous challenges in leading God’s people. He had learned from Moses just how difficult the task truly was. But he also knew, just Moses did, that he would not be alone in the work God had called him to. The same is true for you and me as we begin this new year.

To be sure, a new year brings with it both questions and concerns . . . doubts and fears . . . obstacles and opportunities. Will the doctor give us a less than positive report on our health? Will we find ourselves facing professional challenges? Will our marriage of many years march on for many more? We will suffer the loss of a loved one? The list of uncertainties is long and can loom large in our minds. Yet we can hold on to something infinitely greater than a hopeful “Happy New Year!” Why? Because we have the sure and certain promise of God that wherever we go, He goes with us.

In that promise, I want you to remember something: This “going with God” is not a going by chance. It is not a random roll of the dice. God is guiding, governing, and directing your every step. “In his heart a man plans his course,” Proverbs 16:9 assures us, “but the Lord determines his steps.” God is in sovereign control of everything – nothing is left to chance. All things serve Him (Psalm 119:91). The Lord our God is in charge and in control of all things, so do not be discouraged! This promise is there to help us replace every fear with faith as we look ahead into God’s perfect plan and purpose for our lives.

One final point. Approximately 1,400 years after God told Joshua that He would be with him wherever he went, Jesus reaffirmed that promise to you and me before He ascended back to heaven: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Look Back

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)

Today and Friday we close out yet another year of Grace for Your Race. Today I want to encourage you to look back over the past year to remember and reflect on all the multiplied “wonderful deeds” God has done in your life. On Friday we will look ahead to the start of yet another year. If God is pleased to give us that year, let us live it for His glory and the good of all others.

Someone once wisely said, “It is difficult to climb to the summit of the mountain when you are always looking over your shoulder.” That’s true, but looking back is beneficial for the Christian believer to be reminded of all that God has done. To be sure, it must be a brief look if we are to make forward progress throughout 2023, but it is the best way to close out another year of blessings that God has bestowed upon us. 

Now, taking a look back is not the same as walking backward. We cannot go back, nor should we want to! God is moving us forward into His perfect plan and purpose for our lives, even though we live that plan out imperfectly. I frequently tell our congregation that we must treat the past as a school: We are to learn the lessons from our past but not live in our past. Far too many people — both Christians and unbelievers alike — live in the past, which prohibits any measurable forward progress. But this is not for you!

Take some time today to reflect on the past year and make sure your look back includes both your successes and your storms. There is much to glean from both life experiences, because God has given us both in order to conform us into the image and likeness of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. Let your “look back” bring to mind God’s . . .

  • Faithfulness and Friendship
  • Discipline and Devotion
  • Mercy and Ministry
  • Love and Leading

Your brief look back will encourage you and strengthen you to set out on another year of life with Jesus sitting upon the throne of your heart, guiding you through every twist and turn and growing you through every up and down, every step of the way.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Not “What Did You Get?” But “What Did You Give?”

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Yesterday was Christmas Day; perhaps someone has already asked you, “What did you get?” This is the only birthday party I know of where the guests get the presents, rather than the One celebrating the birthday. Christmas has become so commercialized that it is all too easy to leave Christ out of the birthday celebration altogether.

I’m sure you received many Christmas gifts this year, and I hope you gave many to others as well. But here’s the most important question: What did you give to the One celebrating His birthday?

Let me encourage you with these words from the psalmist:

My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways. (Psalm 23:26)

Now, that’s a gift that does not come from a store, but it will cost you everything. Jesus wants only your heart, because He knows that where you heart is, there your treasure will be also. Jesus is the greatest treasure the world has ever known. Jesus is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving. Jesus gives us His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His joy . . . and as if that wasn’t enough, He gives us Himself! As disciples of Jesus, we have both His presence and His power to live the life He is calling us to live with freedom, joy, and faithfulness to Him.

So as you thank your Lord for all you received this Christmas season, take a moment to think about the one thing Jesus wants from you: your heart. That’s all . . . just your heart. He wants your heart to beat for nothing smaller than Him; but when it does beat for those lesser loves, you can come running back to Him, knowing that He has forgiven you fully and loves you unconditionally.

May the confession of our lives be as we read it in these words from David:

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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According To Your Word

Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 NKJV)

As hard as it was for Joseph to receive the message of the Christmas miracle, how much more difficult would it have been for Mary, who would carry the Son of God in her womb? Mary was God’s chosen vessel to give birth to the promised Messiah — the hope of Israel and the Savior of the world. Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, when God promised to send His Messiah, God’s people had been anxiously waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.

