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CALVARY WHERE LIVES ARE CHANGED

One-Way Love: The Only Antidote for Acedia (May 16th)

by Steve Brown
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
Matthew 10:29

I have a friend named Jeff who is HIV-positive. He struggles with same-sex attraction. He grew up in a condemning home, and although I’ve never met him face-to-face, I dedicated one of my books to him. I dedicated a book to him because I love him a lot. And one day I got an email from him. I had done a teaching series once on the subject of acedia. You may not have the foggiest idea what acedia is, but it’s one of the seven deadly sins, the one sometimes translated as “sloth.” But acedia is more than sloth. It’s that demonic sense of futility and hopelessness when you just don’t want to do this anymore. Well, Jeff heard this teaching series, and this is what he wrote to me:
I’ve been listening to those CDs Key Life sent me over the last few weeks, dealing with acedia. I have to admit, when I first saw what they were about, I was reluctant to listen. Coming from where I do, I assumed you would be discussing how to get the fire back, how to stir up the old passion by reading more of the Bible, going to church every Wednesday and Sunday and praying twice in the morning, once at lunch, and just before bed. I figured you would discuss our laziness, our lack of passion and condemn us for not returning Christ’s gift to us with undying faithfulness. And perhaps all of those things need to be said, and they are, of course, true. But after hearing it so much for so long, I can’t deal with being beat over the head anymore. I do enough of that to myself. I know all too well that I need to get better. Dealing with my issues, acedia is not only impossible to avoid, it surrounds my heart and it’s exceedingly difficult to feel any passion when you don’t feel worthy to be loved or accepted by a holy God. It’s hard to dance before the Lord when you think he only thinks bad thoughts toward you because you still haven’t gotten the victory.
I remember once, my wife, Anna, had had a miserable week. Everything had gone wrong: things had broken in the house, the cat had brought a mouse in, and she wasn’t feeling well. She’d had to see the doctor and was on antibiotics. Now, if you’re a guy, you think your job is to fix things. Well, I wanted to fix my wife, and so I started making suggestions. And she said, “Honey, I don’t want you to fix me; I want you to hug me.” Sometimes I say that to God.

Thought to Remember for Today

Do you know the Lord is not expecting you to “get the victory”? He already got it for you through His Son. He wants you to repent of your sin, yes, but if you trust in Jesus, He’s not disappointed in you. He knows what a mess you are. And He loves you.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Of Bald Heads and Dead Birds (May 15th)

by Steve Brown
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:29–30

Ponder these incredible, provocative words from our Lord:
So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 10:26–33)
Please note the easy way Jesus moves from the macrocosm to the microcosm, from the big deal about eternity and about salvation to “little things” like birds and bald heads. As I read this passage, I think, Man, that is a big jump. And then I remember that if you don’t live in grace in the little things, you won’t live in grace in the big things. Listen, God is involved in bald heads and dead sparrows and the eternal verities of the Christian faith.
Michel Quoist, in his book simply titled Prayers, writes a lot about what we might call “colloquial prayers.” He writes prayers about almost everything he experienced, and that’s the joy of that little book. When he sinned, he said, “I’m ashamed of being seen by my friends, I’m ashamed of being seen by you, Lord. … Lord, don’t look at me like that, for I am naked, I am dirty, I am down.” And God said, “Come, son, look up. … It’s not falling that is the worst, but staying on the ground.”
But one of the more fun prayers is where Quoist is sitting in church behind a bald-headed guy. And he’s thinking about Jesus’ words that even the hairs of your head are numbered. And he’s thinking, God, I praise you for that dome. I praise you that it’s so smooth. And I think of Jesus’ words, “Not a hair falls unless God’s aware of it.” God, you’ve thought about this man a whole lot. That makes me laugh, but it also comforts me.

