Monday, April 09, 2007

Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 29



But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

Romans 6:22


Nutritionists tell us that eating five fruits a day can reduce the risk factors for heart attacks—high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excessive weight.  Fruit consumption is effective in the prevention and treatment of cancer, pulmonary disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.  It also retards the aging process and promotes mental health.


In the Bible, fruit is a metaphor for qualities beneficial for Christian living.  Galatians 5:22 talks about the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, patience, and other attitudes reflective of Christ.  In Hebrews 13:15, we’re told to offer the fruit of our lips, praise to His name.  Philippians 1:11 says we should be filled with the “fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”


Paul described the results of ministry as the “fruit” of His labors, and Jesus told us in John 15 that we should be bearing fruit, more fruit, and much fruit (verses 2, 4, and 5).


What would you think of a gardener whose trees never yielded fruit?  Are you like a tree by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in its season?



We glorify God by fruitfulness. . . . And we must bear much fruit; it is muchness of fruit that glorifies God.

Thomas Watson


Recommended Reading: John 15:1-8


Captured By Grace Devotionals Day 28-----Happy Easter!

Moments of Grace: Grace for a Season


And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

Hebrews 9:27



Warren Wiersbe tells of a frontier town in which a horse-drawn wagon with a little boy aboard was racing through the streets.  A young man risked his life to stop the horse and save the child.  The rescued child grew up to become a lawless man, and one day stood in a court in front of a judge—the now-grown young man who had saved his life.  On the basis of their prior relationship, the convicted man pled for mercy.  The judge responded, “Once I was your savior, but now I am your judge. I sentence you to your just punishment.”


When the young man risked his life years before to save the child, it was an act of grace.  He knew nothing of the young child: Was he worthy of being saved?  Was he a respectful child?  A rebellious one?  It didn’t matter, for grace asks no questions concerning worthiness.  It only acts out of self-sacrifice and love.  But the Bible says that grace is only for a season.  The day will come when God extends judgment to all who have rejected His grace and mercy.  Those who reject God’s grace will be worthy of God’s judgment.  Have you received His grace?


Don’t consider your worthiness to be saved.  Only reach out and take the hand that is extended to you by grace.



Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.

John R. W. Stott


Recommended Reading: Hebrews 10:26-29

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 27

Lost and Found


Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1



John Vassar was an agent for the American Tract Society in the 1850s.  He left a Bible in the home of a Christian woman whose husband was an infidel.  When the husband discovered the Bible, he chopped it in two.  Later, in an hour of despair, he began reading Luke 15, the story of the prodigal son, in his half of the Bible.  Desperate to read the conclusion, he begged his wife for her half, read the story over and over, and was saved.


It’s easy to tell when the grace of God has opened the spiritual eyes of a sinner—he comes to a clear conclusion that he is a sinner!  And it’s also easy to tell when personal sin is not clear to an individual—he sees sin in everyone but himself.  The parable Jesus told of the two brothers (Luke 15) has an example of each.  The younger, prodigal brother recognized his sin and repented before his father.  The older brother, however, was indignant that his younger sibling had been forgiven.  He couldn’t extend grace to others probably because he may not have experienced it himself.  Which “brother” would you have been in Jesus’ parable?


Being forgiven by God only makes sense to those who know they’ve sinned.



I once was lost, but now am found.

John Newton


Recommended Reading: Luke 15:11-32

Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 26

A World of Difference


Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:5



A schoolteacher asked her class, “What’s the difference between the North and South Pole?”  One boy replied, “All the difference in the world.”  Well, that also answers the question, “What’s the difference between a victorious and a defeated Christian?”  In Romans 5, Paul reminds us of our benefits in Christ and describes three special gifts that should produce a constant stream of thanksgiving in our hearts.


First, we have a hope that doesn’t disappoint.  Our hope in Christ isn’t wishes and wannabees.  It’s sure and certain, sealed with the reality of Christ’s resurrection.  It cannot disappoint us.


Second, we have a love poured into our hearts.  The Greek verb has the idea of “gushing.”  We’re like children at the base of a waterfall, trying to catch the flow in our little cups.


Third, the Holy Spirit is given to us.  Jesus himself lives within us by His indwelling Spirit.


Whatever your circumstances, remember those three facts; and it will make a world of difference in your attitude today.



Inspire us, heavenly Father, to make Thy will our will, not in sullen submission, but gladly and gratefully.

Michael Guido


Recommended Reading: Romans 5:1-5

Thursday, April 05, 2007

...Spring Break

So this week is Spring Break for the kids.  It’s Spring Break, yet yesterday it was 40 out!  And with the wind chill it was about 20!!!!!  That is INSANE!  We even had snow flurries yesterday.  Unfortunately today isn’t looking much better.  The kids are getting cabin fever.  They want to get out and play but it’s just too cold.  Gabe broke the girls’ door knob yesterday.  They had their door locked and he wanted in so he started twisting the knob and somehow busted it.  Maybe he really is He-Man.  I have a crying baby…he wants out of his crib.  Gotta go! 

Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 25



“My people shall be satisfied with My goodness,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:14



In his final days just before slipping into unconsciousness, Memphis pastor Adrian Rogers told friends by his bed, “I am at perfect peace.”


Few people leave behind “last words” now because of medication to lessen suffering and pain.  But in the older times before the widespread use of anesthesia, people actually planned their dying sayings in advance.  It was their final opportunity to share the satisfaction of Christ.


