Is It Really The 11th Hour?

When we’re down to the last minutes before a crucial deadline, we often refer to it as “the eleventh hour.” 

Have you been there? You’re sweating it out, wondering if God is going to come through for you. Or perhaps thinking about what you might need to handle yourself in order to meet the deadline. And then God comes through for us, and we let out a deep sigh of relief and gratitude. 

But why a sigh? Were we worried that God wouldn’t come through? Did we think God’s supply was limited? And what made us think that it was “the eleventh hour” anyhow? 

What we often think is the eleventh hour is really God’s first hour! God is never late. He’s never scrambling to come up with what we need. We might be the ones “scrambling,” but God never is. He always has the perfect resources at the perfect moment. 

We should know this because the Bible tells us: God who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32) 

Jesus tells a story about an eleventh-hour situation in Matthew’s Gospel. Men were waiting around to work for the day when a landowner came along to hire them. He hired some guys first thing in the morning and agreed to pay them a full day’s pay. He hired some other workers at 9:00 AM and promised to pay them fairly, and then he hired even more workers at noon and at 3:00 PM, also promising to pay them what was fair. Finally, he hired some workers at 5:00 PM—literally at the eleventh hour—without any mention of pay. 

At the end of the day, every single worker was paid a full day’s wage. Every single one of them. Jerry Bridges notes why this is significant: 

“Each worker, regardless of how long he had worked, received a day’s wages. He received not what he had earned on an hourly basis, but what he needed to sustain his family for a day. … Those eleventh-hour workers were hired because they needed to receive a day’s wages. They had been standing all day waiting for someone to hire them so they could earn money to support their families. They needed to work more than the landowner needed their work. He hired them, not because of his need, but because of their need.” (emphasis added)

You see, God knows what you NEED and He generously supplies that NEED right on time.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The problem comes when we start looking down the road wondering what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day (see Matthew 6:11, 31-34). 

God’s favor toward us is out of all proportion to our work or sacrifice. He gives exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. 

If you’re feeling anxious—like the clock is ticking down to the eleventh hour—perhaps you should recall how God has provided for you in the past. Then discipline your thoughts from running ahead to tomorrow as you pray, “Give me this day what I need.” 

Here’s a prayer I’m praying—

“God, I remember the wonderful deeds You have done for me. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about Your mighty works in the past. Therefore, I ask you today for my daily bread. Let my heart be on guard against scrambling as though I were in an eleventh-hour situation. You are my all-loving, all-gracious Father. You know what I have need of even before I ask. May my attitude be one of assured contentment in your abundant, right-on-time supply. May you be glorified as others see this confidence in my attitude.”

What If I Sin?

I have been trumpeting this truth: God is for you! He’s not looking for opportunities to blast you, but to bless you. God wants you to know that you have found His favor. 

But what happens if we sin? Do we lose God’s favor? In a word—NO! 

Here’s what happens instead: God becomes our Prodigal Father. 

Let me show you from both the Old Testament and the New Testament what I mean, but first, let’s define prodigal: it means recklessly extravagant or lavishly abundant. This is always how God treats His children. 

In Isaiah 59, the prophet reminds us that nothing about God’s strength or ability to respond to our pleas has been diminished. Instead: your sins have separated you from your God—we can leave God, but He never leaves us! 

Isaiah catalogs all our sins that have become a quicksand trap for us. God looks to see who can help us, and finding no one, here’s what He does: so His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. 

God did what was underserved. God did what no one else could do: HE HIMSELF BECAME OUR SALVATION! 

If ever there was a definition of recklessly extravagant, lavishly abundant love… this is it!! 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story that people often call the story of the prodigal son, but it’s really the father who is prodigal. The son squanders all his father’s blessings on wild living and finds himself bankrupt, starving, and completely disgraced. But the moment the son came to his senses and began to move toward his father by confessing his sin, his prodigal father ran to him! 

Jesus tells us this father was overflowing with compassion. There wasn’t anything his son could have done to diminish the father’s love, nor was there anything the son could have done to make his father love him more. The father was all-loving all the time. He was recklessly extravagant and lavishly abundant in his love. 

The father RAN to his son and covered his son’s disheveled, stinking rags with his royal robe. 

This is exactly what Isaiah said God would do for us…

  • instead of ashes, we get a crown 
  • instead of rags of mourning, we get an anointing of gladness
  • instead of a spirit of despair, we get a garment of praise
  • instead of shame, we get a double portion of God’s riches
  • instead of disgrace, we get God’s inheritance

How does all this happen? Our Prodigal Father abundantly, lavishly “clothes me with garments of salvation and arrays me in a robe of righteousness”!!

Don’t ever buy into satan’s lies that God loves you less, or that you’ve used up your changes, or that your sins are too many or too big. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). 

Join me this coming Sunday either in person or on Facebook Live as we learn more about God’s favor toward us. 

