2017-18

Devotion

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devotion

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Title

Date

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Text

Title

Date


Genesis 42:26-28


Heart Exchange

5/1/17


Philippians 2:8

The Cross:Real or Jewelry

5/19/2017

1 Corinthians 14:22

Contrasts Clarify

6/8/17

Psalm 96:1-13

3S Tonic for the Soul

/17

1 John 1:8

Final  Statement About a Man

7/30/17

Deut. 8:20

God Speaking to Us Clearly

10/5/2017

Matthew 3

Fruits Meet for Repentance

1/22/18


































Heart Exchange

Genesis 42:26-28


Pastor Rusty Larter used this text for his evening sermon April 30 at Frederick Free Will Baptist Church. He said we should do three things:


1. Forget the past.

2. Live today.

3. Hope for tomorrow.


The sermon did its job.  Rusty got me to thinking about the reaction of Joseph’s brothers when they found the money they paid for grain in Egypt back in their sacks as they headed home.  They thought it was God’s movement to punishment them for selling their brother into slavery years before. They had not recognized Joseph in Egypt, but he knew them.


I am intrigued by their reaction, as they asked each other, “What is this God has done to us?”


This shows a problem we all have: A conscience!


Unless we are a real nut job, we all have one; it’s a tattletale that will hit you right in the gut.  It is more than that.  A guilty conscience is a heart condition and needs immediate attention.


Theirs was a Guilty and Fearful Heart.  


Though no one but you and God may know those dark secrets you’d rather keep hidden, conscience will rat you out every time.  These brothers knew their guilt, and they suspected God was about to give them what they deserved.


There is a cure for a Guilty and Fearful heart.  You can exchange it.  


You listen to the Holy Spirit, who leads you to the Lord Jesus.  Then you tell Jesus what he already knows.  That’s called confession.  Be sorry about your sins.  That’s repentance. Asked to be cleansed and made new.  That’s called rebirth.  Set your mind on a new path by following Christ’s leadership.  That’s discipleship.


These work in unison to exchange the heart.  Out with the old Guilty and Fearful Heart; in with a Repentant Heart.


Now, wait!  I thought we’d already repented!  That’s true, but this heart is different.  Confession of sinful nature is conviction and repentance is being heartily sorry for that.  The Holy Spirit guards a Repentant Heart always. It is his job is to alert us when we begin to stray and guide us back to a one-on-one with Jesus.


A Repentant Heart, you see, asks not “what is God doing to me?” A Repentant Heart asks, in wonderment, “What has God done for me?”


The answer is simple, yet profound.  He has forgiven me of my sinfulness and individual sins, adopted me as a stepbrother to Jesus and prepared a place for me in heaven, all paid up, forever and forever.  It’s call eternal life.


Then comes a third heart -- a “Thankful Heart.”  


A Thankful Heart is unique.  It beats not for self but for others.  It asks, “What can I do for God?”   It wants to do more than speak idle words of appreciation for favors received.  A Thankful Heart wants to be involved with the Master to help others – help them know Jesus, trust Jesus, follow Jesus, used by Jesus and, ultimately, to be present with Jesus.


Which heart beats in your soul?


The Guilty and Fearful Heart? Exchange it!

The Repentant Heart?  Follow it!

The Thankful Heart?  Use it for Jesus’ glory.


My heart knows my sin is awful and real,

So guilt and fear and dread I always feel!

But a Repentant Heart You gave to me,

And my Thankful Heart is now set free!


Don Meadows

5/1/207


Published 5/1/2017

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The Cross:

Rugged and Stained or Polished?

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” -- Philippians 2:8 (KJV)

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An ad was inserted in the newspaper the other day from a major retailer that advertised over two pages of jewelry crosses. You could have your own cross, or give someone else a beautiful cross, for between $47.50 and $84.99.


Most of us who profess Christ as savior, and many who don’t, have and wear them.  They’re around the necks of athletes on TV, actors and actresses, and just plain folk like you and me.  I have one made of Jade, a gift from a former member on one of the churches I served years ago.  Like other decorative jewelry, it’s beautiful. Janet has several, a special one made of mammoth tusk millions of years old, carved by our oldest son, Don II.