If Joseph would be scorned and shamed for this surprise supernatural pregnancy, how much more would Mary have to endure, who would have the eyes of all who knew her looking down at her, not only believing her to be an immoral woman, but thinking her either insane or a bald-faced liar with her story of becoming pregnant by God’s Holy Spirit. Not only that, but as an unmarried girl who had became pregnant, she risked not only the abandonment of Joseph, her future husband, but her father might also reject her, forcing her into a life of begging or worse. Yet Mary received her calling willingly, saying to the angel, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Mary believed the improbable and the impossible, and she faithfully followed the leading of God in spite of the cost or the circumstances.  

Nine months later, Mary traveled nearly 90 miles, riding on a donkey, much of the journey being uphill, only to find that there was no room in the inn; she was forced to give birth to the baby Jesus among the dirty, loud, smelly animals in a manger. What a testimony we receive in her words to the angel! “According to your word.”

May this be the confession of our lives, not only this Christmas season, but throughout the New Year as we receive whatever God’s call is in our lives with willing submission, because God’s plan and purpose for our lives is always better than our own.

What might our Lord be calling you to do today for His glory and the expansion of the cause of His Kingdom? Are you ready to say along with Mary, “Let it be to me according to your word,” even when that Word makes absolutely no sense on the surface? Remember, God is able to do the impossible, and He is ready, willing, and able to do it through you.

Merry Christmas!

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Crisis Of Faith

The angel of the Lord appeared in a dream saying, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save is people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

This week we are looking at some of the characters in the Christmas story; today we will look at Joseph, who conquered a crisis of faith when he found out that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant. Joseph’s first thought was to divorce Mary quietly. Joseph was a righteous man, and he knew others would look down at him with scorn, thinking this was a shameful pregnancy. But as Joseph was considering walking away from this impossible-to-explain set of circumstances, we see in today’s passage of Scripture that, just as He did in the life of Zechariah, God sent an angel to deliver good news of great joy that would make no sense to the natural mind. But with God, we know that all things are possible.

Joseph was confronted with a crisis of faith. Would he believe the unbelievable? Would he accept the possibility of the impossible? He did. Joseph believed the words of the angel and he believed the words of the Virgin Mary. What would his family say? What would his friends say? What would the religious leaders say? Joseph willingly accepted whatever the public perception would be and the privileged challenge of raising the Messiah as his own child, knowing full well that he had absolutely nothing to do with the pregnancy. Imagine his supernatural surprise when he found out that the child’s father was the Lord God Omnipotent!

We don’t know much about Joseph’s influence on the life of Jesus. We know that Joseph was a carpenter and taught his trade to his son. We know that Joseph was a devout religious man; the last time he is mentioned in Scripture is when Jesus was twelve years old and the family went up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. But we do know this: in his crisis of faith, God gave Joseph the strength to overcome, regardless of the cost or circumstance.

God is in the business of giving strength to His children when they most need it. What supernatural strength from God do you need to overcome a challenge you are facing? Remember, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). Look to Jesus. Lean on Jesus. Learn from Jesus. He will never leave you or let you down.  

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Supernatural Silent Waiting

The angel said to Zechariah, “Now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (Luke 1:19-20)

As we move toward Christmas this week, I would like to share some words of encouragement inspired by the lives of three important figures in the Christmas story. Today we will look at Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.

Zechariah was performing his priestly duties in the temple when Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, appeared to give Zechariah wonderful news: his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a son, and they were to name him John (“the Lord is gracious”). The child would be filled with the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit from birth, and he would be set apart for special service to God.

Zechariah, however, doubted what Gabriel told him, and he was struck with supernatural silence for the next nine months, while he awaited the birth of the promised child. Here we see that the Christmas story began with a season of supernatural silence in the life of the father of the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, inasmuch as Zechariah’s supernatural silence was due to his unbelief, is it possible there is a message in this story for you and me today? Perhaps our Lord is inviting us to withdraw from the busyness and the business of the Christmas season so that we can press into the presence of our Lord to hear His still, small voice above all the clamor that is so much a part of the world around us. Silence in the presence of our Savior is a wonderful way to renew the mind, recalibrate the heart, and realign the will.  

Remember, some of the best praise we can offer to our Lord comes not through our speech but through our silence. A little silent waiting for Christmas day to arrive is a great way to focus on the Reason for the season . . . and His name is Jesus Christ.

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Between Jesus’ Resurrection And Return

Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

For believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no mystery about what He has done on our behalf in the past: He lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, and rose supernaturally from the dead. Nor is there any question about what He has promised to do in the future: He will return to earth to fully and finally consummate His Kingdom. But there seems to be a mist that surrounds what Jesus is doing right now for all those who have trusted in Him alone for salvation.