God Is For You!

I’m going to make a statement that might shock some people. 

Some of you who have been around Christianity might have heard this before, and you may even mentally agree with it. But even people who mentally agree with it want to add a “Yeah, but…” to it. Or they mentally agree with it but don’t live like it’s true. 

Ready? Here it is … 

God is for you.

Far too many people mistakenly think God is looking for an opportunity to punish them; He’s trying to catch them doing something wrong; He’s perched on the edge of heaven with lightning bolts of judgment in His hand. God doesn’t want to blast you; He wants to bless you! 

Although the word favor appears quite frequently in Scripture, God’s favor is also implied in the word grace, which means God’s unmerited favor. 

It’s unmerited because none of us is worthy of God’s favor; it’s not something anyone can earn. We have all sinned, and therefore we’re all worthy of the death penalty. Every single one of us! 

I have worshipped idols, I have blasphemed God’s name, I have broken the Sabbath, I have dishonored my parents, I have coveted, I have lied, I have committed adultery, and I have murdered. And so have you (see James 2:10).

Do you understand what Jesus did for us on the Cross? HE SWITCHED PLACES WITH US!

Jesus became my sin, and He made it possible for me to become His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Check this out: 

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us!

“It was because of His grace that God the Father sent His only Son to die in our place. To say it another way, Christ’s death was the result of God’s grace; grace is not the result of Christ’s death.” —Jerry Bridges

Don’t allow the devil’s lies of your unworthiness keep you from missing out on this truth. All of us are unworthy of God’s favor. But God demonstrated that He was for us when Jesus died on the Cross in our place. Now there is no more guilt, no more condemnation, absolutely nothing standing in the way of all of God’s unmerited favor because 

GOD IS FOR YOU! 

Join me next Sunday as we continue with our series called God’s Favor. You can either join me in person or on Facebook Live.

Book Reviews From 2017

8 Quotes From “Transforming Grace”

Jerry Bridges’ book Transforming Grace is an amazing read! Check out my book review by clicking here.

“One of the best-kept secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all. I mean all. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to heaven, He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Every one of them—no exceptions.

“Why is this such a well-kept secret? For one thing, we are afraid of this truth. We are afraid to tell even ourselves that we don’t have to work anymore, the work is all done. We are afraid that if we really believe this, we will slack off in our Christian duties. But the deeper core issue is that we don’t really believe we are still bankrupt. Having come into God’s kingdom by grace alone solely on the merit of Another, we’re now trying to pay our own way by our performance. We declared only temporary bankruptcy; we are now trying to live by good works rather than by grace.”

“To be justified means more than to be declared ‘not guilty.’ It actually means to be declared righteous before God.”

“God not only blots our sins from His record, He also remembers them no more. This expression means He no longer holds them against us. The blotting out of our transgressions is a legal act. It is an official pardon from the Supreme Governor. The remembering them no more is a relational act. It is the giving up by an injured party of all sense of being offended or injured. It is a promise never to bring up, either to Himself or to you, your sins.”

“God’s reward is out of all proportion to our service and sacrifice.”

“God often does bless people who seem to us to be quite unworthy. But that is what grace is all about, because we are all unworthy.”

“We all want grace, but we cannot enjoy grace when there is an attitude of comparing.”

“The Bible is full of God’s promises to provide for us spiritually and materially, to never forsake us, to give us peace in times of difficult circumstances, to cause all circumstances to work together for our good, and finally to bring us safely home to glory. Not one of those promises is dependent upon our performance. They are all dependent on the grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ.”

“Our love for God, expressed through obedience to Him, is to be a response to His love, not a means of trying to earn it.”

Transforming Grace (book review)

Not too long ago I read that the song “Amazing Grace” was the best-known song in the entire world. People who know Jesus as their Savior certainly can attest to how amazing grace is. But what about after someone becomes a Christian? What happens with grace then? Jerry Bridges dives into this topic with his eye-opening look at Transforming Grace.

In the opening lines of the preface, Bridges states, “The Bible teaches we are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day of our lives.” This is a concept that many Christians miss, and as a result feel like they are living their lives on what Bridges calls “the performance treadmill.” In other words, far too many Christians mistakenly think that God’s grace saved them, but now it will be their own righteous works that will keep them saved.

In 13 chapters, Bridges dismantles the “performance” mindset and helps Christians see the freedom and joy that come from a proper understanding of how grace transforms and empowers our lives every day.

To help transfer Bridges’ lessons into everyday application, I also highly recommend getting a couple of friends together for this journey. Not only read Transforming Grace together, but then take some time to work through the discussion guides for each chapter. These guides will give you some Scriptures to ponder, and some discussion-starting questions to talk about with your friends. This time will help you go from learner-to-liver with the concepts of transforming grace.

I am a NavPress book reviewer.

