Friday, May 31, 2013

Grace Thoughts

In her beautiful hymn “Accepted in the Beloved” Civilla Martin shares a variety of wonderful thoughts about grace.  Each of them could be a meditation in itself.  We have looked at many hymns, Gospel songs and choruses over the past 5 weeks.  Each of them has proclaimed the marvelous grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ.  The time that we spend thanking God for His indescribable grace each day is insufficient to generate the depth of gratitude and praise that His grace should elicit.  Grace needs to become a more common theme in our thoughts and on our tongues.  Civilla Martin captures some of that for us.

She begins, “In the Beloved accepted am I”.  Grace places us in Christ.  Christ is in heaven in the very presence of the Father.  We are there with Him.  Christ is in control. We are under His gracious control.  Christ is unruffled. We are secure.  Christ has been approved by God and raised from the dead.  So are we.  We are in the Beloved Son of God Jesus Christ.  Just to reflect on that should keep us busy for eternity.  All of her first stanza concentrates on this great truth that is effected by “His infinite grace”. 

Civilla’s second stanza stresses our security in Christ.  In Him we lack nothing.  She says, “In the Beloved accounted complete”.  Completely what?  We are complete in the righteousness of Christ.  We are complete in the promises of Christ.  We are complete in the relationship of Christ to His Father.  The brokenness of our lives has been restored in the completeness of His forgiving grace.  Our hope is complete for Jesus said, “It is finished”. 

Her last verse records the work of Christ to make us accepted and complete.  By God’s “Infinite Grace” the wrath of the Father against our sins was poured on the head of His own dear Son.  She describes it as “infinite wrath rolling over His head”.  Then she exclaims, “Infinite grace, for He died in my stead.”  The punishment of the cross was really ours to bear.  But beyond the cross the grave was ours to keep us in eternal darkness and despair.  But by infinite grace “He died in my stead”. 

All of this should warm our heart not just occasionally but constantly.  We are, as Civilla says, “In the Beloved, God’s marvelous grace; calls me to dwell in this wonderful place; God sees my Savior and then He sees me, in the Beloved, accepted and free.”  Let these abundant grace thoughts fill you with joy, praise, thanksgiving and contentment today. 
The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen
      You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Comprehensive Grace

In the 12 century Bernard of Clairvaux wrote these lines which are now part of the hymn “Wide Open Are Your Hands”: “Open wide your arms, a fallen world embrace, to win to love and endless rest our wayward human race.  Lord, I am sad and poor, but boundless is your grace; give me the soul transforming joy for which I seek your face.”  Bernard was totally captivated in this hymn with the grace of God.  The boundlessness of God’s grace should indeed captivate every redeemed heart and mind.

A few years ago we had a very wet summer.  A friend of ours had her basement wall cave in due to the excessive hydraulic pressure.  I asked if her insurance covered it.  The sad answer was that it did not.  Comprehensive insurance isn’t always very comprehensive.  I asked our insurance agent if we were covered.  We were not.  Now we are, but it cost us extra to do so.  Our insurance is now more comprehensive, but I am sure there will be holes in it that we will only find out in a catastrophe.  It is sad to expect something and then to discover that it isn’t really covered after all.

That does not happen with God.  His grace is boundless.  It is comprehensive.  His grace covers all.  If we honestly assess how much we had offended God before we came to Him as Savior, we would realize that we had a debt too big to pay.  If we honestly assess how much we have offended the laws of God since we came to Him as Savior we would only discover our utter unworthiness to still be called His child.  But God’s grace is comprehensive.  It covers all.  It forgets our past, forgives our present and forecasts our future hope with Him in heaven for eternity. 

Bernard’s response to this boundless grace was a heartfelt cry to have his whole mind and heart caught up daily into the acute awareness of God.  In response to this boundless grace Bernard offered up the greatest sacrifice he could give – himself.  Meditate today on the last lines of this great hymn that extols God’s boundless grace.  “Draw all my mind and heart up to your throne on high.  And let your sacred cross exalt my spirit to the sky.  To these, Your mighty hands, my spirit I resign.  In life I live alone to you; in death am yours alone.”  Thanks be to God for grace that covers us so comprehensively and rightly deserves all our sacrifice. 
You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Comprehensive Grace

“Complete in Thee, no other need; Thy grace abundant is my plea.  Whole at last in Christ alone; by grace my life complete in Thee.”  These simple lines express so clearly the truth that God’s grace is fully comprehensive.  We have looked at grace from A to Z and have barely begun to plumb the fullness of grace.  We can go over and over the alphabet to add on to the picture of the complete sufficiency of God’s grace.  If we ran out of words in our language we would have to make up more just to express the truth of how full the grace of God is.  But we will step back from alphabetizing for a while and see God’s grace in His word and in our lives from different perspectives.

