Is there a greater joy than knowing for even one hour that you are in the center of God’s will—that through some miracle of grace, you are aligned with plans the Father made to win you back and win the hearts of those you love? Is there a better confidence than the one which every Sabbath reminds you that “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein”? Can there be a deeper security than when Christ’s word of certainty penetrates your fears and doubts with the assurance, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together”? The answers to those questions, friends, are “no,” “no,” and “no”—nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Your hope will rise; your joy will find its wings. Trust is the dawn from which our daylight grows. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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“He’s so much better than I am,” we say, proving just how little we know of someone else’s life. “She’s a saint,” we say admiringly, assuming that the woman we can see is always just as good as we imagine. We assign a top-notch grade to behaviors we observe, and make assumptions that the life consistency we can’t achieve is somehow available to others. But grace reminds us of the brokenness we share—each one of us—regardless of the estimate of others. Behind the fair façade of piety and cool, we each know just how far we fall below the expectations of our God—and how each well-lived life is only, always, saved by grace. All ranks, all grades, all estimates are vanities and not realities. If you can find a soul not absolutely saved by grace, then you have found the rarest form of human life. Give up your search: there is no other way. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Most of us inherited a God no kinder than we were—a deity whose major role seemed meting out tough penalties for willful or impetuous mistakes. Like primitive believers everywhere, we read His displeasure in thunderstorms, bruised knees, and lost puppies—for was there anything for which we weren’t somehow to blame? So it is that finding grace is the great unlearning of our past, the sweet and joyful discovery that in Jesus, our sins aren’t being counted against us. What we sang in innocence was actually, fundamentally true: “Jesus loves me”—genuinely loves me. He can’t imagine a greater happiness than enjoying my trust and affection. How glorious to have been wrong about it all—to celebrate the truth that undermines our youthful foolishness and fear. His perfect love still casts out fear, and makes us wise unto salvation. By grace, our thinking—and our living—is renewed. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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We come naturally by our self-absorption. From our earliest moments, we’re congratulated for taking first steps, trying new foods, mastering new skills, for learning how to navigate the myriad complexities of an ever-widening world. The story is, and has always been, about us—our goals, our striving, our gaining, our getting. But then one day the world refused to be our private oyster.  There was no pearl inside—just grit and sand and disappointment. And we began to long from somewhere deeper than the ocean floor for rescue from our pain, our foolishness, our disillusion with ourselves. Enter the selfless hero who became one of us to teach us how to find the joy. The Pearl of great price offers each of us His priceless grace. In Jesus, we discover One who never disappoints, who never falls short of saving us, who never walks away in righteous indignation from our follies and our failures. He’s the friend who knows both when to speak and when to be silent, when to laugh and when to weep—the incomparable companion who merged His story with our own. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). His gracious offer of relief and liberation alters every other storyline. And yes, this hero always gets the last word. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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It’s every parent’s greatest joy to see a child at play—freely, joyously at play. And children—of whatever age—only play when they understand they’re safe—deeply, seriously safe. We don’t play on battlefields, in lightning storms, or when we doubt we’ll ever see tomorrow. And so the God of Scripture frequently must wait until we’ve outlived our fears before we grasp the fullness of His affection. We spend a lifetime learning just how richly we are loved, and why our God is always murmuring, “Fear not.” “Be not afraid.” Or better yet, “You can stop being afraid now.” Our Father is supremely patient, waiting for the day when we—at last—discover how kind He has always been, and grow accustomed to His goodness. “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you” (Isaiah 30:18). Unwind the spool of anxious thoughts that keep you wondering if you are loved, if Jesus deeply values you. Your joy today will be in measure with your trust. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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At the heart of all we call our faith is a deepening trust that God’s heart is kinder than we were taught and more persistent than we ever knew. For Him, all comparisons ultimately fall short. He is wiser than the best father; more nurturing than the most empowering mother; more companionable than the closest sibling. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”(Prov 18:34). And He offers us, both now and in the end, what family never can—a relationship that transcends our relatives’ best moments and redeems their worst dysfunctions. God’s grace is the unyielding embrace of One whose love cannot be won, or lost, or altered, or improved. Receive the grace you were destined for. And stay in it. -Bill Knott

