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.

 

November 16

Written by Bill Grandi on November 16th, 2018

In the ’70s the group America had a song which started, “This is for all the lonely people/Thinking that life has passed them by.” Those two lines about sum it up for many: lonely people who think life has indeed passed them by.

I know people who feel alone. I know people who are in a crowd but feel alone. There are people who feel alone even though they are in the middle of a family celebration. Sure some of it can be depression, but some of it is just…to them…reality. Mistreated. Abused. Slighted. Put down. Trashed verbally. Feeling like an ugly duckling. They live with this feeling of “I don’t matter.”

But in Christ, no one is alone. No one stands by himself. No one is slighted. No one is let down. No one is trashed verbally. No one should feel they don’t matter. BECAUSE IN CHRIST WE ALL MATTER!! No one is ever alone. And I take seriously Tripp’s last statement: “(I need to) remind myself today that, as God’s child, no matter how many people have walked out of my life, fundamental aloneness is a thing of my past.”

“Father, thank you that I’m not alone. Thank you that I matter. Because I matter I am not slighted. I am not put down. I am not shunned. I am not laughed at. I am not given a disgusting grunt. No, on the contrary, I am Yours; I belong to you; and I matter. I am never alone. Because of that my life has meaning and life hasn’t passed me by (as the song says).”

 

November 15

Written by Bill Grandi on November 15th, 2018

God placed his unshakable love on me.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. That sounds so inviting. So settling. So solid. Especially in today’s world when everything seem so unsettled, so much in an upheaval, it is good to know there is a constant. That constant is Jesus. That constant is the solid hope He gives.

I like what Tripp says: “Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus.”

  • He died so I can know real life.
  • He is present with me.
  • He forgives me.
  • He never leaves me or turn His back on me.
  • He always responds to me in compassion and righteous justice.
  • He never mocks me or throws my sin in my face.
  • He never gets tired of me or gives up on me.
  • He doesn’t ask me to earn what I can never deserve.
  • He never makes me feel guilty for needing his good gifts.

His love isn’t conditional and His grace is never temporary. I also know hope will be realized someday. My hope will find its end, its answer in eternity. I won’t have to hope anymore. I will have met the Hopegiver and be safe.

“Father, these truths stir my soul. They give me…well…hope. So unshakable. So unconditional. So full. So free. ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.’ Be my hope today. Help me not to forget these truths as I go through my day.”

 

November 14

Written by Bill Grandi on November 14th, 2018

“I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie/That I was the star of that movie.” So goes the lyrics of a dubious song from my high school years. A song I’m not sure really had any meaning. It was morally reprehensible for sure. Anyway… 🙂

I’m currently reading the life of Joseph in my personal reading. I can relate. I was a dreamer. Not quite in his class, but I was nonetheless. 🙂 I was going to play professional baseball.  I was going to play professional basketball.  I was going to preach to thousands. Be the pastor of a big church. I was going to be the older pastor-grizzled but wise-a sage the younger ones would seek out for wisdom. Aaaah yeah. I was a good field/not a good hitter baseball player. I was too skinny with limited ball-handling skills to play professional ball. The preaching and big church gig never happened. Nor has the sage.

My life is little moments. Nothing big. Nothing glamorous. Filled with sin and wrong decisions/bad choices. Filled with arrogance. Pride. Unsolicited advice-giving. SIN. I have had a couple relationships which have lasted; others I have destroyed. I agree with Tripp: Relationships are messy. Relationships take hard work. Relationships are fraught with “me-ism.”

My life, I now realize, is not one big event to the next one. My life is a series of small moments; small decisions; one after another. The significance and direction of my life is the result of those small decisions. “Father, as I consider all of this, I see Your hand.  I see Your hand of wisdom in keeping me small. Of steering my dreams in another direction. I see now in hindsight that you knew best. Let me make the best of what time I have left to serve you. Let me make the small moments count for you.”

 

November 13

Written by Bill Grandi on November 13th, 2018

There is a saying: “You learn something new every day.” Today is definitely one of those days. I can’t even begin to tell how many times I have read this parable (Luke 18:9-14). Taught it. Preached it.  But each time it has been about the self-righteous arrogance of the Pharisee. Or the humility of the sinner.