This has caused me to pause in wondering about my attitude.  Do I want a beautiful symbol to testify about that horrible death of Jesus on his cross, which provided the means of my salvation?  Do I want just beautiful jewelry?  Or, am I symbolically saying that, in obedience to Luke 9:23, I am willing to pick up my cross daily, wear it around my neck and testify to my beautiful love for Jesus.  Just make sure it’s made of something precious, is beautiful and will be the envy of other people?


Now, please don’t get me wrong.  I am not condemning wearing a cross as a testimony to others and as a reminder to myself what Jesus did and is doing for me.  I am trying to keep perspective on what my understanding of the Lord’s commandment means to me!


These thoughts also come up in my mind at Christmas.  Homes, inside and out, are decorated with beautiful things in supposed celebration of the birth of Christ.  And, there are Easter decorations now, St. Patrick decorations, Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving decorations, Valentine’s Day decorations, as nauseam.


Actually, what I have to deal with here is being judgmental. There is no way I can know another person’s heart, sometimes not even my own.  


The Apostle Paul encountered a similar thing, I believe, when his followers told him others were preaching about Jesus and their intentions were, well, questionable.  Paul responded, “Whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is being preached, I rejoice and will rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18)


So, whether it is a testimony or jewelry, or both, the cross is displayed to others, Christ is lifted up and I will rejoice.


Lord, Jesus, please help me to grow

When others motives I don’t know.

Whatever gives witness of Thee

May I rejoice, whatever their sincerity


Don Meadows

5/16/2017


Published 5/19/17

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Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 1 Corinthians 14:22

Contrasts Clarify

 Life vibrates through contrasts.  Black vs. white.  Fast vs. slow.  Thick vs. thin.  Good against evil.You get the idea.

Scripture is a record of contrasts.  This is because, when you get right down to it, a man or woman is put on this planet to demonstrate contrast, to be contrasts and witness to others the eternal contrasts of good and evil.

Paul's teaching of the Corinthians show this clearly.  Here he is discussing how God provides contrasts so unbelievers might see and how believers may be guided.  There are two kinds of people:  Non-believers and believers.  God woos the former and walks with the latter.

Tongues, or speaking in that mysterious language of the Spirit, are demonstrated to unbelievers that they might awaken to the new possibilities of faith.  Prophecy, on the other hand, is given for guidance to the believer.  That these contrasting connections shown by God have provoked intense debate cannot be disputed. 

The devil is delighted when believers and non-believers argue about scripture.  It causes confusion and division.  God doesn't win.  Neither debater wins.  The only benefactor is the father of lies.

If we skip to Verse 33 we learn Paul's intent is to rid the Christian community of division over scripture.  He says, "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV))  "Saints," here, means believers in Jesus Christ.

Thus, we see the futility of scriptural debate with an unsaved person.  They just don't have the necessary means of comprehending the perspective that believers have.  We should show, and must do so, the Christ standing at the heart's door knocking for entry into lives.  Until this is done, beating up on the unsaved with the Bible will not succeed.  Indeed, it may do the opposite.

Unbelievers are not fools.  One should never write them off because they disagree with every theological stand a Christian may take. Many unbelievers may have greater knowledge about the Bible than you and me, But knowledge is not to be confused with understanding.

 Knowledge of the book is not the same as understanding the person of The Book.  This comes only through the living presence of God the Holy Spirit, and happens at the instant one's truely accepts Jesus as savior.  Then the Holy Spirit can go to work to teach the new believer about the Lord.  Without this presence one never can rightly understand prophecy, nor even the works of God in all of life.

 The contrasts of believer and unbeliever have been blended together in many churches and in most denominations.  The result is apparent.  Saved and unsaved people are confused what to believe.  Many, who are on a solid scriptural foundation, are working to expose this devil work.  Others simply walk away and find a new spiritual home.

 Is this not congruent with what Paul said about the last days? " Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (2 Thessalonians 2:3 (KJV) So we find confusion within the church, abandonment of the church and declining respect for the church.

 Those who proclaim that God is doing a new thing are liars. God is still doing what God has always done:  Seeking his lost children to make them new creations and better their world and future through the kind of love shown by Jesus Christ. Remember Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 

Anyone who uses a computer to access the Internet is aware of the dangers of  "viruses." These are written to disrupt, steal from or take some shameful pleasure in messing up someone's world.   Computer users buy programs of many sorts to defend against and remove from their devices these unwanted threats to their safety. 

