Grace Upon Grace

“My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by your grace upon grace.”

Here are some beautiful song lyrics from a recent song by Josh Wilson, on the album “That was Then, This is Now” (2015). 

“Grace Upon Grace”

Every morning I open up my eyes to see mercy’s brand new
Darkness disappears and the day reveals all You’ve carried me thru
You are so faithful and I am so grateful God

Heavenly Father
You love like no other
You call me Your own
You never let go
You are my rescue
How can I thank You?
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by Your
Grace upon grace

Seems impossible, a love unstoppable that just won’t give up on me
You left the 99 to find a heart like mine that’s all the proof that I need
You are so faithful and I am so grateful God

Heavenly Father
You love like no other
You call me Your own
You never let go
You are my rescue
How can I thank You?
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by Your
Grace upon grace

I am Yours, I am Yours
I was made for You, I was made for You
I am Yours, I am Yours
I will live for You, I will live for You (Lord)

Heavenly Father
You love like no other
You call me Your own
You never let go
You are my rescue
How can I thank You?
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed
Forever oh God I will give You my praise
My sin is erased, my heart is amazed by Your
Grace upon grace

Flawless . . . Clever visual clip from Mercy Me

“No matter the bumps, No matter the bruises
No matter the scars, Still the truth is
The cross has made, The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt, Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain, Still the truth is
The cross has made, The cross has made you flawless”

This clip has just been released by Mercy Me, for song Flawless. Watch to the end to understand the paint…and why it has disappeared.

I have previously discussed the virtues of this song here:
https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2014/05/14/the-cross-has-made-you-flawless/

Blessings!

 

Our Saviour chose the Mercy Tree

This a beautiful song – a blessed Easter to you!
May your celebrations proclaim the grace and mercy of the empty tomb.

MERCY TREE

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree
Every broken weary soul
Find your rest and be made whole
Stripes of blood that stain its frame
Shed to wash away our shame
From the scars pure love released
Salvation by the mercy tree

Verse 2
In the spot between two thieves
Hung the blameless Prince of Peace
Beaten, battered, scarred, and scorned
Sacred head pierced by our thorns
It is finished was his cry
The perfect lamb was crucified
His sacrifice, our victory
Our Savior chose the mercy tree

Chorus
Death has died, love has won
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome
He has risen from the dead

Verse 3
Hope went dark that violent day
The whole earth quaked at love’s display
Three days silent in the ground
This body born for heaven’s crown
On that bright and glorious day
When heaven opened up the grave
He’s alive and risen indeed!
Praise him for the mercy tree!

Verse 4
One day soon, we’ll see his face
And every tear, he’ll wipe away
No more pain or suffering
Praise him for the mercy tree

(Chorus 2x)
On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree

Official music video of “Mercy Tree” by Lacey Sturm, as seen in the film “The Cross” featuring Billy Graham. To watch the film visit http://watchbillygraham.com.

Prayer Isn’t Simply Plowing Through A List. What Is Prayer? This.

prayer girlBlessings for the New Year! I’m sure that like me you are keen to be more prayerful in 2015. This post from Blazing Center should whet your appetite for more. Keller’s book, referred to in this post, is certainly on my to read list.

What is prayer?

“Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, that leads to a full encounter with him,” Tim Keller writes in his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.

That’s astounding, if you slow down and think about it. Prayer is talking tTim Keller Prayero the Creator of all that is. Even more, it’s talking back to him, in response to his initiative to start a conversation with us. But even that definition fails to adequately describe what actually happens when we pray. So before he gives a definition of prayer, Keller quotes the English poet George Herbert’s poem “Prayer (I).” Herbert doesn’t define prayer; instead, he describes it, in all its richness and variety. Here is the poem. Don’t rush. Read it slowly.

Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth

Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,

Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,

The six-days world transposing in an hour,

A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,

Exalted manna, gladness of the best,

Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,

The milky way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,

The land of spices; something understood.

Can we define prayer? Yes, certainly. But is defining it the end goal? By no means. We haven’t exhausted the meaning of prayer until we have personally experienced and entered into the riches Herbert describes. Don’t be content with a definition. Hear God’s invitation to you through Christ: you’re invited to the banquet. Enter the conversation. “For through [Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).

