On our best days, we fall far short of our inspiring goals.  We say the angry words, repeat the wicked gossip, upset the ones we’re pledged to love.  And were it not for grace, our story is an endlessly repeating tale of good intentions and bad performances. But grace upends what keeps us mired in our sins, for grace proclaims release from guilt, redemption from our foolishness.  We get a new and wonderful reset each time we come to Jesus.  The slate is cleaned; the record washed; the sins removed as far as east can ever be from west. This is the genius of the gospel:  We need not stay what we once were.  We need not be what we are now.  Grace pulls us toward the joy for which we were created, and puts the hope back in our story.  So move toward joy.  And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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When grace has lived a while in us, we wake one day to learn how much we’ve changed, how everything is different. We speak new kindness to the ones who mock us, or who irritate our peace. We listen well to those who never seemed worth hearing. We find our hearts have been enlarged, with room for those we feared or scorned. This is the sign of Jesus living in us, and yes, we never saw it coming. Christ changes every heart He owns, replacing stoniness with love. We get the double blessing of eternity and now—of seeing life renewed in us and all with whom we’re planted. His seed that grows in secret still does yield the sweetest fruit. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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You’d think sometimes it was an opera about us:

“I was sinking deep in sin . . . ” 
“I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger. . . ” 
“Just as I am, without one plea . . . ”

But grace is always, first and last, an anthem about Jesus—His deep kindness; His strong arm; His refusal to give up on us. The song that saints and angels sing is no dull aria on how heroically we battled sin, what we did to earn our stars, or when we shunned a second slice of pie. It’s the whispered wonder from the angels for the mystery of Jesus loving the unlovely; forgiving those who drove the nails; healing those who gloried in their sickness.

“Worthy, worthy is the Lamb:
Christ is proved the great I AM; 
Through all ages, sing the same—
‘Honor, glory to His name.’”

Join the song that’s always grander than the singer. 
And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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For every “rock the road” conversion on the highway to Damascus, there are a dozen quiet stories where grace gently, slowly lights our lives—like sunrise. Don’t pine for big-time drama, voices thundering at noon, or temporary blindness. Your grace may simply be ascendant hope because you learn that you are loved: what joy to know that darkness grips your life no more! As day comes on and shadows flee, we learn by hours how to live free.  Christ gives His light uniquely for our moments in the Son: there’s not a standard formula for how He wins our darkened hearts. We travel different roads and learn from many teachers the amazing ways He saves us. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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The motive for the grace of God is nothing other than the love of God. It's His unquenchable affection that moves Him to continually arrest our flickering attention; warm our icy hearts; heal our self-inflected wounds; and wash away our sins. Grace isn't given to make us lovable or acceptable, but because we have been, are now, and always will be deeply loved. The prodigal was loved before he repented and came home-and even if he spurned the Father's marvelous forgiveness-for love is how the Father is. You cannot earn the Father's love. You cannot lose the Father's love. Depend on it. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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It’s tough to sing of liberating grace when all we know are dirges about effort. We chorus qualities designed to keep us climbing (ever upward!)—songs of courage, risk, and faith—but then discover that we’re badly, sadly lacking in all three. Our promises are “ropes of sand.” Our self-talk leads to critical self-doubt. Unyielding guilt dries up our tongues. But there’s an anthem tuned to hope, and yes, it’s all about the Lord:  “We have heard a joyful sound—Jesus saves, Jesus saves!” The finest songs begin with Him, and end with Him, and He’s in every note between. We sing of His success, not ours; of His compassion, not our plans. “Shout salvation full and free, Highest hills and deepest caves, This our song of victory, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.” Stay in grace.  -Bill Knott

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Believing in the grace of God includes believing that it came to us at the right time. In kindness, Jesus offers us the lifeline just when we want and need it—neither too soon, when we would have scoffed at rescue, nor too late, when we would have been completely sunk. If we imagine we would have welcomed grace much earlier, we underestimate our own deceitful hearts—and underestimate God’s deft and flawless timing. God’s grace is always right on time—at just the point we finally agree how lost we were and how found we are. No longer fret in vain regret:  your grace arrived when you were ready for it. So stay in grace.  -Bill Knott

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August 3, 2018

IN FULL, (August 3, 2018)

For all the healing that it brings, grace causes one great, fatal injury. Our pride—the jest that we are masters of our fate—cannot survive when we admit how fully lost we are—and fully saved because of grace. To be in grace is to always be in debt—gladly, joyfully in debt to One who smiles at all our ledgers. Christ paid the debt, erased the loss, so satisfied His Father’s justice that it now appears we never sinned. And so we dare not glory in ourselves: we glory only in the cross. The song that rises from our hearts is worth the dying of our pride, for “Jesus paid it all.” So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

 

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Grace is a great and cosmic love that reunites our lives to God—and a hundred daily miracles that illustrate what deep affection heaven holds for each of us. The phone call from a long-lost friend; the bit of birdsong heard between the din of passing cars; a child’s note with big red hearts left where we couldn’t miss it—these are the evidences of grace that draw us to a close-in Lord who loves to see us happy, full, and satisfied.  Grace is Christ’s kind attentiveness to all that makes us whole. “I have come that they may have life,” He says, “and have it to the full” (John 10:10). So stay in grace.

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Human nature being what it is—unkind, ungenerous, and unmerciful—it’s nothing short of amazing that the one who loved to call Himself the Son of Man could have lived with such consistent tenderness and grace. Jesus is that great exception to our otherwise unbroken rule of brokenness and sin. The unfallen one of us—whom heaven also affirmed as Son of God—offers us the grace we have no right to offer ourselves and rarely offer to each other. We follow Him in hope, believing that His saving act is the sole lifeline of humanity. He ever lives to intercede for us so that we, too, may yet lead lives that bless the world with unfeigned generosity. His grace will lead us home. So stay in grace.

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It is the glory—and the mystery—of the gospel that the Lord of everything is also the Lord of grace.  Infinite power is matched by inexhaustible tenderness.  Unrivaled authority is paired with unrelenting kindness. The Judge of all offers Himself as the Saviour of all—an act so rare, so incandescent in the darkness of our world, that we are driven to our knees in awe and adoration.  Christ takes on Himself the sentence that His justice mandates for our sin. And we who did the crime may do the time:  we’re offered favored places at His side forever and for always.  “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:20-21). So stay in grace.

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The decision to forgo revenge is an early sign that grace is really changing how we think and act. The old and “natural” response is far too easy—to wound when we are wounded; to scorn when we are scorned; to satisfy our sense of fairness by perpetuating the unfairness. Unless renewed by grace, we take out eyes and punch out teeth, asserting this is “justice.”  But Jesus shows another way—the wise absorption of the blow that cancels, disempowers, and finally defeats it.  When we forgive, we win what we could never gain—a victory over hate and pride.  So stay in grace.

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