Tag Archives: Grace Changes Everything

Grace – What’s So Amazing About It?

Grace nurtures hope. This past week has been one of the most difficult weeks in Texas. Never in the history of tracking weather, has major flooding from heavy rain occurred in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio – at the same time. Raging rivers have destroyed communities and shattered lives.

The most tragic of these is the loss of life due to the Blanco River rising so quickly that a vacation home was literally swept of its piers before the occupants had a chance to escape. Of the 8 people in the home, 5 have been found, 3 remain missing. Of the 5 found, only one has survived. Jonathan McComb was found 12 miles down river from where this house once stood.

You can see this is not a small cabin by the river. All that remains are the concrete piers you that supported the deck. As this house floated down the river, Laura McComb called her sister to say the house was floating down the river, and basically said good-bye just before the house smashed into a bridge sending the occupants flying.

The McComb family is from Corpus Christi and are members of First Baptist Church. I cannot imaging the heart aches the community and church are experiencing when tragedy like this happens. I do know the Christian community shares the hurt whether we personally know the victim(s) or not. Several of my Facebook friends have shared prayer needs for the victims and their families. While I may be in Virginia, Facebook and the internet has given me a connection to this family in Texas

My friend Karen posted this on Facebook today.

We waited 20 months for a Pastor. While I loved Joe, we needed a full-time Pastor. At times discouraged with the time it took, but God in his infinite wisdom and knowledge knew what we needed. He has never failed us.
It was well worth the wait! So deeply thankful for Brian Hill (the new pastor). You stepped into our lives in God’s perfect timing. God placed Jonathan McComb on the search committee and you got to know him and Laura and the kids. Now, your compassion is helping us all walk this journey. Thank you and God Bless you!

This is just one of countless examples of how Grace nurtures Hope. The Apostle Paul wrote about hope –

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)

Hope is the one thing that keeps the light on in our soul when our circumstances tell us otherwise. Hope is putting a positive spin on the situation no matter how bleak it may be. Without Jesus in our hearts, that is impossible to do.

When tragedy strikes, we have two choices. We can let the tragedy dictate our perspective or we can hold on the Rock of Jesus and trust Him to bring us through the tragedy. And we can only do that if we know Jesus personally, just like a friend. Jesus calls you His friend (John 15:15). Can you call Him your friend? When tragedy happens, you need a friend like Jesus.

Do you know Jesus in your heart? If you do, then you have the grace that nurtures hope.

If you don’t know Jesus in your heart, then perhaps now is the time to do this.

Ask for forgiveness.
Believe in the gift of salvation.
Pray to confess your sin.
Receive Christ into your life.

What’s keeping you from asking Jesus to be your friend today?

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.


Grace – What’s So Amazing About It?

Today, May 24, 2015 is Pentecost Sunday. While Pentecost Sunday is not celebrated as well in Christian circles as Christmas and Easter, it is a significant date Christians should remember because 50 days following the passover celebration, the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven like a rushing wind and transformed Jesus Christ’s followers.

Pentecost literally means 50th day which is used as a measure throughout the Old and New Testaments. The most common use sets the date of the Feast of Pentecost also called the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of The First Fruits.

15 “‘Count seven full weeks from the morning after the Sabbath. (This is the Sabbath that you bring the bundle of grain to present as an offering.) 16 On the fiftieth day, the first day after the seventh week, you will bring a new grain offering to the Lord. Leviticus 23:15-16 (NCV)

Additional Old Testament references to the Feast of Pentecost are Exodus 34:22, Numbers 28:26, Deuteronomy 16:16, and 2 Chronicles 8:13,

In the New Testament, Pentecost is better known as the Day of Pentecost and is considered by some as the birth of the Christian Church. I like to think of it as the day that transformed the early Christian Church.

Pentecost marked the fulfillment of the promise of God’s Grace

The Apostle Paul explained God’s Grace in his letter to the Christian Church in Rome. God’s promise to Abraham is spelled out in Genesis 12.