The pen of the apostle Paul dispels that mist, making the current ministry of our Lord Jesus clear: He is making intercession for us moment by moment. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is seated in the position of ultimate power, authority, and dominion in the universe, but He has not forgotten us, not even for a moment! Jesus is continually offering prayers to the Father on our behalf:

  • The Shepherd is praying for His sheep.
  • The Bridegroom is praying for His bride.
  • The Head is praying for His body.
  • The Chief Cornerstone is praying for His living stones.
  • The Elder Brother is praying for His siblings.
  • The Great High Priest is praying for His congregation.
  • The General is praying for His army.
  • The King is praying for His subjects.

When we look back into the Old Testament, we could say that Jesus is currently praying for us as the Greater Moses upon the mountain and as the True Aaron behind the Temple veil. In other words, we are always on the mind and in the heart of our Lord Jesus. Now, whether Jesus is actually verbally interceding for us with His Father, as many scholars believe, or simply allowing His scars speak on our behalf, as many other scholars believe, I do not know. But what I do know is this: Not a moment goes by in any day when we are not covered by the prayers of the One who lives to intercede on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25), thus making good on His promise to complete the good work He began in us.

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Unshakable Uttermost

He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him. (Hebrews 7:25 ESV)

There are some single words in sacred Scripture that bring eternal encouragement beyond what can be expressed in several sentences. “Uttermost” is certainly one of those words. To know that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost is to know everything needed in both this life and the next. Uttermost is a word of cosmic comfort, consolation, and challenge for every child of God . . . and that includes you and me today.

The great hymn writer John Newton (best known for “Amazing Grace”) once wrote, “Take an estimate of all our sins, all our temptations, all our difficulties, all our fears, and all our backslidings of every kind, still the word ‘uttermost’ goes beyond them all.” To put this beautiful phrase in my simplistic terms: You simply cannot out-sin your Savior. Every sin — past, present, and those still to come — have been nailed to the cross, washed in the precious blood of Jesus, and cast away from us as far as the east is from the west. How unshakable is the power of Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost.

To be saved to the uttermost is to be saved not only from the penalty and the power of sin, but from its pleasure too. And this only begins to plumb the depths of our salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ! You see, the divine power that saves us is the same power that sanctifies us. Grace does not save us and then leave us to stumble through the rest of life in our own feeble strength. Sin no longer reigns, but it still remains, and we need our ever-present Savior to strengthen us in our faith and grow us up to maturity.

To know that we have been saved to the uttermost is to know we have be set free from the chains of bondage to sin, Satan, and death. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, which means we have the power to say “No!” to the things we ought to say No to and “Yes!” to the things we ought to say Yes to.

Jesus is able to save to the uttermost, and He has given us everything we need to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable in His sight. When we mess things up, as we inevitably will, over and over again, let the word uttermost remind you that you have an unshakable Savior who forgives you to the uttermost and loves you to the uttermost. May that truth comfort us and challenge us to live a life for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom, regardless of the cost or circumstance.  

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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One Day or Day One?

As he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)

To be sure, we cannot control what is going on around us most of the time. But we can control what is going in inside of us when it comes to the attitude we choose to live by. We can live with the attitude of “One Day,” which is as passive as it is unproductive:

  • One Day . . . I will finish my degree.
  • One Day . . . I will get that job.
  • One Day . . . I will lose that weight.
  • One Day . . . I will quit smoking.
  • One Day . . . I will start spending less than I make.

Or we can live with the attitude of “Day One,” which is as positive as it is productive because it starts now, not in some distant, dimly imagined future:

  • Today is Day One . . . of my continuing education program.
  • Today is Day One . . . of my pursuit of that job I have always wanted.
  • Today is Day One . . . of my weight loss program.
  • Today is Day One . . . as a non-smoker.
  • Today is Day One . . . of my financial savings plan.

One Day people procrastinate and put things off until tomorrow, and as we all know from painful personal experience, tomorrow never seems to come. But Day One people are proactive, putting one foot in front of the other as they make their way to their intended destination. They see obstacles as opportunities. They embrace problems as possibilities. And all of this is done in the strength of the Almighty. Day One people know that each day is a gift from God, and their gift back to God is how they live it. They know that when they spend a day, they have one less day to spend, so they spend it wisely for the glory of God.

How have you been spending the 86,400 seconds God has gifted you with each day? The Bible warns against sloth and slackness: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns” (Proverbs 15:19).  The Bible also commends hard work: “The hand of the diligent will rule” (Proverbs 12:24). What has your mindset been lately in both your personal and professional life? It is a choice we must make each day: Will we live with the mindset of One Day or Day One? When you really think about it, the choice is crystal clear for the child of God, because greater is the power that is at work within us than any power that can come against us.

Perhaps the best way to close out today’s word of encouragement is with a quote from The Shawshank Redemption movie: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” What is your choice today?

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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