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Ah, to be the wounded one—the one who gets to be the powerful forgiver.  We covet this rare role because we’re usually more sinning than we’re sinned against.  And when it comes our turn to show the grace once given us, we linger with the choice, as if it were a heavy thing to pardon what’s been done. We can’t, of course, refuse forgiveness outright:  Jesus tied our own forgiveness to the habit of forgiving.  But first, a little groveling, we say.  Some real contrition, perhaps a tear or ten.  Some promises to never—ever—injure us again. And so we fall far short of grace.  We strike a lender’s bargain with the sinner:  pardon only if the penitent submits to our superiority. But grace is always washinbg someone’s feet—abandoning all power in the goal to make the sinner whole.  We cannot—dare not—charge for what was freely offered us.  If it’s not free, then it’s not grace. Remind yourself of how forgiveness made you valuable to you.  And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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My pride is stung. My spirit’s wounded. The untrue, unjust thing that someone said, that someone wrote, went viral with unheard-of speed, fanned on by evil angels. And rising with the bitter righteousness of bile, the fantasy of sweet revenge becomes more urgent every hour. “Strike back!” say Truth and Justice. “Set the twisted record straight. Unmask the gossiper for who he is, for what she wrote. Redeem your ruined reputation.” And then Grace whispers, “You have already been redeemed. Your reputation is the best that it could ever be because your life is hid with Christ in God. The pleasures of retaliation are nothing—meaningless—beside the joys of being both forgiven AND forgiving.” Grace dulls our taste for vengefulness, and makes us hungry for the fullness of God’s joy. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22). “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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We can’t make ourselves more loveable to God by years of good behavior. And yet, because of grace, we seek to do what pleases Him. We can’t earn even half an hour in heaven by acts of sympathy or kindness. And yet, because of grace, we spend unnumbered hours caring for the least of all His little ones. Those shining moments when we sometimes rise to our potential don’t make us even one bit more beloved by God. His love for us cannot be amplified, expanded, or improved. Grace cancels everything we think we’ve earned, and makes us utterly rely on everything God gives us. It is the end of all our goodness, and the place where faith begins. Abandon hope in all you’ve done, but deeply trust what God has done. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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The gospel is only as good as the God who asks us to believe it. If He’s the disappointed, vengeful deity we have pictured in our frightened imaginations, then we do well to hide, to stay away: why would we risk ourselves with Him? But if Christ is, as His Word says, the Lord whose love for us survives even our worst choices and most defiant behaviors, then we may crawl out from beneath the bed and step out from the shadows. When I am loved at my lowest and embraced even at the height of my foolishness, then I can safely trust myself to grace. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). I now believe in Him who has always—unequivocally—believed in me. So here I’ll stand—and stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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It’s not called “practicing” for nothing. On some great future day, the liberating, life-affirming grace we each receive from Jesus will also be the grace we give as freely to those who wound us, irritate our peace, or call out for our love and care. Between the “now” and “then” there’s a lot of practicing to do—a daily repetition of kind words, forgiving acts, and chosen, holy silences. Like hours we spent as children with pianos, violins, or flutes, we learn the patterns of the Jesus life—not all at once, but with increasing Spirit-skill. On many days, we get the fingering all wrong: we point unrighteously at those who really need our grasp and our embrace. But just because the grace that saves us keeps on saving us from us, we build up skills in loving, holding, healing, helping. Great music—gracious music—is never perfect on day one. Keep practicing. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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The mystery is that grace still finds us, hidden well beneath the cellar stairs—angry, broken, sinful, sad. When we’ve crawled into our painful cave to lick our wounds or plot revenge, we hear the footsteps on the stair. We hear the sound of Jesus’ gentle laughter: “You can stop being afraid now. All-y, all-y—yes—in free!” The games are finally over. When grace comes seeking you, there’s no more need to hide. What’s wounded starts to heal. Your past all gets forgiven. The lonely all get friended. Today, get found: step out into the light. Enjoy the life you’ve always sought. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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