I bless them all—the friends who didn’t back away when I said clumsy, foolish things, or added insult to an injury. I bless the ones who held me in the grip of grace before I had an inkling they were doing anything at all. I call to mind the line of kind, consistent people who forgave before I knew how much I had offended, who didn’t hold my sins against me, or wait to even up the score. I thank the Lord who taught them grace that when my life was stirred by grace, I had a living, breathing demonstration standing right beside me. Grace has a face—or faces, actually—one, two or ten who make the gospel come to life by holding, healing, loving, serving. They are my church, my backstop, my community. Because of them, I dare to do some gracious act that covers sin or heals pain. They’ve made a choice, and so have I. We stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Until we grasp how much we’ve been forgiven, it will always seem unwise and difficult to forgive those who sin against us. When we forgive another person, we abandon our leverage over them; release the debt they owe us; throw open prison doors. This is a graciousness we can’t summon from within: until we’ve received God’s grace, we have none to give to others. You can’t wring kindness from a stone, or from a stony, unforgiven heart. But “the grace of God has appeared to all” (Titus 2:11), making possible our own redemption, and then the healing of our friendships, marriages, and communities. Grace truly received always becomes grace given. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Imagine—only for a moment—your life without the grace of God.  Every foolish act of adolescence; every spiteful, angry word you’ve said; every broken relationship would trail after you like dragging cannonballs uphill. There could be no forgiveness, but only possibly forgetfulness.  All things wounded would never heal.  The sun would never rise on faith or hope or possibilities. But we rejoice that grace has come to us in Jesus—that our stories are forever changed for better.  So grace always opens into gratitude.  We celebrate a rescue we could never accomplish because of what Christ accomplished for us. And He ever lives—it is His joy—to intercede for us, to turn our painful histories into stories that will bless and lift the world. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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So let’s admit it: we are afraid because bad things have happened in our past, and everything in us shudders at ever being hurt again. Life’s all about negotiating risk, we say, and so we bravely sanctify our fears with strategies to hide the dread that we might end unloved and all alone. But Jesus says, “My grace is enough for you” (2 Cor. 12:9, CEB)—enough for all our hidden wounds and public failures, enough for all the times when we’ve concluded that we can be either well-loved OR well-known, but never both. Grace is a healing antidote to fear, repairing and rebuilding whatever sin has poisoned, blighted or corroded. The worst that can be said of us turns out—amazingly—to be a gorgeous anthem to God’s never-ending, always-reaching love. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Grace is no bubble—beautiful but fragile—momentarily hovering—and covering—the story of our separation from the Father. Forgiveness isn’t offered just to give us light and hope, even though it always ends in joy and wondrous dreams. No, grace is strong the way a father’s grip is strong—muscle strong, sinew strong, unyielding and unwilling to let go. The love you cannot earn is also love you cannot lose, for He has never yet allowed one outstretched hand to slip His grasp. God has pledged Himself in language He cannot—will not—disavow: “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” He says; “therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31.3). Though life is full of fragile things, God’s grace is never one of them. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Staying in grace is hard work in the same way resisting the pull of self-congratulation is hard work. Our human nature loves to count: “I haven’t eaten chocolate for 12 days.” “I put 10 percent of my income in the offering plate at church.” “I’ve done five ‘random acts of kindness’ in three days.” We naturally crave applause from others, and most fatally, from ourselves. Yet Jesus urges, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matt 6:3). Grace bids us put away our abacus, our calculators, and all algorithms of righteousness that start or end with us. The “work” of faith is learning to believe in Christ alone, and giving Him the glory for the healing of our lives. The grace that saves us is the same great love that changes us. We look to Him, and not within. So stay in grace. 

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January 10, 2019

COSTLY GRACE (Jan 11, 2019)

Just as there is no human life without oxygen, so there is no eternal life without the grace of Jesus. All other theories, strong and noble though they seem, are grand illusions that overestimate our goodness and underestimate God’s holiness. No string of sins avoided, or good deeds performed with vigor even starts to bridge the gap between our lostness and His law. But forgiveness takes us where forgoing never can. Jesus loves us far too much to let us go on fooling others and ourselves about the cost of being saved. Only He can pay the price—and He has paid it all. We live with gratitude when we are sure of grace. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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If you are a believer, then you learned Christ from another believer. Your story—ups and downs and still unfinished—is still a testament to grace. Someone loved you for no reason. Someone taught you the reality of the unseen world. Someone shared with you the power and efficacy of prayer. Someone built the confidence you have in Him who holds all things together. Your shiny faith is the new link in a centuries-old chain of sharing that began when fishermen and tax collectors dropped nets and coins to follow after Jesus. So pause today to thank the risen Lord for grace that came to you through kindness from a modern-day disciple. And then, be like the one who shared their faith with you. Keep adding links: keep adding hope. For this chain is the symbol of unfettered joy and freedom. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Only a lingering belief in God’s persistent grace explains our optimism that our lives can be happier in the new year. If there were no such thing as grace—if we were force d to drag the chains of sin and brokenness behind us for all time—we’d see nothing in the first of January beyond another gray-grim calendar page. But 2019 offers light and hope because the gospel promises that Christ forgets what Christ forgives—that all our foolishness and spite is gently washed away when we believe in Him. Through grace, this new year can become that season of humility, deep peace, and reconciled relationships of which we’re always dreaming. There’s just one resolution worth making this—and every—New Year’s Eve: “By grace, I’ll stay in grace.”  -Bill Knott

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We are not wise like magi, or powerful like Herod. And few can claim nobility by birth or social climbing. 
But God—this Child who sleeps in straw—has chosen us to worship at His cradle. 
So we rejoice in commonness; we gladly play the fool for Him. 
For we have glimpsed in Bethlehem the power that holds all things together—the love that seeks us out, surrounds us, will not let us go. 
We stand in warm, strong light that cannot be extinguished; “for the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). 
We revel in the victories grace has won, is winning, and will win. 
There is no doubt—nor can there be—about the final outcome. 
So come, now: bend the knee. Lean forward with a glowing heart. 
This is an hour for adoration. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott


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This baby born in Bethlehem was both like and unlike every other child —a life so rare, so richly valuable, that still we grope at language edge for words to tell His story, and for names by which to worship Him. He chose fragility, this Lord who once threw stars and galaxies around like pebbles on a beach, so that the powerless would know how well He understands their lives. He entered our dry dustiness where weakness and reliance meet—because grace trusts, grace hopes, grace makes new covenants when all about us are breaking theirs. He chose dependence—releasing Himself, abandoning authority, the majesty, the throne. Christ placed Himself quite literally in our hands, so that—through grace—we might one day learn to place ourselves entirely in His. Stay in His hands. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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All our goodness flows from grace. One of our favorite illusions is that broken, self-consumed people like us can still spontaneously do noble things out of some “inner light” we claim to have. I have followed one too many Volvos bearing tattered bumper stickers urging “Random Acts of Kindness.” Unless the Holy Spirit has vanished from the universe, there are no such things as random acts of kindness.  Unrecognized among the myriad ways we interact with each other—some petty, some brutal—are those kindnesses that first formed in the mind of God and reached our world through common grace.  If ever we are good, it’s only because God’s goodness flows through us. Be available this day for promptings—Spirit-formed and Spirit-led—that testify we aren’t left to spin alone on this unhappy planet.  There is no kindness apart from the great grace shown to us in Christ, and known to us because His Spirit still moves among us. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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