Last week my wife and I took a short vacation.  It did not get off to the best start.  We were going to see our new grandson 230 miles from our home.  We had gone 50 miles when we heard an unpleasant “bump”.  The car didn’t react as if I had a flat tire, so we drove on.  A couple of miles later I had no power steering.  The air conditioner wasn’t working.  The engine was overheating.  It was 90 degrees outside and we were seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  Then, right in front of us was an exit.  We pulled off and found that the serpentine belt had broken.  A few hundred yards from where we stopped was a truck repair shop.  They helped us find a tow truck and a car mechanic.  Our son from our own town drove the 52 miles to pick us up and returned us the next day to pick up our fixed car and continue our trip. 

This kind of thing can happen to both the saved and the lost.  Does this mean that grace wasn’t involved?  I saw grace in it.  I saw a reason to be thankful in it.  Actually there turned out to be multiple reasons to be thankful that came about over the next few days.  I saw God’s care and felt God’s peace.  The Bible says that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  Who gets better mileage out of the rain?  Those who can see God’s grace in the heavenly drops.  Look for God’s grace in the sunshine and rain of your life.  It will enrich you greatly.  A heart full of thanks will produce a life full of joy. “Complete through grace, no other need; with heart of thanks for Christ’s supply. By joy enriched on Christ I feed; complete in Thee no other need.” 

You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,

available here: 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zealous Grace

In Annie Coghill’s revival hymn “Work, for the Night Is Coming” we are constantly reminded to work.  How are we to work?  We are to work zealously.  Paul told Titus to tell his congregation to be zealous for good works.  Why are we to be zealous for good works?  We are to do this in response to God’s grace to us.  We were saved by grace to be zealous for good works so that men might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.  We conclude our alphabet today with “Z” for zealous grace. 

In many of the ways that we have seen grace going through the grace alphabet, it has been the work of God’s grace toward us.  But grace toward us is also to be grace in us and grace through us.  We are now to manifest the greatness of God’s grace as we live in this world.  He did not extend His wonderful grace to us that we might just soak it up like a sponge.  A saturated sponge is a soggy thing.  We are to keep the sponge busy spreading around the grace of God and then get our sponges refilled to spread it around some more.  That spreading around of God’s grace is called good works and we are to be zealous to do them.

We see that Jesus was Himself zealous for the work of God.  John records in his gospel that when Jesus cleansed the temple it fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that He would be zealous for His Father’s house.  Today we are His Father’s house.  We have become the temple of God.  We need to be zealous in doing good works for those in the church first.  But we are also servants in the Father’s field which is the world.  We need to be as zealous to reap in His field as we are to do good works for those who are His temple. 

Annie Coghill’s song reminds us that we only have so much time to work.  We should not put off getting it done until some more convenient time.  Satan will lure us with many things that will mean we will never find a convenient time.  Paul wrote, “Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.”  Not only do we have a limited time to do God’s work, others have a limited time to hear it.  Let us sing joyfully and zealously as we get about the work of God.  “Work, for the night is coming. Work through the morning hours.  Work when the dew is sparkling.  Work mid springing flowers . . . Work for the night is coming, when man works no more.”  Go forth with zeal and work with zealous grace.      
You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Yearned for Grace

In her sweet testimonial hymn “Satisfied!” Clara Williams clearly captures the condition of humanity.  Her opening stanza, “All my life long I had panted for a drink from some clear spring that I thought would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within”, paints an accurate picture of the desires of mankind.  While not seeking for God, which Romans 3 emphatically points out that we do not do, we search for the benefits of the grace of God.  We yearn for grace. Yearned will be our “Y” in alphabetizing grace. 