Abraham and his descendants received the promise that they would get the whole world. He did not receive that promise through the law, but through being right with God by his faith. 14 If people could receive what God promised by following the law, then faith is worthless. And God’s promise to Abraham is worthless, 15 because the law can only bring God’s anger. But if there is no law, there is nothing to disobey.
16 So people receive God’s promise by having faith. This happens so the promise can be a free gift. Then all of Abraham’s children can have that promise. It is not only for those who live under the law of Moses but for anyone who lives with faith like that of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Romans 4:13-16

And God’s promise to Abraham was repeated in Genesis 22:18 after God tested Abraham’s faithfulness.

Pentecost marked the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus

Following the last Passover with His disciples, Jesus promised them they will not be abandoned.

If you love me, you will obey my commands. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you. John 14:15-17 (NCV)

The disciples’ faith was tested for 50 days before the Day of Pentecost.

Pentecost marked the day Jesus’ followers were empowered to spread the Gospel

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He left these parting words to His disciples:

But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world. Acts 1:8 (NCV)

Jesus had previously told His disciples:

But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. John 16:13 (NCV)

Until the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers did not know how to follow through on Acts 1:8. They remained together in Jerusalem as Jesus instructed them and waited for the Holy Spirit.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them. Acts 2:1-4 (NCV)

The people in Jerusalem saw the transformation the Holy Spirit brought on the disciples.

The Apostle Peter stood up with the eleven apostles, and in a loud voice he spoke to the crowd: “My fellow Jews, and all of you who are in Jerusalem, listen to me. Pay attention to what I have to say. Acts 2:14, (NCV)

The same Peter who had denied Jesus some 50 days before, delivered the Gospel Message (Acts 2:15-40, NCV) with boldness and authority, just as Jesus said he would be able to do. As a result, 3,000 souls were saved by Grace that day.

What’s so amazing about Grace? Grace changes everything. It all starts with salvation.

There are no “magical” words that result in salvation. Salvation comes to those who believe the truth of John 3:16.

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.

Salvation cannot be earned, it is a gift from God.

For by Grace, you are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Salvation is as simple as A B C.

  • ADMIT that you need Christ as your savior, and that all those who call on the Lord Jesus and obey Him will be saved. You can’t be saved without Him, nor add to or take from what Christ has done for you (Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23).
  • BELIEVE the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. You can know He is Who He says He is by the hundreds of prophecies that came true in His Life. Many things foretold hundreds of years before His birth came true in His lifetime, and others, He Himself made, came true later (Romans 10:9, 10:10).
  • CONFESS to the Lord and admit to yourself that you have responsibilities and that you have commitments as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. The more you know about the Lord Jesus Christ, the more you’ll want to tell other people about Him (Romans 10:13, 11:36, John 1:1).

I would love to hear your story about how Grace changed you.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.


Grace – What’s So Amazing About It?

Recently, I’ve read some comments to my Facebook friends’ status updates that made me wonder, how in the world can someone be so bitter and angry at life? Then it hit me.

UnforgivenessBefore I continue, let me add a disclaimer –

I am not a trained psychologist, psychotherapists, or counselor of any kind. I am not a Bible scholar nor a theologian. I only offer my opinion based on my personal experiences.

Unforgiveness is cancer of the soul. It will eat away at you and destroy your life. It is a spiritual poison and silent killer. Once unforgiveness takes root, it silently grows and takes over your entire being.

God promised sickness and illness to fall on the Israelites when they chose to not follow Him in obedience.

Be careful to obey everything in these teachings that are written in this book. You must respect the glorious and wonderful name of the Lord your God, 59 or the Lord will give terrible diseases to you and your descendants. You will have long and serious diseases, and long and miserable sicknesses. 60 He will give you all the diseases of Egypt that you dread, and the diseases will stay with you. 61 The Lord will also give you every disease and sickness not written in this Book of the Teachings, until you are destroyed. Deuteronomy 28:58-61 (NCV)

I have seen bitterness and anger that seem to permeate generations.

