Purpose

Written by Bill Grandi on December 16th, 2017

Welcome to Be Transformed. You can read my personal story in the About section to the right. As the header states, this is a daily journal focusing on New Morning Mercies. You can order the book using the widget on the right (a cheaper version is seen below). I’d like you to join me daily if you can. Take part in the discussion. Add your comments. Agree or disagree…it’s okay. Just do it civilly. 🙂  I welcome your input on my thoughts or your own thoughts. Join me for a year of Being Transformed by God’s amazing grace.

All Scripture is English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.

 

July 18

Written by Bill Grandi on July 18th, 2018

IMHO this devotion could have been the opening gambit and been sufficient for the day:

God’s grace calls me to suffer and it calls me to wait, but it never calls me to stand in my own strength or to stand alone.

In this world in which I live, that is a much-needed reassurance. A message of grace. A message of love. A message of hope. Without question I would be crushed if God was not my strength and my shield. (Ps.28:7). Where would I be if God was not my Vindicator? (Ps.35:24) I cannot even begin to think what my life would be like if God was not my deliverer. If he was not the One who would fight for me (Ps.35:1)

“Father, where would I be? That is a scary thought to think through, to even consider. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have gone under long time ago. I know, in spite of the way things look sometimes, that you will never go under, nor let me go under. You will be my Contender. My Vindicator. My Strength. My Shield. When I cannot raise my arm to fight one more battle, raise your mighty right arm to defend me. Thank you for not leaving me alone. For not leaving the battle up to me. May others praise you and exalt you because they see you delight in me. (Ps.35:27). And let me never cease to speak your praise. (35:28)”

 

July 17

Written by Bill Grandi on July 17th, 2018

“My dad is stronger than your dad.” “My mom is prettier than your mom.” “My dad is smarter than your dad.” A “game” we/I used to play as a kid. Basically harmless. A game on one-upmanship without a doubt.  I look back now and I realize how silly it was. Bragging. Boasting. Blustering.

It’s not funny, nor harmless, and definitely not innocent, when I do that spiritually. Only it’s not “my dad” or “my mom” but “I.” I’m playing a game-a deadly game- of spiritual one-upmanship. “My righteousness is better than yours.” I become focused convinced of my righteousness and super-focused on your sin, your unrighteousness, your lack. I am blinded by my own light, which is actually the darkness of my heart. Sin is deceitful and blind and convinces me I’m more righteous than you. My one-upmanship has hit a watermark, one that you cannot even begin to come close to. Sad.

The tragedy is, like the Pharisees, like the church at Laodicea, I don’t even see it. I’m blind to the deception of my own heart, which has blinded me to what is really there.

“Forgive me, Father, for allowing my game of one-upmanship to play havoc with my reality. I’m no better off, no more righteous, than anyone else. Sin has blinded me. Please open my eyes to reality-to the reality of my unrighteousness. Help me to see myself as you see me, not as I think I am. And help me to stop playing the comparison game with others’ righteousness.”

 

July 16

Written by Bill Grandi on July 16th, 2018

Getting it backwards is an easy thing to do. As a kid my parents might say, “You got that all backwards.” It was usually in response to when I expected something because of who I was rather than who they were. I see Tripp’s opening gambit sort of the same way:

Justification is the only foundation for personal transformation. Personal transformation never results in justification.

It’s backwards to think I’m justified because I deserve it. It’s backwards to think I can be personally transformed enough to receive justification. It’s actually the other way around. God justifies me and then I’m transformed. There is no way I can be transformed enough on my own for God to say, “Dude! You got this! Your so good I’m going to transform you.” It is awful arrogant and presumptuous of me to think I can transform myself to deserve being justified. Besides the fact that it took the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to make justification possible. Plus that made it necessary because I could not have done it on my own.

“Father, the most important thing on this earth is my relationship with you. But I didn’t earn that. To think I did is backwards. Thank you for justifying me through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. For inclusion into your family. And, through that, transforming me into your likeness.”

 

July 15

Written by Bill Grandi on July 15th, 2018

I was hardwired to depend on God, so my dreams of self-reliance and self-sufficiency will prove to be more nightmares than dreams.

I’m a stubborn man. Let me rephrase that: I don’t think I am a stubborn man. The Bible says I am. So…guess which one is right? No matter how often I say I’m not; no matter how much I argue that I’m a man dependent on God; the Bible shows me I’m not.