4 Quotes On Persecution From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:10-12)

“There is no doubt that the culture is becoming more and more antagonistic toward biblical values. For some years I have thought our American culture to be ungodly; that is, to believe and act as if God is irrelevant. Now I believe we have become not just ungodly but actually anti-God. An increasing number of those who most influence our culture—such as academia, the media, and the entertainment industry—are openly hostile to the whole idea of God or of biblical values.”

“I suspect that our own court system will eventually fail us, as more and more judges are appointed who have been trained in law schools that at best are indifferent to biblical righteousness and at worst are openly hostile to it. Even our Supreme Court seems to be rendering decisions based on the mores of popular culture rather than on a principled application of the Constitution.”

“There is a sense in which this eighth Beatitude is the climax of several preceding ones dealing with our response to the way others treat us. … In this eighth Beatitude Jesus has in mind persecution rooted in the hostility of the anti-God culture we live in.”

“Keep in mind these words from Jesus [Luke 6:27-28] are precepts—authoritative commands of God. Furthermore, they address more than our attitude toward those who persecute us. They are action steps: we are to love our enemies, do good to them, bless them, and pray for them.”

 I have previously shared quotes on:

6 Quotes On Peacemakers From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)…

“Jesus was speaking of making peace when we ourselves are involved in conflict with others.”

“It is often the sinful use of our tongues that cause conflict. But the tongue is only an instrument. The real problem is the heart. … To become peacemakers, then, we must begin with ourselves. We must ask ourselves, ‘Why do I make cutting remarks to another person? Why do I make demeaning remarks about them?’ We must also ask us ourselves, ‘What causes my resentment toward that person?’ or ‘Why do I continue to nurse hurts by that person instead of forgiving them? What is it that causes me to be envious or jealous of that person?’ In order to even ask those questions, we have to admit that we have those attitudes. But because we know they are sinful, we tend to live in denial that we have them.”

“Peacemaking where there is conflict with someone else is not an option for us. It is God’s commandment. We are to strive for peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14). The word strive is a translation of the Greek word dioko. It is a very intense word and is most often used for the word pursue. (See also Philippians 3:12, 14; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 3:11.)”

“Jesus tells us, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). Are we willing to pray for those who have hurt us, that God will bless them? To be a peacemaker, then, means we absorb the hurtful words or actions of others without becoming resentful, retaliating, or even cutting off a relationship with the person.”

“To be a peacemaker means taking the initiative to restore such broken or damaged relationships, even when the major cause of the rupture lies with the other person.”

“To be a peacemaker means we must seek to be delivered from self-interest and not look at everything in terms of how it affects us. Instead we must be concerned about the glory of God and how we can best promote that glory in situations of conflict.”

 I have previously shared quotes on:

Quotes on the final Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

6 Quotes On Purity From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the pure in heart (Matthew 5:8)…

“The word pure is used of clothing that has been washed, of grain from which all chaff has been removed, and of gold that has been refined until all impurities have been removed. A pure heart, then, is one from which all sinful desires have been removed. Positively it means to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). It means to live all of my life to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).”

“Once we acknowledge God’s ownership of us, our responsibility becomes clear: Whatever we do must serve God’s purposes. And central among God’s purposes, as demonstrated throughout the Scriptures, is God’s glory.”

“To present our bodies (and our hearts also) is to recognize Christ as the ‘Owner’ of our lives [Romans 12:1]. It is the subjective, experiential response to the objective truth that we are His own possession.”

“Our minds can only be transformed as they are regularly exposed to the Word of God. This means we need to regularly read and study our Bibles and apply what we find there to our daily lives.”

“To be—or better, to seek to be—pure in heart produces humility in action as we become more God-focused in our daily lives.”

“To acknowledge how far short we fall from purity of heart will send us back to the first Beatitudes: to be poor in spirit and to mourn because our hearts are so often divided. That is humbling. But that honest humility should drive us back to the gospel, where we see ourselves united to the One Who had the only perfectly pure heart in all of history. This will motivate us and empower us to see what we can never fully attain: to be pure in heart.”

 I have previously shared quotes on:

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

5 Quotes On Mercy From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the merciful (Matthew 5:7)…

“The first four character traits of the Beatitudes…all address our internal character and our relationship to God. Here in this Beatitude, ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ Jesus begins to address our relationship with other people.”

“Note the subtle distinction between compassion and mercy. The Samaritan had compassion [Luke 10:33] and then showed mercy [v. 34-35].”

“Mercy expresses itself in two general areas: In the temporal sense, mercy seeks to meet the physical needs of others, as the Good Samaritan did in Jesus’ parable. The second way mercy expresses itself is granting forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.”

“The magnitude of our sin is not measured by its effects on other people but by its assault upon the infinite majesty and holiness of God.”

“To forgive others means we regard ourselves as ten-thousand-talent debtors [Matthew 18:23-35].” 

 I have previously shared quotes on:

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

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