The Grace of God

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I hope this post finds you well and in the love of Jesus! He is our prize and our inheritance, our Redeemer! May you enjoy this wonderful Christmas season!

Grace

I have struggled with the magnitude of this word. Throughout the scriptures, grace is revealed as being an attribute or an inherent part of who God is. So, when we say that God is graciouswe are trying to define and sum up an aspect of who God is. In short, God Himself is gracious.

So how would we define grace? Grace is: God’s favorable disposition towards us. What do I mean by that? God is readily inclined to give Himself to those who seek Him. For example, when talking about God’s readiness to answer our prayers, Jesus says the Father is like an earthly father who is ready to give his son a loaf of bread. In saying this, Jesus is revealing the favorable disposition or grace of God towards us. Put simply, God is ready and willing to give Himself to us; He is gracious.

The Appearing

Look at what Paul has to say about this:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men…

Titus 2:11

Knowing what we know of grace, think about what Paul is saying to Titus. Grace, the favorable disposition of God, has been manifested to us in the appearing of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, left His throne and became the supreme manifestation of God’s favorable disposition. Jesus Himself is the very grace of God that is “bringing salvation to all men…”

Questions and Response

Are you walking in the grace of God? Are you being filled with the very life of Christ, your salvation? Or are you putting faith in your own resource, talent, or goodness to live a holy and righteous life? To be honest, I struggle with this. In my desire to please Jesus, I can be quick to turn in on myself and try to “perform” the Christian life. Time and time again, I am finding that none of this self-propelled living will do; only Jesus, the grace of God, can cause me to walk worthy of His calling. The grace that saves is not something apart from God that we receive. No, it is Jesus Himself that we receive; the grace of God.

As we walk through this Christmas season, I pray that the appearing of the grace of God in a manger will usher us into an even deeper relationship with Jesus Himself. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given…”

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson

The Love of God

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Who can honestly say that they have a full understanding of the love of God? Is there any among us that can comprehend or experience the fullness of this mystery? If you are like me, the more I experience God’s love, the more I become aware of my deep need for more of it; for more of Him. Truly, Solomon understood this when he wrote, “He has set eternity in their heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11.)

Eternity in Our Hearts

In His wisdom, God created man with an eternal longing…something that cannot be satisfied in the temporal. Outside of time, God placed an attribute of His divine nature within the heart of every man; eternity. Hidden within each and every person is the deep need for eternal realities; something more Love.

To dive deeper into this, read what John says in 1 John:

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are!

1 John 3:1

When looking at the Greek, the word “See” is interesting. Its definition is “to perceive or come to an understanding of something.” For example, when someone is explaining an intricate concept or process to us, we commonly say, “Oh, I see!” when we understand or perceive what they are really trying to say to us

And further, John also writes this word in the “Imperative mood.” The “Imperative mood” indicates that John is making a demand or commandHe is not waxing eloquent…he is giving a command. He is commanding us to understand or perceive the manner or nature of the love of God. To help us in this, John points us to our Sonship in Jesus.

Sonship

If we are to venture into the mystery that is the love of God, we must look closely at the out-working or fruit of this love. Look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will

Ephesians 1:5

In this short statement, Paul reveals the out-working or fruit of the love of God. According to His kind intention, God in His magnificent love adopted us. Though we did not want Him and were actively rebelling and fighting against Him, (Colossians 1:21) God in his unfathomable love adopted us as sons and daughters. 

Why?

Why would the God of all creation adopt the very people that rejected Him? The answer is simple: Love. God’s love is boundless, infinite, unchanging, self-sacrificing, free

And this is what John wants us to “see.” He wants us to “see” that the eternal longing placed within our souls can only be satisfied by the love of God; satisfied in Jesus. He wants us to “see” the love of God so that we might forever be satisfied in Him.

Response

When the deep longings of your soul call out, I encourage you, “see” this love; “see” Jesus. Take time to think on Him, talk to Him, worship Him; The eternity set in our heart calls out for the Eternal One. Let’s seek Him together.

Jesus, we know we were created for You. Lord, only You can satisfy our deep longings. In Your abundant grace, fill us with Your very life, Your love. We know You love us and will be swift to answer our prayer. Thank You for Your goodness, we love You.

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus, Lord of All – A Worship EP

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Hey Everyone!

A couple of summer’s ago, I wrote and recorded a couple of songs in my living room. Though the process was long and difficult (mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing!) I am happy to finally release these little prayer-songs.

For those of you seeing the blog posts through your email, make sure you head over to wordforworship.com and follow the steps below:

  1. To stream the EP, click the “Music” page and scroll down until you see the audio player.
  2. If you would like to purchase the album and download it to your devices, click the “Buy” button on the audio player. You will be directed to my bandcamp page and given directions on how to purchase the album.
  3. After purchasing the album, you will receive an email with a link to download the album!

A little About This EP

Each song on this EP is centered upon Jesus Christ; He is the theme of heaven’s praises! Angels cry out in worship, Seraphim declare His holiness without ceasing, and the saints of old are continually satisfied in His presence (check out Revelation ch. 4!)