Take, for example, if I “play out” Tripp’s comments about what sin causes:

  • It causes me to deny my need for God and others.
  • It causes me to claim things I don’t have.
  • It causes me to dethrone God and enthrone myself.
  • It causes me to accept the lie of the serpent in the Garden that I could be like God.

Well…if you put it that way: I am a stubborn man.  More than that: I’m digging myself a hole I can’t get out of.

“Father, I must admit that when I hold myself up to mirror of  Your Word, I’m a stubborn man. In fact, I make a real mess of my life. Teach me dependence. Help me to rid myself of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Help me to trust you. Help me to allow your grace to be all I need, what I need. Give me life with an infusion of your grace.”

 

July 14

Written by Bill Grandi on July 14th, 2018

How ironic that my next sermon series-which starts next Sunday (July 22)-is “Got Wisdom?” Thia devotion is on wisdom.

Wisdom is not natural. A person certainly isn’t born with it. A person can’t buy wisdom. “Hey! I’ll give you $100 if you’ll give me wisdom.” Once they take your money and you aren’t any wiser (smarter maybe, but not wiser), you will realize you can’t buy it. A person can work hard and not get wisdom. “Yeah, I’m a wiser person because I worked 70 hours this week instead of 40.” Aaaaah no.

According to Tripp, wisdom is a result of rescue and relationship. Rescued from myself. A relationship with the One who is all-wise. So many, myself included, settle for a second rate relationship which is shallow. One which won’t satisfy or fulfill the deepest longings of the heart. All that man chases after is empty. I need to pursue wisdom. In that, I am pursuing God. And wisdom offers too much not available elsewhere. Tripp:

Guidance. Protection. Conviction. Teaching. Maturation.  Encouragement. Comfort. Redirection of thoughts and desires. Forgiveness. “Future look.”

“Father, wisdom not knowledge is what I need to go for. I need wisdom from You. You offer so much more than I could ever find. Teach me your wisdom. Let your wisdom be mine. Help me to be a wise guy in the good sense. Help me to pursue you.”

 

July 13

Written by Bill Grandi on July 13th, 2018

I’m an heir! I’m a son!!

“No need to search for myself. No need to grasp for meaning for my life or purpose for what I do. No need to hope for inner peace, that sense of well-being for which every heart longs. No need to hope that someone or something will make me happy or give me joy. I no longer need any of these things because grace has connected me to You and You have named me Your child.”

So goes today’s devotion in its entirety.

My identity is not found in my job; what Jo thinks of me; what my girls think of me; what my friends think of me; what the folks of OVCF think of me; or even what my bike thinks. 🙂 (As my t-shirt says, “Sometimes I wonder if my bike is thinking of me too”). Yeah…joke. But not this: my identity is not in any of those things. I am His son!  I am His heir! And that is something to celebrate.

“Father, what a blessing…what a privilege to be yours. To be Your son. Your child. I’m an heir. Away with the mask. Away with the false pretense. Away with the religious acts. Away with seeking approval. Thank you for making me your child. “Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb/ Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.”

 

 

July 12

Written by Bill Grandi on July 12th, 2018

My walk with God is designed by God to be a community project. Anonymous, consumeristic, isolated, independent, self-sufficient, “Jesus and me” Christianity is a distant and distorted facsimile of the faith of the New Testament.

Trip then goes on to say:

I was simply not created or recreated in Jesus Christ to live all by myself.

As he stated, this has been and is a recurring theme in this devotional. Truth is:  many people, myself included at times, are content to live on the surface. “How are you?” “Fine,” I say when it is mostly not true. But that is about how deep it often goes. It was that kind of surface living that allowed me to go almost 8 months living a lie. I was not okay. I was pretending. Don’t get me wrong. I hadn’t lost my faith. I hadn’t tanked it.  I just existed and had no one to hold me accountable. I had no one to go below the surface.

I would like to delineate what Tripp says what church is to many people, but that would take up so much space. The same goes for what the church is meant to do. Church is not something I can put in a closet and pull out when I’m in need. Or on Sunday.  The church is a body meant for so many things in my life.