We in the church must be as diligent to protect the Body of Christ from Satan’s soldiers as computer users are to keep their devices clean and functioning.

Yet, we want to be nice and not offend anyone because, tragically, we’ve come to believe it’s not Christian to defend  the Gospel vigorously. So we give more and more ground to the enemy, tolerate their anti-biblical ideas. And call it diversity of theology.

Suddenly it becomes obvious we have given the enemy sufficient power to alter the historic values of the church and give way to politically correctness.

The result is it has become a “church of  man” and no longer a “church  governed by God.”

The fruit is not growth in glorifying the Lord Jesus, but confusion, chaos, division and destruction.  

Why is it allowed?  Because “Good Christians” are taught to be nice, turn the other cheek and tolerate diversity as a God gift to help us grow .  We fear an accusation of “judging” and just need to be nice -- like Jesus was!  Right?

We must remember all will be judged – even Christians with good intention but no courage to stand up, stand up for Jesus.  

 

Close my mind to the plea

Of those who don't believe;

Let me not to confusion fall,

But anchor my faith in Thee:

TRUE GOD OF ALL!

Don Meadows

6/4/17

Published 6/8/17

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3S Tonic for the Soul

Psalm 96:1-13

Remember the era of alcohol-laden tonics advertised to make you healthier.  One was called “3S Tonic!”

Well , I have my own recipe and call it “3S Tonic for the Soul.”  Take it each morning on first awakening. It’s guaranteed, and if  you don’t think it was helpful, you can have your miseries back.

Sing, Sip coffee (or another awakening beverage) and Shout praises to the Lord.  It will launch a great day and Satan won’t be able to stop you..

Sing, sip and shout praise. Add a new verse each day. Let it flow from your heart and fill all  the earth so all of God's creation will join in chorus of praise.  Salvation is offered afresh and given to all who will take.  No one will be rejected, for Jesus’ sake.

Let no unbeliever go without being told of God's goodness, love and mercy.  Sing it out!  They'll hear -- somehow.  They will hear!

Let them know why God is great in your life, and greatly to be praised.  And feared!  Respect him for his might, praise him for his mercy.  He created everything.  Let everything  that has breath sing praise unto him. God will love it.

Oh, that we might experience this marvelous God at the start of  the gift of each new day.  The shadows of worry could not exist, for the light of his love would fill every crevice.  The sounds of fury would kneel, because his comforting voice would leave no room for hatred in an individual or nation's heart.

Let us shout praise each morning because God is our joy. He is our courage; he is our guardian; he is our hope.  He is our assurance.

What is he due? He is due our love, our obedience, our all; without him we are but nothing and destined for ruination.

What does he ask?  Our hearts, our devotion, our love.  Give to him each morning all you have in your heart, and he will shower you with the riches of his Kingdom.  Praise him not to gain his favors but to please him. And make his day beautiful, too.

To know you have brought joy to the God of everything is reward enough.  But, unto you will he add joy and courage and comfort beyond expectation.  The depth of it could never be dreamt by mortal man.

Sing, sip and shout praises to the Lord. Your day will be better! Your life will be more satisfying.

My eyes open to the gift of today,

And my heart is poised to say,

"Thank You, God, and be praised

For giving love in so many ways."


Don Meadows

6/20/17


Published: 6/22/17


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The Word Speaks Today

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  

-–  1 John 1:8 (KJV)


‘Final Statement’ About A Man Always Is Spoken by God

Ronald Phillips died July 26 at the Southern Ohio Correction Facility, about 12 miles from where I live. He was executed in the name of the people of Ohio, for the rape and murder of a three-year girl in 1993. It has been said that if ever there were an example of the appropriateness of the death penalty, it is Phillips.

He claimed to have repented of this sin, committed at age 19, and had received the forgiveness of God. As his execution approached, emotions were high. Many people shouted for his death; when it was done they cheered.  

They didn’t cheer his claim to salvation; they cheered his ignoble loss of life and entry into -- what many assumed – was swift eternal hell and damnation.

The carrying-out of Phillips’ sentence was justified, according to state law.  Anti-death penalty advocates argue he was a victim of sanctioned murder.  Capitol punishment has long been, and will continue to be, a heated moral debate.  Both sides have strong arguments.

