Fear grips our hearts whenever we assume that all our happiness depends on us. We know our brokenness too well: the foolish choices; missed opportunities; the coldness and the distance caused by hot, close things we’ve said. Unless we’re truly loved in spite of all we’ve done, fear is the natural response to what seems painful randomness. But grace proclaims a holiday from fear—not for an hour or a day, but for as long as we allow ourselves to be surrounded—yes, and held—by never-ending love. Grace is God’s reassuring answer to the question mark of fear. “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” He says. “I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jer 31:2-3). Believe His love. And stay in grace.

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Some suppose grace represents a certain casualness in God about what we’ve done—a blessed amnesia that ignores our waywardness.  “He moves the lines,” we tell ourselves, as though the One who authored the commandments wasn’t fully serious about them. But the Father sees our faults so clearly that it is only by looking at His Son that He can choose—yes, choose—to unremember what we’ve done.  It’s the love He has for Jesus—and for all who likewise love the Saviour—that moves unblinking vigilance to sweep away the record of our sins. The charity of the Father’s heart results from the clarity of the Father’s vision:  in grace, we are both fully known and deeply loved. So stay in grace.  -Bill Knott

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Those who most object to grace are those who think they need it least—who blithely trust that Jesus has a “higher” way of saving them. No deep repentance, wet with tears, will stain their history: they imagine righteousness will be an earned diploma on some future graduation day.But there’s only one way to the kingdom, and it passes through the gate of grace. No prior goodness lets us enter by some grander, private entrance; no record of abstaining lets us walk apart from those who’ve wallowed in the mud.The gate is narrow to exclude all largely self-congratulating selves: we’re either saved by Jesus’ blood, or we’re not saved at all. So join the line where all must meet: walk hand in hand with all in need. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Because we know our wretchedness so well, we think that Jesus is repulsed by us as we are by ourselves. If we could run away from us, we would: why wouldn’t Jesus do the same? Why would He willingly elect to stand by us and wrap us in His arms and bear our awful reputation? But grace defines tenacity—a fierce unwillingness to let us go or drift back into cynical aloneness. Grace holds us; calms us; heals us; stays. There is no hurrying the Lord. He will be there when we next rise: He’ll still be there when we next fall. The grace that holds us never lets us go. Allow yourself to be this loved. And stay in grace.  -Bill Knott

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When we’ve tried every other way, we give ourselves—with sighs—to grace. We miss its beauty and its joy because we save it as our last resort, a life ring for the drowning. We strive as though the goal was to use as little of God’s grace as possible, like salt on vegetables, or gas when heating homes. But Jesus wants our joy “full-filled”: abundance is the sign of grace. The life that could be yours can now be yours—without delay, without the misery and thrashing. God saves the desperate, but not because He needs us to be drowning. Enjoy His joy—beginning now—and lasting till forever. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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If grace were just for me, and not God’s gift to all in need, I might rejoice in my solo salvation and never be a different soul. But “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all” (Titus 2:11)—for every individual, yes—but also for the whole of us as Jesus’ faithful way to live with and forgive each other. Grace truly known always grows into graciousness: the living shows we’re starting to perceive how great the gift is. When I extend the grace of God, I take it deeper in my life. When I forgive, I learn how much there is in me that needs the Lord’s forgiveness. Grace grows on us, and grows in us, and grows through us. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott.

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October 5, 2018

UNMERITED (October 5, 2018)

We search—in vain—for things in us that might cause God to gift us grace. It couldn’t be our good behavior; perhaps our good intentions? Perhaps our hot/cold love for God on one day stirred Him to extend the mercy we must have? No; no; and no. Grace has no market counterpart—no trade, no barter, no equivalence. It’s Jesus’ sovereign choice to give us what we didn’t earn, we don’t deserve, and on bad days, we even spurn. Our only claim on Christ is on His unforced choice to love those He created; sacrificed Himself to save; and ever intercedes for. Rejoice, oh heavens! Be amazed, oh earth! And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

 

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September 27, 2018

UNLIMITED (September 28, 2018)

There is no grudging in God’s grace—no “Alright, this one time” or “Even though you don’t deserve it.”  He never makes forgiveness hang on promises to not sin again. “He knows our frame,” the Scriptures say: “He remembers we are dust.”  And all our promises—like those who made them—are dusty, broken, unreliable.  God forgives as only a Father can—more eager to restore the relationship than recall the rebellion; more focused on what we may become than what we did to wound Him. Grace flows to us because God’s heart is always love—unstoppable, without a limit.  If you could quantify such love, then you, dear friend, would be much greater than He is—and that is rank absurdity. Receive this love.  And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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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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