What do we yearn for that grace provides?  We yearn for forgiveness from all our sins against God and man.  People realize that simple self forgiveness is not enough.  In Christ we have complete forgiveness through the grace of God.  We yearn for hope.  The macro-world and the micro-world often set us into a state of despondency.  All is not right and the future is very uncertain.  Where is hope?  The Bible says hope comes from God and His abundant grace.  When both the macro-world and micro-world are spinning out of control both now and the future, God is the same and offers the constancy of hope.  We yearn for a certainty of a positive outcome after death.  The Bible tells us that that certainty is heaven and it is reached by grace through faith in the work of Christ on the cross.  We yearn for a constant friend. Worldly friends and family can often be fickle or unresponsive to us.  This is why Joseph Scriven’s hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” resonates so loudly.  The world wants a constant friend and by grace God has given His Son to be ours. 

Technically we do not yearn for God.  We do, however, yearn for the blessings of God.  We should take heart that the God of those blessings came to seek us out and give them to us.  One of the simplest and easiest to remember of all the verses in the Bible is this verse of comfort, purpose and hope in Luke 19:10.  “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Grace sought us that we might have the yearnings of our hearts fulfilled.  With Clara Williams sing her triumphant chorus, “Hallelujah! I have found Him Whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings – through His blood I now am saved.”  O the great fulfillment of yearned for grace! 

    You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,

available here: 



Friday, May 24, 2013

Xaris Equals Grace

In any good treasure hunting movie we learn that “X” marks the spot.  Our “X” is for Xaris, the Greek word for Grace.  It is pronounced with a “CH” sound as in Christian.  Our English letter “x” comes from this letter, but it did not keep the sound.  What we do like the sound of, however, is the sound of grace as in John Newton’s hymn, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound”. 

Xaris is on the list of frequently used words in the New Testament.  It is used 153 times. It is the mother word for Xara which is used 59 times, Xairo which is used 74 times, Xarisma which is used 17 times, euXaristos which is used 55 times and Xaristao which is used only twice.  All forms of this word are used more than 300 times in the New Testament.  That means that it is a pretty “x”citing word to learn.  Grace is indeed “x”citing.  Just the thought of God’s amazing grace should get us up and singing a rousing chorus of praise.

Xaris is also an “x”ceedingly important word.  Without it there is no joy (Xara), no thanksgiving (euXaristos), no rejoicing (Xairo) not to mention none of God’s wonderful gifts (Xarisma).  What would the Christian do without these “x”ceedingly important parts of God’s wonderful grace?  These beautiful words are also translated as favor, gladness, accepted, thanks and variations of these words.  All that is part of God’s “x”ceedingly wonderful and “x”citing grace.  When we think of grace we need to grasp the whole of what it means.  It means everything that we find necessary for a positive outlook on life.  It means everything that makes us really pleasing to those around us.  It means everything required for personal peace.  All of this is wrapped up in one little word “grace”. 

It is no wonder that so many songs are written about grace.  Philip Doddridge wrote a hymn that is little used anymore.  It is titled “Grace! ‘Tis a Charming Sound”.  The first stanza reads, “Grace! ‘Tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear; heaven with the echo shall resound, and all the earth shall hear.”  The fifth stanza concludes with a plea to make God’s “x”citing grace an integral part of our life.  “O let Thy grace inspire, my soul with strength divine; may all my powers to Thee aspire, and all my days be Thine.”  That is truly a proper attitude toward God’s “x”ceedingly wonderful grace. 
The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen
       You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wonderful Grace

Haldor Lillenas’s great hymn “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” is aimed at making one point very clear, the grace of God is wonderful.  Each stanza begins with “wonderful grace of Jesus” and each stanza ends with “wonderful grace of Jesus”.  We have reached “W” and that will be for the wonderful grace of Jesus.

What does wonderful really mean to us?  Its actual definition means to fill with wonder.  It could be used in a negative way.  At the end of a long day at work the boss brings in a stack of papers that need to be finished before you can go home.  “Wonderful,” you mutter under your breath.  Of course, it fills you with wonder at how the boss could be so inconsiderate to wait until 4:45 to dump three more hours of work on you.  That would be a negative wonderful. 

Then you see the sharpest, speediest and most efficient worker in the office go past your door.  She looks in and sees what has just happened.  She comes into your office and takes off her coat and says, “We can probably get this done in an hour if we work together.” 