“Father, I’m not a self-made man. I’m not a self-made construction project. I need others. I’m not very good (like not at all) at isolation, dependence, and anonymity. I might try and EPIC FAIL flashes across the screen. I know I need you. I need to realize I need others. I’m not an island. I need to stop pretending and feigning I’m okay when I’m not. That must start today.”

 

July 11

Written by Bill Grandi on July 11th, 2018

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the story of Nebuchadnezzar (Neb from here on).  He’s the king behind the fiery furnace and Shad, Rack and Benny (to quote Veggie Tales). Did he learn his lesson? Doesn’t look like it. Daniel interprets his dreams and still he doesn’t learn. Pride is an ugly thing. Neb is brought to his knees and for seven years he lives like an animal. Looks like an animal. Acts like an animal. When he comes to his senses after 7 years he acknowledges there is only one God. Only one King. Only one kingdom. He learned his lesson. Too bad his son didn’t.

I’m a lot like Neb. Arrogant at times. Proud. Ruler of my world. King of my own (very small) kingdom. Oh, don’t forget to throw in FOOL. I can’t say much about Neb because I do the same thing. I put myself on the throne of my heart, my world, and try to run things. He has brought me low. He has taught me. But still I fight. Tripp puts it well:

This desire to be at the center never goes anywhere good, personally or relationally. Self-centeredness is at the core of sin’s dysfunction, another powerful evidence of my need for rescuing grace.

“Father, I fight your reign in my life. I put ‘me’ on the throne and act as though it is not only the way it should be, but also that you should serve me. (Hello prosperity teachers). No. No. No. Help me to learn from not being like Neb. Help me to lay down my pride and my desire for the throne in order to place you there.  ‘King of my life I crown Thee now/Thine shall the glory be/Lest I forget Thy love for me/Lead me to Calvary’ says the old hymn. I desire that to be true.”

 

July 10

Written by Bill Grandi on July 10th, 2018

Need vs greed. I talk a lot about that. Maybe it’s because I find myself in a never-ending battle between the two. I think one minute I have a handle on it, then BAM! the enemy takes me down.

I like what Tripp did. In a nutshell he shows how desire grows:

Desire -> Demand->  Need-> Expectations-> Disappointment-> Anger

I desire something (I want…). My desire morphs into demand (I must…). The desire takes hold of me until I see it as a need (I will…). That need forms expectations of what I expect God to do. Expectation leads to disappointment if God doesn’t deliver. Disappointment leads to some kind of anger.

All because I allow a desire (that may not be wrong in and of itself) to grow into a greed…which I call a need.

“Father, help me to get my priorities straight. When I begin to desire something that is not what you want for me, please give me discernment. I need to learn from the example of others (I Corinthians 10), and even events of my own past, to not desire those things which are not from You. Plain and simple: it comes down to idolatry. Give me a tender and responsive heart to replace my strong, stubborn heart.”  (Ezekiel 36:26)

Note: the Scripture I use at the end-Ezekiel 36:26- is one I’d like to ask you to stop and read right now.  God brought it home to me in Quiet Time today. Very appropriate for this devotion and for me to pray.

 

July 9

Written by Bill Grandi on July 9th, 2018

I once heard someone (and I’m not quoting directly) say, “If sin wasn’t so much fun, and didn’t look so good, it wouldn’t be so appealing.” Sin wouldn’t be such a temptation if it didn’t appeal to my senses. Sin is not going to look ugly; be revolting; stink to high heaven; and be a turn off. If it was, why would I (or you) be tempted? No. Sin is still going to appeal to my “base” nature. As Tripp says,

The scary deception of sin is that, at the point of sinning, sin doesn’t look all that sinful.

The story of the father, his son, Jesus, and the disciples’ inability to case out the demon is one of my favorites. Not for the sin aspect but for the faith aspect. Jesus simply asks the father to trust Him. The father says, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” Jesus does just that. Heals his son and gives the father reason to believe. He is pointing to Himself as the only One who can heal.

Tripp takes it in a different direction: the stunning evil of evil. Nothing good comes from evil, from sin. Whether the motive is to do something (I don’t care about sin) or is the result of action, sin is not where it’s at.

“Father, sin is a constant hassle. It never looks bad or it wouldn’t be so enticing. Help me to remember what Paul says in Romans 6-no matter how great sin is, grace is greater.  I desperately need that truth. Help me to fight sin’s pull and to pursue grace.”