Bible Study Blog

The Distinction Between God’s Mercy and Grace

We usually think of mercy and grace as the same thing, but there is an important distinction. I’ll give you a personal example to illustrate this. Several years ago I was pulled over for speeding. I was on a four lane divided highway early in the morning driving a very reasonable speed of 55 mph. Unfortunately for me the legal speed was 30 mph. There is a terrible feeling that accompanies the flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. That feeling for me embodies the terror of paying several hundred dollars for a speeding ticket and thousands of dollars in increased car insurance premiums. A mistake like this could be very costly. I was pretty afraid.

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I want to share a theme that keeps going on in my head that started at the Feast of Tabernacles this year. It deals with the question of how welcoming are we to outsiders, new believers, or people we come into contact with that are not part of our circle of friends? Are the places that we fellowship welcoming/hospitable? How welcoming are our Feast sites if someone just happened to show up from off the street because they just so happened to either see a sign about it or an advertisement? Are we showing the world that we are all-inclusive? Are we ready for new people to come into our fellowships and circle of friends?

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False Witness

When we think of the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” we usually put it in the context of not lying. Most of us agree that lying is an awful trait and that it usually leads to negative consequences in our life. I can attest from personal experience this is a fact. As could most of you reading this article. It is a universal value that we find in every culture and religion around the world. So what makes God’s commandment to “not bear false witness” unique? Is it just restating the obvious?

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Be Your Best

When I was a child I believed that I would live a long life. I believed that death happened mainly to old people, even though I knew that sometimes children died. My brother lost two great friends when he was a kid, but I thought that the death of children was few and rare. I would look at my parents, who at the time I thought were so old, which is very ironic because I am older than they were at that time, and I would say, surely I will live to be their age. I would also look at my grandparents and my great-grandparents and think; well, I definitely should live to their ages. Given I was very young and, yes, very naive.

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Negativity Epidemic

I doubt I’m the only one that has noticed how negative society is, at least here in the U.S. I understand that we all do not need to agree, but it is amazing how it seems that even positive stories on the news can take a negative spin because the newscaster may not like whatever or whoever they are covering. I do realize that the media is not a place to go if you want to hear good positive current events, but it would be nice if people would cease and desist from participating in the negativity epidemic.

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The Instruction Manual

Last year, I wrote the Feast lessons for CGI for both young kids and teens, and one of my favorite lessons was called Read the Manual. It has actually stuck with me. I have to give God credit because I believe He gave me the creativity and words to write those lessons. I had never undertaken a project like that from start to finish using just my imagination. So, let me give credit where credit is due because I am not at all going to brag about my writing. The lesson’s point was you can’t do things without reading the manual, reading the instructions. So, how do we expect to go through life without reading our “instruction manual”?

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Take A Break

Have you ever felt like you were constantly busy? I have been so busy that I can’t believe it is already the end of August, that the Feast is just four weeks away, and I need to get school started. Where did the summer go? 

I sometimes wonder why I am always so busy because sometimes it feels like I’m just running around in circles like a hamster on its wheel. I don’t like being busy all the time because it feels like I am missing out on so much in my life. 

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Work of Art

Here lately, I have been learning a lot of new skills. I am realizing that the only one who limits me is myself, and I have found that I am more capable of learning things than I ever imagined. It seems that the more I step out of my comfort zone, the more God helps me to accomplish. I imagine we all are more capable of more than we think because we serve a God that can give us the grace we need to succeed. He can do all things, even impossible things. We can’t do all things, but with Him we can. I think He enjoys stretching us, so that we realize what all He can do through us if we let Him.

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Get Up

Sometimes life can figuratively knock the breath out of you. Trials can come in an avalanche rolling you down the hill that you were just about to conquer, leaving you breathless, stunned, hurt, and bewildered at the bottom on the ground covered with piles of “snow” on top of you preventing you from standing back up. At this time, all you really want to do is ball up in a “fetal position” and give up trying.