Not once have I ever given a thought that it was a prayer saying, “I don’t need you God.” But I can see it. I can also see me. I can see myself in so many ways in this prayer:

  • Comparing myself to others (and feeling good about myself spiritually)
  • Listing all my good deeds
  • Feeling comfortable enough to lose my awe of God
  • Believing I am good enough to be there (in His presence).

But even more is to see this is not a prayer at all. It is a commendation list. I.  I.  I. And as he/I spout off all the good deeds, I am basically telling God, “Who needs you anyway? Who needs your grace?”

How long has it been since my prayer brought tears? Pure silence? Repentance? A deep sense of awe and of being undone? Too long I can say that. In fact, I can’t remember the last time.

“Father, bring me to the point where I haven’t been for a long time. May my prayers not exhibit an independence from but dependence upon you. Strip me of any arrogance or pride or dependent streak. Let me be all about You.”

 

November 12

Written by Bill Grandi on November 12th, 2018

This is one of those devotions which seem rather innocuous…then…BAM! a 2×4 right upside the head. He starts out with a familiar thought which has been expressed plenty of times during this year only in slightly different ways:

I will never find fulfillment of heart on the far side of rebellion. True rest of heart is always found in submission to the Savior.

Fulfillment = rest = submission to the Savior.

Emptiness = distress = my own kingdom/my own way.

I am guilty-perhaps even more so- of falling for the lie of the enemy that fulfillment can be found outside of the Savior. I have- in spite of my best efforts at times- pursued things of this kingdom. Sometimes no matter the cost. Maybe that’s why the real slam is his statement: “Real rest of heart is never found on the other side of the Creator’s boundaries.” I push those boundaries sometimes. Stretching them. Like the dog on a hidden fence. Go to the edge. But I also realize those boundaries are there for my good. I’m not my sovereign; I don’t get to make my own rules. May that which is beyond my boundaries lost its attraction.

“Father, I try to stretch those boundaries. I try to establish my kingdom/my rules. Forgive me for that. Help me to stop trying to find fulfillment and rest outside of you.”

 

November 11

Written by Bill Grandi on November 11th, 2018

This devotion is on God’s grace given in motion. What that means is as I am doing what God “told” or led me to do, He provides the grace as needed.

But in all of this what stuck out to me was a seemingly obscure sentence near the end:

What he (God) does not do is tell them (the Israelites)…or me…what is going to happen beforehand.

God is not obligated to tell me or anyone else what is going to happen as events unfold. If he did, it would be like playing one of those “write your own stories/ending” games. But I don’t get to choose and God doesn’t have to tell me (and he doesn’t). What I do know and have to trust is God does know what He is doing. Exactly what He is doing. My personal Scripture reading right now is the beginning of the story of Joseph. Favored son. Hated brother. Receiver of his brothers’ jealousy. Sold to Ishmaelites in a caravan. Then sold/auctioned off to Potiphar. He did not know his future. God did. I do but only because it is written down. There is more to come in Joseph’s life. But he doesn’t know it. God does. Joseph finally does when he says, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” Hindsight showed him God’s goodness.

“Father, I don’t know what is going to happen next. You do. All you have asked me to do is trust and go. You will supply the grace needed. So help me to go and not worry about the future. Just trust and go.”

 

November 10

Written by Bill Grandi on November 10th, 2018

Even though I’m a pastor, and have been one for 45+ years, I have always been bothered by the disconnect between the pew and everyday life. Between the same old people doing things and those who are disconnected with service. It is a tragedy so many don’t realize the importance of everyone being involved in ministry. One of Martin Luther’s cries for reformation was “the priesthood of all believers.” No one is exempt from ministry. No one has the corner on knowing and sharing truth. Ministry is for all.

Tripp hits on it in a different way:

God is not satisfied with informing me about the work of his kingdom. He transforms me to participate in the work of his kingdom.