He is worthy! He is Jesus, Lord of All.

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson

 

– The Sifting of Peter – Restored

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Before we finish this little series together, I want to tell you that I love you. Knowing that I have brothers and sisters who are seeking Jesus and longing for His movement in their lives is one of the most encouraging things I can think on. Thank you for your constant encouragement!

Review

Over the past couple of posts, we have taken an in-depth look at the near demise of the Apostle Peter. For the sake of review and to awaken our hearts to engage with the text we will look at today, here is a brief synopsis of the last two posts:

Peter, a passionate Apostle of Jesus, experienced a great shaking of faith at the hand of Satan. Full of self-confidence and self-reliance, Peter openly rejected Jesus Christ three times.

Jesus, being rich in mercy, awakened Peter from his sin-induced spiritual slumber. With one look of His eye, the Son of God shattered the schemes of the devil and brought Peter to repentance…

Restoration

The last time we left Peter, he was rushing out of the high priest’s courtyard weeping bitterly (Lk. 22:62.) Jesus had awakened him to his indwelling sin; self-reliance. Let us now turn our hearts to the Gospel of John and see how Jesus finishes Peter’s restoration.

Fishing

In chapter 21, John tells us that some of the disciples, including Peter, have gone fishing on the Sea of Tiberius. They have fished all night and have come back tired and empty handed. Then, in the most wonderful way, Jesus conceals Himself and calls out to the tired fishermen from the shore. The disciples, unaware that they were talking to Jesus, let down their nets at the request of the “stranger” (Jn. 21:6.) The ensuing catch of fish was so immense, they could not haul their nets aboard. Immediately, John looks at Peter and says with absolute certainty, “It is the Lord.”

Can I just pause and giggle for a moment? This is one of my most favorite scenes in the Gospel of John. Look at how Jesus reveals Himself to His disciples (Jn. 21:4-8.) Rather than announce Himself from the sea shore, Jesus lets the disciples, specifically Peter, discover Him.

If you look back to Luke 5:4-9, you will find an almost identical miracle performed by Jesus. Guess who Jesus is sitting with when He does that miracle: Peter. This is the miracle Jesus uses to call Peter out of fishing and into Apostleship (Lk. 5:10-11.) Now, knowing this, look back to John’s gospel and see what Jesus is doing; Jesus is again calling Peter back into Apostleship. But He does it in such a wonderful way!

Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, allowed Peter to put the pieces together. Without a doubt, the moment Peter looked down and saw the amount of fish in his nets, he knew Jesus was on the shore. The memory lodged in the back of his mind rushed to the forefront and flooded him with images of His Lord. His response is fitting; he throws his clothes on and leaps off the boat to Jesus. Jesus used a past experience to reveal Himself to Peter in an intimate way. How beautiful!

One Question

After eating breakfast together, Jesus pulls Peter aside. Three times, Jesus repeats this question, “Peter, son of John, do you love me?” A lot can be said about the Greek here. However, I just want to draw our attention to the simplicity of Jesus’ question.

Jesus didn’t make any reference to that cursed night. He never brought up what was seared into Peter’s memory. Instead, He simply asked Peter one question, “Do you love me?” After Peter confirms his love for Jesus, The Son of God restores Peter completely. The simplicity of this conversation is staggering.

Simplicity & Response

How often do I dwell on my past sins and convince myself of my hopelessness? Praise God, Jesus never does this. He did not condemn Peter…He asked the question that really mattered, “Do you love me?

Are you making this difficult? Are you reliving the sins of the past in your mind? Know this with certainty, this is not your path to restoration. Rather, hear the voice of Jesus asking this question afresh, “Do you love me?” Drop everything and confirm your love for Him. You don’t need to relive or dwell on the past…He isn’t concerning Himself with that. He wants to know one thing; “Do you love me?

This is the simplicity of the Gospel: Christ is all and in all and has made a way for the ruined and damned to be restored. The burden of Calvary was enough; Jesus has won. Now, trust that His finished work is just that: finishedGive him yourself and declare your love for Him. He is our everything!

I love you,

TJMcPherson

(P.S. I would love to hear how the Lord has used this series in your life. If you would like, shoot me a message over the “Prayer Request” page or leave a comment below!)

 

 

– The Sifting of Peter – Awakened

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The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:61-62

Peter has just denied Jesus for the third time. As we saw in the last post, Peter is neck-deep in self-reliance at this moment. In his time of trial, Peter has turned inward.

A Spiritual Stupor

Before we address the verse above, look back and see the description Luke gives between Peter’s second and third denial:

After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, “Certainly this man also was with Him…”

Luke 22:59

Interesting isn’t it? Luke thought it was important for us to see the amount of time this scene took to play out. Is he simply keeping a record for us to follow? Or is the Holy Spirit looking to tell us something very specific? I believe it is the latter…

In his retelling of this scene, Luke shows us that an hour passed between Peter’s second and third denial. This is very significant. Notice how there is no mention of remorse or regret during this span of time…Peter just kept sitting by the fire; his self-reliance produced a spiritual stupor. This numbing stupor made it impossible for Peter to understand his dire circumstance and the depth of what he was doing.

