Grace in the Morning

graceThe Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord, your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The Lord is mine, so I hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Ponder It.

  • How do you define God’s grace?
  • On a scale from one to ten, how fully do you live out of God’s grace every day?
  • What do you need today? What does God say about your need(s)?

Receive It. God’s grace gives you what you need to live. What do you need for today? Be careful. How you define what you need and how God defines what you need are likely different. We can become accustomed to assuming we have a right to something when we’re not promised by God to the same things we’re promised by the world. There’s a chasm between the two. Even when we claim the promises of God, we often live by the promises of the world, and we don’t like it when the promises of the world don’t pan out. The truth is…the world lies. God doesn’t. We can trust God’s promises, but we can’t trust the world’s. We don’t think God’s grace is sufficient because we don’t fully experience what God’s grace is. We try to fit it into a box of what we think it is. We want to believe God is big enough to take care of everything about us and our lives, but we also want to understand everything about what he’s doing. We want to micromanage, give our instruction, and rely on him to make the adjustments we most want. However, we can’t make God into what we want him to be. He can’t be both big enough to be sovereign yet small enough to be understood by those who he created. What we want and prefer doesn’t change who God is. God’s grace is sufficient, because God is sufficient. He is all we need, but we have to believe he is all we need in order to experience he is all we need. Today, he is everything you need. It might not be comfortable, easy, or burden-free, but you have what you need to deal with every moment and situation. Not in your own strength, but in his. Not in your own wisdom, but in his. Not in your own plan, but in his. Are you willing to fully yield to him and trust him for grace at the beginning of today, tomorrow, and every day?

Live It. How is God providing for your needs today? Keep a running list throughout the day, acknowledging each time God provides for you. Be sensitive to notice even those things you might not consider as needs and provision.

When Grateful is Tired

I woke up early on Shabbat (Sabbath) in Israel.

My first thought was, “Why am I awake so early?” It was the one completely “free” day of the trip. Even if we had been touring or serving, I wouldn’t have to be up so early. I had plans for the day, but they were very casual, relaxing plans. I suppose the fact that I had woken up so early the previous morning, too, added to my initial sigh of tiredness.

Then I realized I wasn’t actually very tired. Looking at the clock made me think I was tired, but I felt rested. The hours I had been keeping made me think I should be tired, but I didn’t want to close my eyes and try to sleep more. I looked outside to see colors begin to creep across the sky.

indexOnce I had gotten up the previous morning, I was glad I was awake early. I had a sweet time with God and was ready for the day ahead. He prepared me in ways I’m sure I don’t even know. Perhaps I was a bit more patient. Maybe I was able to notice the details of His world in a fresh way: the beauty of His creation or someone’s need. I know I had learned many spiritual lessons the previous day. What if I had missed out on them because I missed out on His preparation?

I was ready to start my day, no matter how early it was, because I didn’t want to miss out on a single thing He had planned for me. Throughout the day, I was so thankful I didn’t let the clock guide my sleep pattern. It was a sweet morning that stretched into a wonderful day.

It’s a challenge to be thankful when a situation isn’t what we would consider ideal, such as when we’re tired. And tiredness doesn’t seem nearly as challenging as frustration, pain, confusion, doubt, or pressure. Yet we don’t have to run away from those situations and feelings in order to find gratitude. When we settle into God’s presence and rely on His truth and perspective, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in, we change. The situation may not change, but God can change us.

If we let Him.

I don’t want to miss out on any part of His plan. At times, I think I do. I want Him to make it work another way, because I don’t like the situation, whether it’s a big crisis or a little inconvenience and discomfort. But I’m thankful He knows more than I do. I’m thankful He has control.

I’m thankful for His alarm clock…even though, at times, it’s alarming.

Early Morning Word

I woke up early just outside Tiberias. The sun was about to rise over the Sea of Galilee. It had been a late night, but my heart needed more rest than my body, so I pulled out my notes to look up the Scriptures we’d focus on during the day ahead.

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I began in Matthew 5, pausing at each people or characteristic Jesus declares as blessed: poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and those who are persecuted. I continued to read verse 13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.”

Because of a situation just a few hours before, my eyes and heart were opened wide to a message God wanted to make very clear to me. We can’t demand or even expect respect. And when we give it, we need to be mindful of our motives. We need to keep our expectations in check. We respect others because of who God is, not because of who they are and not because of who we are. We don’t know others’ hearts, experiences, or needs. God does. We sometimes conditionally extend respect, assuming if we respect them, they will (or should) respect us. I don’t know that we always know that’s the attitude we have, but it’s something we must be vigilant against.

I had tried to help someone else grow, but the morning light opened my eyes to apply the lesson to myself, too. “Never lose your saltiness. Never waste your influence. Love abundantly. Serve generously. Humble yourself continually. Never decide and define where you are. Let God.”

I’m glad He woke me up early and set my heart right before my feet hit the floor.