By Josh Blount
http://theblazingcenter.com/2015/01/prayer-isnt-simply-going-through-a-list-what-is-prayer-this.html

The truth that rescues, renovates and restores

rainbow treeAnd I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)

I just love the grace and truth of these two favourite passages (of mine) from God’s word. They sum up the compassionate heart of a God who would send his own son to die in order to make alive those dead in their rebellion against himself! They explain that the abundant new life we have in Christ is in no way something we have dreamed up. This is the intervention of an all-powerful God into the hearts of mortal men and women!

I also love the way the band Tenth Avenue North have described this rescue and restoration plan of our loving God (album: Light Meets the Dark). He came to bring us truth, which is his very substance. He came to bring us back to the start, to a relationship with him unhindered by our sin. He came to touch our hard hearts, to soften and make them tender and alive toward him. I trust you will enjoy meditating on the truth of these verses, particularly the grace of God which they reveal, grace which comes to us by no merit of our own.

“The Truth Is Who You Are”

It would be easier if You were just a thought in my head
Simply something that I once read
A belief needing my defense

And it would be easier if You were something I once knew
A hope just to hold on
But You’re holding out Your hands

You came to take us back to the start
You came to touch the hardness of our hearts
You gave us truth, that truth is who You are, it’s who You are

And it’s not enough to just say, “I believe”
‘Cause truth is that talk is cheap
So grace give me eyes to see

You came to take us back to the start
You came to touch the hardness of our hearts
You gave us truth, that truth is who You are
It’s who You are

Flesh and blood You offer us
Oh, to eat the bread and drink the cup
Oh, to taste, to see, to feel, to touch
Emmanuel, God with us
Emmanuel, God with us

‘Cause You came to break the chains apart
To wake the dead and the sleeping of our hearts
You gave us truth that truth is who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are

Here is a video commentary by the lead singer, explaining more about the meaning of the song:

The Perfect Gift – lovely Christmas clip!

Love this new Christmas song I’ve just found by JJ Heller – THE PERFECT GIFT. It was released two days ago. Guess what video clip we will be playing at our carols this year?
He was the perfect gift, Oh..
He came to bring us peace, Oh..
Holy Child, our King!

Here are the lyrics:

THE PERFECT GIFT

Have we forgotten, with all the rushing around,

With all the shops and the cards, and the chaos in this town?

Have we forgotten we need some sorting out?

Clear our minds we will find what the story is all about. oh…

CHORUS:

He was the perfect gift, Oh..

He came to bring us peace, Oh..

Holy Child, our King!

Do we remember the wonders of his love?

Will our voices join with the chorus up above?

Do we remember how on that silent night

There was a baby who came to recall us back to life? Oh..

CHORUS

Fill our hearts with wonder

Turn our winter into summer

Fill our lungs with laughter, peace and joy, peace and joy

The perfect gift, bringing peace….Oh

He was the perfect gift, Oh..

He came to bring us peace, Oh..

Holy Child, our King!

Holy Child, our King!

And in case you’ve not encountered JJ Heller before, he is one of her older and most charming songs: THE BOAT SONG

I’ve been trying to buy one of her albums on iTunes but apparently Taylor Swift has blown up iTunes! “Try again later.”

 

 

Remembering grace – specifically!

prayer2No matter who we are or what circumstances and concerns we have, all of us have to deal with trouble in our lives. This post comes from Paul David Tripp with some great advice for turning our troubles into a time when we can be thankful, when we can remember God’s grace to us in a very specific way – quite a challenge!

“When trouble comes, it’s vital that you talk to yourself. . . no one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you as much as you do. What you say to you in moments of trouble will impact the way you respond.

David was a man well acquainted with trouble. Poor David; if you read the Psalms, he always seems to be in trouble! But in these moments, David was always talking to himself. We saw this in Psalm 27 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

There’s something else David did in times of trouble that’s very helpful; it’s found in Psalm 4 – “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (Psalm 4:1, ESV, emphasis mine). In the midst of trouble, David remembered the acts of God. Notice how the above phrase is in the past tense – “you have given me relief when I was in distress.” He’s not thanking the Lord for currently relieving his distressing circumstances.

What can we learn from David? In times of trouble, it’s helpful to remember with specificity the past acts of God’s relieving mercy and grace. You and I have such a short-term memory. Because of sin, we’re all about the gratification and pleasure of today. When trouble comes knocking, we get absorbed in the immediate, forgetting what God has delivered us from in the past and what he’s transforming us into for the future.