I have an opinion on the issue, but what really troubles me about this event is the tidal wave of undisguised hatred that roared through this community and on social media.  Many of “the good people” of Ohio cheered when the report came that Phillips was dead. (Click HERE for the news account of the execution.)

Earlier some on Facebook said they hoped he went “straight to hell”, etc.  The flood of unmerciful vitriol revealed not the masses calling for justice.  They were exposing a level of ugliness that has become common in too many the hearts of Americans who see themselves as good and decent people and “RIGHT.”

Yes, his crime was heinous, unthinkable by any standard of decency, deserving of severe punishment.  What frightened me is that these good and decent people reveal they are no more merciful than he was 20 years before and that by harboring these feelings they expose themselves to the eternal damnation they wished for him.

Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned.”  Yet the mob judgments indicate this man’s sins exceeded the capacity of God’s desire to grant forgiveness for anyone who calls on the name of Jesus for mercy and grace.  The demand of the people was not only for Phillips’ earthly life, but cried out for his eternal soul  -- something only God has the right to demand.

To quantify sin argues there are degrees of sin, and levels of punishment.  This may be truth in the American jurisprudence system, but no so with God.  Paul declares (Romans 6:23), “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  There is but one unforgivable sin.  By authority of the Lord,  “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  Matthew 12:31 (KJV)

Don’t forget what the psalmist declared about God. “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. (Psalm 94:1)  Paul taught, Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:19-20)

This doesn’t mean society is to ignore despicable behavior.  The Bible, in both the Old Testament and New Testament,  demands society hold people accountable for their deeds in a moral and legal sense.  It does mean our attitudes toward the worst of the worst should show mercy and compassion because ultimate vengeance will be effected by God.

Recipients of God’s mercy need know and reflect it

The condemned are given an opportunity to make a final statement.  That’s not the last word, however.  The final word always is spoken by God.

Thus, never mistake the limitations of our authority in determining a person’s fitness for heaven or hell.

This removes God as God, and gives each individual the power of veto over God’s decisions. James reminds us that if we are successful in obedience to every law except one, we are guilty of all of them.


Quickly we judge the sins of others,

Fit or unfit, for heaven or hell;”

Forgive, Lord, pull back the covers

Showing we need thy grace as well.


Rev Don Meadows

July 30, 2017


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God Speaking to Us Clearly

As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:20 (KJV)


Do you not hear, O peoples created by God?  He is speaking now.  His voice is loud. His voice is clear!

God does not engage in aimless chatter.  The Old Testament, especially, gives example after example of this.  Nor does he whisper. He leaves no doubt about what he is saying.  When God speaks, those to whom he speaks face a decision. "Do this and I will do this.  Don't do this and I will do this."  This means God always will respond appropriately to the decisions made by those to whom he speaks.

Nor can the voice of God be denied with excuses:  “I didn’t hear.”  “I didn’t understand.”  “I don’t believe in God.”  This perhaps is the worst of sins. David tells us, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 53:1 (KJV)  First, a person is lying to himself, placing his soul in jeopardy and participating in the devil’s scheme to deceive  as many as possible to rob heaven of souls and stoke the fires of hell with rebellious fools.

There is a reason why this is so. People do not want to hear God because they know he is calling them to a higher moral standard than they want.  Heaven on Earth is living in and loving our sin, with permission granted by the Lord. It will never happen, consequently the decision to ignore God and do ones own thing.

The Old Testament shows God spoke to and through prophets and specific individuals for specific purposes. When the people didn't like what God was telling them, they claimed the messengers were not credible.  Not much has changed.  Even when a preacher's sermons are dead-on and faithful to God's Word, the messenger's credibility is challenged.  "Well, that's his opinion.  I'm entitled to mine, too."

Often we hear that the voice of the Holy Spirit is a wee nudging of a person's reasoning and conscience.  Yes, that's true sometimes. However, the voice of God can be resoundingly clear and loud!  

Today, I believe, God is shouting so as not to be ignored. When storms -- hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, natural disaster of many kinds and manmade mayhem, listen. God is speaking.  It happened in ancient times, and people looked for a divine link.  They were more religious than we, I suggest – their theology wrong but they took it seriously.

