Monday, June 30, 2014

Grace, Mercy, and Peace

As I knelt beside my bed praying this morning, I thought of the Scriptures that say in various forms the phrase, “Grace, mercy and peace be yours in abundance.”  And I thought of how we so need these in abundance. I was also thinking about how the Lord said to the apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2Co 12:9a).

Then when I entered my office a few minutes later, I turned on the quiet, instrumental music for devotions, and the first song was, “Your Grace is Enough” by Chris Tomlin. Then my Bible reading for today in 1 Timothy began with the phrase, “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1Ti 1:2)

So let’s take a look at grace, mercy, and peace, and this wonderful blessing that we can pronounce over one another.

The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” So Paul said, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2Co 12:9)

Grace is from the Greek word “charis” meaning “benefit, favor, gift, grace, joy, liberality, or pleasure.” (Strongs).

No matter how obedient we are and how much we pursue holiness with the Lord, we all need mercy and grace to help us.  “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.” (Heb 4:16).  He is the God of mercy!  His throne is the throne of grace!

This is probably why the apostles and disciples of the first century often greeted one another with a blessing of grace, mercy, and peace.

“To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2Ti 1:2)

Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (2Jn 1:3)

May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”  (Jud 1:2)

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” (1Co 16:23)

“[The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]” (Rom 16:24)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1Th 5:28)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” (2Th 3:18)

He said, "O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!" Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, "May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." (Dan 10:19)

So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be with you." (Joh 20:19)

So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (Joh 20:21)

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." (Joh 20:26)

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (Rom 16:20)

“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.” (Col 4:18)

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. “ (Gal 6:14-18)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” (2Co 13:14)

“All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.” (Tit 3:15)

Grace be with you all.” (Heb 13:25)

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.” (1Pe 5:14)

"God be With You"
Another beautiful greeting that was used often in the Bible days that is seldom heard any more is “The Lord be with you” or “God be with you.”  When we were in Hungary, I learned the phrase, “Isten veled van” for “God be with you.”  But we never hear this said anymore in America.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we got back to using this biblical greeting!  Let’s see some of the instances where this was said in Scripture:

"Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people's representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God,”  (Exo 18:19)

"Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the LORD your God be with you as He was with Moses.” (Jos 1:17)

“Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, ‘May the LORD be with you." And they said to him, "May the LORD bless you.’" (Rth 2:4)

And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you." (1Sa 17:37)

"Now, my son, the LORD be with you that you may be successful, and build the house of the LORD your God just as He has spoken concerning you.” (1Ch 22:11)

"Of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there is no limit. Arise and work, and may the LORD be with you." (1Ch 22:16)

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” (2Ti 4:22)

“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Rom 15:33)

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” (2Th 3:16)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "All in the Name of Love" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note Also see By Grace Alone.  You can access the Main Directory for Seeking the Lord, or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Life is Short. Eternity is Not.

Life is short.  Eternity is not.  Yet so many people live for this life only and fail to consider where they will spend eternity.  In fact, even among Christians today, the big mistake is that they live a routine life, planned by human beings. Therefore, today I'd like to share the following verses of Scripture, which speak of the brevity of life.

King David said, "My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue: 'LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.' Selah. Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.  (Psa 39:3-6, NASB)

Whereas the NASB uses the word "phantom" in verse 6, the GW version says, “Each person who walks around is like a shadow. They are busy for no reason. They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them."  (Psa 39:6, GW)

"Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man back into dust And say, "Return, O children of men." For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.  (Psa 90:2-12 NASB)

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8, NIV)

Figuratively speaking if we were to live a life time according to our Lord's thousand years being like a day, the column on the left below would be in God’s time and the column on the right would be in our life time, according and equal to God’s time.

God’s Time = Our Time
1000 years = 24 hours
500 years = 12 hours
250 years = 6 hours
125 years = 3 hours
62 years 6 months = 90 minutes
31 years 3 months = 45 minutes
15 years 7months 2 weeks = 22 minutes 30 seconds
8 years 2 months = 11 minutes 15 seconds

Job said, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, And come to an end without hope.” (Job 7:6 NASB)

"For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow."  (Job 8:9 NASB)

"Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good." (Job 9:25 NASB)

"Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.” (Job 14:1-2 NASB)

"For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope."  (1Ch 29:15 NASB)

"Thus He remembered that they were but flesh, A wind that passes and does not return."  (Psa 78:39 NASB)

“Remember how short my life is! Have you created Adam's descendants for no reason? Can a mortal go on living and never see death? Who can set himself free from the power of the grave? Selah”  (Psa 89:47-48 GW)

My days are like a shadow that is getting longer, and I wither away like grass. “ (Psa 102:11 GW)

“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”  (Pro 27:1 NASB)

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'"  (Jas 4:13-15 NASB)

"A voice says, 'Call out.' Then he answered, 'What shall I call out?' 'All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.'" (Isa 40:6-8 NASB). Cf.,  1Pe 1:24-25.

As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,” (Psa 103:15-17 NASB)

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”  (Heb 9:27 NASB)



“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Co 4:16-18 NASB)

The things we can see in this world seem so real.  They seem solid and much more tangible than the unseen realm. But in fact this world and the things of it are actually quite temporary, and the things we cannot see are the ones that are more important and eternal.  

Even the mighty mountains and the heavens are temporary, but God who created them is eternal.  He remains, and His years will not come to an end.

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle you will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not come to an end.”  (Heb 1:10-12 NASB)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8 NASB)

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- for we walk by faith, not by sight-- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  (2Co 5:1-10 NASB)

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"  (Joh 11:25-26 NASB)

“And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.’"  (Mar 8:34-38 NASB)

Putting it All Together
Can a mortal go on living and never see death? Who can set himself free from the power of the grave? Life is short! Man at his best is a mere breath, just a wind that passes and does not return. He is like a flower that withers -- like grass!

Each person is like a shadow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Our days are as handbreadths. Our lifetime is as nothing in God’s sight – like a two-hour story.

Our days flee away swifter than a runner and swifter than a weaver's shuttle. The days of our life contain seventy years or eighty years. For soon life is passed and we fly away.
How transient we are!

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake and the gospel's will save it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Only one life, twil soon be past.  Only what's done for Christ will last.

While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, and we prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. We also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.

The word of our God stands forever.   Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. His years will not come to an end. He is the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Him will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Him will never die.  Do you believe this? If you live for Jesus Christ and for righteousness, then when you pass away, what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

We need to pray, "Lord, teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.
 
Author's note Also see Where will you go when you die?, Few will be saved, Angelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven, When Earth Recedes and Heaven Opens, Michael Thomas Sambo's Revelation of Heaven and Hell, The Book of Life, and Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell.  You can access the Main Directory for Seeking the Lord, or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.