David speaks gospel sense to his soul: “Remember, this is not new. I’ve experienced trouble in the past and God was good to me then. He remains good to me today, and what I’m facing is not out of his loving and wise rule.”

I would guess that David learned this theological skill from his ancestors. In the Old Testament, God stops the rushing waters of the Jordan River so the nation of Israel can cross on dry land. The Lord tells Joshua to set out 12 memorial stones. Why? “So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty.” (Joshua 4:24)

I would encourage you to take notes from Joshua and David. Remember, with specificity, the good things God has done for you. Journal, take a picture, or do whatever else can help you, so when trouble comes knocking, you can say like David, “You have given me relief when I was I distress.”

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. How often do you talk to yourself?
2. Reflect on some of the things you’ve said to yourself in the past week. What were you saying to you?
3. What, or who, are some influences that can shape what you say to you?
4. What are some examples from your life when God has given you relief from distress?
5. How can you create “memorial stones” to remind yourself that the hand of the Lord is mighty?

 

Scraps of Worship

scrapsSharing today a good post for Monday morning – for encouragement! How is your “devotional life” going? Much of this post from The Blazing Center will no doubt ring true for you too:

If you could use one word to describe your current devotional life, what would it be? Mine would be “scraps”. So often I feel like all I can muster is a distracted scrap of devotion to God. For example, here’s what my Bible reading time often looks like:

Step 1: Open Bible. Pray that God would meet me as I read his word.
Step 2: Read diligently for thirty seconds, taking in at least three full sentences.
Step 3: Begin wondering if I’ll ever receive my tax refund, because it sure would come in handy right now.
Step 4: Feel guilty for being distracted. Try to “come back” into the presence of God (whatever that means).
Step 5: Repeat steps one and two plus additional prayer of repentance for being distracted.
Step 6: Begin thinking about my next killer blog post that will rock the blogosphere.
Step 7: Repeat steps 1, 4, and 5.

You get the point. It’s a constant battle against my sinful nature, which will seize on the slightest distraction. Many times I feel guilty instead of refreshed after doing my devotions. I feel like I didn’t pray enough, or with enough passion, or for enough people. And I certainly didn’t have enough love for God. My feeble scraps of devotion to God are pathetic, with a capital “pathetic”.

But God has been teaching me about devotional scraps lately. My devotion (probably too strong of a word) to God is nothing more than scraps, but God accepts, and even delights in those scraps. And when I get distracted, I don’t have to work my way back into God’s presence. I can come right back to God and experience full acceptance. Why? Because Jesus Christ is holding the door open. Always.
God’s love for me has nothing to do with my devotion and everything to do with Christ’s perfect devotion. Jesus was passionately devoted to God. He didn’t offer any scraps, he offered perfect obedience and love. And then his life ended. Abruptly. Brutally.

Now his righteousness is mine, and he perfects my feeble scraps of devotion and presents them to God. God loves Jesus, which means God loves me, end of story. The door to God is held open by the cross.

So yes, my worship is nothing more than scraps. But to God, they’re delightful scraps, made perfect by his son. How freeing this truth is. Today let’s throw aside any hope we have in our scraps of devotion and place all our hope in Christ. True devotion to God starts at the cross.

Can you relate to my feeling of devotional scraps?

The Gospel changes everything, it’s changing me!

gospel changes everythingSharing today two simply beautiful songs which seek to share the message and the hope of the gospel of grace. They are from two different writers and bring two different perspectives. The first is about the changes Jesus has made both to history and the heart of the person he rescued. The second song focuses on the manner by which Jesus went to the Cross and took our shame, the perfect man showing perfect love to the unworthy (in just 4 lines).

The Gospel Changes Everything
(Meredith Andrews – from Worth it All)

Verse 1

The gospel changes ev’rything
The turning point in history
Even now it’s changing me from who I was
The story of my Savior calls
Me to the wonder of the cross
The gospel changes ev’rything
And it is changing me
(REPEAT)

Chorus 1

You saved my soul by Your blood
And I’m undone by Your great love
You made a way so I could come
Just as I am to You my God

Verse 2

Jesus changes ev’rything
There is no greater mystery
That God would come to rescue me
From who I was
The kindness of my Savior calls
Me to the wonder of His love
Jesus changes ev’rything
And He is changing me

You made a way so I could come
Just as I am to You my God
To You my God
Just as I am to You my God

The Gospel Song
(Sovereign Grace Music Bob Kauflin and Drew Jones – from Songs for the Cross-Centered Life)

Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By his death I live again
© 2002 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

The amazing grace that justifies the ungodly – that’s me!

all of graceToday I was exploring my Olive Tree Bible app (on the ipad) and discovered a library of free books, from Piper to Edwards to Spurgeon and more! The excerpt below comes from Spurgeon’s “All of Grace“.  Though he was writing in the late 1800’s he is direct and bold in his writing – you can’t run and hide. He offers us salvation, by grace, through faith. I trust you will find it an encouragement – a reminder of the grace that saves. (You can find the book free on many places on line as well.)