Today we educated people to turn to science and find natural reasons for these things. Global warming, they yell.  Or "fracking," they argue.  It's just Mother Nature being herself, and the involvement of God is denied. Facebook has become a “bible” to many, as they seek the counsel of like sinners to determine what is the “right thing to do.”

Shame on our foolishness.

Hardships hit everyone.  Sin is powerful, hurting the innocent as well as the guilty.  Matthew 5:45b (KJV) declares  ". . . he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." This tells me believers often bear the consequences of the judgment of the unrighteousness, and the unrighteous are benefactors of faithful of believers.

Indeed, God works in strange ways, but only for a season. Matthew 13:24ff reminds us to leave judgment to God.  It will come at the harvest. Mercy will be rightly bestowed in heaven.

This requires faith.  The cruelties of the moment will not prevail.  God will deliver those who will be delivered.  With sadness, he will leave to themselves those who refuse to heed his invitation.

A police chief in Florida during the approaching storm Irma implored the people to get to assured safety.  "When the storm hits, we won't be able to get to you," he said.  "You will be on your own."

Jesus reveals that reality every moment of a person's life.  Rev. 3:20 (KJV): Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” There is a deadline for the offer of grace and mercy.  Death ends forever the offer of salvation; death makes permanent the gift of salvation or the curse of damnation.

God is speaking. Hear ye him?  What is your reply?

God speaks so all will hear

His plea to you, “Come here;

From life’s storms you shall be

Safe with me through eternity.

Don Meadows

9/14/2017

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Fruits Meet for Repentance

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8)


The agenda of the heart is crucial for the getting of forgiveness at repentance.  Were words, or thoughts, pure or impure, all that necessitated forgiveness, no one would be lost.  Repentance is much more than words or intentions, John the Baptist declared.  Thus, his plea to the crowd was: “ 8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” (Matthew 3:8 (KJV)


This message by the Baptist destroys a theology that says salvation is gained easily.  Christians perpetuate an error that eternal life is to be had for speaking a few words: “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Forgive me. Save me by the blood you shed on a cross. I believe you are the Son of God. Amen.

Those words cover the basic sinner’s prayer.  But, is it sufficient or is more required to, in one sense, “seal the deal.”


Martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer (see below) talked about “cheap grace” in his book, The Cost of Discipleship.  “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”


The Baptist would say, I believe, the sinner’s prayer is an excellent start, but it’s not the whole deal.  “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.”  What are you bringing to this sacred meeting that authenticates your desire for a new relationship with God through Christ?  Can you identify these “fruits meet for repentance?”


This is a masterful stroke by the Baptist, who sliced through the show of sincere repentance and genuine contriteness of heart.  Where’s the proof of a changed heart?  That is tough love?  Self-proclaiming soul-saving workers today must take heed. It’s so easy for the preacher to ask the people to close their eyes, call for a show of hands of those who want to accept Jesus, concluding. “Bless that hand.  Bless those hands. Welcome to the kingdom.”


John would have none of that game playing.  He confronted those who came, and demanded they bring some evidence, some discernable proof, that they are truly sorry for their sins and see in Jesus the only solution to their sinfulness and heart desires.


Thus the question is, “What are these ‘fruits’?”  There are many possibilities, but I suggest but a few.


Contriteness of heart? Do I show evidence of a real change in my very being?  Am I more caring of people?  Do I hear the vulgarities that come out of my mouth?  Have I a sense that I do things harmful to my body – the holy temple of God?  Is there a desire, a hunger to worship and praise God?  Is there a new understanding that my friends and our activities together don’t glorify God?  Do I show love in my thoughts, actions toward others and desires for doing good?  You can add many, many more.

 

Contrary to the common claim that salvation is free, restoration to right relationship with God comes at great cost.  First, the payment was the life of a man, Jesus, whose death on the cross paid for you and me to have a choice:  Accept salvation (forgiveness of sin) or reject it.


Rejection can be final and eternal and requires no action, or declaration, about anything.  Accepting God’s offer is a costly beginning – costly in that it redefines those values one once followed without thought.  This is what The Baptist is insisting that one demonstrate how repentance is making a difference in his or her life!  Without  fruit that reveals the change, a person perhaps is only shopping for the cheapest deal possible to get to heaven.


Do you cry to God for healing

Of a sin-sick heart, revealing

You want Jesus forgiving

So you gain eternal living?

–Don Meadows

1/22/18

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

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