“I am the Lord. The Lord is a God who shows mercy, who is kind, who doesn’t become angry quickly, who has great love and faithfulness and is kind to thousands of people. The Lord forgives people for evil, for sin, and for turning against him, but he does not forget to punish guilty people. He will punish not only the guilty people, but also their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren, and their great-great-grandchildren.” Exodus 34:6-7

God also promised a cure for this.

If you worship the Lord your God, I will bless your bread and your water. I will take away sickness from you. Exodus 23:25

The Lord will take away all disease from you; you will not have the terrible diseases that were in Egypt, but he will give them to all the people who hate you. Deuteronomy 7:15

Jesus give us two commandments to follow

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and most important command. 39 And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Matthew 23:37-39

This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

Unforgiveness is deadly. We can choose to live a life rooted in bitterness and unforgiveness or we can choose the opposite and live a life filled with the richness of God’s Grace. Remember – Grace Changes Everything. It all starts with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

WOW! That’s tough. Yes it is, but it is possible – with God’s help.

Many of us learned to recite The LORD’S prayer as a child. But do we really understand the words we say?

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)

Notice verse 12 above. We are to ask God for forgiveness just as we forgive others when they sin against us.  The next two verses are just as important –

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

I cringe when I hear people tell me they cannot forgive someone because the hurt or pain is too deep. When I explain that their unforgiving spirit is the root of their bitterness, they generally blow me off as a religious fanatic. At that point, all I can do is say, “I’ll pray for God to open your eyes so you can see the miracles of His teachings.” Psalm 119:16

The Apostle John recorded Jesus saying “A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness.” John 10:10

Has bitterness due to an unforgiving spirit taken root in your life? Have you tried to rid your soul of an unforgiving spirit but just can’t do it? Without Christ, you can do nothing. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You CAN break free from the grip unforgiveness has on your life. But you cannot do it alone. You can only do it after receiving the free gift of Grace because Grace changed everything.

Satan will remind you that you are not good enough for Jesus. He will remind you that your past cannot be forgiven. When this happens, tell Satan that the Jesus who defeated him on the Cross is the same Jesus who has removed the bitterness and unforgiving spirit from your life. Remind Satan that you are now a Child of the King and he has no authority over you!

Have you been changed by Grace? If so, I would love to hear your story. If not, do you know Jesus personally just like you know your spouse, child or parent?

The Bible says:

  1. All have sinned (Romans 3:23)
  2. The price for sin is death (Romans 6:23)
  3. Jesus died for our sins (Romans 5:8)
  4. By declaring with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believing that Jesus has risen from the grave I can be saved (Roman 10:9-10)

Anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved. The choice is yours.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.



Grace – What’s So Amazing About It?

It Changes Everything

We live on a point on the continuum of time called the Present. We cannot do anything to change our past however we can control our future.

Prov. 29:18 says, “If people can’t see what God is doing,
    they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed.” The Message

don't_let_your_past-51819In his book, “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader“, John Maxwell says –

“Show me a leader without vision and I’ll show you someone who isn’t going anywhere. At best, he is often going in circles.”

As we travel from place to place, it would be crazy to think we load the car and begin a trip without knowing the destination. Yet that is exactly how many live their lives. In 1996, Linda Ellis wrote a poem titled “The Dash“. The poem is about a man who spoke at a friend’s funeral.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

How are you spending your dash? Aimlessly? Or with vision? Do you have a vision? Is it Grace driven?

After years of living aimlessly, doing things my way, I spent about 9 months unemployed. During that time, I did a lot of praying and soul-searching. God responded by giving me a touch of Grace that radically changed my life. He gave me this threefold Grace driven vision:

  1. Glorify God in all things I do, think and say
  2. Pay attention to my shadow (this is what follows me, it is what I leave behind; hopefully God’s goodness and love)
  3. Use the gifts God has given me to make a difference in other people.