Thought to Remember for Today

The good news doesn’t just cover us in church; it covers us in every place we go and in everything we do. It plays in the little arenas of falling hairs and dead birds.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

A Pool Elephants Can Swim In (May 14th)

by Steve Brown
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:29–30

I lived during the Jesus movement. That was an awakening that was as great as those occurring under the ministries of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. And it was a wonderful time. I didn’t know what to do with all those kids who were coming into our church, getting baptized and going out with a joy that was infectious, a freedom that scared the spit out of so many other Christians. Those kinds of things only last a generation or two, and we’re running out of gasoline. I’ve said, “Oh God, it would be really cool if I could hang around and see You do it one more time. Do it again. Do it again.” And He is.
You may be a part of the beginning of something that is going to shake America to its roots. You don’t have a thing to defend; you don’t have anything to fake. You’re announcing to the world that you’re screwed up and Jesus likes you a lot. That dog will hunt, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
Not too long ago, I was working on this material and it was very early in the morning. And I was thinking about the subject “everyday grace.” What in the world am I going to say about everyday grace? At that moment, my elbow hit a glass of water on my desk and knocked it over. The water fell on writing, on my computer keyboard, and on my pants before the glass fell to the floor. I looked like I needed Depends. So what did I do? I kicked that glass across my office. I picked up the papers and threw them in the air and said words that ought never proceed from the mouth of an ordained individual. And in the middle of my cussing and my spitting and drying myself off, I heard laughter. Nobody gets up as early as I do, so I knew it wasn’t staff. It was angels.
And I found a principle there that I want to teach you: if you don’t live in God’s grace when you spill water, you won’t live in God’s grace when you get cancer. This is not a doctrine so much as it is life.

Thought to Remember for Today

If grace doesn’t work when you go to the bathroom, it won’t work with your sin. If it doesn’t work when you’re making love to your wife or your husband, it won’t work when your life falls apart. Grace is a pool where elephants can swim and children can play. It has to do with reading a good book and going to a movie and falling on your knees in repentance and rejoicing in worship. Grace isn’t just a doctrine; it’s a 24-7 context for living.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Resting in God (May 13th)

by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart. … The LORD has taken away the judgments against you.
Zephaniah 3:14–15

The more you trust the gospel, the more rest there will be in your soul. Oh my, we live such frenetic lives, trying and trying and trying to prove things to ourselves (and others): I’m not like my mom; I’m not like my parents; I’m better than you; I’ve got my act together; I’m winning the world for Christ. This whole frenetic, stressed out, grumpy approach to life has got to go. We just need some rest.
I love this passage from Zephaniah 3. “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!” You know why we don’t shout and sing? We don’t rejoice because we’re usually working so hard and becoming so terribly miserable. But listen to these words:
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zeph. 3:15–17)
This passage doesn’t say He will mourn over you with disappointment because you’re such losers. Listen, God is not disappointed in you. And I can say that, because disappointment is always a by-product of unmet expectations. God has no unmet expectations when it comes to you. All His expectations for righteousness have been completely fulfilled and all His expectations for your debt—they’ve been fulfilled too. He’s not disappointed. He says, “I will quiet you by My love; I will exult over you with loud singing.”
I’m very sure taking on more guilt about what you’re failing to do won’t result in more obedience. That hasn’t worked very well so far, has it? So have a nice afternoon. Have a nice life. Better yet, have a nice eternity. You can relax now and stop pretending. You can rest because the work of salvation is accomplished by Christ and God delights in you!

Thought to Remember for Today

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you! He is rejoicing over you with gladness. The Lord has promised to bless and keep you. His face is smiling on you now, and He will be gracious to you today and forever! He sees you, He’s watching over you, and He’s rejoicing.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Remember Me (May 12th)

