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I will discipline you but only in due measure. (Jeremiah 30:11)

To be left uncorrected is to be left alone, and to be left alone by God would be the worst possible condition for any of us to experience. Discipline, although painful at the time, is a sign of the love of a Father for His child; what we read from Jeremiah today is a source of cosmic comfort, for our God will discipline us only in due measure.

The love of God is no love at all if it does not bring with it a measure of divine discipline. Clearly, it is not a sign of love for a parent to let his or her child leap into a ditch or run over a cliff without stepping in to provide the necessary correction. Course correction in due measure is the surest indication that you are His and He is yours. Those who are allowed to simply run wild are not the offspring of the Almighty. They live for the expansion of their own kingdom, not the kingdom of God. They insist that they, not Jesus, must sit upon the throne of their lives, and they ignore or outright reject the call of Christ.

But for all those who are children of God, by grace through faith, our heavenly Father uses the rod to reform—not reject. I hope you’ll take a moment today to pause and give glory to God for this truth: He delivers His divine discipline to you in due measure, but pours out His love without measure. In Ephesians 3:18-19, the apostle Paul prayed that all the saints of God would come to know “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” and added that His love for us “surpasses knowledge.” (Christian, meditate on that for just a moment; God’s love for us is so full and so vast that it surpasses our comprehension!)

To know that divine discipline is regulated but divine love is not is to know all that is needed to see us through the other side of His chastisement. When we understand that every act of divine discipline is for our correction and never our condemnation, we are set free to receive from His hand all that He delivers, because we know ultimately that it will be for our good and His glory.

So the next time you find yourself under the rod of your Redeemer, rejoice! You can be sure that He is working all things together for your good. He is carefully counting every strike and will only deliver what is necessary to continue conforming you into the image and likeness of Jesus. May that truth set you free today!

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


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Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.  (Psalm 126:5)

I wrote in a recent Grace for the Race article that Scripture tells us that God collects all our tears in His bottle; I would add to that thought that this means that none of those tears are wasted. Today’s verse shows us that tearful times are sowing times, because dry ground is not suitable for reaping a harvest.

What a word of encouragement and comfort we have before us today! God has promised a harvest through times when our hearts are hurting. Tearful times provide much needed moisture for the soil of the sanctified life.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “Keep a stiff upper lip.” By nature, we have a tendency to collect ourselves, to shrink back from shedding tears in order to make a better presentation to the watching world. But in God’s economy, it is in those tearful times when our hearts are hurting that we must redouble our sowing efforts. If we do, we can be sure that we will reap a bountiful harvest with songs of unimaginable joy. And know this, we are never more like our Lord Jesus Christ than when we are weeping. You will remember that Jesus wept, and when He did, He did not stop his sowing, because He knew that sowing in tears would lead to reaping in joy. There is always a harvest for the hurting heart that is yielded to the perfect plan of God.

There are many things in this life that bring us to tears. We have been promised trouble all the way into glory, and our march will be marked by the salt stains of our tears. But when our eyes are dimmed by tears, we must remember that they are setting the stage for a bountiful harvest that we will reap in due season. Remember, weeping is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a witness to the One who is planting every tear into the ground of your promised land that will one day soon produce songs of joy.

Never forget what the psalmist said: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The Scriptures make it clear that desperation always precedes deliverance. So regardless of what it is you are currently facing, tearful times and hurting hearts always produce a holy harvest of supernatural joy.

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

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20/20 VISION 


One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.” (Acts 18:9)

How is your vision? Is it 20/20 like the apostle Paul’s? It will be if you keep your eyes fixed on the Author and Perfecter of your faith, who has promised never to leave you or forsake you . . . no matter what.

Here is what Paul knew: As long as the Lord had work for him to do, nothing could stand in his way, because God was with him. To be sure, the religious leaders stood in rigid opposition to their once beloved brother in the Jewish faith, whom they now despised because he was a Christian and an apostle of Christ. No matter what those who hated Paul wanted to do to him, they were helpless against Omnipotence. No weapon formed could come up against the great apostle, because he was in the center of God’s will for his life, and he knew that he still had more work to do to expand the cause of God’s kingdom.

This is true for each one of us. Because you are reading this right now, God still has work for you to do. The key is to make sure that you are doing His work and not your own. No one could harm Paul until he had completed his earthly assignment, and no one can harm you either . . . until you have completed the work that God has given you to do on this earth.