Even in this dark moment, Jesus never lost sight of his disciple. Upon hearing the crow of the rooster, Jesus knew that the word he had spoken had become reality…Peter had denied Him for the third time. Yet, rather than abandon Peter in his current circumstance, Jesus takes the initiative and begins Peter’s restoration.

Awakened by Jesus

Luke tells us that Jesus, “turned and looked at Peter.” His use of language is very intentional. The Greek word for “look” (emblepo) is an intensified form of the normal Greek word for “look” (blepo.) Why is this significant? Rather than tell us that Jesus turned and looked at Peter, this intensification of “look” tells us that Jesus looked into Peter.

Jesus turned and locked His gaze upon Peter. Their eyes met and immediately Peter was awakened on the inside and he remembered the word of the Lord. With one look, Jesus shattered Peter’s spiritual stupor and brought him back to the truth; the Word of God. Upon remembering the truth, Peter ran from his current situation and wept bitterly, awakened and aware, ready to be restored to Jesus.

Response

I am so encouraged by Jesus; He never lost sight of Peter. His love never wained, never grew cold. He brought Peter out of his darkness and awakened him with the truth of His word. Truly, Jesus is faithful!

Be encouraged. Wherever you are in your relationship with Jesus, you can know this with certainty; Jesus has not and will not take His eyes off of you. He is always concerning Himself with your good. He loves you and is ready to awaken you to Himself. Let Him look into you today!

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson

– The Sifting of Peter – Self-Reliance

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Hours before He was to be betrayed by Judas, Jesus warned Peter of his impending trial. Satan had demanded permission to sift or in the Greek, siniazo (to try one’s faith to the point of overthrow) Peter. Peter was to be utterly shaken; shaken to the point of breaking.

Lost in his self-reliance, Peter assured the Lord that he would, “go both to prison and to death” before he abandoned his master (Lk. 22:33.) Jesus, knowing what was to come, spoke these words to the apostle:

I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.

Luke 22:34

Interestingly, Luke does not record a response from Peter. No plea for help, no request for divine intervention…nothing. We are left to assume one thing: Peter decided to handle the situation himself. And so the story unfolds…

Utterly Shaken

After following Jesus and His captors to the house of the high priest, Peter is cornered and accused of being with Jesus. Fearing for his own life, Peter vehemently denies that he knows Jesus…three times (Lk. 22:54-60.)

Let’s pause here for a second and look at the word “deny.” In the greek, this word aparneomai, does not mean to simply deny something. This is the strongest word someone could use when they are disowning, violently shoving away from, or rejecting someone they have previously known. In short, when Peter denies Jesus, he is violently rejecting and disowning Jesus. To make matters worse, he does this three times… a biblical symbol for perfection and finality.

In the span of an hour, Peter had become a man he never knew he could be. His life, his identity as a follower of Jesus, and his influence as an apostle came shattering to the ground. Peter was utterly shaken.

What Happened?

As I have studied this passage, I can’t help but weep for Peter. His fall was great and his shaking was severe. I feel intimately connected to him as I remember the dire moments I have experienced in my relationship with Jesus. In my wrestling with this passage, I can’t help but ask, “what happened?

I believe the answer is very simple; Peter trusted in himself. In his moment of need, he turned inward and relied upon his own ability, wisdom, and goodness to save him from the enemy of his soul. Peter’s self-reliance became the very weapon Satan used to crush him. 

Isn’t this true? Think on this: by turning inward, Peter denied Jesus. Before he said a word, the apostle took his eyes off Jesus and opened himself to the scheme and attack of Satan. Make no mistake, Peter gave Satan the opportunity: the enemy simply capitalized upon Peter’s folly.

Response

Isn’t this my issue, too? When I examine my life and see the moments where the enemy has prevailed, one common characteristic is present; self-reliance. Rather than run to Jesus and enjoy the safety of His grace, I foolishly try to “handle the situation.” Failure and sorrow are quick to follow.

Examine yourself. Has the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12) found a breeding ground in your self-reliance? Let us learn from Peter and look to Jesus in our sifting, He will never fail us.

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson

-The Sifting of Peter-

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Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Luke 22:31-32

On the night Jesus was betrayed by Judas, Jesus was also abandoned by His disciples. After Jesus is arrested (Luke 22:47-53), Peter follows Jesus and His captors at a distance. It seems like Peter is following through with his previous exclamation, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (Lk. 22:33.) What he did not realize is that his sifting had just begun. 

The Sifting of Peter

Over the next couple of posts, I want to saturate in the near-demise of Peter. How did someone who was with Jesus for three years deny Him three times within the span of an hour? What happened?

Though the next collection of scripture is bleak with heart-ache and sorrow, the revelation of Jesus as a Savior and Redeemer is sure to bring sunshine to our hearts  (spoiler…Jesus rescues Peter!)

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson

 

 

WordforWorship?

Hey Everyone!

A lot of you have been asking why I started WordforWorship.com. In the short video below, I explain my heart for this little blog and one of my favorite passages in the gospel of John.

I hope you are having a Jesus-filled day!

In Jesus,

TJMcPherson