Stronger Cords

Praying

Grace binds you with
far stronger cords than
the cords of duty or obligation
can bind you.

–E. Stanley Jones

Outrageous Grace

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When people realize that they have received a gift they can never repay, they notify their faces and their actions, and the tenor of their lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. They simply rejoice in the gift. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love is everlasting” (Ps. 107:1).

–Brennan Manning,
Ruthless Trust

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The King’s Grace

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Not Wild Enough

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Ridiculous Idea

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Grace has to be one of the most ridiculously straightforward bargains a market idolizing culture could ever be offered, you’d think. Instead of buy one get one free, the invitation to come buy bread without money would be a game losing own goal for Supermarkets, but the ridiculously obvious life disposition of those who follow Jesus.

–Jim Gordon

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Grace descended

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Man fell miserably,
but God descended mercifully;
man fell through his pride,
God descended with his grace.

–St. Augustine

Grace and gratitude

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Grace evokes gratitude
like the voice an echo.
Gratitude follows grace
like thunder lightning.

–Karl Barth

Photo credit: chrlngeer

Published in: on 10/22/2015 at 10:38  Leave a Comment  
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Who can stay away?

looking out window1 copyGrace is the ultimate attractor.
Who can stay away
from someone
who sees everything
wrong with you
and loves you even
more for it?

–Eric Nels Ortlund

Published in: on 10/18/2015 at 4:26  Leave a Comment  
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Freedom to serve

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This verse has long fascinated me. “O Lord, truly I am Your servant . . . You have loosed my bonds” (Psa. 116:16). The psalmist makes a intriguing connection between bondage and freedom. He claims to be a “servant” yet “loosed.” Is this not the beautiful paradox of the Christian? Loosed, but bound. Free, but still a captive. Released to be ruled by Love. The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Repaired and roadworthy

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Redemption is God mending the bicycle of our souls; God bringing out the puncture repair kit, re-inflating the tires, taking off the rust, making us roadworthy once more. Not so that we can take flight into ecstasy, but so that we can do the next needful mile of our lives.

–Francis Spufford

No strings attached

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The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law — each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.

–Philip Yancey
What’s so Amazing about Grace?

Knowing Christ

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To know Jesus
is the shortest description
of true grace;
to know him better is
the surest mark
of growth in grace;
to know him perfectly
is eternal life.

–John Newton
(1725—1807)

Wonderful, plentiful grace

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Christ’s boundless grace confronts our deep necessities. Christ’s promised presence confronts our sad and gloomy loneliness. Jesus thus filled with grace so overflowing, with love so tender, with sympathy so exquisite, with power so illimitable, with resources so boundless, with a nature so changeless, stands before us and says to each trembling heart, “Fear not!”

―Octavius Winslow
Evening Thoughts

Embracing both messages

a861c76fbad61f0e2eef5ab379dcd953The gospel presents both high ideals and all-encompassing grace. Very often, however, the church tilts one direction or the other. Either it lowers the ideals, adjusting moral standards downward, softening Jesus’ strong commands, rationalizing behaviour; or else it pulls in the boundaries of grace, declaring some sins worse that others, some sinners beyond the pale. Few churches stay faithful both to the high ideals of gospel and its bottomless grace . . . I am convinced that unless we embrace both messages we will betray the good news that Jesus brought to earth.

–Philip Yancey
Soul Survivor

Not only wild and wonderful

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And if there is a God who can take the dead and, without a single condition of credit-worthiness or a single pointless promise of reform, raise them up whole and forgiven, free for nothing—well, that would not only be wild and wonderful; it would be the single piece of Good News in a world drowning in an ocean of blame.

–Robert Farrar Capon

Art: Mikki Senkarik

Published in: on 01/24/2015 at 8:20  Leave a Comment  
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Both love and truth are vital

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Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.

God’s saving love in Christ, however,
is marked by both radical truthfulness
about who we are and yet also radical,
unconditional commitment to us.

The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.

–Timothy Keller

Clinging to grace

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I am throwing all
my good works overboard,
and lashing myself
to the plank of free grace;
for I hope to swim
to glory on it.

–C. H. Spurgeon

Published in: on 12/28/2014 at 5:00  Leave a Comment  
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When Love stooped

the-birth-fo-jesus-by-carl-heinrich-blochLove that goes upward, from
the heart of man to God, is adoration. Love that goes outward, from one heart to another, is affection. But love that stoops is grace and God stooped to us. This is the most stupendous fact of the universe. It reveals to us that our God is love.

–Donald Grey Barnhouse

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Painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch

Bridge of grace

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The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them.