Put another way: I’ve been saved to serve, not saved to sit. God’s desire-if I understand it correctly-is for all His followers to be involved in ministry. Going to a concert; or a lecture; or a clambake; or a meet-n-greet; or a way to expand a business was never his idea. If what I “experience” on Sunday does not translate into my daily walk, then I have missed the point of being a follower of Christ. His desire is to use all of me for His kingdom purposes. It is to use all of us to further his work.

“Father, forgive me if I have played a part in the culture of one-sided Christianity. ‘Feed me and I’ll be fine.’ Help me to be an encourager of people into ministry. Help me not to be a viewer, a consumer, of Your Word and grace. Help me to take what I learn, what I experience, and share it with others.”

 

November 9

Written by Bill Grandi on November 9th, 2018

Tripp rocks the cocoon again:

While sin is still a sad and ever-present reality in my life, it is simply no match for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He then moves on to something I believe is a favorite thing of many Christ-followers to do: beat ourselves up over our sin. I am aware of my sin. I know when my thoughts, desires, motives, speech, and actions do not reflect Christ. I also feel extremely guilty. While there are times I run to God’s grace, there are also a greater amount of times I wallow in guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Times I beat myself up. Times I can’t help but wallow in “Oh, I’m such a sinner.”

What Tripp is encouraging me to do is to meditate on God’s perfection and the gift of Jesus. To think about how He wiped out the punishment for that sin at the cross. To think more about the grace of God than my sin. I need to acknowledge and confess my sin (I’m going to be in bad shape if I forget), but also to take that sin to the ONE who wiped it away at the cross. I need to meditate more on God’s goodness and grace rather than my sin and “worriness.” (I know it’s not a word so I made it up). 🙂

“Father, thank you for your grace. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for telling me to look at You not at myself and my sin. Help me today to focus on Your grace and not my sin.”

 

November 8

Written by Bill Grandi on November 8th, 2018

What if?

  • God was not in control?
  • God fell asleep on the job?
  • God decided to take a nap in the middle of the day?
  • God slept at night while I did?
  • God chose to give up control?
  • God didn’t choose but had control wrestled from Him?

The “what-ifs” could go on. Frankly, the “what-ifs” are scary. I don’t even like to think of the result of any of the above “what-ifs” and the countless others it could be.

But I like and do agree with what Tripp says: “If I’m God’s child, my life is never, ever out of control.” I need that reassurance. I need the reassurance that when everything is collapsing around me; when all seems hopeless and helpless; when the waves seem overwhelming, my life is His. Because I am His, and because He is in control, I have no reason to fear, doubt, or give up. My life has meaning, purpose, and direction. He told the Israelites in Isaiah 43 that they “would pass through the water and he would be with them; through the rivers, and not be overwhelmed; walk through the fire and not be burned; the flame and not be consumed.” That is good enough for me. He promises me the same.

“Father, what a great reassurance today! I have no clue what today will bring except Your promise of control. Help me let you have control and help me to trust you. Help me to not even allow the “what-ifs” to be considered. And most definitely, not gain a foothold.”

 

November 7

Written by Bill Grandi on November 7th, 2018

There is no question life is a daily struggle. The Bible calls it the flesh vs the spirit. Society would call it good vs evil, or white hat vs black hat, or good guy vs bad guy.  Others might call it the old man vs the new man.  No matter what one calls it, it is a battle. Let’s just call it flesh vs spirit in conflict.

Because of the struggle I am always one word, one act, one thought away from giving in to my flesh. My old man rears his ugly head. Tripp states it accurately:

“God has called me to say No. Not to Him or to others, but to myself.” Jesus said I was to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him. I am to empty myself of myself. “I must say No to my selfish desires, wrong thoughts, and dangerous emotions. I must say no to the world’s values, sin’s temptations, and my desire to control what only God can.”

The solution? God has given me His Spirit.  Christ in me. My strength.

“Father, I’m a loser. Not the kind with the big “L” on my forehead. I’m a loser in the battle of the flesh vs the spirit. But because of Your Spirit that doesn’t have to be true. You have given me Your Spirit. I do not have to lose this battle and I definitely won’t lose the war. Help me to say “NO” to the things of the flesh-my selfish desires, wrong thoughts, and dangerous emotions. And say “YES” to you. Help me today to rely on Your Spirit to give me strength in the battle.”