by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Remember me.
Luke 23:42

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are really only three kinds of people in the world, and they were all represented there by those miserable creatures hanging on Golgotha’s mount. There they were, hands and feet pinioned to wood, naked, shamed, in excruciating agony, with no hope of anything other than hours that would seem like a millennia, waiting while the life drained out of them. Two of them faced a reality that they had made a mistake from which they would never recover. And one of them hung there dying out of love for hopeless wretches who have about as much ability to changes themselves as those other two men hanging on the cross.
One of them is angry. He says, “If you’re so great, then why don’t you get up off the cross and help me.” (Now, I’m going to be really honest: there are days in my life when I’ve been like that.) And then there is someone else there on a cross who is begging for mercy. He says to the angry man, “Why don’t you just shut up? I’ve been listening to people like you talk about injustice in the world my whole life, and now we’re finally getting justice.” And in his pain and helplessness and hopelessness, the man mutters these words to Jesus: “Remember me” (Luke 23:42). Then, in the most astounding demonstration of one-way love, God washes that poor, wretched soul.
Remember me. That’s all we’ve got.
And then, the last one of the three hanging there on Golgotha had already done His begging. He had already asked that there might be some other way for Him to free us from the condemnation we deserved. And God gave Him grace and strength, not in His deity, but in His humanity, to stand. Think of the love that worked in the heart of that forsaken, doubting, human man, who was at that moment walking by faith and not by sight, who in His humanity said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question. It was your Savior suffering in your place so that you would never be deserted, so you would never be exiled, so you would never be isolated.

Thought to Remember for Today

What does the fruit of one-way love look like? It looks like the ability to be transparent and to say, “I have nothing except ‘remember me.’ And the only reason I have that is because You gave it to me.”

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

The Fruit of One-Way Love: Transparency (May 11th)

by Elyse Fitzpatrick
He denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”
Matthew 26:72

I think I know why most of you are reading this devotional. I think you’re reading this because you’re hoping against hope that there is still someplace in the world where you can get good news. You’re hoping the message you heard when you first came to Christ—that you’re forgiven and made new—is still true and is still your story. I’m sure some of you are parched souls looking for a cup of cold water.
There is great good news in God’s one-way love for you. And part of that good news is that you can live transparently. Are you glad the story of Peter’s denial is in the Bible? Now, is it a good thing that Peter sinned and denied Christ? No, of course not. Is it a good thing that we know about it? Yes, of course it is. So why are we not transparent more often? I think it’s because we’re surrounded by people who pretend that everything in their life is perfect and we’ve all entered into this unspoken pact to pretend together. But all this pretending will only result in despair or pride.
I want to be transparent with you about the fact that I’m a mess. I used to think that after forty-some years of life, I would be better than this. (I’m sure my husband thinks the same thing!) And you might be thinking, Oh, she’s not really that big of a mess; she’s just saying that. I hope that’s what you’re thinking, but it’s not true. I am that big of a mess. I’m a sinner, and I swear to you, the further along I get in the Christian journey, the more sinful I see my heart is. But I am at the same time growing in the courage to be honest about that. Because the good news is that while I see more and more of my own sinfulness each new day, I also see more and more of God’s grace. Neither my sin nor yours can “scare off” God.

Thought to Remember for Today

The fruit of being loved the way I’ve been loved, in spite of all my unbelief, idolatry, selfishness, demandingness, irritability, worry, and anger, is that I am finally willing, at least a little bit, to stop pretending. The truth is that I am broken, and my guess is that you are too, and that’s why you’re reading this. Just say (out loud, maybe?), “I’m broken, but He loves me.”

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

The Cost of One-Way Love (May 10th)

by Elyse Fitzpatrick
… delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Romans 4:25

