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Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Strengthened By Grace"

"It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace" (Hebrews 13:9).

Each day, if I choose to do so, I can draw on contemporary illustrations that many of us are familiar with. Normally I don't do that. We can read plenty of this information in the paper or hear it on the news.  But yesterday I read something that astounded me.

Two of the suspects now in police custody in London regarding last week's terror plot planned to sacrifice their 6-month-old son in the name of jihad.  The couple secretly plotted to use their child’s baby bottle as a liquid bomb to destroy themselves and their child, along with the entire passenger crew.  As horrifying as this is, it’s not an isolated phenomenon.  There's so much that can cause distress and anxiety.

Consider the instability of this present world and how we long for stability and security.  But don't be deceived, the world is unable to offer any real guarantee for this stability.  Wars and rumors of wars, terrorist actions and threats will always exist on this side of eternity. It's real and a part of our fallen world which is in rebellion against God Almighty.

The epistle to the Hebrews was written to encourage early believers who were tempted to return to their old way of life. These believers were enduring both persecution and false teachings that sought to undermine their faith. In fact the phrase immediately preceding the daily text says, "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings."  There are all kinds of strange teachings in our day as well so the Biblical admonition is ever pertinent.

But let us ponder this phrase today; "It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace."  Perhaps you would like to personalize it even further by declaring, "It is good for my heart to be strengthened by grace."  And it sure is! 

God's grace is so amazing in a multitude of ways.  This grace strengthens our hearts.  Terror threats may distress us, we may grow weary, discouragement may set in, friends may forsake us, and false doctrines abound.  But God's grace strengthens the heart!

The Psalmist knew this; "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD" (Psalms 27:14).  He cried out in soulful honesty, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalms 73:26).  Paul's beautiful prayer for the Thessalonians is always needed; "May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).  Today, my friend in Christ, may your heart be strengthened by God's amazing grace!

The assurance we have is a spiritual, inner assurance.  The word "strengthened" conveys the sense of being established and stabilized.  How is this possible?  It is by His grace; God's wonderful, undeserved favor and blessing.  This grace is sufficient, it's altogether adequate.  Today I pray that we will all experience this wonderful strengthening!

I have enjoyed this song for many years and especially recall singing it in our church in New England.  My, did that congregation sure sing out on this one!  Perhaps you've sung it in your church as well. As I conclude this message today I will post the entire song and hope you read the words. (an audio link for this song is also posted below)

Every promise we can make, every prayer and step of faith,
Every difference we can make, is only by His grace.
Every mountain we will climb, every ray of hope we shine,
Every blessing left behind, is only by His grace.

Grace alone which God supplies,
Strength unknown He will provide;
Christ in us, our Cornerstone,
We will go forth in grace alone.

Every soul we long to reach, every heart we hope to teach,
Everywhere we share His peace, is only by His grace.
Every loving word we say, every tear we wipe away,
Every sorrow left behind, is only by His grace. *

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: Father, Your exceeding grace is evident as far as the eye can see and reaches way beyond my limited imagination.  But the greatest aspect of Your grace is that You choose to reside within my heart.  Your abundant grace brings me assurance when the world speaks of trouble.  Your abiding grace brings me consolation when others would forsake me.  Your sustaining grace is manifested more in the trials of life than in the mountain top experiences.  Thank You for supplying me with Your sufficient grace in the heighth and depth of my existence. Your amazing grace is supernatural and never ceases to amaze me!   Amen.

* "Grace Alone" Brown, Scott Wesley / Nelson, Jeff © 1998 Maranatha! Music (Admin. by The Copyright Company) CCLI License No. 2005306

"Grace Alone" Audio  (This is from the site of the Jefferson Baptist Church Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This church has a nice collection of downloadable music.)

Personal note: Today's featured song is by Scott Wesley Brown. That sure brings some memories to me. He was one of my favorite musicians as a young Christian in the seventies and early eighties. I met him at a conference many years ago.  In time his popularity lessened and I didn't hear much about him. But he's stayed faithful in serving the Lord. Here's his website and it does have some downloadable music. Here's one of his songs that has always touched me. "This Little Child." This song was as powerful to me this morning as it was some 25 years ago!

Finally as I was searching for musical resources I came across this site. I was not aware these messages were online. These messages are not for the faint of heart!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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