31 Jesus-Benefits: Tears on Display

“You have collected all my tears in Your bottle” (Psalm 56:8).

Day 17 and I love the fact that:

God values my feelings.

With commands in Scripture like: “Be joyful always”, it’s easy to believe God’s pleased when we’re on-top of things, but from the passage above, we see that He also values very highly our feelings of sadness. I used to collect memorabilia for a rock group when I was a teenager and had a bookcase in my room dedicated to them, but why would God want to keep a bottle specifically for my tears? I prayed this as I read the verse, and have the feeling it’s to do with when we get to heaven. In Ephesians 2:6-7, Paul talks about God raising us from spiritual death so that in the future, He can point to us as examples of His grace and kindness. Can you imagine it – God holding out the bottle and saying, “Look, these are her tears. See how My grace got her through that … and that … and that”? It makes me smile to think about it.

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I’ll try to keep putting the link to Dayspring.com’s $500 giveaway at the end of these posts if you want to enter, as a thank-you for being a reader who’s supported Write31Days.

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Very Like a House Group: “The Beauty of Grace” Book-Review

Imagine for a minute that friends from all over the globe have gathered in your lounge (there probably aren’t enough chairs). There’s Joy Forney, the one who lives in Uganda; Annie Downs, who turns 35 this year (like me) and lives in Nashville; Kristen Strong, whose daughter’s accident gives her authority to write on sacrifice; Maggie Whitley, who’s focused on Compassion; Emily Freeman, author of “A Million Little Ways” and more; Holley Gerth, the one you feel like telling all your problems to, to name a few. You’ve handed out the cookies and mugs of coffee, picked up your pad of paper to make notes, and you go round the room asking each one to share their thoughts. Very like a house group your church might have midweek, and just as in a house group you’re faced with different personalities, you are here too. Perhaps you’ll like the hard-hitting style of Melanie Shankle, who maintains it’s too easy to sit on your couch and let life pass you by, or you might prefer a gentler voice – someone you sense has endured through tough times.

‘Stories of God’s love from today’s most popular writers’ is a lofty tagline. Really it’s a selection by a bunch of folks you will have heard of if you regularly visit the (in)Courage website. I would have preferred it if the contributors’ bios had been at the tops of their first posts. It would have given Sara Frankl’s added poignancy if readers could have seen at a glance that her illness was over and she was now with the Lord, but overall, I would recommend “The Beauty of Grace”. Many of its writers are familiar to me. It’s what my mum would call a ‘Coffee table book’ – one you can dip in and out of, and keep going back to … and I might do just that.

G R A C E

The acronym for GRACE I’ve always remembered is: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense, but I don’t like that.

I don’t like it because the Bible says God’s grace was on Jesus, right from when He was a child (Luke 2:40). That couldn’t have been God’s riches at Christ’s expense, because Jesus is the Christ, who hadn’t yet suffered death on a cross. He was just a little boy, growing up in Nazareth. There was nothing in His outward appearance to distinguish Him from those around Him (Isaiah 53:2), and yet … God’s grace was upon Him.

Another definition of grace I’ve heard: Undeserved favour. I don’t like that either, again because God’s grace was upon Jesus, who deserved every bit of it.

Shall we call it God’s favour then? God is so extravagant, He loves all those He created.

God’s Riches … Adoration … Care … Extravagance. That’s how I’ll think of grace from now on. Will you?

A Sunday Singsong

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the

Lord” – Colossians 3:16 (KJV)

This verse really surprised me when I read it just now in the old King James Version.  The word-order is different from what I’m used to, and it seems to change the emphasis.  If I was reading a modern version, it would tell me to let Christ’s Word live in me richly as I sang, keeping the Word and the singing separate, as people tend to in lots of churches, but this older version talks about teaching in songs and hymns.  It also talks about singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord.  I wrote a post recently about what makes grace so amazing, but I was talking there about God’s grace towards us.  I’d never thought that we could have grace towards God!  But we can, so sing with feelings of pleasure in your heart towards Him.

As well as being a way of expressing our hearts to God, songs and hymns can teach us a lot.  I must confess I don’t much like singing hymns.  All you tend to hear is the organ belting out the tune, and I prefer to be able to hear the people next to me singing the words.  Plus, lots of hymns have so many verses!  I like the ones that remind me of the church where I became a Christian:

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace

“To me has been made known” (that’s a nice cheery one), or:

“I serve a risen Saviour,

“He’s in the world today”, but the hymns I like best are those where the hymn-writers have managed to put to music the good news of what Jesus did for us.  “Rejoice, the Lord is King” is a good-news hymn.  (I sang that for the first time in a communion service at the hospital and loved the words so much that when it finished, I turned to the person next to me and commented on it.)  There are many others – “To God be the Glory”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Amazing Grace” etc … not forgetting my favourites – “There is a Fountain” and “Man of Sorrows”.

 

Did any of those have you singing along?  I had fun finding them on YouTube.

 

Have any hymns or songs taught you something about God?  Which ones are special to you?

Amazing Favour

Carrying on from yesterday’s post, here are some verses from chapter 2 of Ephesians:

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace” – Ephesians 2:4-7.  So much, just in those few verses:  Made alive with Jesus, even when we were dead inside because of the things we’d done wrong; seated in heavenly places … but what I really wanted to write about was this word ‘Grace’.  I guess that everyone reading this will have heard the hymn “Amazing Grace”, but what is grace?  Well, it’s the favour of God.  Some would say undeserved favour, but the grace of God was even on Jesus (Luke 2:40), and He deserved every bit of it.

 

When you find favour with someone, or they say something favourable about you, it means they’re pleased with you.  “It is by grace you have been saved”:  If you’re a Christian it’s because of the favour of God, because He was pleased with you, that He saved you.  God, pleased with us?  I don’t understand how God can be pleased with someone whose heart is cold and dead towards Him, who’s never done anything for Him.  Why would He want to come to us, change us, give us a love for Him and for others, and plan things for us to do before we were even interested?  I guess that’s what makes grace so amazing.