Wow!  You say, “Wonderful!  Thank you so much!”  That is positive wonderful and it fills you with wonder at the kindness, the concern, the care, the camaraderie and the self sacrificing nature of your co-worker.  You are filled with wonder that anyone could do such an onerous task in your behalf.  It fills you with gratitude and joy and peace and thanksgiving.   That is the wonderful grace of Jesus. 

Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  He has taken the burden of our sin and nailed it to Calvary’s cross.  He has taken the burden of our condemnation and carried it to hell and rose again to life for our hope.  He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  He has promised to be there as our burden bearer for all time and eternity.  Isn’t that wonderful?  He did all that for us when we were yet sinners and opposed to him in mind, heart and body.  He did it all by His wonderful grace. 

We need to sing of His grace. We need to proclaim such wonderful grace from the housetops. We need to respond in genuine gratitude demonstrated in our daily lives for such wonderful grace.  Indeed we can sing with Haldor Lillenas, “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin.  How shall my tongue describe it?  Where shall its praise begin?”  O the wonderful, wonderful exceedingly wonderful grace of God. 

       You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,

available here: 



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Victorious Grace

Fanny Crosby’s rousing and triumphant anthem “Victory Through Grace” proclaims the mighty power of God’s grace for the soldiers of the cross.  The chorus makes it clear that God’s people will not conquer by strength or speed.  They will have their victory through the promised grace of God.  “Not to the strong is the battle, not to the swift is the race.  Yet to the true and the faithful victory is promised through grace.” 

In conflict after conflict the Bible promises this victory through grace.  In Ephesians 2 God promises victory over the conflict of death by His quickening grace.  In Romans 5 God promises victory over the conflict of condemnation by His justifying grace.  In Romans 4 and all of Galatians God promises victory over our conflict with the law by His saving grace.  In II Corinthians 12 God promises victory over the conflict of the weakness of our flesh by His sufficient grace.  In Hebrews 4 God promises victory over the conflict of the despairs of life at His throne of grace. 

As we face the conflicts of life we must always remember that the God of grace is still our God.  Trials, despairs, conflicts, sin, weakness and all other problems of living in this shell of flesh do not separate us from Him. He knows our needs and does not leave us alone to face them.  Jesus came and lived here and experienced sorrows, temptations, trials, hurts and rejection.  Our God of grace fully understands all that we face each day.  We are not alone.  We have One with us, our Ruler, our King, our Victorious Leader, our Risen Savior who is able to sustain us by His grace in everything we face both now and unto eternity. 

With Fanny Crosby we need to stand and sing.  We need to raise our voices loudly in the triumphant proclamation of victory through grace.

 “Conquering now and still to conquer rideth the King in His might! Leading the host of all the faithful into the midst of the fight; see them with courage advancing, clad in their brilliant array, shouting the name of their Leader, hear them exultingly say.  Not to the strong is the battle, not to the swift is the race.  Yet to the true and the faithful victory is promised through GRACE!”
        You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Unmerited Grace

We return today to Daniel Whittle’s hymn “I Know Whom I Have Believed”.  The first stanza of this hymn contains the key idea for God’s unmerited Grace.  Whittle wrote, “I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me he hath made known, nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own.”  Unworthy clearly states our condition.   Grace clearly states God’s response.

Why was God moved to save sinners such as us? Was it our good looks?  Was it our natural abilities?  Was it our keen intellects?  Was it our good conduct?  Was it our financial standing?  Was it our important standing in the community? Was it the good benefits that we could offer Him?  Obviously these were not the reasons. Paul told the Corinthians that God did not choose the wise, the mighty, or the noble.  Rather, God chose the weak, the foolish, the despised and those which are accounted as nothing. 

We bring nothing to God.  Our best efforts, Isaiah said, are just a pile of leprosy infected rags.  Peter said our money can’t buy God’s blessing of Jesus Christ.  Paul said that we can’t bring God our works or we would have something to boast about.  We come to God naked, poor, needy and sick.  We come to God as completely tainted failures.  We come, as Daniel Whittle said, unworthy.