Hymnist John Newton said as he was dying, “I am satisfied with the Lord’s will.”  The “Sweet Singer of Methodism,” Charles Wesley, said on his deathbed: “I shall be satisfied with Thy likeness—satisfied, satisfied!”


Sir David Brewster, inventor of the kaleidoscope, said as he passed into heaven: “I will see Jesus: I shall see Him as He is . . . Oh . . . I feel so safe and satisfied!”  John Calvin said as he was dying, “I am abundantly satisfied.”


It isn’t just the dying who are satisfied, of course; it should be the living, too!  Like Clara Williams’ old hymn says:


Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.



We love the truth as it is in Jesus; and nothing but that will satisfy us.

Charles Spurgeon


Recommended Reading: Isaiah 58:10-11


***Wow…if we could only be “satisfied.”  How much smoother would our lives be?  I know for me I need to be satisfied with all of the blessings that God has given me.*** 

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 24


Moments of Grace: Grace for Wrecked Lives


There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1a



Lillie Baltrip was such an excellent school bus driver that her Houston, Texas, school district nominated her for a safe-driving award.  While driving a group of her colleagues to the awards ceremony, Lillie turned a corner too sharply and flipped the bus over, sending herself and sixteen others to the hospital for treatment.  After that accident, Lillie was not given the safe-driving award.


Safety committees don’t extend grace: “No accidents” means “No accidents—period.”  Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t operate the way safety committees do?  Where would you be (where would any person be) if God said, “No sins—period!”  Well, He has said that actually.  That is why His Son, Jesus Christ, died on a cross in our place—to pay for the many sins we have committed.  And it was by the grace of God that Jesus was sent into the world to pay for our sins—past, present, and future.  The amazing thing about God’s grace is that, even though we’ve sinned, we get rewarded anyway because of what God has done for us through Christ.


Regardless of how many “wrecks” happen in our lives, there is a committee of One that extends grace to us—the crown of righteousness.



Often the nature of grace can be made plain only by describing its absence.

Flannery O’Connor


Recommended Reading: 2 Timothy 4:8

FW: Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 23


The Little Green Apple


In His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:2



In his autobiography, astronaut John Glenn described his years as a test pilot for the military.  Once while flying the FJ-3, he entered the test area at an altitude eight miles above sea level.  Suddenly his canopy seal blew and, at the same moment, his oxygen regulator went out.  He switched to emergency backup, but that failed as well.


Glenn’s eyesight deteriorated and large patches of black floated into his vision.  His only hope was a small bottle of compressed oxygen in his parachute pack. Holding his breath, he put his plane into a steep dive while groping for the “little green apple,” as it was called.  Just as his lungs were about to burst and he was seconds from unconsciousness, he found the small wooden ball containing the precious oxygen, pulled it, and inhaled deeply.  That little green apple became Glenn’s “souvenir of survival.”


It’s the oxygen of the Word that keeps our minds sane and our vision clear.  As we draw the Scripture into our spiritual lungs, we regain the capacity to pull out of nosedives and to fly above the clouds.  Certain verses become “souvenirs of survival” for our souls.


Is your “little green apple” within arm’s reach?



The great, the primary, the essential point is first-hand meditation on God’s Word as the secret of Christian living.

W. H. Griffith-Thomas


Recommended Reading: Psalm 1


Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 22



Different Timetables


Wait on your God continually.

Hosea 12:6



In a new translation of the Consolations of the German monk, Thomas à Kempis, we find an interesting translation of John 7:6, which is the verse where Jesus told His brothers to go on to Jerusalem for, said Jesus, the right time had not come for Him; but anytime was right for them.  In Consolations by à Kempis, Jesus simply said, in paraphrase: “We’re on different timetables, you and I.”


Do you ever sense God saying that to you: “We’re on different timetables, you and I”?  It often seems that God’s schedule is different from our own.  We want to go, go, go; but God says, “Wait, wait, wait.”  It takes time for His providential orderings to fall into place, and it takes a while for our own faith and patience to fully ripen.  That’s why King David said, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).


Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The ability to calm your soul and wait before God is one of the most difficult things in the Christian life.  Our old nature is restless . . . the world around us is frantically in a hurry.  But a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.”


His timetable is always best!



Be assured that if God waits longer than you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious.

Andrew Murray


Recommended Reading: John 7:6-9


Captured by Grace Devotionals Day 21


"I Still Believe"


All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28



As a student in California, Jeremy Camp traveled around, plucking on his guitar and leading worship.  One day he met a woman who was deeply in love with the Lord.  Jeremy and Melissa dated, but Melissa soon called off the relationship to focus exclusively on her bond with Jesus.  Shortly afterward Jeremy heard that Melissa had contracted cancer.


That's when their romance re-blossomed.  "God," Jeremy prayed, "if You want me to marry Melissa, knowing she could die from this cancer, then I will."  Jeremy and Melissa were married, but a few months later she passed away.


"Watching Melissa go to heaven made me realize what's important," Jeremy later said.  "Music is not my life.  Christ is my life . . . .As a result of what I've been through, I express even more the goodness of God and how faithful He is."


We're like children with a thousand puzzle pieces, but our heavenly Father has the top of the box, and He sees the total picture.  No matter what we go through, He is good and faithful; and all things work together for good to those who love Him.



I still believe in Your faithfulness . . . I still believe in Your Holy Word, even when I don't see, I still believe.

Jeremy Camp, in the first song he wrote after Melissa's death.


Recommended Reading: Romans 8:28-30