Let’s think about what it cost Jesus to love us, because this wonderful, one-way love does not come to us free. It’s free to us, of course, but it wasn’t free for Him. The second person of the Trinity, who always existed in joy and light, left His Father’s home and gestated in the womb of a little virgin girl in a hick village. In darkness, He grew just like you. He had to learn language. He had to learn table manners. And He had to go with His father to the synagogue to learn the Word. He didn’t access His deity to make it easy for Himself, so that He could just automatically memorize passages. He didn’t hit a home run every time He played ball. He was completely weak in all the ways you and I are weak.
And after He fasted for forty days, the Bible says He was hungry. Now, why does the Bible tell us that? The writers of the Bible wanted us to remember that Jesus was a human. Because we need a perfect representative. We need someone who is human like us to fulfill all the law. He fulfills all the law in our place, so that as God’s perfect sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world, He could die the substitutionary death for us so that we can be justified.
If the gospel doesn’t hold the center of your life, if God’s one-way love isn’t what defines you, captivates you, and motivates you, then it’s going to be something else. It will be homeschooling, which is fine, or it will be politics or it will be gender roles or career or sports or whatever. Something will fill the void that should only be filled by the gospel.
The gospel must hold the center of your life. And the only way it can do that is by you saying, “God help me remember the price You paid. Help me remember the incredible cost paid by Your Son.”

Thought to Remember for Today

I’ve got to take myself back to the gospel over and over and over and over again, and I’ve got to pray, “God, help me remember. Help me remember that Your law has already been fulfilled and Your death has wiped away all my guilt. Lord, help me.” You need to do this too. And the joy is, by praying it, we’re remembering it!

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Gazing upon the Beauty of the Lord (May 9th)

by Paul David Tripp
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD.
Psalm 27:4

Let’s continue in Psalm 27:2–4:
When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, and that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD.
Put yourself in this situation. If you actually had an army encamping against you, what would the one thing be that you would ask of the Lord? Think about that. How about weapons? How about asking God to just incinerate them? But look at what David actually said in this dark situation: “One thing have I asked of the LORD … that I may dwell in the house of the LORD … to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD.” Now, either David was so super-spiritual that none of us can relate to him, or he was onto something wonderful here.
David knew Someone exists who is of such awesome, gorgeous, glorious beauty that He is way more beautiful than any ugly thing David would ever face in his life. Furthermore, he knew grace had connected him to this beauty.
None of the things that get you down is ultimate. God’s beauty is ultimate. You must look at yourself through the lens of the gorgeous, glorious beauty of the grace of the One who is light, life, salvation, and refuge, because it is only then that your heart will find rest.

Thought to Remember for Today

Let me encourage you to gaze; to start each day with your Bible and do nothing but gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation. The Lord is my stronghold. Now, hear the rhetorical question, “Of whom should I be afraid?” What’s the answer? No one, nothing.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Where Do You Find Your Identity?

by Paul David Tripp
The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Psalm 27:1

Think about where we look for identity. How about in relationships? How many of us put burdens on relationships that they can’t bear because we’re getting our identity out of how that relationship is faring? It just never works. Many spouses have said to me that all they ever wanted was a husband or a wife who would make them happy. I’m thinking, Are you crazy? You actually think this person has the ability to be the source—the lasting, sturdy, continual source—of your happiness? Who in the world do you think you’ve married? The fourth member of the Trinity?
Or we find our identity in possessions. Let’s say that, in ways you don’t realize, you’ve attached your identity, meaning, and purpose to the order, beauty, and cleanliness of your home. Now, what is that going to create? Well, you’re going to be just an incessantly uptight person. You will notice crumbs on the kitchen counter that weren’t there before and it will break your heart. And you wonder, why would they do this to me? Or you’ll follow people into rooms, making sure they don’t make that room look like somebody actually lives there.
I’ll make the confession. I’ve been married for forty-two years, and I’m an Ephesians 5 failure. I can be so easily irritated. I want to be agreed with. I don’t ask much of Luella: just always say, “You’re absolutely right.” It doesn’t seem that hard.
Or we try to get our identity in achievements. How many times do you do something for somebody that they didn’t notice, and you have to find a way of letting them know you did it for them? Or maybe you’re more spiritual. Maybe you have determined that you’re going to be the smartest person theologically in the room at all times. You have committed yourself to theological “always-right-ism,” because that’s where you get your sense of identity.
The antidote to all this is to see who we are through the lens of God’s Word and see in that Word what He’s done for us.

Thought to Remember for Today

The first verse of Psalm 27 is the only place where identity will ever be found. The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation. The Lord is my stronghold. The theology of the Word of God is never impersonal; it’s deeply personal. It radically rearranges everything in my existence, because my life has been invaded by this awesome grace. A Savior has come to me and I am okay. Praise Him!

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation (May 7th)

by Paul David Tripp
The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Psalm 27:1

Think with me about what David said in this beautiful psalm. David didn’t say the Lord is light. He didn’t say the Lord is salvation. He didn’t say the Lord is a stronghold, did he? He qualified these nouns with the word my, and that changes everything.
Enough of abstract, impersonal, distant, isolated, informational theology! It’s not the theology of the Word of God. It doesn’t help us; it hurts us. I don’t need more ideas rattling around in my brain. I’ve got way more than I can think about already. Half the time I’m confused.
You see, the theology of the Word of God, properly understood, never just defines who God is. It redefines who you are as His children. And that two-letter word my makes all the difference in the world. The Lord is my light. This righteousness that exists by grace has been unleashed on me. It’s my righteousness by grace. I could’ve never earned it; I could’ve never deserved it.
As a poor, zealous seminary student, I was exegeting my way through Romans. I had gotten a big legal pad and cut the corners off every other page. And I had actually taken the page out of my Greek New Testament and glued it there so you could see the Greek from both sides. And I was writing copious theological notes. I got to about Romans 7 or 8, and it hit me that I had spent what seemed like endless hours studying Paul’s letter to the Romans, and I had not been touched by it at all. It had been solely an idea exercise. I was a theo-geek. I prided myself in understanding all the labyrinthine theology in that passage, but it did nothing for me and I began to weep.
The Lord is my salvation. I’m saved. Me, this dark man with all those selfish, evil thoughts, with all my self-aggrandizing behavior, with all my wanting to be sovereign over my own life, salvation has burst into my life. I’m saved, I’m saved, I’m saved!

Thought to Remember for Today

Listen, you don’t hope in justification; you hope in a Savior who justifies you. Jesus didn’t purchase save-ability; He took names to the cross. You don’t find life in the abstract concept of salvation, but in a God who willingly sacrificed Himself to save you.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

What God Is in Times of Trouble (May 6th)

by Paul David Tripp
The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Psalm 27:1

Let’s look again at Psalm 27. What I love about this psalm is that it’s a psalm of trouble. It is perhaps in moments of trouble when your true sense of identity gets most exposed. What you’re really looking to—to give you rest, peace, security, and that inner sense of meaning—will always be exposed in moments of trouble.
This psalm was probably penned by David when he was either hiding out from Saul or fleeing from his own son, Absalom, who was conspiring to take his throne. Here are the first five verses of the psalm:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Ps. 27:1–5)
It’s very interesting that this psalm of trouble doesn’t begin with trouble, but with theology. True rest in trouble is rooted in sound theology. It’s these truths that begin to tell me how to think of my place in this world. The Lord is light; the Lord is salvation; the Lord is a stronghold. Think about what those metaphors point to. The Lord is light. Light in Scripture is that which is pure and holy and just and true. The Lord is salvation. He is the One who delivers me from evil, evil internal and evil external. The Lord is a stronghold—the picture of a fortified city, a place of retreat, a place of rest, a place of safety. Yes, there is One who provides safety.

Thought to Remember for Today

In whatever you may be facing today, you can rest knowing that the Lord is your light, your salvation, your fortified city. You are not alone and He is not weak. He is with you and knows everything you are facing, and—best of all—He loves you.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

Our Amnesia Epidemic (May 5th)

by Paul David Tripp
The LORD is my light and my salvation.
Psalm 27:1

A plague has infected the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a sad disease. It’s left us weakened and broken and discouraged and afraid. It’s almost like as soon as you come to faith in Jesus Christ, you get infected. And it robs you of your spiritual vitality. It robs you of your joy. It robs you of the rest that Jesus died for you to have. It reduces you to timidity and doubt and worry and dark addictions of all kinds. It somehow, someway, gets us all. The problem is that most people don’t know they have it. They actually live with the delusion that they’re healthy when everything in their life points to the fact that they’re sick.
What is this disease, you ask? It’s “identity amnesia.” We have forgotten who we are. And in forgetting who we are, we frantically look for identity in thousands of places where it will never be found, places where you were never meant to look for identity. You probably do it so instinctively, so frequently, and so naturally that you don’t actually know you’re doing it. You’re so used to carrying the burden that you don’t know you’re carrying the burden anymore. You’re spiritual back has hurt you for so long, you’ve forgotten that you’re in pain.
Now, I say this all the time and I’m going to continue to say it, because I think it’s important to say: you are in a constant conversation with yourself. No one’s more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do. And a principal part of that conversation is this conversation of identity. You’re constantly saying things to you about you. You are always assigning to yourself some kind of identity. And the identity you assign to yourself will somehow, someway, set the course for how you deal with literally everything in your life. You never escape the identity you assign to yourself, ever. It’s always forming the way you’re interacting, even with the most mundane things in your existence.

Thought to Remember for Today

As you begin to consider your true identity in Christ, you can rest in the reality that the Lord is with you, working to reveal His work in and to you, and that even though you may struggle, He has promised to complete His work.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

There Is No Panic in Heaven (May 4th)

by Scotty Smith
He who sits in the heavens laughs.
Psalm 2:4

The much moreness of the gospel results not simply in a broader understanding of God’s love, but also the much moreness of God’s laughter. Here’s what I mean by this and why coming alive to the laughter of God and the much moreness of the gospel is rocking my world.
First, I know this is true: I have never been and never will be the fourth member of the Trinity. God does not need me. But He wants me. And folks, when you begin to discover the gospel in that way, it will set you free.
Second, and I say this now as a man in my mid-sixties: there are fewer things I’m absolutely certain about, and there is more appropriate room in my life for not knowing everything. God does all things well, but not all things easy. Listen to Psalm 2:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion.”
Who is the installed king already? We’re not waiting for Jesus to become King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He already is. Let’s continue in the psalm:
“I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Thought to Remember for Today

This psalm is directed to the people of God, voiced out to the nations of the world. In it, the world is seemingly out of control and evil seems to be prevailing. But there’s no panic in heaven, friends. As Steve Brown has said, there is no perspiration on the top lip of the mouth of God. Our God is in control and our God loves us.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

The Much Moreness of the Son (May 3rd)

by Scotty Smith
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come.
Revelation 1:4

The words of Revelation are the words of an octogenarian. The apostle John, one of the original twelve disciples, is writing as an eighty-year-old man on the Isle of Patmos. God gave him a difficult season in his life that then culminated in the series of visions that began to supersize the gospel in John’s life. I’m in my mid-sixties and I think, Lord, if I live to be eighty, can I see what John sees, can I behold like he did, can theology be doxology in my life, can the informed mind be the inflamed heart and the engaged hands until I suck my last breath of oxygen? John wrote—and it’s almost like you’re at a wedding party or some event where there’s a toast—these wonderful words:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. (Rev. 1:4–5)
Folks, get over your obsession with who is sitting in the White House. It’s who is sitting on the throne of heaven that matters. It does not mean we become apolitical, and it certainly doesn’t mean we become cynical. It means we love and we serve with hope. John finished out the vision this way:
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:5–8)
Can you hear it in the heart of an eighty-year-old, wrinkled man? Can you hear the wonder, the glory, the freedom, the willingness to show up in Rome and to live in this story, to follow this Jesus? This is the One incarnate with us and for us. This is the One in whom we share union.

Thought to Remember for Today

Consider the last verse of the Bible and hear the always much moreness of God’s grace for us: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Rev. 22:21 NIV).