That is what makes grace so wonderful.  We do not merit it. God gives it.  God pours out His matchless love, His matchless care, His matchless provision not in response to our value but in response solely to His grace.  Such a gift is too high for us to comprehend.  Such a sacrifice is too great for us to understand.  Our comprehension or understanding, however, is not necessary.  What God wants is for us to receive His grace.  He wants us to take the gift He offers.  He wants us to become His children.  He wants to display His grace to the world by displaying His grace in us, unworthy, unfit, unclean sinners who have been changed by the grace of God.  Let us respond to this great grace by having our lives conform to the familiar words of Elvina Hall’s great consecration hymn “Jesus Paid it All”.  The third verse and chorus read, “For nothing good have I, whereby Thy grace to claim. I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb. Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”  Thanks be to God for His unmerited grace.   

     You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,

available here: 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Thankful Grace

My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving.  It is a time for family and feasting and singing great songs of praise.  When we consider the origin of some of our favorite Thanksgiving hymns, it inspires us to give ever more heartfelt praise to God for His grace.  Martin Rinkart who wrote “Now Thank We All Our God” did so in the midst of the 30 Years War in Germany.  At the time he wrote this hymn he was serving as the only pastor left living in his city and there was a plague going on.  Think of that as the backdrop for your next Thanksgiving Day celebration.  Another great Thanksgiving hymn is “We Gather Together”.  It was written in the Netherlands during the brutal attacks by the Spanish king against the Dutch Protestants.  War ravaged their land for two generations.   It was called the 80 Years War.   

How could these people be so thankful in the midst of such overwhelming calamities in their lives?  They were thankful for the care they saw coming from God each day.  They were thankful for the certainty of His grace toward them.  They did not equate God’s grace and care with having everything they could imagine in a material way.  They understood that grace and care are ongoing in adversity.  They understood that grace and care were eternal and that what they were experiencing was not what they would always experience.  They were convinced that the words of Paul in Romans 8:36-39 were absolutely true.  They were thankful for a sovereign God who would undergird them in life and keep them in death. 

Thanksgiving is totally integrated into God’s grace.  The very word “thanksgiving” as found in our New Testament is a derivative of the word grace.  Without the word “grace” there is no word “thanksgiving”.  The New Testament word “eucharist” is translated thanksgiving.  It is the same word that we use “Eucharist” to describe the thanksgiving feast of the Lord’s Table.  Perhaps a very literal translation of the word could be “built upon grace”.  That is what thanksgiving is, an attitude of the believer founded on the sure grace of God. 

With Martin Rinkart we can joyously sing with hope and thanksgiving, “O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us.  With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; and keep us in His GRACE, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills in this world and the next.”  Let God’s rich grace produce genuine thanksgiving in His people. 
    You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Safe Grace

If I could travel back in time I would like to meet two great women hymnists, Lena Sandell and Frances Havergal.  Their hymns of worship and consecration have greatly enriched the singing of Christ’s church.  Their heart of devotion and faith minister the hope, grace and peace of God to all who will meditate on their words.  One of my absolute favorite hymns is by Lena Sandell, “Children of the Heavenly Father”.  The first line reads, “Children of the Heavenly Father, safely in His bosom gather.  Nesting bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e’er was given.” 
God’s grace is the safest place to be.  Men seek refuge in all manner of things.  They seek safety in financial security.  They seek safety in military might.  They seek safety in medical technology. They seek safety in political power.  They seek safety in knowledge. They constantly seek safety in the things that they can make or hold.  Lena Sandell knew that safety comes from none of those.  Safety comes from the grace of God.  It is only as we throw ourselves on the mercy of His grace that we will ever learn or ever possess true safety.
Jesus tells us that the world of Noah’s day is no different than the world of today.  People were running around doing all the things that people do to have a happy and secure life.  One man, however, sought something different.  He sought God.  That man was Noah and Genesis six tells us that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  By grace he and his family were saved when all the rest of the world perished.  Grace was the safest place to be. 
Grace will comfort us with its safety in every storm of life.  Grace will assure us with its safety in every trial we face.  Grace will uphold us with its safety in every need that we confront. Grace will wrap us safely in the arms of Jesus where our hope and peace and joy is secured by His mighty power forever and forever.  America’s greatest female hymnist, Fanny Crosby, wrote these words that echo those of Lena Sandell.  “Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast; there by His love o’er shaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.”  Rest in the safe arms of God’s grace today. 

                                                  The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen

You may also enjoy this inspirational devotional book, The Gospel According to Molly,
available here: