Sometimes we have to choose to remember the good things.
So much of daily life is, as we say, “taken for granted.” We assume when we go to bed that our eyes will open in the morning. We don’t worry whether the car will start in the morning. We live our seasons believing there will be enough sun and rain to grow the grass and water the trees. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
But the Word of God urges us to actively remember that none of these things is guaranteed: each is the Father’s loving gift. When our happiness increases, His joy overflows. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” the psalmist reminds himself, “and do not forget all His benefits—who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Psalm 103 2-4).
It’s easy to take even amazing things for granted—like forgiveness, and healing, and grace. And while He is no less God whether we remember Him or forget His goodness, the choice to celebrate His consistent kindness opens the door to abundant living.
God is both very great and very good. His power—His rulership—is matched with tenderness and vast affection for us. Take what He has granted. Choose gratitude.
And stay in grace.
“Love your enemies.”
It’s one of Jesus’ best-known statements—and one of the most misunderstood. The mere mention of those who hurt us, slandered us, or victimized us uncovers all our buried helplessness and anger. Our memories work too well: we can’t summon the will to overlook the painful past. The thought of one day loving those who wounded us seems just another of faith’s impossibilities.
And so we need a power greater than ourselves—which is just what we have received: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Only the gift of supernatural grace—the kind the Father has shown to us “while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:8)—can ever move us to reimagine our enemies as friends: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are” (1 John 3:1).
Our enemies are just as fully loved by God as we are. When we receive His gift of love, we learn, in time, to gift it on to them. Grace is this angry world’s best hope for healing.
So stay in grace. -Bill Knott
It’s the fiercest rule of our culture: the greater the injury—the deeper the wound—the less likely that forgiveness will ever—ever—be offered.
When a friend forgets a lunch appointment or a colleague fails to meet a crucial deadline, we find a grudging grace to overlook the infraction. But if the angry words are public; if the damage done is measured in broken buildings or broken bones, our interest in forgiveness disappears.
We are so fortunate that God’s ways aren’t like ours. According to the Scriptures, we’re all complicit in the greatest injury to God the world has ever devised—the crucifixion of His Son. It was our sins—large and small, deliberate and impulsive—that whipped and beat Him, drove the nails, and pushed that thorny crown on Him. We mocked and taunted Him as He hung dying.
And yet, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). Amazingly, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).
Forgiveness flows from God’s amazing grace. We first receive it; then practice it; then glory in it, for we are saved by it.
So stay in grace. -Bill Knott
When we add up all our failings; when we see how frequently we fall, it seems we’ll never find the exit to this sad amusement ride. Our angers still routinely flare; our pride leaps higher day by day; our self-absorption is a carousel of serving just ourselves. The happiness we thought we’d find—in being kinder, wiser, gentler, free—feels always, always out of reach. We circle ‘round and ‘round: there is no merry to this ride.
We need an end to what we’ve been. With the apostle Paul we cry, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Rom 7:24).
To all who hope for better things, the gospel speaks with clarity: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Rom 3:23-24).
Our past need not predict our future: grace abounds at every turn. “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Heb 4:15-16).
Your life can change. Your hope will grow.
So stay in grace. -Bill Knott
At the heart of why we struggle to understand the “otherness” of God is our assumption that He must be, in some sense, just a grander and more powerful version of us.
If we’re preoccupied with tomorrow, God must think of nothing else, for He controls tomorrow. If we’re sorrowful or angry when people disappoint us, God’s indignation must be multiples of ours. Because we find it hard to forgive, we think that He forgives reluctantly, and only when petitioned.
But God loves differently. “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isa 55:8). In the heart of God there’s an unquenchable affection for us, even when we’re anxious, even when we’re angry, even when we stumble at forgiving—or believing we’ve been forgiven. “Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:4-5).
We know no one who loves like God—who will not be distracted and cannot be dissuaded from loving us, embracing us. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
We’ll never comprehend such grace. But we can welcome it; rejoice in it; be warmed by it.
And stay in it. -Bill Knott
Ask any skilled musician, and they’ll tell you everything begins with practice.
Behind the brilliant concert hall performance or the music video that goes viral lie a hundred—or a thousand—hours of tedious and undramatic practice. Cognitive skill, muscle memory, an adroit sense of timing, and a touch of interpretive expression meld, at last, into a moment that can soothe or challenge, inspire or amaze.
We practice who we want to be, even though on every day, our practice isn’t perfect. If we rehearse our injuries—the snubs we felt; the spite endured; the untrue things that made us weep—we build the tuneless selves that amplify the world’s dirge.
And if, through grace, we practice peace; if we rehearse transparency and love, the song of Moses and the Lamb becomes the music of our lives (Rev 15:3). We sing with those who celebrate; we comfort those who mourn a loss. We pass the trifling goal of sounding good, and actually start doing good. The grace that filled our dark with song now stirs deep hope for those who need a melody.
So practice gentleness and joy. Rehearse how Jesus rescued you—from sin and from yourself. Let kindness be the memory of your voice. Ten thousand ears will bless you.
And stay in grace. -Bill Knott
My faith is but a sandy castle
Trembling on the beach of time.
Many of us could write that line, or whisper it at least. We are awash in our mistakes—the hot words said; the things consumed; the foolish deeds that damaged health or wounded those we love.
On good days, we remember grace, and for some hours, the tide recedes. But then a wave of surging guilt erases faith’s small towers on our beach. Will nothing change this ebb and flow?
So speak aloud the grace you know. Rehearse to someone good things God has done for you—the reconciliations made; the habits changed from bad to better; the kindness that you practiced until caring seemed like second nature. Through grace, your life is different than it was. And every difference that you voice will be a brick against the tide.
Faith grows by hearing, even when you listen to yourself. “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart —that is, the word of faith that we are proclaiming” (Rom 10:8).
Your faith is built upon a rock, and Jesus never fails.
So stay in grace. -Bill Knott
It’s just a subtle shading of the truth, a slight deflection from the facts, that tempts us to dishonesty, especially with ourselves.
“I’m not so bad,” we say with evident relief when we remember tyrants, madmen, and the vicious from our history books. “My sins are nothing in comparison to theirs.” There are no obvious casualties from our mistakes, no line of grieving people who point to us as causing all their woe. And so we wrap our consciences with layers of white gauze, muffling what dissonance the Spirit stirs within us.
But God is moving in us for a reason: “Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4). Those qualms we feel when we adjust the truth or tell a lie or leave the wrong impression are actually sweet signs of hope. God cares enough about the truth that He will stir us till we let Him realign our reasoning. “You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart” (Psalm 51:6).
In grace, God teaches us to speak the truth—to others, yes, but firstly to ourselves. Discover joy as honesty increases.
And stay in grace. -Bill Knott
Some wit has cracked that there are just two kinds of people in the world: those you would go walking with, and those with whom you never would.
Simple as it seems, it helps us choose companions for the journey.
There are so many angry souls, exuding ego, spitting spite, who make an office hallway walk a journey of deep angst and fear. They have no patience for us fools; they scorn forgiving others’ sins; they call for justice, not for love. And yes, they always walk alone.
But there are others, touched by grace, who breathe the cleaner air of peace. With them, we’d walk around the world, or at least five times around the block. They listen better than they speak. They’re quick to heal, slow to challenge, offering the safety broken, wounded people crave. And no, they never walk alone.
Grace teaches us with whom to walk, remembering that we were once alone, undone, and far from God. But now “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).
We were meant to walk with others. Choose the ones who bring you joy.
And stay in grace. -Bill Knott
A host of proverbs in our culture urge the need for wariness: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” “It is better to be a living dog than a dead lion.”
We learn the lesson while we’re young: don’t trust too much; forgive too much; believe too much; endure too much.
But what if God took such an attitude with us? What if heaven’s scorecard righteously declared, “One strike and you’re out”—or even “Three strikes and you’re out”? What if, instead of wounded love, the Father met the prodigal at the door with directions to the nearest halfway house? What if God insulated Himself against the likelihood of our repeated mistakes, our continuing folly, our headstrong rebellions?
The gospel couldn’t be clearer: “Love bears all things, believes all things, love hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor 13:7). “But God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
Grace always takes unlikely risks, defies the odds, and chooses to believe that hearts can soften, pride may melt, and prodigals should get a full embrace.
Accept the always-reaching love that knows how grace will lead us home.
And stay in it. -Bill Knott
In the maelstrom of our age, when wars erupt, and tyrants strut, and treacheries abound, what place is there for grace? It seems a gentler, weaker virtue, made for temperate times.
But what could be stronger than the forgiveness that finally heals the blood feuds of the past, or thoughtfully agrees to end the decades lost to vengeance? Negotiated peace is still the longest-lasting kind.
And what is weak about the calm deliberation that stares stark evil in the eye and resolves to love it to death? Those who choose to lay aside their swords are those whom history blesses and God rewards. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9).
Grace reverses all our estimates of power, for grace comes from God, and He rules everything. “God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful“ (I Cor 1:27).
When we choose grace, we choose the power that need not brandish all its strength. Grace is God’s strength in us, and through us to our world. It heals wounds; it beats back wrong; it builds relationships that last. And it will triumph in the end: “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).
Grace wins—both now and when all struggles cease. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Does God love us more when we deny ourselves chocolate? Or raspberry ice cream? Or long, delicious afternoons in the backyard hammock?

Ask some people of faith, and they’ll say “Yes”—and quote Jesus as the proof: “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.”

But this is the same Jesus who went to weddings and banquets, laughed easily and often, spent afternoons playing with children, and frequently withdrew from the hectic pace of serving others to be renewed by peace and prayer and greenery.

What needs denying—every day, in every way—isn’t the rightful enjoyment of life in the body for which we were created. It’s the ultimately ungodly idea that we can save ourselves, redeem ourselves, or work our way back into God’s favor by things we do—or don’t. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).

Grace is all about deeper, joyful living. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:9). That fuller life awaits you. Claim it now.

And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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