So what is holding you back from doing all God has called you to do? Remember what God said to Paul: “Do not be afraid.” Here is what I have learned during my years as a pastor: The devil and his minions are no match for the saints of God—not because of our strength, but because of His strength. The devil himself flees at a word from our Lord; the evil one cannot do anything without God’s permission.

Remember, until you take your last breath, God is not finished with you. He has work for you to do, and He will give you everything you need to do all He is calling you to do. Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking! Do not be silent. Why? Because your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is with you every step of the way. And when you have not the strength to take another step, do not be discouraged. He will carry you forward across the finish line.

Keep looking to Jesus and your vision will always be 20/20.

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

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Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie Lone Survivor, you know the story of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who died in what is often called the Battle of Murphy’s Ridge. Murphy’s four-man SEAL team was surrounded by a much larger force of Taliban guerillas in the mountains of Afghanistan. One of the SEALs, Danny Dietz, had already been killed, and the three surviving members of the team had all been wounded by enemy gunfire.

The treacherous, rocky terrain prevented the SEALs from making radio contact with their base, so 29-year-old Michael Murphy, affectionately called “Mikey” by his men, moved out into the open to call in a rescue mission for his two teammates. Murphy knew full well that to do so was to expose himself to a furious storm of enemy fire; indeed, he was shot through the chest as he gave his position to headquarters, the impact of the bullets jolting the satellite phone out of his hand. Michael Murphy calmly retrieved the phone, thanked the person he had been speaking to, then picked up his rifle and returned fire at the advancing Taliban forces. Moments later, Michael Murphy was dead. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the first member of the Navy to receive that award since the Vietnam War.

Despite the woeful misrepresentation of American history that takes place in far too many of our schools today, most Americans can name at least a few of the major military actions that turned the course of history: Washington crossing the Delaware, The Battle of Gettysburg, D-Day, Desert Storm, and the like. But most of us never hear about the innumerable small-unit actions that take place during any engagement, where valiant men like Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who loved their friends more than life itself, gave the last full measure of their devotion so that others might live.

I hope you’ll pause to remember such men this Memorial Day . . . perhaps you’ll take the time to read about their lives and deaths and give prayerful thanks that God sees fit to raise up such remarkable, selfless men and women to protect our freedom.

And as you ponder this “no greater love,” I hope you’ll consider the actions of one other man, who was only a few years older than Michael Murphy, a man who willingly faced a fury infinitely greater than anything the Taliban could ever unleash. Jesus Christ endured the wrath of God, crying out in unimaginable anguish, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” He didn’t have to do that . . . He never had to leave the comfort and glory of His throne room in heaven, much less allow Himself to be nailed to a cross . . . but He did. And He did it because He loves you that much! He died so that you and I might have life everlasting in His name.

We shake our heads in awe and admiration at the heroism of men like Michael Murphy, and well we should. But think of this: Murphy was loved and respected by his men, just as he loved and respected them. When Jesus Christ died for us, we were His enemies! (Romans 5:10). We had no love or respect for Jesus Christ, for “the sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). And yet the perfect, sinless Lamb of God laid down His life for wretched sinners like you and me.

This Memorial Day, as you recall the gallant acts of brave American heroes, I hope you’ll take a few moments to consider this too:

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)

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

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A sword will pierce your own soul too. (Luke 2:35)

Not long after the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord according to the Law of Moses. There they encountered a righteous man named Simeon, who had been waiting for “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25), for the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he saw the Savior of the world. When Simeon saw the Christ child, he took Him in his arms and praised God in a song that spoke of this promised child. And then he said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thought of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34).

What Simeon said to Mary can also be said to all the saints of God throughout all ages. For all those who love and follow Jesus, a sword will pierce your soul, just as it did Mary’s. Jesus Himself made it clear that there will be great pain for those who chose to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Perhaps there is no greater pain than that which comes from denying self. By nature, self sits upon the throne of life and has no intention of stepping down on its own accord. Even after Jesus shows up, the saints of God must still battle against self-rule, because sin still remains in our lives, even though it no longer reigns over us.

Moment by moment, we are faced with the decision either to live for self or die to self. When we elect to die to self, we choose the sword of suffering, but that sword is wielded by the Holy Spirit. God uses that divine sword to bring us to the end of ourselves. As John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase.” In order for the self to decrease, God must do His work deep in our hearts, moving us away from self-centeredness to Savior-centeredness. And this is a painful, lifelong process for the Christian that will not be completed until we get to the other side of the grave. But submitting to this sword of sanctification is the only place where true life will be found.

