GraceWaves Articles

Daily

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 The Lord’s Prayer, or more properly The Model Prayer, should be a part of your morning devotion. This prayer is Jesus’ gift to us, His answer to our request “teach us to pray.” Therefore, part of what we should pray every day is “give us this day our daily bread.” The key to understanding this initial request in The Model Prayer is the word “daily” a surprisingly obscure word in the NT (found only here and in the parallel in Luke). Outside of the NT we find only one example, in

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Take a Step of Faith

“Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.” John 20:29 Have you ever taken a leap of faith? The “leap of faith” is a commonly used phrase to describe the final act of a person to believe that a particular direction is in keeping with God’s will. It apparently dates back to Kierkegaard, who actually wrote “leap to faith.” The phrase was his description of the final act of will to embrace the paradoxes of the Christian faith. In other words, you take a leap of faith when the commitment seems unlikely, un-provable, or counter-intuitive. We come to the

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Demonstrate Grace-Filled Kindness

“Let everyone see your grace-filled kindness.” Philippians 4:5 In any Olympic event where judging is necessary, one criteria is the “degree of difficulty.” In the past Winter Olympics, for example, the snowboard half-pipe routines have a degree of difficulty. The more difficult routines have a higher degree of difficulty. By the way, as an occasional snowboarder, I have done some of those flips and spins, though never intentionally. I realized later that people often come with a degree of difficulty. Some are quite high, others less so. A part of dealing with difficult people is coming to the point where

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Keep Praying

“And He told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1 One of the most misunderstood and misapplied teachings of Jesus is the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).  Luke is very clear about the reason Jesus told this parable: He wanted us to pray always and not lose heart. What follows is the story of a powerless widow who had been defrauded in some way. She approached the uncaring judge and was rebuffed. But she kept coming until finally the unrighteous official relented and pronounced a judgment in

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A Stayed Mind

“Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3 Perfect peace. Let that sink in. Peace is not the absence of trouble or conflict, but the sense of God’s  presence and assurance of His activity on your behalf in the midst of trouble. Perfect peace. That is what all of us want every day. The remarkably good news is that God’s greatest desire is to give this perfect peace to His children. The way He offers

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Don’t You Understand?

“Don’t you understand yet?” Mark 8:21 In seminary, my favorite area of NT studies was the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and in fact I wrote my dissertation on a topic from Mark. The word synoptic means to be seen together, and refers to the fact that the Synoptics often overlap in the stories and travels they share about Jesus. Because they contain so much common material, a careful reader has the opportunity to compare the stories and analyze selection, arrangement, and detail and discern what emphasis a particular writer was trying to convey. The feeding of the four thousand in Mark

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Lessons By a Charcoal Fire

“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.” John 21:9 This week’s text may seem unusual. I doubt you ever memorized it for a Bible drill. It’s not included in any great devotional that I know of. But after reading this week’s GraceWaves I doubt you will ever forget it, or will ever look at a backyard cookout the same way. The scene is the shore of the Sea of Galilee, some undetermined time after Jesus’ resurrection. “They” are the disciples, and the fire was prepared by Jesus. The

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The Monday After Easter

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10 What happened on the Monday after Easter? We have no time-table for the resurrection appearances in the New Testament other than the obvious appearances on Sunday. We know He appeared to Thomas “eight days later” which would have been a Tuesday, I suppose. The appearance on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21) was apparently much later. Matthew’s account of His appearance on a mountain in Galilee is uncertain in time and place. The same can be said of several appearances in Paul’s list in

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Act on Your Little Faith

“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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Every Moment Is Divine

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:29 This familiar verse has a familiar meaning. Jesus taught that because God cares for sparrows, then certainly He will care for you. Specifically, the verse appears to teach us that a sparrow does not die (fall to the ground) without God’s knowledge. Only recently did I let that verse rattle around in my mind for a while. Frankly, something bothered me about it. The nub of the problem for me is that while it is

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The Greatest Truth

“I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints the length, width, height, and depth of God’s love; and to know that Christ’s love for you surpasses all knowledge and fills you with the fullness of God.” Ephesians 2:17b-19 God loves you. You know that don’t you? But you have heard it so often that it risks sounding trite or maudlin. What is indisputably true is that most Christians live as if they are unaware of God’s love. Your challenge this week is to recapture some of the grandeur

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Contend for Your Faith

“Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3 Jude wrote his letter to warn churches against the influence of false teachers, a common problem in the early church and not so uncommon today. These “grumblers, malcontents, loud mouthed boasters” (v. 16) taught a perversion of grace (v. 4) and practiced a licentious lifestyle (v. 7). In response, Jude appealed to Christians to “contend for the faith.” The word for contend is

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Do Not Fear

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6 Psalms 113-118 are called the Hallel (meaning praise) psalms, and were sung during the celebration of Passover. Psalms 113-114 were sung before the meal, Psalms 115-118 after the meal. Jesus sang the above verses after the Passover meal, just prior to His arrest (Mt. 26:30). Think about this scene carefully. Jesus knew what was about to happen. He was already feeling distress, and the pressure

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