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You See Me

I am rereading the Bible. It is fascinating how many times I have read Genesis, yet I always notice something “new.”  I am realizing that the Word of God is a living thing because of the fact that I can learn something no matter how many times I may have read the same scriptures. I am thinking that maybe I notice “new” things when I reread because they are then applicable to my life at that moment.

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What are You Looking At?

Are you so focused on your failures, missed opportunities, mistakes, trials, etc…that you miss God’s beauty?  Do you overlook the blessings that you already have because they don’t match the “pictures of success” in your mind?  If yes, then you are looking at the wrong things.   You are listening to the deceiver who doesn’t want you to be joyful, hopeful, and faithful.  You are allowing yourself to have a pity-party-of-one, which honestly I believe makes Satan happy and God a bit sad.  Don’t worry, I’m talking to myself here also.  

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Put on the Armor of God

My daughter decided to take the plunge and get baptized. Honestly, she has thought about it for two whole years. She did not want to be hasty, so she took her time before making her decision. Her dad and I are very happy for her, but we also have warned her that now that she has made the complete decision to walk in the way, she will face attacks from the deceiver.

The deceiver does not like it when one of us decides to fully become a child of God. That is why being prepared is vital in our Christian walk.

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Walk Don’t Run — Follow Don’t Lead

He has told you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you
Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion),
And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]
(Micah 6:8, Amplified).

Am I the only one that finds it hard to “walk” humbly with God when you don’t know the direction you are going? I know that life has many curves and ups and downs, but it is so hard sometimes to try not to force or fix situations.

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This is the graduation season. Many teens and even adults are graduating from high school and college. In fact, I got to see one of my closest friend’s son graduate a little over a week ago. It was bittersweet. I have known her son since he was three, so to see him walk the field and receive his diploma was a huge moment for me. It also made me feel quite old. Before I know it, my own kids will be doing the same thing. 

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Give it all, I mean all

I teach at a small private school, and one of my fellow teachers stated a good point. First, she mentioned how the Scriptures teach us that we have to “die to self” in order to follow Christ, bear good fruit, to live by faith, to be renewed, etc. (some references: Luke 9:23-24; John 12:24; Galatians 2:20). She then pointed out that in order to do this, we have to give it all to God, everything, our finances, our marriage, our children, our homes, our education, our lives—everything. Everything has to come secondary to God.

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No Complaining Allowed

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.—Philippians 2:14-16

What would the world be like if we just followed verse 14? “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” 

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Prove all Things

All my life, I was told that it was illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas because it is the state flower. I believed this for years, and I mean years. In fact, it wasn’t until a year ago that I finally decided to research it, and low and behold, it isn’t illegal. It hasn’t been illegal since 1973 to pick bluebonnets on the side of the road or, if you have permission, on private property. However, it is still illegal to pick them in state parks

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First Love

My daughter just got her learner’s permit. I am still wrapping my brain around the fact that I now have a fifteen year old. I wish there was a pause button on life sometimes, but alas, there isn’t.

In any case, my daughter now can drive with an adult on the passenger side. She is so excited. Given, who wasn’t excited the first time they were able to drive?

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Ordinary People

We have a Bible full of profound stories of faith, sin, renewal, miracles, forgiveness, and punishment, and many more lessons that apply to us today. The Bible gives us hope when we doubt, strength when we are afraid, faith to keep moving forward, love when we feel unloved, and more positive affirmations. What is totally awesome, though, is that most of these stories that encourage us are about normal everyday ordinary people like you and me.

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The Power of Praying for Others

Do you have a tendency to pray more for yourself than for others? I know I do, and sometimes I wonder if I have my prayer priorities out of order. Now, I don’t think it is wrong to pray for ourselves as long as it doesn’t cause us to focus more on ourselves rather than thinking of others.

I am realizing that when I tend to let my prayers become more about me, rather than others, I become guilty of not fulfilling the scripture to esteem others better than myself (Philippians 2:3).

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