“If God justifieth the ungodly, then, dear friend, He can justify you. Is not that the very kind of person that you are? If you are unconverted at this moment, it is a very proper description of you; you have lived without God, you have been the reverse of godly; in one word, you have been and are ungodly. Perhaps you have not even attended a place of worship on Sunday, but have lived in disregard of God’s day, and house, and Word- this proves you to have been ungodly. Sadder still, it may be you have even tried to doubt God’s existence, and have gone the length of saying that you did so. You have lived on this fair earth, which is full of the tokens of God’s presence, and all the while you have shut your eyes to the clear evidences of His power and Now, while this is very surprising, I want you to notice how available it makes the gospel to you and to me. If God justifieth the ungodly, then, dear friend, He can justify you. Is not that the very kind of person that you are? If you are unconverted at this moment, it is a very proper description of you; you have lived without God, you have been the reverse of godly; in one word, you have been and are ungodly. Perhaps you have not even attended a place of worship on Sunday, but have lived in disregard of God’s day, and house, and Word- this proves you to have been ungodly. Sadder still, it may be you have even tried to doubt God’s existence, and have gone the length of saying that you did so. You have lived on this fair earth, which is full of the tokens of God’s presence, and all the while you have shut your eyes to the clear evidences of His power and Godhead. You have lived as if there were no God.
Indeed, you would have been very pleased if you could have demonstrated to yourself to a certainty that there was no God whatever. Possibly you have lived a great many years in this way, so that you are now pretty well settled in your ways, and yet God is not in any of them. If you were labeled
UNGODLY
it would as well describe you as if the sea were to be labeled salt water. Would it not?
Possibly you are a person of another sort; you have regularly attended to all the outward forms of religion, and yet you have had no heart in them at all, but have been really ungodly. Though meeting with the people of God, you have never met with God for yourself; you have been in the choir, and yet have not praised the Lord with your heart. You have lived without any love to God in your heart, or regard to his commands in your life. Well, you are just the kind of man to whom this gospel is sent- this gospel which says that God justifieth the ungodly. It is very wonderful, but it is happily available for you. It just suits you. Does it not? How I wish that you would accept it! If you are a sensible man, you will see the remarkable grace of God in providing for such as you are, and you will say to yourself, “Justify the ungodly! Why, then, should not I be justified, and justified at once?”
Now, observe further, that it must be so– that the salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it, and have no preparation for it. It is reasonable that the statement should be put in the Bible; for, dear friend, no others need justifying but those who have no justification of their own. If any of my readers are perfectly righteous, they want no justifying. You feel that you are doing your duty well, and almost putting heaven under an obligation to you. What do you want with a Saviour, or with mercy? What do you want with justification? You will be tired of my book by this time, for it will have no interest to you.
If any of you are giving yourselves such proud airs, listen to me for a little while. You will be lost, as sure as you are alive. You righteous men, whose righteousness is all of your own working, are either deceivers or deceived; for the Scripture cannot lie, and it saith plainly, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” In any case I have no gospel to preach to the self- righteous, no, not a word of it. Jesus Christ himself came not to call the righteous, and I am not going to do what He did not do. If I called you, you would not come, and, therefore, I will not call you, under that character. No, I bid you rather look at that righteousness of yours till you see what a delusion it is. It is not half so substantial as a cobweb. Have done with it! Flee from it! Oh believe that the only persons that can need justification are those who are not in themselves just! They need that something should be done for them to make them just before the judgment seat of God. Depend upon it, the Lord only does that which is needful. Infinite wisdom never attempts that which is unnecessary. Jesus never undertakes that which is superfluous. To make him just who is just is no work for God– that were a labor for a fool; but to make him just who is unjust– that is work for infinite love and mercy. To justify the ungodly– this is a miracle worthy of a God. And for certain it is so.”