– C. H. Spurgeon
(1834-1892)

Published in: on 10/13/2014 at 13:37  Leave a Comment  
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The severity of grace

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The Law was severe but Grace is severer still. The Law demanded much but Grace demands all. The Law regulates the act. Grace purifies the motive. The Law left the people at the foot of Mount Sinai but grace brings us to the seat of Mount Zion. Jesus time and again utters these words, “You have heard that it was said by them of old . . . but I say unto you . . . “ Where the Law did not intrude, Grace is determined to control. The Law of Moises said, “Thou shalt not do this or that . . . ” —a negative prohibition; Grace comes to us in Jesus Christ and says, “I will make you to become . . . ” involving a positive recreation.

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Striving to obey the Law seeks to put God in our debt. Grace redeems us, teaching us that we are now totally in debt to God.

He does not look
for any legal repayment
but only loving response.

We are not our own, we are bought with a price. Ours is now the discipline of glorifying Him in our body and in our spirits which are God’s. It is no longer a question of seeking to keep the letter of the law but of having fulfilled in us the spirit of Jesus Christ. The Law was written on tables of stone but God has written now His own word upon our hearts. This is the difference between the Old and New Covenant. The “Old” started with our hands asking something from us—but the “New” begins in our hearts giving something to us.

–Geoffrey T. Bull
The Sky is Red

Grace upon grace

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“From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

The achievements of the Saviour, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves.  For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in.

–St. Athanasius
(296 – 373)

Image: Tim Curtis

Abundant & undeserved

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“And if by grace, then is it no more of works;
otherwise grace is no more grace.”
(Romans 11:6)

The whole essence of grace is that it is undeserved. The moment we have to do something to make ourselves more acceptable to God, or the moment we have to have a certain feeling or attribute of character in order to be blessed by God, then grace is no more grace. Grace permits us to come (nay, demands that we come) as empty sinners to be blessed, empty of right feelings, good character, satisfactory record, with nothing to commend ourselves but our deep need, fully and frankly acknowledged. Then grace, being what it is, is drawn by that need to satisfy it, just as water is drawn to depth that it might fill it.

less5divider2This means that when at last we are content to find no merit nor procuring cause in ourselves, and are willing to admit the full extent of our sinfulness, then there is no limit to what God will do for the poor who look to Him in their nothingness. If what we receive from God is dependent, even to a small extent, on what we are or do, then the most we can expect is but an intermittent trickle of blessing. But if what we are to receive is to be measured by the grace of God quite apart from works, then there is only one word that adequately describes what He pours upon us, the word which is so often linked with grace in the New Testament, “abundance”!

Roy Hession
We Would See Jesus

Published in: on 08/27/2014 at 14:21  Leave a Comment  
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When grace slips away

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Whenever faith
seems an entitlement,
or a measuring rod,
we cast our lots with
the Pharisees and grace
softly slips away.

–Philip Yancey
Soul Survivor

Image: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

Published in: on 06/22/2014 at 21:12  Leave a Comment  
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Unscripted grace

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If Christianity is grace,
we don’t have
a push-button God.
Get ready for
an adventure.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 05/29/2014 at 8:48  Leave a Comment  
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Reckless generosity

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Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person. We see this over and over again in the Gospels: Jesus is always giving to the wrong people—prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds.

The most extravagant sinners
of Jesus’s day receive his most
compassionate welcome.

Grace is a divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. It refuses to play it safe and lay it up. Grace is recklessly generous, uncomfortably promiscuous. It doesn’t use sticks, carrots, or time cards. It doesn’t keep score. As Robert Capon puts it, “Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free.”

It refuses to be controlled by our innate sense of fairness, reciprocity, and evenhandedness. It defies logic. It has nothing to do with earning, merit, or deservedness. It is opposed to what is owed. It doesn’t expect a return on investments. It is a liberating contradiction between what we deserve and what we get. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver.

–Tullian Tchividjian
(emphasis added)

Image: http://nsirakov.com/

The best sentence Calvin wrote

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We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are compre-hended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.” If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain.

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If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.

 –John Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion

 

Amazing grace

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Grace means there is nothing we can to do make God love us more —no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciation, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less —no amount of racisim or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder.

Grace means that
God already loves us
as much as an infinite God
can possibly love.

–Philip Yancey
What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Unexpected favor

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Grace is . . . Love
favoring us when
we are not favorable,
loving us when
we were not lovable,
accepting us when
we are not acceptable,
redeeming us when,
by all the rules of the book,
we are not redeemable.

–E. Stanley Jones

He calls your name

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The devil knows
your name but calls you
by your sin.
God knows your sin
but calls you
by your name.

–Ricardo Sanchez

Published in: on 01/28/2014 at 7:24  Leave a Comment  
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The greater scandal

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Welcome everyone’s
differences and scandals
with the greater scandal
of grace.

–James Emery White

Published in: on 01/21/2014 at 7:11  Leave a Comment  
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