GraceWaves Articles

Forgiving Yourself

Jesus said to him a third time, “Do you love me?’ And Peter said to Him, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:19 The scene for the verse is a stretch of shoreline on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus had prepared breakfast for the disciples. The time is several days to several weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, and after He had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit (20:22) to go out and share His story. We are also several days to several weeks after Peter denied

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Serving God Eternally

“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.” Isaiah 38:5 When Hezekiah was terminally ill, he prayed, and God responded by adding 15 years to his life. This prayer is natural and normal. We all would pray in this way and be grateful to God for any healing that He provides. However, we have a great advantage over Hezekiah. He feared “going down to the pit,” (Isa. 38:18), or Sheol, the hopeless place where

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Facing Fear With Faith

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2-3 A friend of mine once told me he struggled with fear. I had never suspected that about him, and, what’s more, I had never really thought about fear as a common, ongoing challenge. However, as I began to ask people if they struggled with

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When the Hurt Keeps Hurting

“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:28 Last week I wrote about the very real possibility that the people who have hurt you may be the ones through whom God brings healing. As Joseph was reconciled to his brothers, I have seen fractured relationships restored. Husband/wife, parent/child, friend/friend, etc. God has a remarkable way of bringing people around, working His grace into their lives, “softening” them, so that they come to a point where they ask for forgiveness or offer it where previously it was withheld. Whenever I have written about this topic I

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Harm and Healing from Those Closest

“So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, I pray you.’ . . .  And he kissed his brothers and wept upon them, and after that his brothers talked with him.” Genesis 45:4, 15 These words come from one of the most moving scenes in all of scripture. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. He had endured terrifying threats but had ascended to the right hand of Pharaoh. All the while his brothers thought him gone forever and probably dead. During a famine in Canaan, the brothers journeyed to Egypt for grain and probably were baffled by having

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Listening to Jesus

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 As I was traveling alone a few years ago I stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Tennessee for an evening breakfast. To pass the time while waiting for food I like to watch other people and try to guess where they are from, or where they are going. I watched an elderly man full of smiles talking to a little girl about 10 at the table next to me. I guessed they were on a special outing together and the Cracker Barrel was her chosen

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Blind Faith? No Such Thing

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” Hebrews 11:8 I ran across a familiar phrase this past week: blind faith, as in “some things you just have to accept on blind faith.” I do not believe a Christian ever faces a situation which must be accepted on blind faith. The closest example we have in the Bible of someone having to act on blind faith is Abraham. When God called him to leave Haran,

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Encouragement

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in all our affliction so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 The main purpose of GraceWaves is to encourage Christians by inviting them more deeply into God’s grace. My eye, therefore, naturally gravitates to passages that depict God’s grace being dispensed to struggling saints, and the Bible is full of such examples. This past week as I read 2 Corinthians I paused at the verses above. The

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A Little Faith Is All You Need

“And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’” Luke 17:6 We find this saying in two places in the Gospels, and in Luke it comes in response to a request from the disciples: “increase our faith.” We must look carefully at how this familiar teaching applies directly to this request. Who among us would not ask God to increase our faith? We treat faith like a vitamin. A little faith, the grain of a mustard

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The Relevance of Revelation

“At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated upon the throne! And He who sat there appeared as jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald.” Revelation 4:2-3 Some of the fallout from yet another awkward end-of-the-world prediction is the question of the relevancy of the book of Revelation. Many people reduce it to a sideshow by attempting to equate it to WW II, Viet Nam, the latest Middle East dust-up, 9/11, etc. This has been going on since the first century and, in

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Grace to Remember

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” Proverbs 10:7 The Memorial Day weekend has prompted me to consider the importance of remembering, and the grace God gives us to remember. Remembering is a minor feature of our early years when we see the future spread out before us and imagine all the awaiting possibilities. As we grow older the focus shifts to the past by a few percentage points each year. This is not a bad thing at all, for as we gather experiences, as families grow, and as friends sift in and out of our lives we simply

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Chipped and Flawed

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 When you enter the business of ministry, that is, you study and go to seminary, you take on a few role-models, people you really look up to. I have many all-time favorites, but one of them in particular illustrates Paul’s point in this verse: J. B. Phillips. Phillips was an outstanding Christian leader, a scholar of the first rank, and a marvelous author. Years after I began to admire and learn from him I ran across

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Of Finches and Faith

“My God shall supply every need of yours according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 Many Christians remind me of house finches. I speak as an expert here, both in house finches and nervous Christians. Outside one of my former offices, the lovely but nervous little birds made their annual nests and raised the next generation. Every spring I watched their courting, nest building, and fledgling-raising. The next time you are in a pet store, notice the finches. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads. This arrangement gives them a nearly 360 degree view of

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Responding to End-of-the-World Predictions

May 21st is the latest end of the world prediction date, or the next one in line. Don’t confuse it with the end of the world prediction for 2012 which comes from the Mayans. No, the May 21st date is from a Christian minister and is being promoted by a group of people in rv’s traveling about the country trumpeting the warning. I am not making this up. If you want to spend/waste a few minutes google the phrase “end of the world predictions” and browse through the offerings. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of predictions have come and gone in the

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Your Joyous Difficult Day

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 As you read the above scripture, you are in the beginning, middle, or end of a day. Does Psalm 118:24 apply? Of course it does. You may object that you have had a hard day, or you are anticipating a hard day. Things are not going the way you planned. In fact, this day may be tougher than the previous few. The road ahead looks equally hard. Some people, even some Christians, would say it’s unrealistic to rejoice in a difficult day.

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