God gave me that vision just before He gave me my last full-time the job at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. I knew this job was going to be different from any that I had before. How did I know that? Because Graces changes everything.

From Genesis to Revelation, God spoke through visions (or revelations). This seems to be God’s preferred method of communicating with His people. After Jesus ascended into heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to the small band of Christians in Jerusalem. Acts 2 describes the scene of Pentecost. After quieting the crowd, the Apostle Peter reminded them of the promises from the prophet Joel –

‘God says: In the last days
    I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions,
    and your old men will dream dreams.
Acts 2:17 (NCV)

When Jesus comes into your heart, you become a vessel where God can pour out His blessings.

In a large house there are not only things made of gold and silver, but also things made of wood and clay. Some things are used for special purposes, and others are made for ordinary jobs. 21 All who make themselves clean from evil will be used for special purposes. They will be made holy, useful to the Master, ready to do any good work.
(2 Timothy 2:20-21, NCV)

King David, the Psalmist wrote:

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4, NASB)

How do we delight ourselves in the Lord? By doing things that please Him. That is my 1st vision (Glorify God in all things I do, think and say). And doing things that please Him can only happen if you know Him in a real and personal way.

Do you know Jesus or know of Him? The Bible says in 1 John 5:13,

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Joyce Myers, Christian author, speaker, and teacher puts it this way:

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a human being, lived a sinless life, died on the cross and rose from the dead to save humanity from dying in their sins.
Christ died to pay for our sins, your sins can be forgiven. And because He conquered death, you can have eternal life — you can know for sure what will happen to you after you die.

But this gift of forgiveness and eternal life cannot be yours unless you…

Ask forgiveness.
Believe in the gift of salvation.
Pray to confess your sin.
Receive Christ into your life.

God has a plan for you but cannot reveal it to you until you have receive Jesus into your life. Let today be the day that you receive Jesus and let today be the day that Grace change everything.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.



Grace – What Is So Amazing About It?

Grace – What it is

Trevor McKinney’s 7th grade social studies teacher, Eugene Simonet, gave the class an assignment – Do something to change the world. Trevor decided to do something really big for three people who need it with the stipulation that they do something big for three others. The October 2000 movie, Pay It Forward, spawned the Pay It Forward Foundation and in 2007, Pay it Forward Day was founded by Blake Beattie in Australia.

Trevor’s idea is close to an example of grace except that Trevor’s idea is conditional and Grace is not. Grace is unmerited favor. In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace? author Philip Yancey say,

“Grace comes free of charge to people who do not deserve it.”

Grace does not depend on the recipient doing something as a condition to receive Grace. A better example of Grace would be paying for the order of the person behind you who is in line at the drive through of a fast food restaurant. The recipient does nothing to deserve the gift.

Grace is the one thing that separates Christianity from other world religions. Grace is God’s plan for redemption. The Apostle John wrote in ,

The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

The Apostle Paul said:

I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. 10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.
Ephesians 2:8-10

But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. 22 God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: 23 Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, 24 and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ. 25 God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death. Romans 3:21-25a

“Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.”
– Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Grace – What it isn’t

Grace is not a license to sin! The Apostle Paul; explains it in Romans 6:1-3

So do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us even more grace? No! We died to our old sinful lives, so how can we continue living with sin? Did you forget that all of us became part of Christ when we were baptized? We shared his death in our baptism.

In simple terms, Grace is a free gift from God, given to those who will accept it. There are no strings attached and there are no conditions that must be met or achieved to receive it.

Grace changes the receiver. That change is why Christians do not continue in sin. That does not mean Christians never sin. It means when they sin, they recognize it and ask God for forgiveness.

By the way, April 30th is Pay It Forward Day. Have you been changed by Grace? Perhaps you can demonstrate grace to some unsuspecting soul on April 30th. I would love to hear about that.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.