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

The Much Moreness of God’s Heaven (May 2nd)

by Scotty Smith
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17

The older I’ve grown in this gospel, the more I’ve come to realize that the gospel has enormous implications. Calvin College professor Nathan Bierma put it like this in a great little book he wrote called Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: “The Gospel stands on three legs, not one; Christ’s redeeming work was done to restore nature, culture, and human beings. Now, that’s good news.” When we live in the hope of the big gospel, we see Jesus Christ, not just as a serial intruder on people’s souls, but the One in whom “all things hold together,” in the words of Colossians 1:17.
Bierma continues, “All things—not just people’s hearts but the infrastructure of nature, culture, and relationships. So the hope of the big gospel is not just going to heaven to be with God, but a vision of the new earth and the heavenly city as the place where God’s authority over all of life is made complete. Living in the hope of heaven means seeing glimpses of such a place already, and wanting more.” And not only wanting more, but living and loving missionally, because this is the good news of the gospel. It’s not merely that we go to heaven when we die; it’s that we actually live before we die, and we live with a view to the city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10).
Not one hair falls from our heads apart from the sovereign decree of the true King, who happens to be the bridegroom who gave Himself for a whore to make her His queen, that we might live together in this very world, this very “hood” to His glory. This world will be made new. As we see this gospel, as we are alive to the love of God, not only for us but also for one another, we are redemptively “careless” about the rest of our days.
God has left nothing to chance, but everything to Christ. And every one of us matters, but none of us is the point. Or as Francis Schaeffer said, “There are no little people and no little places.” It means that you don’t have to think, Maybe this will be the day when I really get serious about God and move to Sudan. I pray some of you will know a calling to move to Sudan, but some of us just need to move across the aisle, move across the street to begin to see Jesus is not making all new things, but making all things new.

Thought to Remember for Today

In the gospel, we’re characters in the story, because we’re the broken rebels and fools Jesus came for. We were triumphed over by the gospel. We are in the train of the true King, who’s currently reigning and making all things new, including us.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.

The Much Moreness of God’s Love (May 1st)

by Scotty Smith
That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend … the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
Ephesians 3:17–19

I’m discovering the much moreness of God’s love. God’s lavish love for us in Jesus keeps getting bigger and bigger. And a central dimension of that gospel is the love of God. This is why Paul prayed as he did in Ephesians 3, that we might know the love of God that surpasses knowledge so that we may be filled with the fullness of God.
How in the world can we imagine that prayer being answered? Let me give you one concrete connection in life for what that’s been meaning to me over the last few years. I recently, for the first time, publicly articulated my story of experiencing sexual abuse, which I mentioned previously. Yet for so many years, over half a century, I was representative of one who could say with all my heart, “I know for sure that Jesus has died for all my sins, past, present, and future, in word, thought, and deed. Should I die tonight, I have the complete confidence that I will go to heaven because I believe Jesus lived and died in my place.” But to understand the power of the love of God to deal with your guilt is one thing; it’s another thing to deal with your shame.
In these last few years, the Lord has been taking me deeper into seeing just how much shame has defined my life. There’s a big difference between guilt and shame. Guilt would say this: I did something wrong. Shame says: Something is wrong with me. The voice of guilt: I need forgiveness. The voice of shame: I need to be different. The voice of guilt: I failed. The voice of shame: I am a failure. The voice of guilt: I broke a rule. The voice of shame: I am a broken person. Guilt says, I made a mistake; shame says, I am a mistake. Guilt: I didn’t do enough; shame: I am not enough.
I want you to know how much of my life—as a married man, as a dad, and as a pastor—shame has been a resounding echo in my heart. I lived enslaved to the kind of shame that told me I have nothing to give other than the gifts God has entrusted to me. But I taste now the freedom of the gospel, which says God loves not simply what I can do for Him, but me. He loves me.

Thought to Remember for Today

Perhaps, like me, you might be able to say, “I, by the power of this love, am beginning to realize I have something to offer simply as a person.” I want you to know, whatever the shame is, whether or not it is generated out of sexual abuse, Jesus and His love and the much moreness of this gospel are here to meet you now.

Fitzpatrick, E. (2016). Grace untamed: a 60-day devotional. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.