To be sure, we seek life in the self by pursuing our goals, our desires, and our plans, but there is no real life to be found there. Only when we seek first His kingdom and pursue His goals, His desires, and His plans will His sword slice away the sinful desires of self and fill us with the sweet Spirit of God.

Remember, the battle is fierce because the enemy is focused on tripping you up at every turn. The devil wants you to seek the path of least resistance and live for self, deferring the inevitable pain that will come in the end. But Jesus wants you to seek the path of pain by following Him wherever He leads, because only in Him will you find the life you truly desire.

Yes, a sword will pierce your heart, but the ultimate result is not a painful death, but rather life and growth in the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

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

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From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind. (Psalm 33:13)

What a gracious light we view our Lord in when we read how He looks down and sees us! Our God is not some distant Deity who does not care for His creatures. The One who created us is also the One who watches over us and meets all our needs, and that truth should comfort our hearts and bless our souls.

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! He numbers the hairs on our heads and promises never to leave us or forsake us. He meets us in our deepest place of need—not just as it relates to eternal life, but everyday life also. Jesus is not only preparing a place for us in heaven, He is also walking beside us every step of the way. When we rejoice, He rejoices with us. When we grieve, He identifies with our grief so closely that Scripture speaks of a special bottle in which He has collected every tear. Now, if that doesn’t light the fire of your faith . . . your wood is wet!

God is for you. God is with you. God is in you. God has you in His heart and on His mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Regardless of where you go, God goes with you to guide, govern, and direct your steps. David wrote –

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:8-10)

God is as concerned for your daily bread as He is your divine destiny. He has promised to meet all of your needs in the glorious riches of His beloved Son. Now, don’t mistake wants for needs. We all want stuff we absolutely don’t need. God never promised to meet all of our wants, because much of what we want is not what God wants for us, nor is it what is best for us. I am sure you can look back over your life and recall something you deeply desired that God did not deliver to you . . . and you are deeply thankful today that He did not! I know I certainly can.

Regardless of where this message finds you today, whether you are standing in the sunshine at the summit or languishing in the shadow of the valley below, you are not alone. The One who came down off of His throne, took on human flesh, died on a wooden cross, and rose from the grave has promised to be with you always. No matter where you go, there He is. Jesus knows your hopes, hears your cries, and sees your struggles. When heaven seems like an infinite distance away from where you currently are, remember that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. As God looks down upon you from heaven, He is always looking through the eyes of love. Now, that is a cosmic concern that should bring abiding comfort to your heart!

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

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One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. (Joshua 23:10)

The Lord delights in giving victory to His people and He delights in making sure everyone knows who is responsible for that victory. When one of God’s saints routs a thousand opponents, who can argue as to the reason for the victory?

Recall the way our Lord dramatically culled the fighting force that Gideon was going to lead against the Midianite army. Gideon started with 32,000 men, but the Lord God selected just 300 of them to fight against 135,000. Why did God reduce Gideon’s army to one man for every 450 Midianites? So that God—not Gideon or his army—would get the glory.

The Master’s math offers us a truly magnificent message of encouragement today. Think about anything that has come up against you today. Do the odds against you seem overwhelming? Does the obstacle that stands in your way seem too much to overcome? Let not your heart be troubled, “because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised.” Gideon and his small band of 300 did not fight against the massive Midianite army in their own strength. They did not even carry weapons of war when then went into battle! All they had were trumpets, empty jars, and torches; God fought for them and they won the day.

Therein lies the secret to success, regardless of what you are facing today. If you attempt to conquer your “Goliath” in your own strength, you will not prevail. God does not allow His people to gain the victory apart from His strength and His strategy. For the Lord Almighty has said, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). We must always remember that the Lord’s ways are not our ways, and what may seem like foolishness to us is actually faithfulness to God. In God’s economy, one person in ministry is always the majority, because God is leading the way.

God called Abraham to found a nation. God called Moses to lead the people of God out of bondage. God called Esther at precisely the right time to singlehandedly save God’s people. God called Peter to preach at Pentecost. The question that I want to ask you is this:

What has God called you to do for His glory?

Remember, the only way that the shepherd boy David could have victory against the giant Goliath was because he looked away from his own strength and depended completely on God’s power. As David wrote in one of his magnificent psalms of praise –

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that the Master’s math always adds up for your good and for the glory of God.

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

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