Tag Archives: grace

21 Day Experiment-Day 3

“Are you saved?” I used to hear that question a lot growing up in the deep South.  We were a family of church-goers. But the message of the Gospel never really made its way into my heart.  Saved from what?  I’d wonder. Life was good. I didn’t need to get saved—or so I thought. Maybe you can relate.

Welcome to the 21 Day Experiment in Prayer. In our reading of John 3, we meet a religious leader named Nicodemus who came to visit Jesus. Jesus rocked the boat of this respectable Pharisee when He told him he needed to be saved. Jesus said no one could even see the kingdom of God unless he was “born again” (John 3:4). Continue reading

30 Days of Thankful: Day 21

Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. Another observation during 30 Days of Thankful. We have to teach our children to be thankful, so it makes sense that God teaches it to us. In the Old Testament, He even created rituals and celebrations to teach His people how to give thanks.

Giving thanks is not so much for God’s benefit, though I am sure it warms His heart as it does any good parent when their children show gratitude. He doesn’t need our thankfulness to be God. But God knows that thankful people are better people. They are also happier and healthier.

We’ve talked about the emotional and physical blessings that come when we’re thankful. But there’s more: When you grasp the concept of giving thanks to God, you’re beginning to grasp something much more powerful—His grace. I hope you’ll see the connection here.

Our word “grateful” comes from an old English word, “grate” which means “thanks.” The word grateful is also loosely related to the word grace.

But the Bible connection between grace and thankfulness is much stronger.  Grace is defined as the “gift or blessing brought to mankind by Jesus Christ, favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness.” The Greek word commonly translate as “grace” is charis.

Charis is also one of several words in the New Testament translated as “thank.” Here are a couple of examples where charis conveys thankfulness:

“I thank [charis] God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3 NIV).

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude [charis] in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV).

Charis doesn’t just communicate thankfulness.  Charis–or grace–is the very substance of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 says it strongly: “For it is by grace [charis] you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…(Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

How exciting to think that as we practice gratitude, we also breathe new life into our understanding of God’s amazing grace!

So let’s continue to be thankful. And remember, it requires something of a fight for us to walk in God’s grace in this broken, and sometimes hostile, world. As Peter reminded a church that was being heavily persecuted: ‘This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it (1 Peter 5:12 NIV).












30 Days of Thankful: Day 17

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

I don’t know about you but I am beginning to notice some changes during our 30 Days of Thankful. The changes aren’t huge ones—more like a shift in the atmosphere. But they’re real nonetheless.

For example, yesterday I noticed a softening in a very difficult extended family member’s attitude. And a friend who I’ve been reaching out to for years is becoming more tender to the gospel. Just the other day, I experienced an unexplainable feeling of hope in a long-standing problem that had begun to feel hopeless. I wonder if you’ve noticed some changes, too?

As I become more thankful, I’m more aware of God’s blessings all around me.  And no wonder, since the words in the New Testament for thank and bless are practically the same. Both can be used to translate the Greek word eulogeo, which means “to speak well of or to give praise.”  More thanksgiving naturally leads to a greater sensitivity to my blessings.

But the vagueness of praying for God to “bless” my food, my friends, or my family was a problem until I learned a simple tip from our friend John DeVries, founder of Mission India.

In his wonderful book, Why Pray?  DeVries recommends praying for blessings by focusing on five areas which correspond with the letters for B-L-E-S-S:

B – Body – For physical health, safety, strength

L – Labors – For the success and prospering of their work

E – Emotions – For emotional health, peace and joy to replace fear and anxiety

S – Social life – For social relationships, family to have love and unity

S – Spiritual life – For each to know Jesus personally and grow in their spiritual lives

I set my cell phone each day to remind me to pray for several special people. And I pray the BLESS prayer when someone comes to mind and I’m not sure how to specifically pray for them.  Why not take a minute right now to B-L-E-S-S a friend, a family member, a government leader, or even the ruler of a nation.  And while you’re at it, be thankful in advance for what God will do in response to your prayer.











Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17 NIV)

Action! Movement. Progress. Results matter in most of life’s arenas. James challenges us to consider the bottom line of our beliefs. What we believe impacts how we live. But do our actions make us “good enough for God?” Does the salvation of our souls depend upon how well we live out the commandments? In other words, must we work our way to heaven? Absolutely not! Continue reading


Miracle!  The very idea of a miracle makes my heart beat fast.  Let’s look at Jesus’ first miracle.  You’d expect the event to be planned in advance and designed for  maximum impact—a chance to launch his “social platform.”

Instead, in the second chapter of John,  we see a somewhat reluctant savior nudged into the demonstration of power by His mother.  We can’t tell from the text whether Mary was discerning or just plain pushy.  We mothers can be like that. She alerts her son to the possible embarrassment to be faced by the wedding couple who was “just about out of wine.”  Jesus responds, “ Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine?  This isn’t my time.  Don’t push me.”  She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it” (John 2: 4,5 MSG). Continue reading